Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: "The Resurrection" Day Three

So here's the thing. I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to blog about today regarding Mike Duran's The Resurrection. That Easter-related post I mentioned on Monday? Yeah, I pretty much made it up. I got nothing along those lines.

At best, what I have is a gut-level reaction to Duran's afterword regarding the existence of ghosts. He acknowledges that most Christians don't believe in ghosts, but then raises the possibility that they could exist. Maybe. Duran even cites some Biblical evidence for the potential existence of ghosts.

His three examples? The appearance of a post-mortem Samuel to Saul and the witch at Endor, Moses and Elijah chatting with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the fact that, when the disciples think Jesus is a ghost, He corrects them but doesn't tell them to stop thinking ghosts are real.

After reading the afterword (after the afterword?), I was less than impressed with these examples. Sure, Samuel and Moses show up after they died, but who's to say that God didn't grant them a temporary release from their heavenly rest? As for Elijah, he didn't exactly die, now did he? Unless "taken up into heaven by a fiery chariot" is some weird Hebrew euphemism I'm unaware of.

As for his final example, I don't buy it. Here's the passage in question:

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (Luke 24:36-39, New International Version, ©2011)

On the surface, it might seem like Jesus is allowing the possibility of ghosts. After all, if ghosts didn't they exist, why wouldn't Jesus say, "It is I myself! Touch me and see. Oh, and while we're on the subject, ghosts don't exist, so get over it."

Except . . .

Except this isn't exactly what you would call a teachable moment. The disciples have just received a pretty major shock. Seeing dead people come back to life can do that to people (i.e. Chapter 4 of this month's book). This isn't exactly the time to confront faulty beliefs regarding life after death. Instead, the point of Luke 24 is that Jesus is simply, really, completely alive. The point isn't that He's not a ghost. That's only secondary. The point is resurrection.

Duran's evidence of a maybe is sketchy, and that's a best-case assessment. I realize that's not the point, but this was sort of the cherry on the top of a less-than-impressive book.

Now does that mean that I'm against ghosts in Christian fiction? Believe it or not, I'm not. It didn't faze me at all when . . . well, what prompted Duran's afterword to come after the story. Sorry. Spoilers and all that. Anyway, speculative fiction is all about dancing on the end of a tree branch. If someone can skillfully jig without losing a step, I'm all for it, especially if it can provoke some thoughts in the old theological corners of my brain.

Go and see what the rest of the tourists have to say:

Noah Arsenault
Brandon Barr
Red Bissell
Book Reviews By Molly
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Wanda Costinak
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Janey DeMeo
Cynthia Dyer
Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Andrea Schultz
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Dave Wilson


Jason said...

I've seen the Samuel example used before. It seems this isn't an unusual event, as the witch isn't surprised that a ghost shows up, just that it is Samuel.

I'm not sure if there are ghosts - I tend to say "no", but as with you I'm okay with Christian speculative fiction playing with the idea.

Thanks for your candid opinions as usual - I always look forward to stopping by during the tour (and as much as I can in between).

Anonymous said...

I think the irony is, that those examples Mike gives are not proof that Samuel or Elijah were roaming the earth, but they did return as ghosts at one point or another. And how can there be a Jewish law against speaking to the dead (mediums) unless there is a way to do

My husband felt the spirit of his grandma several days after she died in the house. And it wasn't creepy, he knew it was his grandma.

Jesus didn't say there were no such thing as ghosts when he met the disciples: It seems the mere mention of it shows that it was a part of their world at the time. They themselves believed in ghosts. Now, if this was a major no-no to God, you'd think he would have said something like: No, dummies, there's no such thing! Instead, he eats to prove to them he's not a ghost.

I think we just can't jump to any conclusions. There is evidence on both sides.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

One other time Jesus told the disciples He wasn't a ghost--when He came to them walking on water. Might that not have been a more teachable moment?

However, I don't believe in ghosts, as in, spirits can choose to roam the world or not.

I don't think Samuel was roaming the world. Apparently mediums truly had the power to contact the dead. It seems that Saul did not see what the witch of Endor saw. She merely reported it to him.

And the transfiguration was certainly something miraculous, not your run of the mill ghost sighting. In fact, in the Matthew account, Jesus tells the disciples with Him to tell no one about the "vision." Jesus Himself was transfigured and shown in His glory, according to Luke, so that doesn't seem remotely to belong in a discussion about ghosts, I don't think.

We do have some other Scripture that relates, however. One is John 17:24 where Jesus prays "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am." This seems to dismiss the idea that believers are anywhere but with Jesus.

Second, Isaiah 19:3.
"Then the spirit of the Egyptians will be demoralized within them;
And I will confound their strategy,
So that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead
And to mediums and spiritists."

This seems to suggest there were ghosts of the dead that were a poor substitute for the living God that the Egyptians would turn to.

Anyway, just like Frank Peretti's novels, I think this one serves as a reminder that reality is far more than what we see.