Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Apologetics in Light of the Resurrection

"[Like Thomas], those who live in the world of the enlightenment will naturally ask, ‘but did it happen … and how do you know?’ And they must be encouraged to come with their questions.  The prim and proper Bartian would no doubt prefer it if Jesus had said to Thomas, ‘Go away and come back when you’ve got a better epistemology!’  But interestingly the story works the other way round.  Good historical answers are available just as Jesus could in fact be touched…

This is because the resurrection, if it means what the NT says it means, is not a creatio ex nihilo but a creatio ex vetere.  As in Romans 8 – just as the old ontology is swallowed up in the new: what is mortal being swallowed up,  not replaced with life but swallowed up in it -  so the old epistemology, quite properly, is transcended and therefore included in the new.  There is no complete disjunction.

The resurrection itself is not the abandoning of the old body and the emergence of a new one, but the raising to new life of the old one itself.

Think about this: the mark of the nails on the body of the risen Jesus are thus the sign that validates historical inquiry into the resurrection. The nail thrusts themselves, like the skepticism of the enlightenment, were meant to wound but now remain as evidence.  Go figure…

-Tom Wright

... Apologetics can study historically the human being who in Christian theology is incarnation of the one true God.  To suggest otherwise seems to me ultimately Docetic. …  It isn’t just a matter of the empty tomb – important as that is – but of the evocative hints and half memories littered around the stories: footprints on the sand by the lake; fish bones left on a plate in the upper room; and at Emmaus, a loaf broken, but not consumed.  The equivolents in our own context, the things which leave equivalent marks in our own world  – a cancer healed; a credit union founded; the essentially bloody end of apartheid, are for some the starting points of inquiry. 

The signs of resurrection are not just an event in the distant past and another event in the distant future, but the bursting out of new and surprising life in the present, a life whose best explanation is that it derives from the one and anticipates the other. 

… as we answer, we may find that our speech – not only about the resurrection but about the God revealed in Jesus - will make sense and more than sense – that it will catch fire and that the fire will purge inadequate worldviews and refine the true one.  Apologetics, precisely because it is about the living and sovereign God, cannot proceed as though this God were not also active within the very process of apologetics itself.  History and theology must come together in our own day in the appropriate way – both in historical argument and in counter-imperial celebration of Jesus’ lordship.  Just as they did at the first Easter and in the community which bore it witness."

-         - Tom Wright

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