|Prof. Grant Macaskill, the NT Lund Lecturer for 2017|
Today (Sept 28, 2017), the New Testament series for the Nils W. Lund Memorial Lund Lectureship was given by Dr. Grant Macaskill, the Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis at King’s College in the University of Aberdeen, who spoke on theme of participation in Christ. But unlike past tendencies in scholarship to frame Paul’s participation language vis-à-vis justification, Macaskill framed Paul’s participation language with God’s providential working of history to its eschatological end, and under the category of Providence is the unique participation of the believer in the sufferings of Christ.
But I’m actually getting ahead of the series. The 1st lecture, entitled: “The Mystery of Revealed: Christ and Cosmos,” focused on the Christology of Colossians 1:15-20 as the starting point for reading all of Scripture as a whole. Using the movie The Unusual Suspects as an example (spoiler warning!), Macaskill explained that no one can watch the movie a second time without remembering the plot twist: that Kevin Spacey’s character is actually Keyser Söze, the main villain of the story. Likewise, the Christian cannot read the Bible without remembering the mystery unveiled anticipated by both Wisdom and the Torah is Christ. Creation and the Law are not the last word on reality. Christ is.
The link to the 1st Lecture is below:
Building on the theoretical framework of set forth by the 1st lecture, Macaskill’s 2nd lecture drew out the implications of the church’s participation in the mystery of God unveiled in Christ. The 2nd lecture was entitled: “In the Likeness of the Image: Participating in Providence.” This lecture started off slowly and methodically but ends on a pastoral crescendo. Wow! Probably the most powerful insight was the discussion of the believer’s participation in the sufferings of Christ as part of participating in God’s providence.
A believer’s suffering is not like Jesus’ suffering, nor is it analogous to the sufferings of Christ, but rather it is a participation in Christ’s sufferings. Christ died a senseless death. When the Son needed the Father the most, it appears that God had abandoned him on the cross. When our experience of suffering lacks glory or purpose, when our suffering seems senseless, this lowest point of human experience can manifest Christ-likeness that no other experience can duplicate. Suffering does not have to be redemptive to be meaningful. There is a particular way that a person can suffer or even be martyred, and it resembles Christ. The person who suffers Parkinson’s disease, the still-born baby, and any apparent senseless death can resemble Christ. God’s providential care becomes evident only in retrospect, not at the moment of suffering, but only afterwards when ultimately He works out his purposeful end even in what, at the time, seems senseless.
To hear more, follow the link to the 2nd Lecture below. MJL