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Leaving the Altars of Sadistic gods
On gods we can't get jiggy with.
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Let me start by saying that I believe in Christ & Him crucified. That is where my faith lies. I believe in the Gospel of Jesus.
But I think a lot of Christians have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad theology of the cross. Legitimately harmful stuff. I’ve often heard it said that Jesus took our place on the cross. That it should’ve been us instead.
I am writing this post to state, without equivocation, that I do not want any part of that sadistic theology.
I get that the wages of sin is death. I’m not here to argue about that. But the reality of crucifixion is much starker than that. Everybody dies. Crucifixion is more than just death, though. It was state sanctioned torture. Brutality. Shredding flesh on a living human before piercing them and leaving to suffocate over a period of hours (or even days) in public spaces. Crucifixion was a matter of asserting dominance and intimidating people into submission.
No. I absolutely do not deserve that fate. Neither do you. And that is one of the points of the story!
When Jesus “took our sins on that cross,” he confronts us with the reality of how depraved our world has become. That even the innocent could be subjected to such a course of action reveals that we have no concept of righteousness.
Any theory of atonement that takes such brutality as a given—where the only problem with the crucifixion of Jesus is that it should have been us instead of him—is a bad one.
I find inspiration in Jesus’s commitment to the wholeness of a people that he knew would lead him to the death of an insurrectionist. But I do not find any liberation in the death he suffered.
I find my path to wholeness in the life that he lived leading up to that brutality. I find liberation in the Resurrection he embodied on the other side of that brutality.
When I shared the tweet above, I found quite a bit of resistance from some people.
I’ve posted my fair share of provocative tweets before, but I thought “no, we actually do not deserve to be tortured, brutalized, and publicly suffocated” was something most of us could agree on.
One aspiring church planter (and PhD student at one of the seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention) dropped a bunch of scriptures to support his very firm conviction that we do indeed deserve to be “crushed by the cross.” The scriptures he listed included Gal. 1:6-9, 1 Tim. 1:3-4, 1 Tim. 6:3-4, and 2 Tim. 3:1-9. I will save you the time: none of those passages suggest that anyone should have been “crushed” by any crosses. You will not find any passages in the Bible affirming the cross as a valid expression of justice & righteousness. They do not exist.
What those passages—and his objection in general—illustrate is something very common. We have elevated many extra-biblical concepts and interpretations of God to non-negotiables. And some of those concepts and interpretations of God stink.
I’m not very concerned with debating all of the various theories of atonement in this post. But if we’ve gotten to the point where “you do not deserve to be tortured, brutalized, and executed in public” sounds heretical, then you serve a cruel god.
If “no one deserves to be lynched” is bad doctrine in your religion, then your religion is bad.
Jesus doesn’t tell us to pick up our cross because crosses are good. Jesus tells us to pick up our cross because he knows that The Way will upset those with the power to wield death as a weapon. The Resurrection is the condemnation of the cross. In the Resurrection, crucifixion is stripped of its power.
The name of this publication is The Son Do Move, because I believe that Jesus leads us to liberation. Leading requires moving. As we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow The Way, we must leave the dark places we once called home.
Viewing the cross as the primary place of our liberation and transformation is one of those dark places. BecauseI believe The Son Do Move, I’m getting the hell outta that dark place.
I’m choosing to find my liberation in the Resurrection instead. Instead of marveling at the brutality someone told me I deserved, I will pursue the life that Gods said I should have.
Them lil’ sadistic gods some folks keep tryna tell us about can kick rocks.