Friday, March 28, 2008

The Resurrection Revolution

While I'm on my N. T. Wright kick, I may as well put in a plug for a piece he's posted over at The Washtington Post's "On Faith" web page. It offers a nice summary of the heart of his argument for the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus and for the 'revolutionary' ethical and political implications of Jesus' resurrection.

Unlike the Borgs and the Crossans of New Testament scholarship, Wright embraces the historic faith of the Church as articulated in scripture and the creeds. And for precisely that reason, he offers grounds for an ethics and a politics that resists easy categorization as either liberal or conservative. Indeed, after reading Wright's Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (HarperOne, 2008), I think that his theology of resurrection is well positioned to provide a biblically sound, prophetic counterbalance to the theological and political extremes of both the Left and the Right.

Here's some of what N. T. Wright says over at "On Faith":

The New Testament presents the resurrection of Jesus not as a bizarre event within the old creation, the present world of decay, corruption and death, but as the foundational, prototypical and generative event within the new creation, the renewal of heaven and earth which Israel's God had long promised and which was decisively launched when Jesus came out of the tomb (not, we note, as a mere 'resuscitated corpse', as some have accused me and others of suggesting, but in a transformed physicality that decay and death could no longer touch).

Jesus' resurrection is thus the foundation -- ontologically, and also epistemologically -- for all the work Christians are thus called to do for the renewal of creation, society and human lives. Indeed, to be a Christian at all is to be called to be both part of that new creation, by the renewal of the mind and the obedience of the body, and also an agent of that new creation in the wider world. Believing in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is not, despite what many in North America imagine, a way of shoring up a 'conservative' world view with all the political fallout that that engenders. Resurrection always was, for the Pharisees and others who believed it would happen eventually and for the early Christians who believed it already had in one case, a highly revolutionary doctrine. Death is the last weapon of the tyrant. The news that the living God is sovereign over death itself is therefore very bad news for tyrants. The fact that some of today's tyrant s profess to believe in the resurrection, but haven't noticed how it relativizes their power, only goes to show how far 'religion' and 'public life' have drifted apart in some areas of the western world. The resurrection was and is all about 'God in public', which is perhaps why some are so shrill in their rejection of it -- as they always were ever since Paul and others announced it.

Read it all.

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