Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Times: The Church must stop trivialising Easter

Bishop Tom Wright in The Times: Christians must keep their nerve: the Resurrection isn’t a metaphor, it’s a physical fact

"....Easter has been sidelined because this message doesn't fit our prevailing world view. For at least 200 years the West has lived on the dream that we can bring justice and beauty to the world all by ourselves. The split between God and the “real” world has produced a public life that lurches between anarchy and tyranny, and an aesthetic that swings dramatically between sentimentalism and brutalism. But we still want to do things our own way, even though we laugh at politicians who claim to be saving the world, and artists who claim “inspiration” when they put cows in formaldehyde. The world wants to hush up the real meaning of Easter. Death is the final weapon of the tyrant or, for that matter, the anarchist, and resurrection indicates that this weapon doesn't have the last word. When the Church begins to work with Easter energy on the twin tasks of justice and beauty, we may find that it can face down the sneers of sceptics, and speak once more of Jesus in a way that will be heard." 

ht: Adrian Reynolds ditto his reservations about NTW, but on the resurrection he's excellent, and I love his language here.


  1. Amen. Question: when we say "on the resurrection he's excellent", do you think we're thinking of resurrection in the "historical event" sense that he's complaining about? I too tend to separate off his justification theology from his resurrection history, but given that he thinks the new testament is as much history as it is theology, indeed that his own method brings the two together, are we really that wise to separate them out? How do you think his resurrection "history" might be linked to his justification "theology" and vice versa?

  2. I think I'd need to read more of him, second hand suspicious is ugly and I might need to repent of that.

    I just love his language in the above quote and I'm sure that should just derive from good reading of scripture.

  3. I think his understanding of the resurrection is linked to his understanding of justification.

    In the very quote that Dave has highlighted you have the kernel of his whole understanding of justification. Wright understands death, Sin (with a capital S), the Devil, the powers and authorities etc as what are defeated by the resurrection in the first instance. This undestanding of these powers of evil as our primary problem, rather than the wrath of God, is the foundational belief that his understanding of justification builds upon. He holds both are true, and so should we. The question though is which is primary. (I've written about this here).

    However, Chris is asking a more subtle question than I have 'answered'. I'll have to think about it some more. Although bare historical events and their interpretation must not be seperated they must not be confused I think. Just because we can agree that Jesus rose physically from the dead, does not mean that we all have the same interpretation of that event. The interpretation cannot be cut loose of it (ala Bultmann - if I understand him correctly!), but interpretations can differ in content and emphasis.

    Rather rushed thoughts, sorry.

  4. But, can I say: I love what he is saying, but might want to add some more too?

  5. Blimey, yes you can.

    If we cannot love someone clearly proclaiming the defeat of death, what can we do?

    I should have been a bit more positive before launching off on one.