‘The life of Jesus, the most pivotal figure in the history of Western culture, is virtually forgotten today, as is the meaning of Easter. One of the many consequences of this new ignorance is an uncoupling of morality from its traditional moorings ‘
We in the West arrived at Easter 2023 as a society Tearing itself apart as a result of the willful rejection of the Easter message. A society increasingly being Torn apart by tribalistic division, an identity political fragmentation of the society birthed by, shaped by, guided by and, yes as imperfect as it was, largely held together by, the society-shaping ‘Glue’, the Grand Story of the Biblical world view. That ‘Glue’ is now little more evident than the fading Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Wonderland, as the western Church continues its decades long missional failure and consequent decline.
Further, as the ‘biblical Glue’ is leached out of society, we are watching the horror show of a moral trainwreck taking place before our eyes. This moral disintegration, this social tearing, is marked by a deepening fragmentation into Tribes defined by ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political partisanship, religious belief etc.
All this is the consequence of declaring, in the philosopher Nietzsche’s words, that ‘God is Dead’, by which he actually meant that the ‘Belief in God’ is dead. Moreover, and quite ironically as an atheist, he foresaw the moral trainwreck that would follow ‘God’s Death’.
As God dies in society, lost is the ‘identity-politics-denied’ belief that all people are equal, as expressed in the American Declaration of Independence which states-
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights’
Such a statement could only be the fruit of a Biblical world view, but now, untethered from the Biblical narrative, such truths are anything but ‘self-evident’, indeed the lack of them has been the mark of non-western pagan cultures throughout history, as well as today.
Also lost with the ‘death of God’ are such notions as putting the interest of others first (Philippians 2:3); or the ‘Golden rule’ of treating others as you would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12); or every one of whatever status being ‘our neighbour’ and ‘loving them as we love ourselves’ (Luke 10:25-37).
More evidence of the ‘death of God’ in society is the ‘death of God in the Media. This was starkly evident last Good Friday morning when I turned on one of the main news channels to see the midday news. This is an exercise I carry out every year at this time, that is to see how many news items were covered before a mention of Easter would appear. One, two, three, four I counted, but when I got to twelve, I gave up and stopped counting. Just as well for the program went for an hour and the number of mentions was. You guessed it – Zero!
As the quote heading this article points out, the story of the most pivotal person who has shaped the western world for 2000 years has virtually disappeared from the public consciousness.
So where is the way to Hope, where is Good to be found in this Easter time for a society on a rapid descent into the moral vacuum of the new-paganism? Here is the beautiful paradox of Easter for, and most ironically, it was the ‘death of God’ on the Cross that provides the answer to that question.
We find that answer in the fact that, at the very moment Jesus died (Matthew 27:50, 51), the huge roof-to-floor Curtain in the Jerusalem Temple was torn from top to bottom. It is that Tearing which opens the way back to God, to Hope and the Good. A way blocked since God placed sword-bearing Cherubim outside the gate of Paradise to prevent the now Sin-corrupted Adam and Eve, the embodiment of Humanity, contaminating Perfection (Genesis 3:24).
Easter is the greatest and most important event in history; the dying of the Christ to reopen the gate to Paradise; the flashing-sword-bearing Cherubim removed; the Tearing of the barrier curtain giving access to the most Holy place (Hebrews 10:19,20); the place of God’s dwelling now open to transgressors like us; the heavenly gate of pearl (Revelation 21:21) flung wide to admit weary sinners to the great banquet in His presence (Luke 14 :15-24). At the very moment Jesus ‘breathed His last’.
The great paradox of Easter is that, as we see Nietzsche’s chickens coming home to roost in the moral trainwreck of the Tearing apart of western society, as a result of the ‘death of God’’ in belief it was at the very same time as ‘the death of God’ on the Good Friday Cross that the Tearing of the curtain opened the way to Hope and the Good; to give access to the way to peace and forgiveness; the removal of Guilt and entry into Paradise
The Cheshire Cat-like, rapidly disappearing message of Easter, is the very message that those whom God has called He mandates to proclaim to the society in which ‘God is dead’. However, this message will not be proclaimed to the millions stumbling in a Christ-less spiritual darkness, by sitting in church buildings, house churches, lounge room bible studies etc. No, it is proclaimed when Christians ‘GO’ into the crumbling moral trainwreck that western society has become, and become the beautiful feet ‘of those who bring good news’ (Romans 10:15).
At Easter we rejoice at the Tearing of the Curtain, and we give thanks to God for His infinite and quite unfathomable love to we unworthy sinners in the Crucified Christ. However, as we do so, we should not forget that God and the angels rejoice when one who is lost is found (Luke 15:7 and 10).