Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
March 27th, 2016 by Joel Watts

The Resurrection requires Hope

The Gospel According to St. Mark ends abruptly, with no shortage of heartburn for those trying to explain why. For me, I believe it is intentional, meant to urge the audience to a great leap of faith.

“But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

The Physical Resurrection of Jesus is not confirmed in the Gospel, only the fact that there is an empty tomb. It is meant for the listener to decide if they have indeed believed the Gospel…if as St Mark said…it is only the beginning of the Good News about Jesus…

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Resurrection, then, becomes a matter of faith — a key one, according not only to St. Paul, but equally to the Gospel writers, if not the whole of the New Testament witness. The Resurrection is without nuance. It is bodily. Physical.

But, what is required is not proof; rather, as St Mark urges, faith.

Do you believe?

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

I believe these women did believe…which is why they were in awe. And they were afraid, because they knew what would be required of them.

The question remains, for us, however. Do we believe, without proof, in the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

5 Responses to “The Resurrection requires Hope”
  1. Know More Than I Should says

    Christianity’s lust for mammon is the stone suggesting the tomb may not be empty.

  2. The former ‘doubting’ Thomas may disagree somewhat with your comments, Joel. “Unless I see nail-scarred hands and a gaping hole in your side, I will not believe,” said the apostle. So…without chiding, Jesus provided evidence — both then and for the next 40 days (Acts 1:3–“giving many convincing proofs that he was alive”). Does it take faith to believe all this? Absolutely–“blessed are those who have not seen–and believe” (Jn 20:29). Are we required to make a blind leap of faith without evidence. Hardly.

    • Steve,

      I don’t think we are so far removed from a physical Jesus walking around can have any evidence that does not require faith to first accept.

      What is the evidence for a resurrected Jesus? Is there a body right now? No. Sure, you and I can say we have evidence, but what first brought us to that point? Faith.

  3. Joel–to believe anything written in the Bible involves a matter of faith (i.e,, trust that what we read is true), but I’m looking at your language–which I may have misunderstood: “..urging (Mark’s) audience to a great leap of faith.” The phrase “great leap” seems to imply little if any evidence for a rational belief in a bodily raised Jesus. Thomas asked for such evidence, and he was given exactly that–and that evidence so recorded is now available for us to examine — and then to accept or reject (cf: Jn 12:37-43; 20:30-31; Acts 26:22-27). Thomas was not personally there when Jesus rose from the grave, but after encountering undeniable evidence, he made a decision based on that evidence, not just a great leap of faith.

    I understand your point about Mark’s abrupt ending. Thankfully he is not the only Gospel record. That “great leap” is somewhat reduced (at least in my mind) by the afore referenced “many convincing proofs” (the word you did not want to endorse) that He was raised. I may very well be over sensitive to this issue, but it seems the Biblical texts go to extraordinary lengths to present evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus that indeed requires a decision–to believe that story is true or to reject it as false. It is a leap of trust, but a solid leap of assurance based on evidence (Heb. 11:1). This understanding of faith suggests it is perhaps not as great a leap as many suggest.

    • Steve, the Text does present evidence, but this is internal and thus circular. We accept such evidence because of faith. Because have accepted the validity of the Christian Tradition (due to personal experience) then we accept Scripture.

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