Preparing for a lecture today I came across this from Richard Bauckham. He expresses so beautifully and succinctly how the cross doesn’t bring closure, nor does it indicate any sort of easy explanation for the devastating presence of evil in God’s good world. It is, rather, the overpowering signal of God’s coming triumph over evil.
The cross and resurrection of Jesus have sometimes been understood as an answer to the Old Testament’s question of theodicy, such that the psalms of complaint should no longer be prayed and Job’s protest becomes redundant. In that case the biblical story, at its climax in Jesus, would achieve closure, and the intractable evils of history and experience would be overcome. However, the resurrection only anticipates eschatological closure. It bursts open the constraints of nature and history, promising an overwhelming good of a kind that will not, like any immanent theodicy, leave out the dead, the victims of history whose fate can never be justified by any product of history. Closure—meaning a finally satisfactory resolution of the problem of God’s goodness in the world—is found in trust and hope, not in some explanation of the world that makes sense of evil, and still less in the claim of human power to eradicate the evil that human reason has understood.*
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20).
*Richard Bauckham, “Reading Scripture as a Coherent Story,” in The Art of Reading Scripture (eds. Ellen F. Davis & Richard Hays; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), p. 51.