The Resurrection and a Lesson I Learned on the Choppy Sea

Here is the the Crossan/Borg vs. White/Renihan 2005 Debate on the Resurrection.

I attended this debate that took place on the sea during an Alaskan cruise. It was either the day before or after the debate that Dr. White held a session on the cruise for his ministry cruisers where he expounded on the folly of the world’s wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1—certainly, one of the most offensive gospel passages in the Bible for the unregenerate. Marcus Borg and his wife seemed to inadvertently attend the session not knowing it was a Bible sermon-study. Of course, it was by God’s providence.

I recognized that moment the palpable contrast between a prideful, liberal, world-esteemed Jesus scholar mistakenly attending an unabated gospel sermon on the:

word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart. Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Now many would be tempted to water down the message (I had to ask myself if put in that situation, would I have done so?). But I will never forget to this day that Dr. White did not hold back the unadulterated 1 Corinthians 1 gospel presentation simply because Borg was in attendance. In fact, I think he emphasized the “folly of the world’s wisdom” to make his point to Borg.

I looked over at Borg sometime during White’s sermon (I know, I know, I need to look inward during sermons) and I could be mistaken but Borg’s countenance seemed to say, “I would rather jump off this cruise ship into the ocean than be here right now.” Of course, only God knew his heart.

Why could Dr. White preach as such? Because his Reformed faith has taught him that you don’t change hearts by preaching a palatable message to the unregenerate. Instead, you trust that God is absolutely sovereign and you trust that the gospel is divine power, “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” We can never presume on God’s purposes.

I look back on that choppy-sea day and the example of Dr. White’s boldness whenever I am placed in those situations by God and tempted to trim off offensive elements of the gospel. Perhaps this is the fundamental principle to all preaching: You must first trust with the totality of your being that the divine message you are proclaiming is efficacious, for his Word does not return void.

“(17) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (18) For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (19) For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (20) Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (21) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (22) For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, (23) but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, (24) but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (25) For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor 1:17–25 ESV)