Why would a Christian deny the resurrection? Or at least come up with some explanation of it that is deflationary, an account without all the death defeating flare on expects this coming Easter Sunday. In the past few days I have been asked that question by a number of my local beach friends which got me thinking. What are the theological reasons some Christians resist the proclamation of the resurrection?
Off the top of my head I can think of at least four forms of ‘Christian’ resistance to the Resurrection. I would really enjoy your feed back and additional forms of ‘Christian’ resistance. Send them and Daniel Kirk and I can discuss them in our LIVE STREAMING resurrection podcast Wednesday night!
1. The resurrection of Jesus is a denial of the one true democracy – death. The only thing promised to all human beings is death and yet for many Christians the resurrection is the theological means by which the church evades death or denies it. BUT should one locate the resurrection as a metaphorical reality then perhaps the resurrection (deflated to an existential horizon) can be preserved. By taking this move the resurrection becomes the means by which one faces their finitude with grace.
2. The resurrection of Jesus is a theological justification for turning our attention upwards towards a heavenly realm. This kind of other-worldly notion of fulfillment is the best pacifier for a church called to act for justice and likely a projection by a community of people who know that they too may die. The passion of Jesus that led him to the events of Passion week cannot be forsaken for a story about an eternal security blanket. BUT should one locate the resurrection within the community of disciples then perhaps the resurrection can be preserved as the poetic way of articulating the death of the transcendent God and the
resurrection discovery of the grassroots deity preserving and vitalizing the communal passion of Jesus.
3. The resurrection of Jesus is an enormous theological distraction and misguidedly attempts to tie up all truth’s loose ends. Talk of ‘the resurrection of Christ’ ends up swallowing the attention as Christians we need to put towards other issues such as discipleship, ethics, community witness, the demands of love, mission of God, and so on. In the end the resurrection is turned into a slogan that is substituted for genuine critical reflection about life, faith, love, and justice and needs to be dethroned from theological prominence.
4. The resurrection of Jesus reeks of triumphalism. The proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection ends up reversing, denying, or trivializing the suffering of Jesus on the cross. If Christ’s suffering is only behind him, overcome, and undone then its as if the cross has been displaced! It not only makes the event of crucifixion a passing and transitional moment of suffering yet to be conquered but the trivialization of Jesus’ cross trivializes all the crosses, real and metaphorical, throughout history. If the resurrection of Jesus is the relegation of the moment he most identifies with world’s suffering and serves to hide its reality for so many then it needs to be dethroned theologically.
Don’t forget to check out Philip Clayton’s ‘resurrection’ podcast!