As Easter approaches I thought I'd jot down some posts on the resurrection. These have been largely inspired by reading some Jurgen Moltmann (modern German theologian).
First, then, the difference between resurrection (Biblical) and the immortality of the soul (Greek). I think 'immortal soul thinking' influences the view of death in churches a lot more than we at first think. Unfortunately, this is totally unbiblical. Moltmann gives a brilliant summary of the differences between them...
Faith in the immortality of the soul has its hope in the self-transcendence of human beings. It trusts in something in us. The self is transcendent over death. It accepts death as release - death is the soul's best friend. So, fundamentally, faith in the immortal soul withdraws from the body and denies it. This leads to an attitude of detachment towards happiness and pain, to a 'deferred life'. My body is a skin that's waiting to be discarded.
Resurrection faith, on the other hand, has its hope in God's transcendence over death. It is hope in the God who raises the dead. It does not accept death but wants to conquer it in Christ. Death is not a friend but an enemy. Resurrection faith gives itself to this life because it is this life which is raised. Salvation is not a withdrawl from bodily, sensory life. Rather, it is the consummation of bodily, sensory life. We lose ourselves in order that God will find us in death and raise us. We find ourselves by losing ourselves -we die in order to be raised in Christ.
" I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand."