The Spiritual Landscape
Bad Bunny Theology, or, Saving Easter
Read that way, the biblical story is this: God made humankind. Humankind was perfect. Humankind screwed up. As punishment, humankind began dying. That was sad and unpleasant. So, God in the person of Jesus Christ came into the world to fix us and—in the Resurrection—reverse the death sentence. The fundamentalist reading of this narrative emphasizes the salvation of the individual, the progressive narrative emphasizes social reform and prefers to talk about resurrection in metaphorical categories. But both are anthropocentric readings of the Gospel and it's a compelling way to tell the story, because we are at the center of it.
But that's not the biblical story. The biblical story is this: Chaos was on the face of the deep—and lots of things claimed to be God. But God ordered the world and on the first day, he created this god and this god and this god. And on the second day, God created this god and this god and this god . . . all the way through six days—meaning God is God, not trees, not animals, not stars. Then God said, what better way is there to make it known that I am God, than to put my image smack dab in the middle of it all, so God made humankind, male and female. But to make humankind in the image of God meant giving you and me freedom, and freedom involves the ability to worship God, or worship ourselves (or lots of other things). And because we love us and lots of other things more than God, we often worship ourselves.
That choice gave death the opening to say to God, "You claim to be God? I'll show you. If they worship themselves, then they cut themselves off from you, and if they are out there on their own, then they are mine and I'll kill your image in the world you ordered." So, the Bible tells us, Jesus came into the world to destroy death—to make it clear that God is God. Or, to put it another way, Easter is not just about the fact that you and I are not going to die. First and more importantly, it's about the fact that God's image in you and me is not going to die.
In the first version of the Gospel story, God is a bit player in a story all about us, the one who sweeps in to get us out of a jam. In the second version of the story, God is the central figure and gets us out of a jam because we put God's claim to be God at risk by worshipping ourselves.
The second version, however, is actually better news than the version of the story we tell so often. You and I are living proof that God is God. We are the bearers of God's image. And on this Resurrection feast, the last enemy of that claim --- which is death—is defeated.
That's good news because if we are made in the image of God, then we are something glorious, something deserving of God's love—not just an object of pity, sympathy, or sentimentalism. That is also an understanding of the Resurrection with life-changing spiritual consequences. On those consequences, more next week.
Frederick W. Schmidt is the author of The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Life in Hard Times (Abingdon Press: 2013) and several other books, including A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005) and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). He holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Job Institute for Spiritual formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and Consulting Editor at Church Publishing in New York. He and his wife, Natalie live in Chicago, Illinois. He can also be reached at: http://frederickwschmidt.com/