Yesterday I spent some time talking with my Mom about my recent blog post querying the possibilities for relationships after death. After our conversation I continued to mull over the topic, and at some point I made a stray comment out loud about purgatory. I turned to Ken and said, "what do you think?" He's usually the one who starts theological conversations around here, so the out of the ordinary nature of my inquiry caused him to pause and sit down. We went on to discuss at length the implications of the doctrine of purgatory, as well as a few other theological conundrums, and with the state of the soul after death as our base point, took any number of side trips through the land of Church teaching, personal beliefs, universal salvation, letting Jesus into your heart, and so on.
In the midst of all this conversing McKinlee must have desired a need for attention, because she began making circles at the front door and scratching at her leash on top of the box where it resides nearby. With thoughts of all of the above swirling through my head, I clipped her leash on and opened the front door. And it hit me. A significant Aha!
What if the resurrection was a parable? Parables are used to convey a point. The features of the story didn't necessarily take place, they are told in order to illustrate a teaching, belief, or moral (as in "the moral of the story is..."). The story might be factual but doesn't have to be factual in order to convey truth or make its point. So, what if the point of the resurrection stories is to communicate the reality of God's power to bring new life out of what is no longer, to transform a former existence into something new and possible? Isn't that, after all, how we apply the story to our own lives? If the resurrection is a parable, then we don't have to get bogged down in the details of bodily resurrection and the state of the body at the time of death: how we recognize one another in heaven according to a physical appearance: the debate over cremation. If the resurrection is a parable, we focus on the meaning of it, not the facts of it. Does this not make sense? It does to me.
I'm not saying there was no resurrection of the body. I don't know if there was or not. My faith doesn't depend on the resurrection being factual, so if it's true, great, if it's not, I can live with that. My experience of God's transforming power came long before I paid any attention to the details of resurrection stories, or delved into the theological nuances of it all. This "aha" simply makes sense to me. Just sayin'.
Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you about purgatory!