Summary Against Modern Thought: Objections To The General Resurrection

Previous post.

Arguments that arise from last week’s post today. Next week they are answered.


1 There are, of course, some things which seem to be opposed to faith in the resurrection.

Thus: in no natural thing does one find that which has been corrupted returning to being with numerical identity; neither does it seem possible to go back again from privation of a thing to possessing it. Accordingly, since things which are corrupted cannot be repeated with an identity in number, nature intends that the thing which is corrupted be preserved with an identity in species by generation. Since, then, man is corrupted by death, and the very body of man resolved even into the primary elements, it does not seem possible for a man with identity in number to be restored to life.

2 Again, numerical identity is impossible to a thing if one of its essential principles cannot be numerically identical, for, if an essential principle is varied, that essence of the thing is varied by which the thing, as it is, is also one. But what is returned altogether to nothingness cannot be taken up again with numerical identity; this will be the creation of a new thing rather than the restoration of an identical thing.

But there seem to be several of the essential principles of man returning to nothingness by his death. And first, to be sure, his very corporeity and the form of the compound, since the body is manifestly dissolved. Then, too, a part of the sensitive soul, and the nutritive, which cannot he without bodily organs, seem lost. Further, of course, there seems to return to nothingness the humanity itself—which is said to be the form of the whole—once the soul is separated from the body. It seems, then, impossible that man should rise again being identical in number.

Notes And this is, as you know, the primary belief of most today.

3 Furthermore, what is not continuous seems not to he numerically identical. And this is manifest not only in sizes and motions, but even in qualities and forms, for if, after healing, a man becomes sick and is healed again, the health which returns will not be the same in number. Now, clearly, man’s being is taken away by death, since corruption is a change from being to non-being. It is, then, impossible that man’s being be repeated with numerical identity. Then, neither will the man be the same in number, for things which are the same in number are the same in being.

4 If, furthermore, a man’s identical body is restored to life, by equal reasoning whatever was in the man’s body ought to be returned to the same man. But on this something extremely unseemly follows—not only by reason of the beard and the nails and the hair which are openly removed by daily trimming, but also by reason of other parts of the body which are covertly resolved by the action of the natural heat—and if these all are restored to the man rising again, an unseemly enormity will rise with him. It seems, then, that man will not rise after death.

5 There is more. It happens, occasionally, that some men feed on human flesh, and they are nourished on this nutriment only, and those so nourished generate sons. Therefore, the same flesh is found in many men. But it is not possible that it should rise in many. And the resurrection does not seem otherwise to be universal and entire if there is not restored to every man what he has had here.

6 Again, that which is common to all those existing in a species seems to he natural to that species. But the resurrection of man is not natural, for there is not a natural power of man which suffices to do this. Therefore, not all men will rise in common.

7 Furthermore, if by Christ we are freed from fault and from death, which is the effect of sin, it seems that those alone ought to be freed who had a share in the mysteries of Christ by which they would be freed from sin. But this is not true of all men. Therefore, not all men will rise, it seems.

Categories: SAMT

4 replies »

  1. Its really a summary against Gentile thought. And in favor of Judaizing thought. Might as well convert to Judaism if you buy into a literal physical resurrection. It devalues heaven to replace it with an eternal sex orgy on earth. Ah so its Islam. Like eternal conscious torment in hell, perhaps Christianity took the general resurrection from Islam.

  2. The evangelist John has spoken of these two resurrections in the book which is called the Apocalypse, but in such a way that some Christians do not understand the first of the two, and so construe the passage into ridiculous fancies. For the Apostle John says in the foresaid book, And I saw an angel come down from heaven. . . . Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Those who, on the strength of this passage, have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath-rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of the six thousand years since man was created, and was on account of his great sin dismissed from the blessedness of paradise into the woes of this mortal life, so that thus, as it is written, One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Peter 3:8 there should follow on the completion of six thousand years, as of six days, a kind of seventh-day Sabbath in the succeeding thousand years; and that it is for this purpose the saints rise, viz., to celebrate this Sabbath. And this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God; for I myself, too, once held this opinion. But, as they assert that those who then rise again shall enjoy the leisure of immoderate carnal banquets, furnished with an amount of meat and drink such as not only to shock the feeling of the temperate, but even to surpass the measure of credulity itself, such assertions can be believed only by the carnal. They who do believe them are called by the spiritual Chiliasts, which we may literally reproduce by the name Millenarians. It were a tedious process to refute these opinions point by point: we prefer proceeding to show how that passage of Scripture should be understood.

    Boox XX Chapter 7 City of God

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