Monday 27 February 2012

Russell D. Moore on Life After Death

Russell D. Moore, ‘A Purpose-Driven Cosmos: Why Jesus Doesn’t Promise Us an “Afterlife”’, Christianity Today (27 February 2012).

The gospel of the kingdom, says Russell Moore, doesn’t shy away from questions about the inevitability of our own deaths or the seeming meaninglessness of the cosmos, ‘but our preaching tends to swerve around the answers it gives’:

‘Often we Christians start our gospel proclamation with triumph over sin. Fair enough: The gospel of Christ is indeed the reversal of sin, and of death and hell. But without a broader context, such teaching can treat Christ as a means to an end, a step from the alpha of Eden to the omega of heaven. In a truly Christian vision of the kingdom of God, though, Jesus of Nazareth isn’t a hoop we jump through to extend our lives into eternity. Jesus is the kingdom of God in person. As such, he is the meaning of life, the goal of history, and the pattern of the future. The gospel of the kingdom starts and ends with the announcement that God has made Jesus the emperor – and that he plans to bend the cosmos to fit Jesus’ agenda, not the other way around.’

In line with work published more fully elsewhere, Moore writes about the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom of heaven, a necessary tension which ‘seeks to avoid bringing the kingdom too near (in utopianism or political gospels) or keeping it too far (in prophecy-chart fixations or withdrawal from society)’.

Meanwhile, he says, every aspect of my life – my relationships, job, family, suffering – ‘is an internship for the eschaton, preparing me in some way to rule with Christ’. Moreover the world around us isn’t just a temporary environment, but part of our future inheritance in Christ.

We are betrayed, Moore notes, in how we speak about the ‘afterlife’ – as that which happens after we’ve lived our lives:

‘The kingdom, then, is like a high-school reunion in which middle-aged people stand around and remember the “good old days.” But Jesus doesn’t promise an “afterlife.” He promises us life – and that everlasting... For too long, we’ve called unbelievers to “invite Jesus into your life.” Jesus doesn’t want to be in your life. Your life’s a wreck. Jesus calls you into his life. And his life isn’t boring or purposeless or static.’

1 comment:

Brett Jordan said...

on my 'to get' list, thanks antony