Rivendell Fellowship

Newbigin on the Resurrection by pilgrimramblings
September 21, 2006, 4:46 am
Filed under: Ecclesia

“The first commentary on the death of Jesus was the suicide of Judas. If the cross were the last word in God’s self-revelation then this first commentary would be the only possible one. If all humankind- even in its best representatives- is exposed here as one murderous treason against its Creator, what future is there but death? What is the point of continuing this futile saga of sin, even with all the adornments of civilization? If the cross is the end, then there is no future.

But it is not. The resurrection is the revelation to chosen witnesses of the fact that Jesus who died on the cross is indeed king- conqueror of death and sin, Lord and Savior of all. The resurrection is not the reversal of a defeat but the proclamation of a victory. The King reigns from the tree. The reign of God has indeed come upon us, and its sign is not a golden throne but a wooden cross.”

– Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, pg. 127


4 Comments so far
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I love his heart on this. I’m not sure the logic holds entirely… the death of Jesus certainly stands as a critique of the Powers that Be, the high cost of selfishness and sinfulness upon humanity and towards God’s call for selflessness for all of us. It is an incomplete act without the resurrection. And the resurrection does anticipate what God is doing and will do in the soon-to-come future (tip of the hat to N.T. Wright). And it does indeed reveal God’s validation of the life and ministry and teaching of Christ.

But even Newbigin himself actually hints at all this in the final line of that quote – the cross itself (before and then amplified with the resurrection) is a sign of God’s reign breaking into our reality and shaping our lives.

Comment by kyle

I would like to add an excerpt from a post on my blog by Jathan:

I was sitting at the side of a creek yesterday, pondering the riddle of Christ and history. At one point, I picked up a twig and broke little pieces off, bit by bit, flinging those pieces into the water. I watched the growing circular ripples that I left with fascination (I like the sight of moving water).

Then an idea popped into my head. Something happened 2,000 years ago. Whatever it was, it was massive, and it produced this incredible collection of writings that we call the New Testament. It has left a monumental ripple running through time, spreading outward into new lives and new places. What I see most clearly, as you seemed to mention, is this ripple right now. I see it in my heart and many others who have turned to Christ for hope. I see the love that blooms from it.

Now I know this ripple had a source, and that it’s moving ever farther away from its beginning (temporally), but when I look backward to see what exactly made the ripple, I don’t see anything, just the surface of the water. Whatever made it happen is hidden from me now, and no amount of evidence will ever tell me exactly what was there.

It is left to my heart to decide whether something plopped into history from the fingers of God. Or perhaps he dipped his finger into history. It is left to faith to decide whether God himself made a stirring, made this ripple.

Comment by Monk-In-Training

I am moving more and more toward the opinion that we should not look back on what we have of the history of the Christian Church (all the way to the beginning with Jesus) and say that there’d be absolutely no hope for us if it didn’t happen the way it did. To me, this is saying that we must accept some assertions about the past in order to have any faith, hope, or love right now.

I believe that God works in his own mysterious ways, and that he is wise enough to bring faith, hope, and love to those who live today. I am confident that he can devise many means to this end. I am confident that a God of hope and love is here, even if the history we want is not.

Saying that history had to be a certain way, or otherwise all hope is gone for us, seems to me to be what people who keep looking into the past would say. It seems rather bleak to me. It seems to limit God severely to say that God can only bring the kingdom to his people in this particular way. It seems to put our certainty of history above the possibility in God’s power. Beware! God might snatch our certainty out from under our feet! Then what will you trust? Ah, the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord, not PhD’s and their disoveries. Let us not place our hopes too much in the work of those who perhaps think their work is more important and crucial than it is (and who preach such)!

I have learned from Christ already. I have felt the Spirit already. I have communed with God already. Will history rip God away from me? Will I not see Christ anymore in the eyes of orphans and widows and the homeless and the sick? Will I not feel love anymore at the sight of death? Will I no longer be able to tell these people what I believe in my heart, that God is always with them? That they will see new life?

If the past is lost, can the present be denied? Don’t underestimate the power of love. It is good fuel for faith and hope.

Comment by Jathan

Kyle Meador missed his curtain call. There’s a difference between acting and leading a church.

Comment by mARY

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