Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Oliver O' Donovan on "Jesus is Lord" in the Belhar Confession of faith

The Dutch Reformed Church of Western and Southern Cape, South Africa, recently accepted the Belhar confession of faith as its fourth official confession. In it the christological confession Jesus is Lord is very important and directly linked to reconciliation and justice.

After world renowned Christian philosopher and ethicist - professor Oliver O' Donovan's paper called "Good without God?" tonight in Cambridge, I asked him whether Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection should be regarded as the background for the confession Jesus is Lord. In his response he made it clear that Jesus is Lord cannot be understood apart from Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. He emphasised that it is through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross that we are reconciled with God. With regards to the resurrection, he emphasised that through Jesus’ resurrection, God shows us that this world will be restored.

Afterwards, I spoke to professor O' Donovan about his view of Jesus’ resurrection in particular. I informed him that over the years a few Jesus Seminar scholars have visited South Africa and propagated the view that Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead. I asked him whether he deemed it important that Jesus rose bodily from the dead or not. He answered something like this: “I believe the resurrection has to be an event in the world. It must be material”. He also said that he has a problem with the idea that it is the “mind” that is resurrected. As we continued to talk it became clear that the renewal of creation at the time of the resurrection is very important to him.

After our discussion I told him that much of what he had just told me comes close to what professor NT Wright taught me in Durham in 2009. He laughed and said they are old friends and that he can never part from what Tom Wright has to say about resurrection and new creation!

What a pleasant evening we had!

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