Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting the Right (Wright?) Answers to the Big Questions

On page 275 of N.T. Wright's small tract The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3),  Wright (former Anglican Bishop of Durham, not North Carolina) gives a nice summary of the Apostle Paul's thoughts on key questions related to the world, life, history etc. I love (love!) his number 4.

(i) Who are we? We [Christians] are 'in the Messiah,' identified solely by our confession and faith in him as the risen lord; we are the new-covenant people, the Torah-fulfilling people, the world-wide family promised to Abraham by the one true God.
(ii) Where are we? In the good creation of the good God; creation is still groaning in travail, awaiting its own liberation from decay, but is already under the lordship of the risen and ascended Messiah.
(iii) What's wrong? The world, and we ourselves, are not yet redeemed as we shall be. Most people in the world, pagans and Jews alike, remain ignorant of what Israel's God has done in Jesus the Messiah. In particular, the present world rulers (Caesar and the rest, and the dark 'spiritual' powers that stand behind them) are at best a parody, and at worst a monstrous and blasphemous distortion, of the true justice and peace the one God intends for his world. Because sin still has idolatrous humankind in its grip, death still acts as a tyrant.
(iv) What's the solution? In the long term, the creator's great act of new creation, through which the cosmos itself will be liberated, true justice and peace will triumph over all enemies, all the righteous will be raised from the dead, and believers alive at the time will be transformed. In the short term, the gospel must be announced to the world, doing its own powerful work of challenging, transforming, healing and rescuing, and thus creating 'resurrection' people in the metaphorical sense. (underline added)
(v) What time is it? The 'age to come' has been inaugurated, but the 'present age' still continues. We live between resurrection and resurrection, that of Jesus and that of ourselves; between the victory over death at Easter and the final victory when Jesus 'appears' again. This now/not yet tension runs right through Paul's vision of the Christian life, under-girding his view of (for instance) suffering and prayer.

Come this week to hear the second to last message from the Gospel of Matthew at Cornerstone Church, where I preach on Jesus' world-changing, universe-altering resurrection.

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