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1/19/2013
Perspective: The central doctrine of Christian faith

By GEORGE R. PASLEY

The central doctrine of the Christian faith is that Jesus was raised from death by God — or, as we often put it, the resurrection.

If Christ was raised from the dead, then, to put it quite simply, anything is possible. In fact, it is possible that we will be raised from the dead. In fact, it is more than possible, according to our faith — it is a promise given to those who put their trust in Jesus.

But if we will be raised from the dead, then death is not the last word in life, and if even death is not certain, then neither is any other tragedy in life. Consider these possibilities:

If it is true that we will be raised from the dead, then it is also possible that we will be redeemed — rescued, made new — in the aftermath of every other calamity.

The sick will be made well. The jobless will find work. The homeless will find shelter. The hungry will find food.

Those abandoned by family, friends and society will be reunited and loved.

The addict will be set free, the career criminal will be reformed, and the person without purpose in life will be given a mission.

The chronic abusers of women and children and elderly will cease their violence. The war-torn regions of the world will know peace. The soldiers will come home.

The scapegoat and the falsely accused will be vindicated. The neglected will be remembered. The outcast will be embraced. Enemies will become friends.

All these and more are possible — and promised, when Kingdom comes — because death is not the last word and neither are any of the destructive powers that haunt our earthly existence.

But so many are suffering, so many prayers are unanswered. How long must we wait? I do not know. But I do know that the one who was raised from the dead knows what death is like, and suffering, and agony, and rejection. But one more thing I know, one thing of great power: Those who believe are given a gift, and its name is hope.

By the power of hope we wait through all kinds of tragedies, injustices, struggles and storms and along the way, we are blessed by the company of saints, and by the vision of what will be, some day.

The Rev. George R. Pasley is pastor at Ketchikan Presbyterian Church.