Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Theologia Crucis

Jesus' prediction of his passion in today's Gospel (Matthew 20:17-28) is followed immediately by the request from John and James - through their mother - to be assigned the seats of honor in the kingdom.

Talk about missing the point!

But, of course, James and John and the rest of the twelve were not alone in missing the point. Theologia Crucis, the theology of the cross, is not nearly as popular as Theolgia Gloriae, the theology of glory. Robert Farrar Capon, whose books I began reading when I was a teenager, was right when he wrote about our rejection of the theology of the cross:

We crucify Jesus, not because he was and is God, but because he failed to come up to our expectations about how God should act. It’s not that we weren’t or even aren’t looking for a messiah; it’s just that Jesus wasn’t and isn’t what most people are looking for. Our kind of Messiah would come down from a cross not die on one. He wouldn’t do a stupid thing like rising from the dead. He would do the smart thing and never die in the first place.

For all sorts of reasons we don't want a God who suffers, preferring one who wields a powerful sword. That preference has led Christians in the US and elsewhere into embracing an unholy alliance between Christianity and patriotism, particularly the patriotism of empire. Another theologian, the Canadian Douglas John Hall, has pointed to the danger of that alliance and urged Christians to resist the temptations of the theology of glory:
What Christians faithful to the biblical and best traditions of the faith are required to do today is not to join the ranks of those who are trying to resuscitate the Theology of power and glory, but to bear witness in thought, word, and deed to the God who enters into the depths of human distress, failure, and despair, particularly, in our case, the despair of those who do not know how to admit despair.
And if all this seems a bit depressing, I want to bear witness to the joy that we share as we embrace the theology of the cross. So many Christians who focus upon the cross seem to be missing the point as well. Again I quote Hall:
The theology of the cross…is…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 in its intention and its potentiality, that its actualization, its fulfillment, its redemption is worth dying for.
The Incarnate Word of God, the Crucified One, comes to us bearing witness to the Truth - to himself as the revelation of God. Walter Brueggemann, commenting on Micah 6:8
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
made what I found a wonderful assertion - we must walk humbly with God because that is how God walks with us.


Brad Evans said...

I can "do justice" without religions' help, thank you.
And it seems that nobody in religion has any ideas on what to do more than the rest of us, disagreement on virtually every topic being a constant of all religions at all times-except for, oddly enough, the necessity for giving you people money and believing what you say.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I'm sorry to have offended, although I suspect that almost anything that I wrote would be offensive to you given your attitude towards all religions. Rest assured that I will nver ask you for money and have never expected anyone, even other Episcopalinas, to believe what I say. I commend you for doing justice without the help of any religion, although I suspect that at least some of your ideas about justice may have their origins in religion.

tinythinker said...
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