Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Cross as Primary Referent (Part 1)

A theology desiring to be Christian can not merely be Biblical. Christian Theology must be cruciform.

 The cross of Christ is closely tied to the rest of the theological questions. Its meaning and operation are dependent on such issues as the nature of God, God’s plan for creation, His design and purpose for humanity, and the nature of sin. The cross of Christ is the cornerstone of Christian existence and thought. Any Christian understanding of who God is and how creation is intended to be is only possible by looking closely at the cross and its significance. Once the cross is revealed and understood, then other theological issues are open to be seen in their full meaning. At the cross, for the first time, God is revealed in His fullness. At the cross, sin is given its fullest expression in terms of the terrible consequences humanity has brought on itself. True understanding of God and creation and God’s plan are only possible through the cross.

God is understood only as He reveals Himself. It is impossible for finite beings to understand an infinite being unassisted. God has revealed Himself in many ways. His character has been revealed partially in the creation He has made (Romans 1:20). He has also broken into time and acted in history; revealing Himself further through these actions (Deuteronomy 29:29). These were made meaningful in His actions towards and through His chosen people, the children of Abraham (Romans 3:2). The record of this action in history is God’s written revelation called the Old Testament by Christians.

God’s ultimate act of revelation, however, came when He sent His Son, part of the Triune Godhead, to become a man and live with His creation (John 1:14). In His life, Jesus Christ gave the most complete understanding; the fullest revelation of God to creation. This revelation was climaxed on the cross where God in Christ showed His Holy-Love. God’s justice must be understood along with an understanding of His love. Here God is seen as just and holy, condemning sin and evil. However, He is also seen as love, taking humanity’s just punishment upon Himself and dying in their place.

In addition to being a demonstration, a revelation of God’s holy-love, it is a display of His incomprehensible power. Contrary to the apparent weakness of an innocent man dying on the most humiliating instrument of torture; Christ’s death on the cross was the ultimate victory creation has ever witnessed (I Corinthians 1:18). The community aspect of the Trinity has implications for what happened on the cross, as well as serving to provide a motive for God’s attempts at reconciliation with humanity. The whole idea of the Trinity, as hard as it is to grasp, is further complicated at the cross. How could God forsake the Son? Yet in the cross, the Trinity is seen as well as it can be revealed. The Father sends the Son who has given Himself freely for the sake of humanity. The punishment of the just holiness is laid upon the Son for humanity’s sake, and in doing so; God takes the punishment on Himself. The Spirit is seen in the truth revealed to the hearts of humanity who, without His help could never grasp the truth revealed there.

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