Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Making Things Right with Crossed Lines

posted by xscot mcknight

The Cross is the center of the Christian faith, though it takes the entire Weekend (Good Friday and Easter Morn) to accomplish the gospel work of God.

But, the Cross is often truncated into an event that deals exclusively with sin as transgression (sin is transgression, and a lot more) for the purpose of preparing people for the Celestial City (which it does, and again a lot more). I call this truncated version of the gospel the Good Friday Onliy Gospel. The Cross, if we look more seriously at the Bible, is so much more.

That is why, in the Jesus Creed, I devoted sections to God’s physical sympathy with our suffering, to God’s liberating us from our fallen condition, to the Cross of Christ as a paradigm of Christian existence. The Cross is all this, and still even more.

If you haven’t looked yet at Os Guinness’s new book, “Unspeakable,” then you might want to when you are browsing at your local bookstore. Guinness, who has been writing salty treatises since the days when he wrote “The Dust of Death” (a first look at Eastern religions in the heady days when Francis Schaeffer was chopping wood in Switzerland and stoking fires in the USA). Unspeakable takes on the twin problems of suffering and evil (they are not the same) and the Twin Towers lay in a heap of ruins behind every page. After taking us through several important questions, he comes to the issue of whether or not the differences (between the Eastern religions and Christianity/Judaism) make a difference. His chapter on Christianity is worth every penny you might spend on the book.

He sets up the “resolution” of the Christian faith by examining the old line of Augustine: If he God is all-good, he would will only good; if all-powerful, he could do whatever he wanted. Since there is evil, either God is not all-good or he is not all-powerful. Well, no one who faces the words of those lines can walk away unscathed. Hinduism, Guinness states, avoids evil by withdrawal. But the God of the Christian faith stares evil and suffering in the face and he does so preeminently in the Cross (and here Guinness forgets the resurrection and Pentecost, which is a pity because they would strengthen his case).

Never mind about that. Three Christian responses to suffering and evil are found: (1) God faces evil by the message that the world should be because it was created otherwise; (2) God faces suffering as an all-good God by absorbing wounds himself; and (3) God’s power remains an eschatological hope (here he has forgotten both Resurrection and Pentecost, rendering the power of God entirely a future hope when it has present restoring powers).

Still, the sweep of Guinness tells the story: the Christian story is one in which God absorbs pain, deals with evil, and creates new possibilities (I’d say through both the Cross as paradigm and the Resurrection as power and Pentecost as enablement). When theologians write as Guiness does, and I don’t agree with all he has written, we find ideas that neither minimize the human condition, what I call the Cracked Eikon condition, nor slink away from bold and realistic realities.

To adapt a line Guinness uses from a Portuguese parable: God makes things right with crossed lines. It takes a story a long time to fill in those lines.

Blogs to come: I’ll be blogging on McLaren’s “The Last Word,” on Jim Wallis’ “God’s Politics,” and then perhaps on what we mean when we discuss the “unity” of the Bible. I’ve got grading, Baccalaureate and Commencement to attend to over the next few days, along with reading the proofs of a monograph coming out from Baylor Univ Press this fall, so I may not be able to keep up the pace. In the meantime, I’ll also be blogging some on favorite essayists, and I’ll begin that with Alan Jacobs’ two wonderful books of essays.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(2)
post a comment
Bob Robinson

posted May 6, 2005 at 6:17 am


It is often said, “The Cross is the center of the Christian faith.” I was totally convinced of this after reading Stott’s The Cross of Christ years ago. But then I began to feel that too heavy an emphasis on the cross makes for an imbalanced Christianity. It was NT Wright that broke through into my theology that made the Resurrection the “center of the Christian faith.”I know you can’t have one without the other, and that the cross speaks volumes (as your post here says) through the suffering Jesus in a world of evil. But it is the Resurrection that provides the ultimate answer to all these questions, no?



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted May 6, 2005 at 7:18 am


Bob,Thanks. It is the whole Weekend, both Good Friday and Easter Morn (plus Pentecost) that accomplishes the good news. Any of the events without the other distorts the gospel and falls short of Shalom.Good Friday without Easter is the cross without discipleshp, and Easter without Good Friday is liberation without redemption.Hence, A Weekend called Grace. It all gets down to where one begins: if one begins with Genesis 3, as so many do, then we only need Good Friday. If we begin with Genesis 11, we only need Pentecost. If we begin with Genesis 1–2, we need Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.