Apr 5, 2012

The Cross: Cause and Effect

I still have one more installment of my review of Peter Rollins' Insurrection in the works, but in the meantime, here's a little change of pace.

In light of the approaching Good Friday, and planning the special Good Friday worship service at Hillcrest, I have been thinking (a little more than usual) about the crucifixion, resurrection, redemption, and what these things really mean.  But rather than finding any sort of meaning--which, if you've been reading here for any amount of time, shouldn't surprise you--it seems that in every season of life, the redemption story evolves rather than resolves.  As usual, its essence morphs into something new, fresh, and full of even more life (rather than "meaning") than previously realized.  It truly is a living, breathing narrative.

A few months ago I read Richard Rohr's The Naked Now.  Then, a couple weeks later, I read it again, and have since started reading his blog.  This post about the crucifixion goes right in line with The Naked Now in offering a different way to see the Crucifixion (and the redemption narrative) much like Peter Rollins' Insurrection.

Our Western minds want to view everything in a strict "cause and effect" mindset, also known as "instrumental thinking."  In terms of understanding the crucifixion, we want there to be a cause and effect for Christ's death.  Then, we want that effect to become a cause for some other effect.  The spiral (if we're honest) goes something like this:

Cause:  I sin.
Effect:  Christ dies.
Cause:  Christ dies.
Effect:  I am forgiven (but I still feel guilty).
Cause:  I am obligated to be grateful.
Effect:  Nothing really changes.

I believe that the all-too-common phrase "Christ died for our sins" is a big cause (eh hem) of this efficient causation mindset.  What if we changed the word "for" with the word "with"?

Christ died with our sin.

Now, I am part of the crucifixion.  All of myself, including my shadow-self, is participating in the redemption narrative.  As Rohr says, "now life and death are both good."

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