Confusion over Christ’s death provides a clue.

Somehow easter is different from Christmas. John Robinson, bishop of Woolwich, writes: “Most people would genuinely like to believe the Christmas story, but wonder whether it can be true with the world as it is after nearly 2,000 years. But in the case of the Atonement, they ask with some impatience how anything done 2,000 years ago on the cross could ‘affect me now’.”

It is easy to see why this is so. Every child loves Christmas. Families come together to renew their bonds, and to give and receive gifts. No holiday fills the hearts of adults or children with nostalgia as Christmas does. But the celebration of Easter, with its Passion Week and Good Friday, creates no such joyful memories. And not even the Resurrection theme of Easter Sunday can begin to rival the appeal of Christmas.

Root Of The Problem

The basic reason for the relative unattractiveness of Good Friday and Easter lies in the nearly total eclipse of the biblical view of God. The Death of God theologians were almost right. The God of the average American never did exist. He is only a handy tool that can safely be allowed to lie unused on the workbench until such time as we need it. Then, for this and that purpose of our own, we call upon God. God is necessary for the preservation of democracy. Or the capitalist system. Or a stable society of law and order. Or a truly fulfilled life. In desperate moments of great sickness or overwhelming catastrophe, God is handy to have around. For then, he alone can sustain us and help us out of our difficulties.

But God, the occasional helper in time of need, is a far cry from the God revealed in Holy Scripture. The God of the Bible is certainly no tool to be used at our convenience, ...

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