Project Augustine

For our meeting please write a one page summary of your thoughts about Christ’s Resurrection and who’s position you agree with – Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Barth, the Pannenbergian, or the Moltmannian – in regards to the historicity of Christ’s Resurrection.

How would your faith be affected if the Resurrection wasn’t true historically speaking?  How important is it that the Resurrection be deemed a “fact” of history?  Does it matter if it can or cannot be verifiable historically or scientifically speaking?

Could you cope with a purely “symbolic” understanding of the Resurrection as Bultmann seems to advocate?

Does the Resurrection spur or inspire you to social action here and now as the Moltmannian seems to advocate?

Do you agree with Barth as he seems to say that even though the Resurrection has taken place in history, it’s nevertheless inaccessible to ordinary historical interpretation?

How about with the Pannenbergian where he claims that the Resurrection is a historical fact and that everything else, all of the Christian faith and history, stands or falls with the validity of the historical event of the Resurrection?

Or do you disagree with all their positions?  Why or why not?  State your case.



Bouncing between Barth and Pannebergian I lean toward Barth.  Christ’s resurrection is the corner stone of Christianity.  The nature of the resurrection ties very much in what kind of Christian faith we have.

I don’t believe any one of them advocates that the resurrection didn’t physically happen.  They differ on the nature of it’s proof and how it affects our theology.  To Bultmann the main power of is our faith, the historical nature bares little influence and need not even be bothered.  On the other extreme with Moltmannian the true power is the continued resurrection and changing power of renewal of this world, and that instead of focusing on the past event it should be the future.  I almost feel if I had any real guts as a Christian, I should be a Moltmaininan.

Barth and Pannenbergian are on opposite sides of a middle ground.  Panneberian leans toward that there is enough evidence to prove the resurrection while Barth holds that very nature of God is so outside the natural world that it doesn’t really apply.  Not knowledge then faith, but faith seeking understanding.

Although I believe there is enough evidence to suggest that the resurrection physically happened, there is no “slam dunk” proof.  Part of the reason is we are saved and called is because God chose to intervene and save us.  We are not saved by any reasoning, effort or “work” on our part, it was all God.  Mark 9:24 “I do believe, help my unbelief.”  It’s impossible for us believe something so unnatural no matter how good the evidence.  To truly believe that someone died 2000 years ago and came back to life is only possible by God’s will.  I couldn’t believe it even if it happened yesterday.

On the other side there is a real need for the resurrection to have happened.  Channeling Moltmanninan we frail humans need the reassurance that God loved us so much he intervened in the physical world.  He intervened against the natural order of the strong preying on the week.  A feel good movement would not have armed the early followers of Christ with the strength to rock the Roman empire.  The idea with death there is life anew and as the tree dies the acorn spouts new life is unlikely to give the courage to boldly die in God’s name.

The reality of the resurrection has great power.  From a conversion testimony I heard, the person giving it wondered why had the early disciples willingly faced death instead of recanting the risen Christ? They already had denied Jesus once when he was alive and being crucified, why now after his death would they hold strong? The only way they could have obtained such courage was that they must have met the risen Christ and witnessed for themselves his power over death.




In regards to the Resurrection of Christ, I lean more towards all the viewpoints except for Bultmann’s.

I believe with Moltmann and Pannenberg that the Resurrection is at the heart of the Christian faith.  I firmly agree with the Pannenbergian when he says that, “The resurrection of Jesus is a historical faith… If it isn’t something that really took place in history, then the message of the church is a deception, and we are still in bondage to sin and death.” (p. 372)  With that said, on the other side I do see Barth’s cautious viewpoint in that even though he believes in a historical Resurrection, he “willingly concede[s] that it is not a historical event in the sense that it can be shown to have occurred or not to have occurred by the modern historian with his critical method and assumptions.” (p. 373)  In other words, I think it’s really difficult, if not impossible, to ever produce irrefutable historical and scientific evidence proving or disproving the resurrection.  You can say that I have a subdued or tempered hope for the promise of resurrection and the new creation thereafter.   My faith needs something more concrete to stand upon rather than building my faith on ethical principles around a purely symbolic Resurrection.  My faith, in part, relies heavily upon my belief that the life, death, and Resurrection were real, historical events.  I see no point in spending so much time, effort, and resources upon learning more about a mere “myth”.

I am in agreement with the Moltmannian in pointing out a critical flaw in the Panennbergian’s theology, in that he seems to neglect the cross.  He says, “I suspect that it has to do with the lack of attention to the significance of the cross in your theology…” (p. 381) This is true.  Without the cross there is no Resurrection.  They are inextricably linked.  Could Jesus have led a life until old age claimed him and the God resurrected Him?  Perhaps.  But the gospels don’t witness to that.  The message of the cross and Christ’s suffering must be a part of any witness or message of the Resurrection to have any impact or meaning today.  The Moltmannian is right in saying that the Resurrection and the meaning of its history should spur us to have a spirit of service and sacrifice to others and to the world, and to help mitigate suffering and injustice that is everywhere around us, rather than relegate it to an Easter message on a Sunday morning at church.  It is more than that, and it is true “that raised the crucified Jesus from the dead and calls us to solidarity with the victims of history in the hope of a renewal of all things.”  (p. 382)


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