About Me

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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The problem of the resurrection of the wicked

Here is something I don't quite get. Perhaps someone out there will have some wisdom for me.

The Bible speaks of the resurrection of all the dead at the end of the age, followed by a judgement in which people are divided into two groups: sheep and goats, wheat and weeds, justified and condemned. Here is John 5:28–29 for a classic statement of this:
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
OK so far.

But the Bible also speaks of our resurrection as fundamentally linked to the resurrection of Jesus. We will be raised because he was raised (a firstfruit of what is to come). Indeed, our resurrection life is a participation in his indestructable resurrection life. And the resurrection of our bodies will be our radical eschatological transformation into pneumatic, glory-filled images of God. It will be the completion of our humanity (Rom 8; 1 Cor 15, etc.).

Here is the problem—the resurrection of the wicked makes no sense if by resurrection we mean what the NT means when it speaks of the resurrection of life. How could a person not united to Christ and not participating in his eschatological life have a resurrection body of the kind Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 15? It computeth not.

So if we are to speak of a resurrection of the wicked, what kind of body will they have? If not a resurrection body, then what?

Augustine speculates all sorts of things in the City of God about super-dooper fire-proof, eternal bodies, specially built to endure eternal fire in hell. But these bodies sound too close to proper resurrection bodies that differ only in that they are located in the fiery hot place. That won't do. A body like that is a divine gift, granted in Christ. And a body like that is a redeemed body. One who has such a body has a completed human nature. If you fitted into that category you would not be in the fiery hot place in the first place.

So is the 'resurrection' body of the wicked a mortal, perishable body—one that must be cast aside for a proper resurrection body if one is to become a new creation?

Thoughts?

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Joy and Freedom of Being a Sinner

I was listening earlier today to Nina Simone's 1969 recording of Blind Willie Johnson's 1927 classic, "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine." (I paid attention because, by coincidence, I listened to Eric Bibb's 2010 version yesterday.) Here is the Simone version:

Nobody's fault, but mine.
Nobody's fault, but mine.
And I said if I should die
and my soul becomes lost,
Then I know it's nobody's fault but mine.

Oh I got a father.
I got a father and he can preach
So I said if I should die
and my soul, my soul becomes lost,
Then I know it's nobody's fault but mine.

Oh I got a mother.
I got a mother and she can pray
So I said if I should die
and my soul, my soul becomes lost,
then I know it's nobody's fault but mine.

Oh I got a sister.
I got a sister and she can sing. Oh Yeah.
and I said if I should die
and my soul becomes lost,
then I know it's nobody's fault but mine.

And I said if I should die
then I know it's nobody's fault but mine
and I said if I should die
and my soul becomes lost,
then I know it's nobody's fault but mine

I confess that I found this such a breath of fresh air—a liberating song.

Increasingly, we spin identity-creating stories in which we are always the victims. Even if we do bad things it is because of our genes or what happened to us or our circumstances or the government. We are not to blame; we are not guilty. But while many seek to flee from notions of sin and guilt, I find them humanizing. Of course, there are mitigating factors—biological, sociological, and so on. And of course we need to take into account the circumstances. However, when the rubber hits the road, to be told a story in which I am a responsible moral agent with a free (albeit limited) will—that I can sin and be considered guilty for so doing—is to treat me like a human being with dignity. I am not simply an effect; I am an agent.

So weirdly enough, I don't find the idea that I am a person who can be guilty of sin to be oppressive. Blaming myself is not necessarily bad—though, it can be bad in some circumstances—sometimes it is precisely the morally appropriate response. We get over guilt not by always denying it (I am the victim) but by recognizing and acknowledging it (when appropriate) and dealing with it. The gospel provides the story in which we find God dealing with our guilt and locates us in a narrative of reconciliation and forgiveness.

I am an agent with freewill and responsibility—one who is accountable and will be called to account. I am a human being.