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To Believe with All Your Senses:The Resurrection of the Body

Catholic Theological Society of America
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CTSA060.pdf • CTSA PROCEEDINGS 60 (2005): 1-12 • TO BELIEVE WITH ALL YOUR SENSES: THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY John Updike was right when he wrote in “Roger’s Version”: “The resurrection of the flesh is the most emphatic and intrinsic of orthodox doctrines, though in our present twilight of faith the most difficult to believe.” We shall try to bring some clarity into the present “twilight of faith” at this point. I. THE BODY Elisabeth: The resurrection of the body? There are a good many questions here. Resurrection is the central theme of Christian theology. But the umbrella of this idea covers the most varied wishes and images: hope for a kingdom of God; the immortality of the soul; a life after death; and a reunion with the dead who have gone before us. According to a questionnaire circulated in Germany, “there is a widespread belief . . . that another or next life will follow” (K. P. Jörns). But the enquiry showed that beliefs of this kind have cut themselves off from dogmatics. The essential point is the “that” of this perspective, not the “how.” But if we look closely, we see that the central theme of Christian theology isn’t simply “resurrection”; it is “the resurrection of the body.” This is the way we find it in Pauline theology. This is the form in which it has passed into dogmatics. And this is what we find in our creed. And in this form resurrection has become a problem for many people, and many Christians, women and men. Bodies are present to us every day, in beauty and in frightfulness. Bodies aren’t covered up, are not hidden, are no longer subject to any tabu. The media confront us every day with myriad pictures of dead, murdered, drowned, violated bodies. Can we set the resurrection of the body against this? Modern industry has made the surgical and aesthetic transformation of our bodies possible. Has this anything to do with the resurrection of the body? Bodies can be cannibalized. Body parts can be transplanted. The human body evidently has laten

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