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?



Terry Wright said…
In The Resurrection of the Son of God, N. T. Wright implies that John only requires the condemned to be, um, condemned in full bodily existence (p. 442). The kind of resurrection body isn't an issue. All the commentaries I have on John (admittedly I don't have many) neglect to discuss the matter.

I wonder if an answer can or could be found in Barth's doctrines of election and providence. If (on Barth's account) Jesus is both elected and rejected, and if individual humans participate in God's providence either willingly (Christians) or unwittingly (non-Christians), might you have a basis there for the resurrection of humanity to be in Christ in toto, but in such a way that those resurrected to life participate in Christ's election and those raised for condemnation to participate in Christ's rejection? Of course, Barth says that only Christ is reprobate . . . and (of course, again), I'm not a Barth specialist, so I might be way off base here.
Terry Wright said…
This would mean, perhaps, that those raised to life in Christ are raised imperishable, whereas those raised for condemnation are raised perishable.
Robin Parry said…
Interesting. I do not really understand Barth. However, does he not see Jesus' reprobation as occurring (in good Calvinian fashion) on the cross. So this is pre-resurrection. To share in that would not be to participate in any kind of resurrection?
Andrew Perriman said…
Interesting conundrum, Robin. Hadn’t looked at it that way before. Some scrappy thoughts….

There is no reference to resurrection in Matthew 25:31-46. The Son of Man presumably comes to earth to judge the nations. Out of the nations some will be judged righteous because they attended to the needs of the disciples as they pursued the mission assigned to them by Jesus, and will have a share in the kingdom. Others will be judged wicked on account of their lack of compassion and will excluded from the kingdom. No one is consigned to fire.

John 5:28-29 looks like an allusion to Daniel 12:2. At a time of great national crisis many dead Jews awaken, some to the life of the new age (anticipated in the odd story of Matt. 27:51-53), some to everlasting shame. They carry on living on earth. Again, no one is consigned to eternal fire.

Luke has Paul tell Felix that he shares the Jewish belief in “a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” at a “coming judgment” (Acts 23:6; 24:15, 25). This presumably also harks back to Daniel 12:2: it is a resurrection of some Jews, not of all humanity. I also suspect that there is a certain ad hominem element to Paul’s statements in this context.,

It seems to me that Daniel’s raising of the righteous to life on earth becomes, by way of the Maccabean martyrs, a resurrection of those who have suffered in Christ to reign with him throughout the coming ages. It is those who suffer with Christ who will be glorified with him (Rom. 8:17; cf. Phil. 3:10-11; Rev. 20:4). There is no parallel resurrection of the wicked—remember, Daniel envisages the resurrection of unrighteous Jews. The Gentile Antiochus will suffer punishment after death, but he is not first resurrected: “But on you he will take vengeance both in this present life and when you are dead” (4 Macc. 12:18).

So for the most part, resurrection is something that happens to God’s people, and there is development in thought through the period. We begin with a limited resurrection of both the just and the unjust to further life on earth following the restoration of Israel, which arguably is symbolic (equally for Matt. 27:51-53 and John 5:28-29). As we move into the New Testament, because Jesus has been raised from the dead and has ascended into heaven, Christian martyrs will likewise be raised and live with him in heaven. But there is no comparable place to which the resurrected wicked may go (i.e., there is no “hell” as we understand it). So that doesn’t happen.

It’s only when we get to John's final judgment that all the dead are judged, but even here the language of resurrection is missing (Rev. 20:12-13).
Robin Parry said…

You never cease to be interesting.

Couple of quick thoughts.

Irrespective of fire (I mentioned it because it was a key consideration for Augustine), the theological issue would still remain. If there is a resurrection of the wicked (or of some of them) then what kind of body would they have if it is not a Christ-like resurrection body?

Revelation's lake of fire following the judgment of the dead is most plausibly read as a post-resurrection judgment, surely. Before the millennium we have a "first resurrection" and then after the millennium the rest of the dead come to life in what is implied to be a second resurrection (Rev 20:4–5). Prior to judgment all the places in which the dead bodies of the deceased have been placed (the sea and the underworld) give up their dead. That would also suggest resurrection.

When placed along texts like John 5 and Acts 23–24 (which speak of a dual resurrection) we find the very combination you are resisting: resurrection of the dead to face judgment and then a dual destiny (one side of which is pictured on occasion in terms of fire).

Re: Matthew 25 It does mention "aionial fire" (v. 41) and "aionial punishment" (v. 46). You say that no one is consigned to fire, but they are.

Must fly
davo said…
As I understand it… the resurrection at the end of the age/world was Israel’s covenant renewal begun in Christ progressing through to the end of OC “age/world”, signified as coming to fruition in the 70CE destruction of Jerusalem. Israel was “dead in trespasses and sins” from which she had been promised resurrection life (Ezek. 37:1-14), i.e., return from covenant EXILE (death). The gospel of the NT was all about this proclamation of restoration. Those who had “ears to hear” would grasp this to fullness of life (Jn 10:10; 17:3) while those who didn’t perished in that ensuing end not realising in this life the redemption that was theirs.

John’s “and now is” of Jn 5:25 is indicative of the progressive nature of this resurrection “the dead” of Israel who “will hear the voice of the Son of God” were responding to in faith and so duly coming to life. Again this was happening in their “end of the age” 30-70CE period (1Cor 10:11)… a biblical generation i.e., Jesus’ “this generation” where Israel was being implored through the gospel to turn and live.

Those who had “done good” or conversely “done evil” shows that the “judgement” at the close of that period was according to “works” and as such would be evidenced by either experiencing LIFE into the coming new age of covenant renewal, OR the condemnation of loss accordingly. One did not have to be an active “believer” to be blessed… Mt 10:42; Mk 9:41.

Those of “the first resurrection” were the firstfruits believers or martyrs of that bridging period between the covenants with the implied “second resurrection” being “all Israel” at the close of the OC age… thus came the fullness of Israel’s covenantal redemption, or as Paul puts it… “acceptanceby God being “life from the dead” which was the catalyst then for the reconciliation of humanity Rom 11:15.
Andrew Perriman said…
I take your point, Robin; and thanks for correcting the Matthew 25 oversight.

I am still inclined to think that John 5:28-29 and Paul's statements in Acts refer not to a final resurrection of all the dead but to a "resurrection" of Israel in history, whether or not we read the language metaphorically or literally. So yes, if we put Revelation alongside these texts we get "the very combination" I am resisting, but I don't think they should be conflated in that way. I think the Jewish apocalyptic narrative differentiates between them.

Paul speaks of the resurrection only of those "in Christ" in 1 Corinthians 15. Could it not be argued that the glory and imperishability of the resurrected Christian body is a factor of the new creation into which it has been raised? The unrighteous are not raised to share in the life of the new heaven and new earth, therefore their bodies lack the qualities of glory and imperishability and will be destroyed in the lake of fire. There is a bit too much reading between the lines in this for my liking, but it might work theologically.
Stephen Martin said…
It would seem to me they raise in a body commensurate to their sin. They were dead in trespasses and sins and are raised in that death to be cast into the second death, the fires of God and according to their wickedness have their "part" "allotment" , "portion" of punishment according to their deed.
TamTyper said…
Andrew refers to the first and second resurrections. While the first resurrection is mentioned, the second resurrection is only implied. The first resurrection is of those saints and martyrs who are blessed, “… over such, the second death has no power” (Rev 20:5-6). Having read about a "first resurrection", we naturally watch out for the “second resurrection” -- but that exact phrase never appears! We expect to find it in the great white throne judgment in verses 11-15, but “second resurrection” doesn’t appear there.

In fact, these verses seems to go out of their way to avoid anything like the description of a “second resurrection”. These verses repeatedly talk about “the dead”, and death of death and hell’s destruction. And then, right after that, the new heaven and earth come down, and God declares “Behold, I am making all things new!” (Rev 21:5).

But what happened to the “second resurrection” hinted at by the phrase “first resurrection” back in ch20:5+6? Maybe the text leaves open that second resurrection for those in the "second death" -- just as the blessed had that "first resurrection" after the first death.
Robin Parry said…
TamTyper (or Tam the Tiger, as I always think of you),

I have never even thought of that. I would need to look at the text and consier it, but it is an interesting suggestion that I have not previously considered. Thanks for that.

Robin Parry said…

So that'd be a "broken" and mortal body? You seem to hint at that. That seems to be the direction I am thinking.

Robin Parry said…

It is hard to know where to start answering your suggestion (in the time and space limitations I set myself for this). It is so far from the historical discussion of the notions that one is left a little speechless. I have a fair amount of sympathy with such Perrimanesque readings (if I may call them that). They certainly warrant attention and reflection. But I remain strongly inclined to think that the standard kinds of readings of those texts (i.e., ones that refer to actual resurrections, etc.) still make better sense of them that the new readings. But I'm open. I love Andrew's work and I always find it challenging and stimulating.

davo said…
Thanks for the reply, and that’s all good Robin… it’s all grist for the mill. I too enjoy Andrew’s angle on things.

Speaking of enjoying… your ‘The Evangelical Universalist’ is streets ahead IMO the best presentation of universalism out there; chapter 3 being especially good. I’m more an inclusionist myself but we share the same end goal.
Anonymous said…
Hi Robin-
followed some links here, glad to have found your scribbles. Have listened to and read your thoughts intermittently for some time. Sorry for the length, but want to be complete.

Considering the problem of "hell" was one of the things that led me to the Orthodox Church, and finding that in EO there is a corner of the table open to people (including some very holy saints) who believed that the nature of God's "punishment" is remedial and purifying, and the "confident and indomitable hope" (Fr Aidan Kimel - do read his blog, Eclectic Orthodoxy) that all will eventually be reconciled to God. It was actually N.T. Wright who led me to the doors of the Orthodox Church; I found an insane amount of overlap between his descriptions of Jewish and early Christian understandings with what I discovered about EO. It was a very short step from there over the threshold...

Anyhow, to get to the question, Orthodoxy affirms that all will be resurrected because Christ was resurrected - but it does so on the basis of the Incarnation, because of Christ having assumed human nature (ousia) - that about humans which makes us human - which is not fallen or evil, it simply is. (like the reality that your cats do "catty" things because they have a cat nature - all about their "composition" that makes them cats) This is different than personhood (hypostasis/prosopon); a person is a unique, particular human through whom human nature is expressed. To complete this "trinity", there are the energies, which are the actual ways that one may experience the nature to be expressed through the person. (The capacity of the human nature for self-giving love may be expressed through the person of your wife through the energies of her making a cup of tea for you with that love as her motive.)

I think this is a huge missing link in the thinking of most Protestants, especially Evangelicals. For them, the Incarnation is necessary pretty much only for the Second Person of the Trinity to be able to die, and perhaps among some for Jesus to show what a "perfectly" obedient human being looks like, and/or to be the model for moral action. But in Orthodoxy, the Incarnation is the stone dropped into the pool of humanity that makes the ripple of the meaning of all of the "Christ event" spread throughout the whole body of water. It's why there is Recapitulation at all. And it's not only a union of the divine nature with human nature, it is also a union of the Creator/Uncreated with Creation.

part 2 to follow
Anonymous said…
Do get hold of the "Festal Menaion" translated by Mother Mary and (then) Bp. Kallistos Ware, and read the verses in the Vigil for Theophany/Epiphany. (The theology of the Orthodox Church is expressed most fully in its liturgy. Theophany is viewed as a "little Pascha" because of all the echoes between it and the Crucifixion/Resurrection; it is the second most important feast of the Church.) Theophany is the instance of the first full revelation of God as Trinity; it is also seen as the moment, because of the Incarnation, that the GodMan is revealed as the Lord of creation and is united with it. In the icon of Theophany, Christ is seen in the water as invading the "space" of the "sea monsters" - which is all that is antithetical to God's rule and continues to cause chaos on earth. He cleanses and blesses it, in fulfillment of Ps 74.13 and Ps 114.

As part of the feast, in addition to blessing the holy water for the year, there is the blessing of the waters. The priest and congregation process to the nearest natural body of water, where prayers are read and a crucifix is tossed into and retrieved from the water 3 times. One of the prayers is a petition for this water to become "the waters of Jordan" - this prayer is even prayed at the Jordan River itself! It's not important that the Jordan ends up in the Dead Sea, where there is no outlet. The theological importance is that Christ goes into the water, blesses creation and unites himself with creation by means of the water, which eventually will end up everywhere. I know of one congregation in the US that goes to the Continental Divide, where the snow that is blessed will melt and find its way into both great Oceans.

A lot of these knotty problems can be untangled with an understanding of the meaning and ramifications of the Incarnation. It's nearly all there in St Athanasius (with no mention at all of PSA or ECT...).

Thank you for your good work, Robin.

Dana Ames
Ukiah, California
Robin Parry said…

Thanks for that helpful comment.

I completely agree with you about the centrality of incarnation, participation in Christ's resurrection, and theosis. One must still, however, give an account of the role of the cross in atonement, given all that the NT says on the matter, but you are right that evangelicals have downplayed incarnation as little more than a prerequisite for the cross. The opposite danger is downplaying the cross as no more than a prerequisit for the resurrection. (Not that you would do this.) We need a way of telling the story that does justice to the whole story. I think that will always be a work in progress for the church.

I found your comments on the liturgy very helpful.

Fr. Aidan Kimel's blog is indeed a great source of wisdom and insight.
Tam the Typer said…
Ha Ha! -- "tiger" indeed -- more like tigger!

But I'll take it as a compliment.

Micah said…
Could the lost in the age to come be basically what we would call ghosts, with respect to earthly and heavenly realms? (Kind of like Lewis imagines in The Great Divorce.) Perhaps more than pure spirit, but 'clothed' a bit differently?
Thee Indy said…

I found this randomly and I'm keen on answering this because it is a fresh set of thoughts.I'm a Christian these days, but before then I was a general mystic and explored spiritual experiences, altered states of awareness, and occult practices. I still believe that this mystical side of the world is very real, and so it must be addressed when dealing with Biblical issues. Too often, people neglect this side of things because they view it as lies of Satan, and therefore has no real basis in Biblical truth. What I'm leaning towards these days is that there are two distinct spiritual ways operating here on earth. In the Didache, an early Christian writing, it talks of the Two Ways: a way unto life, and a way unto death. I'm not completely in favor of the entire corpus of the Didache but this idea stuck with me.

The way unto life is Faith in Jesus Christ. The way unto death is faith or practice in anything that is not of Jesus Christ, and interestingly enough the Bible includes the Old Testament covenant of law-keeping. What is law-keeping, exactly? Does doing what is lawfully good mean that one IS good? No. It simply means that one is performing contrived actions based on a set of rules which in and of themselves are meaningless. That's what Paul meant by stating in so many words that The Law is Good, but the act of keeping the law is Death.

Mysticism, gnosticism, esotericism, the occult, etc... all of these mystical traditions have their foundation in the performance of works (rituals and practices) which are said to make one pure, holy, and united with the divine. Yet in actuality, what are we uniting with truly? Upon close examination and contemplation of these spiritual paths, one discovers that, essentially, we are dealing with varying forms of Hinduism. In Hindu cosmology, there are gods, demons, heavens, hells, varying states of heightened and lowered consciousness, but the basis of all of this (which in a more streamlined form is the foundation of Buddhism) is Samsara, the eternal wheel of rebirth (and ... this is important... perpetual death!). The only way to transcend samsara is to attain moksha, or release (Nirvana of Buddhism). What this is essentially is a state of emptiness, devoid of qualities, ideas, forms, beings, realities.... it is a final state of timeless ceasing of existence. I believe Jesus hinted at this doctrine when he was accusing the Pharisees and such of being like whitewashed tombs. On the outside it is elegant-looking, covered in flowers and decoration, but on the inside it is all full of dead men's bones. Thus, the end goal of mysticism is what the New Testament writers refer to as the second death. This transcendent state of emptiness IS Death Itself, the symbolic ocean of Ecclesiastes, out of which all currents of being arise and into which they all naturally flow back to.

The general population is not initiated into these mystical rites, and therefore they are subservient to an elite priestly class which dictates to the unwashed masses what to believe and what to do in order to become right with the divine. All other traditions besides Judeo-Christianity (and Christianity specifically) view Ultimate Truth as something esoteric which cannot be understood, save for the privileged few who are presented with the right circumstances by which to rectify themselves with the supposed divine source. Even all forms of pantheism is ultimately an esoteric religion with those exact same goals.
Thee Indy said…
How all of this relates to the resurrection of the condemned:

All of those who do not acknowledge faith in the savior God has presented us through the person of Jesus Christ will be raised unto the resurrection of the condemned, that is... the mystical resurrection of samsaric cyclical death and rebirth.... all of this in the "lake of fire" which is the ultimate reality of the mystics, referred to as the uncreated light, and in Eastern Orthodox Churches is called the Tabor Light. This is not the Light of Christ, but rather the light of eternal death.... the lake of fire into which all of the condemned will burn ina collapsing samsaric circle until all condemned are merged with and identified as that light which is Death. Jesus referred to this light when he talked about the eye being the light of the body.... yet if that light in you be DARKNESS, then how great that darkness is!
Mystical experience leads to the unpardonable sin, the rejection of and blasphemy towards the Holy Spirit... which is in mystical terms the favored goal of "ego-death". The mystical death is not a death TO self, but a death OF self. An extinguishing of the Spirit which gives life, in exchange for that which gives death. In spiritual terms, death can be ongoing for an indefinite amount of time... which would be consistent with the Bible's theology of the condemnation being eternal destruction.

Some just seal their fate earlier than others, and while living they willfully reject the spirit of God in favor of another christ, another spirit, another gospel "Of which ye have not received"... because how can one receive something when in order to have it requires that one be taken out of the way entirely? That is the way unto death, and the resurrection unto eternal condemnation. I believe that the only difference between those who receive this "spirit of condemnation" before their appointed bodily death is that it can be presented to them as an ecstatic blissful and orgasmic experience of "divine love", and the problem with this is that we will never know whether this truly is its nature until after we die. And no wonder, for satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (Satan, being the fallen angel Lucifer, is a very powerful entity... and so could we be so thoroughly deceived by a being of such cosmic power as an angel?)

Thee Indy said…
sorry for the three parter but this is worthy of it I think:

But this is the deception, the strong delusion, and the main spiritual problem we face at this moment. Do we live by faith (Trust) in God's Word, of which is Jesus Christ, or do we rely on those mystical experiences which we can induce within our own selves in a variety of ways? Which of these two ways allows for a more objective analysis of its respective version of ultimate truth? According to Biblical doctrine, those who have resigned themselves to the fate of the condemned were always designed to be raised unto that condemnation, and therefore there is no ability to reason objectively within them. The wheat was always destined to become wheat, and the tares were always destined to become tares, and necessarily there must be a complete raising of each in order to accurately and finally separate the two.

I could go into more detail, but whenever I write responses to spiritual or philosophical debates, there's so many facets which are directly related to the main point being discussed that I sometimes find myself drifting into other areas accidentally, and so I should probably cut it right here. So hopefully this wasn't too convoluted or meandering. I hope I don't come off as being too spiritually puffed up in knowledge. It's just that I think people could benefit from the testimony and observations of someone who has been impossibly deep and entrenched in the subtly sinister world of mysticism. All praise goes to God through Jesus Christ because I could have seen no other way, save through His grace... as cliche as that sounds, it is absolutely True. That I was able to see beyond the strong delusion is a miracle from God.

Thanks and God bless you. Hope this helps.
Robin Parry said…
Thanks Three Indy

—all constructive refelections are welcome here

Micah said…
Just to clarify my earlier comment that I made in passing -- by 'ghost' I don't mean to conjure up a cartoonish Hollywood image. More just thinking the body of the lost would be less than, a shadow of the earthly body, just as the earthly body is less than, a shadow of the incorruptible heavenly body.

body < Body < BODY

Diminished, more vaporous, less able to participate in the joys of interaction with the more 'solid' reality that transcends it...(?)

Glad you were rescued out of all that, Three Indy.
wtanksley said…
The question of the resurrection of the wicked is mainly difficult because of how little it's directly mentioned. Unless I'm missing something, it's confined to Daniel 12, John 5, Acts 24:15, and Revelation 20. The Acts reference is short and might be a political bit of vagueness calling out the differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees JUST enough to make the Christians look the same (I suspect the Pharisees also had internal differences he was trying to cover up).

Unlike some of the above, I think the judgment passages are presenting a unified "last day" doctrine, and a lack of mention of resurrection in some of them isn't to be construed as a denial of resurrection. But neither are the two resurrections to be merged.

But then I'm a conditionalist ;).
Micah said…
The other thing that seems odd to me is the idea of a believer who dies with a bunch of unresolved grudges and other sins not yet really addressed through repentance (most of us probably), with a bunch of sanctification still needed, who yet immediately receives an incorruptible body. Or would it make more sense that they would get that after sanctification is complete, after the sin is really fully destroyed? How could someone who dies not forgiving another escape ever having to actually forgive? And how could the unforgiveness jibe with the incorruptible?
Micah said…
Or maybe that's all resolved in between death and resurrection?
Robin Parry said…

I am very much inclined to agree (yet I am not an annihilationist, ... though I may be a conditionalist).

I think that Andrew Perriman, with whom you are tentatively disagreeing, is a conditionalist/annihilationist.

So presumably one's being a conditionalist/annihilationist is not the key to the disagreement. But your comments are helpful. Thx
Robin Parry said…

The ghost thing may have legs (excuse the pun). It all depends on whether you can make sense of resurrection talk and ghost talk as referring to the same thing. So if you mean some kind of body that is even more bodily than the one we have now, but less than a resurrection body then perhaps . . . but how is that a ghost body? So we'd need a lot more fleshing out (excuse the pun) of the idea before we could assess its merits.

On your second point: indeed. That is precisely why Jerry Walls et al. argue for purgatory as a continuation of sanctification.

wtanksley said…
Yes, Perriman and I do agree more than we disagree. Other texts like the Didache ignore or even (I would say) dismiss the resurrection of the wicked (I don't think it's quite right to say it denies it, as some have interpreted). I think that within the Bible it's a matter of little ultimate importance. Now, unlike some, I don't think it's a matter of NO ultimate importance. Even though it's almost never mentioned, it IS present and probably not purely symbolic. It's also implied in passages like 2 Thess 1, where Paul claims that the people in Thessaloníka who'd been afflicting the believers would be afflicted by God.

But there's certainly no good reason to think God will provide an Augustinian immortal body when he barely even mentions waking them up.

If you'd like to discuss the background of the term 'conditionalism', it's your blog and you can do it where you want -- but you're a gracious host, and I'd think you'd see the advantage of starting a new post and a new topic rather than bringing up that kind of position-undermining argument in an unrelated topic. Allow me to appeal to you with a historical argument, though: the term "conditionalism" has been the preferred self-reference for our position since it was coined in 1830ish (first mention in Google Books), and the term 'annihilationism' has historically been primarily used by our opponents, almost always to group us in with atheists and hard physicalists. I'm not saying you're playing that game; I'm saying that's the situation. The idea that 'annihilationism' is somehow a superior term is false; any short phrase can be twisted to mean the wrong thing if it's forced into the wrong context. I would ask that you avoid the temptation of making our self-reference be a point of contention. You should no more want to call yourself "conditionalist" than you want to call yourself "unitarian" -- even though the latter _word_, stripped of its history, might have some useful side meaning.
Robin Parry said…

I appreciate that there may be political and contextual reasons why you prefer to be called conditonalist. Fair enough. However, there is still a discussion to be had over its usefulness in terms of clarity in designating the view under discussion. And to my mind that depends what the view is.

Quick aside: I was an annihilationist for about ten years and never considered it a term of derision (nor do I use it that way now). To my mind it said exactly what I thought about hell — that those who went there would ultimately be annihilated. Other (e.g., John Stackhouse) prefer the term "Terminalist." I'm fine with that, as it too designates the view of hell under discussion.

Conditionalism, however, is not a view on hell at all. As I understand it, it is a view about human constitution. Namely, that humans are created mortal and only attain immortality if God grants them this gift.

As a matter of fact, most annihilationists are conditionalists and most conditionalists are annihilationists. And this is no coincidence, as the two views are clearly related. So for most annihilationists/conditonalists the two views do interchange and the conditionalist one seems like a more positive way of specifying their view.

However, two two concepts (annihilationalism and conditionalism) are not the same.

One can be an annihilationist without being a conditionalist. One might believe, for instance, that humans left to themselves are immortal and would continue to exist forever, UNLESS God caused them to stop existing. One might believe that after a while in hell, God will cause such immortal humans to cease to exist. This view is perfectly intelligible—God sustains them in being in the first instance and can cease to do so. In this case, one is an annihilationist about hell, but not a conditonalist.

On the other hand, one could be a conditionalist about the human constitution (i.e., believe that left to themselves humans would perish) but be a universalist about hell. This would be because one believes that God gives the gift of immortality to ALL his mortal creatures before they blink out of existence. This view is also perfectly intelligible, and I have some sympathy with it.

This is why I do not think that conditionalism is the best term to use IF it is intended to specify a view about hell. If, however, it is intended to specify a view about the human constitution then it is precisely the right term to use. So it all depends what is under discussion.

I have no objection to those who are annihilationists about hell using the term conditionalism to designate their position if they wish to do so. You are correct that there is a tradition of doing so, and it is not wihtout a basis.

However, as I am a universalist and am myself inclined to take a conditionalist view of the human constitution, I find that it confuses people if I simply treate conditionalism and annihilationism as alternative names for the same view. That is why I am required to distinguish them—simply to allow for greater clarity.

And those who think that annihilation is a term of abuse need to get a life. I always carried it as a term designating an honourable view and wore it with "pride."
Micah said…
Thanks for the reply, Robin.

"So if you mean some kind of body that is even more bodily than the one we have now, but less than a resurrection body then perhaps . . . but how is that a ghost body?"

Yeah it's a phantom of an idea that needs fleshing out more in my own mind. Actually, though, I'm contemplating that the body of the lost would be less than the earthly body -- more restricted in how it can interact with reality. Christ's new body transcended the usual earthly bodily experience: He passed through walls, appeared, disappeared, ascended, etc -- but He could still eat and walk and talk and interact with the earthly experience. The new included the old, transcended it but didn't lose anything. I guess I'm trying to ponder whether the resurrection of the lost would be a move in the opposite direction, losing some of what the earthly experience contained, and thus seeming more 'ghostly' from our perspective. So their new bodies would not be an unmerited reward or improvement -- it would be a step back, even if it was an 'immortal' condition. Just as our earthly experience pales compared to the heavenly, perhaps the lost's body pales compared to what we have now?

Part of my impulse here is I think also from contemplating how George MacDonald envisions the experience of 'outer darkness', in his Unspoken Sermons. The clutching of sin/non-Love within the person continues to erode and decay relationships/interaction with the rest of reality until they are essentially self-imprisoned with nothing but their own minds within that darkness. (MacDonald then imagines they would perhaps get to the point of breaking, hating what they'd become and listen for any signs of life from without -- would gladly rush out of that to the 'consuming fire' of God.)

I guess I'm trying to imagine the bodily state of the lost as a step in that diminished direction, a decline from earthly experience, a further decay and inability to interact. The resurrection of the redeemed would be in the opposite direction -- a new body that transcends the old while still containing it and losing nothing.

But yeah, I have some more thinking to do to put flesh on the bones here. :). Well, as much as can be done with highly speculative matters, I guess.
wtanksley said…
//Conditionalism, however, is not a view on hell at all. As I understand it, it is a view about human constitution. Namely, that humans are created mortal and only attain immortality if God grants them this gift.//

I think I see the confusion, and I have to say that many popular and solid conditionalists have encouraged this misunderstanding.

As you've stated it, that's not a view of human constitution; it's a view that _includes_ a view on human constitution. Only the statement "[all] humans are created mortal" is a view on human constitution, and because there's no conditional there it's simply not accurate to call that specific view "conditionalist" or "conditional immortality". It would actually be more accurate to call it "universal created mortality" or "universalism" (although nobody should want to use that term for that purpose, of course). Inasmuch as it's anthropological, it's not a conditional view _at all_.

The only point where an actual "conditional" begins to apply is at the eschaton, when immortality actually does come into the picture, and that is precisely the point where you and I differ.

You and I share the same anthropology, and possibly the same view of man's problem from which God saves; but the name for our shared anthropological view is not "conditional immortality" or "conditionalism", because it's not a conditional view.

A common term for our common view is "conferred immortality".

//I find that it confuses people if I simply treate conditionalism and annihilationism as alternative names for the same view.//

Are you sure?

I try not to lecture people who are trying to formalize their definitions (after all, formal terms are up to the definer), but what I usually see is that everyone who separates the two separates them completely differently. "You must not confuse the two", they say, and then give distinctions that nobody aside from them actually uses.

The most common definition is to say that "annihilationist" means that a person ceases to exist, is annihilated, when they die. That's almost exactly the opposite of your ideas about what it means, but it's very well supported in general Christian literature -- it's used to describe atheist and JW views.

//And those who think that annihilation is a term of abuse need to get a life.//

Heh, I know what you mean. But just to be clear, that's not my point. It's not a term of abuse; but it was invented and used exclusively as a negative polemic. It comes up in arguments like this only polemically -- I don't think you would have wanted to use that term of yourself if I were a traditionalist.
Robin Parry said…

very interesting musings. Many thanks. Certainly worth exploring further

Robin Parry said…

That is a very helpful clasrification — many thanks. I was not quite "on the ball" there.

But I think that my point remains. Let's agree that "conditionalism" is the view that humans are constituted as mortal and that immortality is only granted to them as a gift from God if certain conditions are met (e.g., if they are united to Christ by the Spirit, through faith).

My point is that this view is compatible BOTH with annihilationism (if not all meet the condition) AND with universalism (if all meet the condition). So I don't think that we do differ here (i.e., on the issue of conditins). Most universalists also insist that resurrection life is only experienced/conferred subject to certain conditions.

So I still maintain that there is nothing in your very helpfully clarified notion of conditional immortality that excludes universalism. On your own definition of it, I have been a believer in conditional immortality for most of the time I have been a universalist. (I confess that in recent months I have started to take the notion of the immortality of the soul more seriously, though as I said, that too is compatible with annihilationism.)

Re: the term annihilationism. Well, that was the term I did use for my position for the ten years or so that I held it. And I used it with traditionalists quite often. It never caused a problem. This was because I explained that I thought that people went to hell but that hell was a fire that consumed, not one that tormented people forever. So nobody ever thought that I believed in annihilation at death. The issue under debate was always the same — is hell eternal torment or does it annihilate.

So I guess that our experiences are simply different (it was very rare indeed I came across someone, other than non-Christians, who thought I meant annihilation at death). Obviously you meet folk who take the word differently. But my view is that it is still better, for the sake of clarity, to avoid conditional immortality as a term designating a view about hell. I still think annihilation does the job better. And if some folk need me to explain to them that I mean annihilation after a period in hell, not annihilation at death, then I would explain that to them.

I have an analogous issue with the word "universalism." Many folk think that means that God will save everyone no matter what they do or say or believe. But the term is a good so, so I simply explain what I do and what I do not mean by the term. If they still insist on using in their own quirky way then that is fine, but they still need to be clear that my view is NOT the one they are talking about. And again, I have never found that this causes problems. If people want to debate me then they have to be prapared to debate with the view I hold. And most folk are prepared to do that.

So I am happy to refer to folk as conditionalist in informal settings and so on, but I feel I need to retain annihilationism in more formal discussions of final punishment for the sake of clarity. But please do not hear the term when used on my lips as a negative polemic. It is never that to me.

Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts
wtanksley said…
All of the names have been abused; even traditionalists have cause to complain, but none more than universalists in general. I'm happy to use whatever name you want for your position. Nor will I find it offensive, I should add, if you or anyone else use "annihilationist" to refer to us. It's a remarkably polemic description historically, but that very history makes it unmistakably identify us, even though it almost always causes people to misidentify what we actually believe (I'm sure you've heard plenty of people use C.S. Lewis' absurd argument from how nothing is _actually_ annihilated; I could give pages of links to current arguments in which the same hoary old idea is drawn up again from the mere word "annihilationism").

And by the way, I have to say that I hold you in high respect for your exegetical ability -- although my presentation at RH2015 was intended to address universalist arguments from Revelation in general, your arguments from "The Evangelical Universalist" drew all my attention due to their solid presentation and organization. I hope that comes out as the compliment I intend.
Robin Parry said…

I was not aware of the Lewis argument, but will keep my eyes peeled.

Thanks for your kind words—I do indeed feel complimented.


Micah said…
Hi, wtanksley --

Say, would you happen to recall which book that Lewis argument is in? Curious to look it up.


wtanksley said…
No problem! It's "The Problem of Pain". Here's a link to the page itself:,+however,the+destruction+of+one+thing+means+the+emergence+of+something+else.+Burn+a+log&source=bl&ots=Kd8aL1BH7i&sig=6qlWE4zIJ3-3GEJ7vBNZr3SLAUQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCwQ6AEwBGoVChMIiZ6Exs-2yAIVAt9jCh13Ng5F#v=onepage&q=soul%20were%20intrinsically%20possible.%20In%20all%20our%20experience%2C%20however%2Cthe%20destruction%20of%20one%20thing%20means%20the%20emergence%20of%20something%20else.%20Burn%20a%20log&f=false

...and here's the quote:

And people often talk as if the 'annihilation' of a soul were intrinsically possible. In all our experience, however,the destruction of one thing means the emergence of something else. Burn a log, and you have gases, heat and ash. To have been a log means now being those three things. If soul can be destroyed, must there not be a state of having been a human soul? And is not that, perhaps, the state which is equally well described as torment, destruction, and privation?
Micah said…
Ah, thanks! It's been ages since I've read Problem of Pain -- I should again.

Not really sure how it's immediately apparent that his idea is absurd there, though. If a soul can be destroyed, it's perfectly reasonable to wonder whether it would be a complete annihilation or if something would remain in the wake of destruction, like the ash from a log.

Personally, I don't think God would allow any soul to continue being destroyed by sin to the point of no return, whether that would be some 'ash' or absolutely nothing left. I think His grace will always allow some breathing room, for the experience of decayed relationships, of 'outer darkness' to bring the prodigal to the point of breaking, to see the pig sty for what it is when all illusions are laid bare, and to rise to return to the Father through repentance (through the Way of the Son.)

But if you read the pages after that quote, you'll see some of the idea of the lost being 'ghostly' that I'm kind of envisioning above -- the decay will bring some loss compared to the earthly human experience. Can definitely see a connection between what Lewis writes about here and the imagined situation in the Great Divorce! And can definitely see where he's wrestling with the things he has read in George MacDonald's sermons, not quite convinced of his universalist outlook, at least at the time he wrote this book, but obviously inspired by the thoughts and questions of his 'master'/mentor in many ways.
wtanksley said…
No, I'm not saying that the idea is absurd that {a destroyed person MIGHT leave a residue}. I'm saying that the argument that {"annihilationism" is false because a soul MUST leave a residue} is absurd. And that's how Lewis is using it, and how several people used it in audio I listened to this past week.

I'm not a universalist, and you are. So we disagree :) on what God will "allow". Respectfully, and as brothers in Christ.

Micah said…
William -

Ah, got it. Yeah, I didn't really read it as him saying it was a logical impossibility that 'annihilationism' is true. Rather he doubts it is true based on:

- the pattern with all other things we can observe is that 'destruction' of those things leaves something else in its wake

- that 'something else' is in a state of having been what was destroyed

- would be reasonable that the 'destroyed' soul isn't an exception to the pattern

He then says 'perhaps' the something else in this case could be described as being in the state of torment, destruction, and privation.

I disagree with Lewis in that I think there will always be humanity left in the person, that can be reached by God's grace. Nothing can totally, irrevocably separate us from the Love of God and the hope that brings, not even ourselves and the destruction and decay we bring to our souls.

But one question that does come to my mind regarding 'annihilation'. Even if the soul or existence of a person is blotted out (whether there be a residue or not afterwards), does not the idea of that person continue to exist eternally within the mind of God? God never forgets about that person that was, and the person that might have been. What is to prevent God from ever performing a 'reboot' of the person, bringing him or her out of annihilation? Is not the idea and information and memory of the person perfectly preserved in the mind of God? Is it impossible for God to even then bring back a person from that darkest of abysses: non-existence? And if doing so would perhaps eventually result in that person becoming who they were meant to be, why would the God who has no pleasure in the death of anyone and desires that all should come to Him not do so?

In that sense is utter, irreversible 'annihilation' actually possible? Is it impossible for God to reverse that if He wills?
wtanksley said…
It doesn't seem innately likely that the ashes of a log actually are a log that's in a state of torment. But if you reverse that, so that a being "in torment" is a symbol for all that the being stood for being forever in ashes and disgrace -- well, it just so happens that you and I could agree on a reading of Revelation 20:10.

I think that your comment about God always holding humans in mind is very perceptive, and in fact many of my physicalist brothers happen to hold God's memory as the only foundation of resurrection. (I don't hold that view, but I respect it.) It would indeed be silly to look for something God cannot do, or to demand that we find evidence that God CAN do something. We may assume He CAN! Of course, we must not assume anything because of that -- we do not understand God's plans, unlike Job's counselors. (I don't say that as an argument against universalism.)

This is something I've pointed out before when a universalists demanded I prove that God said the destruction of the wicked is "irrevocable" -- he wanted me to find evidence that that precise word is appropriate. Naturally, my answer was what you just said -- that's the wrong thing to ask about God.
James Goetz said…
I've not read the replies of others, but here's my *short* answer: A body of a person who eventually accepts Christ's gift of salvation. This is a great question and I will focus more on it when I've more time....:-)
Peter Grice said…
Robin, very astute question in the OP. I wish I had your words.

I can at least give you my thoughts as a token CI proponent. Firstly, here is how CI is defined in the "Statement on Evangelical Conditionalism":

// Conditionalism is the view that life or existence is the Creator’s provisional gift to all, which will ultimately either be granted forever on the basis of righteousness (by grace, through faith), or revoked forever on the basis of unrighteousness. //

This is intended to express a view of salvation and damnation. Note that a view of human constitution is absent. Although creational anthropology (and intermediate consciousness) is a subject to often arise when discussing our view, I personally recommend against such a focus. God has different means available, so I personally think all such discussion is moot, although some physicalists might disagree.

Of course the real point of immortality is living forever, and not the means by which this might occur. So, in selecting the term “immortality” to refer to our soteriology, we mean it in the sense of ultimacy. To our way of thinking, it can be interchangeable with “eternal life,” understood as the gift of life given to us permanently.

Without this CI frame in place, annihilation becomes incoherent as a punishment. CI reminds us that death is privation of life, and by extension, that a final death is privation of eternal life or immortality. ECT proponents isolate "Hell" from "Heaven" and tend to insist that we just discuss the fate of the impenitent. But both CI and UR demur: our view being that damnation is the reciprocal of salvation on the time and axis; your view being that condemnation resolves into salvation. In either case, "Hell" is incoherent if it doesn't refer beyond itself.

Not to put too finer point on it, but annihilation*ism* just is conditionalism, some would say. I try to nix the "ism" if I really do just want to refer to annihilation as an event. As an event, it's a helpful proxy, but best understood as the means of rendering an eternal punishment.
Peter Grice said…
With that clarification in place, a better emphasis opens up for our interest in constitution: the resurrection/Parousia. This to us is the completion of God’s redemptive work, with the resurrection/transfiguration anticipating final judgment. It may also be taken to deny post-resurrection repentance.

So, on our scheme, the differences between the two kinds of resurrection are indicative of ultimate destinies. But in keeping with our qualitative frame when it comes to the eternal outlook, we think that the differences are both qualitative and quantitative.

Only one is "a resurrection like his" (Rom 6:5), where a believer, like Jesus, "will never die again [because] death no longer has dominion" over him (v9). Being permanent, this is " even better resurrection" for the righteous than a temporary return to life (Heb 11:35; NIV). "Sin will have no dominion over" believers under grace, who are "dead to sin and alive to God," just as Jesus also "died to sin" and "lives to God" as one risen from the dead (Rom 6:14, 11, 10). To "live to him" means that in the resurrection they "cannot die anymore," being "sons of God" and "sons of the resurrection," worthy to attain to the inheritance of eternal life in the age to come (Luke 20:34-38 cf. Luke 18:30).

You mentioned that John 5:28–29 is a classic statement of the two resurrections (and I think Andrew is right to see it as a restatement of Daniel 12:2, although wrong to render that with "everlasting shame" rather than “everlasting contempt”).

But in v24-26 I see that literal event at the end of the age being used as a model for a spiritual event to occur in the present. The setup for the parallel is given in v21: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” He gives it now to those who hear his words (v24), so that at an hour that is "now hear," the dead, having heard his voice, “will live” (v25). It sounds for all the world like the event of v28-29, and yet is discernibly proleptic/participatory/realized. The “life in himself” delegation in v26 is instructive for v29, I think, “life” being passed down the chain to those humans participating in “the resurrection of life.”

And that phase is actually apt for “a resurrection like his,” as a resurrection where death has no jurisdiction or legal dominion; where there is no condemnation of death for shameful sins (Rom 6:22; 8:1), which would seem to be outstanding for those of the “resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29). Spiritually speaking, if one is now dead and stands condemned already (John 3:18), rising from the grave is no victorious return to life. This makes further sense in light of the subclass of those who are alive when Christ returns as a thief in the night, but whose standing is already death and condemnation. The bodies of believers will be changed in that instant, but unbelievers will retain their mortal, corruptible, inglorious, fleshly bodies.

Inasmuch as believers will share in “a resurrection like his,” he will also “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Rom 6:5; Phil 3:21). The redeemed body is prepared with qualities fit for everlasting life in the resurrection (fit for both its enduring and blessed nature). As the “firstfruits” of this resurrection unto eternal life, Jesus is “firstborn from among the dead” (1 Cor 15:23; Col 1:18), “the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” being transformed into His image (Rom 8:29 cf. 2 Cor 3:18).
Peter Grice said…
This brings me finally to the point I really wanted to offer before closing out (and sorry for the gratuitious length!). Dana helpfully raised the ideas of theosis and recapitulation. Of interest to me, Irenaeus— whom we claim for CI—being a primary source for both.

I find much to commend in EO views, and agree with your pushback that an atoning Incarnation still needs to make sense of the cross. I would extend this by pointing to Christ’s resurrection as the first fruit or result of the atoning sacrifice. But the recognition that only one kind of resurrection is a “resurrection like his,” with all its inclusions with respect to glorified form, seems to simultaneously admit much of what EO says about a general transformation of human nature, while nonetheless limiting this to the particular resurrection of life. Thus, I could not affirm that “all will be resurrected because Christ was resurrected.” Since on the majority EO view some of those will suffer eternally, their ultimate fate seems like an unfortunate side-effect of the Incarnation.

CI has a way to understand a general/universal transformation of human nature and redemption of all things, as being genuinely comprehensive without implicating the resurrection of the wicked: their imminent disqualification and disinheritance from the final age and redeemed cosmos. Additionally, a fairly literal rendering of recapitulation in terms of a new act of creation, where the Incarnated creator echoes the original creation by fashioning a new humanity from Christ, the new Adam. Thus there are two humanities, even as their are two kingdoms with their sons, and so there are two kinds of resurrection. Christ then “sums up all things in heaven and earth,” which in terms of humanity locates him as head over his body, the ekklesia, “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:10, 22-23). This “inheritance of the saints” given to “us who believe” works according to the great power at work in Christ “when he raised him from the dead” (v18-20). Paul wants to know “the power of his resurrection,” becoming “like him in his death,” in order to “attain the resurrection from the dead.”

You presented a conundrum in the OP, but it also relates to this other puzzle of the occasional language of an exclusively particular resurrection. I think that the redundancy of resurrection-unto-annihilation (if you’re already as good as dead, you won’t be brought back for very long) may account for the phenomenon of scripture sometimes sounding as if only the righteous are ever resurrected. I would add that it is easy to see how some resurrection passages (such as 1 Cor 15) might have been misunderstood by some patristics to be speaking universally, which led the EO tradition to devise a scheme of several distinctions in order to broach tensions emerging from a universally victorious/positive resurrection. Romans 8:11 directly challenges that, if indeed it speaks to believer’s resurrection: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

I would be very interested in being pointed to UR challenges to the CI views expressed here, or UR accounts of the distinctions between the resurrections, if any come to mind.
Micah said…
Hi, Peter -- just a quick clariication for my sake: are you saying your view is that there is no actual resurrection of the lost? Or that there is, but just continuing with the old body they had?
Peter Grice said…
Hi, Micah. Thanks for the chance to clarify. I do hold to a bodily resurrection of the lost (although in certain respects it is a bit like what some have called a temporary “resuscitation”).

See 1 Cor 15:42-58. I read this as referring to a believer’s resurrection, commensurate with inheriting the kingdom of God (v50). One could construct a list of attributes characterizing that (eg. immortal, victorious) and, by inference, of their opposites (eg. mortal, flesh and blood, perishable, of the dust).

But I did mention an interesting conundrum: apart from several references to a resurrection of the unsaved, the Bible seems most often to comfortably speak as if only the righteous return to life. It often seems as if to be resurrected at all, signifies the gift of eternal life. Conditional Immortality accounts for this in terms of the resurrection of the unsaved being redundant.

Another illustration. Martha believed that Lazarus would live again at "the resurrection on the last day." Jesus replied, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die." (John 11:25-26).

The passage of John 6:39-46 elaborates on how one gets to be raised by him on the last day, and why it matters that he is not only the resurrection, but also "the life." There are plain-language statements about living forever and not dying, and the important category of participation: we must have this life from God inside us, in order to be raised to live forever. v63 is instructive: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." And so when we come to pauline theology after Pentecost, we find that the indwelling Spirit is instrumental in the transformation of the flesh/body of believers.

I believe that we should rigorously study all that Jesus has to say, sometimes very plainly and distinctly, about the resurrection of life. Then when we come to the contrast of John 5:29, it is no leap to infer that those things do not characterize the resurrection of the unsaved.
Robin Parry said…

I don't have time to reply at length, but wanted to indicate that I am inclined to agree with much of what you say — though with a universalist finale.

Thanks for your careful statement of your position.

Andy H said…
I always took the resurrection of the wicked so that they could glorify Christ Jesus for the 1,000 rule where 'every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...'
The eschatological nature is so they can do this. Maybe I am wrong but that is how I see it
Pat McDermott said…
Hi, Robin,
'Four Views of Hell' is fabulous...especially your section and comments!

Regarding your question RE 'Do the wicked immediately received an immortal body?', a verse came to mind: Jn 20:17: "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father..." Someone pointed out that perhaps at that point Jesus had not yet received his incorruptible body. So if Jesus had to pass through an intermediary physical state, perhaps those who have not yet accepted Christ's everlasting forgiveness also will have some intermediary state. Best regards, Pat
Robin Parry said…
Thanks very much Pat.

John 20:17 is a much discussed and controverted text. I would not like to say for sure what it meant, but I am inclined to think that the "someone" you refer to was mistaken. The Risen Lord presumably had a resurrection body (which is incorruptable) after the resurrection. This verse would be a very slender basis on which to suggest otherwise, especially when several other viable interpretations of it lie to hand. But, as I say, I have no settled view on the verse, so ...

Thanks for sharing the suggestion.
Peter Grice said…
Perhaps this saying is best understood in light of purity and temple-access motifs. To ascend to the Father is to enter into His presence, in terms of ritual purity and cleanliness:

// For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. // (Heb 7:26)

In other words, to have been touched by this person at this stage, would not have been fitting in terms of preparations to enter into priesthood.

On this broader question of the distinctions between types of resurrection, I think it is significant that 1 Corinthians 15:50 prohibits "flesh and blood" from entering the kingdom. We can affirm the physical nature of the resurrected Jesus, in terms of it being "the same" body. So it doesn't quite mean that, and 1 Corinthians 15 doesn't make physicality profane (as in Gnosticism). But it does have a beef with Adamic form in terms of breath-based or "soulish" life/body: the sōma psychikos. To be resurrected merely with "the same" body doesn't seem to cut it.

It is necessary, says Paul, that we of the dust-bound image receive the image of the man from heaven, who is a life-producing spirit. We need the sōma pneumatikos in place of the sōma psychikos (v44).
Robin Parry said…

That is a very sensible and interesting suggestion re: priesthood.

I agree on the body question

Pat McDermott said…
Thanks, Robin, for your comments. I will delve more deeply into John 20:17 to hear what others have to say.
And thank you, Peter, for your observations, very intriguing. And it makes a lot of sense regarding the priesthood.

the5000run said…
Resurrection of a functionally redeemed person is tied with Christ's. The resurrection of a non-regenerate person is not tied to Christ's, but tied to the Father, who gives an ontic space to the unrepentant dead in a resurrection for judgment.

The resurrection of condemnation is really in my view God's way of affirming the Imago Dei of the damned. Instead of performing a surgery with the damned under amnesia, he gives them the dignity of consciously experiencing the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit in a baptism of fire.

That's how I read it.
Robin Parry said…
Interesting suggestion the5000run. Thanks for sharing
Unknown said…
M. Mackie (Scotland)said....

Allow me to humbly write what is clearly written in Scripture - Regarding the two resurrections

The 'blessed' 1st Resurrection - is that of the obedient and righteous saints will be raised, at Christ's Second Coming, at the last trumpet call, from their graves, as 'spirit beings' just like God in Christ Jesus, to live a thousand years in God's Coming Kingdom on earth.
The Protestant thinking is that when one dies he/she goes straight to heaven or hell, this is not scriptural.

The 2nd Resurrection or the Resurrection of the Dead, takes place after the thousand years on earth and after Satan and his demons have been condemned to the Lake of Fire.
The Dead (all those who disobeyed God's voice) or as God calls them 'the Wicked' are raised to physical form. As in Rev 20:11 they will stand before Christ their judge, they will be judged and condemned for their wickedness and disobedience towards God in their former life, to the 2nd Death (the Lake of Fire). They will not endure eternal suffering as is taught, but their physical bodies will burn to ashes to permanent extinction - Malachi 4:3 (as if they were never born).

Calvin erred in many of his teachings because he understood it only with his human mind, he was not inspired by God's Holy Spirit power as the prophets and apostles were in their sacred writings.
Another of Calvin's many errors was that the gospel was solely of 'Christ on the Cross.'
God sent Christ (God manifest in the flesh THE WORD) to the earth to teach the gospel of 'God's Coming Kingdom on earth' for only spirit form can enter heaven. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God' (1Cor 15:50).

Finally another of Calvin's many errors was the teaching of the Trinity. Christ said 'I and my Father are one' (John 10:30) meaning God the Creator is God the Father and Christ (THE WORD) is God the Son. There are no other Gods in the Godhead, only the Father and the Son. In all the apostles letters to the various churches, not one of them address their letter to the Holy Spirit, they addressed only God the Father and Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit is God's Spirit Power, a gift gifted by God to each man who repents of his sins, is baptised (full immersion) and by the laying on of hands, only then does God gift the repentant sinner His Spirit Power within him. It is God's Spirit, the Comforter, that guides and strengthens those who follow and obey God's voice in all things.

Hope this has helped, God Bless

God's commands are to keep His Sabbath(s) His 7th day Sabbath, His annual holy Feast Day Sabbaths (Calvin never taught or knew of God's Sabbaths) also to observe all God's Laws, statutes and judgements. This is total obedience to God
Anonymous said…
The gift of faith in Christ is immortality. 1 Cor. 15 tells us what it will be like.
The wicked who went to the grave in the same state that you and I did will be raised in that same state. They will know their fate. There will be wailing, regret, gnashing of teeth. However, though everyone knows their fate it will still be announced at the white throne judgement. At that time they will be sentenced to the lake of fire where they will be destroyed.

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