Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Resurrection literal, or not? Easter beliefs tinged by nuance

Today, the majority of the Christian world is celebrating Easter.

The Easter story — Jesus' resurrection after death on the cross — is central to Christian doctrine, with a general understanding that without that long-ago event, there would be no Christianity as we know it.

There is disagreement, though. Some theologians and clerics question the traditional account of the Easter story. Among the best known is retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, a bane of Christian orthodoxy for suggesting that Jesus' resurrection might have been metaphorical rather than literal.

Spong perhaps is best known for his book Resurrection: Myth or Reality? A Bishop's Search of the Origins of Christianity. Over the years, he has questioned not only the Resurrection but the virgin birth.

Regardless of philosophy, a general consensus seems to exist about the transformative power of the Easter story.

Henry Blackaby, a well-known Christian author, addressed the topic in his latest book, Experiencing the Resurrection.

"You can easily tell the people who have been walking with the risen Christ by how they live their lives over time. ... These people are not anxious or worried about tomorrow,'' said the Southern Baptist, who writes with his son, Melvin Blackaby.

"And their lives are making a difference. & They're a joy to be around; they uplift everyone who knows them.''

Speaking from his home in Atlanta, Blackaby, a retired executive with the Southern Baptist Convention, said Jesus' death and resurrection are proven by more than 2,000 years of "radically transformed lives.''

"Without the Resurrection,'' he said, "there is no Christianity. Otherwise, you just have religion. Christianity is more than a religion. It's a relationship with the living Lord.''

The Blackaby book rebuts arguments that Jesus simply passed out on the cross and woke up in the tomb. It discusses Jesus' injuries and trauma: "After such an ordeal, can you imagine Jesus having the strength to loosen Himself from under a hundred pounds of burial spices & unwrap Himself from the linen strips that tightly bound Him & and roll away the stone that sealed His tomb?''

The details aren't important to followers of the Unity movement, says the Rev. Temple Hayes of First Unity Church of St. Petersburg. The "New Thought" organization believes in Jesus' bodily resurrection but interprets the Easter event as a lesson in individual rebirth.

The Easter story represents "the resurrection from old ideas to new ways of thinking. In Unity, we think to put more emphasis on the life of Jesus and his message rather than his death. We do not see his death as something that is sad and depressing,'' Hayes said.

"The compelling power of Easter presents a new vision for overcoming, reawakening and ultimately a change of mind about the meaning of the world. To rise above any experience of pain, limitations or lack or seeming defeat reflects the ultimate message of Easter.''

In Seminole, the Rev. Robert A. Wierenga is conducting a yearlong class based on the Apostles' Creed, which lays out the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith.

"According to the Apostles' Creed, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the central teachings of the Christian faith,'' said Wierenga, pastor of Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church.

Belief in the Resurrection sets Christianity apart from other faiths, some of which acknowledge Jesus only as a great teacher, he said.

"The Resurrection is an affirmation of the goodness of God,'' Wierenga said. "On Easter, we affirm that it is God's desire to bring healing and restoration and redemption to his creation & I believe that Christianity stands or falls on the biblical teaching of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.''

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@sptimes.com or 892-2283.

Resurrection literal, or not? Easter beliefs tinged by nuance 03/22/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2008 7:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ex-intelligence chief Clapper questions Trump's fitness to hold office (w/video)

    National

    James R. Clapper Jr., former national intelligence director, questioned President Donald Trump's fitness for office following his freewheeling speech in Phoenix Tuesday night, which Clapper labeled "downright scary and disturbing."

    James R. Clapper Jr., former national intelligence director, questioned President Donald Trump's fitness for office following his freewheeling speech in Phoenix Tuesday night, which Clapper labeled "downright scary and disturbing." [Associated Press]
  2. E Fletcher Avenue may be closed weeks for cavern repairs

    Roads

    Commuters near the University of South Florida will want to find alternate routes with work continuing to repair a "cavern" under E Fletcher Avenue near the Hillsborough River.

     Commuters near the University of South Florida will want to find alternate routes with work continuing to repair a "cavern" under E Fletcher Avenue near the Hillsborough River. [10News WTSP]
  3. Pasco eyes favoring local vendors for county business

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners want to give a leg up to local businesses bidding on county government contracts.

    "It's an economic driver. We owe it to the folks to keep money here, keep jobs here,'' said Pasco Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. about a proposed local preference purchasing ordinance.
  4. Insurance regulators fret over a spike in auto glass claims

    Banking

    TALLAHASSEE — Three months ago, state regulators weren't tracking a surge in broken auto glass claims, particularly in Tampa Bay.

    The issue has their attention now.

    The Office of Insurance Regulation is taking on assignment of benefits abuse in the 2018 legislative session. Pictured is Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. | [Times file photo]
  5. Rick Baker lowers expectations before St. Pete mayoral primary

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker officially lowered expectations in the mayoral race on Tuesday, saying his “battle for the future of the city” against Mayor Rick Kriseman might last until November.

    Baker has consistently led in local polls and fundraising totals this summer. But at a fundraiders …

    Rick Baker addresses supporters on Beach Drive Tuesday