Friday, November 28, 2014

"City of God" XXII.20-21

Chapter 20:
Lest we forget, Jesus is omnipotent. Do we really think he can't reconstruct our bodies as they should be?
Far be it from us to fear that the omnipotence of the Creator cannot, for the resuscitation and reanimation of our bodies, recall all the portions which have been consumed by beasts or fire, or have been dissolved into dust or ashes, or have decomposed into water, or evaporated into the air.  Far from us be the thought, that anything which escapes our observation in any most hidden recess of nature either evades the knowledge or transcends the power of the Creator of all things.
Even cannibalism will be sorted out, and the flesh returned to its rightful (first) owner, since the consumer of it was only "borrowing" it, as it were. And yes, I do love the fact that Augustine discusses cannibalism and the resurrection.
From all that we have thus considered, and discussed with such poor ability as we can command, we gather this conclusion, that in the resurrection of the flesh the body shall be of that size which it either had attained or should have attained in the flower of its youth, and shall enjoy the beauty that arises from preserving symmetry and proportion in all its members.  And it is reasonable to suppose that, for the preservation of this beauty, any part of the body’s substance, which, if placed in one spot, would produce a deformity, shall be distributed through the whole of it, so that neither any part, nor the symmetry of the whole, may be lost, but only the general stature of the body somewhat increased by the distribution in all the parts of that which, in one place, would have been unsightly.  Or if it is contended that each will rise with the same stature as that of the body he died in, we shall not obstinately dispute this, provided only there be no deformity, no infirmity, no languor, no corruption,—nothing of any kind which would ill become that kingdom in which the children of the resurrection and of the promise shall be equal to the angels of God, if not in body and age, at least in happiness.
Whatever else we are, we will be happy and blessed. And that is a promise we can cling to.

Chapter 21:
Our new bodies will not just be our old bodies remade, they will be spiritual in nature. We have a couple of pictures of this now, first in the regeneration that comes with conversion, when our souls are made new and we are washed clean (judicially) by the Holy Spirit. Likewise,
we may, with God’s help, speak of the gifts He lavishes on men, good and bad alike, in this most wretched life, and may do our best to conjecture the great glory of that state which we cannot worthily speak of, because we have not yet experienced it.  For I say nothing of the time when God made man upright; I say nothing of the happy life of “the man and his wife” in the fruitful garden, since it was so short that none of their children experienced it:  I speak only of this life which we know, and in which we now are, from the temptations of which we cannot escape so long as we are in it, no matter what progress we make, for it is all temptation, and I ask, Who can describe the tokens of God’s goodness that are extended to the human race even in this life?
We see something of the good blessing heading our way in heaven in the good blessing given to the whole world through common grace in the here and now. Augustine has already discussed (way back in Book I) about how these gifts are given to all indiscriminately, here we see that even the good that happens to God's enemies is an object lesson for God's people about the hope we have in the coming life.

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