Resurrection / Insurrection
I finally finished reading Transforming Mission by David Bosch. It only took me a year or so to do it. In the final chapter, “Mission in Many Modes,” Bosch unpacks the six major “salvific events” in the New Testament that show us what mission is today: the incarnation, the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, pentecost, and the parousia. Discussing the resurrection, Bosch writes, “The central theme of our missionary message is that Christ is risen, and that, secondly and consequently, the church is called to live the resurrection life in the here and now and to be a sign of contradiction against the forces of death and destruction — that it is called to unmask modern idols and false absolutes.”
Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.
But why did He die in the first place?
The subject of the atonement is a heavy one, but one that I’ve been wrestling with because it is worth wrestling with. And it just so happens to be a “hot” topic right now: The last four weeks of the “Practicing Pentecost” podcast have focused on views of the atonement. The defenders of the status quo have a new book out about “Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution.” Thankfully Scot McKnight has a new book coming out this fall from Abingdon Press called A Community Called Atonement.
McKnight’s book title reflects some of the thoughts put forward by Bosch in his 1991 magnum opus. Bosch writes, “For many in the early church, Christ was the new ‘place of expiation’ which replaced the temple. Those who accept him as Savior have their sins forgiven. This opens to them the way to become members of a new, saved community, called church, a unique body of those with whom God has a special relationship” (chapter 13, p. 513). [Bosch also has some great things to say about how the cross “stands for reconciliation between estranged individuals and groups, between oppressor and oppressed.” But that’ll have to be saved for a different post.]
But is there anything really truly “unique” about the church we see today?
This community of believers called the Church—do these people really have a “special relationship” with God?
Some skeptics would look at those of us in the churches in America today—with our radical individualism, materialism, individualism, sexism, racism, divorce rate, and any number of other issues and measurements—and say, “No, these people live just like everyone else. They’re no different than anyone else.” And that is a huge challenge we must overcome in order for us, as the Church, to truly be seen as “a sign and agent and foretaste of the kingdom of God” (Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society).
That is the challenge, but it is possible. And that’s the glorious hope we have in the resurrection of Jesus. All it takes is one life transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to impact another life and then another life and then another life …
I was reminded of this while reading an post by Diana Butler Bass on the God’s Politics blog. She quotes the Rt. Rev. Daniel Corrigan, the first Episcopal bishop to ordain women to the priesthood, who, when asked by a parishioner, “Do you believe in the resurrection?” responded firmly and without hesitation, “Yes. I believe in the resurrection. I’ve seen it too many times not to.”
Have you seen it lately?
Have you seen the resurrection?
I pray to God that you have—or that you will. I pray for it today in my own life.
Have you seen my Lord?
He is risen.
He is risen indeed.
MORE: I didn’t know how to work this into my own Easter reflections, but I wanted to pass these words from Anthony Smith:
“Easter is about The Peasant being vindicated. Easter was Godâ€™s Okay-ing The Peasantâ€™s insurrectionist activity. You see … The Peasant was killed partly because he lived out an impossible love that turned upside-down the world as folks understood it. A world where the powerful lived to fullest at the expense of those at the bottom. The Peasantâ€™s insurrection was beginning to turn that situation around. Before the insurrection could reach fever pitch, they killed The Peasant. All was thought to be lost. But God raised The Peasant from the dead in order to vindicate and continue the Insurrection.”
Viva la Insurrection!