So, Easter. It’s a big deal.
I’m a Christmas-girl myself, but it’s Easter that gives us Christianity as we understand it today. Until the past week or so — and I’m ashamed to say this — I hadn’t really considered in any depth the implications of why Jesus was crucified. If you were born in the Church, you know Jesus died for your sins. What you may not know is why he had to die for your sins. I really didn’t ask this question since, even at an early age, I tired of Evangicubes and the daigram where YOU are on one cliff, then there’s a gaping chasm (helpfully labeled “SIN”) and the on the other side, on a another cliff, is GOD. I know it’s God because there are clouds and shiny lines. It was clear: I am sinful, God is not, Jesus died to pay a price for my sin, and now I have communion with God.
I read a quote recently by (and I love his title) The Very Rev. Jeffery John, Dean of St. Alban’s. He is very bothered by the typical, oblique explanation of the great mystery of the Christian faith. As The Telegraph paraphrased him, “Clergy who preach this Easter that Christ was sent to earth to die in atonement for the sins of mankind are “making God sound like a psychopath.” The article continues,
“In other words, Jesus took the rap and we got forgiven as long as we said we believed in him,” says Mr John. “This is repulsive as well as nonsensical. It makes God sound like a psychopath. If a human behaved like this we’d say that they were a monster.”
Mr John argues that too many Christians go through their lives failing to realise that God is about “love and truth”, not “wrath and punishment”. He offers an alternative interpretation, suggesting that Christ was crucified so he could “share in the worst of grief and suffering that life can throw at us”.
I’m not certain of all of Rev. John’s arguments (partly because I haven’t read them all), but I believe he is asking the right questions and I am moved by his conclusions. Granted, “His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts,” but if that idea is treated as application rather than solace, we’d have no theology. Last Sunday, we discussed some views on this sacrifice thing, what it really means, and what it says about God. In a series of posts, I’d like to share these ideas, maybe share my own conclusions, and get your feedback.
The article from The Telegraph is here.
Rev. John’s Lent address, which the The Telegraph article was anticipating, is here.