There was a Barna survey that revealed that 30% of “born again” Christians did not believe that Christ returned to life after He was crucified (Wayne Jackson, Christian Courier, May 9, 2003, Resurrection: Literal, or Merely Symbolic?). IOW, they did not believe in a bodily resurrection.
Jackson states earlier in the article that the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the Christian’s faith. He quotes 1Co 15:15-20 as his reference.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
~ 1Co 15:15-20
Where, then, would this notion come from? Perhaps they figure it is “spiritualized” away. Perhaps they believe Jesus “lived again” through His message going out to others, as Jackson speculates.
Or, perhaps they figure there is no difference. What is the need of a bodily resurrection if human beings have an immortal soul? If Jesus was fully human, then what need is there of a resurrection when He could just float to Heaven to be with His Father? After all, if the point Paul is making is that Jesus showed us the way, then that would fit the pattern that is commonly preached today. And, if Jesus had an immortal soul, as we supposedly do, then He lost nothing and He sacrificed nothing when nailed to the cross. After all, death really isn’t death, but “separation”, and your “immortal soul” lives on.
The doctrine of the immortal soul cheapens Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross in at least 2 ways:
- If all humans have an immortal soul, then there really is no death. Jesus risked nothing and sacrificed nothing. God the Father risked nothing and sacrificed nothing.
- Jesus’ death did not pay for everyone’s sins, since the wicked must be put into an ever burning “Hell” to pay for their sins.
Those aren’t the only problems with this whole idea. Where was Jesus for 3 days and 3 nights? If He had an immortal soul, and it presumably would be conscious during this time, what was It/He doing? If we die and go straight to Heaven, then why did He say He had not yet ascended to see His Father?
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
~ Jn 20:17
Now, later we see Him inviting people to touch Him, so He apparently in that short period of time had ascended to see the Father.
And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.
~ Jn 20:20
So, again, why did He wait 3 days and 3 nights to ascend to the Father?
No, the real truth is that death is real. Instead of a conscious soul, the dead are unconscious.
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing…
~ Ec 9:5
Instead of man having an immortal soul, Adam “became” a living soul, a soul that could die.
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
~ Eze 18:4
The ironic part is how Jackson’s article ends: “The truth is, Paul shows that the future resurrection of Christians will be of the same nature as the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:15-20).” The resurrection is one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith (Heb 6:1-2). Yet, the immortal soul doctrine waters down both the power and plan of God.
For more information, please read “God’s Plan 2: What Is Man?“