Friday, August 12, 2005

What I Really Meant to Say Was . . .

In the discussion thread to my previous post [at Here We Stand; since deleted by Blogger] FDN has raised some fundamental objections to my post on some philosophical arguments about the intermediate state and the resurrection. FDN claims that by using philosophy to argue articles of faith, I have surrendered to ways of thought characteristic more of Roman Catholicism than Lutheranism and fundamentally hostile to the Gospel.

Let me say here: I believe in the intermediate state and I believe in the resurrection NOT because of any philosophical arguments, but because of Scripture. Seriously, I don't think there is much other possible basis on which to argue for these things. The resurrection in particular is so outlandish as a physical possibility, faith in God's word, in His justice, and in His love for His people can really be the only basis for it.

So why did I cite philosophical arguments in my post? In order to show that there is a problem for those who disbelieve in the intermediate state but believe in the resurrection. This problem exists solely within premises set by Christian doctrine. Nor in fact do I think the problem is necessarily absolutely insoluble (in preparing the previous post, I found a rather long attempt to argue for continuity within a non-dualist framework; unfortunately I can't seem to locate it now). My aim was not to solve the issue on the basis of philosophy, but rather to shake up the thinking of the opposing side (here represented by Josh) so that he might be then willing to look at Scripture again with a fresh eye. Unfortunately, I got waylaid by life and my two pages of scriptural citations are still in the can. I see now I obviously have to get them out of there pronto.

Adding to the confusion, while the title of my post sounded rather certain, that certainty did not follow from the arguments cited in the post itself. What I wrote at the end "I myself find the problem of continuity between this body and the resurrected body quite insoluble without positing the existence of an enduring soul" is really about as strong as I'd want to make it based on philosophy itself. And that's not all that strong.

My methodology (I hope) was a little like that of Martin Luther addressing the Zwinglians. First use the ubiquity argument (which is basically a logical or philosophical one, based on premises given by Christian teaching) to shake up their presuppositions and bring into question things they hadn't previously questioned or had viewed in a wrong light, and then bring in Scripture and prove the Real Presence from that. If Lutherans are not allowed to use any form of arguing from premises through accepted logical rules, then the ubiquity argument (along with Luther's treatment of Nestorianism and Eutychianism in his On the Councils and the Church) would be have be branded as some gross lapse back into Romanism. While I do not base my faith that yesterday I received with my mouth the true body and blood of my Redeemer on the ubiquity paradoxes, they can be (when used correctly) just what the doctor ordered to break up the cock-sure "common sense" of the Zwinglian, and make them then able to listen to "This is my body" without debilitating presuppositions. (I know because I've seen it happen.) My method in this case was an attempt to do something similar.

Originally posted at Here We Stand