Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Theo(il)logical Gospel

The gospel of Jesus stands out against all the 'logics' of the world. In this sense, the gospel is illogical. For example, a king born amongst the dung; a local king (Herod) willing to kill the children of a whole area to snuff out a nobody; the Christ who is a refugee; a Christ who calls sinners to be his disciples; the crucified Christ; and the unity of cross and resurrection, a gospel that never leaves behind the cross of Jesus in favour of his resurrection; a messiah known most easily in history in the form of the hungry and imprisoned. The gospel just doesn't fit our usual perceptions. And this alerts us to the perennial danger for disciples and churches, the temptation to domesticate the gospel (by making it more 'logical' and 'reasonable') because of the discomfort the mismatch provides. The temptation is to either change/ignore bits of the gospel or fib about our humanity (in all its glory and depravity). So how do we prevent this, as much as possible anyway? A couple of points:

  • Be suspicious of glib or simplistic answers. Seek the simplicity on the other side of complexity, which means we will have to spend time working the issue, content to keep working it until it yields.
  • Be suspicious of glib theology. The kind of thing that slices off aspects of the gospel that don't 'fit'. Examples abound, but the usual targets of this trimming are the bits about peace and justice (in favour of an evangelism exclusively), and the traditional parts that make Jesus Lord, messiah, Son of God, etc (in favour of the social activist Jesus who is only a role model of social justice or teacher of wisdom).
  • Be honest about our humanity, and our common experience of humanity as we currently experience it. Let's not hide the brokenness, but not wallow in it. This is important, because our actual humanity was made for the full gospel. Lose one and the other won't make sense.
[For Christ the King, Matt 25:31-46, and Holy Innocents Patronal Festival. It happens to fit into our parish calendar well at the moment, but theologically contrasts the two styles of kingship: violence and peace.]

No comments: