The Resurrection of the Body

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

I have been wanting to write this article for some time so that when asked, “what do you believe the resurrection of the body means?”, I can simply respond with a link. There appears to be a misunderstanding of what Christians and Jews have proclaimed concerning this point. I will try to make the issue as clear as possible, and the affirmative as definite as can be so that there is no misunderstanding of what I affirm.

I am going to start with Philip Schaff’s work, The Creeds of Christendom, which documents the earliest forms of the Apostles’ Creed. The now commonly received form recited in congregations today have, “in the resurrection of the dead” – and some have “body”. However, the Latin reads, “in the resurrection of the carnis” – which, means “flesh.” The oldest Greek has sarx, which is translated as “flesh.” And it is noted that Rufinus’ text (fourth century) has hujus carnis, “of this flesh”. The later Nicene Creed read, “resurrection of the dead”.

If we go back to one of the earliest definitions of the theologians, Justin (second century), begins his response with great clarity: “They who maintain the wrong opinion say that there is no resurrection of the flesh; giving as their reason that it is impossible that what is corrupted and dissolved should be restored to the same as it had been” (On the Resurrection). As Justin goes on, even using the Philosophers to show how the indestructibility of matter, regardless of how scattered, can, if such power exists be put back together again. “So that, according to Plato, neither will it be impossible for God, who is Himself indestructible, and has also indestructible material, even after that which has been first formed of it has been destroyed, to make it anew again, and to make the same form just as it was before.” It is very clear as to what he means. If God holds “all things” (every particle known that can be called, ‘particle’) together by his power, and knows all things, and certainly has all power far beyond our feeble minds to imagine, then resurrection of the flesh (a term he uses) is not at all impossible. What is in accordance with appearances – that a body at sea is so severed at its most minute adherence of form – that it is said to be dissolved and non-existent is false. A vase (an example often used) can be so entirely reduced to the finest of powder, scattered across the globe and yet, within that which is conceivable, if such power exists, could be entirely put together again since none of that which it was in form is destroyed. Matter does not disappear into nothingness.

Such advances at attempts to refute the early scoffers are plenteous in the second and third century theologians. We find the very same objections raised against the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian house congregations. “Some”, he says, “in your gatherings are saying , ‘there is no resurrection of dead bodies'” (1 Corinthians 15.12). These “some” are distinguished from the “you” (plural) of the believing congregations. “Evil communication ruins good character. You wake up!…for some, they have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame” (15.34). This play off from “you” and “them” who have come “in” their congregations is obvious. Paul continues, “I suppose some one will say, ‘How are the dead raised? In what kind of body are they coming?'” (15.35). The questions are the exact same forms of questions asked in the second and third centuries, and they are the exact same ones asked today: How can the dead be raised, since they are so long gone and dissolved? What kind of body would they come with from the dead, since their body is so far gone? There is no body there to raise. What explanation can you give to such objections?

Paul’s first response is the strongest that can be used: “Fools!” That is, “unbelievers!” in Jewish speak. These “some” are corrupt of communication, doubters of God’s power, and they are ignorant of God. There is no more subtle way of introducing doubt to the Christian than to demonstrate that a person long dead in the Arabian Sea for thousands of years, that his or her body is so far gone, so scattered, so dissolved, so non-existent that it strains the mind to even fathom how such a body can be put back together into a human form again. However, to the believer, to the one who says, “If God said he will, then he will”, such doubts are easily removed.

I came across Hugo Grotius’ writings long ago, and would like to present his view now. Grotius (1583-1685) was a maverick, mostly known for his powerful writings on law and government theory. His influence is still felt to this day, and respected. However, he was a Christian in every sense of the term and extremely learned in matters of science, law, theology, languages and such. When penning his thoughts on the resurrection of the dead, he is admired for his clarity: “The reunion of our bodily parts, when dissolved, cannot reasonably be thought impossible” (page 58, An English Translation of the Six Books of Hugo Grotius on the Truth of Christianity by Spencer Madden, 1809). Grotius wrote his works in 1639. Objecting to the argument concerning bodies being eaten by animals, Grotius affirms that “every particle” of the human body so digested “will still remain unaffected” (page 59). “Since, even in our present bodies, we perhaps experience a greater variation of our component particles”. These variations of growth in the body (from infant form to adult form) maintain a consistency of form and identity; infant flesh is still flesh, and and infant cannot ever become anything but that which it is: human. Thus, form, identity, and the elements of that which consists of our body remains constant, and death does not so dissolve these properties and qualities that they cannot be identically placed back together again in an arrangement of form of which they formerly composed, because this is their natural arrangement and bond. All that is lacking is a Being with the power to accomplish such a feat. But, we know such a Being.

Grotius is so explicit in his defense that it is a wonder how some that claim the name, “Christian” can doubt. He labors in “secretions”, “particles”, “phlegm”, “bile”, “decomposition”, and the like. One final chapter heading in his discussion is entitled, “We Will Show, by the Way, the Absurdity of the Assertion, that Our Bodies, after Dissolution, cannot Be Restored”. He uses the word, “recompacted”, and again reverts to “the sufficiency of the knowledge of God in discovering the material particles of man, however distantly and widely scattered; Can we doubt or deny the sufficiency of his power in re-collecting and restoring those particles? May not God in his own universe produce that effect which chemists are seen to produce in their furnaces and vessels?” Grotius didn’t. Neither do I.

When we come to the Faith, I can quote the Confessions, or the Roman Catholic Catechism, or Luther’s Catechism, or the works of Eastern Orthodoxy, Coptics, Arminius, or Calvin. They all agree.

What I believe is that if one truly has the Spirit of the Lord, then such an article as I have briefly presented here will cause a “stir” in your spirit to the affirmative of “yes, this is what is to be believed”. For those that read this and find it impossible, or look for some other way to define resurrection (all of them heard of before, such as “get a body when you die”, or “your soul is raised and gets a body in heaven” or whatever, all having been dismissed), then I am at all obligation to God to question whether or not you have the Spirit. Belief in the resurrection of the dead, as defined above, requires great faith, and assurance of faith that hopes beyond hope, that does not rest its faith upon what is “seen”, on what is based on mere human knowledge or appearances. For me, it is a litmus test of faith. The denial of which, if we follow Paul, renders the Faith vain, pointless, absurd and a pure waste of time.

Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Samuel M. Frost has gained the recognition of his family, peers, colleagues, church members, and local community as a teacher and leader.  Samuel was raised in the Foursquare Gospel tradition and continued in the rising Charismatic Movement of the early 1980’s.  While serving in local congregations he was admitted to Liberty Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where he lived on campus for four years earning his Bachelor’s of Theology degree.  It was there under the tutelage of Dr. Dow Robinson (Summer Institutes of Linguistics), and Dr. Frank Longino (Dallas Theological Seminary) that he was motivated to pursue a career in Theology.  Dr. Robinson wrote two books on Linguistics, Workbook on Phonological Analysis (SIL, 1970) and Manuel for Bilingual Dictionaries: Textbook (SIL, 1969).  It was under these teachers’ guidance that Frost entered into his Master’s studies, being granted a scholarship for Greek I and II at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, accredited, in Cleveland, Tennessee (adjunct of Lee University).  Frost completed his study under Dr. French Arrington, who used the text of J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners. Frost studied Hebrew for two years under Dr. Mark Futato (author, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Eisenbrauns, 2003) and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke (author, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, 1990) at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. With combined credits from PTS and RTS, Samuel completed his Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Religion from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida under the direct tutelage of Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, co-author of the well reviewed work, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Whitefield Media, 2005) with Dr. Gary Crampton (and Foreword by the late, Dr. D. James Kennedy).  Dr. Talbot also oversaw Samuel’s Dissertation, From the First Adam to the Second and Last Adam (2012) earning him the Magister Theologiae (Th.M.) degree.  He also helped put together A Student’s Hebrew Primer for WTS and graded exams in Hebrew. Samuel’s studies lead him into an issue in the field of Eschatology where his scholarship and unique approach in Hermeneutics garnered him recognition.  Because of the controversial nature of some of his conclusions, scholars were sharp in their disagreement with him.  Frost’s initial work, Misplaced Hope: The Origins of First and Second Century Eschatology (2002, Second Edition, 2006 Bi-Millennial Publishing), sold over four thousand units.  While arguing for the Reformation understanding of sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Frost’s book launched a heavily footnoted argument for a total reassessment of the doctrine known as the Second Coming of Christ.  The conclusion was that the events of the war of the Jewish nation against their Roman overlords in 66-70 C.E. formed the New Testament authors’ eschatological outlook, and went no further than their own first century generation; a view otherwise known as “full” or "hyper" Preterism.  Internationally recognized Evangelical author and speaker Steve Wohlberg remarked, ‘On the “preterist” side today…we have such influential leaders as Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., David Chilton, R.C. Sproul, Max King, James Stuart Russell, Samuel M. Frost, and John Noe.  To these scholars…the beast is not on the horizon, he’s dead” (Italics, his)” (End Time Delusions, Destiny Image Publishers, 2004, page 133).  It should be noted that only Noe, King and Frost supported the “full” Preterist position. Thomas Ice and co-author of the best selling Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, quote Frost’s work, Misplaced Hope, as well in their book, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Harvest House Publishers, 2003, page 40).  Dr. Jay E. Adams, who single handedly launched “a revolution” in Christian Counseling with his work, Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, (1970, Zondervan), also wrote an analysis of Frost’s work in Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Ministry Monographs for Modern Times, INS Publishing, 2004).  Dr. Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, wrote of Misplaced Hope that Frost, “attacks the problem of the early church in a much more thoroughgoing way than I have seen” (When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper Preterism, Ed. Keith Mathison, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2003, ‘Eschatology in the Wake of Jerusalem’s Fall’ p. 110-ff.).  There were several other works as well that took the scholarship of Frost seriously, like Ergun Caner in The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective, Eds., Steve W. Lemke and David L. Allen (B&H Publishing, 2011). Because of the controversial nature of Frost’s conclusions on these matters, it was difficult to find a denomination within the Church-at-Large to work in terms of pastoral ministry.  That situation changed when Samuel was called by a Bible study group in Saint Petersburg, Florida to found a congregation.  Christ Covenant Church was established in 2002 operating under the principles outlined by Presbyterian historian James Bannerman’s work, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, original, 1869).  By-Laws and a Constitution were drawn up in the strictest manner for what was considered an “Independent” establishment of a Presbyterian Church, granted that a “call” was received and recognized by Presiding Elders duly ordained from existing and recognized denominations.  Two Elders, one ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Mike Delores), and another ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America (Dr. Kelly N. Birks, now deceased) tested and reviewed the call, ordaining Samuel on October 20th, 2002, the Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity.  Proper forms were submitted to Tallahassee, Florida with the stamp of a Notary Public Witness.  Christ Covenant Church (CCC) functioned as a local church for five years with a congregation as large as 30 members.  Frost was gaining recognition after Misplaced Hope had been published in January of that year, and conferences were hosted that included debates with another prominent "full" Preterist educator, Don K. Preston.  CCC hosted best-selling authors, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock from Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. James B. Jordan (Westminster Theological Seminary), well-known author/pastor in Reformed theological circles.  Frost was invited for the next several years to speak at over 25 conferences nation-wide, was featured in articles and an appearance on local news in Tampa for one of CCC’s conferences.  The Evangelical Theological Society also invited Samuel to speak at the Philadelphia conference (Frost is currently a Member of ETS as well as Society of Biblical Literature). During this time Samuel had submitted one more book, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (TruthVoice, 2008; repr. JaDon Publishing, 2010); and co-wrote, House Divided: A Reformed Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Vision International, 2010).  Frost also wrote several Forewords for up and coming authors who were influenced by his teaching materials, as well as cited many times in books, lectures and academic papers.  However, because of certain aspects of Hermeneutics and Frost’s undaunted commitment to scholarship (with always a strong emphasis on the personal nature of devotional living to Christ), several challenges to the "hyper" Preterist view he espoused finally gave way, largely due to the unwavering commitment to Samuel by the Dean of Whitefield Theological Seminary, Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, who continually challenged him.  In what shocked the "hyper" Preterist world, Samuel announced after the Summer of 2010 that he was in serious error, and departed the movement as a whole, along with Jason Bradfield, Assistant Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida .  Christ Covenant Church had dissolved after 2007 while Samuel continued as a public speaker and writer, largely due to reasons that would unravel Frost’s commitment to "hyper" Preterism as a whole. The documentation of Frost’s departure was published by American Vision’s Founder, Gary DeMar, with a Foreword by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry.  Why I Left Full Preterism (AV Publishing, 2012) quickly sold out its first run.  The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019).  Dr. Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, endorsed the book as well.  Samuel has gone on to write, Daniel: Unplugged (Kindle/Amazon, 2019); The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019); God: As Bill Wilson Understood Him, A Theological Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous (Lulu Publishing, 2017).  He is also active as a certified Chaplain with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana, and enrolled with ICAADA (Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse) working directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc.  Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon.  He also is working with Redemption Life Bible Church with Pastor Tyler Jackson in New Castle, Indiana.  Samuel, with his wife, Kimberly, helped to establish Heaven’s Bread Basket food pantry that donates food items to local families in need once a month – a ministry of the Session of First Presbyterian Church. Samuel has four children, one step-son, ages sixteen to twenty-eight and has worked part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for over five years.  He has a solid reputation in the community, and has performed marriages and funerals.  He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle.

One thought on “The Resurrection of the Body”

  1. I agree. We live by ‘faith’ in God with whom nothing is impossible.
    Water as liquid freezes and becomes solid. When warmed becomes liquid again. When heated to the proper temperature, becomes a vapor and evaporates into the atmosphere. But its original chemical substance remains, does it not?

    Like

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