I just finished reading Andrew Park’s Between a Church and a Hard Place: One faith-free dad’s struggle to understand what it means to be religious (or not). And while the font was too big and the pages too few, it gave me many valuable insights, and I would recommend it without reservation to any of you who, like me, travel on the spectrum between faith-blessed and faith-haunted – who have not been faith-free in recent memory, if ever. Not that I haven’t had my doubts from time to time – but having doubts is very different from what Park describes in his book. He didn’t have doubts, so much as he didn’t even have a space in his brain that was devoted to thinking about these matters until his son came back from preschool talking about God. And so I am grateful that Park shared his story.
One of the recurring themes is his young daughter’s many questions about Jesus, beginning with this one: “Why is Jesus the only human who can come back to life?” Park is not equipped to give her a good answer for this, and after a brief exchange, he complains to the reader that his head is already hurting. I imagine many regular church attenders would feel much the same way Park does. At the end of the book, she asks, “Why did they kill Jesus?” and Park suggests to that she ask her church-going grandma. The grandmother even finds this one to be a thinker, and surely it is talked about at least once during the most heavily attended week of the church year.
But the first question is made more difficult, in that it is based on a faulty assumption: that Jesus is the only human who can come back to life. The scenario that Park’s daughter wishes for – that Jesus would bring everyone else back to life, too – is ostensibly a doctrine that unites Christians across denominational boundaries. Whether “we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come” with the Nicene Creed or “believe in the resurrection of the body” with the Apostles’ Creed or affirm with Paul that Jesus was not the only one to rise, but a harbinger – the first-born of the dead, it all comes to the same thing: like Christ, we too will rise. We will share in his resurrection.
Somehow, along the way, this critical doctrine seems to have been lost. Simply finding professing Christians who believe in Christ’s resurrection can be hard enough in some of the “mainline” denominations – but it can be hard to find any Protestants who have even heard of the resurrection of the body outside of their rote recitation of a creed they do not fully understand.
Do you look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come?