If our thinking about God is to be faithful to the New Testament, then all of our thinking about God must, from beginning to end, be centered on Christ. I’m persuaded that even our thinking about God in his transcendent, eternal state should begin and proceed with the Pauline conviction that we know nothing “except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (2 Cor. 2:2).
If no one knows the Father except the Son, whose identity and mission is thematically centered on the cross (Mt 11:27), and if the crucified Son is the one and only exact representation of God’s essence (Heb 1:3) and the one and only Word and image of God who has “made God known” by revealing “truth and grace” (Jn 1:14), then doesn’t it make sense to bracket out, as far as possible, our preconceived, a priori assumptions about what we think God’s transcendence ought to look like and to then reflect on God’s transcendence with our eyes firmly fixed on him? More specifically ought we not look to the cross to understand who God is in his eternal transcendent nature?
Of course, the identity and meaning of the crucified Christ is not self-contained or self-interpreting. It’s not as though the Incarnation and Crucifixion would have meant the same thing if they had taken place in (say) ancient Babylon, Egypt or India. Rather, the meaning of the Incarnation, Crucifixion and every other aspect of Jesus’ identity and mission are inextricably wrapped up with the OT narrative. As contemporary biblical scholarship has increasingly affirmed, the meaning of everything Jesus was about is thoroughly anchored in his Jewishness.
When I claim that we should adopt the conviction that we in principle know nothing “except Christ crucified” as we reflect on God’s transcendence, therefore, it should be understood that I am presupposing rather than eliminating the biblical history and covenantal framework that infuses “Christ crucified” with the particular, very Jewish, meaning it has. Indeed, this is precisely why the revelation of God is a distinctly Trinitarian event, involving the transcendent Father who is revealed in the incarnate Son through the illumination of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
By suggesting that we should in principle know nothing “except Christ crucified” as we reflect on God’s transcendence, I am contending that we should allow no other source to inform our understanding of the nature and character of God’s transcendence. It is true that because God is triune, there is more to be said about God than what has been revealed by the crucified Christ, but even this “more,” I contend, is known only through the crucified Christ.
Those from a more commonly held view of God—one that is shaped by the classical theological perspective—may argue that we can’t anchor an understanding of God’s transcendence in the incarnate and crucified Christ, since the incarnate and crucified Christ reflects God accommodating himself to human limitations and sin. But this is precisely the problem with the classical theological perspective. Because it operates with a concept of transcendence that is derived from outside God’s revelation in Christ, it can never fully embrace that God’s accommodation in Christ is actually the quintessential revelation of God. In other words, the revelation of Christ crucified reveals God’s transcendent essence. The only way to bridge God’s transcendence and God’s accommodation in Christ is to never allow for a separation in the first place. Hence the incarnate and crucified Christ is at one and the same time the quintessential source for our understanding of God’s accommodation as well as of God’s transcendence.
Well, I’m happy to announce that Crucifixion of the Warrior God is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Like many of you, I found that the clearer I got about the non-violent, self-sacrificial, enemy-embracing love of God revealed in Christ, the more disturbed I became over those portraits of God in the Old Testament that…
Greg considers whether Cruciform Hermeneutics is just a complicated way of seeing what I want to see in the text, and offers nuanced thought for our more complicated hermeneutical challenges. http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0307.mp3
For many in conservative Christian circles innovation in theology and biblical interpretation is viewed as suspect, if not sinful. To this I would simply respond by pointing out that the attitude that would dismiss hermeneutical or theological proposals (like those offered in The Crucifixion of the Warrior God) simply on the grounds that they include…
In a previous blog I argued that all our theological reflection must not only be Christ-centered, it must, most specifically, be cross-centered. I now want to begin to unpack some of the most important implications of adopting a cross-centered theological perspective. My ultimate goal is to show how a cross-centered theology is able to resolve the…
Greg considers the relationship between Christ’s death and resurrection. http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0744.mp3
Steve via Compfight There is a lot of mystery around the concept of the Trinity, and because the word is not used in Scripture some people think it’s not “Biblical”. David D. Flowers posted a very clear and concise article on the history and reality of the Trinity. This is a really helpful and quick…