When Science Meets Religion

Session Five: The Resurrection

Incarnate God...you have revealed the fullness of your love in the death of Jesus on the cross. You revealed the fullness of your power in the resurrection of Christ. Be in our exploration of this Divine event that we may understand the greatness of your love and power in our lives. Amen

If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and [our] faith has been in vain.
— 1 Corinthians 15:14



I think that the idea of using science to “explain,” “validate,” or “prove” the resurrection is silly. The same as with miracles, science is not the lens/language/perspective I use to engage my understanding of the biblical narratives. However, unlike the miracles, which can allow for an independent scientific explanation, I believe that the resurrection can only be embraced by faith. The gift of faith, not science, allows us to believe in this event, and I would argue stand in conflict with one another. Jesus WAS raised from the dead, and I believe that God has and continues to assure me of the truth of my faith.

Resurrection 3.jpg

I would like to continue to explore the biblical passages selected for this week and find meaning in them. We see in almost all of the post-resurrection appearances that Jesus is initially not recognized. Mary mistakes him for a gardener (John 20:15), the disciples need to see his hands and feet before recognizing him (John 20:19), on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias the disciples talk with him before realizing who he is (John 21:4), and on the road to Emmaus, the two disciples literally walk with Jesus unaware of who he is (Luke 24:16). Why? Welker claims these accounts of the post-Easter Christ point to a complex identity and continuity that need to be unfolded. Like the creative “unfolding” of creation, the “unfolding” of Jesus’ divine identity is a process. While Welker writes about the difference between the pre-Easter body and the resurrected body, I think it is important to note that Paul addresses this very issue. I love the analogy Paul makes in his letter to the Corinthians “You do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed...God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body” (1 Cor. 15:37-38). The process of divine “unfolding identity.”

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“Not all flesh is alike...There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies…” (1 Cor. 15:39-40a). The resurrected Christ has a new body...a heavenly body, or perhaps, it can be argued that his ever-present heavenly body is fully revealed. This heavenly body limits the ability of those who encounter the risen Christ to recognize him. Yet, how he reveals himself in these encounters is important. Mary sees the divine identity of Christ when he calls her by name. The disciples see when he reveals his marks of suffering. On the shore, they see his divine identity when they follow his command and once again become fishermen. In Emmaus, the disciples see Christ’s divine identity in the breaking of bread. We encounter the risen Christ in much the same way, when we are called by name in baptism, in others as we follow Christ’s command and become fishers of people, our Theology of the Cross claims that we encounter Christ in suffering, and in the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, we encounter the heavenly body and blood of the resurrected Christ. Can science prove the resurrection? Can science prove real presence at the table? Nope, but my faith assures me that Christ is truly present.

Guiding Questions

  • What is your understanding of the resurrection? How was it taught to you as a child? What thoughts or theology do you have as you engaged the readings?
  • What is the relationship between faith and science when it comes to the event of the resurrection?
  • How does Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and Welker’s article help you understand the resurrection more fully?

Additional Resources

  • Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection? CLICK HERE for Three Hypotheses
  • Historical Evidence for the Resurrection: CLICK HERE
  • Article by John Lennox: CLICK HERE (This is the same discussion he offered in the lecture video post in Session Three, if you would rather listen to it than read it.)

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