power to be weak

Sometimes I get the feeling that differences between particular groups of Christians get traced back to whether they’re focusing more on the cross or more on the resurrection.

This often happens with the differences between those who emphasise suffering, service and humility and those who emphasise victory, power and joy. How easy it is to think of the first group as cross-centred and the second as resurrection-centred (or Spirit-centred)!

I was even tempted to fall into this myself in assessing the disagreement between John Piper and Brian McLaren that I mentioned last week.

I wanted to place Piper at the resurrection-centred end of the spectrum and McLaren at the cross-centred end.

Why? Because Piper’s emphasis on answers seemed to resonate more with how God can redeem evil and tragedy — as Jesus did in defeating death.

Yet it’s finally unhelpful, I think, to go down this route. An old Northern Training Institute by Tim Chester paper on eschatology and mission has helped me see why.

It’s unhelpful to go down this route — pitting cross against resurrection — because while “there is an important sense in which through the Spirit we have resurrection life and power now”, that same “resurrection power is given to us that we might live the life of the cross”.

As Chester concludes (and as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 4.7-12 and Philippians 3.10-11), resurrection power simply is “power to be weak”.


  1. Thanks for the link to that paper Chris. This seems to be coming a bit of an issue in reformed circles that needs this kind of humility and love.

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