Monday, April 4, 2011

Theological Repercussions of the Resurrection

There is nothing more foundational to Christianity than the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. There would be no Christianity apart from it! That undoubted focus means that incarnational truth is more fundamental to the corpus of Christian doctrine than any other theological truth, for it is the resurrection that proves that Christ is more than a mere mortal and verifies his virgin birth (who'd have believed that if he hadn't risen from the dead?). The resurrection is what demands an answer from the world for that famous question put to his disciples.

As a simple act in history, the resurrection either occurred or did not. Forensics over epistemic or ontological concerns get so much of our theological attention, but neither can produce the foundation, nor the assurance, for Christian beliefs. It is an act in history (attested by eyewitnesses, recorded by some of them for posterity, validated by their behavior, and productive of the most beneficial, incredible change in people to this day when believed) upon which certainty concerning Christianity can rest. The fact of the resurrection makes Christology the most important aspect of Christian theology.

Everything else in theology must be seen, in some sense, as derivative--known by the light Jesus, risen from the dead, shines upon it. Soteriology is concerned with why he died, eschatology is concerned with how he will return and wrap all things up, cosmology is concerned with what he's made, ecclesiology is concerned with the organization of his followers, the canon is the record of things he said or caused to have said, the Trinity is the description of how he is related to his Father and the Holy Spirit. You get the picture, everything revolves around Jesus!

The most important, fundamental question for any human to answer is, "Who do you say that I am?" The resurrection of Jesus Christ means that the only valid answer is, "you are my Lord." Tradition cannot inform that answer, theology cannot enlighten it, only the historical witness of that singular event can. In my heart I believe the unimpeachable testimony of those eyewitnesses--Jesus rose, bodily, from the dead. That means Jesus is Lord, therefore I will be led by him. Anything else I may believe can build on that.