Sketching Resurrection

Sketchbook -- ResurrectionThis is part of a developing series – consolidating, clarifying, and (perhaps) expanding ideas presented in this blog.
   Part 1 — God
   Part 2 — Bible
   Part 3 — Yeshua
   Part 4 — Crucifixion

These posts are, as it were, pages in my sketchbook on faith and theology.

While I draw deeply from the wells of a host of significant thinkers and writers, this is a very personal undertaking for which I bear full responsibility for any distortions or mis-use of their ideas.

Sketching Resurrection

A fundamental question for the church has been: Is the Resurrection of Yeshua an historical event or a process in the history of the embryonic Christian community? To hold that Yeshua’s resurrection is an event is to posit the external God of strong theology a God who intervenes in human history. The majority of Christians seem to hold that the physical bodily resurrection of Yeshua (historical event) is an essential belief of the Christian faith. I don’t find that position to be very convincing.

Yeshua’s Resurrection as Process

It seems more likely to me – more faithful, actually – to understand resurrection as the process by which the influence (spirit) of Yeshua continued in the life of the early Christian community. During his lifetime, Yeshua’s followers depended upon him. After his death, they found themselves still connected with him – what Cathrine Keller (after Édouard Glissard) calls the “consciousness of Relation.” His thoughts were now their thoughts; and theirs, his. His mission was now their mission; and theirs, his. His faithfulness was now theirs; and theirs, his. I think this “consciousness of Relation” is what Paul means when he writes, “You are the body of Christ, and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) This “consciousness of Relation” did not show itself fully developed on “the third day” after Yeshua’s crucifixion. It emerged gradually in the latter two thirds of the first century of the modern era. In truth, it continues to emerge today.

Resurrection and Us

Christian theology, when wedded to a heavenly afterlife, needs a general resurrection to ensure that the faithful will be restored after their deaths in order that they might enjoy the after-life. That, of course, is one of the certainties and securities that are lost in the Crucifixion.

If we are to be crucified like Christ, then we will need to be raised like Christ. This does not mean a physical bodily resurrection after physical death. Instead it expects a dynamic, creative relationship with him. Resurrection, for us, means a radical participation in Christ’s mission to transform the world through compassion, peace, and justice. Peter Rollins (Insurrection, page 112) puts it this way:

[W]e must read Resurrection in its full radicality as the state of being in which one is able to embrace the cold embrace of the Cross. If the Crucifixion marks the moment of darkness, then the Resurrection is the very act of living fully into this darkness and saying ‘Yes’ to it.”

This is not an escape from life but, rather, a full embrace of it – trusting into trust. It is the movement toward wholeness as a person, toward solidarity with others, and toward tending the creation. In Micah’s words it is being just, kind, and humble as you fully embrace the divine mystery of life.

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