Thursday, July 26, 2012

The paradox of the cross

From Frank A. James III in The Glory of the Atonement:

In all of this, as in much of Christ's teaching, the cross retains a paradoxical quality. Followers are told that "the first shall be last" and that we ought to "love our enemies." This theological trajectory underscores the richness and depth of the cross. On the one hand, the cross is the point of greatest defeat (Jesus was killed, crucified and buried); yet at the same time, it is the point of greatest triumph, for it was precisely in his death that his followers have eternal life. His was a death of eternal significance. In a redemptive-historical sense, the death of Christ on the cross is directly related to the fall of Adam. By disobedience in the Garden, death becomes a reality for himself and all humanity. But by Christ's obedience, eternal life becomes a reality for true believers . . .

Paradoxically, Christ's death on the cross was the triumph over Adam's disobedience and the consequent pall of death that fell over all humanity. Te relationship between God and humanity was horribly disrupted, and what had been a good relationship became a bad relationship. What had been a relationship of love became a relationship of wrath. But the death of Christ was the one unique death that brought ultimate victory over death itself. It was the "death of death," as John Owen described it. Because Christ died on the cross, he brought about a new relationship. Instead of wrath, there was grace and love. Before, we were far off; now we are brought near.

(Nicole, Roger R., Charles E. Hill, and Frank A. James. The Glory of the Atonement: Biblical, Historical & Practical Perspectives : Essays in Honor of Roger Nicole. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004. Print. 214-5)

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