Tuesday, April 10, 2007

De-deathification

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.         - Romans 6.9
Conservative views of the resurrection are often dismissed as 'mere resusitation', as though Jesus were simply restored to the same life he left off a few days earlier. However, Paul's comment here reveals that there is a 'something more'. Death no longer has dominion over him - implying that it once did. Jesus was not merely returned to life again; he was (to use a technical term) de-deathified. There is now a death-free zone in creation, a piece that has experienced liberation from the otherwise universal bondage to decay* (Romans 8.21). In this way, Jesus is the firstfruits of a universal restoration, the first taste of a world freed from death, the spearhead of a future ubiquitous de-deathification.
*Also known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Eight points for each link to other pictures of graveyards on this blog.

15 comments:

Anthony said...

There's some nice turns of phrase in there Byron! For some reason, it gave me an image of a drop of oil floating in water - similar, but you'll never mix them up (pun intended).

Well, I've given people a couple of hours...

Rumoured graveyard origins.

Then there's more legitimate sightings, like this one, this one, and what I like to call Standing on the Outside, Looking In for what I suspect to be its relationship to the previous post.

There's the conspiracy theory, exemplified here.

An extremely crowded graveyard, perhaps?

And no quiz is complete without a trick question.

Frankly, I think I should be awarded negative points, for being so greedy.

Christian A said...

"death no longer has mastery over him" - Jsut a quick question: is this true for us too if we're in spiritual union with Christ?

It seems from the passage that Paul prefers to say that sin no longer has mastery over the Christian...Is this the same thing as death no longer having mastery over us? What might it mean to live as people who refuse to treat death as a master(if that's what we are)?

Benjamin Ady said...

how can you believe in this "de-deathification"? There's no .... evidence for it. Entropy seems to reign.

Drew said...

Yes, and more to that; a death-free zone in creation? Where is it to be found?

byron said...

anthony - of your first three, none are in graveyards. Your next two (both called 'this one') are correct. 'Standing on the Outside, Looking In' is of a single tomb, not a graveyard. It is the location for the external shot in the movie which used the previous post. This is probably why you think it is the same place. It is not. I don't know what's particularly conspiratorial about your conspiracy theory, but I believe some better options were put forward in the comments . Your 'extremely crowded graveyard' is (part of) an enormous ossuary containing the transported remains of dozens of Parisian graveyards, but is not itself a graveyard. And the 'trick question' is indeed a milestone/place marker.

So technicallly, you scored only two pictures of actual graveyards, in amongst nine links, so I could give you 2x8/9 = 2 (rounded) points, but since you acknowledged that the last was indeed not a graveyard, I'll give you a bonus point, bringing your total to three. :-)

byron said...

Christian A - great questions. Sin and death are not the same thing, though they are closely linked by Paul in this section of Romans.

Paul says that the Christian has died with Christ (Rom 6.6-8), and now awaits the same resurrection that he experienced (6.8). Yet in the meantime, because Christ is risen, the Christian is to consider themselves not only dead, but also already alive again. This new life freed from the mastery of sin is something that needs to be implemented. Since death is the 'wages' of the rule of sin, its consequence and culmination, I do think that Christians are to live no longer treating death as a master either. This is not the same (yet) as actually being resurrected like Christ, but there is an analogy.

What might it mean to live as people who refuse to treat death as a master?
I'd love to hear other thoughts on this, but my initial thought is that we no longer live in fear. Death's sting has been drawn, its victory stolen. Those tyrants who wield death to reinforce their power are also no longer to be feared. We no longer need to live in self-protection, lest the worst (death) happen, because there are now things worse than death. This means we are free to pour ourselves out in fearless service.

Any other thoughts?

byron said...

Drew and Ben: the death-free zone is the body of Christ raised by the Spirit. Evidence? Of course, this could be a whole series in itself! (Ben, I know you like N.T. Wright, have a look at his The Resurrection of the Son of God).

The body of Christ is his physical body, raised from death and transformed into new life no longer threatened and mastered by death. By analogy and metaphor, the church is also called the body of Christ. For here too, resurrection life has begun (though this new life is not yet complete, we have only the first tastes of it).

There is evidence for the raising of Jesus' physical body in the testimony of the eyewitnesses and the failure of anyone to produce a body. There is evidence for the raising of the communal body of Christ in the astounding growth of the early church and the signs of the new age in the life of the contemporary church (not least among these is the knowledge that this age is not yet arrived in all its fullness - that we groan at the ongoing enslavement of the world to decay is itself a sign of the Spirit's work). Ben, I realise that your experience of Christian community was not one of life or peace, but not every community of Jesus is like the one you saw. My experience of church is of seeing signs of new life amidst the dying.

These are not watertight logical proofs, but they are evidence that it is possible to keep one's eyes open while trusting God to raise the dead.

Drew said...

Thanks Byron; I was actually wondering where Christ's body is. As it's a physical body, is it in a physical place?

byron said...

Drew: hidden (Col 3.3).

Rory Shiner said...

Very interesting and helpful discussion. Thanks Byron et al

Christian A said...

Yes thank you.

Helpful thoughts. So much of what humans do seems to be in the name of self-protection. But I'd say the way you've lived this year Byron has been a good demonstration of what it means to not treat death as a master.

I love it that there are are a restored set of atoms, cells, bones, organs...a whole person who is part of the new creation. It's real, it's close for all of us, it's exciting.

Steven Carr said...

First fruits?

Presumably this means that when Moses returned from the dead, he died again.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Here is a graveyard.

byron smith said...

Eight points. Even though I didn't put it in the post, the usual caveat applies - only one lot of eight points per person. There are still a few more graveyard images on this blog.

byron smith said...

Oh, actually, I forgot that Anthony gave multiple answers (although only two of nine were correct, so I was quite harsh on him), so I guess if you find any more, you can make more guesses. Having now gone back and looked at his (two correct) answers, they were the images I was thinking of, so I'm not sure whether there are any more.

In any case, you've just passed 300 points. Well done.