The Ascension...and Gnosticism

Thought I’d share this article from our church newsletter, since there seems to be a lot of confusion about this topic. It was written by The Reverend Joel C. Daniels, Ph.D.

We continue to celebrate the Ascension for the ten days between that day and Pentecost. The bodily ascension is as essential to Christian salvation history as the bodily resurrection. And both are as scandalous to the pagan religious imagination as the bodily incarnation, the idea of God taking on flesh. This isn’t a new scandal. Along those lines, I was recently sent an Article From First Things, written by a friend of a friend, on the widespread Gnosticism of modern life - even and especially within Christian communities.

Gnosticism here is defined as a distrust of, and even feelings of disgust at, the body and embodiment. But, as the article points out, the source of sin isn’t the body, but the soul. This has been the classical Christian theological position since the time of the patristic authors, including Augustine and Cyril of Alexandria. To summarize Augustine, “to see the flesh as more sinful than the soul is to follow the way of the flesh.” The author writes

The apostolic tradition carries a radical message that defends the truth of human personhood against the secular tide of pessimism about the flesh. Safeguarding that message requires entering into the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Resurrection...

This is a good topic. I plan to join the new topic tomorrow. I am afraid that I am a bit tired now.

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Will see you tomorrow, then!

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@beaglelady, @John_Warren,@Chris Falter, @Jeremy
I feel as you do. The resurrection of Jesus was physical and so was his ascension. I admit that the passage by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 is difficult. Millard Erickson tried to solve this with his interpretation; however, it does not satisfy me. What I believe Paul was trying to say is this and this only: that the resurrection body is physical, but it can do things that it could not do before, e.g., pass through locked doors, appear from nowhere, etc. In other words, it was still physical but now possessed qualities which it never had before. That is what Paul meant by “spiritual body.” It was still physical. One must remember that Jesus was on earth forty days after his resurrection; however, at times no one saw him. The Gospels teach more than one ascension. Remember that Jesus appeared to Paul long after the appearance and ascension at Bethany. As for the pseudepigraphal Book of IV Enoch it is false and cannot be used for theological interpretation of any kind. That is what the Greek word means. Our friend should not be in glee about this writing because it has never been in the Bible and is false. God bless. Oh, if I may add, it is probably Jewish Gnostic. There were those too.

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Yes, the resurrection body undergoes some kind of transformation. It’s more than just the resuscitation of a corpse.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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