Tuesday, 29 March 2016

John Webster on Jesus' resurrection life and ours in him

It's only in the last year or so that I've begun to read John Webster.  I never had anything against him, just wasn't aware of him.  Now that I've begun to read him, I realize that I have been missing out on one of God's good gifts to the church today.  Webster is a theologian's theologian and an advocate of theological theology (see the first paragraph of this article by Derek Rishmawy for what Webster means by this). 

I am currently working through a volume of his sermons, Confronted by Grace.  It is excellent.  As Michael Horton says on the front cover blurb, "in reading these sermons: one forgets the preacher and hears Christ."  That about says it. 

Too often even decent expository or exegetical sermons are light on doctrine and leave the hearer inspired, edified or convicted (worthy things though they are) but not necessarily more aware or convinced of their own rich confessional heritage and resources.  On the other hand, theology is sometimes so systematized, compartmentalized and theoretical that, although it feels like it might have been born to the same mother (the biblical text) as preaching, they long since grew up and moved to different cities and they seldom visit each other.  Sometimes it feels like theology is the domain of the professionals but has no regular place in the life of the church.  And unfortunately, where theology was once queen of the sciences, for some generations already it has been relegated to justifying its existence in the academy by morphing into and partnering with other fields of study in a sort of parasitic existence, trying to justify its continued seat at the table, the same table over which it once presided from the head. 

In Webster's sermons, the theological treasures of the biblical text are exposed and expounded and the reader's heart and mind are fed with wholesome fare.  One gets the sense that, even as he approaches the Word (and therefore the Inspirer of that Word) with humility, he does theology and exposition with a confidence that could only come from a person fully convinced of the truth and importance of God's written revelation and its ability to form the Church in the here and now. 

John Webster has a wonderful post on Christ's resurrection and its implications for individual Christians, the church, and the whole of the creation over at Reformation 21.  For those used to taking their theology a tweet at a time, this may seem long but I promise it will repay the 15 or 20 minutes to read and ponder it.  This is one of the best brief treatments of the resurrection I've ever read.

I trust you will find, as I have, both your heart and mind ignited by the precious truth, as well as the subsequent and contingent truths (read it to see what I mean), of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

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