Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Don't Think This is What Easter Means

I apologize to regular readers of this blog who are as tired of this unplanned series as I am regarding Brian McLaren and his understanding of the events of Passion week, but some of his recent blog posts deserve at least a brief response. McLaren is releasing a new book and thus he has a lot of self-promoting to do. Nothing surprising (or new) there. McLaren rarely writes anything on his personal website without plugging one of his books.

With that said, McLaren offers the following quote from his new book:
What might happen if every Easter we celebrated the resurrection not merely as the resuscitation of a single corpse nearly two millennia ago, but more - as the ongoing resurrection of all humanity through Christ? Easter could be the annual affirmation of our ongoing resurrection from violence to peace, from fear to faith, from hostility to love, from a culture of consumption to a culture of stewardship and generosity . . . and in all these ways and more, from death to life. What if our celebration of Easter was so radical in its meaning that it tempted tyrants and dictators everywhere to make it illegal, because it represents the ultimate scandal: an annual call for creative and peaceful insurrection against all status quos based on fear, hostility, exclusion, and violence? What if we never stopped making Easter claims about Jesus in AD 33, but always continued by making Easter claims on us today - declaring that now is the time to be raised from the deadness of fear, hostility, exclusion, and violence to walk in what Paul called "newness of life"? What if Easter was about our ongoing resurrection "in Christ" - in a new humanity marked by a strong-benevolent identity as Christ-embodying peacemakers, enemy lovers, offense forgivers, boundary crossers, and movement builders? What kind of character would this kind of liturgical year form in us? How might the world be changed because of it?
A few words in response. First, Christians do not believe in the resuscitation of Christ but His resurrection. The difference between resuscitation and resurrection cannot be overstated. Resuscitation describes the raising of body back to life temporarily. In this sense, Lazarus and the others raised in the Bible were resuscitated. They would eventually die again. Resurrection means to never die again. Jesus, then, was resurrected eternally. He reigns, in flesh, right now at the right hand of the throne of His Father.

The difference is important. From the Fall in Genesis 3 to the final consummation in Revelation 22, there are three main enemies that must be defeated: human depravity (both individually and corporately), death (and its awful sting), and the Devil. All three must be defeated. As the story of Scripture unfolds it is clear that Jewish legalism will not work. Neither will nationalism (give us a king!), libertarianism (everyone did what was right in his own eyes), or anything else could defeat these transcendental foes. As the first genealogies of Genesis makes clear, we all are born, and then procreate, and finally die - a tragic story consumed by a lust for sin. Our only hope is Christ who conquers all three. Regarding death, he defeats this ancient foe by being raised from the dead. Death no longer has power over Him nor does it have power over us since we will all be raised in Christ bodily on the last day.

Secondly (and this post is already longer than I had anticipated), McLaren continues his propagation of the social gospel.  Nowhere in the New Testament do we see resurrection described in the way he does here. McLaren promotes a systemic theology, not a systematic theology. But the truth is, unless the resurrection of Christ deals with the depravity of human souls there will be no turning from violence to peace, from fear to faith, from hostility to love, from a culture of consumption to a culture of stewardship and generosity.

This is why Easter must be about Jesus in AD 33, because by doing so we can see the work of Christ - who lives and reigns forevermore! - today. McLaren seems to fail that the historic invasion of Christ into the world two thousand years ago was a war in which He won by walking bodily out of the tomb. The solutions of the world is not good policy or good diplomacy as McLaren wants it, but good news.

I Don't Think That is What Palm Sunday is All About
I Don't Think This is What Good Friday Means
I Don't Think This is What the Empty Tomb Means
I Don't Think This is What Easter Means

For more:
I Don't Think That is What Palm Sunday is All About
Farewell Old Friend: Saying Goodbye to the Emergent Church
Thesis | Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology: From Cultural Accomodation to the Kindgom of God - Full Series
McLaren on Hell and Universalism . . . Again
Hades, Hell, and McLaren's Eisegesis
The Clarity of Ambiguity: The Erosion of the Perspicuity of Scripture in the Emergent Church - the Complete Series
Where to Begin?: 10 Emergent Must Reads 
"A New Kind of Christianity" - A 11 part review and critique of McLaren's book
Revelation and the Ambiguity of Justification: McLaren Adds to the Confusion
Does McLaren Reject Penal Substitution?: A Review of the Evidence
Hamilton: McLaren and Whole Foods Stores
SBTS and McLaren: A Response to SBTS Panel Discussion
The Evolving God: McKnight's Critique of McLaren
The Future of the Emergent Church: McLaren Weighs In
Repost | Occupy Wal-Mart?: So This is What the Kingdom of Heaven Looks Like
Repost | Pinata Theology: Ignore the Issue and Swing at the Distraction - What Piper Has Taught Us About the Church
Emergent Panentheism: The Direction Towards Process Theology Continues
Will the Two Become One?: Emergents Turn to Process Theology
God's Many Names?: Emergent Pluralism in the Extreme
Theology Thursday | Don't Be Fooled: The Conversation Is Not Open To Everyone
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