Tuesday, December 9, 2008

D-Day to V-Day

A central claim of the Christian faith is that Jesus' death and resurrection has dealt a decisive blow to the powers of sin, evil, and death. Anglican bishop N. T. Wright puts it well:

Something has happened in and through Jesus as a result of which the world is a different place, a place where heaven and earth have been joined forever. God's future has arrived in the present [Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), p. 116].

A common and understandable objection is to point out the dissonance between the claim that "the world is a different place" because "God's future has arrived in the present" through the resurrection of Jesus on the one hand, and the fact that evil still runs amok on the other hand. In the face of the massive suffering and injustice rocking our world, how can we make sense of the Christian claim?

Reformed theologian Shirley C. Guthrie offers an interesting perspective on this issue. I don't always find military metaphors/analogies helpful or appropriate for thinking about the Christian faith, but this one works for me.



When the Allied forces landed in Normandy, the decisive battle of the whole war was fought. After that it was certain that Nazi Germany was going to lose. Between D-Day (the day of the invasion) and V-Day (the day the Allies’ victory was finally declared) the Germans fought a number of desperate fall-back battles across Europe. Many lives were lost and much damage done before they finally surrendered. But after the decisive battle in Normandy, it was clear how the war was going to turn out. The war was already won even if it was not yet over.

The decisive battle of all human history was fought when in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God "invaded" a world ruled and tormented by the dark powers of evil. But the final victory of God over them will come only with the final triumph of the risen Christ at the end of history. "Between the times" (between Easter and the end), the deadly battle between God and the powers of darkness still goes on, but the victory of Christ that has been won is the guarantee of the final victory that is surely on the way [Shirley C. Guthrie, Christian Doctrine Revised Edition (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994), p. 284].

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