We look for the resurrection of the dead: an analytic theological rethinking of the intermediate state and eschatological bodily resurrection in Christian theology
Turner, James Timothy
Many in the Christian tradition accept three theological affirmations: (TA1) That bodily resurrection is not a superfluous hope of afterlife; (TA2) There is immediate post-mortem existence in Paradise; and (TA3) There is numerical identity between pre-mortem and post-resurrection human beings. Many of the same Christians also accept a robust doctrine of The Intermediate State, a paradisiacal disembodied state of existence following the biological death of a human person. I say The Intermediate State makes TAs 1 – 3 an inconsistent set. So, given these TAs, I say that there is no such thing as The Intermediate State and, therefore, it should be jettisoned from Christian theology. Chapter 1 aims to show that, if the TAs are true, Christian theology should jettison The Intermediate State. This is because The Intermediate State specifically undermines TA1. Along with The Intermediate State, Christian theologians should jettison the metaphysics of substance dualism. This is because substance dualism, a metaphysics that The Intermediate State requires, is either false or unmotivated. Substance dualism is false because, minimally, it conflicts with an argument St. Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 15. And, even if it did not, it lacks motivation for Christian theology because there is no The Intermediate State. In Chapter 1, I advance theological arguments along these lines. If the arguments go through, Christian theology needs a way coherently to speak about afterlife that does not make use of these errant views. If TAs 1 – 3 are true, substance dualism is either false or unmotivated, and The Intermediate State does not obtain, Christian theology requires an amended metaphysics of human persons and an amended metaphysics of time. I attempt to offer such things in Chapters 2 – 5. Chapters 2 and 3 are given over to investigating physicalist and constitution metaphysics of human persons. I find the range of views wanting for a number of philosophical and theological reasons. Chapter 4 is an explication and defense of a hylemorphic metaphysics of human persons and a sustained argument against some leading hylemorphic conceptions that insist the soul of a biologically dead human person can survive the death of the body. Lastly, Chapter 5 offers a theory of time that completes the project’s goal: a coherent metaphysics within which a human person’s death is immediately followed by her eschatological (future) bodily resurrection so that the three TAs are an affirmed and consistent set.