This evening, we were discussing a recent post by John Shuck, a fellow CC blogger, regarding life after death. While I did not agree with John's ideas, some of my own less than conventional thoughts found their way into our conversation. The great theological divide between my wife and I once again became apparent.
Upon thinking of this, my mind turned to a proclamation we make at the Eucharist table. We are United Methodist, so I take this from the hymnal, Word and Service 1 [p. 10].
Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again.Us theological types enjoy pushing the envelope. I enjoy challenging those around me to think about their faith, often to their demise, I must admit. Being right can have its disadvantages: such as sleeping on the couch, getting the silent treatment, or watching someone you love grapple with ideas that they would of never willingly been exposed too had you not been pompous enough to enlighten them.
My faith has undergone some serious challenges over the years. To say I've experienced a "crisis of faith" would be putting it mildly. I've laid so many things aside, only to pick them back up again. Others, I've discarded altogether: virgin birth, the inerrancy of scripture, hell, etc, to name a few. People who know me, especially my wife, find great difficulty in accepting these things. So, I struggle at times to find common ground, not just with people I love and care about, but with sincere believers who genuinely do not feel the same way. I used to think it was my job to change them; if its reasonable for me to feel or think a certain way, surely I should pass it on, right?
Well, no, it really isn't. It's not necessary for us to change everyone, make them think the way we do. It is incumbent upon us to find some common ground for love and fellowship. Tonight, as I pondered my wife's words, those three affirmations above come to mind and while I acknowledge that we have a philosophical/theological divide, there is also an unbreakable unity in those three, unambiguous statements.
Christ has died. He was a human being, lived in a specific place at a particular time and is forever a fabric of world history. There is no negating that Jesus was an extraordinary man who lived in first century Palestine, who identified with the outcast and oppressed, because he was one himself. His life meant something then; it means something extraordinary now.
Christ has risen. My library is filled with hundreds of volumes written about this man, most of which were penned within the last century. Churches have been erected all over the world in testament to his ongoing presence and impact upon humanity. I don't care if you believe in a bodily resurrection, it really does not matter to me. But he lives on, and his influence upon life and culture, whether for good or bad, is of the such that the Western world has never seen or duplicated.
Christ is coming again. This affirmation may be a bit more difficult. But, in the end, what we are saying is that his influence has no end. I believe in a consummation of this age. I believe that things will not always be as they are. Thus, the blessed hope that Paul talked about.
So, for all the contention and discussion, these three affirmations are for me, what it means to posses a Christian world view. Sure, there will be many who disagree. But these are three simple affirmations that I believe all Christians should be able to gather around the table for discussion. And, yes, the discussion should start here.