Sunday, March 23, 2008

Five Reasons the Resurrection Was Necessary

Picking up on Brant's last post, I thought it appropriate to list the five reasons Thomas Aquinas gives for the resurrection (ST IIIa, q. 53, art. 1).

1. It reveals God’s justice. Because Christ humbled himself and died on the cross out of love and obedience to the Father, God lifted him up by a glorious resurrection.

2. It was necessary for the confirmation of our faith in Christ. Thomas cites Paul, who explains that the resurrection attests to the power of God (2 Cor 13:4).

3. It gives us hope for the resurrection of our bodies. This, of course, is the whole point of 1 Corinthians 15. As Paul writes, “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead?" (1 Cor 15:12)

4. It means death to sin and new life in Christ for us. Since we are united with Christ we have not only died with him but been raised with him to newness of life. Thomas cites Romans 6:4, 11: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life… 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

5. It completes the work of salvation. This is an especially important point that is far too often overlooked. Christ’s death is not the only aspect of his work for our salvation. Again, Thomas cites Paul, who explains that Christ was “put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25). Most people forget about this verse and simply profess that Jesus died for our salvation--but that's only part of it!

Thomas pays very close attention to Paul’s language. Salvation involves two elements: (1) the payment of the debt due to sin, which is accomplished on the cross (e.g., he was “put to death for our trespasses”) and (2) he is raised for our sakes as well (e.g., "for our justification"). Ultimately, Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t for his sake but for ours. The goal of salvation was not simply to save us from sin, but to unite our humanity to God. Peter explains that we are called to become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). Christ’s resurrection then is the cause of our sharing in the new life of grace―the unity of our humanity with divinity. Salvation isn’t just a matter of being delivered from the punishment due to sin, namely, hell―it also means being delivered to life in God (cf. also ST IIIa q. 56, art. 2; cf. also IIIa q. 57, art. 6.; also see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 654).

Hallelujah―He is Risen!


Brant Pitre said...

Great Post, Michael!
Right before I sat down at the computer to check the blog, I thought--"I wonder if Michael posted Thomas's five reasons for Jesus' bodily Resurrection?"--and then, presto! there it was!
Are you sure we weren't twins separated at birth?

Happy Easter, Brother!

Christos Anesthi!

Jason said...

Indeed he is risen!

I always wondered about the meaning of St. Paul's phrase "raised for our justification." St. Thomas' thoughts were really helpful on that front.

Thanks for posting them.

DimBulb said...

Some of your readers might be interested in learning that F.X. Durrwell's seminal work THE RESURRECTION: A Biblical Study is available for reading online, though it is still under copyright. I suggest the PDF format as the most convienient, though it takes longer to load than the flipbook.

DimBulb said...

Ooops! here's the link:

Anonymous said...

This may be too fine a point but is number 1 really correct? I would think the the crucifixion corresponds to God's justice - the payment of debt. The resurrection seems like more of a sign confirming God's promise to resurrect us.

kentuckyliz said...

Also to fulfill prophecies. God will provide himself the lamb. (The Akedah Gen 22)

John the Baptizer of course identified and revealed the lamb that God provided. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (No, the next line in the Bible isn't, happy are those who are called to his supper! LOL)

God cuts a covenant and swears by he is as broken and dead as the cut animals he passes between as a firepot.

kentuckyliz said...

Anonymous: God shows justice towards His son by raising him. He will not let His holy one see corruption. Look at Phil 2 and the Magnificat.

If God just demanded His son in sacrifice as payment for sin and left it at that, he'd be a mean sonofabitch and cruel and despotic and coldblooded. I don't think I would love God if that were the case. But the resurrection and glorification of Christ shows forth the love and generosity of God.

Muslims believe Issa went to heaven but did not die and it was someone else who died on the cross in his place. (Substitution!!!) So yes, the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ are all absolutely necessary. It's what we proclaim every Sunday!!!