Jump to content

Meaning Of The Cross?


Rev. Smith
 Share

Recommended Posts

In the movie review section jeep wrote:

A good friend of mine put it this way recently:

 

"The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God that must be dismissed."

 

Catchy, but not very well defended. (I know jeep, you were throwing out a line, not positing a position - still it was provacative).

 

Our Church teaches (and I concur, I'm aware that a lot of priests use "our church teaches..." to imply disagreement) that the crucifiction was essential for two reasons:

 

First, judism was (until ad 70) a sacrificial religion, atonement was undertaken through sacrafice. God, in offering a new covenent first fulfilled the old, why? Because God would have negated the essentiual concept of Logos without fulfillment, to simply declare the Levite law of the temple over would have meant that the order of Law under the Torah was cancelled, somthing God promised not to do. By accepting one, final and perfect sacrafice the Law was complete, not negated.

 

Second, Easter was meaningless absent defiance of the will of man. Admitedly rising from the dead after dying in his sleep wold have been a pretty cool trick, but would lack in splender. The Christ transcends death not only in the body, but in confounding man's plan to retain the old Law.

 

By re-ordering Life and Death into Death and Life Christ gives a living testament to teaching.

 

So there you have the EAC ecclesiology on the Passion, what do other progressive Christians think? Is ther any meaning to Christian faith if we reject the Passion?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jesus lived a radical Way of life fully in sync with, and allied to God's will. The rivaling way of the world/empire was threatened by this alternative way of life, and they responded by attempting to exterminate this threat via execution.

 

Jesus taught, modeled and invited us to live abundantly in relation to God instead of being in bondage to the ways of the world/empire. Christians are called to follow and imitate these abundantly life-giving ways of Christ (to claim Jesus as Lord of their lives instead of other worldly forces & powers), and invite others to do the same. Good Works accompany faith. If one’s faith is real & authentic, then one can’t help but respond by engaging in service to persons and a world in need. Jesus modeled, lived-out, and manifested a truly liberating way of life – the way of humble self-giving and nonviolent direct action - the "Way of the cross". By living such a life, Jesus proved that it is in fact possible for other humans to live this way as well. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah promised to Israel in the Old Testament.

 

The salvation provided by God through Jesus is a gift to humanity by God’s grace . People who are aware of this make the decision to accept the free gift of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and all that He meant in their lives. Even before Jesus was executed, He provided atonement (at-one-ment – reconnection with God and social reacceptance) to hurting souls via His gracious interaction in their lives. People are saved from the ways of the world and for the ways of God’s Kingdom when they accept and live-out this truth. Salvation is both personal and societal, and it is experienced here and now and also later in Heaven.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

The MEANING of the Cross... the meaning of the Cross. Hm. Well, I had a pretty strong response to this "challenge" and despite the fact that I am quite ignorant and uneducated in religious matters compared to most of you who post, I felt strongly enought that I wanted to say my bit.

 

The Cross, to me, is symbolic. I don't doubt that Jesus died on one, and that the gruesome manner of his death was intended to send a message, but to me personally, in the here and now, the cross is symbolic of the suffering that a good person must endure to keep his faith, and to remain a good person, throughout the course of life. Continuing to love, to think well of the human race, to have hope for it... despite the incredible cruelty of ourselves and of our brothers in Rwanda, in the Sudan, in Iraq, in Israel, in Canada, and everywhere. The cross is life. Can we endure, die on it and rise again in love and hopefulness? It seems impossible, but we do it. THIS is the miracle of the cross, for me.

 

Susan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The cross ... this object, IMO, and with a historical understanding of Jesus of Nazareth in tow, represents the highest challenge to humanity to not only embrace the "Kingdom (realm) of God" which hung Jesus there, but also the lengths which its (the Kingdom) challenging importance beckon.

 

In other words, the cross was the culmination of Jesus ideological dedication and practical social implementation of the tangible characteristics of the "Kingdom." These are the very things that resulted in his death by the cross. While most dedicated and well meaning Christians see the cross as a divine rescue from their sins and earth pangs, I see it as an incredible symbolic representation of the incredible challenge contained in an authentic existence within this very social and universal "Kingdom" which was and remains grounded in ideas concerning fairness, equality, human rights, activism, and open tables. There is, IMHO, nothing which induces a personal sense of security - in the now or in an eternity somewhere - existing in any of these "Kingdom" initiatives.

Edited by shawn
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the Christian Century, Sept. 20, 2003

 

From across the Pond, British writer Michael Northcott thinks that the U.S. is both the most religious country in the Western world and the most violent. (Since 1945, he notes, the U.S. has invaded or bombed 40 countries.) And he detects a connection between American religiosity and violence - a conservative Christian view of the atonement involving redemptive violence. Religion, he suggests, is all about mimesis - ritually actiong out the events by which God or the gods have made a people into the people of God. "If the central event of the Christian story of divine salvation is about violent death, then it would be unsurprising if over their history Christians had not begun to copy, to act out the violent death, in their relations with people of other faiths, and in their punishment of criminals and heretics." Northcott, it turns out, is not a rabid revisionist theologian; he's writing for Third Way, a progressive evangelical publication in the UK (summer 2003 issue). He argues that Christians should make the center of faith not the cross - especially not a cross deemed necessary to propitiate divine wrath or restore God's honor - but the resurrection, which demonstrates God's power over evil, violence, and death.

 

Would that more Christians grounded their faith thusly...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If violence in the origin of a creed and its adhearants were singular to Christian tradition then an overhaul of the Christian tradition might be in order (always presuming that we are somehow entitled to "re-write" scripture). Islam has not violent formation motif, but began with slaughter and is the worldwide leader in murder and mayhem today. It is impossable to imagagine a religion that either began more peacefully, or has non-violance at its core than Buddhaism, and yet it has had its share of wars waged in its name and by its adhearants.

 

American culture has long had a violent streak, we have always been a contentious bunch but I think that has little to do with our Christian majority and far more to do with the indvidualism in our founding colonies and the expansion across the continent.

 

The ressurection IS central to Christian salvation, but the attonement came on the Cross.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This may be just a matter of semantics and/or emphasis, but there may be a difference between the atonement that Jesus provided while He was living on the earth and ministering to hurting souls and The Atonement which provided re-communion with God on a universal level.

 

To my mind, even before Jesus was executed, He provided atonement (at-one-ment – reconnection with God and social reacceptance) to hurting souls via His gracious interaction in their lives. People are saved from the ways of the world and for the ways of God’s Kingdom when they accept and live-out this truth. Salvation is both personal and societal, and it is experienced here and now and also later in Heaven.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...

The Cross...

 

However did such a symbol of violence and death come to be seen as redemptive? Maybe the question answers itself... To say the cross is redemptive is to take the symbolism of violence and hate out of it.

 

The early church concluded, rather quickly, that Jesus 'died for the sin of the world'. But what did that mean? The statement used temple oriented language and put Jesus in place of the temple.

 

It isn't going to be animals that die for sin now... it is Jesus who died for our sin. In the post-easter community of followers who came from a Jewish background -- it was the only meaning they could give 'the cross'.

 

The conclusion: If it is Jesus who died for our sin, the image of the cross as gruesome can be replaced with one of redemption. Thus, it would make no sense to kill animals and/or other humans because of our sin. Furthermore, Jesus did, politically, take the place of his own people in that death. His way of peace, and self sacrifice, 'saved' them. But Judaism always had a world wide outlook. If Jesus died for their sins - he died for everyone's sins. The gospel is the good news that there is a better way to live life and that death has been overcome.

 

The early church did have an 'atonement theology' but it wasn't cast in the terms of what 'atonement theology' would become. Jesus, God, was martyred for God's kingdom, showing us the way to be saved from this world and from ourselves. The way of life that Jesus lived is the life more abundant, the life eternal. We learn this from the resurrection. We can be saved through the power of the death and resurrection of Christ just like they could back then. It isn't so much about escaping hell as it is being invited to becoming human.

 

The problem? Somehow the symbol of cross reverted back into vengeance and violence. If you look at Constantine slaying people under the cross or Hitler gassing Jews or the Crusaders slaughtering Muslims: the cross is what it always was - a symbol of violence and hate.

 

Perhaps we should all wear crucifixes. A crucifix makes a statement about Jesus. But it is up to us to understand - and relate - the meaning of the cross as being truly redemptive.

 

Later 'atonement theology' that boils down human cruelty as appealing God is kind of sick. In Jesus' parable about his own death upcoming, the one about the vineyard, this is not at all the picture you find. In Jesus' parable God sends the prophets and the people kill them. Finally, God sends his own son, Jesus, and he is rejected and killed as well. Jesus did forecast his own death as taking place because of the 'sin of the world'. He, Jesus, was innocent. The sin of the world killed him. By recognising this, we can see the death of Christ as atoning when we choose to respond and live in its meaning without giving way to morose forms of 'atonement theology'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First, judism was (until ad 70) a sacrificial religion, atonement was undertaken through sacrafice. God, in offering a new covenent first fulfilled the old, why? Because God would have negated the essentiual concept of Logos without fulfillment, to simply declare the Levite law of the temple over would have meant that the order of Law under the Torah was cancelled, somthing God promised not to do. By accepting one, final and perfect sacrafice the Law was complete, not negated.

 

This assertion is not exact we could argue :(if we accept the idea of an human sacrifice)

 

 

Biblically, sacrificial death could only occur through the shedding of blood exclusively (Leviticus 17:11). Jesus' death by crucifixion cannot be considered a sacrificial death. His death may have been caused by either asphyxiation or by going into shock brought on by the traumatic physical events of his last hours, before and after he was nailed to the cross. In his case, shock would not have been brought on solely by blood loss. The Gospels indicate Jesus' blood was not shed to a degree that would make blood loss from the body the exclusive cause of death. Death solely by blood loss is the only biblical cause acceptable for an animal's sacrificial death.

 

 

According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the only animals permitted for sacrificial purposes are those that have split hooves and chew their cud. The carcass of an unclean animal defiles (Leviticus 11:26). On these grounds alone, human beings are disqualified for sacrificial purposes. Jesus, as a human being, was unfit for sacrificial purposes.

 

An animal blood atonement offering must be physically unblemished (Leviticus 22:18- 25). According to the evangelists, Jesus was physically abused prior to his execution (Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15, John 19:1; John 20:25; Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17, John 19:2). According to Paul, Jesus' circumcision constituted "mutilation" (Philippians 3:2) and is likened to "castration" (Galatians 5:12). As a result, Jesus would again be disqualified as a valid sacrifice.

 

The New Testament's claim that Jesus' death was "one sacrifice for sin for all time" (Hebrews 10:12) is not supported by the Hebrew Scriptures. Mere death, no matter what was the extent of the preceding violence or pain, does not satisfy the biblical requirements for those times when a blood atonement sacrifice is offered. In a blood atonement offering the animal (clean species and unblemished) must actually die as a result of blood loss. That is why it is called "a blood atonement sacrifice."

 

Jesus ("unclean human species and blemished)" did not die within the Temple precinct, at the hands of an Aaronic priest, or through the shedding of blood. Jesus' blood was not sprinkled on the altar by the Aaronic high priest (Leviticus 16:18-19). Animal sacrifice, offered as a blood atonement, must conform to the biblical guidelines set down in Leviticus 17:11: (a) Bloodshed (by means of shechitah--Deuteronomy 12:21), (B) Given solely to the Jewish people, © Blood sprinkled upon the Temple altar.

 

Jesus' humanity, the physical state of his body, and the manner of his death (crucifixion) do not satisfy any blood atonement provisions found in the Hebrew Scriptures.

 

 

The assertion of an human sacrifice, useful for atonement , is opposite to Hebrew scriptures ..

 

The meaning of the Cross must be found elsewhere .. But where?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

The first thing to remember is that the cross has been a sacred symbol even before Jesus. Second, I will say that, to me, the cross has come to represent Jesus' acceptance of suffering. It is a pacifist symbol because Jesus offered no resistance to his crucifixion. He just said "this is God's will".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Jesus ministry shows that he was opposed to the social structures of his times. The conservative religious leaders had created a social structure that oppressed many people. Jesus was a progressive thinker challenging these structures. So much that he challenged these structures that his mesage was of the kingdom of God. The structures that he was confronting however, were so stifling that it eventually led to his crucifixion. In this sense, by looking at Jesus' life and death we see Jesus as being in solidarity with us, in particular with those that are oppressed. In this sense he can be seen as their saviour. For those doing the oppression he may also be seen as their saviour, for if they learn the message of Jesus they will repent and not be part of a structure that is detriment to humanity. The gospel message therefore becomes relevant to all and we begin to speak of Jesus as saviour of the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me, the meaning of the cross is best expressed by others:

 

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19-20

 

God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. Romans 3:25

 

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28

 

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11

 

Clearly, any subjective meaning we see in the cross is vastly overshadowed by the objective act accomplished there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: For me, the meaning of the cross is best expressed by others:

(and the litany of proof texts)

 

Uh.. you're telling us that there was no subjectivity involved in the remarks of those "others"?!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19-20

 

God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. Romans 3:25

 

From the strict point of view of the Torah, the sacrificial law, an human sacrifice has never been prescribed by God..

 

The list of the species to sacrificize is quoted, human beings don't belong to this list..

 

During 70 Years , a Gap has appeared in the sacrificial system (During the Deportation in Babylone) and , prophets like Hosea have expressed the idea that the sacrifices were no more useful..

 

God has kept the convenant in Babylon, without any sacrificial system..

 

Hosea 6:6

 

6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,

and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

 

Affirming litterally "The cross is a sacrifice of atonement" is in contradiction with scriptures..

 

There is a real problem of interpretation, for my own I could suggest the authors of the New Testaments, relating the traditions of the Early Church use a metaphoric language..

 

Metaphoric language was very common in the Jewish litterature..

 

Jesus has spoken in "parables" (Metaphors) and all the authors of the New Testaments use metaphors..

 

Metaphors of the NT (some)

- The flood is a metaphor of the baptism (Peter)

- The marriage of Abraham with Agar and Sara are an image of the Old Convenant and of the New Covenant

- Jesus "The Lamb of God" ( John)

 

..

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.

 

Metaphors and Parables are known to be poweful instruments of change, when applied to life..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: For me, the meaning of the cross is best expressed by others:

          (and the litany of proof texts)

 

Uh.. you're telling us that there was no subjectivity involved in the remarks of those "others"?!

Good point. The NT writers had to interpret what Jesus death meant. How could their messiah (Jesus) die a death he did? Some meaning and relevance had to be given of his death. The NT writers then began the process of this interpretation. But it didn't stop there. The Christian church had to interpret what the NT writers were actually meaning and often this was done subjectively also. We only need to read Anselm and Abelard and a host of others to realise that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Uh.. you're telling us that there was no subjectivity involved in the remarks of those "others"?!

They certainly had a subjective response to the events that they had witnessed: they were glad. That doesn't detract from the fact that they believed an historical reality had taken place, not something that they had to give meaning to.

 

From the strict point of view of the Torah, the sacrificial law, an human sacrifice has never been prescribed by God..

True, but as you pointed out later, Jesus was considered the Lamb of God. John the Baptist stated that when he first saw Jesus: "Behold, the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world."

 

Hosea 6:6

 

6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,

and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Yes, the people were performing outward rituals to God but were not giving their hearts to the Lord, which is what He really wanted, which is what the sacrifices were meant to instill in His people. Moreover, the sacrifices were never redemptive in and of themselves, but depended on and pointed to the future "one sacrifice". (Also, it was probably impossible to perform the sacrificial rituals while in captivity, since they did not have access to the temple, etc.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They certainly had a subjective response to the events that they had witnessed: they were glad. That doesn't detract from the fact that they believed an historical reality had taken place, not something that they had to give meaning to.

 

I don't think anyone denies that Jesus dying on the cross was a historical reality. But there was a subjective response to it. There were Jews who believed that Jesus got what he deserved and thought nothing of it any further. And then there were Jews who interpreted it as an important sacred historical event. These Jews were eventually called Christians. The Christian community came to this latter conclusion, so they argued, due to the Spirit of God. For them, this realisation was part of what was meant by having life in the Spirit. It was much more than just "they were glad." Therefore, the question is not so much whether the event that took place was historical, rather whether there is truth in a "subjective" experience/interpretation of that event. I would say that the early Christians believed so. They lived and died by this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry for the confusion... I did not mean to say merely that they believed Jesus' death on the cross was real, but that what His death meant (namely, an atonement for sin) was a reality, not just a "reality for them". This was not simply a result of post-death speculation on their part... Christianity probably would've died with Jesus if that was the end of it. It was the claimed bodily resurrection appearances that enabled them to, as you stated, live and die by that belief. It was those appearances that transformed Jesus' demoralized disciples into powerful propagators of the Gospel; and Saul, a persecutor of Christians, into Paul, the greatest champion of the Christian faith.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry for the confusion... I did not mean to say merely that they believed Jesus' death on the cross was real, but that what His death meant (namely, an atonement for sin) was a reality, not just a "reality for them". This was not simply a result of post-death speculation on their part... Christianity probably would've died with Jesus if that was the end of it. It was the claimed bodily resurrection appearances that enabled them to, as you stated, live and die by that belief. It was those appearances that transformed Jesus' demoralized disciples into powerful propagators of the Gospel; and Saul, a persecutor of Christians, into Paul, the greatest champion of the Christian faith.

Sorry for the confusion...  I did not mean to say merely that they believed Jesus' death on the cross was real, but that what His death meant (namely, an atonement for sin) was a reality, not just a "reality for them". 

 

I think the confusion ha grown , the death on the cross was real, in fact this point has been shown (just alike tens of thousands of jews who have been crucified by romans..)

 

The crucifixion of Jesus is not a single event , but quite a common way to kill rebels..

 

Can jesus be "the lamb of the sacrifice " ?

 

According to the Old Testament : Man is not a kind to be sacrificied

 

According to the Gospel he died asphyxiated , the ritual of sacrifice of the OT included e bleeding sacrifice

 

So there are at least three problems..

1- Asphyxiate / vs Bleeding

2- Mankind is not agreed as a kind to be sacrificed for atonement

(the most important because it relates to ethics)

 

 

And 3 - The early authors of the New Testament relates "he is the Lamb of God"..

 

The "He is " relates to the way they see him , and not to a naturalistic reality, even we could think that pious jews or proselytes would have neve agreed with this idea..

 

 

So the meaning "a sacrifice for atonement" is a metaphor they have used , for them "he is the Lamb of God" and they profess this truth..

 

The authors talk about their personal meeting with Jesus.

 

Bodily resurrection is claimed by the first writers, and this meeting after Jesus Death has changed their life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to the Old Testament : Man is not a kind to be sacrificied

Not by the Israelites, that's correct. But they didn't make the sacrifice in this case. Sacrificing animals could never be sufficient for atonement in the ultimate sense for man's sins, so God Himself had to provide the sacrifice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DCJ, I'm beginning to wonder how "progressive" a Christian you are.

 

1. I'd like to invite you to reflect upon my first post in this thread (# 2 on page 1) and share your thoughts about what you read there.

 

2. I'd like to invite you to go to http://www.amazon.com and read the editorial reviews of a book called "The Nonviolent Atonement" by J. Denny Weaver and tell me what you think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DCJ, I'm beginning to wonder how "progressive" a Christian you are.

Actually, I'm not. I was interested in how valid my arguments are as well as a friendly exchange of ideas. I figured the Debate/Dialog board was a safe place to post.

 

1. I'd like to invite you to reflect upon my first post in this thread (# 2 on page 1) and share your thoughts about what you read there.

While I don't really find anything objectionable, I don't think your explanation fully deals with the problem of sin. It seems to me that there is a real disease (sin) that needs a cure (forgiveness), and only a real atonement can accomplish that.

 

2. I'd like to invite you to go to http://www.amazon.com and read the editorial reviews of a book called "The Nonviolent Atonement" by J. Denny Weaver and tell me what you think.

I'd probably agree with one of the reviewers in saying that the author should spend more time being faithful to the Scriptures, which is our objective revelation from God, than appeasing a certain feminist/race/liberal viewpoint.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see. Well we have a very different idea about the nature of the scriptures then. I take them seriously but not usually literally. I think that they are not objective, but rather subjective to the social contexts of the authors/editors. And I think that God did not write the Bible, but rather, that it is a Divine-Human co-creation and therefore flawed - but still pretty darned good!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too believe the Bible was a divine-human creation, but I don't think that automatically qualifies it as flawed. I believe, as the Bible itself states, that the Bible was inspired by God ("God-breathed"), and the authors wrote under this inspiration. An argument can be made for this by looking at the manuscript evidence, the archaeological evidence, and the fulfilled prophecies. If we assume a priori that God's revelation is flawed, I think we have a real problem discerning what the truth is as well as how to get right with God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"God's revelation" in itself is not flawed. But human interpretations of God's revelation can certainly be flawed. Episcopalian priest Brian C. Taylor explains the progressive viewpoint well in his 1996 book, Setting the Gospel Free:

 

 

"The Bible is not God. It is a collection of stories and teachings told by an ancient people concerning their experience with God. Sometimes they were wrong, and sometimes they were right on the money. This point of view will make some nervous (“Well, if we can pick and choose what to believe, what good is it?”). But it will also return ultimate truth to where it belongs: to God. God will highlight and burn in our souls from scripture what we need to hear and heed. God will use this imperfect, human document (what other kind of material does God have to work with in this human life, anyway?) to awaken us to the miracle of our life. God will use teachers, friends, books, and the Spirit within to sort out what is eternally true from what is culturally misguided in scripture.

On the other hand, as people of the biblical tradition, we take the Bible seriously. For we recognize that it represents centuries of broad experience, an experience of thousands of people, many of whom were utterly devoted to and graced by God in profound ways. This representation far outweighs the limited experience of our own individual lives. While we may have more wisdom than one or another of the particular voices of scripture, we cannot make this claim about the broad themes and recurring truths that shine through its human limitations."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service