If you’re wondering where the regular musings of my mind are lately, remember - it’s May again. It was around a year ago this week (or so) that the Sliker family took their impromptu excursion to the Ozarks for a camping trip. Camping. Without electricity. Or running water. Yikes.
Well, we’ve done it again. We did a little getaway this week prior to a ministry trip in Minnesota next week, so we’re out of action for ten days. No camping this time, though. It was fun to camp. Once. This time, it’s hotels and dorm rooms for the Sliker family. Comfy. Cable. Pool. Internet. When it comes to quick vacations, “restful” is the operative word.
May 14th, 2008
This week’s edition of Newsweek had more than a few articles that interested me for various reasons - more on that at another day (I am in the middle of a series, after all…). One little side interview on faith, however, troubled me greatly. One look at the headline and the by-line will tell you why. As a review, for those of you who clicked on the link, here’s the by-line: “An Anglican theologian explains that the resurrection really happened—and that the Kingdom is really coming.” This, of course, passes for shocking (shocking!) news in our day. What rift opened in the space-time continuum recently to unearth an Anglican theologian that believes, with subsequent gasps of surprise, that Jesus actually rose from the grave?
This assertion from Jon Meacham and Lisa Miller, however, provides the real chills and thrills: “Among many Western Christians, however, the word “resurrection” means something else: a supernatural event, a spiritual ascent, a poetic metaphor.” I suppose that it would be best if I refrained from asking for descriptives delineating “a supernatural event” from an event that, in their own words with their own italicized emphasis, “really happened.” Pressing on, however, I am curious about the truth behind their premise. Is this true? Do many Western Christians possess a terrifying ignorance about what Paul referred to a the substance of our faith and preaching (1 Cor. 15:14)? For, as Paul stated, without a truly risen Christ to set our hope upon, all we have is hope for this life only. If this is true, Paul asserted, then “we are of all men the most pitiable.”
Which, of course, means that those who reduce the resurrection of Christ to a “spiritual ascent” or a “poetic metaphor” subscribe to a faith that is “futile” and leaves them “still in their sins” (1 Cor. 15:17) - such is the power of the resurrection that Paul longed to possess within himself (Phil. 3:10). The doctrine of the resurrection and our subsequent hope of glory provide the very substance of a living faith that is connected to another age and the insatiable longing for things to come. What is it that these “Western Christians” are hoping for?
The very notion of a faith robbed of an actual resurrected Christ grieves me beyond measure and intensifies my longing for a true awakening in the West.
It is becoming clear that such an awakening must contain more than power and the conviction of sins - but must be energized by substantive preaching from the scriptures that establishes an invitation to a faith and a life that is wholly different than the one being offered within some of the very walls of Christendom today, much less the fallen world that appeals to the ungodly ambitions of carnal man. In short, we must have a re-awakening of true apostolic and prophetic preaching that authoritatively and powerfully compels men to a kingdom lifestyle that resembles the faith of our fathers - or else we will continue to live in a culture where such notions as the “resurrection” serve as a bemusing surprise to the intellectual elite that long for a better life apart from God.
Isn’t this the real issue behind this interview? It seems to me that the real shock to the writers here is that, in their estimation, N.T. Wright is a rational and intelligent man worthy of their respect. Thus it is hard for them to reconcile how one such as Wright could possibly subscribe to the notion of a “literal resurrection”. I wonder what they would have done had they met Jonathan Edwards? Such a question makes me long again for voices to arise with such authority and power connected to a message of the cross that constitutes true foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). I long for God to glorify Himself in this hour through the anointing of “weak things” which shame those who consider themselves “wise”.
Oh! That the “news” of the literal resurrection of Christ would have caused these writers (and their readers) to tremble - that the days would return in which such news would be as disruptive as it was when it was first proclaimed!
May 1st, 2008