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Can God perform a miracle such as the bodily resurrection of Jesus?

 

Question & Answer

 
Q: By Matt
 
I’m an interested non-believer who is very fond of progressive faith traditions and their communities. I just finished reading the chapter in the book Kissing Fish on “Evil and Theodicy” because that is one of two biggest stumbling blocks to faith of any kind for me (the other is that I am extremely hesitant to infer any kind of divine being as an explanation for anything, out of fear that it might prove to be a god-of-the-gaps argument). I have to say that I have more respect for panentheism than classical theism because it at last respects the problem of evil and suffering more than classical theism. However, I want to ask a question: can God (from a panentheistic view) perform a miracle in history such as the bodily resurrection of Jesus? 
 
A: By Rev. Roger Wolsey
 
Dear Matt,

I’m delighted that you’re reading my book and that you are resonating with the theology I am suggesting in that chapter. Different panentheists may answer your question differently. Many progressive Christians embrace the idea of a spiritual resurrection of Jesus instead of a physical one. It was a spiritually resurrected Jesus that Saul encountered on his famed road to Damascus, and if it was good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for us!

As a panentheist who embraces process theology, I would say, no – God isn’t able to violate the laws of physics and “do a physical resurrection” – at least not as that’s traditionally understood. I would say, however, that God and certain humans co-creatively “resurrected” Jesus within the life of those early followers of Jesus who were grieving his death – through remembrances and epiphanies such as the one that happened on the road to Emmaus. They came to realize that the truth of the Way that Jesus had been teaching (the way of compassion, unconditional love, forgiveness, restorative justice, mercy and loving-kindness) really and truly does provide vital and transformative life – abundant and eternal. And that it can’t be killed. Those who came to this realization are those who Jesus continues to “live in” and as such, they, collectively, are the living Body of Christ. So, in a way, that is a physical resurrection – embodied in the lives of the community of believers.

~ Rev. Roger Wolsey

*** This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.

About the Author
Rev. Roger Wolsey is a United Methodist pastor who resides in Grand Junction, CO. Roger is author of Kissing Fish: Christianity for people who don’t like Christianity and blogs for Patheos as The Holy Kiss and serves on the Board of Directors of ProgressiveChristianity.Org. Roger became “a Christian on purpose” during his college years and he experienced a call to ordained ministry two years after college. He values the Wesleyan approach to the faith and, as a certified spiritual director, he seeks to help others grow and mature. Roger enjoys yoga; playing trumpet; motorcycling; and camping with his son. He served as the Director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at the University of Colorado in Boulder for 14 years, and has served as pastor of churches in Minnesota, Iowa, and currently serves as the pastor of Fruita UMC in Colorado, and also serves as the “CRM” (Congregational Resource Minister/Church Consultant) for the Utah/Western Colorado District of the Mountain Sky Conference.

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