At the request of a colleague, I got involved recently in a debate in The Herald about the resurrection. A minister of another denomination had publicly stated in that newspaper that belief in the literal resurrection of Jesus is unnecessary, and further, that Christians today generally realise this.
In my contribution I pointed out that the resurrection of Jesus is the very heart of the Christian faith, and that belief in that historical event is what defines us as Christians – as Paul says (Romans 10): “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
I compared a minister who sits loosely to the law of God with a lawyer who sits loosely to the law of the land – he obviously wouldn’t get many clients, and would be regarded as failing to act in the best interests of those who were unfortunate enough to be represented by him.
The response that followed was fairly predictable, my favourite being the contributor who wrote in to say that this debate over the resurrection was very clearly between two ministers, one of whom has an open mind, and the other a closed mind. I think it may have been the latter categorisation that was applied to me!
When I read that, I was reminded of something that GK Chesterton once wrote. Commenting on his good friend HG Wells, Chesterton wrote: “He thought that the object of opening the mind is simply opening the mind. Whereas, I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”
Amen to that! When you go to a restaurant, you open your mouth not just to have an open mouth, but to close it again on something solid, like a steak, medium-rare with a nice peppercorn sauce. And it surely is the same with our minds – we open them in order to close them on something solid.
Our aim is unashamedly not a state of permanent open-mindedness – in that connection I’m reminded of another quotation that it seems impossible to get the original source for: “Keep an open mind – but not so open that your brain falls out!” No - our aim is conviction, faith, confidence – not an arrogant presumption, but a humble trust in the promises of God.
There could be nothing more solid upon which to close and settle the mind than the resurrection of Christ – which provides hope not for this life only, but for all eternity. Does this mean that our minds are closed? Yes it does – but no more closed than the minds of the secularists and atheists against the resurrection. Don’t believe the secular myth that secularism is tolerant – it tolerates no views other than its own.
In conclusion, let us affirm what Paul declares in 1 Cor.15: “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead …”