I believe in the physical Resurrection. (I was convinced by NT Wright’s argument, as I mentioned a few weeks ago in another thread.) And, as you can see in all the responses here, this has always been the doctrine of the historic Church, for now nearly 2000 years. People feel pretty strongly about it, with good reason.
Still, as one who once dallied at the edges of agnosticism, I am reluctant to advocate excommunicating those who may find they can’t bring themselves to believe in a literal bodily resurrection, but who nevertheless find the Christian moral vision compelling, who love the Church, who want to be a disciple of Jesus, etc.
For example, during my nearly-agnostic phase, I read the book The Meaning of Jesus: Two visions, by Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright, which is a sort of dialogue between these very different Christian thinkers on a variety of agreed-upon subjects (a good read, by the way), and I admit I found myself at times judging Borg’s less miraculous positions as more compelling than Wright’s more traditional positions. (The Virgin Birth was a particularly lackluster chapter for Wright, who as I recall basically said, “Once you believe in a God who can do anything, the Virgin Birth isn’t so challenging!” Is that really your best defense, Tom??)
Anyway, Borg is part of the much-maligned liberal Jesus Seminar, and he does not believe in a bodily resurrection. Now, would I want the Church at large to adopt his positions? No, of course not. But if I were him, would I appreciate being ejected from the Church I loved? No, not for this issue — so perhaps by the Golden Rule, it might be best if I did not do that to him.
As he wrote in the blog I just quoted,
For [the majority of conservative Christians], the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus even as a human being, and the physical-bodily resurrection are not adiaphora. They are non-negotiable. And often accompanied by non-negotiable teachings about an inerrant Bible, Genesis versus modern science, a future literal second coming of Jesus, “traditional” marriage, and so forth.
In summary: I believe in a literal, bodily Resurrection, and I believe it is a core component of the historical Christian faith. But I just wanted to say that if someone wanted to give his life to Jesus, follow Him as His disciple, and even worship Him as God without believing in a bodily resurrection, I would never turn such a one away from the Church. Far be it from me to do so. But this is just my opinion, and I seem to be in the minority.