Skip to content

The new and alien kingdom

Sean the Baptist pulls out some great quotes from one of my all-time favorite books, Between Cross and Resurrection, by Alan Lewis. They simply must be re-posted:

“What frightens and frees us simultaneously about this new and alien kingdom of God which Jesus preached and told of is the simple fact that it is God’s and not our own. That is a dark menace to the complacency and contentment of those who flourish under the kingdoms of this world; a shining vision of release and new beginnings to the victims of the present order; and perhaps also a mocking rebuke to the programs, projects, and pride of those who hope to create a new order by themselves. It is tragic, therefore, that a gospel which promises justice, love and peace only by insisting that these are God’s own gifts, which remain alien, foolish, and impossible except for grace alone, has continually been misconstrued and misappropriated as the goal and burden of human and Christian aspiration. Piously or politically, we cripple ourselves with the need to bring about God’s righteousness on earth, failing to hear what Jesus so vividly declares: that we need not shoulder that burden because the goal itself does not need to be accomplished. The goal is a fact, God’s fact, the fact of grace and promise. No gap divides what God says from what God does; and the stories of the coming kingdom do not offer dreams and possibilities of what the Lord might or could do, but speak indicatively, and in the present tense, of what is happening, and of what the future is becoming. The kingdom needed not – and cannot – be worked for; it may only be accepted and awaited.” (23-24).

“To be quite blunt about a matter we must soon think through to its extremity, that story [the story told of Jesus] unites the Lord God with a human corpse – with a man who has in some eyes been murdered by criminals and in others executed as a criminal . The impossible foolishness of this – that after such a fate a man should be raised to life with God, and into such a human fate God’s very self, the Lord of glory should have fallen – is the supreme test of our willingness not to conform story to what we already understand, but to reconform our understanding to the story that we hear.” (25-26).

One Comment

  1. Chris Grataski wrote:

    Thinking again of the recent post on the “option” for the poor, I would say that Alan Lewis’ book is possibly what has influenced me most here.

    The action of God going to the grave, in addition to being the consequence of Jesus representing the order to come in an unwilling world, is also God going to the place, both literally and metaphorically, where Death is taking the day, where Death surrounds on all sides. It is the place where, in both greco-Roman and Hebraic imagination, God most certainly must be absent. And yet, as Lewis points out, the grave is the place where God turns out to be present, and indeed doing the most decisive work.

    The poor, in all the senses possible, are those who are cut off from the things that make for life, or in other words, are harassed by Death. And it seems that according to Lewis, the form of God’s love is to go to the “place” where Death is asserting itself most, in order to go beyond it, exceeding its reach and rendering it defenseless.

    Lately I’ve been wondering about the possible convergence here with Nate Kerr’s work. If the “thing” that is repeated in the “non-identical repetition” is our participation in God’s outgoing love, then would it be right to say that such participation will be marked by our confrontation of death-dealing powers, and going to the people and places where Death appears to be taking the day, in order that we might bear witness to the defeat of death?

    Maybe Kerr even deals explicity with something like this in the last chapter of CHA, but its been a while since I’ve read it and I don’t have it with me right now.

    Surely the subtitle of the forthcoming book suggests something like this, right?

    Any thoughts?

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

Switch to our mobile site