Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Cross as Primary Referent (Part 2)

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

The fact that God is all knowing raises the question of God’s purpose for creation. Since God knew that the cross would be necessary, and still decided to create, the cross and its results can be seen as a desirable thing. God’s purposes in creating the universe are ultimately His and unknown to His creation; but this can be known. His purposes in creating the universe, the world, and a humanity characterized by free will were important enough for God to send His Son to die. They were important enough for the Son to give Himself freely (Philippians 2:5-11). The pictures of the Love shared within the Trinity, and the Love shown towards humanity by the Trinity, are clues as to the nature of the purpose of God in creating. He created to further love. It is in His nature to love. In humanity, God made one aspect of His creation with the capacity to reject His love. In doing so, He created a being with the ultimate capacity to love Him back, in that the love shown by humanity is a freely chosen love.

In the garden, a shadow of the cross is seen, cast by the two trees at its center (Genesis 2:9). The cross can be seen as a tree of the knowledge of good and evil in that at the cross, good and evil are revealed in their true aspects, and in their fullest expressions. Evil is seen in the suffering and pain and death resulting from the sin of the world, in God forsaking the Son. Good is revealed in the love of God, seen in the sacrifice of the Son. God was in Christ dying in humanity’s place. The cross is a true tree of life because it is at the cross that eternal life was won once and for all for all of humanity. The cross is important to the nature of man because it supplies a solution to the abuse of free will without negating that same freedom. It returns humanity to a state of free will and at the same time empowers humanity to live freely within God’s will.

The cross also speaks to the problem of evil and suffering. If God is sovereign and created all that is, then evil and suffering are a part of God’s creation. Even when we clarify that evil is a non-thing, an absence of good, God still created a reality where such a non-thing is possible. This is unacceptable to many people; even if they believe in the God of the Bible who is loving and caring. Regardless, moral evil did exist prior to the fall of man according to the Genesis account (Genesis 3:1). It is seen in the serpent. Apparently, natural evil existed as well. In the curse imposed by God, it speaks of man’s suffering being increased, not initiated (Genesis 3:16). Evil in all its forms exists, and in spite of God’s total sovereignty, He did not impose this evil on the world. It exists, like sin, in opposition to God. The cross speaks to humanity as it faces evil by showing that God too has faced it in the Son made man. In the resurrection, we peek into the “already, not yet.” We see that God also has defeated evil and suffering.

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