Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Holy Week.

Erik Reese has penned an op-ed for the Washington Post, "Save Jesus, Ignore Easter". It concludes with:

...The fact is, American Christianity has historically been focused so obsessively on the Nicene Creed -- which says Jesus was the son of God, who was crucified for our sins and rose from the grave three days later -- that it never made much room for the actual teachings of this radical Jewish street preacher. This is why I'm against Easter. It celebrates the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life. If the Easter miracle can save us from this life, then why bother with the harder work of enacting the kingdom of God here? It is, after all, much harder. Which brings me back to that word faith. I believe it plays such a disproportionate role in mainstream American Christianity, be it in the rock and roll mega-churches or the humbler places were I worshipped as a child, because it is a belief in what one cannot see. But that belief -- that faith in a salvational Christ -- is what will guarantee everlasting life. But
when such faith is lost, as in my case, what am I left with?
I'm left with the teachings of Jesus -- words so radical, they got him killed, words so radical, they might still bring about the end of empire and the beginning of the kingdom of God.

One can agree, somewhat, with Mr. Reese's first assertion: there appears to be, in some expressions of Christianity, a superficial depiction of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion that emphasizes Christ's physical pain and the guilt that we should feel about it. That guilt, for these dogmas, propels one towards God and Christ: one is obligated to accept Christ because of his suffering. This embrace of Christ is like an atonement for the guilt one may feel after being rescued by a hero who in turn forfeits their own life. But doesn't that place the value of mortal existance and comfort above everything else? That we owe Jesus because he gave up what we value most?

Perhaps the real sacrifice made by Christ in this week was to become totally separated from God in the course of assuming all sin to destroy it ("Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"). And Easter has unbounded joy for us because Christ is reunited with God in ressurection, and with him we are reconciled with God.

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