Easter Opinions in Sydney

A bunch of material got published here in Australia over Easter. First up, the ABC's Religion and Ethics site put up a great article by NT Wright, “Can We Believe in the Resurrection?“.

The Christian claim from the beginning was that the question of Jesus's resurrection was a question, not of the internal mental and spiritual states of his followers a few days after his crucifixion, but about something that had happened in the real, public world.

This “something” left not only an empty tomb, but a broken loaf at Emmaus and footprints in the sand by the lake among its physical mementoes. It also left his followers with a lot of explaining to do, but with a transformed worldview which is only explicable on the assumption that something really did happen, even though it stretched their existing worldviews to breaking point.

What I want to do here is to examine this early Christian claim, to ask what can be said about it historically, and to enquire, more particularly, what sort of “believing” we are talking about when we ask whether we – whether “we” be scientists or historians or mathematicians or theologians – can “believe” that which “the resurrection” actually refers to.

Wright then runs through an excellent summary not only of the main historical arguments but also some discussion of how resurrection was understood – ie that the claim here is of a physical bodily raising from the dead.

The following day the ABC ran the text of Archbishop Peter Jensen's Good Friday sermon, “The Horror and the Glory of the Cross“,

One of the most notable features of the passion narratives in all four Gospels is their restraint, and especially their restraint in describing the physical sufferings of the Lord Jesus.

It may be said that their unwillingness to deal with his pain arises directly from the familiarity of their first readers with the agony of crucifixion. But it is too much part of that delicacy of touch which refrains also from describing his physical features, for this to be the sole reason, or even the chief one.

The truth is more likely to be that the Gospel authors were interested in the meaning of the event, its deep significant for those who were to be saved by its mighty power.

Over the Easter weekend Archbishop Jensen's Easter message was made available…

As one might expect, that caused a bit of interest – not least in the contribution to current discussions here in Australia about Euthanasia. Sky News had a follow-up interview…

Lots to think about and chew on.

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