J.R. Daniel Kirk (no relation of mine) opened up an interesting discussion with his post Resonate: Matthew (Ch. 11), a review of part of Matt Woodley’s book in the Resonate series The Gospel of Matthew: God with Us. Daniel wrote:
The first section of the commentary on ch. 11 contrasts the prosperity gospel of health, wealth, and happiness with the story of John the Baptist. …
If John is any indication, life in the kingdom is not about seeing fortune and glory here and now. It is as much or more about crucifixion.
To this I responded in a comment:
Well, surely an exegete of Matthew 11 should have avoided suggesting that “John is any indication” concerning “life in the kingdom”. Verse 11 makes it clear that John was NOT in the kingdom. That doesn’t justify the prosperity gospel, but it does invalidate some of the criticisms of it.
Daniel replied with a comment which ended:
There’s a sense in which resurrection might make good on many this-worldly blessings such as the prosperity gospel indicates, but not in this life. I’m all for resurrection, but the cross is determinative here.
I took strong objection to this claim that “in this life … the cross is determinative”. In response to my comments and some others, Daniel wrote a further post In Hope. Now I can agree with much of this post, such as:
There is a “both/and” here, in that believers in the NT are living under the reign of the resurrected Christ, and have the power and mandate to take hold of the future that is ours and bring it to bear on the present. Romans 6, despite its future tense verbs, implores those who are in Christ to “present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead” (Rom 6:13).
So resurrection power and reality intrudes on the present by the power of the Spirit.
However, the focus of this power is the ability to walk in righteousness, an act that is itself a putting to death the deeds of the body.
He is also right to point out the triumphalistic errors of the Corinthians, who claimed in effect that only the Resurrection, not the Cross, was determinative for their Christian life. But, it seems to me, he falls into the opposite error when he makes the Cross determinative, and allows us now no more than “glimpses” of the Resurrection:
The cross of Christ, lived out among Jesus’ followers, brings about glimpses of what will be.
This theme in fact ties up with some others which I have already been looking at on this blog, and with yet others which I have been thinking about. So I will post the above as the introduction to a series, in the course of which I will seek to justify my rejection of Daniel’s position and present my own, more balanced and hopefully also more biblical, view of the relative importance of the Cross and the Resurrection in the Christian life.
- Cross or Resurrection 2: Greater than John the Baptist,
- Cross or Resurrection 2a: Stop confessing your sins!,
- Cross or Resurrection 3: What about Jesus’ life?,
- Cross or Resurrection 4: The Centrality of the Cross?,
- Cross or Resurrection 5: Risen and Ascended Lord,
- Cross or Resurrection 6: New Life After Pentecost,
- Cross or Resurrection 7: Jesus is Coming Soon,
- Cross or Resurrection 8: Finding the Balance.