Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"God does not need the cross..."

Sometime back I wrote a blog on the Atonement. Since then I came across this prosed wellspring of truth:

"For many with a hurtful understanding of Christianity this is vitally important. For them the cross is something terrible. It shows them a cruel God who accuses and condemns us for something we cannot help and then murders his own son to appease this bloodlust...[but]
God does not need the cross to forgive us or love us. Jesus forgave and loved people before the cross. But some of us needed the cross to be able to really accept that forgiveness. God does not need the cross to love us: God has always loved us. But many of us needed the cross to really grasp that. God does not need the cross to be reconciled to us. But many of us needed the cross to be reconciled to Life, to break the cycle of rivalry and to heal our estranged authority image.

"The cross speaks to us at the point of our need. And while these are not God's problems, but our alienation, still for us that alienation is very real. So to the one wracked with guilt God says through the cross, `I take the blame. I pay the price.' To the one who is locked in self-hate God says through the cross `I love you so much I would give my life defending you.' To the one in rebellion to life God says through the cross, `See me here. I am not a threat; I am love.'"

"On the cross God in Christ took on our sin. That means he at once bore the weight of the harm that we have done, and also bore the pain of the victims. This was not, as [Penal Substitution] would say, God punishing the human Jesus, but the incarnate Jesus revealing the compassionate heart of God to us. On the cross we see that God suffers with those who suffer, and always has. God carries the pain of every victim of rape, incest, torture and starvation. As Christ cries out `my God my God why have you forsaken me' God shows his solidarity with every person so overwhelmed with doubt they don't have the will to believe anymore."

from The Rebel God by Derek Flood


Clare Flourish said...

For me, the Cross is not atonement for the wrath of God, but the wrath of Man, and the ultimate passive resistance, a refusal to retaliate under total provocation, and so a demonstration of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Clare,

Thanks for the succinct description of the Atonement. Powerful.

I am copying your reflection to my quotes section with your name

Much appreciated.

In the Light,


Hystery said...

Derek Flood is my cousin. Funny to see his name here. This feeds some of my small world theories.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Hystery,

Intriguing! I came to his quote via a round-about-google search for something else! But was deeply moved.

And I find it fascinating that Flood is both a theologian and an artist and is a professor of art. Unusual combination.

You sure have a noteworthy extended family:-) Are you related to Ralph Waldo Emerson too?;-)

Thanks for stopping by.


Hystery said...

Derek's dad was a political cartoonist and courtroom artist who covered the Angela Davis trial. Probably because of his father (who also gave my sister and me most of our art supplies) Derek was always an artistic kid. My great uncle was named Ralph Waldo Emerson, but he was not the Transcendentalist. His tombstone reads "Poet" so he did enjoy the joke. I *am* a descendant of Jonathan (Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God) Edwards. :-)

Derek and I have never discussed his theology, but I suspect that the influence of our great-grandmother's WCTU human rights related Christianity affected both of us to some degree. She once said that she would be willing to give up her place in heaven for someone suffering through life on earth. I'm beginning to deepen my understanding of Gram's historical/religious context these days. The so-called "feminization" of the Church, disparaged as it has been by those who prefer a more "robust and manly" Christianity, seems to me to offer a more theologically sophisticated interpretation of atonement based on love, interdependence, and care rather than on sin, punishment, and suffering.