Friday, 25 March 2016
How Good Friday shifted my thinking
Three years ago, when I was a Protestant, a very good Evangelical friend sent me a text message. He was in the habit of sending me text messages about the Bible and Christian teaching, almost like a 'thought for the day.' In this particular text message, he stated that our Lord Jesus Christ must have been crucified on Wednesday or Thursday and not Friday, as we are told He was in the grave three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40).
The response to this argument from the traditional point of view is simple. Three days and three nights does not need to mean 72 hours. If somebody has a part-time job and tells me she works three days a week, I do not assume she is saying she works for three 24-hour periods. She is saying she works for a period on three days.
I was very well aware of the view that Jesus was not crucified on Friday. I was taught it at the Evangelical Christian school where I had my secondary education. I had heard the popular preacher David Pawson defend it. Another friend of mine had read Dave Hunt and enthusiastically argued for it. I had formed no strong opinion on the subject; it was a matter of indifference to me whether Our Lord was crucified on Friday or Wednesday.
Nevertheless, after receiving this text message, the thought crossed my mind, "Is he saying that for two thousand years Christians were unable to count?" The Church Fathers taught that Jesus was crucified on Friday; were the men who gave us our Christology such dunces that they were unable to do basic mathematics? I decided that on this question, Christian tradition was probably sounder than Dave Hunt and the rest of his crew.
This got me thinking. If Evangelicals were wrong to disregard what the Church Fathers said about which day of the week the Lord was crucified on, maybe we were wrong to ignore them on other subjects. Could the Church Fathers have been right about justification? Could they have been right about the salvific role of baptism? Could they have been right in their view of the Eucharist? It was a train of thought that led me to re-think and abandon my Protestantism.