“What we believe about the Cross really matters,” says Steve in this week’s Chalke Talk. “If the church believes that God’s first response to humanity is one of anger at sin, and then views itself as God’s mouthpiece; our underlying lack of respect and love for those who don’t share our faith will leak out – however much we try to disguise it.”
Continuing his series on the Cross, Steve argues that the notion of ‘penal substitution’ is largely based on pre-Christian thought around how the ancient world would appease pagan gods through blood sacrifice. Instead, a truly Christian interpretation would be to view the cross as a result of human anger to which Jesus responds by showing that we should overcome through peace and surrender and never violence.
“The Cross demonstrates that Jesus practises what he preaches,” Steve continues. “He goes the extra mile. He lays down his life. He refuses to return evil for evil, but instead, he willingly absorbs its impact within his own body. As he hung on the cross, Jesus soaked up – but refused to return – the hate, rejection, pain and alienation all around him. And, in doing so, he was demonstrating to all what a true ‘Messiah’ or ‘liberator’ looks like. Real freedom is not delivered through aggression, cannot be maintained by force and it is never enjoyed by those who are driven by anger. Just like peace, freedom only ever takes root, is nurtured and reaches maturity, in the soil of self-giving, sacrificial, love.”
Do you agree with Steve that a belief that the cross is an expression of God’s anger has made the church more judgemental of the world around us?
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