Sunday, December 04, 2016

Advent II: Might not die

The syllogism: All men must die, Caius is a man, therefore Caius must die, is no doubt an illuminating statement of pagan wisdom.  But it is not a statement of Christian wisdom...  It cannot be, because it overlooks the parousia of Jesus Christ...  (IV/3.2, 924).

People often think that the most characteristic claim of Christianity is that there is life after death.  The Christian gospel, based on the resurrection of Christ, does indeed make that claim.  But if it has become characteristic, that is because we Christians have lost sight of the bigger, and more outrageous, claim that the gospel makes about the end of human life.

We believe that we might not die.

Indeed, every Christian must believe, on the grounds that the resurrected Christ has promised to return, and that this return will be the final, consummating event of human history as we know it, that there is a possibility that nobody else will die.

From the perspective of the NT, the whole of history is now hastening towards the final revelation of the glory of Jesus Christ in his coming.  In that perspective, there is a sense in which the 'normal' way for an individual human history to come an end now - in conformity with the end which we expect for general human history - is with the return of the Lord.  Death is a hanger-on, a left-over from an earlier age, an age which still looked forward to the cross and did not yet look out with triumph from the empty tomb.

You might not die.

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