Sermons

Summary: Paul is writing this greatest of all chapters on the resurrection because of the questions of the Corinthians. Some of them were very strange questions. The saying is, there is no such thing as a foolish question, and that holds true even though Paul begins by calling their question foolish.

One of the strangest articles I have ever heard of was the one titled Who Ate Roger Williams. This

great fighter for religious liberty, and the founder of the first Baptist church in America in

Providence, R.I., died and was buried in a very insecure casket. The result was an apple tree broke in

and a large root went right through his body. This led to some very strange speculation. Since part

of the body of Roger Williams would have been absorbed by the root and taken up into that tree, it is

probable that some of these molecules became part of it's apples. Thus, the foolish question--who ate

Roger Williams?

Now this could hardly be a problem from even the most anti-cannibalistic perspective. The

problem is a theological one that men have been wrestling with for centuries. How is God going to

get the body of Roger Williams back together again for the resurrection? This gets enormously

complex if you think of how his molecules could end up scattered all over the world, and becoming

parts of many other bodies which will also be in the resurrection.

This may sound absurd, but it has been a serious theological issue since the early church.

Tertullian, one of the ancient church fathers, was a fighting fundamentalist on this issue. He insisted

that the very body that was buried is the body that will rise at the resurrection. Every hair and every

tooth of this body will be raised, and not a fraction will be lost. This may have been a great comfort

to those who died with a fine head of hair and a full set of teeth, but what about those who had lost

their hair and teeth? Are they to be stuck forever with the literal body that was buried, or can they

anticipate some improvement in their resurrection body? Even more perplexing were the questions

about the Christians that were fed to the lions, or those many who were burned at the stake.

More modern Christians have added their own examples of problems with the body. What of

those lost or buried at sea, and eaten by sharks or other predators? What about those who have died

in planes and various explosions where the body has disintegrated without a trace? There are just too

many seemingly hopeless cases where the body, for all practical purposes, ceases to exist. These

complex situations have led to much doubt about the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.

St. Augustine, way back in the 4th century, spent a good deal of his time writing answers to all

kinds of questions about the resurrection of the body. What about abortion? Will these little bodies

be raised, and if so, what kind of body will they have? Augustine said they were alive and they died,

and since all the dead will be raised, he saw no reason why they would not qualify. This has been the

general belief of Christians ever since. He said all will have equal bodies. All will be like Christ in

the prime of life, and so all children will have mature bodies, and all old people will have young

bodies. All defects will be done away with, and all that is lacking will be added so that none need

fear they will have a body they do not feel comfortable with.

Believe it or not, Augustine had to deal with questions like--will all of our body be resurrected?

Will all that was ever a part of us be a part of the resurrection body? What about all the hair the

barber has cut off over the years? If all of this is to be restored to us, Harry will be the only fitting

name in heaven, and the hippy style will be the style forever. Others asked about finger nails and

about over weight Christians, and still others asked about the deformed. You cannot think of a

question today that was not already asked in the fourth century. There are few theological issues that

have produced so many questions in people's minds, as this issue of the resurrection of the body.

Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, the most famous theological work of the middle ages,

and the primary basis for Catholic theology, goes on and on, page after page, dealing with questions

about the resurrection body. Will the resurrection body have hair, nails, intestines, sex organs, sweat

glands, blood and other fluids of the body? He wrestled with problems most of us never lose any

sleep over. For example, if Adam rises with his full original body, Eve will not be able to rise at all,

for she was made from Adam's rib. If he gets it back in the resurrection, there is nothing left for Eve

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