Monday, September 10, 2012

“The Cross is not enough” book review – Chapter 6

After a break, I’m back, reading my way through Cross Is Not Enough: Living as Witnesses to the Resurrection by Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson, Australian Baptist thinkers. The break is important. During the break I experienced this:

Overnight it had rained. Truth be told, overweek it has rained here in Adelaide, making the ground sodden and the trees laden with rain.

As I left the house, I noticed a flash of red and green. Our front yard is currently host to a pair of parrots, outrageous in their bright red crest, raucous in their squawks of delight as they place chase with each other from tree to tree.

As they landed, their weight caused branches, laden with rain, to shake vigorously. Water cascaded, sheets of white, unleashed from a branch of green, by these playful red crested visitors. A full immersion indeed.

In the Scriptures, so often birds are linked with the Spirit’s visit. Have I just participated in nature’s baptism – appreciated again her noise, colour and water? Heard afresh “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased”? Been invited anew to creation’s plays? (here)

An experience in which creation made connections with Christianity. Which is exactly what this chapter is about. It asks the question – Are we awake to the possibilities of making connections from the signs of resurrection in nature to general revelation? It is a point well made. Training for ministry, I was asked to connect a Christian theology of creation with a Christian theology of the cross. But what about creation to resurrection? For Clifford and Johnson

We believe that in this motif of resurrection the creation “speaks” to us: resurrection is an integral part of the natural order. It is an analogy, of course, because nature “dies” and “rises again,” and dying-and-rising in nature is not identical to the bodily resurrection of human beings; however, what we need to bring back into focus is that nature itself reveals a resurrection motif, and this motif should be appreciated as being part of general revelation.

What mission possibilities are intriguing:

  • the place of analogies to resurrection in nature – in the cycles of birth and death, in metamorphosis of a butterly. “In today’s context where dolphins feature in alternative spiritualities we might consider reemphasizing the resurrection symbolism associated with these marvelous sea-mammals.”
  • the growth of “the symbologist as a heroic character in fiction.” Dan Brown’s books are a great example, in which the hero is “the symbologist is someone who decodes and interprets the hidden messages of signs—signs and symbols that can carry spiritual messages.” I’ve never heard leader-as-minister described in this way – as a symbologist of the spirit. Although it does link so obviously with the command in Matthew to observe the signs of the times.
  • the importance of thin spaces

“Some people who are highly intuitive are very responsive to encountering God in the world and feel a heightened sense of the divine in geophysical spots of transition—such as the borders where land and sea meet, where open fields become a forest, where mountaintops touch the sky. Such places of transition are often cal led “thin places” simply because the geophysical zones are wafer-thin and can be portals to spiritual encounters. So for people who are hardwired for the creative and intuitive and experiential, the resurrection analogies in nature can be connected to other kinds of thresholds or “thin places.””

Is this what is going on with the growth of walking church (here and here)?

I have some quibbles, but they seem petty when laid alongside the mission possibilities in this chapter and the practical earthing – in nature, in intrigue and in cultivating thin places.

The link from nature to analogies of the resurrection seems to move us from general to special revelation. The analogies seem to cry out at us to reflect: Has there been one who has indeed gone before all of us to die and rise again?

My review, chapter by chapter is as follows: Chapter one is here, Chapter two is here, Chapter three is here, Chapter four is here, a Hillsong excursus here

Posted by steve at 08:31 PM

1 Comment

  1. Thanks, Steve, for so eloquently articulating an aspect to spirituality many intuits don’t speak about much in a world where the rational and linear are so privileged. Thing of the number of key events of Jesus’ life which occurred at ‘thin spaces’ – eg Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration, or on places on the way…

    Perhaps I’ll visit the dam out here on my day off tomorrow.

    Comment by David Ferguson — September 10, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

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