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Old 07-18-2001, 03:12 PM   #1
Vorkosigan
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Post Daniel Wallace on the Resurrection

Wallace starts off with a slap at the hapless Shirley McLaine. There's nothing funnier than a man who believes in talking snakes, resurrections and virgin births accusing another person of being a fruitcake.
  • Shirley McLaine celebrated her birthday this past spring: she turned 62 and 162 and 262 . . . Many folks in our society today would think that belief in the resurrection is just as looney as belief in reincarnation.

I wondered what the actual rates were, so I looked up several polls on the net, but the number of people believing in reincarnation varies with 20-25% being the believable range (though some polls said 60%!). Interestingly, Barna Group reports that 39% of the population believes Jesus was not physically resurrected, a proportion that holds pretty steady even among born-agains (35%)! See the Barna site

Evidently lots of Christians think physical resurrection is a loony idea.
  • In this essay, however, we want to turn our attention to the theological implications of Christ's resurrection. [snipped]We will begin this brief study with a quick look at the resurrection in the Old Testament, followed by the resurrection of Christ in early Christian preaching.

Wallace then moves on to the OT firstů.
  • The resurrection of the dead was not plainly revealed in the OT until very late in salvation history. It was not until the Jews were taken in captivity, in the sixth century BC, that this was clearly articulated. Daniel 12:1-2 is the principal text.

Dr. Wallace seems unaware that the Book of Daniel dates from between ~167 and ~164 BCE, according to all serious scholars. So El, or Baal, or Yao, or Yahweh, or whatever we're calling him this week, didn't revealed it in the 6th century BCE.
  • Why was it not clearly revealed till then? It was not revealed until there was a felt need for it. [snipped] The revelation of the resurrection came at precisely the time when the people of God needed hope for the future.

Actually, it didn't come at this time. And thus, the theological discussion falls apart in a welter of effusive praise:
  • What is significant about this is how masterful are God's insights into human nature.

But ol' El didn't have that insight in the 6th century, the anonymous author of Daniel did in the 2nd.
[/list]In the NT era, one religious group in Palestine did not embrace the resurrection as a true doctrine: the Sadducees (cf. Mark
12:18)--that is why they were "sad, you see!"
[/list]
"Cut! Off the stage! Next!"

Wallace compares the Sadducees to those who today are wealthy and reject god for the things of this world, like Televangelists. he then moves on.
  • Nowadays, the new elite are the intellectual elite. They, even more than the wealthy, are the ones who typically reject the supernatural. (Just note the majority of professors in the American universities today.)

A quick run at the NORC GSS data will show that among professors, only 19% list themselves in the "none" column when it comes to religion (off the top of my head). The vast majority believe in the supernatural. But why let facts get in the way of a good diatribe?

Having misunderstood the OT and current US religious beliefs (Barna has some fascinating information on how contradictory US religious beliefs are, finding, for example, that 55% of Born-agains do not believe in the Holy Spirit), Wallace suddenly dips into one of those nihilistic passages Christians of his ilk are so well-known for:
  • The gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. Why? Both because it is a message about a dead Jew hanging on a Roman cross that purports to have some relevance to my life; and because that dead Jew allegedly came to life again. And precisely because of this, he can forgive my sins! Now that, my friends, is a foolish message . . . to those who are on their way to hell.

Well, it is foolishness, anyway. Reading passages like this is like watching a wound bleed. How could anyone be filled with such hatred for his fellow humans?

Wallace relates:
  • (As a young man, I had a pastor who argued that even if Christ were not raised from the dead, Christians were better
    off than others because we have embraced a great ethical system that kept our lives clean.

Clean? Elsewhere Wallace refers to Christians as the "salt of the earth." No false modesty among these Christians.

Wallace then moves on to explain the significance of the Resurrection. He takes the gospel accounts as "proof" that Jesus lived, died and was resurrected. Critical thinking about these alleged events does not enter into the discussion, of course.
For example, he gives us the famous quote:
  • 1Cor. 15:4 "that he was buried, that he was raised on the third
    day in accordance with the scriptures" (RSV)

Said prediction being falsified because there is no prediction that the Messiah would raised on the third day. But facts don't stop Wallace.
  • Thus, if Christ is not raised from the dead, he is a liar. And if he is a liar, then his death did not pay for our sins.

The usual Josh McDowell-esque nonsense. Does Nomad really think this guy is a serious analyst? Neither statement is logically true, and the dilemma posed is entirely false from any of several angles, all familiar to freethinkers on this forum.

We then get more of the fatuous Josh McDowell nonsense:
  • The resurrection of Christ is unique in two major ways:

    * All others who were raised from the dead returned to their graves
    (e.g., Lazarus, Jairus' daughter, Eutychus);
    * Christ's is the only resurrection to take place without a human agent.

This is so awful no reply is needed. Wallace, like so many evangelicals, combines paragraphs of lucidity (his arguments for dismissing the KJV as the best Bible are quite sound) with the most absurd and insane assertions, as if saying so makes it so.

The discussion then drones on to the inevitable Bible quotes, which "guarantee" eternal life for believers and claim that humans are totally sinful and in need of redemption. It ends with another moment of ecstatic Christian nihilism:
  • He is risen! He is risen! That is the best news we can possibly tell a dying world!

Further Wallace reviews to follow, when my appetite recovers from all this nihilistic, inhuman hatred of self and others. A "dying world!" Sounds like bad SF from the 1940s...

Michael

[ July 18, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 07-18-2001, 05:41 PM   #2
Toto
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Post

You forgot the link.

I think that the purpose of the Prof's Soapbox is to sound reasonable, not necessarily to be reasonable. It allows people who want to be Christian to persuade themselves that civilized literate types can be Christian.

Wallace is also good at refuting the wretched excesses of his fellow believers, as in his paean to sex (which still has a number of laughable errors - if a truly Christian marriage is stronger than a non-Christian marriage, why do Christians have a higher divorce rate than non-Christians?)
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