Tuesday of Easter IV

“‘God,’ said the rabbi, ‘is not to be imagined from the waist down.’ Fair enough for the theologian, but leave it to the artist to push the imagination past the borderline of comfort. Note the painting by Edward Knippers, ‘Christ Calling Forth the Dead.’ It depicts a powerful, masculine, risen Christ. He is looking in at the mouth of a cave with arms extended, as Lazarus might have seen him. ‘Come forth!’ he seems to be shouting. Trouble is, this life-engendering God has come forth from the tomb exactly as he had come forth from the womb–naked. The artist had imagined God from the waist down. And having seen it, I had entered the artist’s imaginative world and envisioned God in a new way. Knippers himself was a decent, church-going fellow. But as an artist he had exploded my uncritically assumed image of a vaguely neuter Jesus. He had forced the theological question forbidden by the rabbi: is there something essential about God incarnate into male flesh?” (Fred Baue, “The Maleness of Christ” in Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay: Essays in Honor of Ronald Feuerhahn on the Occasion of his Sixty-fifth Birthday [St. Louis: CPH, 2002], 297).