Category Archives: Resurrection

I am the Resurrection and the Life

Thomas Torrance has written the supreme book on the topic of the resurrection, Space, Time and Resurrection.  I’ve provided here just a few quotes … from p. 221:

“What Jesus Christ is in his resurrection, he is in himself. The resurrection was not just an event that happened to Christ, for it corresponded to the kind of person he was in his own being.”

My paraphrase: it was impossible for Jesus to remain dead, because being resurrected was part of who he was. Resurrection was exponential of his identity. His very life was such that death could not overtake it, but must be overtaken and swallowed up by it. “I am resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). “I am … the life” (John 14:26). Just as the resurrection is an a posteriori argument for Christ’s deity, his deity is an a priori argument for his resurrection. Why was Jesus Christ raised? Because it was who he was – eternal, life-spilling-over God – to be so.

resurrection-space-time

Here is a later passage from Torrance which reveals his meaning more fully (p. 236):

“The actual resurrection of Jesus from the tomb was recognized to be in entire accordance with his nature and person – but that was the stupendous thing about it. This was not just a miracle, not some wonderful event or portent, but something which in all its wonderfulness was not a whit different from the essential nature of the risen one in himself. And what is more, it corresponded to the claim of Jesus, as given in the Johannine literature, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ ‘I am the truth.’

He is himself the reality of the resurrection and the new life that breaks through and out of death. He is the creator-God among mankind, at work even in the midst of death and corruption and perdition and nothingness.

With this recognition of the utter consistency between the resurrection event and the essence of the resurrected one, came the full realization that the whole life of Jesus, together with his resurrection, was the manifestation among men and women and on earth and in time of the ultimate and original and final creative activity of God. That is why the resurrection is so baffling to thought and observation.”

Heaven is Not Our Home

N.T. Wright is one of the most important Christian churchmen and scholars in a generation.  He has written much on the Resurrection and its revolutionary implications for our lives.  The following is from Christianity Today;

“There is no agreement in the church today about what happens to people when they die. Yet the New Testament is crystal clear on the matter: In a classic passage, Paul speaks of “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). There is no room for doubt as to what he means: God’s people are promised a new type of bodily existence, the fulfillment and redemption of our present bodily life. The rest of the early Christian writings, where they address the subject, are completely in tune with this.

The traditional picture of people going to either heaven or hell as a one-stage, postmortem journey represents a serious distortion and diminution of the Christian hope. Bodily resurrection is not just one odd bit of that hope. It is the element that gives shape and meaning to the rest of the story of God’s ultimate purposes. If we squeeze it to the margins, as many have done by implication, or indeed, if we leave it out altogether, as some have done quite explicitly, we don’t just lose an extra feature, like buying a car that happens not to have electrically operated mirrors. We lose the central engine, which drives it and gives every other component its reason for working.”read rest of article in Christianity Today

What is the Gospel?

From Michael Williams, author of one of my top 10 favorites, Far as the Curse is Found;

What is the gospel? It seems like such a simple question. After all, the gospel is at the heart of the Christian faith. The “gospel” is what Christians believe. It is the “gospel” that saves. Yet after years of asking my Freshman Bible classes this very question and receiving no quick reply, I realize that defining the gospel is sometimes confusing even for Christians. read rest of article

The Meaning of Easter

It’s not about the Easter bunny eggs which is a symbol of the empty tomb.easter-egg

It is how Wright explains it in a few words. Jesus resurrection is announcing His Lordship to the entire world and a new creation, making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven!. Amen, brother Wright.

In ‘Surprise by Hope’ NT Wright –

Easter has a very this-worldly, present-age meaning.  Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah, and therefore he is the world’s true Lord; Jesus is raised, so God’s new creation has begun—and we, his followers, have a job to do!  Jesus is raised so we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world, making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven!  To be sure, as early as Paul the resurrection of Jesus is firmly linked to the final resurrection of all God’s people.

The challenge is in fact the challenge of new creation.  To put it at its most basic:  the resurrection of Jesus offers itself, to the student of history or science no less than the Christian or the theologian: not as an odd event within the world as it is but as the utterly characteristic, prototypical, and foundational event within the world as it has begun to be.  It is not an absurd event within the old world but the symbol and starting point of the new world.  The claim advanced in Christianity is of that magnitude:  Jesus of Nazareth ushers in not simply a new religious possibility, not simply new ethic or a new way of salvation, but a new creation.

The Resurrection of Christendom

The last one hundred years has not looked kindly on Christendom.  World War I had the outcome of destroying the Christian monarchies of Europe.  Out of this war Communism took a giant leap, not for but against mankind.  Millions of Christians, in Russia and Europe as a whole, died in its midst and in its wake.

But as G. K. Chesterton wrote in 1925 in The Everlasting Man, between the first and second world wars;

“Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.”

chesterton-everlasting-man

Jesus Is Coming – Plant a Tree!

An article by N.T. Wright;

“We have declared, in the Nicene Creed, that Jesus Christ “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom shall have no end,” but neither mainline Catholic nor mainline Protestant theology has explored what exactly we mean by all that, and we have left a vacuum to be filled by various kinds of dualism. In particular, Western Christianity has allowed itself to embrace that dualism whereby the ultimate destiny of God’s people is heaven, seen as a place detached from earth, so that the aim of Christianity as a whole, and of conversion, justification, sanctification, and salvation, is seen in terms of leaving earth behind and going home to a place called heaven.

So powerful is this theme in a great deal of popular preaching, liturgy, and hymnography that it comes as a shock to many people to be told that this is simply not how the earliest Christians saw things. For the early Christians, the resurrection of Jesus launched God’s new creation upon the world, beginning to fulfill the prayer Jesus taught his followers, that God’s kingdom would come “on earth as in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), and anticipating the “new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17, 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1) promised by Isaiah and again in the New Testament.” read full article

 

In Which N.T. Wright Discovers the Moon Again

This is a review of “Jesus is Coming — Plant a Tree” by N.T. Wright, an article posted on the same day here at WakeUPchurch.org By Doug Wilson.  If Wright is glorious then Wilson’s filtering Wright is even more so.

“The next chapter from Wright is on eschatology and care for the creation, and is a mixed bag. The title of the chapter is “Jesus is Coming — Plant a Tree.” We will come back to that shortly.

I want to begin by acknowledging what is very good about this chapter, which is Wright’s exegetical understanding of the relationship of heaven and earth, the old creation and the new creation, and what the resurrection of Jesus and what His second coming actually mean for this world. It is very good work, and it is good work from the beginning of the chapter to the end of it. This is basically a chapter length treatment of his book on the same general topic, Surprised By Hope, and has the strengths and weaknesses of that book, mostly strengths.

While there would be quibbles here and there, I don’t want to dispute with his exegesis on this topic. I think it is good, I think it salutary, I think it is most necessary for our generation of evangelicals, particularly in America, to recover this understanding. Anything that Wright does to help this along is something I am all for. I am grateful for his influence here at this point.

But this leads to the second issue. While his exegetical theology is fine, his historical theology is atrocious. I have no problem with how Wright argues his biblical case in this chapter because, as it happens, I am a postmillennialist. The position that Wright is advancing has a name, and it is a name that Wright appears to be extremely reluctant to use. I have not read everything Wright has written, for the age of miracles is past, but I have read a lot of his stuff. I am open to correction here, but I don’t recall him ever using the term postmillennialism, still less identifying with it. This could be fine — albeit a little weird — except for the next thing.

Last week Sam Allberry tweeted this: “‘…and only I am left’ – The prophet Elijah and every book by N T Wright.” In a previous post, I said that Wright has an annoying habit of announcing discoveries that all of Western theology has missed, when in fact his discoveries are nothing of the kind. He is like a very competent amateur astronomer who keeps discovering the moon. We could put up with this, but then he keeps chiding us for having missed it. Now it is true that there are popular schools of theology that have missed it, but Wright is here making claims about the broad history of theology, and he gets it spectacularly wrong.

Here is an example from this chapter, but there are other little comments like it scattered here and there. And it is why somebody once coined the word insufferable.

“It is my belief that the broad sweep of Western theology since way before the Reformation, and continuing since the sixteenth century in both Roman Catholicism and the various branches of Protestantism, has been subbiblical in its approach to that potent combination of themes, eschatology, and ecology” (p. 83).

But in actual fact, the broad sweep of Protestant eschatology, from shortly after the Reformation down to the beginning of the nineteenth century, was postmill. The point here — for my non-postmill readers, love you all — is not whether or not postmillennialism is correct, but whether it was held by anybody significant who was contained within Wright’s dismissive “broad sweep of Western theology.” Anybody heard of Jonathan Edwards? B.B. Warfield? David Livingstone? William Carey? Iain Murray was right to label this as the Puritan hope. Anybody out there heard of the Puritans? Geez Louise, Tom.

Wright does have a lot to say that is valuable. He has something to contribute, and he does have unique insights to contribute. But his habit of planting his flag on the beach of thickly inhabited lands is really bad for his ethos. He looks like Columbus planting the flag in the modern Bahamas, right next to the shaved ice stand. True, Chesterton discovered orthodoxy as though he were the first one there, but he had the good grace immediately afterward to recognize that the joke was on him.

Here he is again. Speaking of Romans 8:18-27, Wright makes this astonishing claim: “And yet, as I say, preachers, commentators, and theologians in the Western tradition, both Catholic and Protestant, have almost routinely regarded this section as something of a distraction” (p. 87).

This hope is glorious, and I exult in it. But when I was becoming postmill, I learned a great deal about how to understand Romans 8 from a number of saints in the Western tradition. I give thanks for them all, and I want to declare my indebtedness to them. I don’t want to pretend, with Wright, that they never existed.

The third point to make concerns one possible reason why Wright puts distance between himself and standard-issue postmillennialism. The last word in the quote cited above was ecology. When it comes to policy prescriptions, the actual things that one would do to make the planet that Jesus is coming back to a better place, Wright tends toward soft leftism. That was not the case with the broad swath of postmillennialists in history. In other words, the impact of postmill Christians up to this point has not really been leftist in any recognizable way. But I would argue it has been a practical blessing precisely because of that.

In this chapter, Wright’s practical politics are not foregrounded, but they are hovering in the background, and to my mind, ominously (pp. 83,85-86,95,106).

I said that we would return to the issue of planting trees. In my day I have planted many trees, and have some thoughts on the subject. I am all for it. Jesus is coming, and we should plant a tree. But this is not a new idea. Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.”

But . . . how? What kind of tree? Who paid for it? Who owns the dirt where we will plant it?

I want the tree that is planted to have been purchased by the planter himself at Home Depot, and purchased there with his own money. I want no taxpayer to have been soaked for the expense. I want to praise personal responsibility and praise the suburbs while I am at it. Learn how to plant your own hedge, and learn how to take care of it. Every man under his own fig tree, every man mowing his own lawn.

I do want the earth to be transformed into a garden city, and I want it to be emerald green. This means keeping the statists far away from it. I have no problem with being green. My difficulty is that our modern priests of Baal always promise us green and, just like in the days of old, turn everything brown.

We can’t do that — turn everything brown, and we can’t because Jesus is coming again. The saints with Him in glory now say that the intermediate state is not their home. They’re just passing through. And when they get back here with Jesus, at the true marriage of heaven and earth, we should not want this planet to look like a badly-run VA hospital. Because Jesus is coming, this means we need to learn how to love liberty. And we need to have the Spirit teach us to hate statist coercion.

Jesus is coming. Hug a logger. And plant a tree.”