In Defense of the Cross

I forget from whom I first heard the idea, and truly persons are far less interesting to me than the ideas animating them: “Is God really so uncreative that he couldn’t find a better form of salvation than the cross with all its blood and gore, the maiming beyond recognition, and the whole death aspect? Do you really believe, Christians, that your omnipotent, omnificent, omniscient, omnipresent YHWH couldn’t do better?”

A sort of cold chill runs up a person’s spine hearing such an alien perspective. It’s like listening to the Halleluja chorus punctuated by some foul muttering that the whole thing could have been better.

To human endeavors we might ascribe infinite propensity for improvement, though on that count I’m far from certain, but to map this supposed quality onto God is foolishness. The cross purports to be a statement of truth, not some mean aspect of tastes; its claim is one regarding fundamental reality, not a god’s arbitrary declaration. I’ve heard more mundane attacks on the cross as being, for lack of a better phrase, unchristian in personal conversation. It follows the same logic, though less aggressively held, that the suffering—the blood and death—doesn’t seem very Christian, very good.

Such vapid comments are unanswerable: Christianity is about how much God loves us, that He would suffer the ultimate degradation so that we might live, and when actually confronted with true religion, this critique turns around and denies what nature and our hearts faithfully report. And by hearts, I mean that inner darkness which flees the light—would extinguish the light—which we all, if given to reflection, can see the murderer of truth. If truth were a man incarnate, mankind is such that we would kill rather than be enlightened.

I can see a world in which no cross, no suffering or pain, no bloody death, need be, but it is not a human world. A Christianity divorced of Christ’s death has no room for the resurrection, and a worldview free of misery has no room for the actions of autonomous souls.

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8 Comments

  1. What is a “human” world?
    I see this attitude often from theists like we’re the center of the universe, the earth is ours, we’re the most important species out of all the other millions of species.. Is it possible that we’re just another life form that nature has allowed to exist on this planet?
    Why do so many people seem to think that the world revolves for us ? It’s not a “human” world, it’s a world that we’re just lucky to have evolved through natural selection to see honestly.

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    1. In an answer which is admittedly a long time coming, I would like to consider the concept of a human world.

      A world in which humans are is a human world: it is the world we create by experiencing/cultivating/categorizing it. There is a world. The fact that we see it means we interpret it; the fact that we see it means we try to manipulate it; the fact that we see it means we try to understand it. We see the world, and in seeing it, we create a “human world.” I’m sure the beetle creates a “beetle world,” and so on.

      I didn’t really want to answer this question because it was so off, so incongruous with anything I had written. Accepting all of your premises, and a selection of them seem eminently reasonable, I cannot find what they have to do with anything I said. Yet it seemed incumbent upon me to respond, seeing as the question has resurfaced.

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  2. Great writing and content. I liked this line: “The cross purports to be a statement of truth, not some mean aspect of tastes; its claim is one regarding fundamental reality, not a god’s arbitrary declaration.” Keep it going, brother Agonson!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I tend to think of the cross as a representative of our failings — a reminder, if you will, that given the best of things we tend to let our humanity mess it up for all of the rest of us…and as such, I like the folkloric association of crosses with choices in directions to be taken — a crossroads… in which our decisions and failings or strengths will determine our ultimate fate…

    Liked by 1 person

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