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.