Scot McKnight Includes Cross Is Not Enough in his “Book of the Year” list

A big thank you to new testament scholar Scot McKnight for mentioning The Cross Is Not Enough in his 2012 list of books of the year. He expresses the hope that many more books on resurrection theology will be written and inspired from what we have written.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/12/12/jesus-creed-books-of-the-year-2/

Undead and Theology

In a previous post (click here) about resurrection theology we drew attention to the folk religiosity surrounding Vampire Spirituality and the Undead. In The Cross Is Not Enough we discuss the phenomena of stories about Undead and Living Dead creatures like werewolves, vampires and zombies.

Over at Philip’s other blog (TARDIS) there is some discussion about the Undead and Resurrection themes popping up in the cult-TV series Doctor Who.

We believe that much more serious theological reflection is needed about the pop cultural appeal of the Undead and Living Dead, which can extend beyond just musings about the resurrection.

In this regard we are delighted to point to a new book hot off the presses (print and Kindle editions)that takes a step in that direction: The Undead and Theology edited by Kim Paffenroth and John W. Morehead (Pickwick Publications 2012). Twelve chapters containing essays by various contributors exploring the intersections between pop culture, undead films involving vampires and zombies, other undead creatures like the Golem and Cenobites, and theological connections to themes of blood-atonement, sacrifice, redemption and judgment, and postmodern festivity. Order the Kindle edition (here) and for the paper version (here).

We hope that more publications of this ilk will surface and that the centrality of the resurrection will be pursued in new studies that examine and interpret both classic and current interests in spirituality, the Undead, the Living Dead, ghosts, and Gothic literature.

Join the conversation Resurrection in Culture

Come join a conversation about chapter 4 of The Cross Is Not Enough on signs of the resurrection in music, books, films (click here).

Scot McKnight’s Dialogue Continues

Some further dialogue about The Cross Is Not Enough is occurring via Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blogspot. The latest reflections revolve around chapter two. See Scot’s comments and the exchanges of his readers here. Also see Scot’s discussion of chapter 3 where we reframe apologetics (see here).

Some of our readers might also be amused to know that the “Grimecore Metal” band Hungry Like Rakovitz have completed an album called “The Cross Is Not Enough”. The harsh and confronting demo version of the album (uploaded in June 2012 half a year after our book was published) can be listened to on the web. The album has no connection at all to our book.

Scot McKnight on The Cross Is Not Enough

Scot McKnight has paid us a great compliment by drawing positive attention to our book, The Cross Is Not Enough. Check out what Scot has to say and scroll through his readers’ responses.

An Unhappy Reviewer

Another pseudonymous reviewer has expressed deep and hostile thoughts about The Cross Is Not Enough. Apparently there is just one author of The Cross Is Not Enough  as the reviewer begins by saying “This author…”. If the reviewer has read the book then why has such a basic fact that the book has two authors escaped the reviewer’s eyes?

As we have noted with a previous negative reader’s review, it is proper etiquette to  describe a book’s argument before one raises criticisms, and it helps if due acknowledgement is made that there are two authors.

Leaving aside those minor points, check out what the pseudonymous reviewer at Barnes & Noble argues based on using portions of the epistle to the Galatians. Evidently we are guilty of diluting the gospel by overlooking passages in Galatians concerning the law and the cross. It is somewhat ironic that the reviewer skips over Paul’s salutation: “Paul an apostle-sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…” (Gal. 1:1). The resurrection of Christ is the melody and the undergirding theme through which Paul interprets the power and meaning of the cross.

As we have carefully stated in our book so that readers would not go off the beaten track about what we think of the Cross:

We accept that the cross is an indispensable part of the gospel’s message of reconciliation, and that it shows us the obedience, humility, and servanthood of Christ and forgiveness of sin in his atoning death (p 26) … we do not want to be misunderstood: We affirm that the death of Jesus on the cross is very important. We are not belittling the agony and horror of the cross or downplaying the theological importance of atonement. In fact we want to underscore the point that Paul was right in saying that ‘the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us’ (2 Cor. 1:5).

What needs to be brought back into focus, and which the pseudonymous reviewer fails to comment on, is that Paul made it very plain as to the content of the message of the gospel:

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which you also stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you-unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn I had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Cor 15.:17)

Paul’s gospel message consists of both the death and resurrection of Jesus, and he asserts that without Christ’s resurrection there would no forgiveness for sin. Again, while Paul referred to the cross and justification, he also saw the resurrection as integral to justification:

“Who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)

It is difficult to know if this reviewer has read the whole book and read it in context. It seems like, on the basis of the reviewer’s remarks, that the message of the gospel is just the cross.

Check out what the reviewer has written and make up your own mind. See the review at http://my.barnesandnoble.com/reviews-izzyt84/

James Bond Skyfall and Resurrection

The next scheduled film in the James Bond stable starring Daniel Craig is Skyfall (first release in UK October 26 2012, November 9 USA, and November 22 in Australia).

The plot appears to involve a character named Silva who seeks vengeance on “M” (Judi Dench). The first teasers for the film are now surfacing and intimate that Bond has a death and resurrection-like experience. The pre-credit shows Bond being shot “dead” on top of a moving train and he plummets to his death under water.

His “death” is just an artifice for story-telling (he does not truly die). Bond needs to appear to the world to be “dead” in order to operate covertly. Nevertheless an analogy for death and resurrection is embedded in Skyfall.

A snippet in one of the trailers has this exchange of dialogue between Bond and his nemesis Silva:

Bond: “everybody needs a hobby.”

Silva: “So what’s your hobby?”

Bond: “Resurrection.”

It may also be that motifs about atonement for “past sins” will be peppered throughout the film. The film trailer shows “M” peering at a computer flat-screen monitor which has this message: “Think On Your Sins”.

(For the relevant trailer “First Full Skyfall Trailer” go here, or better still see the official film website and click the US trailer).

While Bond is one of the most amoral hero-action figures around, it seems that Skyfall can be added to the list of death-resurrection analogies abounding in different facets of pop culture. In chapter 4 of The Cross Is Not Enough we discuss a few selected morsels of death-resurrection analogies in film, cult TV series, comic-books, poems, novels and Shakespearean plays. Check out our book if it piques your interest.