Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Problem of Death

   Death, in our culture today, is taboo yet spoken about and seen everywhere. We are surrounded by it, but refuse to speak about it. We show each other images of it in the media that we enjoy, in the nightly news that we watch, in the prime-time tv that we watch, and in the movies that we partake of. Yet, it is still something that we do not speak directly of. We listen to music that circle around it, we read novels that pass over it, poetry that symbolizes it, yet we do not understand it.

   Death is a shock, an awakening to who we are and how we view life. We are defined by it. Death is who we are. Morito, ergo sum, so to speak. We refuse to hold to this, we want to say that our lives are not interrupted by death, yet it is not true.

  The true problem of Death arises when we read the narrative of Christ's death in Scripture. We do not know how to handle it. The Apostles, "needed these appearances (of the Resurrected  Christ) in order to restore their faith in Him, the Christ, which had been shattered by the catastrophe of Good Friday." (pg. 371) Yet, we do not share in the scandal that the Apostles had. We've read the narrative and we know that God died for us, in Christ, and that He arose on the third day. We have turned the scandal into a celebration, and need to bring the scandal back.

   "Jesus did not merely take upon Himself, and drink to the dregs, the biter cup of human suffering" (pg. 365) in His death. If it was only that, we still should be shocked, but it would not bear\bare the full weight\brunt of what happened on Good Friday. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday, "He also endured a measure of spiritual suffering, in the sense of feeling utterly forsaken by God, which no other person has ever suffered, and which we can only imagine as a foretaste of Hell - not as the "realm of the dead" but as the horror of being seperated from God." (pg. 365) 

   We need to at this point abandon Brunner. He continues "the article of the descensus ad inferos in the Apostles' Creed, is above all that it calls our attention to the fact that the point of the deepest humiliation of Christ is at the same time the beginning of His exaltation, of the Resurrection." (pg. 365) Brunner here makes an error that I feel most Christians make, and I made growing up. We gloss over the deep humiliation of Christ, and change it into a victory for ourselves. We too quickly pass over the Christ died part of "Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

   We need to dwell on the absurdity of Death, and we do not. We gloss over it, we make it routine, we do not acknowledge it's power. And we run into  a grievous theological error when we forget the torment and agony of our Saviour. That is what Lent is, taking serious the Death of God. If we do not do this, we fail to understand our faith.

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