Tony Campolo at his best. Spend some time and listen to this 🙂
Let’s move from the Baptist to the Anglican! 🙂
Resurrection has started. How do we know? Not by working it out and adopting it as well-founded opinion, not by deciding that this idea suits us, not by getting all the arguments straight, but because we are dimly aware of something having changed around us. For Paul’s converts in Colossae, Corinth, or wherever, it’s about the impact on them of his early visits: here was someone who although he wasn’t a good speaker or a charismatic teacher (so he himself tells us) was so intensely aware that the world had changed that he changed the world for those around him. They trusted him; they were prepared to risk all the mockery and harassment and worse that Christians had to put up with because they were able to say, ‘It’s so real for him that we can sense the sort of imperative urgency in what he says and what he sees; whatever he believes, this is life at a new level’.
That’s why the two sorts of defence of faith I mentioned earlier aren’t good enough. It’s not that this is an attractive theory that I’ve decided to try out – but I may be wrong. Nor is it that I now have a knock-down argument that will convince everyone. There is something compelling here. I can’t help being drawn to this promise of life and freedom, it isn’t about my opinions only; yet I know that I can’t put this into neat words that will make everyone say, ‘Oh yes, it’s obvious really’.
I once heard Tony Jones say one of the problematic words we use in Christianity is the word “just” – and we slip into a reductionist kind of faith. Since then, I always pause when I use the word “just” just (opps) to see what I mean. I think the word that I seem to be hearing in this post is “really” . really? really! 🙂
Well, if you found some resonance with my previous post on the crucifixion, then the resurrection of Jesus is all the more important. In Jesus, God identified with humankind in an unprecendented way — this is why the divinity (i.e., non-mortality) of Jesus really matters. So deeply did God enter into the uniquely human experience of godforsakeness that God even died. God experienced grief in the shattering of the eternal relationality of the Trinity. Yes, God really died.
So, when Jesus rose from the grave, it was more than the resusitation of a corpse (hell, I’ve seen Criss Angel do that!). Instead, it was a foretaste of the eschaton. I described Jesus’ miracles in the last post as significations of the new, eschatological age that Jesus the Messiah inaugurated. The resurrection is the capstone event in the inauguration.
Since Adam, death has been the primary definer of mortality and, as far as we can tell, the one thing that differentiates human beings from god(s) — thus the constant tension between human and mortals and their frequent stories of romantic love for one another in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Death was the one thing that God didn’t experience, and it was the one inevitability of human existence.
So, for God to experience death — especially a death that was sacrificially important — is pivotal. For God to conquer death and invite all the rest of us humans into immortal existence is even better.