Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? These are the words of the Apostle Paul to King Agrippa as recorded in Acts 26:8. Considering the beliefs of culture in which he lived, Paul is not defending the idea of resurrection, but the power of God to perform it. The Greco-Roman heroes: Odysseus, Orpheus, and Heracles, all traveled to the underworld and returned. Dionysus’ mythology says he was resurrected. Plato, Socrates and Vergil believed in the transmigration of souls. Reincarnation is not the same as resurrection, but the principle of returning from the dead remains. Paul is essentially saying, “You believe in the possibility heros of returning from the dead, it should not be too incredible to believe that my God has that power.”
At some point in Western culture we have moved from resurrection being a miracle to a monstrosity. In our mythology the dead no longer return to us whole, but as mindless or sinister creatures that feed on the flesh, brains and blood of the living. These sinister forms of resurrection are modern. The ghoul is the oldest, coming from Persian folklore around the 10th century, and the word ghoul has its origin in the Persian word for demon. Most vampire lore originates from 18th century south-eastern Europe, and the zombie comes from Afro-Caribbean voodoo from the late 1700s. Now mainstream, ghouls, vampires and zombies, are featured villains and heroes in books, video games, and movies. The closest to a biblical resurrection seen in most movies today are ghosts possessing a living human’s body.
The thought of angles sending plagues to the earth and Jesus raising the dead as he returns to earth as conquer, as recorded in Revelation, reads like the plot of a science fiction horror movie in today’s culture. The hope of the resurrection has become the horror of the undead, propaganda defaming resurrection. When “zombie” is typed into a Google image search “zombie jesus” is returned as one of the query suggestions in the search box. 2 Corinthians 4:4 states, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the good news of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Modern fantasies, to become a vampire or blow away the undead with a sawed-off shotgun, came with the popularity of media such as “Twilight,” “Buffy” and “Resident Evil.” Instead, we should look forward to the resurrection that Jesus will bring.
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. . . I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. . . For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
. . . Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(from 1 Corinthians 15)