Wish Fulfilments

Here are a few paragraphs from an Easter message appearing in the TimesOnline (UK), that religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill describes as an example of “Radical Orthodoxy,” by N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham.
The Church must stop trivialising Easter

“The stories of the Resurrection are certainly not “wish-fulfilments” or the result of what dodgy social science calls “cognitive dissonance”. First-century Jews who followed would-be messiahs knew that if your leader got killed by the authorities, it meant you had backed the wrong man. You then had a choice: give up the revolution or get yourself a new leader. Going around saying that he’d been raised from the dead wasn’t an option.
Unless he had been. Jesus of Nazareth was certainly dead by the Friday evening; Roman soldiers were professional killers and wouldn’t have allowed a not-quite-dead rebel leader to stay that way for long. When the first Christians told the story of what happened next, they were not saying: “I think he’s still with us in a spiritual sense” or “I think he’s gone to heaven”. All these have been suggested by people who have lost their historical and theological nerve.
“The historian must explain why Christianity got going in the first place, why it hailed Jesus as Messiah despite His execution (He hadn’t defeated the pagans, or rebuilt the Temple, or brought justice and peace to the world, all of which a Messiah should have done), and why the early Christian movement took the shape that it did. The only explanation that will fit the evidence is the one the early Christians insisted upon – He really had been raised from the dead. His body was not just reanimated. It was transformed, so that it was no longer subject to sickness and death.
“Let’s be clear: the stories are not about someone coming back into the present mode of life. They are about someone going on into a new sort of existence, still emphatically bodily, if anything, more so. When St Paul speaks of a “spiritual” resurrection body, he doesn’t mean “non-material”, like a ghost. “Spiritual” is the sort of Greek word that tells you,not what something is made of, but what is animating it. The risen Jesus had a physical body animated by God’s life-giving Spirit. Yes, says St Paul, that same Spirit is at work in us, and will have the same effect – and in the whole world…”
“Easter has been sidelined because this message doesn’t fit our prevailing world view. For at least 200 years the West has lived on the dream that we can bring justice and beauty to the world all by ourselves.
The split between God and the “real” world has produced a public life that lurches between anarchy and tyranny, and an aesthetic that swings dramatically between sentimentalism and brutalism. But we still want to do things our own way, even though we laugh at politicians who claim to be saving the world, and artists who claim “inspiration” when they put cows in formaldehyde.
The world wants to hush up the real meaning of Easter. Death is the final weapon of the tyrant or, for that matter, the anarchist, and resurrection indicates that this weapon doesn’t have the last word.”

Kerygmatic Vocation

“Our Christian faith — and correlatively, our account of apologetics — is tainted by modernism when we fail to appreciate the effects of sin on reason. When this is ignored, we adopt an Enlightenment optimism about the role of a supposedly neutral reason in recognition of truth. (We also end up committed to ‘Constantinain’ strategies that, under the banner of natural law, seek to build a ‘Christian America.’
“To put this in more familiar terms, classical apologetics operates with a very modern notion of reason; ‘presuppositional’ apologetics, on the other hand, is postmodern (and Augustinian!) insofar as it recognizes the role of presuppositions in both what counts as truth and what is recognized as true. For this reason, postmodernism can be a catalyst for the church to reclaim its faith not as a system of truth dictated by a neutral reason but rather as a story that requires ‘eyes to see and ears to hear.’ The primary responsibility of the church as witness, then, is not demonstration but rather proclamation — the kerygmatic vocation of proclaiming the Word made flesh rather than the thin realities of theism that a supposedly neutral reason yields.”

James K.A. Smith, PhD., Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?; p. 28.
I wonder whether a lot of this modern/postmodern stuff is a replying anew the differences between Platonic and Aristotelian thought? Between Augustinian and Thomistic thought?
The latter is being played out in this new world of Post-Christendom, particularly within the context of the American Culture-War dynamic. What do we make of this?
Frankly, as I continue to move into the idea of re-formation out of the “Systems” (City of the World) and into some sort of “other than” (City of God) — perhaps a move out into the desert, metaphorically speaking — the rethinking of how we perceive and live out this Christian Life in our changing national context (really this ground shift of perceptional foundations within the culture), the more I am drawn to pre-Constantinian examples of Christianity. A “kerygmatic vocation.”