Blog 164: 3.25.7 - 3.25.8

It is important for Calvin to stress that the form of bodily resurrection does not break with the present creation; rather, it will be creations completion. In the resurrection God proves himself as the Giver of Life (3.25.4). The notion that the resurrected soul will not receive the same body but something "new" and "different" is, for Calvin, "monstrous." Strong language for sure, and Lelio Sozzini (Socinus, as we know him in a Latinized version) is in Calvin's sights who had advocated the view. Continuity between this body and the resurrected body is essential: "as to substance we shall be raised again in the same flesh we now bear, but that the quality will be different" (3.25.8). Why the insistence? The answer is Christological. The body that was crucified on the cross must be the same body that enters into heaven and remains there: "He received again the mortal body which he had previously borne. And it would not profit us much if the body which had been offered as an atoning sacrifice had been destroyed and replaced by a new one" (3.25.7). Our present union with Christ consists of a union with both Christ's death and resurrection. The cases of Enoch and Elijah confirm Calvin's thesis. Their bodies were merely taken into heaven - the quality was changed but not the essence of the flesh.

Behind Calvin's defense of the nature of the resurrection body lie sixteenth century reformulations of the Platonist, Gnostic and Manichaean heresies which view the present world as a prison-house for the soul and cast the material universe itself as evil; goodness is only to be found in the spiritual or non-material realm. Instead, Calvin saw this world containing within itself the yearning for consummation and fullness.


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