Why Do I Believe in the Resurrection?

by Christine Sine
From head to heart

Do you believe in your heart?

Yesterday I received an email from a friend who told me they were not sure that they believed in the physical resurrection of Jesus. I was surprised because this person has a strong Christian faith. And I know that if I scratched the surface of many of my friends I would find the same doubts and struggles. In fact I struggle with this myself sometimes.

Why then do I (at least most of the time) believe that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead and that because of that I want to commit my life and future to him? As a young Christian my belief in the resurrection was a purely intellectual belief. I believed because I read it in the bible and because theologians I respected told me it was true. I knew in my head that Jesus had risen from the dead, believing it in my heart was another matter.

There came a point in my life when this intellectual faith was not enough. As I struggled to make sense of my experiences in refugee camps and in communities of poverty where kids died every day from malnutrition and easily treatable diseases, I needed a dimension to my faith that intellectual knowledge just did not provide. That was when I cam across the writings of Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Richard Foster and others whose deep heart centred faith inspired and enriched mine.

Part of what they helped me see was that heart knowledge is far more profound than head knowledge. Heart knowledge comes not in the place of discourse and reason but in the place of silence and contemplation. I started to see that unless I intentionally took time to draw aside and immerse myself in the presence of God, my doubts and uncertainties would grow and my faith would eventually crumble. My confidence in the resurrection of Christ has grown over the years, not because I have immersed myself in theology but because I have learned to immerse myself in God an allowed the resurrected to Christ to take up residence in a bigger and bigger part of my heart and my life.

Something else that has rooted my faith in the resurrection of Christ in recent years is my growing connection to the story of God as it lived out in the garden. At my seminars on spirituality and gardening I always tell participants We read about the death and resurrection of Christ in the Bible, but experience it every time we plant a seed and watch it burst into life. I think that one of the reasons that God entrusted the stewardship of creation to us is because it is in tending what God has made that we most intimately connect not just to the creator but to the creator’s story.

More than that God’s story of life, death and resurrection is lived out in the very fabric of our being. Our bodies are constantly living and dying and rising again. When astronauts first went into space, one of the problems they faced was the sloughing of their skin cells as the epidermal layer of their bodies rapidly died and replaced itself.

It is good for us to doubt the foundations of our faith. These doubts however should not move us away from God but encourage us to explore those deep and inner places in which we are assured once more of God’s faithfulness and love. Trust in the story of God, though founded on intellectual knowledge will never survive on that alone – the wisdom propounded by the people of this world is totally inadequate to understand the holy creator of our universe and the story that is being lived out in our midst through the power of the risen Christ.

So my question today is: How do we move from head knowledge to heart certainty? How do we encourage each other to move our understanding of God from intellectual assent to indwelling presence?

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9 comments

Melody April 12, 2012 - 9:48 am

Oh Thank You! As a mother of teenagers, who are questioning more than believing at this space in their lives, this was a wonderful encouragement to me.

And then, personally I loved what you said “heart knowledge is far more profound than head knowledge. Heart knowledge comes not in the place of discourse and reason but in the place of silence and contemplation. I started to see that unless I intentionally took time to draw aside and immerse myself in the presence of God, my doubts and uncertainties would grow and my faith would eventually crumble. … I have learned to immerse myself in God and allowed the resurrected to Christ to take up residence in a bigger and bigger part of my heart and my life.” Such wisdom. Again, thank you!

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Christine Sine April 12, 2012 - 12:52 pm

Thanks Melody. I always appreciate feedback on what I am grappling with

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Skip Cadorette April 12, 2012 - 12:09 pm

Let us not deny the head/physical for the heart-as important as it is. The “thing” God is doing is not merely saving our souls. Yahweh is the God who brings matter into being. This “redemption thing” is about the restoration and renewal of the physical creation. It is the intention of God to reverse the described effects of Gen. 3 and take us back to, as Wright says, a world “put to rights.” The physical renewal of the Kosmos demands an example, a test subject, first fruits, as it were. And that’s what the resurrected Jesus was/is.

I’ll also say that to conclude that the Rez as described in the gospels was not physical but simply some sort of enlightenment is to impose our current unimaginative, culture-bound, academically arrogant worldview onto the honest, straightforward, amazed disciples who were present for the actual events.

As for me, my head and heart are linked because the supernatural is not surprising to me and the gospel evidence is reasonable and if our hope is only for the present existence we are most to be pitied.

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Christine Sine April 12, 2012 - 12:52 pm

Skip – I agree wholeheartedly. I did not mean to confuse the knowledge of God and the internal assurance of the resurrection with the concept of soul rescue. To me these are two totally different things. The assurance of God in our hearts should create a strong centre out of which we actively engage in the world moving towards God’s ultimate plan – the restoration of all things in Christ.

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Kristyne April 12, 2012 - 3:41 pm

Thanks Chris.Once again a timely article which gently kicks me in the backside and exposes the apathy I am entertaining at the moment.

“Part of what they helped me see was that heart knowledge is far more profound than head knowledge. Heart knowledge comes not in the
place of discourse and reason but in the place of silence and contemplation. I started to see that unless I intentionally took time to draw aside and immerse myself in the presence of God, my doubts and uncertainties would grow and my faith would eventually crumble.”

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Christine Sine April 12, 2012 - 4:06 pm

Your welcome – glad that it is helpful

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Jim Fisher April 15, 2012 - 6:39 pm

“Remember: if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love.” St. Teresa of Avila, 500 years ago.

What you are seeking lies at the heart of a long-standing tradition of Christian Mysticism. Besides reading St. Teresa’s The Interior Castle, may I also recommend Entering the Castle by Caroline Myss.

Our intellect can only lead us to knowledge ABOUT God. To really get to know God, we need to let go of logic and fall into love.

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Jim Fisher April 15, 2012 - 6:40 pm

See also God in a Box

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Christine Sine April 16, 2012 - 8:04 am

Jim that is exactly where I am heading. I love your quote from St Teresa. Thanks for passing it on.

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