During Jesus’ ministry, a group of Sadducees attempted to trap him with a hypothetical question. If a person had more than one spouse on earth, who would be the one true spouse in heaven?
We know their inquiry was a trap rather than sincere because the Scripture passage begins: “Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus … ”
If those guys did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, then why did they bother asking the question? It’s a moot point. If there is no life after death, then — let me see if I can phrase this properly — who cares?!
This episode reminds us that skepticism about life after death is not exclusively a modern phenomenon. It just seems that way because a small minority of secular elites has commandeered so much power and influence in our culture these days. Their views dominate many facets of society: the news media, education and the entertainment industry, just to name a few.
Once again, it’s the basic clash of world views: atheistic vs. theistic; secular vs. spiritual. Did God create mankind or did mankind create God? (That is, did mankind, during a primitive era marked by fear and ignorance, invent the concept we call “God”?)
The secular view is present even in many religious organizations. A Christian theologian, Professor Roy W. Hoover, states this view with stark clarity: “The idea of resurrection is embedded in an ancient world view that is outdated in a scientific age. The belief in a general resurrection of the dead simply cannot stand as an article of faith.”
But without it, the heart of Christianity is removed. Without a hope for resurrection, the primary purpose of the faith is gone. There is nothing left, except to ask the question the Sadducees should have asked — who cares?!
St. Paul understood the importance of belief in the resurrection. He wrote in 1 Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, and if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
If there is no life after death, then it just doesn’t matter. Years ago, I was an atheist and a drunk. I’m not very proud of my actions back then, but given my world view, my behavior was actually quite logical and consistent. If we cease to exist at the moment of death, then life is ultimately meaningless, so why not have a well-balanced breakfast of Cocoa Puffs and vodka? No matter what we do now, in 100 years or less we’ll all be gone, so — let me see if I can phrase this properly — who cares?!
Faith in resurrection and hope for life after death are the heart of Christianity. It’s why we celebrate Easter, which is the answer to the skeptic’s question, “Who cares?” Jesus cares. He cares a lot! And Jesus offered his life to ensure that we can live forever.
BILL DUNN is a recovering atheist who resides in Torrington. He loves Jesus, his wife and kids and the Red Sox (usually in that order). He can be reached at MerryCatholic@gmail.com.