Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Message About the Cross

Seemingly by accident one afternoon during my sabbatical, I came across a book by one of my favorite theologians, Douglas John Hall, now Professor Emeritus of McGill University. Years ago I had read Lighten Our Darkness: Toward an Indigenous Theology of the Cross. The book that I found is The Cross in Our Context: Jesus and the Suffering World. As I thumbed through the book, an italicized passage caught my eye:

The theology of the cross, which may be stimulatetd (as we have seen) by a certain kind of anthropoligical understanding, is nevertheless first of all a statement about God, and what it says about God is not that God thinks humankind so wretched that it deserves death and hell, but that God thinks humankind and the whole creation so good, so beautiful, so precious on its intention and its potentiality, that its actualization, its fulfillment, its redemption is worth dying for.

Having set as one of my sabbatical projects studying Atonement theology, finding Hall's book and this particular passage seemed not accidental , but providential. I had long thought that in much of what I heard in sermons or read in books there was an underlying assumption that God's basic attitude towards humankind was wrath and anger and not love.

However we describe the atonement, whichever theologian we prefer, whether Alselm of Canterbury or Gustav Aulen or James Alison, if we miss the point that Hall makes we are missing the boat. It is all about God's love.

1 comment:

Bryan Owen said...

That's a great quote! I've never read any of Hall's work before, and this makes me want to.