As I enter my first Easter weekend with the responsibility of preaching Christ’s resurrection, I have been decluttering my mind of old debates.
I’ve made two deals with God…but He tricked me on the first one.
1) We will have two children–He honored the two pregnancy request, but got His way anyway.
2) If they ever discover Christ’s bones, then I am turning in my Christian card.
Its fascinating how quickly the early church began to struggle with the concept of Jesus bodily resurrection. In just a few decades after His death, Paul has to pretty definitively tell people that No Easter=No Faith. In fact, worse than that, we are fools. Even more so, we are to be most pitied for wasting this life in service to Jesus Christ.
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
While it may have made for interesting debates in college (and unfortunately seminary), these intellectually stimulating conversations fall desperately flat in providing anything firm for people to stand on in a world that batters us back and forth. We need the Easter morning message full redemption.
I remember the first time I heard the Borg argument that the resurrection was a metaphor referencing the emergence of “Christ’s Body” as the church. Like a cubic zirconia, it seems flashy and intriguing the first time you look at it, but as you spin it around and around you begin to notice the flaws. And in the end it leaves you hollow and longing for the real thing.
Sadly, I have seen statistics that range from 33%-51% of pastors no longer believe in the resurrection. Just like Paul understood, without the resurrection there is no faith–and these pastors have just become #CheckSigners looking for mediocre pay in a dwindling industry.
Because ultimately a metaphor cannot inspire.
However, if Christ was bodily raised then Easter morning changes everything.
An old church member once said to me, “If someone cannot believe in the Resurrection, than how can the believe in any of that other stuff?” This was an intriguing way to look at it, if we believe in the most far-fetched of the claims…that God was able to move from death to life, it makes all of the smaller claims easier to accept. Perhaps this is why Paul doesn’t have to run around convincing churches that they are fools if they don’t believe that Christ walked on water, fed people with some fish and loaves, was born to a virgin…it all hinges on the Resurrection.
Below is an interview with NT Wright:
You’ve argued strongly that Jesus physically rose from the dead as a historical event. Do you have to believe this teaching in order to be a Christian?
He gave this answer:
“Anyone who is in any sense a Christian cannot with any consistency believe that Jesus stayed dead. I have friends and colleagues who I know to be praying Christians who worship regularly and lead lives of practical Christian love and service but who really struggle with the bodily resurrection. I would say that looks like a muddled Christian who needs to be put straight. Of course some of them would say exactly that about me!
“But if you say Jesus died and nothing happened but the disciples had some interesting ideas, then you have cut off the branch on which all classic Christianity is sitting. This generation needs to wake up, smell the coffee and realise serious Christianity begins when Jesus comes out of the tomb on Easter morning. This is not a nice optional extra for those who like believing in funny things.”