Resurrection as history


Tonb and guard

During the night my ‘Kindle’ pinged – a message. I drifted back to sleep. In the morning I saw a message from my daughter saying that she had arrived safely at her destination but had traveled through Manchester earlier and and now heard that there had been a large explosion there. The news today confirmed a suspected terrorist attack at a pop concert. Over 20 people killed, over 50  injured – many reported as children. It would appear the victims of a suicide bomber motivated presumably by a competing ideology.

I have been asked to preach at an event later this year on ‘hope’. At the ground of Christian hope is the resurrection of Jesus. Evangelical Christians, rightly in my opinion, insist that the resurrection narratives do not report a group hallucination nor should they be demythologised to the faith of the early Church based upon some sort of internal existential experience. No rather, we insist, that Christ is Risen indeed, that it was an event in history, if even, something new pointing to the end times. The resurrection is the basis of our ‘hope’, a resurrection in ‘history’.

Yet, often when we then apply the meaning of the resurrection our default position appears to be to make its significance only personal, internal, spiritual. We do not completely capitulate to a position we claim we reject but not far of it in terms of ethics. To be sure we should rejoice in the hope awakened as a person is captured by faith in Jesus. Yet, the resurrection took place in history – not history as a vague idea – but as a specific socio-political reality of ordinary lives, competing ideologies, and expressions of violence.

I think that this is where some of our best theological work and preaching needs to be done – in applying the meaning of the hope of the resurrection beyond the spiritual and the personal and into the real history of a world where I am glad that my daughter is safe – but in which others know nothing other than brokenness and sadness.

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