Thursday, September 07, 2006

You Are Quite Wrong

Mark 12
18 And Sad'ducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 19 "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; 21 and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; 22 and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife."
24 Jesus said to them,
"Is not this why you are wrong,
that you know neither the scriptures
nor the power of God?
25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him,
`I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?
27 He is not God of the dead,
but of the living;
you are quite wrong."


This passage has interest to we Christians in the defense of the resurrection of the dead. "Gotcha," we say to the Sadducees. But it also has a side, but necessary, point concerning the Christ's cosmology. Christians, especially Arminians, like to move God to some place outside of Time in order to make classical theism fit with freedom of the will. There are basic problems with that move but this passage is not usually addressed in the argument. It should be.
If God is atemporal the Sadducee's point could be held and Christ's argument eviscerated. If the Sadducees or Christ knew of an atemporal place where God normally dwelt (and it seems today that Christians without a thought in their pretty heads know about God being "outside of Time") then the verse quoted by Christ would naturally be applied to God’s relationship with the patriarchs being “always” (from His atemporal vantage) and would not necessitate an “afterlife”. He, God, could be the God of the living because He is atemporally and consequently, permanently there in their living times. That would answer the verse speaking of the patriarch's "present" relationship with God and His with them. But Christ leans on the present tense of the remark as if their past state and now dead condition was of no consequence. But was not their past life a place that God could access in His atemporal dimension? So certainly would the Sadducees say if they knew of this silly notion. Christ is affirming that they are alive in the Now, in an afterlife synchronous with our earthly life, and only if that state is true can his appeal to the tense of the verse bear any weight. His relationships must claim the actuality of the beings related to and the Past and the Future have no "living" people and are not places that even exist in the relationships of God.

The oracle: Jesus Christ's view of the afterlife necessitates transcendent heavenlies that don't transcend "was, is, and will be".

After all, (and I mean "after"), Amen.

5 comments:

The Anti-Darwin said...

My breathing became much more relaxed once I finished reading "You Are Quite Wrong". The reason for the anxiety is based upon the comments that appear in "The Nonesuch" and "Of Mysteries Too Great for Mere Mortals". In the one, you write that "I was ... the cutest child ever born", and in the other you begin by proclaiming "A miracle happened last night." I was not aware that unspecified events of small probability could be classified as "miracles", nor am I convinced. Thus, when I began reading "You Are Quite Wrong", I very nearly expected a "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" to bolt its way to the fore. Or did I miss something?

The Oracle said...

Nope, you didn't miss a thing. I'll take the tentative nature of your breathing into consideration on future posts.

eunoe said...

Joe here. Trying for the 2nd time to track with you. I venture to summarize your brain-train:

"God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."

If God is atemporal, he can still be the God of the living if people die, because he's still present to them before they died... ?

I'm taking this argument one step at a time. I'm taking my sympathetic hearing of heresy on the installment plan. Questions will wait politely until you respond or find them on your front porch reading 'something important.'

The Oracle said...

And they are still present to Him.

(This is all assuming an "actual" atemporality, meaning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are actually always alive for God. My view is that the Past and Future are conceptual rather than actual for God.)

Nuallain said...

In that case how do you deal with the verb tenses in Jhn 8:58 (after all he could have used aorist or perfect tenses)? As far as verb tenses in this passage go, the reference is to being (present tense) the God of Abraham, Yitzak, & Yaakov and he is communicating to an audience that experiences time in a (roughly) linear fashion. Therefore to say "am" rather than "was" requires an "afterlife" for communication of the correct idea to the audience; it does not preclude atemporality of God or even particularly indicate it since this phrasing is at least equally consistent with atemporality as with non-actuality of non-Present times. And this is key to determining the validity of this idea in Scripture. Scripture is to communicate with us (who are currently experiencing existence temporally) therefore the idea of correct communication within verb tenses is an interesting one.