THE RESURRECTION OF THE SON OF GOD, PART V – BELIEF, EVENT & MEANING by N.T.Wright

resurrection_son_of_god_nt_wrightAt Easter time we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the biggest event in the Christian calendar, for Christians, everything hinges on this one event in history (1 Corinthians 15:19). Our world today struggles with this event and we are full of doubt. We live in a modern scientific world, a world of cynicism, a world full of information. We live in a world which has made much progress but also in a world that is still often in turmoil, war, violence, greed, debt, anxiety and deep sadness. The answers that our world has constructed about why we are here and what life is all about don’t always cut the mustard. It seems to me that many people today still live without much hope for the future. The event of the resurrection is at its heart about new life and hope amongst brokenness. Can we trust that the resurrection of Jesus is true? Did it actually happen? If it did, why is it good news?

N.T. Wright has written a whopper of a book on the resurrection of Jesus. It is 817 pages long and I must confess I haven’t read all of it yet. What I have read has brought clarity around the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and what this means. Since it is Easter Sunday here I offer a short summary of Part V of this book. (more…)

THE NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT edited by James Beilby and Paul R. Eddy

nature of the atonement“I have gone to church plenty of times, but Josh, there is one thing that I really can’t get my head around.” “What’s that?” I ask curiously. “Well, I just don’t get what the cross is all about. How is it a good thing? It just seems weird.”

This was a conversation I had with a parishioner as they sat perplexed in my study. This is probably what a lot of people think when they hear Christians talk about “Good Friday.” What is good about it? It all seems rather strange really. Today as I sat in a Good Friday service I heard the same sentiment echoed by a man in the back row as the cross was covered with a sheet and people shuffled out of church in silence. “Weird” he uttered, much to the amusement of the man next to him who snickered in a kind of nervous agreement.

 

“The Nature of the Atonement” edited by Beilby and Eddy (B&E) is a book that addresses this question – what happened on the cross? What does Jesus’ death mean? What does atonement mean? (more…)

THE FREEDOM OF SELF-FORGETFULNESS by Timothy Keller

freedom of self forgetfulness

“In Christianity, the verdict leads to performance. It is not the performance that leads to the verdict…You see the verdict is in. And now I perform on the basis of the verdict. Because He (God) loves me and He accepts me, I do not have to do things to make me look good. I can do things for the joy of doing them.”

 

 

 

 

This little book (only 48 pages) by Tim Keller is a wee gem that gets to the heart of what it means to let God’s grace change the way we view ourselves.

The book is based upon 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7, so give that a read first.

Keller opens upon the book by unpacking the context into which the first letter to the Corinthians was written. It was a young church in Corinth that was conflicted. There were divisions in the church due to people following various leaders and Paul names the root cause as pride and boasting.

Tim makes the point that we think about this kind of thing differently than the Corinthians would have, or people until quite recently. He says:

“Up until the twentieth century, traditional cultures (and this is still true of most cultures in the world) always believed that too high a view of yourself was the root cause of all the evil in the world. What is the reason for most of the crime and violence in the world? Why are people abused? Why are people cruel? Traditionally, the answer was hubris – the Greek word meaning pride or too high a view of yourself.”

He goes on to paint a picture of how we think about ourselves in contemporary society:

“But, in our modern western culture, we have developed an utterly opposite cultural consensus. The basis of contemporary education, the way we treat incarcerated prisoners, the foundation of most modern legislation and the starting point for modern counselling is exactly the opposite of the traditional consensus. Our belief today – and it is deeply rooted in everything – is that people misbehave for lack of self-esteem and because they have too low a view of themselves.”

So here Keller presents two different ways of looking at “the self.” He then insists that what we find in the passage in Corinthians (as above), is that Paul presents a different picture of “self-regard” altogether. He says:

“The three things that Paul shows us here are:

  1. The natural condition of the human ego.
  2. The transformed sense of self (which Paul had discovered and which can be brought about through the gospel).
  3. How to get that transformed sense of self.”

(more…)

GOD, MEDICINE, AND SUFFERING by Stanley Hauerwas

hauwerhaus_god-medicine-suffering

“I believe that the most decisive challenge which the experience of childhood illness presents is our inability to name the silences such illness creates. Modern medicine can and too often has become a noisy way to hide those silences. I will try to show how the God whom Christians worship can give a voice to that pain in a manner that at least gives us a way to go on.”

 

 

 

Stanley Hauerwas is clear from the beginning that what he is NOT trying to do is attempt to explain “why a good and all-powerful God allows us to undergo suffering for seemingly no reason.” In fact, Hauerwas points out that he is “profoundly suspicious” of all attempts to do this. As a theologian he believes that this question is a mistake and this book is an attempt to show why.

This book looks closely at suffering and death in childhood, and is broken into 3 chapters:

1) “A Child’s Dying”

2) “Theology, Theodicy, and Medicine”

3)  “Medicine as Theodicy.”

For definition of “Theodicy” click here

Chapter 1 – “A Child’s Dying”

Thankfully at the outset of this chapter Stanley acknowledges that “sitting in my office reflecting on the problem of evil is more like a game than a serious activity…we are, quite rightly, not interested in the theoretical issue of suffering and evil; rather, we are torn apart by what is happening to real people, to those we know and love.” (more…)