According to Lutheran epologist Edward Reiss, “When the Reformed argue against the Real Presence they often say that since Jesus' body is a material body, just like ours, he cannot be bodily present in the bread and nor can his blood be present in the wine. Jesus' body and blood, being localized in space and time, cannot be in more than one place at a time as a body…This for Calvin the objective, local presence of Jesus' body and blood is an empirical question more or less answered by the properties of a human body. It is my purpose to show that this is not a very strong objection at all. All I have to do is show from Scripture that Jesus' body is not like ours in every respect…There are some miracles which seem to defy what a body can do, but which never the less Jesus Christ did. (All Bible citations ESV). First let us consider Jesus walking on water (John 6:16-20)… Human bodies sink when we try and walk on water without special equipment. This is because human bodies are subject to the physical laws of gravity as well as other physical laws--such as we cannot be in two places at one time. Human bodies have mass and three dimensions. If the displacement of the mass of water is less than the mass of the human body, the human body begins to sink. This behavior is called buoyancy.”
I think Ed is definitely onto something here. When Jesus walked on water, that wasn’t made possible because Jesus miraculously suspended the way in which deep water and human bodies naturally interact. No, it was actually cuz Jesus had a different kind of body than you and me. You see, Jesus had a Styrofoam body. So his body had the natural property of buoyancy. A such, there was nothing miraculous about his walking on water. It was a natural event, given the natural properties of his unique corporeal composition.
“Second, let us consider the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36)… Human bodies do not change their faces and cause their clothes to become ‘dazzling white.’”
Yes, Jesus could glow in the dark because his body was made of fluorescent material.
“However, seems to me that the physical quality of Jesus’ body is quite variable--especially if we are not limited by our experiences of what exactly human nature is, and what a human body can do.”
That’s right! Jesus had several different bodies-types which he hung in his closet. Depending on which kind of body he needed, he could reach into the closet and put on a different kind of body.
For example, when the Devil flew Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, Jesus donned his winged-body.
And it wasn’t just Jesus. Moses was luminous because Moses also had a body made of fluorescent material. Daniel’s friends could survive in the furnace cuz they had asbestos bodies. And Jonah could survive in the body of the “whale” cuz he had gills and rubber skin (to protect him from the stomach acid). Not to mention Lazarus. He returned from the dead because his body could spontaneously regenerate.
“All I have to do is show from Scripture that Jesus' body is not like ours in every respect. And Lutherans believe this is so because of the personal union, which is to say for instance that shaking Jesus' hand is the same thing as shaking God's hand. But that is a post for another day…However, is it true that when God assumed human flesh that the resulting God-Man has the same properties we do?”
That’s very insightful. Come to think of it, that also explains some other apparent miracles in Scripture. Take the floating axhead. It was able to float due to a hypostatic union between God and the axehead. This was no ordinary axhead. Rather, this was nothing less than the God-Axhead. Likewise, the burning bush was really the God-Bush.
And when the Holy Spirit descended in the “form of a dove,” that’s because he really transmogrified into a dove–just like Odo.
“In the two John passages [Jn 19:26-29; 20:19-23] Jesus appears to pass through locked doors.”
Yes, in this case Jesus vaporized into a puff of smoke and passed through the keyhole in a wisp of smoke. Or maybe he had a body like the Sandman in Spiderman. If your body has the right natural properties, you can do just about anything.
Lutherans not only worship the Pillsbury Doughboy, but they also worship Casper the Ghost!
“In the second case, one must re-interpret ‘the doors were locked’ to mean ‘the doors were unlocked’, based solely upon the propositions of what properties a human body must have.”
Of course, John doesn’t say that Jesus “passed through the doors.”
Moreover, why assume that Jesus had to pass through the wooden doors to enter the room? If it was a miracle, then there is no one particular way in which a miracle has to occur.
That’s the point. If something is a naturally occurring event, then it can only occur in a certain way–consistent with the “laws of nature.”
If, however, something is a miracle, then it’s occurrence needn’t be facilitated by any particular process or medium. As a miracle, there’s more than one possible pathway to yield the desired effect since, in fact, it requires no pathway to get there. So if Christ’s appearance in the upper room is a miracle, then there was no particular method he had to employ (e.g. passing through solid doors).
Indeed, miracles are frequently defined as immediate effects. There is no causal chain leading up to the miracle.
Mind you, that definition is overstated. For some miracles may employ natural forces. But that is not a precondition of a miracle.
“In both cases, an extraneous interpolation of philosophical commitments into the text to make them fit those commitments.”
Yes. In Lutheran hermeneutics, the God-Bush, the Styrofoam Jesus, and the asbestos Abednego derive from the plain sense of Scripture rather than an extraneous interpolation of philosophical commitments into the text to make them fit those commitments.