Thursday, October 2, 2008

Confession of Faith: Part 2

One of the disadvantages of the blog format is that brevity can result in oversimplifying what you are trying to say. This appears to be the case with yesterday's efforts, so I'll go a little further and either redeem myself or dig a deeper hole...

When I say that "I see crucifixion and resurrection at the heart of Christianity representing hope in the midst of suffering", I'm applying a practical theological framework that arises from engagement with the poor and the marginalised. Not everybody enters the theological enterprise with the question "what can I do about my sin?". Whilst this remains a valid question, it's not always the first door that people approach - for some it may come much later in their journey. The fact that Jesus died as a criminal is critical to my understanding of Christianity. Jesus lived amongst outcasts and died amongst them as well. Jesus marginalisation, suffering and death should not be discarded as unimportant trivia but understood as central to a Christian worldview - we are to side with those on the underside, to befriend those who have no friends, to serve those who are suffering and vulnerable.

Jesus death was legally sanctioned murder because those in power felt threatened by him. His refusal to respond (or even defend himself) with violence also says something very important to me about Christians and non-violent protest. Finally, his resurrection stands as a denial that goodness can be extinguished by injustice and the abuse of power. In my experience, hope is one of the most powerful attributes that someone can have - and without it, life can be very dark. Hope in the midst of suffering is far more than a simple platitude. The need to impart hope to those who have lost it is the greatest challenge that I have faced. Perhaps its significance can only be fully understood when we are closest to deep pain and a sense of hopelessness.

I don't see these views as oppositional to conventional Christian theology. I see them as alternate pathways to understanding the meaning of the Christian gospel. Furthermore, I don't claim them to be original by any means. They are based in the Bible, exist in the tradition of the church and have been explored by far greater theologians than myself as some wider reading will attest.

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