Easter at the Center?

…Christmas itself has now far outstripped Easter in popular culture as the real celebratory center of the Christian year – a move that completely reverses the New Testament’s emphasis. We sometimes try, in hymns, prayers, and sermons, to build a whole theology on Christmas, but it can’t in fact sustain such a thing. We then keep Lent, Holy Week, and Good Friday so thoroughly that we have hardly any energy left for Easter except for the first night and day. Easter, however, should be at the center. Take that away and there is, almost literally, nothing left.

– NT Wright

[ed note: I promise to stop quoting Wright as soon as he agrees to stop writing ridiculously insightful things…]


6 Responses to Easter at the Center?

  1. GKB says:

    Here is where I would like to have a nice, long chat with Brother Wright. For me, Christmas has eclipsed Easter for theological, not commercial or pop culture, reasons.

    For me, the primary salvific act was Christ’s incarnation, not his crucifixion. We celebrate that incarnation at Christmas, and Advent is much more meaningful to me than Lent. Maybe it’s because we do Easter so poorly (all that attention on punishment and substitution, etc…you know where I’m going with this).

  2. Matt says:


    I can respect what you are saying, but I don’t think that most people are like you, thoughtfully weighing the implications of incarnation on the one hand with the implications of atonement on the other. Its more about the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you combine the mooshy feel-good theology of Christmas with the consumeristic high of buying and getting lots of stuff.

    For Wright, however, the issue is whether either (incarnation or atonement) means much if there is no evidence that – through Jesus – a new age has been inaugurated. Easter is the celebration of that idea.

  3. Jonathan Sharp says:

    Let’s not confuse Easter with notions of PSA, whether they be right or wrong (I’m not willing to throw PSA out due to what I see as some scriptural constraints, though I do see that it needs to be somewhat nuanced). However, what Easter celebrates is the risen Christ, the empty tomb. If Christ has not been risen from the dead, we are to be pitied more than all people for believing in him.

    Yes, let’s celebrate Christmas and Easter, but if both the manger and the tomb contain flesh and bone, then the incarnation is meaningless, as Jesus would be just one more poor sap that had some good ideas and got killed for them.

  4. GKB says:

    Why would the incarnation be rendered meaningless if the tomb was not empty?

  5. I like this quote and tend to agree with Jedi Wright. The birth of Christ is extremely significant, but it is through the death and resurrection of Christ that we are justified and changed.

    “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Romans 4:25 4

    “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4

  6. curtis klope says:

    “[ed note: I promise to stop quoting Wright as soon as he agrees to stop writing ridiculously insightful things…]”

    ha ha. awesome. I’m betting that the quoting’s not ending anytime soon…

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