Not risen?

"Wär er nicht erstanden,
so wär die Welt vergangen."
(If he would not have risen again
the world would have been lost.)

(BWV 276)

Nowadays most miracles in the Bible are not believed any more by many people, even within the church, mainly due to the influence of the Enlightenment era and evolution (, I think). As a result, the general conviction is that everything we cannot understand rationally (yet!, see 1 Corinthians 13:12), or do not experience nowadays anymore, should basically be considered nonsense. Most liberal theologians are critical to the point that no miracle in the Bible survives, and are at the same time 'desperately' trying to find and give alternative explanation to it, so it can still be meaningful in a way, and it would not become totally useless at all. In reality, one does not believe the slightest bit of it any more (and does not shy away from saying/preaching so). To those liberal people 'resurrection' in general, and so the resurrection of Jesus is considered 'fiction', a fairy tale, and according to them it 'obviously' did not really happen. One may still consider it a nice, inspirational story, maybe, and part of our cultural heritage, but (to them) it means nothing more than just that. Those people, theologians and preachers, caused great damage in preventing people to come to faith. To them I would like to emphasize and quote, what the apostle Paul wrote:

"Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain. Moreover, we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ only in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied. But the fact is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep". (1 Corinthians 15:12-20)

In other words; the historical resurrection of Jesus and that this really factually happened, is totally crucial for our Christian faith and our salvation. Without it our faith is totally useless, in vain, and does not mean a thing. As you may have noticed, (J.S.) Bach understood this entirely and fully believed it (and so did Luther; do Lutherans by the way still believe and practice today what their great examples, Luther and Bach believed? Would they still feel at home in their totally liberal churches, where it does not matter anymore what one believes, and anyone is inclusively invited and accepted, and can become a member, even atheists?) I sometimes get the feeling that, especially in the Netherlands, people have totally forgotten about the importance of this factuality, or simply don't care any more or have become immune to it.

Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, is not primarily about feelings or finding comfort in a story and that we can somehow translate it to our own life so we can still find meaning in it. This way of handling seems very popular today, so that anyone may make up or give it its own meaning; as long as it still means something (doesn't even matter what; as long as it brings personal comfort and/or inspiration). How even good that may feel, it is trying to give reason to a 'faith' that has become essentially hollow and empty, if the factual truth has been cut out. It is not about giving meaning to a non-believed story, so it still fits in our modern life. No, it is, and should always be, about a real historical fact and nothing more.

Did it really happen or not? That's the crucial question, we should keep asking ourselves. If it didn't, it has become powerless and meaningless. We then might just as well shut down the Bible and the church and stop preaching, if it did not truly happen or we don't believe in it anymore. Then everything is a total farce! "Wär er nicht erstanden, so wär die Welt vergangen" We all would be lost then, just as simple as Bach states it.

So, the crucial question is therefore not: 'do you believe it or not', in the meaning that this would be something apart/loose from factuality and reason? Like one should shut down one's thinking and then make 'a giant leap' in faith... No, the question is: did it really historically happen? And if it did, you should, you must believe and there would be no other option left. It is not a matter of 'believing it and then and only then it may work' (just) for the believer, and so it would not effect the non-believer at all, for he doesn't believe in. No, it does not only goes into effect for the believer alone. If it is true, then no one can escape it and has to deal with it, whether he wants or not. If it truly happened it matters to anyone and no-one can get away with excuses for why it would not apply to him or her. Reasoning the factuality away does not help. I myself am totally and fully convinced there is substantial reason to believe that it truly and factually happened, even though one cannot rationally understand it (yet!). I hope you feel the same and if not, I would say: believe, trust and obey God's Word and convert! It's just one step for man... (not a giant leap)

Only a step to Jesus!
Then why not take it now?
Come, and, thy sin confessing,
To Him thy Saviour bow.

In Dutch known as:
't is maar één stap tot Jezus,
waarom 't dan niet gedaan?
Kom en belijd uw zonden,
uw Heiland neemt u aan)

(Post scriptum: By the way, I'm full aware that this may be criticized by people saying or thinking that I say it shouldn't be 'a giant leap in faith, without shutting down the facts/thinking', but then at the end I just simply do a call to convert, even when people are not convinced of the factuality, which would indeed make it a giant leap in faith for them. That could be experienced as contradictory. I'm aware of that, but I take another factuality into account, namely that everyone, no-one excluded, fully knows in his heart, soul and mind that he has been created according to God's image and that, although it may be effectively suppressed all one's life, one still simply has to obey and convert to what one already knows. I quote: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20, KJV). So, with that taking into account, it is fully justified to do such a call, as I did, at the end, also rationally; although it may seem irrational to others).

Email: gertim . alberda @ (without spaces)