How important is the resurrection to your faith? Not to the doctrinal center of your belief system, but to the day-to-day out-working of your salvation? If your mind draws a blank, you may be missing the power of the resurrection in your personal walk with God.
Steve Mathewson, pastor of CrossLife Evangelical Free Church in Libertyville, Illinois is an adjunct professor in preaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has written a helpful book called Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changed Everything (Baker Books) which unpacks the significance of Christ’s resurrection. Today, he joins me on the blog for a conversation about his book.
Trevin Wax: In the foreword to your book, Craig Blomberg writes:
Christian teaching often focuses more on the question of believability of the resurrection narratives than on their theological meaning.
When I consider many of the Easter sermons I’ve heard in the U.S., I see his point. Why do you think we tend to focus on the historicity of the resurrection more than its meaning?
Steve Mathewson: I think we have become so preoccupied with answering the radical skeptics that we have given little time or energy to proclaiming what Scripture ways about the meaning of the resurrection.
The other twin element of the gospel, the cross, simply does not require the apologetic defense that the resurrection demands. While unbelievers deny the significance and meaning of the cross, few doubt that a man named Jesus was crucified on a cross. But when it comes to the central miracle of the Cristian faith, the resurrection of Jesus Chris, skeptics say “No way! Jesus did not rise bodily from death.” Thank God for Frank Morrison, Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, and others who have crafted articulate responses to the skeptics.
But this has conditioned us, I think, to defend the resurrection rather than to declare its meaning. Apologetics has become our default mode whenever we speak about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As a result, our evangelical heritage has not provided the kind of magnificent treatments of the resurrection that is has for the cross. For example, we have John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied as well as John Stott’s classic, The Cross of Christ. We have had nothing comparable on the resurrection until N. T. Wright’s more recent tome, The Resurrection of the Son of God.