God Crucified?

On Sunday we were listening to Nadia Bolz Weber doing her “Lutheran theology rocks” thing in an interview at Wild Goose. (Seriously, folks, she is living out the law/gospel, simul justus et peccator thing better than anyone else I’m familiar with in 2013.)

At one point she started talking about the atonement. So much of what she says is so great. She talks about how grace works in a community where we experience brokenness not just in community, but just because the community has wounded us.

Then, circa minute 37:45 or so, she starts talking about God in the midst of tragedy. And, again, she does such a great job because she brings people to Jesus, and God bearing our suffering on the cross.

Then she says this:

… that’s not “God’s little boy, like God is some kind of divine child abuser sending his son (and he only had one!).” Come on, give me a break! “God’s little boy and he only had one, and as this divine child abuser and as this cigar-chomping loan shark demanding a pound of flesh, sending his little boy…” What hogwash, right? That actually is God on the cross, God saying, “I’d rather die than be in the sin-accounting business you’ve put me in.”

I love the theology of this: it’s not God sending some other to die, but Godself doing it. And, I know that there is good, strong Trinitarian theology behind this. The eternal Son who is God dies upon the cross.

Image courtesy of nongpimmy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of nongpimmy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The problem I keep coming back to is that everywhere and always in scripture, the son who dies is precisely the son who is not the father, and is nowhere the God who, as Godself, is dying to save us.

There is always the son who is not the father who is dying out of obedience to the father.

There is always the father who is not the son who is not sparing his son but delivering him up for us all.

And… “He only had one!”

I don’t dislike the divine on the cross interpretation, but I’m not exactly sure where it leaves us. The only way to get there is to abandon the theological logic of the NT writers and replace it with a particular way of working out the later theological logic of the Trinity.

Is the need for it to be God as such who dies so profound that we simply have to abandon the suffering Human One of the Synoptic Gospels, or the obedient Second Adam of Paul? Or do we simply need to return to the question of why Jesus died to shore up a better answer of why this man, man I say!, goes the way of the cross?

And if we put it all in the divinity, what then of the calling to take up our cross and follow Jesus? Does God love us less than the Son because what God would not call another to do, but does Godself, God nonetheless demands we do?

And what about this bit of the father not sparing? Do we chunk it? What about, “Not what I will but what you will?” do we chunk it?

But if we don’t, how do we articulate atonement in way that doesn’t leave us with a child-abusing loan shark?

I’d love to hear how folks are thinking about what the death of Jesus might teach us about God and/or how you’re working out atonement to deal with the scriptural tradition and concerns such as those NBW raises.

35 thoughts on “God Crucified?”

  1. Just a thought (not sure how this fits in with everything else): For One who is truly Good, is it not easier to suffer than to subject someone else to suffering?

  2. I don’t have an answer (surprise), but I’m sure glad you’ve raised the question.

    I think there is a large element of mystery in why and how Jesus’s death on the cross saved us from our sins. Unfortunately, to appeal to mystery is often seen (in some circles at least) as a cop-out, a refusal to grapple with the deeper realities. I know that can be the case at times. But we need to remember that the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God is not some mechanistic process that we can deconstruct, make into a flow chart and check off the list of things that we’ve mastered and understood.

    Looking forward to the discussion!

    1. I’m not exactly sure how to answer the question, Mike. But I think of Jesus asking why God had abandoned him on the cross, and wonder if it doesn’t circumvent your question, at least for Matthew and Mark?

      1. I know that Jesus’ “why have you forsaken me?” is seen as the Father turning away from the Son. But can his words (quoting Psalm 22) also be seen as Jesus declaring his full identification with Israel, rather than lamenting the abandonment of the Father?

          1. In all seriousness Daniel, what does this have to do with you? What substantive difference in your being occurs out of all this speculation? How are you and I different because of all this. What has really changed? Everyone wants to wonder about the meaning between God and Jesus but no one dares to carry it over to understand the meaning between God and themself/us.

            1. In my experience, the more we attribute to Jesus divinity the less we feel obliged to engage in the same manner of life that he had. I think we need to keep plumbing the depths of his humanity so that we will better understand who we are supposed to be as the human beings of the new creation.

              1. Daniel, firstly, how can we dissect the human from the divine in the new creation? This to me is the true greatness of the blood of Jesus. I no longer think of myself in unilateral human/creaturely terms. What greater honor could be given to that blood? Does that blood truly have the power to create a brand new being between God and man? To be in Christ with God is to be defined and understood in the face of God. How can we truly know ourselves apart from God? Not as gods ourself, but certainly not our being apart from Him. In Christ, How can God truly know Himself apart from us? Secondly, Daniel, when you refer to “manner of life” I twinge. It infers to me “behavior modification”. That is what the law is for. The new creation lives, acts, speaks, out of one’s own being. Tell me Daniel, what is it you really want me to know. Please help me understand.

              2. Daniel,

                Might we re-focus our attention from excessive emphasis on Jesus’ divinity to his pacesetting example of comprehensive receptiveness to the Holy Spirit?

                From incarnation and especially throughout the earthly atoning mission, Jesus was responsive to and led by the Holy Spirit. Miracles such as his casting out demons occurred through his complete dependence on the Spirit (e.g., Matt 12:28).

                Just before his death on the cross, Jesus may have entrusted the Holy Spirit to the Father (John 19:30; see published articles by David Crump) in confident hope that the Spirit would shortly serve as the divine agent of the Father’s resurrecting him from the tomb as firstborn of many brothers and sisters.

                The narrative of how fully Jesus has been Spirit-led on earth directly relates to how we as believers may become led and transformed by the Spirit of Truth in this age and into the age to come.

          2. Yet, Daniel – as the King is abandoned by God, isn’t it also God suffering and God revealing his own divine nature? As Peter Rollins describes it, “on the cross we are confronted with God losing the security of God.” (“My God, My God, why …”).

            Christ reveals to us the very nature of God (“If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”); and Phil. 2:6-8 indicate that the story of Christ is the story of God as Gorman notes – “The story of Christ is the story of God … the counterintuitive kenosis of the Son reveals the way God really acts and really is.” So the story of the crucifixion is reveals the “narrative identity and holiness of God.” Which is suffering with humanity.

  3. I have come to find Andrew Perriman’s approach best allows the bible to speak first without imposing theological constraints in advance. http://www.postost.net/lexicon/atonement-without-theoretical-nonsense

    Seeing salvation, justification, atonement, etc. all through the lens of universalized, individualist perspective gets the story wrong. Jesus died for the sins of Israel and in hopes that they would repent and avoid judgement. This in turn had the effect of breaking down the barrier between the law and gentiles and so opened up the community of God. This new community was then called to follow the path of Jesus (take up their cross and follow) in order to survive.

    And as NT Wright and others have pointed out, the evangelical focus on Jesus’s divinity causes us to miss much about the gospel (Jesus as Lord, the Son of Man motif, Kingdom, etc.).

    I am neither a biblical scholar nor a theologian but I find the work of Wright, Perriman and others (including yourself to some degree, as I understand it not having had the chance to read your work yet) in following the narrative-historical path offer the best way to get out of this modern cul-de-sac we feel trapped in and see things in fresh ways.

  4. These obviously are deeply challenging theological issues. I think you are correct to say that it is the son, not the father, who is dying on the cross and doing the will of the father. And the son was sent by the father. Yet, the son also is Divinity – clearly – and there are texts that associate the son with YHWH (was YHWH the trinity? Difficult to say). But, clearly, as the more recent scholarship of Bauckham (God Crucified) and Gorman (The Cruciform God) has added a more robust perspective to, the son is enacting his free will and reflecting the very nature of the Divine (Phil. 2:5-11). Yet, simultaneously he is man (“human”). And, he is declaring that in voluntarily, and also obediently, submitting to the cross this is simultaneously a divine act flowing out of the divine character – yet also the quintessential human act that makes him most ideally human. I also harbor no doubts that the death of the son and his despair is also felt by the father. If they are one – they know one another intimately. And, yet, also, the son’s death not only has atonement features (which I think still hold true – if not in need of some adjustment with the fresh perspective) but also both relates fully to the human despair and wounds of life; yet also declares to us the path to true freedom (death, ironically). Death – that excruciating (from crucifixion), shameful, humiliating death of the Ego (Gal. 5:24; 2:20; 6:14) that is the only path to being fully and truly “human.”

    When this takes place I believe we are participating more fully in the Divine character and nature than at any other time. In the moment that seems to elicit the most pain and despair (ostensibly I believe because of the “ego” within us – call it pride, lust, flesh – it is all one), we are becoming most Divine – and most ‘human’ in terms of what God has hoped for within us. So, when those two merge together – As God, in the Son, merges together with His creation (and something that seems the ultimate goal – Rev. 21-22 – but not in a pantheistic eastern way) – I don’t see how we can create the strong dichotomy image of the cruel dad letting his son take the hit. Jesus reflects the very nature of the divine to us. This is the Divine “Dance” of the trinity (all – father, son, holy spirit – are deeply humble and self-sacrificial to the other and to us and this is why there is perfect harmony to them).

    Essentially, the son is emulating Judah in Gen. 44-45, giving up himself out of love for his father knowing his father’s love for his child (Benjamin) who is threatened with total loss to this Egyptian ruler (Joseph).

    1. Perhaps we still do not sufficiently integrate the significance of the resurrection of Jesus with his dying on a cross. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The Lamb of God took away the sins of the world by God’s raising him from the dead through the Holy Spirit of promise.

      Paul also acknowledges that he–the old “ego” died in co-crucifixion with Christ. The new (resurrection) life he lives is no longer his, but that Christ is living within him (Gal 2:20).

      The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed Paul(and those who are faithing into Christ) from the former existence of being subject to sin’s enslaving tyranny and death’s oppressive power (Romans 8:2). The agency of the Holy Spirit in effecting deliverance–making each of us right with God; no condemnation–is a direct outcome of the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

      Death no longer has power over Jesus (Romans 6:10). By faithfully entering into death in complete accord with the Father’s plan of salvation, Christ became victorious over death. In the joyful worship of Eastern Orthodoxy, “he is risen from the dead having trampled death by death.”

      “. . . [J]ust as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

      I appreciate the way that Christoph Schroeder connects atonement with a selfless act of standing in the breach (*Interpretation* 52 (January 1998): 16-23; p. 22):

      “For Paul, Jesus’ death of atonement is not meant to satisfy God’s wrath but to provide the possibility of new life for sinful human beings. In Jesus’ death, *God* ‘steps into the breach’ and, by taking upon himself the sin of all humanity, acts on behalf of all the others, ‘so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Cor 5:21).”

      1. Interesting and good thoughts, John. I think that the resurrection is an important feature to all this. It certainly also changes the perspective on suffering and death. I tend to concur with all those points except the first. It certainly is open to discussion and alternative perspectives but I believe when Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17), he is not here arguing that sins were taken away “by God’s raising him from the dead” – but that, the taking away of sins through the cross is of no impact if Christ is not raised (because, therefore, Jesus was just another human being crushed under the religious and political powers). So, I read that not as the resurrection taking away sins, but that the sins taken away through the cross did not happen if the resurrection of jesus did not happen. The death, burial & resurrection are all of one event and intimately connected, of course, as it is in our baptism (Rom. 6:3-7) when we participate in Jesus DBR.

        1. Jeff,

          A few years ago, I also connected the crucifixion and death of Jesus as the time in which our sins became forgiven. This 2010 dissertation at Duke under the supervision of Richard Hays opened up my thinking. In “A New and Living Way: Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews,” David McCheyne Moffitt asserts convincingly:

          “. . . Jesus’ crucifixion is neither the place nor the moment of atonement for the author of Hebrews. Rather, in keeping with the equation in the Levitical sacrificial system of the presentation of blood to God with the presentation of life, Jesus obtained atonement where and when the writer says—when he presented himself in his ever-living, resurrected humanity before God in heaven. Jesus’ bodily resurrection is, therefore, the hinge around which the high-priestly Christology and soteriology of Hebrews turns.” [v]

          The Hebrews homily places once-for-all act of eternal redemption that Jesus obtained in the heavenly sanctuary after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his becoming the true High Priest of humanity (Heb 9:11-14).

          I am not attempting to downplay or minimize the crucifixion of Jesus in bringing about our atonement. The lifting up of Jesus on the cross launches us into the climax of heavenly realities of freedom, forgiveness, and new-creation life that we share by union with the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit of God.

          1. Good stuff, John. I certainly am open to this idea you are setting forth here. And, that may be the perspective of the Hebrew writer (I’m a fan of Hays’ and that dissertation sounds very interesting). But, then, it seems there are texts like Isa. 53 and Peter’s exposition & application of that great passage that point more directly to the cross- 1Pet. 2:24 “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

            It seems to me that Peter sees the cross as the place Jesus bore our sins. Obviously there is more to this text and Peter’s focus is on our following in the steps of Jesus (2:21 – part of a larger chiasmus from 2:11 – 3:17); and, when we die to sin and live to righteousness – the death and resurrection are both in view, it seems to me. But, that does seem to connect the death on the cross to the removal of sins (Just FYI, I’m not seeking to espouse or cling to classic Calvinist/Reformed theology here – & I have long believed such forgiveness takes place when we become participants in Christ through faith – which is co-crucifixion as Gorman notes). There are a number of texts I’d have to work through and see how they fit with this. But, as I said, I’m open to those possibilities. I don’t want to hold to a traditional theology just to do so.

            Perhaps its both/and (cross/res) rather than either/or?

            1. Jeff,

              Indeed, Jesus took on himself while crucified what’s wrong with humanity. Christ’s death absorbed the sins of the world and death’s hold over creation. It was like a purifying fire that emaciated and consumed sin and death.

              I commend to you William P. Brown’s essay, “‘In Him All Things Hold Together’: An Ecology of Atonement” *Ex Auditu 26 (2010):1-20. The following excerpt is on pages 16 and 17:

              “The blood of the cross, though freely given, was shed in violence, just as Abel’s. As the first ‘sin’ was committed in violence, so Christ’s atonement was occasioned by violence. On the cross Christ bore the violence of the world, thereby breaking the death-wielding power of sin and liberating the world from ‘futility.’ Christ’s death was the sign of God’s willingness to suffer and die by human hands. The cross is the sign of God’s incarnation in the victim of violence. On the cross God in Christ takes on the violence of sin and does not retaliate. God does not strike back. . . .

              “On the cross God does not push back but reaches out, meeting coercion not with coercion but with a suffering, empowering love that embraces the world to transform the world. On the cross God does not take *on* the world but takes it *in*, death and all. With the temple’s curtain rent in two, all creation is claimed anew as God’s holy sanctuary, and the ‘gospel’ gets ‘proclaimed to every creature (*pase ktisei*) under heaven’”!

              “. . . The atonement does not commend sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. It is not the mechanism of satisfaction. The atonement, rather, is the purgative and liberative way of God’s passionate love most fully expressed, most fully embodied, a love that advances inexorably from cross to tomb, to hell and back, given to all the world for its reconciliation and renewal.”

              1. There’s a lot going on in the above discussion. Some of it is to the point of a more traditional dealing with sin on the cross atonement theology and some of it presses in other directions, such as those Nadia B-W highlighted/argued for. Can I take this as a vote for “both/and”?

                1. Daniel,

                  Yes. “Both-and” thinking may resolve apparent paradoxes. It can bring some clarity to theological “mysteries.” An “either-or” mindset tends to be polarizing and polemical.

                  How God in Christ (with the Spirit) has dealt definitively with sin and death has multiple images–perhaps a web or network of symbols and interrelated metaphors.

                  I appreciate your kindness in nudging me to stay on topic.

                2. Daniel – I would concur with “both/and” along with John – see the conclusion of my previous comment above.

                  John – love those Brown comments. Thanks for sharing. Great stuff. I think that they go to the point of Paul in Col. 2:15 – “when [while dying on the cross] he disarmed the rulers and authorities having made a public display of them …” Christ defeated the monsters by letting them (apparently) defeat him in death. They were “shaming” him from every human perception – yet in that moment he triumphed over them.

                  1. Jeff,

                    Yes, Col 2:15 is relevant. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection radically reversed the inherent shame and dehumanizing intent of crucifixion.

                    In reading Daniel’s post again, I wonder why the notion of logging and tallying of transgressions has entered into some theologies of atonement.

                    Paul understands that genuine love “does not keep record of wrongs” (1 Cor 13:5). In bringing reconciliation to the world, God was “not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor 5:19).

                    God the Father recognizes that all have sinned, yet though Christ’s faithful accomplishment of mission (and bestowed through the Spirit), He freely grants forgiveness and resurrection life in Christ. The truth is far removed from the image of “a child-abusing loan shark.”

                    Heavenly accounting is about belonging to God, metaphorically(?) being listed in the book of Life. It is not a tally of accumulated sins for which Jesus has already cleansed us.

                    Making us right in union with Christ and transferring us into the new-covenant Kingdom community as imperishable, holy children of God though the Spirit are benefits of the atoning gift of God and indicators of the depth of God’s love for the world.

  5. Daniel, please tell me. What N.T. theological logic is greater than this? 1) Jesus is the revelation of a shared Life between God and man. 2) God is now willing and able to live this shared Life with any and all who are willing to give up “their own” life for the sake of this “shared life”. To me this is the only way to truly know God–as a participant in Life together with Him “in Christ”. Concerning this, all the prophets and sages have spoken. Tell me Daniel, what beyond this are N.T. writers trying to convey? Isn’t storied theology after all about this– we cannot know God apart from His relation to man? Where in the N.T. are we taught to clearly draw the line between God and man? In Christ where exactly does God end and man begin and vice-versa?

      1. Thanks for your reply Daniel. I am afraid you have confused my point as being theological rather than ontological. Is the way of the cross merely an act of obedience or the doorway into a new being? What is more vital than an understanding of the new creation? You can believe whatever you want about God, but what difference does that make if you still think and live like the first Adam? What is the fundamental difference between the old man and new man? Paul’s real battle was not law vs. grace, but law vs. the new creation. Gal. 6:15. I’d really love to hear your take on this.

        1. Azion,

          For believers, Jesus’ death on the Cross and resurrection has redemptive outcomes relating to the new creation. Issue at hand is how we can truly and beneficially understand redemption and purpose(s) of God’s plan for atonement.

          Western theologians tend to view the gift of redemption in forensic/juridical imagery that deals with guilt and transgressions. For example, grace and gospel provide alternatives to law-oriented obedience. Forgiveness and declaration of right-wising are forefront components in redemption. Salvation has distinct, ordered compartments, such as “separating” justification and sanctification.

          Eastern Orthodoxy integrates redemption with incarnation more holistically. Here emphasis is celebrating divine provision for dealing with created humanity’s mortality, sicknesses, vulnerabilities (including corruption and sin). Death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection through the Spirit are a death-blow to death (and sin). Redemption in Christ effects ontological change in human beings that is essential for imperishable participation/communion with God as well as with the body of believers who are united with the Lord Jesus Christ.

          Compared with Western theology, Eastern Orthodoxy devotes very little discussion of justification as an isolated dogmatic doctrine. (There was no counterpart to the Reformation movement in Eastern churches.)

          Rather than taking sides, we may recognize truth in both Western and Eastern approaches.

          You might appreciate brief excerpts from John Meyendorff’s *Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes* (New York: Fordham University Press, 1974, 1979):

          “. . . [T]he Lord assumed a *mortal* humanity at the very moment of the Incarnation, at which time the free divine decision to die had already been made. ‘He takes a body, a body which is not different from ours,’ writes Athanasius; ‘He takes from us a nature similar to ours and, since we are all subject to corruption and death, He delivers His body to death for us.’” [p. 160]

          “. . . [T]he death of Christ is truly redemptive and ‘live-giving’ precisely because it is the death of the Son of God in the flesh (i.e., in virtue of the hypostatic union). In the East, the cross is envisaged not so much as the punishment of the just one, which ‘satisfies’ a transcendent Justice requiring a retribution for man’s sins. As Georges Florovsky rightly puts it: ‘the death of the Cross was effective, not as a death of an Innocent One, but as the death of the Incarnate Lord.’ The point was not to satisfy a legal requirement, but to vanquish the frightful cosmic reality of death, which held humanity under its usurped control and pushed it into the vicious circle of sin and corruption. And, as Athanasius of Alexandria has shown in his polemics against Arianism, God alone is able to vanquish death, because He ‘alone has immortality’ (1 Tm 6:16). Just as original sin did not consist in an inherited guilt, so redemption was not primarily a justification, but a victory over death.” [p. 161]

  6. How about this: It’s not that God is crucified on the cross, so much as it is that the Son reveals the Father and Christ crucified is a profound (the most profound?) revelation of God. There’s a lot of Johannine and Pauline theology behind that, cf. Bauckham.

    1. I suppose the question then is what is revealed? And is it revelation of God by the deliverance of another unto death (God is known through his earthly representatives, after all!) or is it a display of God in God’s own self-giving? Our theology skews toward the latter, regularly, while the NT skews toward the former.

      1. Daniel, I’m sure we’re agreed on two things: 1) nowhere in the NT do we have a simplistic “God was crucified”; and 2) the NT presents a diversity of specific Christologies, theologies, and soteriologies, however much these diverse perspectives may overlap and/or sometimes speak of the same reality using different terminology.

        On this second point (NT diversity), however, I would argue that the diversity includes material that at least approaches “God reveals Godself on the cross.” I’m thinking especially of John, where the Word who is God reveals God’s glory, making known the Father, and this revelation includes Jesus’ being “lifted up” on the cross. But I wonder too about Col 1:19-20, with its close connection between God’s “fullness” dwelling in Christ and God reconciling all things to Godself through Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:19?). Or the way Heb 1:1-3 sets the stage for all Hebrews’ subsequent Christological reflections, including those related to Jesus’ suffering and death.

        We’re not at Nicea, we’re not at “God was crucified,” but neither are we simply at “revelation of God by the deliverance of another unto death,” in my opinion. That sounds more like the Synoptics and most of the Pauline material to me.

  7. Part of a sermon:

    “God verlangt er naar, dat wij weer gelukkig zullen worden.
    En daarom biedt hij een uitweg uit onze penibele situatie,
    dat wij niet in staat zijn om met God in het reine te komen.

    Daarom stelt God ons Jezus Christus voor als bemiddelaar.
    Als de persoon die tussen 2 partijen bemiddelt.

    En dat betekent dat Christus namens ons zaken kan doen met God.
    Als Christus namens ons de straf draagt, dan worden wij vrij van onze schulden.

    Tegelijk kan Christus namens God zaken doen met ons.
    Als Christus ons de vrede met God aanbiedt,
    dan staat er niets meer in de weg om weer in de nabijheid van God te komen.

    Jezus Christus: hij is middelaar.
    Of zoals Paulus het in Romeinen 3 : 25 zegt:
    Hij is door God aangewezen om het middel tot verzoening te zijn, voor wie gelooft.”

  8. I think a young Catholic lady wrote an amazing blog on why there is a distinction between the son and the Father on the cross. She quotes a monk she calls her mentor saying her copy of his book is underlined everywhere. He, Thomas Keating writes, “If it had not been possible for him to experience abandonment by the Father, there could not have been an infinite depth to his total gift of himself to the Father.”
    This young lady writes He (God the Father) abandoned his Son to die so that we could live.” In my understanding of what this lady was writing, Christ was permitted to be abandoned so that he could truly die in our place as sinners separated from God. He took our place in the most important place as sinners truly separated from God. The Father abandoned His Son out of love for us and the Son drank of this cup because it was necessary for our salvation that He suffer separation from the Father in this place of us whose sins had separated us from God. If you wish me to provide the link to her blog I can. But I think this is as good as I have ever seen answering that question.

  9. Could a resolution be found in Abraham? We’re all aware of Abraham’s “sacrifice” of Isaac (Gen 22) and the scandal that comes from the command of God in the first place: “Take your son, your only son, the son you love, Isaac, … and sacrifice him” (v. 2). What kind of God does this?

    The kind of God who also resurrects.

    And how could Abraham possibly follow a God who would ask such atrocious things? Because Abraham believed God to be a God who resurrects, as the author of Hebrews later interprets Abe’s actions (Heb 11:19). Abraham’s willingness to believe and follow through is certainly not insignificant.

    I think Jesus repeatedly expresses this same expectation of his own position and calling when he predicted his death and resurrection (Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; Jn 2:19-20). Jesus believes that though he is being sent to the cross, his Father is a God who resurrects.

    Can we have a Father who sends the Son to the cross, knowing that this Father will also resurrect? Can we also have a Son who willingly goes to the cross, trusting that the Father will resurrect? I think we must, for without the resurrection this is a gruesome and unfaithful Father.

  10. The solution is as much in the Incarnation as it is in the Trinity. The Incarnation is not like laminating two boards together, where glue always separates the divine and human natures, and ash and oak never really touch each other. There is a thorough union of two natures in one person, a personal union. In this union, we do not confuse the natures, but neither do we divide the person.

    As to the Trinitarian part, I offer a partial meditation on it:
    One Word in Absolute Darkness

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