Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Maybe it only SEEMS heretical ...

Yesterday, Billy Graham's column said, "When Jesus' body died on the cross, he didn't cease to exist, any more than we do when our bodies die. His soul or spirit kept on living, just as ours will when we die. ... But Jesus' spirit was different from ours, and one of the ways it was different was its absolute holiness and purity."

Does this feel kind of docetic to anyone else but me?


micah said...

Nope. So long as Graham acknowledges that Jesus really lived, really suffered, and really died, he has avoided the heresy of Docetism. Now, saying that Jesus spirit was fundamentally different from ours... that's skirting monophysitism (if you understand "spirit" to be similar to "nature") or monothelitism (if you understand "spirit" to be closer to "will"). But if you understand "spirit" to be like "soul" (as Graham seems to be), then no. Of course, though Christ had two natures and two wills (according to the Chalcedonian formula as currently understood), he had only one soul (the one belonging to him as a human being). And that soul was not different from ours in kind, but it was in quality. Jesus, living without (original) sin, could be said to have "absolute holiness and purity" unlike, say, any of ours. Seems orthodox to me.

David said...

yeah what he ^^^^ said....only he said it with much bigger words than I could ever consider using.

Tim Sisk said...

Actually I think there is an error and its one that many Christians carelessly slip into and that is the concept "immortality of the soul" which was a Hellenistic concept. It is a dualistic in that it suggests that the body and soul are separate. This idea was embraced by the Gnostics who liked to think that the flesh was evil and the body was pure.

Christians (and Judaism of Jesus') day didn't teach that you were body AND soul, but that you were body/soul. As one of my professors more elegantly put it, "You don't have a soul, you are a soul." When you die, your soul doesn't detach from your body and go off to heaven. (If that were true, then there would be no need for the resurrection. Remember, Jesus' tomb was empty. HIs body resurrected.)

I read a lecture delievered at Harvard back in the '50s that constrasted the deaths of Jesus with Socrates. He pointed out that Socrates was somewhat more happy (I doubt he used that word)
when he approached death sentence because he understand that now his soul would be released from mortal coil. Jesus, however, approached his death with trepidation and fear ("Take this cup away from me if it be your will, O Lord") because he understood what death was.

Tim Sisk said...

Ah, found a link to the book I'm talking about:

Jesus and Socrates

Tim Sisk said...

Here's a contra-argument to Cullman's Ingersoll Lecture at Harvard from the always excellent First Things magazine, although the author of the article admits that she has less of a problem with Cullman's actual lecture than than the conclusions many drew from it.

In Defense of Immortality