Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Life

Easter was pretty nice. We sang in two services, and we botched only one piece, the final movement of Handel's Messiah. Most folks couldn't tell, or they were too kind to mention it.

I got to hear the same Easter sermon twice. The point was that the resurrection and the life aren't something we sit back and wait for; rather, we are to live them now. All in all, it was some pretty good preaching. Two points gave me pause, however.

In the first instance, the pastor went on about atheists and agnostics and how their worldview lacked meaning. He read an excerpt from Bertrand Russell about how we are lumps of impure carbon and water on a speck in space and return to the elements. He remarked that this was depressing. I don't find it depressing at all. It's rather wonderful that the universe is so expansive and that we have our moment in it. If that were all we got, it would be something to be grateful for and to praise God for. It's no more than we deserve, as we Calvinists like to remind ourselves.

Atheists and agnostics are not bereft of meaning. They just endow their lives with meaning based on other irrational metaphysical assumptions than we are famiiar with. We Christians (supposedly) endow our lives with meaning informed by our irrational belief in Jesus Christ as Divine Savior and Lord. It is hard for us to imagine other core assumptions, but our lack of imagination should not make us too quick to charge nonbelievers with nihilism.

My second issue was with the pastor's assertion that death was not part of God's plan for us. How can this be so? How can anything happen that God did not ordain? If God's will is that none should die, then none would die. Is God thwarted in His will? I just don't get the whole Fall and Redemption narrative. I tend to look at the coming of Jesus as God's plan from the beginning. I'm no theologian, though, so what do I know?

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