Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Beauty (or Ugliness) of the Cross

In light of the following quote, how might we recover the biblically brutal meaning of the cross, which has been so emasculated in our culture?
"The cross today all too easily becomes an empty symbol, something to put at the front of churches, something out of which to make necklaces, something to add to a charm bracelet, or something to reflect on in theological abstraction....But the cross in Paul's day represented the most brutal kind of death by torture....When Paul speaks of the foolishness of the cross, he is talking about the offensiveness of taking something so ugly and bringing it to the center of faith."
- James Brownson, "Hearing the gospel again, for the first time," in Confident Witness, Changing World, ed. Craig Van Gelder


FuzyMunky said...

I'm reminded of the relation of that to modern day execution. Would we wear little electric chairs around our necks or build mock gas chambers on the steeples of our churches?


Anonymous said...

The only way I see to recover it is to talk about the Cross and its ugliness and its purpose (to satisfy the wrath of God). But talking about that requires us to talk about the wrath of God, and talking about the wrath of God requires us to talk about the bad news. And talking about the bad news requires us to engage with our culture on topics like creation vs. evolution. And engaging with our culture in the realm of ideas is so much harder than fitting in with them superficially. And who really wants to do all that work?

Of course, my last comment is in jest, but it's also a jab at the the thought that any evangelism is easy. Evangelism is hard work, it takes relationship with people, it takes time, risk, and often ends up in frustration, unless we are focused on serving God rather than on the praise of man. Much easier said than done, unfortunately. In fact, it can't be done without the Holy Spirit!


Anonymous said...

Of course, if you mean recovering the concept among professing Christians, then the task is a bit simpler (though not necessarily easier): we need to talk all the time about the grace of God and the fact that we completely do not deserve it.