Friday, 11 May 2007

Getting our enemies sorted out

Recently I found myself preaching on Easter Sunday and had to think about how to talk about the meaning of the resurrection. The easiest way to talk about the resurrection is to talk about it as a victory over death. This is true, of course; but I was struck by the fact that the significance St Paul sees in the resurrection has, I think, more to do with what it does to sin. "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still... dead? No: in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17).

I think there is a tendency to speak of Death as the real enemy of God and life as its solution. We speak of death as the "great enemy." However, as Byron pointed out in a wonderful post some time ago, death is not the great enemy but the last enemy. The great enemy is sin, and we should not forget it.

In this, I found this quote from Oliver O'Donovan deeply helpful:
"The resurrection restores the life of all mankind, reversing the effects of sin; it reorders the disorder of which death is the emblem, and vindicates God's original act of creation." (Desire of the Nations, 142).
At the end of the day, a gospel where death is the ultimate enemy will be close, but finally inadequate.