In his recent critique of contemporary conservative evangelicalism, Glen Scrivener talked about the danger that we end up getting as far as the crucifixion in our application of the Gospel. The result is that we have a dead Christ. This is quite the challenge because many of us have long considered this a criticism of Catholicism with Christ continuously re-crucified at the Mass.
There, we can immediately see the problem because the dead Christ, re-crucified in the wafer and the wine offers us only a partial Gospel. Jesus’ death may offer us a second chance but nothing more. After that, if Jesus in effect remains dead to us, we are on our own.
The consequences of this can be seen when people begin to try and fill the gap with different things – in effect with our idols. Consider how this has played out in specific shocking examples such as the ritualistic abuse cults of Smyth and Fletcher or in the example in the image above where American Christian Nationalists have looked to Donald Trump as a living, political saviour.
The cure for this problem is to give time and reflection to what it means for us to have a genuinely risen Saviour and that means focusing on Christ as risen and ascended. We have a man in heaven, Christ Jesus who intercedes for us.
We do not need to find people and things to fill the gap because Jesus has risen, he is alive and therefore we do not need to fear the penalty of sin both because his death was effective for our past, present and future sin but also because
- He mediates for us
- He indwells us through the Holy Spirit
- He invites us to sit with him -we are raised up with Christ.