Thursday, June 25, 2009

More Resurrection Politics

We may be prepared to grant that the resurrection of Jesus has opened a new era in world history. Even this, however, takes some doing. [The] anti-Christian rhetoric of the last two hundred years in the Western world has done its best to deny such a thing. Most of us have a Pavlovian reaction to the claim about the present kingdom that the New Testament makes. We instantly want to talk about the ambiguities of the Constantinian settlement, the connivance of many churches in twentieth-century atrocities, and much in between. But we shouldn't let a proper penitence for past wickedness turn into a false humility about the extraordinary achievements of the church in both the past and the present. The Wilberforces and the Tutus are real, and they matter, and so do a million others who are less well known but equally signs of the strange lordship of Jesus over the world. We are called to live within the world where these things are possible and to be agents of such things insofar as they lie in our calling and sphere. But for Paul the resurrection is not just about large-scale or public work. It is about the personal and intimate life of resurrection to which each of us is called. It is, in other words, about baptism and holiness. This is where his bracing command comes home to us: it's time to wake up.

N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, p. 148