“…We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” –Rom. 8:23.
One is hard pressed to consider a more sensitive topic than death. In coming to the conclusion that human persons are fully but not merely physical creatures, I am forced to ask how physicalism affects the nature of resurrection life. How are Christians raised in bodies fit for the life to come, or as an interlocutor demanded of St. Paul, “with what kind of body do they come?” Because of this, I've come up with a theory titled the Doctrine of Divine Remembrance (TDDR) and how it may answer the question of resurrection and translate into difficult pastoral situations involving loved ones who are passing into death. Because of this, one must first reflect upon the nature of God revealed to Israel, the people in the New Testament, and how He relationally interacts with human creatures.
TDDR may be illustrated like this: upon the death of the human person, She would cease to exist; like spilt water upon the dusty earth, like smoke that vanishes in the wind, like wind that whispers through the trees, she is simply no more. All that was alive is now gone. However, as we understand God’s omniscience and love for creation, He could remember everything about her, as if her blueprint were fully known and stored in the mind of God himself: as God is involved in the birth of a child, then he knows each atom that comprises the entire person. Every strand of neural fiber and muscle memory is found, annotated and backed up into God’s memory for the final resurrection, which involves the restitution of matter into a human being. One’s signature is engraved upon its DNA.
Scripture speaks both corporately and individualistically as regards the language that I am using in support of TDDR. For example, YHWH calls Israel to not forget their deliverance from their oppressors in Egypt (Deut. 6:12), and He does not forget the cry of the afflicted (Ps. 9:12; 10:12). Christians are called to not exercise vengeance, but to leave that to God, who alone can repay, which assumes that He remembers the good and evil done in and to the body. The use of feminine divine representation in Second-Isaiah 49:15 speaks of a maternal bond between YHWH and Israel, where YHWH is the one who does not forget Israel—even in exile. There are two final individual examples of TDDR and they both include the promise of new life: first, after Hannah prayed for a child, YHWH remembered her and she gave birth to Samuel, not forgetting her in her time of despair (1 Samuel 1). The second example is broader and argues that Mary’s stirring Magnificat in Luke 1 is a fulfillment of First Testament prophecy, where God “helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors” (v54-55). Because God did not forget or forsake his people, Mary could look forward to the incarnation of the Word and the restoration of the world.
There is ample biblical material to establish TDDR as a reasonable concept. Because of this, the blueprint of the human person is cataloged to await the redemption—the resurrection—of the body. The main matter, however, concerns the pastoral implications of TDDR. This is necessary because Christian faith is not merely an intellectual exercise; rather also all theology must be done to build up of the body of Christ and empower her to offer hope to all people.
TDDR emphasizes that life, in all its significance and fullness, is what awaits us instead of nothingness. It offers this life to all people (John 3:16). This is why a Christian physicalist can hope for the redemption of her body: as matter, she matters. As a child of God, she is remembered and loved and empowered with eternal life by the Spirit through Christ for the Father. Without TDDR and the resurrection, she is literally nothing. That is why we hope for God’s remembrance on the last day, why we hope for the redemption of our bodies, and why we faithfully confess the last stanza of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting,