The God Squad: Resurrection is full of theological mysteries

December 03, 2010|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

Q: First of all, I want to thank you for your prayerful answers to all and for sharing your gifts with your readers. On several occasions you've referred to our souls living on with God. I realize you can't encompass all religious beliefs in every answer, but could you please give some equal time to the beliefs of Catholics? Not only our souls but also our bodies will live on in heaven. Why have you never mentioned this in your column?

A: What you're asking about is the belief in the resurrection of the body at the end of time. Until that Messianic age, obviously, our bodies return to the earth through burial or cremation. Until that time, our souls, which are immaterial and return to God, live a separate existence from our bodies.

This belief in the ultimate resurrection of the dead is also a belief of post-biblical Judaism (called rabbinic or Orthodox Judaism). It entered western Christianity, not just Catholicism, as a part of the Apostle's Creed, which was one of the earliest formulations of Christian belief. The Apostle's Creed was first introduced in the 4th century and was formalized by the 8th century. This is the Creed as translated for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which divides the Creed into 12 beliefs, with the resurrection of the dead being No. 11:


1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

5. He descended into hell. On the third day, he rose again.

6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,

9. the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,

10. the forgiveness of sins,

11. the resurrection of the body,

12. and the life everlasting.


The theological problem with believing in the resurrection of the body obviously centers around those bodies that have been destroyed utterly and have thus lost their bodily integrity. How are they to be resurrected? There's also the problem of what age we will be when we're resurrected. Will old people be resurrected as young, vibrant people? Will infants be resurrected as adults?

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