The other day, I was reminded, yet again, of the central heresy of our age. The president, in his Easter address, called upon all of us to remember our “shared spirit of humanity,” and he trotted out that tired “family of man” stuff. While he personally was remembering the resurrection of Jesus, others — Jews, Hindus, Muslims — were worshiping in different ways, and a shout out was directed their way as well. Jesus was placed up on the god shelf, along with all the others.
But if Jesus really did come back from the dead, then certain things are false, and the gigantic brotherhood of man has gone phut.
The problem is not so much the secularists believing in the secularist religion — that much is to be expected, you know? The problem is when Christians fall for it in various ways. So let us keep our minds and hearts clear. Let us run through the options for those believers who hold that Jesus actually returned from the dead three days after His crucifixion. What does this mean? And by “options” I do not mean “legitimate options.” Four out of those five options are fatal errors. The Lord is risen, and He has called us to follow Him. Follow Him where? What are the possible relations that this risen Christ could possibly have to the secular city? And which is the right one?
1. Christ the isolationist. In this view, the world is going to Hell, and we are called to live in the lifeboat commune populated by those who know the ship is going down. The mentality that drives this is radically sectarian, which is why the lifeboats are usually pretty small, and getting smaller. Not infrequently, it ends with pure churches of one bobbing around on their individual inner tubes.
2. Christ the conference grounds organizer. Here the world is also going to Hell, but it will be a while yet, and we have to live the bulk of our lives out “there.” And so arrangements have been made for our restorative “get aways,” and we periodically retreat to these conference grounds for talks that cheer us up before we have to go back out into the world, in order to live in the way that our masters out there tell us to.
3. Christ the figurehead. In this set-up, Christ is given the pre-eminent place of honor religiously speaking, but the fundamental rules by which the affairs of state are governed are the ancient ways of death. Dostoevsky gave us a little sketch of this system, when Jesus was hauled before the grand inquisitor.
4. Christ the imperial slave. Empires are pragmatic and pretty easy-going. Any religious group numerous enough to constitute a constiuency will be invited to participate in International Religious Awareness Week. Their amusement park ride “of faith” will be commended along with all the other rides, and the one rule is that the pluralistic state gets to set the ticket prices, organize everything, print the brochures, and take in the receipts.
5. Christ the Lord. This is the view set forth in the pages of the Scriptures. All authority has been given to Him, and we, the children of men, have to what He says. For starters, we begin with “repent and be baptized.” We then move on to learning to do “everything He has commanded.”