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Embodied Resurrection

The word “resurrection” has commonly been used by Christians for many years now to mean effectively, “life after death.” So that when people read the Easter story they think, “Isn’t that wonderful? Jesus died, then he was raised, then he went to heaven; well, we’ll die, we’ll go to heaven and that’s pretty much the same thing. And they miss the whole point of the bodily resurrection, which has to do with “new creation,” because most Christians — and indeed many Jews in the modern world as John Levison has argued in his new book — don’t actually have in their minds a picture of what resurrection really is, which is: a new bodily life after a period of being bodily dead.

In other words, resurrection is not life after death, it’s life after, life after death. We’re talking about a two-stage post-mortem reality. A time of being bodily dead, and then — if you want to talk about going to heaven, then that’s what’s going on at that point. But then, the new heavens and new earth that were promised will form the theatre or stage within which we’ll be given new bodies to live within God’s new world....

Somewhere in the late 18th and particularly through the 19th century, this got completely overtaken by a platonic hope for simply going to heaven, and the word “resurrection” simply became a metaphor for that hope of going to heaven — which now is all that most Christians think about.

- N.T. Wright, in an interview from Homiletics magazine
Cited by Homiletics editor Timothy Merrill, from the March 18, 2008 entry in his blog: