Today we discuss Easter. John characterizes Easter from his past as a moment of rejoicing that Jesus’ resurrection means that Christians have eternal life. He wonders what significance Easter holds for Gregg?
Gregg’s view is that Easter is about how Jesus’ life and death broke down barriers, particularly in the sense that through Jesus’ life and death all humanity was / is now able to be in right relationship with God. Gregg sees this as somewhat similar to his own experience of Good Friday in Switzerland, in 1996.
Gregg goes on to highlight the importance of understanding the continuity of the Easter story with the larger story of Israel (and how often it seems that evangelical presentations are sadly discontinuous with this story, and so seem fragmented as a result). In other words, from Gregg’s perspective the story of Jesus at Easter only actually makes sense within the context of Israel’s story, and otherwise Easter often amounts either to a “guilt trip” about either to be joyful or to be ecstatic about the idea of external life.
Gregg also expresses suspicious of some the ecstatic behaviour that often accompanies Easter, particularly because he does not believe that Christians have enough information about / people generally can sufficiently conceive of “eternal life.”
John follows on this by describing his attendance at a local episcopal church this Easter, noting that the homily was particularly impactful. While speaking the minister recounted an intimate discussion he had had with a young girl, about Easter. Upon hearing of Jesus resurrection the child remarked how wonderful that was. Then she asked, “But is it true?” The minister responded: “Sometimes I ask myself that question too.”
John noted how comfortable he felt at being in a church where doubt was acceptable, even doubt concerning the Easter events. Gregg agrees and also notes that Easter seems to be a time when so many Christians want (and need) to claim that Christianity is true: when they have proof of its truth. For Gregg, by contrast, Easter is a moment to think about belief—and why one believes—not about a “victorious” orientation that ignores doubt and claims to have knowledge (and even clear proof) that Christianit is true, based on the events of the resurrection.
So Gregg sees Easter as a call to renew and / or reconsider one’s commitment: to determine if one really believes these things. It is a time for honesty. Instead, Gregg’s view is that the overly victorious attitude of many Christians at Easter is similar to “treating oneself” (after a hard job, etc.) with junk food: ignoring the realities of belief and pretending that our beliefs amount to knowledge that we can hold with certainty.