Uneasy Easter

by Kim on April 10, 2006

Simone Weil once said that “if the gospel omitted all mention of Christ’s resurrection, faith would be easier for me.” What could this brilliant, saintly, mystical French philosopher have possibly meant by such a provocative statement?

I think that Weil was challenging the common but shallow assumption that the resurrection makes life easier for those who believe. It doesn’t.

After all, the disciples were completely wrong-footed by the events of Easter, and their reactions to the news that “He is risen!” suggest disturbance and disorientation, not confirmation and relief. They were like the walking wounded after an explosion, and their subsequent witness was as overwhelmed as it was overwhelming.

That’s why those courtroom-inspired “proofs” of the resurrection are so misconceived and insipid. They not only fail to resolve the insurmountable literary and historical problems of the gospel texts, they turn the irreducibly mysterious into the demonstrable and manageable, as if the resurrection were under our control and for our consolation.

Of course the Easter message is about life, but only insofar as it is not a denial of death but a defiant “nevertheless!” in the face of the inexorable fact of death. There is power in this “nevertheless!”, but as Nicholas Lash observes, “it is not, however, explanatory power. The Christian is as baffled and as heartbroken by the darkness of the world as anybody else.”

In short, Easter does not eliminate Good Friday, Easter illuminates Good Friday; the resurrection is not the reversal of the crucifixion but the disclosure of its eternal significance.

Finally, the resurrection begins an insurrection led by the Crucified,
who in a world of vengeance does not settle old scores but speaks words of forgiveness and peace;
who in a world of suffering does not hide his wounds but exposes them to human touch;
and who in a world of escapism does not protect his followers but sends them out as agents of liberation.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Ben Myers 04.10.06 at 11:44 pm

Thanks for this superb post, Kim.

2

Eugene McKinnon 04.11.06 at 2:04 am

The more I study the more paradoxical the Christian life gets. And I love it.

Eugene

3

dh 04.11.06 at 1:58 pm

I don’t see the disciples as “…“He is risen!” suggest disturbance and disorientation, not confirmation and relief.” When I see the disciples excited about the resurrection I don’t see all of these things. I also don’t believe that theresurrection makes life uneasy. For me the resurrection makes it easy in that it shows that Jesus isthe ONLY way. It is also so unique and powerful that it confirms that as well. Although the power used to resurrect Christ cannot be explained. The proof that theresurrection physically happened can be proved. That is what makes the proofs so exciting. For me resurrection does illuminate the crusifixion AND reverses the crucifixion at the same time. I see no literary and historical problems in the texts and if they appear there is an explaination whether in this life or in the life to come.

4

dh 04.11.06 at 1:58 pm

So for me Easter is not uneasy but easy.

5

Dave Warnock 04.11.06 at 3:54 pm

dh,

How can you reconcile your description of the disciples with scripture?

If they were so excited then how come they were hiding in an upper room until pentecost?

6

dh 04.11.06 at 4:32 pm

They were hiding because 1) by being obedient to what Christ told them: “”Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
2) they were in the upper room waiting for Christ to second coming return because they thought understandably that it would happen in their lifetime.
3) for physical safety

Needless to say they received something more than they expected which was the inpouring and outpouring of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Acts 2, 3 and beyond.

The Scriptural thing is obedience to Christ and statements made by the disciples of their belief that the second coming of Christ would happen in their lifetime.

7

dh 04.11.06 at 7:16 pm

The physical safety after reading scripture I don’t know about. It might not have been hiding but just total obedience and waiting for Christ’s return as part of that. However, historically there was the diaspora but that was mentioned only during the time of Paul. Any insights?

8

potato benevolence 04.13.06 at 8:40 pm

What Weil means by “if the gospel omitted all mention of Christ’s resurrection, faith would be easier for me.” is that the resurrection is hard to swallow, it is a myth - that it is difficult to reconcile ontologically.

9

Al Kimel 04.16.06 at 12:56 pm

The more I ruminate on Weil’s quotation, the more incomprehensible it is to me, at least personally. She seems to be saying that she could have faith apart from the resurrection. I do not know what this means. If the story had ended on Friday, what is there to believe? I at least would have returned home to Galilee, a disllusioned, broken man; and I most certainly would not believe today. Without Easter, I could have no faith. Perhaps poets and mystics can believe in the Crucified even without the resurrection. All I know is that I cannot and would not.

10

attycortes 04.16.06 at 11:25 pm

I agree with Al. Besides, it seems to me Paul wrote 1 Cor. 15 (1) to defend the historicity of the resurrection, (2) to explain its significance for the Christian faith (if Christ were not risen from the dead our faith is in vain) and, last but not least, (3) for our consolation.

11

Kim 04.17.06 at 10:52 am

Of course without Easter there can be no faith, but the Easter faith remains just that - faith. The church does not demonstrate the veracity of the resurrection, it witnesses to it by its praxis of Christ’s peace, with all the vulnerability such a witness entails.

Perhaps a little Rowan Williams may help (from Resurrection [1982]):

“It is the stranger . . . whom we meet on Easter morning. . . If we come in search of the ‘God of our condition’ at Easter, we shall not find him. . . Holy Week may invite us to a certain identification with the crucified, Easter firmly takes away the familiar ‘fellow-sufferer’. . .

“A theology of the risen Jesus will always be, to a greater or lesser degree, a negative theology, obliged to confess its conceptual and imaginative poverty - as is any theology which takes seriously the truth that God is not a determinate object in the world.”

12

DH 04.17.06 at 3:31 pm

I agree with Al and Attycortes. I also don’t believe in the vulnerability of the witness. I haven’t read “Case for Christ” by Lee Stroble but I heard he gets into this with regard to the resurrection. He happened to be an atheist who accepted Christ after serious analysis. I’ll let you know what I have found. If any of you read this book let me know any insight on this you found.

13

Tim 04.18.06 at 10:33 am

I firmly believe in the resurrection, but I find most of the intellectual ‘proofs’ unhelpful. The problem with proofs is that they purport to bring reality under my control, whereas one of the clear features of the resurrection stories is that reality was [i]not]/i] under the disciples’ control. Rather, they were being gripped by something totally mysterious. At first, they did not recognise the risen Jesus. And there was no magic formula that they could practice and thus compel him to show up; all they could do was hold themselves in readiness, knowing that he could show up at any time - by the lakeside, or in an upper room, to groups or to individuals.

Kim, I love the last paragraph of your post - the ‘resurrtection/insurrection’ link.

14

Tim 04.18.06 at 10:36 am

Sorry - left the wrong web address in the last comment. Corrected above.

15

DH 04.18.06 at 6:16 pm

I don’t see the proofs asreality under any control. For me it istheevidence that God madereadily available for all to see that confirm the deity of Christ. True they weregripped by something mysterious but that doesn’t negate the proofs that are evident from that intial mystery. Just because I don’t understand the mystery doesn’t meanit didn’t happen or thatthere isn’t any evidence of the resurrection. Many people try to disprove the resurrection and when you look at the evidence you can see how incredibly consistent the proofs of the resurrection are. I know many an atheist who didn’t believe in theresurrection who after looking at the evidence became full Believers. To say there “are problems with proofs” kind of “blows off” all of thepeople who came to Christ in light of the strong, consistent evidence. When people sayit isn’t strong or consistent evidence for the Bible, resurrection andthelike I really question the motives of those people.

I think Tim your post isthe pondering of the Holy Spirit work in the disiples. I totally don’t deny that or how unexplainable the work of the Holy spirit was. However, that deosn’t contradict the evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit or the evidence that Christ actually was physically and Spiritually on this earth and physically and Spiritually rose again at the resurrection.

Evidence doesn’t have to fully explainable to be evidence. For example: I don’t understand how the transfiguration took placebut that doesn’t contradict the evidence thatit happened and why which can be explained. Does that make sense?

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