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Dr. Scott Hahn on the Resurrection of the Body


Theologian and author Dr. Scott Hahn chats with Father Dave about his new book, “Hope to Die: The Christian Meaning of Death and the Resurrection of the Body.”

Father Dave asks Dr. Hahn what inspired the book. “There were certain stepping stones. I mentioned one at the very beginning of the book where I preached my first funeral sermon as a Presbyterian minister at my grandmother’s funeral. After I preached on John 11 where Lazarus is raised from the dead, my mom came up and said, ‘You don’t really believe that, do you?’ I’m like, ‘Mom, you’re practicing as a Christian, of course! It’s part of the creed. And she’s like, seriously, our bodies are going to come back to us? I get asked about this sort of thing. How does the Christian view of the body differ from the ancient pagans or postmodern pagans? So I went to work on this two years ago.”

“I spent all of 2019 working on the book, sent it off in December, and then it was a leap year this year. So on February 29th it [coronavrius] hit and I’m like, stop the presses! I’ve never done this before. I wanted to write an afterword, a final chapter in view of the fact that we’re all forced to confront the thing that we all have an aversion to, and that is suffering, illness and death.”

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Dr. Hahn discusses Good Friday and life after death, “The darkest day was probably Good Friday … I realized that the greatest crime that we have ever committed against divinity turned out to also be the single greatest grace that God has ever given to the human race. Namely, the redemption, the salvation of every man woman and child has been made possible by God allowing us to do our worst to him … I heard when I was a kid, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,’ but this is infinitely greater than divine lemonade. So often, God does more with less. His strength is manifested in our weakness. When it gets really dark, that’s when the light of his Gospel and his love shines much, much brighter. And I believe that we’re in something like that right now.”

Father Dave asks Dr. Hahn to explain the resurrection of the body. “We as humans are a curious kind of creature because like the angels, we have a capacity to know what is true and to choose what is good and to love and to enter into communion with others. But like animals, we have physical bodies, we get hungry, we get tired, thirsty, and all of the rest. We find ourselves in between when God took on what is ours, human nature in order to give us what is his, his divine nature. He didn’t just resuscitate a corpse on Easter Sunday. He’d already done that earlier for Lazarus. And the hope of the Jewish faith was something like that, that we would get our physical bodies back. But what Christ shows us is we’ll get our physical bodies back and then some, and that some is infinitely greater because the resurrected body that he got didn’t add any glory to him that he was lacking.”

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Why go to all of the trouble if it wasn’t to get more glory? It was to give it to us. What we recognize is that we were made as humans with body and soul, and a body is not a disposable wrapper or some kind of temporary carton. It’s a part of who I am. It’s a sacrament of my own personhood. And God doesn’t want to dispense with that. He wants to redeem it and transfigure it. And that’s a tall order. I mean, even loftier minds than mine have trouble contemplating that mystery. But it’s not primarily about theory. It really is the concrete reality that God loves us and he uses this physical body to do it. And the Eucharist is nothing less than Jesus’ resurrected body. It’s the same body that was in the upper room, the same body that was on the cross, the same body that was buried in the tomb. But the Eucharist is now the resurrected, ascended glorified humanity. When we eat food, we usually assimilate it to our bodies. When we eat Holy Communion, he assimilates us to his body and fulfills that promise. ‘He eats my flesh and drinks my blood. I will raise him up on the last day.’ He will make us a part of his resurrected body, but we’ll also end up giving us our resurrected bodies as well. Talk about a great exchange!”