25 May, 2008

Turning the Tables, Resurrection as Revolution

"While we believe in an interim period after death before the Lord returns—when we will be in a disembodied state—most of us also affirm the truth of resurrection as future embodiment at the end of the age. However, even though we believe in bodily resurrection, Wright contends that we have unyoked it from its original context of reversal and revolution. In doing this, we have lost some of its original force as a doctrine of social reversal and diluted the powerful hope it presents for the oppressed and downtrodden of the earth.

The Sadducees, as we have said, denied it because they did not believe it was taught in the Five Books of Moses. However, the deeper reason was that by denying it they protected their own position of wealth, privilege, and power.

Wright believes that resurrection was a threat to the Sadducees. They hoped that by denying any anticipation of an afterlife (in any form) would add leverage against the most extreme teaching on the afterlife: resurrection. It was safer to deny all hope of an afterlife than to open the door to a possibility of resurrection, a teaching that the God of justice is going to right every wrong and turn the established order upside down. They knew resurrection was not a doctrine in which the afterlife was seen as “an opiate to mollify the poor and the powerless,” a teaching to make them content with their suffering in this world by giving them a promise of some alleviation in the next. Resurrection, according to Wright, while it was to happen at the end of the age, “was to happen in this world, not another one.”

The Sadducees denied it, therefore, because they wanted to maintain the status quo and their position within it. A belief in a divine in breaking that could take place at any time and turn everything upside down was a huge threat to their position of power and wealth.

By way of contrast, a promise of “heaven” offered by the powerful to the poor was no threat, it was indeed an opiate. However, the doctrine of resurrection, rather than being an opiate, was social dynamite—and everyone knew it. Wright says, “Resurrection has to do with this present world, not with escaping and going somewhere else. It was God acting within history to put right what was wrong.” He points out that it is interesting that even Herod demonstrated that such an understanding was commonly understood by the Jews. In Mark 6 Herod is terrified when he hears of the supernatural works that Jesus is doing. He understood that resurrection was social reversal, and for this reason came to the conclusion that John the Baptist, who he had put to death, had been raised. And if so, he, Herod the king, was in big trouble! "

Turning the Tables, Resurrection as Revolution - Ray Mayhew

Posted by Heath


Clint said...

I'm guessing he's talking about Surprised by Hope? Must say it's a great book (Surprised by Hope), even if Wright has some ideas which would be completely foreign to Salvationists. I like his ideas on resurrection, it helps bridge this supposed "gap" between our 'social services' and 'evangelism'

Heather Saunders said...

Hi Clint,

I haven't read Suprised by Hope yet - I tried to get it the other day actually! The book that is being referenced was the Son of God and the resurrection I think. Also on my hit list.

From what i've read so far of NT Wright, definately not mainstream thinking for salvationists... It was actually after a very challenging cell group that I have been throwing myself into understanding the connection or gap as you call it for myself.

thanks for commenting!

sexy11 said...