Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Lord of Glory Crucified

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.  14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (ESV)
“None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” This is the wisdom of God imparted to the mature, the mystery of God hidden from the rulers of this world. The Lord of glory was crucified, God himself. And this is the salvation of man, the death of God.
I guess we are now in the sequel to “God is not Dead” the movie. I haven’t watched either. I read Nietzsche, and that was fun. I’m not sure he himself really believed God was dead, but he saw society acting like it. In any case, I’m not here to debate Nietzsche or defend him. I try to avoid Christian movies like Christian radio and TV. When I belly up to the buffet line of God’s law picking and choosing which sins are worse and which are tolerable, blasphemy and false doctrine go to the front of the list.
“God is dead.” Long before this became the slogan of atheists it was a taunt that Orthodox Christians used to jeer Nestorius as he returned from Ephesus. People think the controversy was over Mary giving
 birth to God. But really it was over the implications of that. If Mary gave birth to God, then God died on the cross, the Lord of glory was crucified. If Mary did not give birth to God then God did not die, the Lord of Glory was not crucified. Behind this is the Greek concept of God as a demiurge who is impassible, that is incapable of suffering. It’s not a biblical concept, and yet if often comes into Christian theology especially when Greek modes of thought are used to prove the existence of God, such as those that were employed by Thomas Aquinas. He picked them up from Avicenna and Averroes who were Muslim philosophers in Cordoba. This is the same arena from which many modern apologists like William Lane Craig gets his Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God. The problem is these arguments don’t really prove the existence of God so much as a god. Than that god comes with a lot of philosophical baggage, the kind of wisdom that is opposed to the wisdom of God. That said, I see some value to these arguments. It’s just, they only carry you so far and you have to be careful with that baggage and what you do with it. To this day, this baggage is an albatross around the necks of many Christian theologians who want the man Jesus to die apart from the Lord of glory.

God is dead. It was a taunt that caused Nestorius to tremble. He couldn’t imagine a society that believed such a thing would not be punished greatly by God for such blasephemy. Coincidently, this is the same fear that Islam has when we say Jesus is God with the Apostle Thomas, and not merely a great prophet. I think the interesting thing in the taunt, though, is the present tense. I’m comfortable pointing to the cross and saying God died, but as long as Jesus lives the same God who died is now alive. Yet, death is now part of the experience of God who is eternal and outside of time. And that is a mystery of mysteries. I suspect that this was somewhat the point of the taunt chanted in bonfires around the city of Constantinople. As Peter Brown points out in relation to this, this was the God who endeared himself to the simple Christians who did not get preoccupied with philosophical principles. For them God did not become man so much in the conception by the Holy Spirit, but when he tasted of the experience that all men suffer, death. Here was a God who truly put aside his divinity to become one of us that we might be restored to his image. He died, and in death truly became man. Had he not died he never would have been truly man. But a God who dies for us is a God who never abandons us even in our greatest distress, or the least of our worries. 

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