Monday, 20 April 2009

Resurrection as Final Union With God

Following the thread of our inclusion into God's own life because God came amongst us in the incarnate Son, Jesus of Nazareth, provides some deeper theological thinking about some key elements of the Christian faith. Take the resurrection as an example. With some biblical warrant, the West has understood the cross of Jesus as salvific, that is, bringing salvation. But what there is no biblical warrant for is excluding the resurrection of Jesus from his great action of salvation. The West became hooked on a juridical view of salvation, with the need for satisfaction for sin to be made through the death of the God-man. Resurrection didn't fit this particular view of salvation, and became more a consequence of the salvation won for us. Jesus' resurrection became the hope of the faithful who believed in the saving effect of his death on the cross. However, the cross and the resurrection saves us; what God has united let no one tear asunder!

The resurrection of Jesus saves us; and indeed, should be thought of as the culmination of the salvation won for us through Christ. The resurrection does not cancel the cross; this would be to commit the opposite theological sin! We must see each of the cross and resurrection in the light of the other.

The key is the self-offering love of Jesus in the cross to the Father (and simultaneously for the world, but that is another thread to follow) as the culmination of his whole life and identity as Son. (This is the point that John hammers time and again explicitly in his Gospel, but is clearly visible and apparent in the narrative of the Synoptics.) The same self-giving love of the Son in eternity is lived by the Son as Jesus of Nazareth. In the resurrection Jesus as Son is taken into the eternity of the Father; raised by the Spirit he receives the Father's love transforming his humanity. And this is nothing less than the eternal action of the Father in generating the Son in eternity; history, through the resurrection, is finally included, through the Son, in the eternal life of God.


  1. I recently was fascinated to read that in Christian art the crucifixion only started being depicted after the first millennium, up until that point it was always only the resurrected Jesus or scenes from his life. However, the central image was the resurrected Jesus. I think it has alot to do with a change of understanding of what Jesus' death and resurrection was about.

  2. Hi Warren, Just come across your blog. Great stuff!


  3. Thanks Michael. I like the look of your blog too.