Saturday, 7 April 2007

Giles Fraser: Why Liberals believe in the resurrection more than Evangelicals do

Ed: Not Fraser's title, but what he wants to say nevertheless.

The only time I have ever been asked directly: “Do you believe in the resurrection?” was during a job interview. I answered that I did, and that, moreover, believing in the resurrection is a great deal more than believing in the empty tomb. The resurrection is either a life-changing belief, or it is nothing. It is not, therefore, simply a belief about a matter of fact that happened long ago.

I found out later (after I got the job) that the question was designed to search and destroy those whom some might consider too liberal. Well, they asked the wrong question. Liberals now are much more comfortable with the resurrection than many others in the Church.

Sure, some liberals might frame their commitment to the resurrection with a load of well-meaning waffle about the epistemological complexity of “knowing” something without evidence. Even so, I believe it is liberals who are most committed to the resurrection, out of all the theological tribes of the Church.

Of course, Evangelicals believe in the Bible. This enables them to hold their hands up to anything that’s in it. None the less, most Evangelicals subscribe to the doctrine of penal substitution. And on this model, the resurrection is almost an unnecessary add-on of the overall story of salvation. What Evangelicals really believe in is the cross. Read more

1 comment:

Daniel Roe said...

P
The message of Jesus is this; the message of Easter Sunday is this: it doesn’t end with despair; it doesn’t end with humiliation; it doesn’t end here. The message of Easter is this: it ends with resurrection; it ends with hope; it ends with forgiveness; it ends with liberty. There is a new beginning
Q
Pardon
P
In the resurrection we learn that victims are not lost: God takes their side, their ‘perspective’ becomes one with God’s. God in raising the reviled and executed Jesus pronounces that there is an end to the perspectives of the oppressor, and that history can move beyond victimage and slaughter. There is a future and a voice for the voiceless. God’s blameless servant is the victim of a paradigmatic act of violence and rejection, but God ‘returns’ him to the world as the ultimate and decisive symbol of undefeatable compassion and inexhaustible creative resource
Q
Whatever
A
Both statements can be summed up as follows: “But when you wish, wish HARD; and even when you think you are wishing hard, WISH HARDER STILL” – there you go then – just two questions to conjure with: (a) what does the Bible actually say about resurrection – I mean compare the preaching found in Acts with the above quoted psycho-drivel, and (b) we aren’t told exactly what these guys think happened at the resurrection. Do they believe that someone was killed and then literally raised from the dead? To run with that would prove more interesting and useful than rabbiting on about hope and creative resource. I mean why was Jesus raised and not someone else?
Q
Perhaps God’s cunning plan went a tad pear-shaped – Good Friday, so called, was a mistake – God had to intervene and raise up his messenger.
A
Interesting you should say that, but if you read carefully through the whole of the gospels you will find that Good Friday is part of the plan
Q
You mean that Jesus intended to die – doesn’t make sense
P
Pardon me, but I think it was an act of love – to show how much we mean to him
Q
It seems bit pointless
A
Ridiculous even – I mean imagine you are the sole earner in your family and one day you come home early and tell your wife you’ve just given up the day job – why? As a dramatic demonstration of how much she and the family mean to you – but, as I said, read carefully through the whole of the gospels – and the rest of the Bible and you will find not only that Good Friday was part of the plan, but why – aye and you’ll find out what the plan is. Perhaps if preachers spent more time reading and understanding their Bibles they would then have something useful and interesting to say about the resurrection – instead of the rubbish we come to expect at Easter and Christmas.