Tag Archives: easter

Inaugurated eschatology – the kingdom is here but not yet

So sometimes people will say that it is not the place of Christians to fight for justice, to fight against structural injustice in governments or trade systems, or to be green warriors crusading for the environment. Our task is for the higher purpose of tending to people’s souls. I’ve long had problems with this, and yes I am caricaturing a little but to be honest very little. The problem with taking such an approach is that it is verging on dualism, on even gnosticism. It implies that all that matters is the ‘spiritual’, the physical world is bad and will be burned up so lets concentrate on the spiritual. It sounds reasonable in some ways. But stop and think about it for a moment. Why did Jesus rise bodily from the dead? If the physical is not important surely he would simply have risen as a spirit? Why did he go to such lengths like eating, and having people touch him to show that he was a real physical person? Is it not because in the resurrection we see that God desires to restore the physical creation?

Take another perspective. We all recognise that we will never be completely holy until Jesus returns. Does this mean we give up on pursuing holiness? The same in terms of care of creation and justice. Yes we will not restore them completely, that will only happen when Jesus returns, but that doesn’t mean that there is little we can do so we don’t bother. Jesus announced that God’s kingdom had come. Jesus came to demonstrate what life in God’s kingdom – as God would have it – was like. He calls us to do the same. He asks us to pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earht as it is in heaven’, so of course we are to pursue the care of creation and justice, because when in those small moments when we see justice, or people are stewarding God’s good creation as He called us to, there are glimpses of God’s kingdom as it will be. It inspires us with the hope of what is to come. It shows people what God is like, and his plan for redemption and restoration covers every part of life. We are not disembodied souls being whisked off to the clouds, we are real flesh and blood, feeling people, living in a physical environment. Everything is God’s. He is restoring everything. and obviously humans are the pinnacle of that restoration. Just because I believe God calls us to pursue justice and care for creation doesn’t mean I am not passionate about god restoring and reconciling people to himelf as part of that.
when we talk and think about these things, let’s make sure our thinking is joined up and not fragmented. Lets not slip into simply reacting against someone else and going to the extremes. Let’s have a big view of a huge God that is holistic.

(Can you tell what I am currently reading?)

Chocolate Jesus?

There’s been quite the storm in the US over an artist’s chocolate depiction of Jesus being crucified. The outrage has caused the gallery to pull the plug. Without getting into the rights and wrongs of representations of Christ, it is an interesting reminder at this stage of the year as we ‘celebrate’ Easter. It’s Easter so that means eggs -right? is an attempt at an amusing look at what to do with leftover Easter egg in the Guardian’s special section on chocolate, which says more about living in post-Christendom than the meaning of Easter. Easter eggs are everywhere, I have been indulging in my weakness for creme eggs but Easter is about so much more than chocolate, than consuming. At Easter as we reflect on death and resurrection, maybe Chocolate Jesus (the sculpture or the Tom Waits song) has much to say to us as we consider what we have been replacing Jesus with and what must die in order for new life to rise. Those earth shattering (literally) few days in remote outpost of the mighty Roman Empire, including the ripping of a curtain symbolising the end of a series of rites and restricted access to God, and opening up access to the creator to all of us require reflection and celebration. Celebration of not just the death of Jesus (which evangelicals can obsess over) but also the resurrection – the new life on offer from God (although going on lots of Christians, especially the Phelps family/cult in Louis Theroux’s latest programme you wouldn’t know much about the life to the full), and about this wonder of God inviting mere mortals into the ‘dance of the trinity’. On this Easter Sunday we have so much more to enjoy than just chocolate, and much more than just the death of Jesus. Thanks to Zoomtard and Jaybercrow for some thought provoking comments on Easter, suffering, the Phelps and a magnificent quote from MLK.

I leave you (trembling with holy awe, and caffeine – which may explain the disjointedness of this post) with quotes from the two Anglican Archbishops in England:

“Give up the struggle to be innocent and the hope that God will proclaim that you were right and everyone else wrong. Simply ask for whatever healing it is that you need, whatever grace and hope you need to be free, then step towards your neighbour.

Easter reveals a God who is ready to give you that grace and to walk with you.”

There are those who might wish that we were a little quieter in our celebrations or were a little less public in our joy. The problem with such a request is that it ignores the fact that in the resurrection of Christ, God is speaking to the world, and when God speaks you can’t ignore Him.”
(Archbishop John Sentamu)