Qmz

' I l;now that my Redeemer liveth ': ' I believe in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead ': such is the Christian's confession.

' I know ' and ' I believe' or ' have faith '—these are not here mutually exclusive expressions. This 'knowing'is not that with which scientific theory is concerned, based upon empirical senseknowledge ; it is rather faith-knowledge, and faith-knowledge does not rely on the evidence of the senses, but is, in the scriptural phrase, 'the evidence of things not seen', that is, not presented to sense-perception ; and it would lose its essential nature and be transformed into a mere sorry empirical knowledge, if it relied on any other evidence than 'the witness of the Holy Spirit', which is not that of sense-experience. And so we cannot afford to account Christ's resurrection, and our own, known facts, in this lower ' scientific' sense of knowledge. The simplest understanding feels this. To speak of ' resurrection' is to utter a mystery, and mystery is a subject for faith, not science. And, for Christianity, how this faith itself comes to be is no less a mystery, indeed the greatest of all mysteries. But if ' faith ' were knowledge, directly attested by the senses or based upon the tradition of a former occurrence attested by the senses, this mystery would wholly disappear.

And so we hold that in endeavouring to account for our assurance of the Risen Christ two sorts of interpretation must be excluded, the naively supernaturalistic and the rationalistic. The former is that which has recourse to the ' Empty Tomb '. It holds that Christ's tomb was proved to be empty by the evidence of the senses, that the Risen Christ was perceived by the senses, and that the truth of the facts so certified in sense-experience was then handed down by human testimony. On this view the conviction of the resurrection was from the first not faith, but a piece of empirical knowledge. This is the most serious objection that can be brought against the nfjve 'supernaturalist' interpretation, a more serious objection than the uncertain and legendary char acter of the ' Empty Tomb ' narrative or the fact that the earliest and most authentic witness to the resurrection of Christ—that of St. Paul in 1 Cor. xv—makes no mention of the empty tomb, although there the Apostle is at pains to assemble all possible reasons for assurance in the reality of the Resurrection.

But the ordinary rationalistic interpretation is equally inadmissible. A deep 'impression ' of the person of Jesus had remained, 80 it is said, with the disciples and especially with Peter, and from this impression grew their conviction after His death, ' Such an one cannot have remained dead '. And this conviction, thus born in their minds, took imaginative and figurative form in visions, which must therefore be regarded as purely subjective. But this explanation is patently forced and unsatisfactory, and seems to us to miss altogether the uniqueness and coherence of tho experience centring in the Resurrection. Tho two lines of interpretation have this in common, however: they both entirely ignore tho fundamental fact about the experience, that it was a mystery; both agree in disregarding altogether its mystery character.

We can only get beyond the opposition between supernaturalism and rationalism by frankly recognizing that the experiences concerned with the Resurrection were mystical experiences and their source 'the Spirit'. It is only'of the Spirit ' that the higher knowledge is born. It is the eye of Spirit, not the eye of sense that beholds the eternal things ; but what it sees is not a mere insecure, half-woven fabric of ' convictions', but the adamantine certainty of the eternal truth itself.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment