Blog # 407 Immortality
At some time, a long time ago, the first man and woman came to be. Since that time trillions and trillions of men and women came to be. All of them, with the exception of the approximate seven billion of us now living on earth today are gone. We speak of them as 'dead'.
Yet there are those who live among us, and I am one of them, who claim every man and woman who ever lived is yet 'alive'. It is not that I foolishly deny the death of the body. It is for the human person I claim eternal life. I can conceive a definite unique eternal relationship between the body and the person in each unique human being ever created.
That transcendental relationship is understood fully only by God and by those who have already been called from a time on earth to the experience of eternity. In the light of this relationship, without fully understanding it, I can honestly proclaim the resurrection of the body in the Apostle's Creed .
Is this claim of ours a mere guess, an opinion based perhaps upon a deep seated hope in our hearts, a desire that brings comfort in our response to the loss in death of someone we love? How can we hold such a conviction in the face of overwhelming universal physical evidence contradicting it? Does anybody know for sure? What is the basis for our conviction?
St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of all time, wrote in the thirteenth Century in favor of the immortality of the human person. As a philosopher he gave five 'arguments' that conceived the notion of immortality as 'fitting', but he admitted they were not definite proofs. In 1947 as part of the requirements of a BS degree with a philosophy major I wrote a dissertation on eternal life. I had to concur with what St. Thomas concluded seven hundred years before. As philosophers, the only way we could definitely prove we live forever is to live forever!
As theologians, both St. Thomas and I were absolutely convinced of the immortality of the human soul. How could that be? By Faith. We believed it. To believe is to take something as true on the testimony of another. The conditions for faith, applied to the question of eternal life were fulfilled, and our conclusion is as secure as mathematical certitude. 2 + 2 = 4. I believe in eternal life, and the resurrection of the body. the total of what that means for me, until I 'die',' only God knows.
To have faith occur we have to have as the object of our faith a truth that is not otherwise
known to us at the time we believe. A revealer or witness to the truth is then required. Trust in the revealer follows this, and the experience of faith is ours when we actually accept the truth as our own.
In the case at hand Jesus is the sole revealer, the only one who claims and has the right to claim from personal experience the reality of eternal life. He, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is responsible for all of creation, for all that has and will come to be, for the design and production of our life on earth and our eternal life in the life to come. When we trust the authenticity of His credentials and believe His claim, truth about eternal life is, by faith, for us as true as if we had already experienced it.