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                                                                                         CHAPTER  4  
   

                                              How Do We Get to Where
                                  We’re Going From Here?

    




    While Christian theologians start from the basic belief, as stated in the Apostles’ Creed, of: “ . . . the resurrection of the body and life everlasting,” they have given us a bewildering and, in some cases, bizarre, array of theories on how this profound transformation takes place.

    Writing as a theologian before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger seemed almost overwhelmed by the difficulty of finding a satisfactory answer to this question when he wrote: “The new world cannot be imagined.  Nothing concrete or imaginable can be said about the relation of man to matter in the new world, or about the ‘risen body.’”  But this did not stop him. This phrase is contained in a whole book he wrote on the subject in which he spelled out his own theories.

    In the early days of Christianity, the expectation was that the world as it was then known would end in the near future, Christ would return to earth, the dead would rise from their graves and all, the risen and the still-living, would gather for the Final Judgment. Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, put it this way: “The flesh shall rise again, wholly, in every man, in its identity, in its absolute integrity, retaining all the parts of our body, the various limbs, such as mouth, teeth, throat, stomach, belly, bowels, hands, feet and also the differences in sex, with the various organs of generation in the two sexes.”  But more than two thousand years has now gone by and those early believers are still in their graves.

    Paul Badham, a British theologian, says few now believe that the dead will rise literally from their graves: ”I think it safe to say that of Christian authors who do have a positive doctrine concerning a future life the overwhelming consensus favours the view that our personalities will be clothed with new bodies in heaven, and that it is only those who are steeped in the Biblical world view who still wish to affirm a real material link between our present and future bodies.”