Friday, March 25, 2016

Crux Probat Omnia

On Good Friday, it is important to remember the words of Martin Luther: Crux probat omnia — The cross is the test of everything. Below is an excerpt from The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge (Via Internet Monk):
The crucifixion is the touchstone of Christian authenticity, the unique feature by which everything else, including the resurrection, is given its true significance. The resurrection is not a set piece. It is not an isolated demonstration of divine dazzlement. It is not to be detached from its abhorrent first act. The resurrection is, precisely, the vindication of a man who was crucified. Without the cross at the center of the Christian proclamation, the Jesus story can be treated as just another story about a charismatic spiritual figure. It is the crucifixion that marks out Christianity as something definitively different in the history of religion. It is in the crucifixion that the nature of God is truly revealed. Since the resurrection is God’s mighty transhistorical Yes to the historically crucified Son, we can assert that the crucifixion is the most important historical event that ever happened. The resurrection, being a transhistorical event planted within history, does not cancel out the contradiction and shame of the cross in this present life; rather, the resurrection ratifies the cross as the way “until he comes.”
…The resurrection is not just the reappearance of a dead person. It is the mighty act of God to vindicated the One whose very right to exist was thought to have been negated by the powers that nailed him to a cross. At the same time, however, the One who is gloriously risen is the same One who suffered crucifixion. It is not an insignificant detail that “doubting Thomas” asks to see the marks of the nails and the spear in the Lord’s resurrected body (John 20:25). The book of Revelation is an extended hymn to the risen Christ, but he is nevertheless the “Lamb standing, as though it had been slain,” the One whose wounds still show, the One by whose blood the robes of the redeemed have been cleansed for all eternity (Rev. 5:6-7)
The reason Paul said to the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2), is not that he considered the resurrection to be of lesser importance. The reason Paul insisted on the centrality of the cross in polemical terms was that the Corinthian Christians wanted to pass over it altogether. This tendency persists in the American church today. H. Richard Niebuhr put it unforgettably in The Kingdom of God in America: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” When this happens, we may have spirituality, but we do not have Christianity.