Anabaptist Mission & Peace – Day 2 Follow-Up

Recently I shared some notes from my two-day class a couple weeks ago.  Thought it’d be fitting to include here some follow-up correspondence with Jesse Johnson, pastor of Media Mennonite Church.  This exchange helps to fill out some of the stuff I didn’t include in my earlier summary:

Nathan,

Read your blog today on day 2 of the classes.  Sounds fun.

One thing that jumped out at me was the continuous pointing to the cross.  That’s good to hear, because too many Mennonites have moved away from the atoning work of Christ to focus too exclusively on political peace and humanist ventures, but here’s what I’ve always wondered about:  what is it about the cross that gets us excited?  I understand the magnificence of the fact that our God would allow this to happen to His Son, that Jesus would subject himself to it, and that without that sacrifice we would be nowhere.  But, that being said, doesn’t the real center of our faith come three days later?  Not to downplay the cross, but everyone dies.  Every religious hero in the world has died, and some have gone out in tremendous circumstances.  But, what sets Jesus apart and confirms Him as the real deal is that he rose again, and that resurrection is what makes Him truly unique.  No other had the power to defeat death, and that resurrection life is what I think we’re really about.

I’m pretty sure I’m just splitting hairs, but I that’s what I’m thinking.

Peace,
Jesse

My response:

Jesse,

Thanks for the email.  No, I don’t think you’re splitting hairs at all. The crucifixion and resurrection are obviously inextricably linked, but they’re still separate events.  I think your comments were right on.

Looking back on that post, I can see why that stood out to you.  Our teacher did in fact talk a lot about the resurrection.  At the beginning of the blog entry I said something about how I couldn’t share everything we talked about in class without going to some length to lay a theological and metaphorical framework.  Unfortunately, in leaving those things out, it was mostly the resurrection that was omitted.

David Shenk talked about the “high places” that were central to ancient pagan worship.  (He drew diagrams for this, which is another reason it would be difficult to blog.)  To the pagans, hills were the “pregnant earth.”  The sky was where the gods lived.  A tree that stood on a hill was like a bridge connecting the fertile heavens with the pregnant earth.  (Apparently the pagans never realized that if the earth was already pregnant, continued fertility was not really necessary, but anyway….)  That’s why sexual rites commonly took place among trees that stood on hills.

Jesus Christ, as we know, was fully divine and fully human, truly bridging the gap between God and people.  And by being crucified on a “tree” on a hill, He was meeting the powers of darkness right in their place of worship, “unmasking them” as the Bible puts it.

As for the resurrection, David Shenk stated: “In rising from the dead, He has broken the power of the powers forever.  It is simply astounding.  And wonder of wonders.”  In His resurrection, Jesus triumphs over death.  Today the risen Christ lives in His church, which is why the church is such a powerful tool for transformation.

In defeating death itself, Jesus truly sets us free.  After all, if death has already been conquered, what is there to fear?  The resurrection brings genuine, complete freedom.

By the way, I’m not saying all this stuff as if you didn’t know it.  I just wanted to fill in the blanks on some of the class discussion about the resurrection.  There was also some good stuff about the Lamb who was slain who appears in Revelation, and about how the resurrected Christ still had His wounds, which again shows the powerful connection between the crucifixion and the resurrection.  But that’s even more complicated.

Do you mind if I post your email on the blog?  You raise some legitimate points that would be good follow up to the post.

Thanks!

Nathan

(Note: Obviously, he said it’d be okay!)

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Published in: on October 24, 2007 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  

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