Q & R: Bodily resurrection

Here’s the Q:

It was a huge encouragement for me to hear you at Greenbelt and subsequently read your ‘New Kind of Christianity’. In particular it has shown me I’m not the only one who approaches the scriptures as a cultural library rather than a legal constitution. I have a query which is fidgeting around in my little brain, which has to do with the critical importance Paul gives to the bodily resurrection of Jesus and what that means for us as believers in terms of our bodily resurrection in the future. Paul seems to believe that those who believe in Jesus as God will one day literally rise from the dead and be transformed. It seems a bit if a stretch to interpret this as being metaphorically about now, although I agree that we also have a new life now in Christ. I would really value knowing your thoughts on this.

Here’s the R:

I believe in Christ’s real and actual resurrection in history. But I’m aware that Paul, in 1 Cor., said that the body that is resurrected is as different from the body that was buried as a tree is from the seed from which it grew (1 Cor. 15:42 ff). Perhaps this difference is hinted at in the way that Mary Magdalene and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus couldn’t immediately recognize the risen Christ. So I avoid being overly dogmatic about what form a resurrected person takes … My confidence is, with Paul, that to be absent from the physical body is to be present with the Lord … that we are no less with the Lord after death than we are before death. Much more could be said, but that, for me, is enough for me to live with hope and without fear. I hope that helps!
I mentioned on another reply today my book Story We Find Ourselves In – that’s a book where I engage with the issue of death. You can also download an article I wrote on the subject titled “making eschatology personal” here.