I Want a Public Funeral Where Christians are Angry At Death
Luke 24: 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence
I Corinthians 15: 39 ALL FLESH IS NOT THE SAME FLESH, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
I Corinthians 15: 49 And as we have borne the image of the manof dust, we shall also bear[f] the image of the heavenly Man. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that FLESH AND BLOOD cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
We don’t need to be happy when somebody is dead. As he explained, “ If I die before the trumpet sounds, I want a loud public funeral. I don’t want a quiet private exit. I don’t want them to think of me ‘as I was’. I want them to think that I am now dead. I want somebody to preach about the resurrection.” P 77
When a Christian is dead, we still have hope. R and I differed about a secondary part of that hope. He still believed in a conscious “intermediate state” for the “souls”. And to avoid assuming that the trajectory toward truth runs in only one direction (my way), let me describe my position as R might: I still believe that there is no intermediate conscious state, and part of the reason I think that is because most everybody who teaches such a conscious state thinks that death is our friend.
But R and I agree: the body is not our enemy, and death is not our friend. There are many wonderful things in this book, and I am already hoping that Rainbow’s family will soon publish other parts of his work. I even hope for a sequel called Glory to Earth!
When I read him describe the second coming on p 75, I wanted to ask: will Christ get all the way down here to earth, or only as far as the meeting in the air?
Revelation 21: 2-3 “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man…”
Let me list a few of the topics R addresses:
Is there healing now for the justified elect, and what does this have to do with spiritual warfare? p38
If sickness is no longer a consequence of sin (as it was in the Mosaic covenant), why then must Christians experience physical death? P 40 In what sense can sin be a punishment for sin?
Why are Lutherans wrong about the communication of attributes and ubiquity, and why is Christ present here now only in His deity but not in His humanity? P 64
R does a good job of showing the problems not only with Platonism but also with materialism. As he warns, “The materialist thinks that what is not public is not sin.” p 83 And then R attempts to steer a middle way between Platonism and materialism. As he points out, at least the Pharisees were not Platonists: but as those who believe in material resurrection, the Pharisees often became legalists, imposing extra-biblical rules on people. They were not Gnostics, not antinomians.
If I could talk with R today, I would argue with him that, in his concern for the body being consecrated to God, he also goes too far toward legalism. But then, as a fellow “Anabaptist”, I would argue that he does not go far enough in warning Christians about killing other bodies. He not only does not say anything against military “service”, but tends to assume its legitimacy. He is far more concerned about us not killing ourselves with immoderate drinking and eating.
Here are some topics we could discuss:
He extrapolates from “not work, not eat” to ruling out the idea of retirement. P 92
Some of his rules sound very “Methodist”, as if we should become bourgeois capitalists with a puritan work ethic. For example, “A Christian may be wealthy but may not live wealthy”. P 133. Or this: “We must say no to sleep”. P 127
Sometimes he even seems to be saying that we should only have enough sex for survival and procreation and to avoid immorality. P 95. Stoics ask, Can you do without it? But all that being said, R asks thoughtful and important questions. He even dares to write about “freedom from marriage”. P 129. That is not something you hear very often from those who practically equate the family with church, either by baptizing infants or by teaching parenting instead of the gospel.
To end on a positive note, R does a good job of telling the truth about death in its complexity. Yes, we want a loud funeral where people are sad and not fake, where people are angry at our “last enemy, death”. But our life here and now before death, and before the resurrection to come, is not ultimately important to us. Because Jesus Christ is risen, and we comfort one another with these words: we shall always be with the Lord.
As his daughter writes in the appendix about his recent death: we are waiting. One day the Lord shall always be with us.
P 134—“Martyrdom is not suicide… The mystic Teresa of Avila undertook a missionary journey to the Muslims to achieve martyrdom. She came back alive and disappointed…Somebody today could attempt martyrdom by preaching in the streets of Tehran, but that is not God’s will.”
Resurrection means that we
have in our future realities
which have the bad taste
to still be visible, for instance
unique and individual
resurrected blood vessels
so that between now
and then is not a difference
where what matters is not matter
why do you want to go to heaven
without waiting to get back
your own live eyeballs
new and improved
that day immortal and “spiritual”
eyeballs completely controlled
by the Holy Spirit of Christ
advocates of the incorporeal
talk about a landless land and a timeless time
inhabited only by full essences
a world all clean
refined and very light
where time and space
will not matter
a matter-less world with no touching
that helps us
avoid awkward truths
like that conspicuous hole in the ground
when we’re dead
and waiting for the resurrection,