That We make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man. (Pope St. Pius X, para. #2, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, on the doctrines of the Modernists; Emphasis mine).
The "Jesus Seminar" was begun by New Testament "scholar" Robert Funk in the 1970s. It was Funk’s desire to rediscover the "historical Jesus" that was hidden, he believed, behind almost 2,000 years of Christian traditions, myths, and legends. The Jesus Seminar was created to examine the Gospels and other early Christian literature to discover who Jesus "truly" was and what He "truly" said. There was a dichotomy between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of Faith." This teaching spread rapidly in the early years of the Vatican II sect. It wasn't uncommon to hear the invalid "priests" coming out of Vatican II sect seminaries speak of "belief in the Resurrection;" but meaning not a physical rising of Christ from the dead, but only "spiritually" or "metaphorically."
Pivotal in this endeavor to undermine belief in Our Lord's physical Resurrection (and Divinity) is one John Dominic Crossan (b. 1934). A once-devout Roman Catholic Irishman, he joined the monastic order of Servites and pursued the priesthood at Stonebridge Priory in Illinois, being ordained in 1957. In 1969, he left the priesthood, citing a desire to express his speculative theological views within the realm of academia without ecclesiastical repercussions. It sounded like a "persecuted theologian," but it was an excuse to "marry" Margaret Deganais, a professor at Loyola University Chicago with whom he had pursued and initiated a sexual relationship while he was a priest. Crossan also was a proponent of artificial contraception. He went on to be a professor at DePaul University, where he taught heresy for 26 years.
For Crossan, the risen Christ is, optimistically, an ephemeral apparition, not a person possessing a transformed body. What’s important for Crossan isn’t substantiating the concrete physicality and historicity of Jesus’s Resurrection but coming to an understanding of how we may now positively construe the Gospel authors’ articulation that Christ is “risen” through their parables about Resurrection, which, like Jesus’s original parables, carried metaphorical import. Understanding the Resurrection as a meaning-laden parable enriched the early Church through its implications, not the least of which was “Jesus is Lord.”
Therefore, Crossan affirms the Resurrection and the enduring Lordship of Jesus understood not in categories of a concrete, literal-historical Resurrection but in terms of a parabolic narrative (initiated by Jesus and advanced by the Apostles) not literal history. Christ was not raised from the dead except insofar as the Apostles wanted to carry on with His Message; so He "lived on." It is also possible that some of His disciples hallucinated, and saw a vision of Jesus which was how He "lived on" in those who turned their experience into a parable about "rising from the grave."
This, argues Crossan, is the original Christian way. But as we shall see, it is little more than a contemporary progressive way of addressing the Resurrection without having to subscribe to an antiquated and impossible world view replete with miracles, supernaturalism, and literalist commitments to Scripture. In short, it is the way of unbelief masquerading as “faith.” Here, we find another one of Modernism’s ideological commitments: anti-supernaturalism or, simply, Naturalism. Crossan rejects the idea of the miraculous through a redefinition of miracle as “a marvel that someone interprets as a transcendental action or manifestation.” (See Crossen, The Birth of Christianity, , pg.303).
Note that the onus falls on interpretation and that the miracle is not stated to be an act of God but only attributed to be of God. Crossan says as much: “There must be . . . certain individuals or groups who interpret that marvel as an intervention by ancestors, spirits, divinities or God.” (Ibid) What was once a theological discussion has become an anthropological discussion for Crossan.
Jesus talked about resurrection and ascension, but these are metaphors of power, justice, and allegiance, not historical happenings. Jesus was crucified to death, and His discarded remains were consumed by wild dogs, says Crossan. (See Crossan, Jesus, A Revolutionary Biography, , pgs.123–126). In essence Crossen is an atheist who sees Jesus as little more than a "special person in history" Whose life inspired His followers to write metaphors about Him. Resurrection, then, is all metaphor, simply metaphor, and really “one—but only one—of the metaphors used to express the sense of Jesus’ continuing presence with his followers and friends,” admits Crossan. (See Crossan and Richard G. Watts, Who Is Jesus?: Answers to Your Questions about the Historical Jesus, , pg. 121). Pope St. Pius X taught that Modernism leads to atheism. Certainly this suffices to show superabundantly by how many roads Modernism leads to the annihilation of all religion. The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism; the second is made by Modernism; the next will plunge headlong into atheism. (Pascendi Dominici Gregis, para. #39).
Crossen has reduced the Bible to a bunch of stories containing very little truth (the product of the so-called "Jesus Seminar"). He reduces the Resurrection to a metaphor. Although he talks about his "faith" and his "belief in the Resurrection" they have been stripped of all supernatural meaning. Bottom line: Crossen is, indeed, an atheist. Below is part of an interview Crossen gave to Alicia von Stamwitz in 2020:
Stamwitz: You approach your research from a strictly historical perspective. How does that affect your faith?
Crossen: It has strengthened my faith and made it far more viable. If you have faith but don’t have the historical background, you really have superstition.
If you are happy with a rather traditional don’t-ask-questions type of faith, my research is going to bother you the same way that a two-year-old will be bothered if you tell him there’s no Santa Claus. But at a certain point kids grow up, and at a certain point adults should grow up with their religion, too. What faith means for me is always asking questions. Borrowing from Socrates, I’d say the unexamined faith is probably superstition.
Stamwitz: And what’s your take on the Gospel’s accounts of miracles such as the healing power of Jesus?
Crossen: Anthropologists make a distinction between curing and healing. A good illustration of this is the movie Philadelphia. The character played by Tom Hanks isn’t cured. We know he’s going to die. So why do we feel good at the end of that movie? We feel good because he was healed. He was healed because his partner, his family, his colleagues — they all supported him. There was a whole community around him.
What I see Jesus doing when he heals people is bringing them into a new community. He takes in people who may see themselves as a burden or an embarrassment and brings them in. That’s all. However it’s done, somehow in this new community they are not a liability or a shame. They belong. I think that’s what actually happened. (See broadview.org/john-dominic-crossan-interview; Emphasis mine).
Two things become apparent: (1) Crossen's "faith" is "asking questions" that make Christ into little more than a wise man, like Confucius, who was remembered through metaphorical stories; and (2) he rejects the supernatural, including God. There are no miracles, because the supernatural order does not exist. Within the "progressive Christianity movement" (Crossen and company are often given that appellation), the Resurrection is either:
- metaphorical with no reality
- the result of the hallucinations of Christ's disciples leading to metaphorical stories
- spiritual but not physical (for those few who have not completely rejected the supernatural)
What then, was the message that the Apostles wanted to pass on? "To love others unconditionally" (whatever that means), and make the most of this world.
Christ's Resurrection: The Miracle of a Physical Rising from the Dead
(For this section I wish to credit various theologians whose works I have condensed, most notably, Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology, , 2:172-183. I take no credit for what is written.---Introibo).
The physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a dogma of the Faith. The Fourth Lateran Council teaches that all men whether elect or reprobate, “will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear about with them” in imitation of Christ. The Creeds and professions of faith and conciliar definitions do not leave it doubtful that the Resurrection of the body is a dogma of faith. We will rise as Christ rose. The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, the Creed of the Eleventh Council of Toledo, and the Creed of Leo IX all affirm this dogma of a physical Resurrection.
In the decree Lamentabili Sane, Pope St. Pius X condemned the following propositions of the Modernists:
36. The Resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the historical order. It is a fact of merely the supernatural order (neither demonstrated nor demonstrable) which the Christian conscience gradually derived from other facts.
37. In the beginning, faith in the Resurrection of Christ was not so much in the fact itself of the Resurrection as in the immortal life of Christ with God.
This dogma is well attested:
Five Proofs of a Physical Resurrection.
1. The Empty Tomb. One of the most fully substantiated facts surrounding Jesus’ resurrection is the empty tomb. Most New Testament scholars, even some liberal scholars, agree that solid historical fact stands behind the gospel claim that witnesses found Jesus’ tomb empty on that first Easter morning. Far from being a myth or legend, the report of the empty tomb has a very early date, fits well with what is known of the times archaeologically (concerning burial customs and tombs), and was never challenged, let alone refuted, by the contemporary enemies and critics of Christianity.
If the Jews or Romans had produced the body of Jesus, Christianity would have been disproved immediately. Therefore, the disciples could not have proclaimed a bodily resurrection unless Jesus’ tomb was indeed empty. In ancient Judaism, the concept of resurrection was considered only bodily in nature, not spiritual. The empty tomb requires an adequate explanation. For 2,000 years, Christians have argued that the only consistent explanation for the empty tomb is Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead.
2. Jesus’ Post-crucifixion Appearances. It was recorded that numerous people had intimate, empirical encounters with Jesus Christ after His death on the cross. A variety of people interacted with Him at various times and places. Witnesses of the Resurrection claimed to have seen, heard, and touched the resurrected Christ. The same Person Whom they saw executed three days before was now alive and in their midst. These “in time and in space” physical appearances were reported soon after the actual encounter and cannot reasonably be dismissed as mythical or psychological in nature.
3. The Apostles’ Transformation. The Acts of the Apostles describes a dramatic and enduring transformation of eleven men from terrified, defeated cowards after Jesus’ crucifixion (as revealed in the Gospels) into courageous preachers and, eventually, martyrs. These men became bold enough to stand against the hostile Jews and Romans in the face of torture and death. Such radical and extensive change deserves an adequate explanation, for human character and conduct do not transform easily or often.
Considering that the apostles fled and even denied knowing Jesus following His initial arrest makes their courage in the face of persecution and execution even more astounding. The apostles attributed the strength of their newfound character to their direct personal encounter with the resurrected Christ. In Christ’s resurrection, the apostles found their unshakable reason to live and die.
4. The Growth of the Catholic Church. Amazingly, within 400 years Catholicism dominated the entire Roman Empire and, over the course of two millennia, the entire Western civilization. The One True Church developed a distinct cultural and theological identity apart from traditional Judaism in a short period of time. This was attributed to Christ's physical Resurrection and the transformation of believers that followed.
5. Sunday as a Day of Worship. The Jews worshiped on the Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). However, the early Church gradually changed the day of their worship from the seventh day of the week to the first (Sunday aka "The Lord's Day"). For the early Catholic Church, Sunday commemorated Jesus’ physical Resurrection from the dead. His being raised to eternal life transformed worship and distinguished the Catholic Faith from traditional Judaism. Apart from the Resurrection, no reason existed for early followers of Jesus to view Sunday as having any enduring theological or ceremonial significance.
Debunking "Spiritual" Resurrection.
The theory of a spiritual (and not physical) Resurrection is woefully inadequate with the Divinity of Christ. According to this theory, the soul of Christ rose and appeared to the disciples with the help of some picture presented to the imagination. There are two insurmountable problems:
(1) This theory, which satisfies neither Modernists nor Catholics, does not explain the facts; for pictures in the imagination cannot be touched or felt.
(2) This theory makes Christ responsible for a fraud, because He allowed Himself to be touched, and He ate in the presence of the Apostles, precisely to convince them that He was not a spirit or a specter, but the living God-Man in the Flesh.
As St. Paul tells us, "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (1 Corinthians 15:12-14). It is a decidedly physical Resurrection. Crossen, once a devout Catholic priest and now a complete Modernist/atheist apostate, uses the language of Christianity stripped of its meaning to bring others into apostasy.
Do not be deceived. Let us say with St. John Chrysostom:
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.