May 19, 2008
I keep thinking about the resurrection and what is important about it. I went back to my Easter sermon that has given offense to some brothers and sisters and find that I stand by what I said that seems to be the root of the offense:
“We don’t have to understand the stories as factual accounts of anything in order to grasp the truth that God’s grace changes everything.”
This is not the same as saying that we don’t have to believe anything about the resurrection. Christianity without resurrection makes no sense. Certainly we affirm belief in the resurrection when we say the creeds. But we have great latitude within the faith, and considerably more latitude than our conservative brethren and sisteren would like, as to how we understand both what we are doing when we say the creeds and the content of what we mean when we say the creeds. As was clear in the sermon I don’t think that recducing resurrection to some kind of human psychological reaction to Jesus’ death is remotely helpful. But I think it is possible to hold such a belief and still say ‘Jesus is Lord’, and still seek to be a disciple. What God does with such a believer in the community of faith will unfold in time.
So I resist the doctrine police even as I claim doctrinal coherence. In the dance between doctrine and relationship (right relationship or diakosune) and in the event of conflict, I am on the side of favoring relationship as in ‘the law was made for humanity and not the other way around’. At the same time, doctrine functions rather as the law functions for Paul. It can be a mirror that helps us see the truth more clearly. Anyone who professes belief in the resurrection will wrestle with the consequences of that profession their whole lives long. Anyone who does not see how that is necessary might not have a living faith or trust in God that will sustain them in the dead of night.