Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Resurrection of Jesus: Apologetics or Dogmatics?

In keeping with the resurrection season we are in; here is Douglas Farrow on Thomas
Torrance and the Resurrection, as it relates to time and eternity:

[...] Torrance's important work, Space, Time, and Resurrection, was informed by his labours in ecclesiology and eschatology and at the interface between theology and the philosophy of science. 'The resurrection of Jesus is an event that happens in history in continuity with the living event of the whole historical existence of Jesus, yet as an event of fulfilled redemption the resurrection issues in a new creation beyond the corruptible processes of this world, on the other side of decay and death, and on the other side of judgement, in the fullness of a new world and of a new order of things' (Torrance 1967:86). In his attempt to answer the question as to how these things can be thought together, Torrance appealed to the concept of recapitulation and, like Irenaeus, tried to work out a view of creaturely reality capable of accommodating it. If this made the whole historical life of Jesus 'resurrection from beginning to end' (Torrance 1976:94), it did not obliterate the distinction between pre- and post-Easter forms of existence. Following Calvin and William Milligan, Torrance was careful to distinguish the doctrines of resurrection and ascension and to develop both. His focus on Christ's heavenly priesthood helped to counteract the tendency in Barth, as in some patristic thought, to emphasize the revelation of Christ's divinity at the expense of his reconstituted humanity (cf. Gunton 2003: 67-91; Burgess 2004; Dawson 2004) and drew attention to the problem of the presence and the absence, that is, to the eschatological tension generated by the departure of Jesus (cf. Seitz 2001: 133-48; Marion 2002: 124-52). It also left more room, at least in principle, for coordination of the messianic and the pneumatological dimensions of resurrection theology. [Douglas Farrow, Chapter 12 Resurrection and Immortality, 227 in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology, edited by Webster, Tanner, and I. Torrance]

For Torrance, the facticity of the resurrection does not take on Apologetic value, primarily; instead, resurrection is seen as the center-piece of history that ties the beginning (protology) and the end (eschatology) together in Christ. As Christians, we already believe in the resurrection; so our procedure and approach to the resurrection will be much richer and deeper than merely trying to PROVE Christianity; the resurrection represents the recreation and opening up of all creation (cf. Rom. 8:18ff) into its original purpose. That is, to find its reality in the point and preeminent over all of creation, Christ.

So when you turn on the History Channel this week (or the Discovery Channel); don't let your first instinct be to react to their doubts and cynicism and antagonism towards the veracity of the resurrection.  Instead, understand that those very doubts have been defeated by the very thing these are doubting; the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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