In “theological contamination” Jefferson Vann warns against the syncretism that happens when someone tries to believe both the biblical resurrection and the pagan idea of survival at death.
1 Corinthians 15:12-18 (JDV)
1 Corinthians 15:12 But since Christ is proclaimed, that He has been raised from among the dead ones, how can some among you say that there is no resurrection from among the dead ones?
1 Corinthians 15:13 But if there is no resurrection from among the dead ones, then not even Christ has been raised.
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our time proclaiming was misspent and your faith is misdirected.
1 Corinthians 15:15 Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, whom he did not raise, if indeed the dead are not raised.
1 Corinthians 15:16 Because if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;
1 Corinthians 15:17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have been destroyed.
It is amazing how the world has changed due to the threat of contamination from COVID19, the Coronavirus. Schools and businesses across the planet are closed, travel is restricted, and even our churches are told to limit attendance, or find some other way to come together without actually coming together.
This text deals with another kind of contamination.
The Corinthians had all grown up in an environment of immortalism. They had no use for a resurrection from among the dead ones. They did not believe that the souls of their ancestors were dead in the grave. Like Plato, they assumed that death liberates the immortal soul. But along comes Paul, who teaches Christ as having been raised from the grave. By virtue of their contact with other eyewitnesses of the event, or trusting in Paul’s word, or some other verifying work of the Holy Spirit, they chose to believe in the resurrected Christ.
The problem now is, some of them had begun to realize that survival of the soul conflicts with the doctrine of future resurrection. So, some Christians in Corinth have chosen to do what Augustine did: merge the two doctrines. The problem is that once they had done that, it was too simple to downplay the somewhat unnecessary doctrine of resurrection, and before long, they had begun to teach Plato’s view of soul survival as the Christian view. Hence, the resurrection was seen as a myth. And, since Paul was responsible for teaching them that myth, his integrity is questioned.
LORD, purge us of our syncretisms; decontaminate our theology.
For more on the problems of mixing incompatible doctrines, see: