An Apologist Defends the Faith of the Catholic Church and its Interpretation of Holy Scripture!
Would You Like to Become a Good Apologist?
John Martignoni at the Bible Christian Society is an apologist and has a free newsletter that gives instructions on how to be a better apologist when you feel called upon to defend the Church when you hear someone say or write something that is incorrect.
John's instruction system makes a lot of sense. He prints a question that he has received; then he explains how a question like that should be handled; and then then he gives his answer. If you would like to be better able to speak confidently about your Catholic faith, why not visit John's web site and subscribe to his newsletter. He also has audio tapes that he will send you for free (he will accept a free will offering, though).
Here is an example of the information he sent in today's newsletter:
Introduction Issue No. 10
You have probably encountered this first question in one form or another. You may not have ever been asked the second question before, but I thought you might be interested in it.
Dear John: I am a Deacon in the Archdiocese of _____. Admittedly my strong suit is not in prophesy. I found your lecture on the "Rapture" very insightful. However I am getting some flack over the concept of "one resurection". My opponents cite Revelation 20 pointing out that it says "first resurection" which implies more than one. Plus "the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over". Please advise.
Dear Deacon Tom,
There are indeed two resurrections, just as there are two deaths (Rev 20:14). First, let's address the two deaths: 1) The first death is the death of the body, which we all know about and are familiar with; 2) The 2nd death is obviously the death of the soul, for eternity, in hell (the lake of fire)...again, we see this in Rev 20:14. So, two deaths: one of the body and one of the soul.
Now, regarding the 2 resurrections. If we have two deaths, one of the body and one of the soul, then, to be consistent, the two resurrections must be one of the body and one of the soul. The resurrection that most folks are familiar with is actually the 2nd resurrection...the resurrection of the body. This will occur at the 2nd coming of Christ at the end of time.
As you stated, Rev. 20 mentions the first resurrection...this is the resurrection of the soul. We can see this from scripture itself. First, Rev 20:4 says that John saw the "souls" of these particular folks. Then it says they (the souls) came to life and reigned with Christ and that this is the first resurrection. How does someone's soul "come to life?" The soul doesn't die when the body dies, so how does a soul come to life? A soul comes to life, when it puts on Christ. When it goes from darkness to light.
Also, it goes on to say here that those who share in the first resurrection, "Over such the second death has no power." Now, just a few verses later in Rev 20, John mentions the 2nd death. And, who is it over which the second death has no power? Well, verse 15 tells us that those whose name was written in the Book of Life, avoid the 2nd death. So, what is the first resurrection? It is the moment our names are written into the book of life. The moment our souls are taken out of darkness and brought into the light of Christ. It is the moment of our salvation. For Catholics, the 1st resurrection would be the moment of baptism. For most Protestants, the 1st resurrection would be the moment they accepted Christ into their hearts as their personal Lord and Savior. Either way, the first resurrection is NOT a physical resurrection, it is the resurrection of the soul.
Now, regarding the 1000 years. You need to understand that the language in this passage, as in a lot of the Book of Revelation is figurative. It is not historical narrative. It is more akin to poetry. You cannot take it in a literalist manner. Keep in mind the phrase, "It's raining cats and dogs." Does that mean cats and dogs are falling from the sky like rain? No, of course not. That's the principle to keep in mind when reading Revelation...there is something behind the words.
St. Augustine believed that the one thousand years represent the period of time between Christ's Incarnation up until just before His return at the 2nd coming. In other words, the "one thousand years" is not an exact timeframe, it is simply representative of the period of time between Christ's first and second coming.
Just before Christ comes again, Satan is let loose and we have the Great Tribulation. Afterall, isn't Satan being restrained right now? Isn't the power of Christ restraining Satan from running totally amuck? Isn't Christ already reigning in Heaven and on Earth? Isn't He reigning in the hearts and minds of His followers? Well, if Christ is already reigning on earth amongst His followers, then aren't His followers, the members of the Body of Christ, also reigning with Him? I mean, they're members of His Body, aren't they? And, again, when you consider that the 1st resurrection is the resurrection of the soul from darkness, which occurs when we become members of the Body of Christ, then this passage makes absolutely no sense when interpreted in the context of a physical reign of Christ on earth for exactly one thousand years at some point in the future.
So, the first resurrection, the soul coming to life, is directly related to the 2nd death...death of the soul. Those whose souls have been resurrected avoid the 2nd death...eternity in hell. Which would mean, that the 2nd resurrection is directly related to the 1st death...death of the body. Which, we know to be true. Okay: 1) 1st death...death of the body, corresponds to 2nd resurrection...resurrection of the body. 2) 2nd death...death of the soul, corresponds to the first resurrection...resurrection of the soul.
1st resurrection...resurrection of the soul; then comes the 1st death...death of the body; then comes the 2nd resurrection...resurrection of the body; then comes the 2nd death...death of the soul (for those who are not of the 1st resurrection). The "rest of the dead" are those who have not been saved...who did not receive baptism. They will rise at the end of the thousand years, at the return of Christ, to be judged.
If you are in the 1st resurrection, you avoid the 2nd death. If you are not in the 1st resurrection, you are in the 2nd death. So, 2 resurrections...one death. 1 resurrection...two deaths.
I hope that makes sense, and I hope it helps. Once you can show your opponents that the 1st resurrection is not a physical one, that it is a resurrection of the soul...bringing the soul from darkness to light...the adding of one's name to the Book of Life...then I think you may be on your way to planting some seeds of truth with some folks and of showing that these passages simply don't make sense if you try to interpret them as a physical, one-thousand year reign of Christ on earth.
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