Good Friday… what a day to remember. I put up a post yesterday with a perspective on what is taking place on the cross; what the issue that the cross is to respond to. I used the three headings of ‘for God?’, ‘for us?’ or ‘to deal with the bondage to the powers?’. Not surprisingly I move away from ‘for God’ in that sense of turning God toward us. That never has been an issue: God is and always has been for us… we are certainly not ‘saved from God’; the cross saves us and reveals God as Saviour, and not simply Jesus as Saviour. Redemption is the united work of the Trinitarian God for us.
I read a short review yesterday saying that anyone who calls the penal substitutionary view of the atonement as ‘cosmic child abuse’ (I think that term was coined by Steve Chalke) should also then term the virginal conception as a case of ‘cosmic rape’. Really????
The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God…’ (Luke 1:35).
Sex by the gods is a pagan concept – as is appeasement / placating the gods / getting on their good side. The comparison used in the review I do not think comes close to being suitable. The Spirit’s presence is as a divine womb, a divine carrier for the one being carried within the womb of Mary. ‘The Spirit will come upon [Mary]’ is surely parallel to that of the Spirit coming on the disciples at Pentecost, or the Spirit brooding over the waters at creation. God – not defined gender-wise – is described far more as a mother in partnership with the human mother, Mary, in this text.
We cannot, for example, say that ruach (breath, wind, spirit) is feminine and ‘womb’ (rechem: vowels come later in Hebrew so same basic word structure) therefore God in this instance is ‘mother’… but we can see the nurturing element of God. In creation the Spirit is working and draws from the earth the human (Adam, Adamah – from the earth). The transcendent God embracing the immanence of creation to bring forth humanity; the transcendent God entering a room with a sound from heaven and covering those gathered so that something might arise among them, that which will be termed ekklesia.
In all three situations we do not have an image of anything approaching a god who forces entry on creation, Mary nor the disciples in that upper room.
‘Cosmic child abuse’ might be somewhat offensive, but it at least forces a reconsideration of what is being said (‘saved from God?’ or from ‘the wrath of God?’)… but to push back with ‘cosmic rape’ I consider is not appropriate.
Today we remember that we are saved from our sins, that we put Jesus to death; that we can be free from the powers of this age. What a GOOD day.
2 thoughts on “What a day!”
I agree with you. ‘Cosmic rape’ is pretty blasphemous and offensive. Also Mary was not forced to be the mother of the coming messiah but actually consented to be honoured in such a way. If she had refused during the visitation from the angel Gabriel I don’t believe she would have been coerced into it. So from that perspective it is erroneous too. I don’t actually like the term ‘cosmic child abuse’ either though because none of us have a true understanding of what exactly happened at the cross it goes beyond our comprehension. We can all surmise about it and have our ‘takes’ on it but we were not there when the trinity discussed the rescue plan for humanity and creation so we don’t know! I tend towards the Orthodox view of the atonement being to do with restoring us after the fall and all creation follows! I would like to believe in the restoration of all things ‘apokatastasis’ as the end result of the death, descent and resurrection of Jesus but I have to remain somewhere agnostic about exactly what happened. I dislike Penal Substitution as the explanation but open to possibility it could be what happened. Consequently I am always a little confused about exactly what I believe! I do not doubt though that Jesus is the only way.
Yes I think when all is said and done – a little confused is pretty true for all of us! And restoration has to be close to the centre.
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