Church history books are full of resurrection stories. But Jesus is still different.
It's actually kind of easy to believe in resurrection, at least in SOMEONE coming back to life, isn't it? How many times have we seen a movie or TV show with some declaration of love to a flatlining patient followed by new beeps on the heart monitor? And then there's the resurrection scenes in The Matrix and Lord of the Rings and Narnia and Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica and Lost. In sci-fi and fantasy stories, nobody stays dead!
But it's not just in the world of make-believe. The Bible is full of stories about the dead coming back to life. Elijah prays to God to bring a boy back from the dead and God does it. Elisha does the same thing: prays to God to bring a boy back from the dead and God does it. (As I noted in an earlier blog post, even Elisha's bones bring someone back from the dead.) Peter brings Dorcas back from the dead. Paul brings Eutychus back from the dead. Jesus brings the daughter of Jairus back from the dead. And then of course there's Lazarus and the "many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep" that were raised at Jesus' crucifixion. (Mt. 27:52-53).
In saints' hagiographies, raising the dead is a big deal. But it's pretty common. Try to find a hagiography without a resurrection. It's awfully hard. Read a dictionary of saints and you'll start with St. Anastasius, a heathen by raised by St. Julian of Antioch who "told such a mournful tale about the way to Hell as never came to man before nor after since. Anastasius and Julian were later reportedly martyred together around the year 311. Shortly thereafter you'll meet St. Archelides, who came to life for the span of one sentence, settling a dispute between his fellows over whether his mother could be buried next to him even though she was a woman.
This headline seems to fall in the "man bites dog" category. From a professor (also dean and VP) of Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, we expect precise articulations of Reformed doctrine. Defenses of biblical inerrancy. Disquisitions on the priority of theology over experience.
We don't expect a spirited exhortation to read thousand-year-old mystical texts.
But that's just what we get in Carl Trueman's article Why Should Thoughtful Evangelicals Read the Medieval Mystics. And it's worth reading - whether you share Trueman's Reformed stance or not. In a nutshell, after acknowledging difficulties, he enumerates four reasons we should read such luminaries of the Middle Ages as Bonaventure, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich. For those wanting to cut to the chase, here's my brief commentary on Trueman's article.