Friday, November 03, 2006

embracing grace 9: the divine comedy gospel

Scot McKnight in this chapter writes of the difference between tragedy and comedy. They are polar opposites. Tragedy ends badly and sadly. As in Ernest Hemingway's great little classic, The Old Man and the Sea. But all too true as to what we often see in real life. Much of what happens here does not end up "happily ever after". Scripture is another story. It is full of comedy. Not comedy as we in our culture understand as in "I Love Lucy" or "Seinfeld". But the classic meaning, comedy as in a good ending, after a conflict has been resolved, as in "happily ever after". This is evident all throughout the Bible. Most climactically in Jesus' death followed by his resurrection, then ascension to be followed by his return to earth. To which the last book of the Bible, Revelation points, in the comedic climax of the Story.

Scot points out that the death of Christ on the cross, alone does not save us. The death and resurrection of Christ, together do. We receive forgiveness and a new life through both. And in real life, too, Christ's death and resurrection means everything for those who have faith. Paul Carlson, an American missionary to the Congo, laid down his life in service to the sick and poor there, as a medical doctor. In spite of danger in a rebel uprising, Paul did not abandon the hospital and those in need. And in doing so, and helping others to escape, he himself was shot. But the end, even there and in the here and now is comedy. An extensive health care system in the Congo rose out of this work. Along with nearly 200,000 Christians in Covenant churches. "All because of resurrection faith."

I am nearly forgetting Pentecost, which Scot adds to this salvation at work in the world now, that is to completely take over the world. The gift of the Spirit keeps the Story very much alive and well, even in this tragic world. And in the end turns tragedy into comedy.

We cracked Eikons are thus restored. And put into community (called "the Jesus community" here) "for the good of the world." Scot suggests that the symbol we need is a cross (in this case, empty- depicting death and resurrection) with a "symbol of fire above it -- telling us that Jesus' death and resurrection, along with the gift of the Spirit, is what creates the cycle of grace."

How do you see life? Do you see it as tragedy, or comedy (in its classical meaning)? And why?

(As in all of these postings on Scot's book, my own thoughts are intermingled.)


L.L. Barkat said...

I think you can probably tell that I'm a person who sees both in life!

And, because we get to choose God or not choose God, I believe there's both in eternal life too.

Ted Gossard said...


Yeah. On your blog especially, I can see that. Yes. Tragedy is in the mix as well, as we see in Revelation.


JP Anderson said...

Tough question, it is often hard to see beyond the emotions of the day at hand. The metanarritive of scripture seems easier to answer then, say, the life of a person. But the question begs being asked of oneself.

Ted Gossard said...


Good point and thought. Yes. We can't get too hung up over our own experience, and especially over our take of it. But more and more we need to see it as part of the ongoing Story of God in which we have our special place. And really, tragedy is turned- over and over again, into the divine comedy- and that is at work in our lives- in Jesus.