The Resurrection: A Dialogue

by G.W.H. Lampe and D.M. MacKinnon

G.W.H. Lampe was Ely Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University and Canon of Ely Cathedral. He is author of The Seal of the Spirit, a major work on the theology of Baptism. D.M. MacKinnon was Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University and a Fellow of corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He is co-author of God, Sex and War, in the Adventures of Faith series.

Published by Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1966. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) Professor Lampe states that the resurrection of Christ certainly was not a resurrection of the physical body and that the “empty tomb” story is as much a hinderance as a help to believing Christians. Professor MacKinnon examines the Easter Narrative in light of the the passion narrative.


  • Chapter 1: How this Dialogue Began by G.W.H. Lampe The following dialogue began with Professor Lampe's Easter sermon on the B.B.C. in 1965, which created considerable public discussion and corresondance, followed by Lampe's more detailed explication and a dialogue with Professor MacKinnon about their different views of the resurrection.
  • Chapter 2: An Easter Sermon by G. W. H. Lampe The Easter experience, that Jesus is the living Lord who claims us as his followers, cannot be demonstrated to be true like a scientific proposition. If the Easter story depends on a corpse come back to life on this physical plane, it would be better to be forgotten. Christ is not a revived corpse. He lives in the fullness of God's life. He is the life, the truth and the way.
  • Chapter 3: The Television Discussion While it is possible to be an intelligent Christian and take the story of the empty tomb as a literal historical fact, Professor Lampe does not. He regards the story of the empty tomb as myth rather than literal history -- and a profoundly significant myth.
  • Chapter 4: Easter: A Statement by G.W.H. Lampe While the Resurrection was a fact, attested to by those who experienced it in so far as it could be described in human language, it is not possible to say precisely what the nature of these experiences were. We cannot say that Jesus was actually seen with bodily eyes in a physical form capable of being photographed. But in any case, these "appearances" cannot be "proof" that God exists, but were the way the risen Lord called people to his service and to be a witness that God is, and is a gracious and loving God. Lampe details why he does not take the story of the empty tomb as factual history.
  • Chapter 5: The Resurrection: A Meditation by D.M. MacKinnon The Resurrection of Jesus can be seen as the revelation of the nature of his dying. He died the death of a criminal, the death of the cursed. On the other hand, he imposed upon his execution the style of self-oblation. He took the ghastly business of dying and converted it into an act of wholly obedient love. He died, and he was raised.
  • Chapter 6: Good Friday And Easter by D. M. MacKinnon Where an understanding of the Resurrection of Christ is concerned, historical, philosophical and theological problems are inextricably intertwined. But they do not concern simply the relative lateness of the emergence of the empty tomb tradition They concern much more Christ’s approach to his Passion, the intention with which he confronted his supreme hour.
  • Chapter 7: A Rejoinder by G. W. H. Lampe In the mystery of the Resurrection Jesus is revealed as Lord. His patience is shown as powerful to the overcoming of death itself, and his mercy, shown in the hour of his awful triumph to those who failed him, is now shown to men as a final mercy.
  • Chapter 8: Further Reflections by D. M. MacKinnon The act of God in Christ is objective, as something built into the structure of the world, even perhaps (as Barth would probably argue) its very foundation.