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“Come Worship Our Crucified God”: Not the Finest Lead

When you’re residing within the Mediterranean world of the first century and also you wish to promote your faith, a “crucified god” shouldn’t be your headline.

But that’s precisely what we discover within the New Testomony.

A few summers in the past I learn a bit of e book by Martin Hengel, Crucifixion, written about 40 years in the past. Hengel (d. 2009) was a scholar of the New Testomony and freakishly good.

I simply thought you would possibly like some excerpts from the e book that made me suppose.

The one risk of one thing like a ‘crucified god’ showing on the periphery of the traditional world of gods was within the type of a malicious parody, supposed to mock the arbitrariness and wickedness of the daddy of the gods on Olympus, who now had turn into out of date.(p. 11)

Hengel goes on to debate for instance Lucian’s Prometheus,the story ofthe crucifixion of the god Prometheus by Zeus. Hengel continues…

It doesn’t appear to me to be a coincidence that the writer [Lucian] of this biting parody in hisDe morte Peregrini, mocks Christians as “poor devils. . . who deny the Greek gods and as a substitute honour that crucified sophist and stay in keeping with his legal guidelines.(p. 12)

A number of pages later…

With its paradoxical distinction between the divine nature of the pre-existent Son of God and his shameful dying on the cross the primary Christian proclamation shattered all analogies and parallels to christology which might be produced on the earth of the time, whether or not from polytheism or from monotheistic philosophy. Now we have factors of comparability [between Christianity and other ancient religions] for the conceptions of exaltation, ascension and even resurrection. However the struggling of a god quickly needed to be proven to be mere simulation, quickly adopted by punishment for these people who had been so depraved as to trigger it. . . . (p. 15)

By “mere simulation,” Hengel means,

On many events within the Graeco-Roman world we come throughout the concept that offensive happenings shouldn’t be ascribed to revered divine beings or demi-gods themselves, however solely to their ‘representations.’. . . . Jesus ought to have demonstrated his divinity by being transported both on the time of his seize or later, from the cross (p. 16, my emphasis).

Christianity is smart within the historical world—it displays the Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures of the occasions. However there may be additionally a weirdness to Christianity that Hengel describes right here.

“Hello everybody! The one we worship was crucified by the Romans. Come comply with us.”

That opening line didn’t “match” amongst Greco-Roman religions. Claiming a divine determine was helplessly overwhelmed, tortured, and gruesomely—shamefully—executed, would have been proof optimistic that such a faith was joke worthy solely of the late-night monologs—regardless of the historical analog is for Jimmy Fallon.

The ridiculousness of the crucifixion of the Son of God can simply be misplaced on fashionable folks, together with Christians. However with out greedy firmly the “offense of the cross” (Galatians 5:11), we miss an vital reversal that so typifies the gospel.

For I’m not ashamed of the gospel; it’s the energy of God for salvation to everybody who has religion, to the Jew first and likewise to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Why would Paul even want to say the potential disgrace of the gospel? As a result of the thought of a crucified divine consultant was shameful.

For the message concerning the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing, however to us who’re being saved it’s the energy of God.  For it’s written,“I’ll destroy the knowledge of the sensible, and the discernment of the discerning I’ll thwart.”The place is the one who is sensible? The place is the scribe? The place is the debater of this age? Has not God made silly the knowledge of the world?  For since, within the knowledge of God, the world didn’t know God by knowledge, God determined, by the foolishness of our proclamation, to save lots of those that imagine. . . . However God selected what’s silly on the earth to disgrace the sensible; God selected what’s weak on the earth to disgrace the robust. . .(1 Corinthians 1:18-21; 27)

Relatively than remaining a humiliation, in an ironic, counterintuitive twist, the cross turned the grand reversal, God’s means of triumphing over the kingdoms of males. Disgrace and weak point turn into energy and triumph.

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public instance of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross]. (Colossians 2:15)

And that’s the Jesus we comply with:

. . . trying to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our religion, who for the sake of the enjoyment that was set earlier than him endured the cross, disregarding its disgrace, and has taken his seat on the proper hand of the throne of God. (Hebrew 12:2)

I believe what Hengel says is simply too typically misplaced on fashionable ears.

This weblog was orginally posted in August 2017.

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