Tuesday, 24 July 2012


A Superb Review of the theology of the new Batman movie here:
Redemption in Gotham

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Death Within

"By the mystery of your Incarnation, your nativity, your baptism,
 by your agony, by your crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension,
 and the coming of your Holy Spirit,
 Good Lord, deliver us".      The Great Litany.

It makes for pretty uncomfortable reading, but it's clearly there in the Gospels.
Jesus was becoming known by what He could do - the 'signs' that the Kingdom had clearly come meant that He was gaining quite a following. It was, no doubt, the very thing that John the Baptist and others were looking for, hoping for - the one who would truly bring the life and message of God. 

Of course, the problem quickly becomes such 'signs' themselves. Jesus understood how that is what was wanted by the many who followed, not the genuine reality of the kingdom behind such power, and that is what truly counts. That's why the 'popular' moment of His ministry ends and the 'difficult' period truly begins - why He stops the majority of such public miraculous activity to journey to Jerusalem where He knows He will be killed.

For us, that's a hard truth - not exactly what we would expect of a Messiah, but then again, there are some 'mysteries' about the very nature of life itself that are at the core of what is happening here, and it is those that we rarely encounter.

Take death itself. We normally talk about this as Christians only in terms of its relationship to sin, and therefore, as both being 'enemies' of life. Now, it's clearly right to see death in it's ultimate, godless expression as just that (what is often talked about as 'the second death'- the point of eternal separation from God), and there's no denying that our mortal deaths are moments of great sorrow and tragedy, but there's something vital for us fallen creatures about that final moment. It can actually become, as it was for the thief on the cross, the moment of liberation into life, which is why our baptism is a baptism 'into' Christ in His death and resurrection.

Death is actually the instrument or means God uses to bring about life. Think for a moment of the splendor that was Eden - a gloriously furnished creation, which would sustain the creatures God makes to live there through every 'seed bearing' grass, herb and tree (Genesis 1:11&12, 29 & 30) He provides. The natural world is sustained by these plants 'giving seed' to the earth which die to yield new life, so God weaves the value of death into His creation from the very beginning.

The Same mystery is clearly evident in the creation of Eve. Unlike all other creatures He has made, He causes this person to be fashioned by placing Adam in a 'deep sleep' (2:21 - 'to die') to form the one who is truly 'bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh'. This, as Paul alludes to  towards the end of Ephesians 5, is one of the clearest images in Scripture of the relationship between Christ and the Church (5:30-33), and in both, it is the work which God does 'within' death that is key to the glorious creation which follows.

It is perhaps hard for us to understand such works - they run so contrary to the way in which we would chose to achieve things, but the necessity is no doubt due to the manner of character (the nature of the Son) which God is seeking to place within us.

In the book of Revelation, John speaks of the 'Lamb's book', written 'before (or from) the foundation of the world' (13:8). It is this nature - expressed in the image of a slain lamb - that defines the God who has made us, sustains us and is at work to complete the work He has begun in what He has made. This nature resides at the core of His character, His work, His love and His goal for us and creation, which is why the 'power' of His kingdom lies in the clear unveiling of the 'message of the Cross' - from Christ's emptying of Himself to live a life aquatinted with sorrow and grief, to death amongst the lost. The seal of God's new creation is a world lead through such depths by Christ, that these powers may never hold dominion over the realm which is coming, which is overseen by the throne of the Lamb.

We cannot face our pains, trials and the dreadfulness of death alone - it is truly a tragedy for us to seek to do so - but through the Lamb of God, these woes become the very means God has used to invest eternity with the fulfilled Word who has come to us, that this realm may truly be  furnished through Him.