Saturday, August 27, 2011

I believe in the resurrection. . .

What do the modern day Jews believe?  The Orthodox position, according to Yitz Greenberg, a leading Orthodox rabbi, says: “Belief in the afterlife—a world to come in which the righteous get their true reward and the wicked get their deserved comeuppance—is a central teaching of traditional Judaism.”   Other segments of American Judaism differ significantly from this.  Peter Schweitzer, a rabbi from the City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in New York, put his personal faith in this way: “Most people I know believe that this is the only life we’ll ever know.”

The Orthodox position connects well with both traditional Christianity and Islam, in which the resurrection of the dead to an everlasting life is an essential component of the faith. The "Abrahamic consensus" stands against some of the other religious traditions.

There was a time when the average individual Jew, not able to aspire to be Elijah, took comfort in the thought that he would lived on in his descendants.  For this reason the loss of your children or infertility was more feared than death itself since it meant that your existence ended.  This, in part, explains why Deuteronomy 25:5 states: "If a man dies childless, his brother is commanded to produce offspring with the widow, so “that his [the dead man’s] name may not be blotted out of Israel”.  The son born of this brotherly duty carried on the name of the dead man, and he lives on through this "son" who continues his name.  In contrast to this the Book of Ezekiel speaks of a future resurrection.  In addition, unambiguous reference to individual physical resurrection is found in the opening lines of Daniel 12.  No one can mistake the words of Job 19.

"Most people I know believe that this is the only life we'll ever know."  I am not sure what kind of people Rabbi Schweitzer hangs with but the vast majority of Americans of every religious stripe or non-religious perspective believe in some sort of afterlife.  While it may be said that some of those who believe in an afterlife also believe in the strange oddities of spirit existence and reincarnation, I think it is safe to say that Americans long for and want to believe that this is not the only life you will ever know.  Whether it is formed and shaped by the clear word of Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life and whose own resurrection represents the first fruits of those who sleep, the first born of the dead of many who will to follow Him, or something vague and uncertain, we want more than yesterday and today.  We want to be certain of a real tomorrow where tears no longer flow, death no longer reigns, and contentment and peace rule.

It seems to me one more mark of just how of step the liberal religious segment of our culture as well as its secular counter part are with the average American (no matter what religion he or she professes).  That said, there is but One who raised the dead and whose own resurrection is the seal and guarantee of our joyful resurrection with those whom we love who have departed in the faith, to live with Christ in the blessedness that He has prepared for all those who love His appearing.


Janis Williams said...
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Janis Williams said...

Sad truth is, many Christians don't look like they believe there's anything more than this life.

I'm guilty.