I am roman catholic by birth and upbringing. Became an evangelical protestant and am now kind of an undefined christian. Believing in CS Lewis’s mere christianity. The basic doctrine that all branches of christianity share.
My question: what is the catholic church’s view on NT Wright (former bishop of Durham, church of England) view on resurrection.
NT Wright says that disembodied after life in a spiritual heaven is not the end goal for Christian’s. He would say that is a pagan idea.
NT wright says the ultimate goal is new transformed physical bodies and a new transformed physical universe… Heaven is a transition phase/place where your consciousness goes until you are reunited with a physical body.
In short he believes in physical resurrection as being the ultimate goal of Christian’s post death.
1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:
The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ. 631
I just want to add that NT Wright’s book on the Resurrection is one of the best I have ever read by a Christian. I take issue with the majority of apologists but he sells it really well. It hasn’t convinced me, I still don’t believe in it, but I think you’d like reading his honestly great work on it. ‘Resurrection of the son of God.’
I edited this because I got my prayers mixed up. I say both versions (Profession of Faith and the Apostles’ Creed) very often so I’m sorry for the error. It’s the Apostles’ Creed that says “The Resurrection of the Body.” I tend to say the Apostles’ Creed about 2 or more times a day because I say it on the Rosary and the Divine Mercy. The Profession of Faith, which is the OF Mass version (I normally say it once a day at Mass), changed the wording to “I Look Forward to the Resurrection of the Dead”. Which also suggests resurrection of dead bodies, but not as clearly as the Apostles’ Creed.
The wording in the Apostles’ Creed, and to a less clear extent in the Profession of Faith, refers to the point at the end of the world where our physical bodies rise from the grave or wherever they are (we trust the Lord to reconstruct those who were cremated or thrown in the sea or whatever), perfected by God and our souls infused back into them by God, as our Lord has already done with his Blessed Mother. So it makes it even more clear.
Furthermore, the entire Catholic concept of burial and blessing of graves, etc revolves around this idea that the body will be raised. The Church opposed cremation for centuries because it disrespected the body and suggested the destruction of the physical body after death. The Church now allows it in view of cost and physical space issues, but requires the ashes be properly interred in a blessed columbarium rather than just scattered someplace, made into jewelry, put in an urn on someone’s bookshelf etc, out of respect for the physical body and the belief that God will restore it.
I further note that the Catholic Catechism discusses the Apostles’ Creed and breaks it into “twelve articles of faith” and their section on “The Resurrection of the Body” covers this in detail.
In my experience, most people don’t think through the process past just getting to Heaven, even while they stand there at Mass every Sunday (if they go) and recite “I Look Forward to the Resurrection of the Dead” during the Profession of Faith, and hear about Jesus’ Resurrection and Mary’s Assumption every year. Edited to add, some of them probably think the Resurrection of the Dead refers to going to Heaven.
Those who think about these things usually are motivated by some larger-than-normal interest in the theology of what happens after death; just being more curious about it in a “goth” sort of way, or considering it in comparison with some Protestant theology of the Last Judgment, or just being more comfortable with the idea of physical dead bodies, first class relics (i.e. body parts), etc. For many people, the dead body is a squicky subject and they prefer to just think of going to Heaven and not be thinking about the physical body in the ground or in the columbarium as the case may be.
Thank you everyone for clarifying church doctrine on resurrection and eternity.
Like i said my cultural catholic upbringing gave me the understanding that the rc church taught a disembodied eternity in heaven as the ultimate destination.
In your informed opinions, do you think most catholics today understand the idea physical resurrection vs disembodied eternal existence or would you say most average rc church goers believes in the disembodied existence in a non physical heaven?
In evangelical protestantism the pop culture view is the earth is not my home. Eternity in a disembodied heaven is the goal.
Catholics don’t think of being in Heaven as being “disembodied”. They figure people will look like they did on earth, only with any physical ills fixed, like the person who was in a wheelchair will be able to walk, the person ravaged by cancer will look healthy and fit, the elderly frail parent will look like they did when they were a young dad or mum. They just don’t relate the body in heaven to what’s lying in the grave - which is correct because in heaven, we’re given an appropriate body for heavenly use but it’s not our physical body from earth. (Unless you are the Blessed Virgin Mary - and some people would include Enoch and Elijah from the Old Testament, although we have argued that point on here and most average Catholics don’t think about it.)
Most average Catholics are just concerned with getting to Heaven and don’t think about what God might do after that, since once you’re in Heaven you’ve achieved the goal, which is primarily to not go to Hell and secondarily to get past Purgatory.
It isn’t our home, even if you believe in the Resurrection of the Body, because the Lord is going to create a new earth. This one is going to “pass away” as Jesus said (Matthew 24:35).
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