Irruption of the Real: The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth


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Individual ideologies and theologies give us incomplete pictures of reality. The world is too complex. No Ideology or theology can explain everything. Every ideology and every theology overlooks or misses something. There is always something that resists symbolization. This is the view of Slovenian philosopher Slovoj Zizek who I have accessed primarily through a book called “The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission Towards an Evangelical Political Theology” by David E. Fitch.

An “irruption of the real” occurs when someone takes the beliefs and tenets of his or her faith or ideology to the extreme. Jesus did this when he put his life on the line because he believed that the one and all-powerful God of Israel would save him, overthrow the rulers and authorities of this world, redeem and restore Israel to its rightful place among the nations, and take dominion over the world (Mark 14:62 and 15:34). The truth is suddenly revealed often in a humiliating fashion so that people are forced to confront the fact that what they thought would happen, what they believed, didn’t come to pass, at least not as they expected.

This is the story of the Gospels. The disciples expect the Messiah to be a victorious king who would defeat Israel’s enemies (Mark 10:37). Something amazing did happen, but it wasn’t what they expected.

That something was the resurrection and the rise of the Jesus movement. Not all “irruptions of the Real” are victorious as the resurrection. Most end in humiliation and the reexamination and reformulation of one’s beliefs. Without the resurrection, Jesus’s ministry would have ended the same way, another prophet and martyr killed by the authorities (Mark 15:34).

But that’s not what happened. Some of Jesus’s followers, including Peter and James, had visions of Jesus after his death (1 Corinthians 15:5). This led them to believe that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

On this show, we examine Fitch’s concept of an “irruption of the Real” and apply it to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. We will talk about Zizek’s concepts of “master signifiers” and “sublime objects” and the role they play in motivating us to organize around ideologies and beliefs. Fitch, an Evangelical himself, uses Zizek to demonstrate how some Evangelical beliefs became disconnected from what they meant generations ago and now fail to serve God’s mission in the world.

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