A theology of the cross can offer a number of significant resources for us today.

Posted: June 13, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Theology, Christian Theology, Christianity, Contemporary Theology, Discipleship, The Christian Life

1. It reminds us of the unity of God’s action in the past and in the present, in revelation and in salvation, in Christ and in us. The believer and the church should not be surprised if what happened to Christ happens to them. The theologia crucis is for these theologians an insistence on the paradigmatic nature of the cross: it is not solely a soteriological event which remains locked in the past, but is a paradigm of the way in which God always works. For this reason, atonement theologies which regard the cross as purely a past action, the benefits of which one simply enjoys in the present, are inadequate if they fail to make the connection between God’s action in Christ and God’s action in the ongoing life of the church or the Christian.

2. It stands as a critique of theology which becomes exclusively academic. This is not just because of the tendency of academia to forget this theme, but more because it insists on the involvement of the theologian with God himself. For salvation and the knowledge of God to take place, there must be a conformity of the knower to what is known. In other words, the God who reveals himself in the cross of Christ can be known only from the cross of the Christian and the church. The forms of these ‘crucifixions’ are different, yet all three insist on the necessity of the personal experience of being humbled, becoming powerless, whether socially, soteriologically or epistemologically, and on the fact that only from that perspective can God rightly be known. This means that Christian existence today must be shaped by the form of God’s self-revelation, the crucified Christ. Quite simply, it becomes difficult for a church to use power in manipulative ways if its theology is founded upon the cross, and it seeks to remain true to the God revealed in it. Instead, the church’s use of power must be marked by the way God in Christ has used his power: in its giving power to those who lack it, and in the use of power to advance the interests of those disadvantaged by power relations.

3. In the face of postmodern critiques of the notion of power, the theologia crucis is a protest against forms of relationship between people, or between people and God, which are based primarily on manipulative power rather than love. It is not an ideology, but because of its insistence on the unity of God’s action in the past and the present, it makes demands on actual relationships within communities, the way leadership operates, and the way those on the margins are heard. Because the theologia crucis depicts the God who does not abandon power, but who uses it for the healing and salvation of his creation, exercising his own power in the foolish, powerless vulnerability of the cross, it can therefore offer an alternative model of power for the Christian community. The truth revealed in theologia crucis is not oppressive, but liberating, because it is inseparably connected to self-giving Love as its mode of expression. It tells of the God who places himself at the service of his people, and invites his people to follow suit.

from “Theology of the Cross: Subversive Theology for a Postmodern World?” by Graham Tomlin

(HT:SteveWood)


Comments
  1. The foregoing comment on the theology of the cross which takes into account the ongoing nature of God’s implementation and application of the theologia crucis in the life of His church brings home to us the redeeming and delivering work of salvation. It comes to us in the form and concept of a therapeutic paradox, an intervention of opposites, which demands the highest effort at thinking through what God is about in order to apprehend and comprehend His work in our lives and an appropriate trust in the same.

    It is as we began once more to consider and reflect on the intellectual nature of the Gospel that we shall better understand how the dignity of man is raised to new heights by the doctrines of man’s depravity and God’s sovereignty in salvation. It is in the asking of the impossible that manipulation is short-circuited and responsibility is empowered and enabled. The Puritans were some of the most responsible of people. Certainly, they were one of the few groups in history that could take a critical look at themselves and their actions and make corrections. Few seem to grasp the self-critique that followed the Salem Witch Trials.

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