As we consider Easter this year, I want to draw attention to my friend Adrian Warnock’s recent book Raised with Christ. The book is an excellent treatment on the resurrection of Jesus . . . why it’s important and how it applies to our lives today.
Adrian Warnock blogs at Patheos, and serves on the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London. He is passionate about refocusing the church on the resurrection. He is also keen to introduce a new generation to the life and works of Charles Spurgeon and is part of a planned documentary about Spurgeon’s life that is currently seeking crowd-sourced funding.
I caught up with Adrian recently and interviewed him on the book. Enjoy!
Frank Viola: Your book, Raised with Christ, is an excellent work. What motivated you write it?
Adrian Warnock: I was feeling really spiritually dry one spring. I took a phone call from the pastor of our church asking me if I would like to preach that Easter Sunday morning. I realized things were worse than I thought when my first thought was “oh, no I will have to preach the gospel again, how boring!” So, I said I would pray about it, and my tone of voice probably had my long-suffering pastor already beginning to think again about who to invite! That night I prayed a half-hearted prayer, then at about 3 am I woke, sat straight up in bed and heard a voice in my head say, “Adrian, preach on the resurrection!”
I immediately set about with renewed zeal to study, and I soon realized that Jesus’ resurrection is a massively neglected core foundation of our faith. I couldn’t find many books on the subject. Later on I discovered the young Spurgeon had complained about the lack of resurrection focus in preaching and books in his day, and as a result determined to put the resurrection at the heart of his preaching. As a direct result of this he knew remarkable blessings and many became Christians. It became clear to me that throughout his ministry Spurgeon focused on the resurrection in a way that is sadly lacking today. Soon I knew somebody had to write a book about the implications of the resurrection, and I knew it should be me. Oh, and by the way, in the process I found much joy, a renewed understanding of the vital place of the resurrection, and enthusiastically preached the full gospel message that Easter Sunday.
Frank Viola: What has the response been so far? Both positive and negative.
Adrian Warnock: I thank God that people have been incredibly positive and gracious about the book. I think there is a growing recognition that since the Reformation Christians have spent a lot of energy focusing on the meaning of the cross, but very few have explored the resurrection in a similar way. One chapter which some people said changed their thinking looks at Romans 4:25. This verse acts as a summary of Paul’s message to that point, and a turning point between his gospel explanation and application. It says Jesus was “delivered for our sins, and raised for our justification.” I remember the second half of that sentence tormented me for months as I wrote. Very few commentaries focus on what Paul meant here, since most of us assume it was the cross that justified us. It really is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that truly saves us.
The main criticism of the book has centered on some people not seeing how some of the later material about spiritual renewal is related to resurrection. But the gospel is the announcement that Jesus has risen again, as this gospel is proclaimed spiritual power is released, and the risen Jesus is now a life-giving Spirit eager to pour out his resurrection power on us. I am more and more convinced that the goal of every Christian should be to know Jesus and experience the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10).
Frank Viola: I interviewed N.T. Wright on this blog before. Wright has written a lot on the resurrection of Jesus. I noticed that you quote Wright in your book. What, to your mind, are the one or two most important contributions on the subject from Wright?
Adrian Warnock: Wright wrote what I lovingly call the ‘big green book’, which is surely the definitive scholarly work on the resurrection of Jesus. His passionate and unwavering belief as a professor of theology that Jesus body left the tomb is refreshing. His book demonstrates clearly that there is simply no other explanation that makes sense of what we know about 1st Century history. He also very helpfully emphasizes the implications of our own future physical resurrection for how we see the world around us today. Some people like to criticize Wright for his views on the cross, but whatever you may feel about that (and he is often misunderstood, to be fair), he has given the global church an amazing gift in his work on the resurrection.
Frank Viola: Christians already believe that Jesus rose again from the dead. How would they benefit from reading your book?
Adrian Warnock: The book has just one chapter on how we know that Jesus rose again, which may further strengthen our faith, or help us know how to share this with others. But more than that, the book aims to restore our focus on the benefits for us of Jesus’ resurrection. Many Christians suggest we should read a book about the cross every year. I think that is not a bad idea, but most Christians have never read a book about the implications of Jesus’ resurrection. Without a focus on the resurrection I am convinced that our faith will be anemic, our spiritual experience blunted, our evangelism half-hearted, and our hope for the future will lack clarity.
Frank Viola: What do you say to the skeptic who says that there is no proof that Jesus rose again from the dead?
Adrian Warnock: I would ask them if they have investigated the historical evidence for themselves. I would explain that several atheists who seriously tried to disprove the resurrection using the historical method ended up converting. I would explain that they have hit on the most important question they will ever ask: did Jesus really rise again? The Christian church is easily the largest and most enduring movement of any kind that the world has ever known. We disagree about much, and almost the only thing that Christians of every kind do agree on is that Jesus conquered death. Indeed, in Raised With Christ I define a Christian as “someone who believes in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, and lives in light of the implications of that event.”
Frank Viola: What else do you want my readers to know about your book?
Adrian Warnock: I’d want your readers to know that I am not an academic theologian like N.T. Wright, and so they shouldn’t find the book too hard to read! A lot of Christian books are either aimed at seminary students or are very basic indeed. I have tried to aim, like I think your books do, for a ground somewhere in the middle of those extremes. I pray that anyone reading this who decides to read my book will be blessed as much as I was in studying and writing about surely the most important and glorious subject there is. Who can fail to get excited that our Lord Jesus has gone before us into the eternal life with a renewed body that we can all look forward to! I would also really love to hear what any of them think of it after they have read it!