April 19, 2019

AND ONLY SUFFERING ALLOWED hIM TO UNDERSTAND:

Why Jesus on the Cross Is No Mere Symbol (Peter Wehner, 4/19/19, NY Times)

As a non-Christian friend of mine put it to me recently, the idea that people would worship a God who is compassionate toward us is one thing, but to worship a God who suffers and dies -- as a condemned criminal, no less -- is distinct to Christianity. In my friend's understated words, "When you think about it, it is a little strange."

Perhaps the aspect of the crucifixion that is easiest to understand is that according to Christian theology, atonement is the means through which human beings -- broken, fallen, sinful -- are reconciled to God. The ideal needed to be sacrificed for the non-ideal, the worthy for the unworthy.

But the cross is more than simply a gateway to the City of God. "I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross," John Stott, one of the most important Christian evangelists of the last century, wrote in "The Cross of Christ." "The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as 'God on the cross.' In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?" From the perspective of Christianity, one can question why God allows suffering, but one cannot say God doesn't understand it. He is not remote, indifferent, untouched or unscarred.

Scott Dudley, the senior pastor at Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Wash., and a lifelong friend, pointed out to me that on the cross God was reconciling the world to himself -- but God was also, perhaps, reconciling himself to the world. The cross is not only God's way of saying we are not alone in our suffering, but also that God has entered into our suffering through his own suffering.

The Bible relates the story of God's evolution.

Posted by at April 19, 2019 2:46 PM

  

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