Sunday, December 25, 2016

"The Day The Revolution Began: Reconsidering The Meaning Of Jesus's Crucifixion"

The Christmas story invites readers, in the words of the carol, to "Hail th'incarnate Deity." The declaration is that God has come to earth in Jesus, that Israel's true King has arrived. But few understood the path Jesus would take, that it would involve not a triumphant military conquest but instead a shameful death on a cross.

Biblical scholar N.T. Wright contends that "the New Testament insists, in book after book, that when Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross, something happened as a result of which the world is a different place. And the early Christians insisted that when people are caught up in the meaning of the cross, they become part of this difference."

Wright explains in "The Day The Revolution Began: Reconsidering The Meaning Of Jesus's Crucifixion" ($28.99 in hardcover from HarperOne; also for Amazon Kindle). (In the book's acknowledgments he mentions a number of colleagues "who have given me the benefit of their experience and insight … even though we still disagree about many things." Among them: Reformed theologian Michael Horton, who grew up in Paradise.)

The book is a popular account of Wright's claim that the death and resurrection of Jesus was the culmination of Jesus' vocation, "the one moment in history on behalf of all others through which sins would be forgiven, the powers robbed of their power, and humans redeemed to take their place as worshippers and stewards…."

Wright insists that the crucifixion is not the story of an angry God, fed up with humans and out to kill them all, with Jesus stepping in at the last moment and taking the wrath upon himself. Instead, "for the early Christians, the revolution had happened on the first Good Friday. The 'rulers and authorities' really had been dealt their death blow."

That makes it possible for humans to "embrace the 'covenant of vocation' or, rather, be embraced by it as the Creator calls you to a genuine humanness at last, calls and equips you to bear and reflect his image" and turn away from misplaced worship of money or sex, "when the power of love overcame the love of power."

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