The Struggle Has Ended

Greg Hewlett passed away on January 17th after nearly eight years of battling colon cancer. While we grieve his loss, we are comforted to know that he is with his Lord.

If you would like to leave your thoughts on Greg, please see this thread.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in Greg's honor, please see this thread.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

O Death, Where is thy sting?

resurrection_sm.jpg Easter Day, 2004. Today the church celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. Belief in the resurrection is not an incidental belief of the church nor even one of several key beliefs. More than any other element of Christianity, it has been, from the first generation of Christians, the defining belief from which all other doctrines flow.

It might seem to be somewhat odd that someone with extensive education in the sciences would believe such an incredible event. Yet I, along with men and women across history, education levels, cultures, and ethnicities attest to its truthfulness - even unto death.

How can someone possibly believe this? Science discounts the possibility of bodily resurrection and common experience reveals that no one comes back after death. I like to preface my response by first highlighting a couple of thoughts. One is that the absurdity of this event is fully admitted by the New Testament. Ancient people were not more gullible in this area than we - everyone knows dead people don't come back to life. In fact, the very idea that no one ever comes back from the dead is the whole point of this belief - Christ's resurrection was cosmically and historically unique. Second, when we ask for scientific evidence for his resurrection, we are resting on Enlightenment presuppositions of empiricism and rationalism, both of which are unquestioned belief systems that rule out a priori any unique, unrepeatable, miraculous event. It's like demanding that a sunrise be proven with an audio tape recorder. The very rules of "proving" rule out belief of the event from the start.

Beyond these introductory remarks, I do not have the time or space here to discuss why I believe the resurrection. However, I would like to say that my security rests on it. Since the day I was first diagnosed with cancer, I have found that my world has been overturned. I race through thought after thought that seems to slip away through my fingers. I come to rest, however, when thinking about Christ and his resurrection. Finding solace is not the reason I believe, but the result of believing.

One of the leading Christian apologists in our age is N.T. Wright. ("Apologists" are scholars who defend the truthfulness of Christianity). He has gone to great lengths to make a solid case for resurrection in his book, Resurrection of the Son of God. This is a rather large dense book, but if you honestly want to wrestle with this issue, you would do yourself a favor to read him (instead of conveniently writing off your local TV preacher or some simple-minded Christian arguments you may have heard). A more brief treatment of the subject can be found in the chapter "The Challenge of Easter" in another of his books, The Challenge of Jesus.

The day after I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was pleased and surprised to hear an extended interview of Wright on our local NPR station. This was a bright light on a very dark day. I have a recording of the interview and you can listen to it thanks to the help of a friend who made it available on line.


Jeanne said...

Greg, I look forward to your updates. You gave us hope as we made the trips to MD. You had written about Dr. Rodriguez-Bigas and Phyllis. That is how I found you site. Having read about your confidence in them...gave us comfort. And we love them both. We leave Tuesday returning to Tulsa. Come back in late May for surgery. God bless you. Jeanne

matt boulter said...

thanks, Greg, for this wonderful post. isn't NT Wright great? it is radically encouraging to hear your thoughts on the resurrection. yesterday i preached on john 20, on "gardener" of verse 15. how Jesus, the new Adam, is the Great Gardener, and how the cemetary-garden of death in which Mary Magdelen was on the first day of the week was transformed into a garden of life.
you are in our prayers, brother. press on in faith and repentence.

Judy Kovacs said...

"The Day of Resurrection" -- I'm not so much interested in my own resurrection at the end of time. I consider going to Heaven and being in His presence grace enough. But having a perfect, eternal body does appeal to me. [Can't decide if I'll miss eating -- I think not.] PTL for that sure hope. Greg and Christine, you are great witnesses to His grace.

Carl said...

Thanks for exposing me to N.T. Wright. Very interesting tape.

Jay said...

Greg, I'm about a fifth of the way through "The Resurrection of the Son of God". What a remarkably thorough, enjoyable book! I smiled at his comments in the preface that he took some criticism after "Jesus and the Victory of God" for not caring about the resurrection since it didn't receive attention... in reality, he was planning to replace a single chapter on the resurrection with an 800 page volume.

Nils said...

I’m also at work on /The Resurrection of the Son of God/; I bought it last night. Good stuff.

jennifer said...

I check in on your blog for updates with some regularity. Glad to read the good news. Though I don't post comments often, I wanted you to know our family regularly prays for you.