I have been reading Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God. It is possible that Jesus rose from the dead and has since been a person or manifestation of God in the form of a resurrected body. That no one alive can say he or she has seen Jesus empirically means that it is very unlikely that any of us can know how much of what is said to have happened really happened. I suppose it is the likelihood that none of us can know for sure that bothers me in the theological debates because some assert the literal or historical dimension. We were all to agree on the meaning and let history be history and not religion, I think religion would not be so grievous.
I do not believe in the Passion Story literally as in historically the case, although I do believe that what the myth stands for. That is, that compassionate self-emptying is vindicated on account of its inherent strength and value even though it seems weak by the world’s standards. We seem to have lost the mythic meaning of the passion story, only to concentrate on its historicity and empirical “factness.” The evangelical Christian would rightly point out to me that I could be wrong on the resurrection being a historical fact. Neither of us can know the answer. Faith is by definition in the absence of knowledge (otherwise there would be no need for faith on the matter). For all I know, Jesus could have been knocking down the books to get my attention. Compassionate self-emptying would suggest or require that I remember my own limitations and that the “other” could be right…and to treat him or her in such terms. Too often, I think we presume that our opinions are truth, and that those who disagree with us are not only wrong, but erroneous. This is a ghost difficult to shake off, but ultimately necessary for constructive religious dialogue in line with the love taught by the world’s religions. If we could all just remember that we are all in the same boat as human beings in terms of knowing things in themselves we might get along a lot better and enjoy life more.