Saturday, April 01, 2017
Easter Letter 2017
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (I Corinthians 15:12-19, ESV).
April 1, 2017
Dear Members and Friends of Second Reformed Church,
John Hick, late philosophy of religion wrote, “So for me Easter is a joyful symbol of a central element of the gospel, God's gift of renewal, of ever new beginnings, of rebirth, of life transcending death. That it comes at spring time when nature is renewing itself is a happy coincidence. But Easter is our Christian symbol of hope, of the ongoing fact of new life, of freedom from the grip of the past, of openness to the future, to new possibilities, ultimately openness to the Kingdom of God and an intimation of life beyond death” (http://www.johnhick.org.uk/article14.html).
Dr. Hick said he was a Christian, but he denied the Trinity. He denied that Jesus is God. He denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus – something we confess each Sunday in The Apostle’s Creed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hick).
As Paul explains in the text above, such thinking leaves us with an insurmountable problem:
If there is no bodily resurrection, then Jesus was not bodily raise.
If Jesus was not bodily raised, then our preaching is in vain, our faith is in vain, and we have been misrepresenting God, and we are still dead in our sins.
Thus, if there is no bodily resurrection, our hope is in this life only, there is no eternal life, and we are the most pitiable fools.
However, if Jesus was bodily raised, we shall be bodily raised.
And if we are bodily raised, it means that the body – and the material Creation is good (which is what God said).
And, if we are bodily raised, it means that we will live in the restored, material Creation with Jesus – just as Jesus and Paul tells us.
So, rather than conclude with Dr. Hick that the real message of the Resurrection is “April showers bring May flowers,” let us rejoice with our risen Savior is affirming the goodness of Creation and the everlasting joy we have in Christ and in eternal life enjoying all of Creation – now and perfected – and being in communion with the Triune God forever.
In His Service,
Rev. Dr. Peter A. Butler, Jr.