OK, as I said in my recent post, I’ve been making an effort to clarify what exactly is still so confusing to me about Christian doctrine. In the process of doing this I realized that I’m coming to understand quite a bit of it. But there’s one big sticking point that’s completely baffling to me, yet is the cornerstone of Christian belief: the fact that they say Christ “conquered death”.
I was reading Mark Shea’s excellent Making Sense Out of Scripture over my vacation (I highly recommend it for others new to Christianity) and in it he was talking about how Christ’s death for our sins undid the process of death and decay that Adam and Eve began with the Fall. Pope John Paul II talked about the same thing in his letter on suffering, and it’s clear that understanding this concept is key to understanding God’s role in suffering (as well as many other things).
So I need to wrap my mind around this concept, but I’m confused. Here are my questions:
1. Didn’t the Jews believe in some sort of afterlife before Jesus came? What did/do the Jews believe happens after you die?
2. Other people were raised from the dead before Jesus (right?). I think I heard something about it in the Old Testament, and Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. So it would seem that death had already been conquered. What makes Jesus’ resurrection from the dead mean that death has officially been conquered while the others did not? (I do understand that the significance of his death and what it accomplished is completely different from the others’, but I’m just not sure how the resurrection is necessary/fits in to all that).
3. I’ve read a lot about how Jesus’ resurrection means that those who believe in him will be resurrected in body as well as spirit. Some things I’ve read make it seem like this is the main thing the resurrection accomplished. Why is this important? It seems like heaven is so great that being there as a spirit or being there with some sort of physical body would be great either way. Also, (I hate to be so stupidly literal here, but I have to ask…) if we are resurrected with physical bodies does it mean that we’re meant to have eternal life here on earth?
OK, enough cluelessness for one post. Thanks in advance for all comments.
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