Email from Fred:
I have friend who believes in reincarnation. He says that resurrection is just a Christian word for reincarnation. Is this true? I always thought resurrection was different from reincarnation.
—First, these distinctly different understandings of what happens to our bodies and lives after death, yet indicates the common seed of truth within the consciences of all people; unaided by revelation, different peoples with different religious interpretation come up with different conclusions; some are close, some radically different; the Church teaches that God in his mysterious mercy honors people’s sincerity and judges them not on their ignorance bu on how they followed their consciences.
—However, this person’s question indicates the rampant problem today of too much bad information being spread by the internet and media, and the devil laughs. One only needs to look up the two words in Webster’s dictionary (hardly a recommended theological source) to see the clear difference.
—Reincarnation: 1. rebirth of the soul in another body, as in Hindu religious belief; 2. a new incarnation or embodiment; 3. the doctrine that the soul reappears after death in another and different bodily form.
—Resurrection: 1. a) a rising form the dead, or coming back to life. b) the state of having risen from the dead…; theol, 1. the rising of Jesus from the dead after his death and burial; 2. the rising of all the dead at the Last Judgement.
Email from Bernie:
When you were discussing the resurrected body, you pointed to Paul’s words in 15:43 that “it is raised a spiritual body.” Does this mean that our bodies won’t be physical after the resurrection. What does Paul mean by calling Christ the last Adam who is “a life giving spirit”?
—our resurrection bodies will be the same physical bodies we have always had, yet different, glorified, healed, renewed, and in ways we will not know until we stand before Him face to face: 1 Jn 3:1-3.
E-mail from Denise
Why was it important in the early days after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension for the apostles to replace Judas? Do you think this is an instance of apostolic succession or just the fact that the early Church needed enough men to be appointed to help spread the Good News?
—the lease on the Upper Room required 12 signatures.
E-mail from Sue
I always am inspired and encouraged by the witness of St. Paul and his incredible efforts, both through preaching and writing, to share the Gospel. However, I’m a bit confused as to why he considers himself an apostle. He never even met Jesus when Jesus was alive and certainly wasn’t one of Christ’s chosen 12. So why is Paul considered an apostle instead of just a disciple?
—Apostle = one who is sent;
—Rom 10:14-15…all preachers must be “sent”
—Gal 2:7-10…Paul’s call was confirmed by the apostles & he was sent forth;
—i.e., Paul himself was one of the pioneers of apostolic succession.
E-mail from Jonathan
In the narrative when Saul was thrown to the ground and Jesus speaks to him, why is Saul accused of persecuting Jesus? Jesus had already died and was resurrected so obviously He couldn’t be harmed by Saul’s persecution.
—Jesus is helping Saul/Paul realize the congruency of the Church as the Body of Christ
E-mail from Jonah
In 2 Timothy 4:8 it says “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” Doesn’t this state pretty clearly that Paul knows he is saved? I don’t understand why Catholics say that this is something you hope for. Paul is saying that the crown of righteousness will be awarded him, not that it “might” be.
—there are plenty of other verse that indicate that Paul was hoping he would be worthy and remain faithful; herein lies the danger of taking one verse out of the context of the entire NT and apart from the wider deposit of faith to build a theology.
E-mail from Georgina
How should Pentecost, an event that happened 2000 years ago to a specific group of people, impact and influence a Christian’s life today?
—it demonstrates the spiritual trustworthiness of the authority of the Apostles and therefore the Church; it demonstrates the reversal of Babel, the out reach of the gospel to all people and all languages; it demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers to over come obstacles and suffering.
E-mail from Kim
Why is it important for our earthly bodies to be raised? Our souls are immortal but of course our bodies decay. I don’t see why God would want or need to raise our bodies since they are just vessels through which we act.
—we are not mere heavenly spirits entrapped on earthly bodies, nor as the atheists believe, nothing more than fertilizer when we die; a key to understanding natural law, and all of morality and ethics is understanding that as human beings we are integrated beings, body and soul; death causes a temporary unnatural separation of our being, which is then fully restored upon the second resurrection.
E-mail from Alexis
Why does St. Paul in 1 Peter 3:20-21 say that baptism saves us? I’ve always been taught that baptism is an outward sign of an interior commitment to Jesus. Isn’t that trying to do good works to earn our salvation?
—Though many verses seem to stress an individualistic salvation, the unstated presumption throughout the NT and the writings of the ECFs is that salvation comes as being a faithful believing individual as a member of the Body of Christ, the Church. This is the continuation of the OT People of God into the NT Church. The clear assumption throughout the NT and the writings of the ECF is that the normal means of entrance into the Church, the Body of Christ, is through baptism, where one receives the graces of the sacraments to be saved. this is the normal way. Salvation saves us like bathing in the Jordan healed Naaman; it is not magic, but a matter of surrendering obedience to the will of God.