The most paradoxical and at the same time the most unique and characteristic claim made by Christianity is that in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord from the dead, man has completely conquered death, and that “in Christ” the dead will rise again to enjoy eternal life, in spiritualized and transfigured bodies and in a totally new creation. This new life in the Kingdom of God is to be not merely a passively received inheritance but in some sense the fruit of our agony and labor, love and prayers in union with the Holy Spirit. Such a fantastic and humanly impossible belief has generally been left in the background by the liberal Christianity of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but anyone who reads the New Testament objectively must admit that this is the Doctrine of the first Christians. Indeed, Christianity without this fabulous eschatological claim is only a moral system without too much spiritual consistency. Unless all Christianity is centered in the victorious, living, and ever present reality of Jesus Christ, the Man-God and conqueror of death, it loses its distinctive character and there is no longer any justification for a Christian missionary apostolate. In point of fact, such an apostolate without the resurrection of the dead, has tended to be purely and simply an apostolate for western cultural and economic “progress,” and not a true preaching of the Gospel.
Merton, Thomas (1999-11-29). The New Man (Kindle Locations 45-54). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.