You spoke beautifully in this post; which drew me further into the depths of the story. Brian McLaren was among the first to help me contemplate the ministry and example of Jesus as bringing about "new creation," that the "reconciliation of all things" Paul spoke of was a calling back to the simplicity, obedience, and beauty of the Garden. Rob Bell drew me into Genesis creation as poetry in "Everything is Spiritual," drawing out the power of the poetry and the response it brings out that goes far beyond viewing Genesis as textbook and purely propositional scientific statement. So thank you for emphasizing the layers of meaning that come from poetic imagery. I'm not naturally inclined to that kind of reading, but wise leaders reinforce my need to embrace that quality of truth.
You then moved to say, "What might it mean for us to recover — in our living, in our worship, and in our preaching — the poetic possibilities of these stories? Could we stop straining toward explanations for the inexplicable? Could we trust that Jesus’ friends — to their own incredulity as much as anyone’s — experienced him fully alive after his tortuous death and that this is not so much a scientific fact to be endlessly probed as it is gospel — genuine good news — to be lived?"
I couldn't help but think (even as I appreciated the emphasis on the poetic qualities of the resurrection narrative) that you were emphasizing the poetic qualities over against possible factual qualities. The phrase you used, "this is not so much a scientific fact to be endlessly probed as it is gospel- genuine good news- to be lived," seemed to suggest this.
I'm just wondering out loud if it isn't possible for us to hold those together (and to be intentional in our language to avoid the "over-against" qualities and embrace the togetherness. I don't know where you specifically come down as to the "factual" events of the resurrection. I personally am one who fully believes in the actual, bodily resurrection of Jesus and the actual creation of all that is by a loving Creator and yet have been led to appreciate the poetic layers of beauty and truth beyond propositions. Wise leaders have led me to that. And I think the resurrection narrative is, in a very real sense, lends itself much more to meaningful significant propositional and factual statements than the creation poetry does. In the resurrection story, there were witnesses. Multiple ones. And they didn't speak of resurrection simply as a metaphor but met with the resurrected Jesus in a room and by a lake. I trust their account more than, say Crossan's interpretation of their words to say they "didn't really mean physical resurrection." I've just been so steeped now in the resurrection story that it no longer is "inexplicable" to me. I believe that God is stronger than death, and that Jesus' physical resurrection is only the "firstfruits" of what we all were created for.
I may have been nitpicking here, and McLaren has warned against list-making and checking off theological points when reading. I try to deeply take that instruction to heart. But I think my desire is one a number of evangelical Christians long for. We say "Yes!" to the bodily resurrection of Jesus as powerful evidence God scoffs at death, and we say "Yes!" to the metaphorical resurrection understandings that calls into meaning; my church community in West Norwood here in southwest Ohio longs for this resurrection in our neighborhood. So we often feel like we're on "the rack" with our limbs being stretched to painful extremes as we try to present a different way between opposing theological camps.
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