I was listening to an Andy Stanley podcast yesterday in which Stanley presented the bedrock of Christian faith as resting on an event – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
His point was that if you were going to start from scratch to build a Christian faith — throwing out everything you’ve learned or been taught up to now — you would start with this one event and build from there.
I’ve been wondering a bit about that.
I think if John Wesley were to go back to a single bedrock, it would not be Easter but Calvary. Wesley often taught that faith itself is the belief that Jesus Christ died for our sins so we might be pardoned. This is not surprising. That kind of focus on the cross is the hallmark of evangelicalism of the Great Awakenings that influenced Wesley and were influenced by him.
I think Wesley would say Easter confirmed who Jesus was but that the cross is the foundation upon which our faith is built.
I’m not sure what the implications of this contrast are.
When I put the focus on Easter — maybe this is just me — I am tempted to start talking about hope. Easter is God’s way of telling us that death does not win. It is a sign to us that whatever darkness we are in, dawn is coming. And so on.
When I turn my gaze upon the cross, I am moved more to talk about Jesus and what would compel him to suffer that way. I want to speak more about love than hope, I suppose.
Perhaps this mental exercise illustrates that Stanley is on to something important but also leaving something out. Perhaps we cannot reduce it all to one single event, because the work of Christ is more than any one of those things.
Perhaps when you reduce it all down to its foundation, we are not called to believe in an event but a person.