The Theology of Resurrection

The redemption alone is Christianity, all else is mere trappings, at best a set of practices associated with Christianity because many christians have taken to them, at worst a set of beliefs and customs conflated with Christianity as a result of institutional interference. Therefore if I oppose any theology, it is because it does some violence to the redemption, or else because I am wrong. I have often condemned liberal theology, because without the incarnation, the sacrifice of Christ would be not an act of self sacrifice by God, but rather an act of scapegoating; it therefore fails the most basic test of theology- it posits an evil God. Further, without a resurrection, there is no redemption; they are the same event viewed from different angles.
But if I am to be faithful to the Christ of the bible, I must also condemn conservative theology for the mess it has made of the redemption in its insistence upon penal substitionary theory. I suspect that it is a sociopolitical preference in favor of authority which has spoiled evangelical thought on the central concern of Christianity- a shame, because many of their emphases are otherwise good. If Arianism and Calvinism fall because they posit an evil God, then so too does this understanding of the redemption stand condemned by its talk of “the wrath of God satisfied” and “God demanding punishment.” The essential failure of this doctrine is that it casts God as the inventor of the price paid at Calvary, rather than the payer of that price. The death of God was not to satisfy the demand of God, but was an intrinsically inseparable aspect of his participation in man’s repentance; which is to say, it is that participation.¬†Furthermore, the sacrifice of Christ was not necessary, as some have suggested, for the sake of the forgiveness of God. On the contrary, it was necessary for the sake of the repentance of man, and this much can be seen even by asking why an incarnation was necessary at all: because it is man alone who stands in need of repentance, and God alone who is capable of repenting fully. It is not by blood alone that God is capable of forgiving, but rather by God alone that man is capable of repenting. Golgotha was God taking up repentance into himself- were it not for his interaction with man, repentance would never have been a part of him at all. As the incarnation of the Word into the person of Jesus is the same event as the incarnation of Christ into the soul of the individual believer and the resurrection of Jesus is the same event as the resurrection within the soul, the death of Jesus is the same event as the death to self which proceeds regeneration.
Ransom theory did better when it argued that the devil invented the price, but I don’t believe in the devil.
Numerous other elements of conservative theology are also unworthy to be associated with the orthodoxy. One is its legalism, a criticism which I am hardly the first to make. Another is its poor understanding of the doctrine of scriptural infallibility, which leads it to imagine that the scripture must be afforded the exalted “truth” of the enlightenment, a concept one quarter of the age of the youngest texts, rather than being afforded the standard which it applies to itself, namely, the ability to have a particular effect on the life of the individual reading it. Another is its misuse of intellectual knowledge of good theology as a litmus test for Christianity, which does real harm when one applies it to oneself to suggest that such knowledge is sufficient evidence of one’s own Christianity. And, above all, it deserves to be criticized for its dismal treatment of others. I should not have to tell conservatives that a devout christian should not be following the ideology of Ayn Rand. I have had to. Liberal theology, likewise, deserves criticism for its own brand of legalism, and for making the same mistake with respect to knowledge, only to conclude that it is Christianity in the wrong.

Advertisements

Talk back, yo. :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: