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ABC Justin Welby: Resurrection of Jesus changes our view of the universe

ABC Justin Welby: Resurrection of Jesus changes our view of the universe

In a sermon preached at Canterbury Cathedral on Easter Sunday, Archbishop Justin said the resurrection of Jesus “changes our view of the universe. Once we have seen the reality of the risen Jesus nothing else should be seen in the same way as before.” Anglican Communion News Service has his sermon:

…Cathedrals and churches make great statements, but without words. Witnesses are those people who know Christ; lay or ordained, old or young, gender, politics, sexuality or whatever irrelevant – all are equally witnesses. The resurrection happened, and it changes our view of the universe. Once we have seen the reality of the risen Jesus nothing else should be seen in the same way as before.

To witness is to be a martyr. I am told by the Coptic Bishop in England that the Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last month died proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. They are martyrs, a word that means both one that dies for their faith and one that witnesses to faith. There have been so many martyrs in the last year. On Maundy Thursday, three days ago around 150 Kenyans were killed because of being Christian. They are witnesses, unwilling, unjustly, wickedly, and they are martyrs in both senses of the word…..

Today are we still witnesses that say, “Jesus is alive”? St Peter says we are living stones: the church is a gathering of martyrs, of witnesses to the love and goodness of Jesus. Every action we take, every inaction, every agreement, every disagreement in which love is maintained, everything we do and say, or refrain from doing or saying, everything witnesses. As living stones we support each other to be witnesses, as do the stones of this Cathedral.

The building around us, itself a gift of God, burns with the glory of God when we burn with the fire of His love and cry out in witness…

The stone at the tomb was a silent witness; we are living stones, speaking witnesses: let us be clear, gentle, loving, peaceful – yet bold, fiery witnesses who in a dark world sing our song of light: “The Lord is risen, Jesus is alive, all creation is transformed.”

Read it all at Anglican Communion News Service


posted by Ann Fontaine

Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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Murdoch Matthew

Paul, the earliest Christian writer, talks about spiritual bodies, and scorns the notion that resurrection has anything to do with the physical. As far as we can tell from his letters, his experience was entirely of visions.

We need an edition of the New Testament with the entries in chronological order. The development of the narrative would be much more apparent to the reader.

Harry M. Merryman


Actually, such a New Testament in chronological order *does* exist: “Evolution of the Word; The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written” by Marcus Borg. It contains the text of every book in the NT along with a context-setting introduction. Highly recommended.

Gary Paul Gilbert

The doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus does not change the view of the universe because it is not a hypothesis of physics.


Harry M. Merryman


Although I’m reasonably sure that the ABC’s comment was not meant in this sense, the bodily resurrection being argued about (above) might be seen as a hypothesis concerning the physical laws (if not the physics) of the universe. That would be so because physical laws would have to be broken in order to accomplish Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Our science tells us that once certifiably dead, a human body does not become re-animated or assume some new hybrid form (a la NT Wright). Therefore, we are asked to believe that in Jesus’ case, a one-off miracle occurred that violated physical laws. The hypothesis being posited is that God has broken physical laws in the past and may do so again. I, for one, cannot worship a God who would behave this way.

On the other hand, I can subscribe to ++Justin’s assertion if what he means is that Jesus is still alive and present with us, and that this changes the very nature of our relationship with the universe.


Kurt Hill

To believe in a spiritual resurrection of Jesus is in no way “a con,” Philip. Spiritual reality is much, much more real than physical reality. Christ was transformed by the process, as Brother David outlines. It’s clear to me that the resurrection was not “bodily” in the Lazarus sense. Tell me, Philip, because most of us Anglicans/Episcopalians believe in the spiritual Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is this “a con” because we don’t accept the theology of a physical Presence of Christ as prescribed by Transubstantiation?

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Philip Snyder

If the body of Jesus is still in its tomb (albeit decomposed), then Christianity is a lie. Death has not been defeated – death actually wins. The Gnostics and Dualists are right – that there is matter and spirit and matter doesn’t matter and all that does matter is spirit.

But Matter does matter to God. God created it good and redeemed it in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To speak of a non-physical resurrection is to speak an impossibility. That is like speaking of a dead living thing or a hot cold thing. To Paul and all the writers of the New Testament, the Resurrection was a physical reality. The tomb was empty and Jesus was raised to new life – not the old life to die again (as Lazarus was), but life in a new dimension – Resurrected life – the life animated by the Holy Spirit.

As Paul says, if Christ has not been raised, the we are still in our sins and we are lying about what God has done in Jesus Christ.

Remember that the same Baptismal Covenant that talks about respecting the dignity of every human being also talks about the Resurrection of the Body.

The physical resurrection of Jesus is not simply one of the doctrines of Christianity. It IS Christianity. Without it, there is no Church, not Gospel, no New Testament.

Philip Snyder

The martyrdom of the early Christians is a large witness to the truth of the physical resurrection of Jesus. A “spiritual resurrection” (e.g. not involving the body of Jesus) would be a logically consistent to first century Jews as a dry wet or a hot cold or a long short.

I know a large number of con artists. They will stay with a con until it begins to really hurt them. Not one of them would continue with a “con” if it meant dying to keep the con going. Likewise the Apostles and early Christians would not have continued to proclaim the resurrection if they didn’t really believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. They would not have faced their deaths, if all it took to avoid death was to deny that Jesus rose from the dead.

David Allen

And yet, Jesus wasn’t merely a physical resuscitation, as it seems was Lazarus. This resurrected body was different from our own physical bodies, walked through walls, appeared in locked rooms and maintained physical wounds which didn’t heal. So there was indeed something deeply spiritual concerning it.

Bro David

Philip Snyder

David Allen – do you not “believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come”? That is part of the Apostles’ Creed and the Baptismal Covenant.

Yes, it will include everyone’s physical body. How that will work, I don’t know. That is a mystery. But our physical bodies will be resurrected.

Ann Fontaine

I like what Philip Pullman says about that: we will be recognizable in some way like what we know see but also joined with the universe. He imagines it like champagne bubbles. Still champagne but like air in the midst of other air.

David Allen

And the future resurrection of all humanity, does that also include everyone’s physical body?

Bro David

Philip Snyder

I never said it was a resuscitation. I used the word “resurrection” – which means something different.

As the one through whom all things were made, the resurrected Jesus is no longer subject to the creation. He can appear in the upper room AND to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

My point is that the Resurrection entails the physical body. To say that it was “only spiritual” is to talk about dry water or hot cold. If the body of Jesus were to be found (and how that would work is beyond me, but let’s assume it for the sake of argument), then death has not been defeated as Jesus is still dead. If the body of Jesus is still in the tomb, then Christianity is false and based on lies and those of us who call themselves Christians have a choice – to become Jewish, Atheists/Agnostics, or one of the Eastern Mysticism religions (Buddhism seems the most likely). Staying Christian is no longer an option – unless we repudiate 2000 years of creeds, scriptures, tradition, and practice.

If Jesus is not risen, then what he says is of no import.

Ann Fontaine

And as a counterpoint: The Rev’d Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, is wary of declaring martyrs at his blog

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