The Doctrine of Christ (part 15)

June 23, 2008     Time: 00:49:19


Craig continues on the Doctrine of Christ (Christology). Objective vision theory.

Our thoughts, of course, have been this week upon the Gulf states and New Orleans and the destruction and suffering that have gone on there. One of the things, I think for me, that was the most striking about the images we saw on television was to see the way in which once the authorities’ hand was lifted from the city it degenerated into this animal world of unrestrained grasping and survival-of-the-fittest. It sort of reminded me of William Golding’s novel The Lord of the Flies where the school children, once the veneer of civilization removed, degenerated into almost animals. To see the sort of looting and pillaging that went on there was really shocking. I’m not talking about the gang activity. You sort of expect that. But I am talking about what would normally be ordinary citizens, ordinary people, who suddenly turn into looters and robbers under this kind of situation.

I’ve been reading Dallas Willard’s book The Renovation of the Heart on spiritual formation. A sentence in that book that I read before I saw these events in New Orleans jumped out at me. I just thought I would read it to you. Willard says in the book, “What we call civilization is a smoldering heap of violence constantly on the verge of bursting into flame. That is the true picture of the fallen human will.” I thought how well that was illustrated in New Orleans this past week – a smoldering heap of violence constantly on the verge of bursting into flame.

Someone had said a person’s true character is revealed by what he would do when he thinks he cannot get caught. What would you do if you could do anything you wanted to and you knew you wouldn’t get caught? That is what reveals a person’s character. It is troubling to see the character that can be revealed in those kind of circumstances, I think.

The point of Dallas Willard’s book Renovation of the Heart is that we want to put on the character of Christ so if we were found in a situation like that we would behave as Christ would. He says it is not enough to just ask yourself “What would Jesus do in some situation?” Because you don’t have the ability to simply call upon the character of Christ when you find yourself suddenly in that kind of situation. You have to be building the character of Christ into your character so that when suddenly called upon in an emergency situation you could act as Christ acted. But it is not as though you can just instantaneously call that up. The whole project that he talks about of renovating your heart is one of being active in things like corporate worship, personal devotion, prayer, service, silence, and so forth. These other spiritual disciplines to help build the character of Christ into ourselves so we will react in the right way when called upon to do so. This is really connected with the second aspect of salvation that Bryant Wright was talking about this morning. The second aspect that he talked about in the sermon is what is called sanctification. That is conformity to the image of Christ. As we become like him we take on his character. So in a situation in which we know we wouldn’t be caught – we know nobody is looking – we would still behave as Christ did because we’ve taken on a different character than our fallen sinful selves.

That was a thought that I had just as I watched these scenes on the television this week.

Now, of course, our thoughts do turn to disaster relief and care for the refugees and the suffering. Someone shared with me just before class about a church that she knows of called Longview Baptist Church which is a small Baptist church in Louisiana, somewhat north of the city. She said they are taking on some 70 refugees into their church. What is interesting about this is that this is a church of only about 200 people. These people are all white. The people they are taking as refugees are all black. So this is going to be a real interesting kind of cross-cultural, cross-racial mix as these white folks in this non-urban setting take on these urban refugees.[1] They want prayer. They want us to pray for them that they would be able to show Christ’s love. They also emphasized that we need to pray for long term solutions because the newness of all of this will cause people to react in the short term but there is going to need to be long term projects. They also said that the items that they need the most are personal items; things like soap and shampoo and diapers. These are the items that are really needed. I thought perhaps we could begin with a word of prayer in which we would mention those Christians who are involved in these sort of relief efforts.

The other item in the news that I think is especially noteworthy – in fact, I think in some ways more significant in all that we’ve seen with Hurricane Katrina – is that I understand Chief Justice William Rehnquist died last night which means there is now another Supreme Court vacancy to be filled. If you thought the John Roberts hearings were going to be tough, as someone said to me before church, this has the makings of a perfect storm. We need to pray again for President Bush that he will have the courage of his convictions to nominate a person who will uphold the Constitution as Chief Justice Rehnquist did. I think it would be appropriate to say upon his passing that this was truly a great Chief Justice – a man who stood for the Constitution and who would take unpopular stands in order to uphold it. We need to pray that George Bush will resist the pressures to appoint some sort of a moderate. I can already imagine the scenario. You’ve appointed a conservative already in Roberts to replace Sandra Day-O’Connor, now to replace Rehnquist we need someone more in O’Connor’s mold so the Court will remain the same. Of course, I think what President Bush needs to do is stand by his strong convictions of appointing someone who will be a strict constructionist and uphold the Constitution and hence things like the right-to-life and other values that Christians hold dear. We need to be praying for our President in these trying days ahead.

[Opening prayer][2]

We looked last time at the subjects of the Conspiracy theory, the Apparent Death theory, and the Subjective Vision theory. Today we want to turn to an assessment of the Objective Vision theory.

For those of you who don’t remember, let me review exactly what this theory is. According to this theory, Jesus’ body may or may not have actually been raised from the dead. Someone like Hans Grass, for example, thinks that the body of Jesus remained in the tomb and rotted away. Pannenberg, on the other hand, thinks that the body of Jesus was raised. But in both cases they do not believe that Jesus appeared bodily and physically alive to his disciples. Rather, what the disciples saw was a vision of Jesus. Usually this is said to have been Jesus in his spiritual body. They saw Jesus’ spiritual body appear to them. Thus if someone had been there with a tape recorder or a camera, they would have registered no sound waves of Jesus’ voice. There would have been no photographic image of the risen Jesus. There would have been nothing – no trace of it. Because this was merely a visionary sighting that the disciples experienced of the risen Christ.

Yet they would say this is not a subjective vision. A subjective vision is essentially a hallucination. It is something that a person’s mind brings on himself. For example, through drug abuse or mental illness people will sometimes hallucinate and will produce out of their own psyche a vision of something. That is what a subjective vision is. But the proponents of the objective vision say this is not a hallucination. They really saw Jesus in his spiritual body, and therefore it is a kind of objective vision that they saw. We could call this, in the terms of parapsychology, a veridical vision. That is to say it is not hallucinatory – they really do see something. It is veridical. It has a nature of truth. But they don’t see this thing with photons bouncing on and off of it and going through their pupils and affecting the retinal nerves and so forth. There aren’t any sound waves that impinge on the eardrum. It is a visionary seeing.

To give an analogy, in the literature of parapsychology there are lots of cases where loved ones or close relatives will have an experience of seeing a loved one just at the moment that that person is dying far away from them. They will perhaps see the loved one sitting there in their living room on the couch or maybe entering into the bedroom, and they will actually speak to this person. It looks like the person is real. Then it vanishes, and they find out later that at that very moment that person was on his deathbed or was killed in an automobile accident or something. They seem to have had a vision of this person. It wasn’t just hallucinatory. They were really seeing that person somehow. Maybe there was a telepathic connection between that person when he was dying and this loved one or something. But it is not just a hallucination. They are actually seeing something real, but not through the physical means.

So the theory is here that the disciples had these veridical visions or objective visions of the glorified Jesus in his spiritual body.[3] So in one sense this isn’t really a denial of the resurrection. Someone like Pannenberg believes in the resurrection of Jesus. He thinks that God took the body in the tomb, transformed it into this spiritual body, and then the disciples had these veridical visions of Jesus glorified in his spiritual body. Hans Grass thinks that the body of Jesus was not raised from the dead but that Jesus was given a sort of spiritual body – a quite distinct body – separate from the earthly body in the grave, and that Jesus appeared to the disciples in this spiritual body. So they had these objective visions of Jesus.

This theory isn’t so much a denial of the resurrection of Jesus as it is a reinterpretation of it. It is a radical reinterpretation of the resurrection of Jesus so that it doesn’t involve a physical bodily event that can be perceptible to the five senses. This sort of theory is hence very popular among liberal theologians and liberal Christians who want to believe in the resurrection of Jesus – they know that this is essential to the Christian faith – but they can’t bring themselves to believe in nature miracles like a body being raised out of the grave and being alive and walking around again. It allows them to have a half-way house between subjective visions and real bodily physical appearances. So this is an extremely popular view among people who would be on the left-wing theologically of Christianity.

What could we say in response to the Objective Vision theory? I think the very, very first thing that needs to be said is that Paul believed in a physical bodily resurrection. Paul has unwillingly been co-opted by these theologians as an ally in teaching that Jesus had some sort of a spiritual non-physical body. This is based upon, I think, a radical misreading of Paul’s doctrine of the spiritual body in 1 Corinthians 15. You will remember in 1 Corinthians 15 in talking about the body that is to come, Paul contrasts it with the earthly body. He says, The body that is sown, that is buried in the ground, is sown in dishonor but it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. Paul has been used by these theologians to drive a wedge between the doctrine of a spiritual resurrection body and the very physical tangible resurrection body that you have presented in the four Gospels in the resurrection appearance stories.

What is the mistake made here? It is all in understanding Paul’s term “spiritual body” or in the Greek soma pneumatikon. Soma is the word for “body.” Pneumatikon is the adjective meaning “spiritual.” It comes from the Greek word pneuma which means “spirit” as in, say, pneumatic tires or a pneumatic pump where you have an air pump or tires that have air in them. We use the word pneumatic in English from this same root pneuma which means “spirit.” So Paul talks about a spiritual body. He contrasts it in 1 Corinthians 15 with the present earthly body which he calls a soma psychikon. What is a soma psychikon? Well, this comes from the Greek word psyche. Literally, the word would mean “soulish” - the adjectival form. Psyche is the Greek word for “soul.” Sometimes we use the word psyche today to talk about a person’s inner-self. His psyche. We get the word psychology from that. It comes from the Greek word psyche for soul.[4] The idea is that the present body that we live in right now is “soulish.” What does Paul mean in calling the present body a soma psychikon? Clearly, he does not mean a body made out of soul – right? That would be a contradiction in terms – to talk about a body made out of soul. Rather, by the word psychikon, when you look at the way it is used elsewhere in the New Testament, it always has the sense of the natural human nature. Many translations will render this as “natural body.” A soma psychikon would be our nature body. That is to say, it is a body that is under the domination of the human psyche – the human soul. It is the natural human body that we live in. It is the body that is under the domination and direction of ordinary human nature.

In exactly the same way, when Paul talks about the soma pneumatikon, he doesn’t mean a body made out of pneuma – a body made out of spirit. That would be a contradiction in terms as well – to talk about a body that is made out of spirit. Rather, in contrast to soma psychikon, which is a natural body, the soma pneumatikon means a body which is under the domination and direction of the spirit, and particularly the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God. So when it says spiritual body, although that is a literal translation of the word, that can be very misleading because people think of spiritual in terms of constitution. In that sense the word “spiritual body” is just a contradiction in terms. What does it mean to talk about a spiritual body in the sense of an immaterial, intangible, invisible, unextended body? It just isn’t a body if it is immaterial, intangible, unextended, and invisible. Rather, the word spiritual here means spiritual in the sense of orientation, as when I say, for example, Bryant Wright is a spiritual man. I don’t mean he is an immaterial, intangible, invisible, unextended man. Or when I say the Bible is a spiritual book. I mean it has spiritual content. In the same way that soma psychikon doesn’t mean a body made out of soul, soma pneumatikon doesn’t mean a body made out of spirit. Rather, Paul is talking about the orientation and dominating principle of these bodies, and he is saying that the present earthly body is a natural body under the domination of human nature. The resurrection body will be a body that is fully under the domination and control of the Holy Spirit and will be hence an incorruptible body that will never experience death again. But it is still a physical, tangible, material, extended body.

I think the key proof of this, apart from the etymology of the words, is that Paul uses these words in exactly the same sense just a few chapters earlier in 1 Corinthians 2-3 where he talks about the spiritual man (the anthropos pneumatikos) and the natural man (anthropos psychikos). Anthropos is the Greek word for man, as in anthropology (the study of man). So he is talking about the spiritual man and the psychikos man – the natural man. Paul says to these Corinthians, I couldn’t address you as spiritual men, because you are still babes in Christ. There is still jealousy and infighting and divisions among you. He says the natural man – the anthropos psychikos – does not receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are folly to him. He is not able to understand them because they are spiritual discerned. The person under the domination of ordinary human nature can’t discern spiritual things. Clearly when Paul contrasts the spiritual man and the natural man, the contrast is not one of their constitution.[5] He is not talking about invisible, intangible, immaterial men versus tangible, material, extended men. He is talking about people under the domination and control of the Holy Spirit versus people under the domination and control of the natural human nature. When he comes to chapter 15 and contrasts the soma pneumatikon and the soma psychikon it is exactly the same contrast.

Therefore, this whole idea that the disciples experienced a vision of Jesus in his spiritual body (that is to say, an unextended, immaterial, invisible, intangible body) is the result of a massive misinterpretation of Paul’s distinction between the spiritual body and the natural body. When you read Paul he believed in a resurrection body, and he said that will be a body that is now glorious, supernatural, immortal, and incorruptible, but it will be a physical body.

A second confirmation of this fact is the difference that Paul draws, and indeed the whole New Testament draws, between a vision of Christ and a resurrection appearance of Christ. I don’t mean that this is a difference in vocabulary. I mean this is a conceptual difference. The resurrection appearances of Christ were confined to a very limited period of time shortly after the crucifixion and then ceased. Paul says when Christ appeared to him on the Damascus Road he said, “He appeared to me last of all.” And that was some time after the other appearances had ceased. So the appearances of Christ risen from the dead were short-lived to a limited group of audiences and not to be repeated. By contrast, visions of the risen Christ were common in the early church and went on for a long time. For example, think of Stephen’s vision of Jesus when he was being stoned. He saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God and waiting to receive him into heaven. In John in the book of Revelation he describes his visions of Christ in heaven seated on the throne. Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 12 says, “I can boast about my many visions and revelations of the Lord.” You will remember in the book of Acts the Lord appears to Paul on one night calling him to a certain missionary activity. So visions of Jesus – visions of the risen Christ – went on in the church and may even still go on today. These did not cease. By contrast, the appearances of Christ were to a limited circle and a limited amount of time and soon ceased.

So the question is: what is the difference between a vision of the risen Christ and an appearance of the risen Christ? What is the difference between the two? As I read the New Testament, the difference very clearly is that only an appearance of Christ involved Christ’s extra-mental manifestation of himself. Visions of Jesus were purely intra-mental – they were like objective visions that we talked about a moment ago. The appearances of Christ were extra-mental events that took place in the external world – out there in the world of space and time. They weren’t just in your mind, whereas visions are just something that you perceive psychically in your mind. But appearances are extra-mental. And, as I said, this is the consistent answer given throughout the New Testament. So in saying that Christ appeared Paul implies that he is talking about these extra-mental resurrection appearances, and therefore I think substantiates what I was saying before that Paul believed in a physical resurrection body and physical appearances of Christ.


Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: You mean “returned” as in the Second Coming? I think when we understand the Second Coming in the New Testament, this doesn’t simply mean a reappearance of Jesus. It means Jesus coming to claim the full authority of the Kingdom of God upon Earth. It is not just that he is visible again, but he now becomes Lord.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Theoretically, yes.[6] I think that that is at his discretion. That wouldn’t count as the Second Coming of Christ. The Second Coming of Christ is really the coming of the Kingdom of God in all of its fullness. When he will sit on the throne and judge the nations and all the rest. “Every eye will see him,” John says. “Everyone who pierced him.” The whole world will see it. So the appearance to Paul, though out of time and disjointed from the other appearances, isn’t the Second Coming of Christ in the real theological sense of that word.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Yeah, there were extra-mental accompaniments of this event that his traveling companions could experience. Even though it wasn’t an appearance of Christ to them, there were these extra-mental accompaniments.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Yes. That is right. I totally disagree with people who say that if there had been unbelievers or photographers in the upper room in Jerusalem that their photographic plates would not have registered anything and that they wouldn’t have seen anything. I think that is completely foreign to the resurrection appearance stories or the conception of the resurrection body that is in the New Testament.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Yeah, I think so. Because they are intra-mental so that they would tend to be to one person. A good example of a vision would be, say, Peter’s experience of seeing the sheet lowered down from heaven with all the clean and unclean animals and he hears a voice, “Peter, rise, kill, and eat.” If anybody else had been on the rooftop with Peter that day, they wouldn’t have seen any animals descending out of heaven. This was a vision that Peter was having, so it was very personal. But that doesn’t mean it was hallucinatory because it wasn’t just brought on by Peter’s, say, hunger pangs. This was a vision that God induced in him to see these things. There are such a thing as visions, but I think the New Testament distinguishes them from the appearances of Christ after his resurrection.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: You are right in saying that it was different, but Paul acknowledges that it is different. He says the present body is dishonorable. The body that is raised is glorious. The present body is weak. The body that will be raised will be powerful. The present body is corruptible and mortal. The body that is raised will be immortal and incorruptible. And he says the present body is psychikos and the risen body will be pneumatikos. I think the contrast there between the risen body and the earthly body is exactly the contrast you see in the Gospels between the earthly body of Jesus and the powerful, glorious, supernatural body that Jesus has in the resurrection appearances where he can appear in the upper room and vanish, where he is gloriously alive from the dead. It is different. It is radically different from the earthly body, but it is not different in terms of its tangibility, materiality, extendedness, or visibility. Those are the four adjectives that I hit upon because those are essential, I think, to bodily existence. The resurrection body of Jesus had all of them.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Extended means to have dimensions – breadth, length, and height. Jesus’ body clearly had dimensions. It was extended. Whereas something that is visionary is unextended – it has no breadth, length, or height because it doesn’t exist in space.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: As I said earlier, I think though it was semi-visionary, Paul can count it as an appearance because it had extra-mental parts. He saw a light, he heard a voice, and his traveling companions experienced these extra-mental accompaniments though they didn’t experience them as a manifestation of Christ. But there were the extra-mental things. It wasn’t like Stephen’s vision. It is not even impossible that Paul saw the body of Jesus in the light. He saw the bright light and he says in 1 Corinthians 9, “Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” It is the very same words Mary Magdalene uses when the women come to the disciples and say, “We have seen the Lord.” So Paul may have seen Christ’s body in that blinding light.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Emmaus was an appearance. He broke bread and so forth.[7]


Let me complete the thought and say something about the Gospels because the strategy of these critics is to drive a wedge between Paul and the Gospels. Because everybody acknowledges that the Gospels show a bodily, physical resurrection body of Christ and appearances of Christ. So they try to drive this wedge between Paul and the Gospels. But I think that is, as I say, based upon a terrible misinterpretation of Paul. The body that is portrayed in the Gospels is precisely a glorious, powerful, immortal, supernatural body.

How do the critics then explain away these physical appearances in the Gospels? What they say is that these are corruptions. These are legendary stories that arose over the years and eventually got written down in the Gospels. Originally there were just these visionary experiences, and as the stories got told and retold they got corrupted and turned into the physical resurrection accounts that we have in the Gospels.

The same thing that I said about the Mythological Theory applies here. Namely, it would be completely beyond any other example of legendary accretion to have this sort of corruption of oral tradition occurring in so short a time while the eyewitnesses were still alive and living and could correct any corruption that would take place. It is very interesting that the Gospels are unanimous in their testimony that the resurrection appearances were physical bodily appearances. They are unanimous in this. That all of these traditions could be corruptions of original non-physical, non-bodily visionary sightings I think just goes beyond anything that we can find parallels to in history.

What the critics will say is that the reason that the Gospels got corrupted is because the Gospel writers were trying to fight against Docetism – this is an anti-Docetic apologetic. Docetism was an early church heresy that arose that said that Christ didn’t really come in a physical body, because the physical is evil. Material body is evil. So Christ just had the illusion of a physical body. He didn’t really come in a physically incarnate state. The word “Docetism” comes from the Greek word dokeo which means “appear.” He appeared to have a physical body but he didn’t really. So the Docetists were against the physicality of the incarnation. The claim is that, as an anti-Docetic apologetic, the Gospel writers portrayed physical resurrection appearances of Jesus to show that the Docetists were wrong.

I think that this theory, again, is just completely implausible. Number one, the resurrection narratives precede Docetism. Docetism is a later heresy that arose in the early church – in the second century for example. You may have glimmerings of it in the later portions of the New Testament, say, in 2 John where John says, “Anybody who denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is the anti-Christ.” There you may have some early Docetism that is beginning to appear. But the Gospel appearance stories go way back before that, so they precede Docetism. They can’t be a response to it.

Secondly, imagine that there were originally only visionary experiences of Christ. That there weren’t any physical resurrection appearances of Christ. Then there would just simply be no motivation to disagree with the Docetists. You could just say, yes, he did appear in this spiritual way, in this visionary way. Simply nothing would be achieved by trying to butt up against this and invent physical appearances. It wouldn't serve any purpose because the church would agree with the Docetists that there were no physical appearances.

Thirdly, though, in one sense it is really simply irrelevant to Docetism. Because what Docetism denied was not the resurrection appearances. What Docetism denied was the incarnation. They denied that Christ ever really became incarnate. So trying to have physical resurrection appearances is doing too little too late.[8] What Docetists really were against was the incarnation.

Finally, the last point I’d like to make is that the resurrection appearance stories do not have the rigor of an apologetic against Docetism. When you read them, the physicality of the resurrected Jesus is just a sort of off-hand aspect of the narratives. It is not the central point. It is just there. It is just presupposed. But there isn’t a kind of rigorous apologetic there. You might say what about where Jesus says to Thomas, “Touch my side. Put your hand in my wound. Touch the nail prints in my hand.” Isn’t that making a point? Well, as some commentators have pointed out, in order for this to be an anti-Docetic apologetic, a lot more would have to be done than Jesus simply showing his wounds. Notice in the story Thomas never touches Jesus. He never actually does what Jesus invites him to do. Rather he just falls at his feet and says, “My Lord and my God!” It is interesting in later church fathers when they retell the story they do have Thomas touch Jesus and feel his wounds and so forth. If this were an anti-Docetic apologetic, that is what the story would have to have. But Jesus merely appearing to them and saying, Feel my wounds and see me, and the disciples believe – that wouldn’t refute Docetism at all, would it? Because he could appear to have the wounds.

So the stories themselves don’t have the rigor necessary to be an anti-Docetic apologetic. Rather, I think that what we have in the New Testament is unanimous testimony both in Paul and in the Gospels that the resurrection appearances of Christ were bodily physical events experienced by eyewitnesses who continued to live in the early church and who told the stories of those events.

Therefore I think the Objective Vision theory is really quite untenable. It is, frankly, just a kind of half-way house for those who don’t have the stomach for nature miracles. So it allows them to affirm a resurrection without really affirming it – to have your cake and eat it, too. In the Jewish sense of the word, a resurrection of the dead involved the physical bodily raising up of the dead man in the tomb to new life. In that sense, these proponents of the Objective Vision theory really do not affirm the resurrection of Jesus in the proper Jewish sense of that word.


Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: They would say that that is part of Luke’s anti-Docetic apologetic. That Luke or his sources made that up in order to show that the Docetists were wrong.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: I don’t think we can know that these were Christophanies because it doesn’t actually say who the fourth person was. It may have been an angelic figure like the Angel of the Lord or God’s presence in some special way. I am not sure whether we want to say that that was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. But let me say in this connection that the early Jewish rabbis did make a distinction between an angelic vision and an angelic appearance on exactly this same criterion that I’ve suggested. In rabbinic tradition, if you saw a vision of an angel or an appearance of something like an angel and the food that was eaten by the angel is really gone after the experience is over then you know you saw a real appearance of an angel. On the other hand, if the food remains there and it hasn’t been eaten but you just thought you saw this happen then all you had was a vision. This distinction that I’m making between vision and appearance – or that the New Testament makes with respect to Christ – is one that Jewish rabbis already drew with respect to angels and angelophanies. They would raise the same question you did and they would answer it on the basis of whether there were extra-mental effects of these angelic appearances in the Old Testament.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: You mean Melchizedek? That is a good question. You are thinking of the way the author of Hebrews portrays Melchizedek. In the Genesis story he just appears to be the King of Salem, but in Hebrews when he says he is without mother, or father, or genealogy, he may simply mean that there is no genealogy presented of him in the Genesis account.[9] He just appears on the scene without any father or mother being listed or anything of that sort. It is uncertain whether or not that was a pre-appearance of Christ. The author of Hebrews doesn’t actually say that. He just says, “like” the Son of God he has neither genealogy nor mother or father, etc.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: They would probably deny that, too. As I say, these are folks who have a hard time believing in nature miracles; that is to say, miracles that involve things that would be beyond the ability of nature to do. So they could believe, for example, in psychosomatic healings but they couldn’t believe in, say, Jesus walking on the water or multiplying the loaves and fishes, or raising Lazarus from the dead. These folks have a hard time accepting nature miracles. If you want to talk about that subject, that really gets back to your concept of God. As Paul Little, I think, would say to these people, your God is too small. I guess that was J. B. Phillips who maybe said that. If you have a God who is big enough to be the creator of the whole universe, raising someone from the dead is child’s play for such a being. So really it gets back to how big your God is when you ask whether or not these nature miracles are possible.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Yes, that is absolutely correct. They accept parts of the Bible but not all of them. They accept enough to get a resurrection of sorts, but they won’t accept enough to get a physical bodily resurrection and appearances of Christ. As I say, I think the critique of this theory will be that they have grossly misunderstood Paul’s doctrine of the spiritual body in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul has been made an unwilling accomplice in this effort to try to drive a wedge between him and the four Gospels.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Not necessarily. I think God could do that, but it could just be like, for example, to Peter seeing the sheep with clean and unclean animals in it.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Veridical vision. It would be veridical in the sense that it wasn’t just self-induced. He really saw something.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Because it wasn’t self-induced. Think of an objective vision in these terms as being a vision caused by God as opposed to self-induced. I see your point. In one sense, seeing the animals would be different than seeing Jesus in his spiritual body. I guess you are right about that, because you would say, no, no, there weren’t any animals anywhere even in heaven that Peter saw. This would just be a God-induced vision. But it would still be different from a subjective hallucination. Let’s think in terms here of God-induced visions of this spiritual reality versus mere hallucinations versus the view I think the New Testament holds – actual physical sightings and hearings with our five senses. In other words, the literal view. That is the view that we will take up next time, although we do have to dispose first of the so-called Interpretation theory. We will look at the Interpretation theory next time and then we will look at the literal view and see what difficulties it encounters.[10]

[1] 5:09

[2] 11:00

[3] 15:11

[4] 20:02

[5] 25:02

[6] 30:06

[7] 35:00

[8] 40:00

[9] 45:10

[10] Total Running Time: 49:19 (Copyright © 2008 William Lane Craig)