Sunday, November 6, 2016

An Argument on the Resurrection

This weeks gospel is quite interesting for those of who like to get involved in apologetics. In Luke 20:27-40, the Sadducees ask Jesus a question. Really they are making a theological argument.  Asking a hypothetical question intending to show their opponents theological position is wrong. Many modern Christians would exit at this point. They don't want to get involved in debates about doctrine. They say nothing good ever comes of them. Yet Jesus does not go there. He is up for debate. He not only answers them he makes a counter-argument. 

The question is on the resurrection of the dead. This was a big point of disagreement between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Sadducees believed only in the fist 5 books of Moses as the Word of God. They saw no evidence of the resurrection in those books so they rejected that doctrine. 

Jesus' response is interesting. He addresses the alleged problem and explains that marriage is for us on earth but not for heaven. This fits with the Catholic notion that marriage is a foretaste of heaven. That once we have the fullness of heaven the foretaste is no longer needed. 

Then He says "even Moses showed that the dead rise." This is key. When He makes his counter-argument He only uses what the Sadducees would accept, that is the 5 books of Moses. His argument seems like a bit of a stretch. I can really see how people could have studied Exodus 3 for centuries and never concluded that it taught the resurrection of the dead. Yet it at least gives food for thought that God did phrase things in an odd way if the dead are not raised. So it is not a slam-dunk argument that is impossible to get out of. It just shows some kernel of the doctrine is there. The final appeal is to the nature of God as a God of the living and not of the dead. 

This connects well with what we are to do in defending the faith. We need to explain the whole faith in terms of correcting and misunderstandings and clarifying any apparent contradictions. That means we need to know what we believe at some level. 

Then when we deal with others who don't believe we should be able to use the evidence they do accept and show ways in which it points to Catholicism. If someone will accept the bible as the Word of God then use that to show some of the Catholic things they reject are actually in scripture at least in kernel form. 

Similarly if people only accept reason we need to find reasons why much of Catholicism makes sense based on reason alone. We won't  have a rock solid proof for everything. Still the most counter-cultural idea can be see to be logical when just looking at the human person. 

This asks a lot of us. We need to learn to explain our faith in a number of different ways based on who we are talking to. Yet this is what love looks like. We start by listening. We listen to what others really believe. We listen to learn. We also listen to find connections between their beliefs and Catholic teaching. We affirm what is true. Then we show them the path to the fullness of truth. It takes a lot of effort. It is not as simple as just publishing the case for Catholicism and being done. 

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