One of my favorite contemporary theologians is N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, Enlgand and fourth highest bishop in the Anglican Church. He is a prolific writer and has written several books. I would highly recommend The Resurrection of the Son of God and his more popular level book, Simply Christian.
I have posted here a link to a Time magazine interview where the Time writer asks Wright several questions about his theology on the importance of the human body in Scripture. Wright, I believe, corrects a lot of wrong thinking that passes for orthodoxy in Christian circles. The link is:
This link was recommended reading to me from my oldest, younger brother, Stephen. He sent me the link on Facebook and then asked me what I thought about it. Here are my thoughts below. After reading them, I would invite thoughts of your own on Wright's interview or on my own comments.
"Yeah, everything Wright said is exactly what we are supposed to believe. It is the teaching of the Bible, orthodox creeds of the early, medieval, and Reformation churches, and should be what we hold to today.
"In fact, you see doubt casted on [Wright's view] of the [End Times and our resurrection] as early as the New Testament itself, I believe. This is why the Apostle John wrote so vehemently in his First Epistle that those who are true Christians are those that confess that Jesus Christ came "in the flesh," that is, as a true human being. He was writing this to his early church community because there were false teachers among them confusing them about the human nature of Christ, teaching instead that Christ was not fully human, or only appeared to be human, like a ghost. But John understood that confessing the full, physical humanity of Christ was absolutely essential for our own salvation (Christ had to identify with those He saved) and for future, bodily resurrection.
"You see, our belief in Christ's full humanity and our value of human physicality are linked. God loves bodies so much that He created them. He loves bodies so much that He took one on Himself. He loves bodies so much that He raised Christ's body (which He still has today) as a "downpayment," or "promissory note" that He will resurrect all bodies some day in the future...some for judgment, and some destined for glory.
"But in our day, we have so de-valued the body (much as the Gnostic heretics of the second century that Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen wrote against), that we think the most important thing we have to give to the world is information. "If we can just tell them the message, give them information about the gospel, then we are doing the only important thing that matters in Christian missions."
"But a true Christian theology means that we don't just want to get a rational, ethereal, verbal message into the minds of people. We care about their bodies as well. This is why for centuries the Church has cared about founding hospitals, clinics, food banks, and education that can help people find gainful employment. The gospel is not just for our souls, a message for our minds. It also affects our bodies. It affects the way we are to treat the bodies of others now (note that Paul says our BODIES are temples of the Holy Spirit--1 Cor 3 and 6), and it affects the state of our bodies later when Christ returns.
"Modernism, the philosophical beliefs arising out of the European Enlightenment of the 18th and 19th centuries, is the main culprit as to why we so de-emphasize and often teach heresy regarding the human body, in my estimation. Modernism told us a whole lot of things that were wrong (and some things that were right, as well). But one of those wrong things was to emphasize rational thought and the human mind as the ultimate source of knowledge, the ultimate arbiter of all truth claims, and our ultimate hope for human better-ment and salvation (hope in science, especially). With such a radical, extreme emphasis on human rationality and thinking, it is no wonder that Western man has come to exalt the mind to such an extent that we often view the body as just a temporary "earth-suit" that we will one day escape. (I have actually heard our bodies referred to as "earth-suits" by SCOPE ministries teachings).
"In my opinion--a point that Wright does not touch on much--it is the uncritical wedding of modern thinking and sub-Christian theology that has allowed so many in Christian circles to develop such unbiblical thinking about the body, soul, salvation, and the End Times.
"I look forward to talking to you more about it this weekend, if you want.