Archive for the ‘Cross’ Category

Ecclesia and Ethics Conference–May 18 and 25

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

If you are interested in the life of the church, the moral life, and theological scholarship in service of both, consider participating in the international online Webinar Ecclesia and Ethics, May 18 and 25. Go to ecclesiaethics.com. You can also see online interviews with some of the speakers, including yours truly and Tom Wright.

Good Friday Reflections 2013

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Following is my annual set of brief statements about Good Friday, with some additions for this year:

What makes Good Friday “good”? Or, what is the meaning of Good Friday?

The first thing to say is that it is good only in light of Easter. Given the reality of Easter, it is good because it reveals the depth of God’s love and communicates that love to us in order to liberate us from Sin and Death and to give us life in abundance and life eternal.

Volumes have been written on this, including some by yours truly. Here are just a few reflections summarizing some of what I have written elsewhere at greater length:

1. The main purpose of Jesus’ death was to create the people of the new covenant, who would be empowered by the Spirit of God to resemble Jesus himself: faithful to God and loving toward their neighbors and enemies.

2. The cross is not only the source but also the shape of our salvation. This is the essential meaning of “cruciformity”–daily likeness to the self-giving, life-giving divine love manifested on the cross.

3. The cross reveals the love, power, wisdom, and justice of God, and it does so, paradoxically but powerfully, in weakness.

4. The cross is not only the signature of the Risen One (so Kaesemann), but also of the Holy One of Israel; that is, the cross is not only a christophany but ultimately a theophany–the ultimate divine self-revelation.

5. Thus cruciformity is ultimately theoformity; Christlikeness is Godlikeness; through participation in the cross of Christ, we are transformed most fully into the image of God. This is sometimes called theosis or deification.

6. The fact that Jesus died as the Jewish Messiah on a Roman cross means that his death contains within it a political theology and spirituality.

7. When the cross is used for anything that contradicts its character as divine love, power, wisdom, and justice displayed in weakness, it is being used blasphemously.

Finally: When I survey the wondrous cross, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

Inaugural Lecture PLUS a Seminar on Paul Nov. 8-9

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Nov. 8: Raymond E. Brown Inaugural Lecture and

Nov. 9: A Morning with the Apostle Paul (and Friends)

If you are anywhere near Baltimore, you are cordially invited!!

On Thursday, November 8 I will deliver my inaugural lecture as the first holder of the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. The topic will be “The Death of the Messiah: Theology, Spirituality, Politics.” A book sale and signing will precede the lecture at 7 p.m., and a period of dialogue will follow. This event, which is also this year’s Dunning Lecture, is free and open to the public.
Click for lecture information.

On the morning after the lecture, the conversation will continue as other biblical scholars and theologians (Richard Hays, Kathy Grieb, Fr. Tom Stegman, and Brent Laytham) will join me for “A Morning with the Apostle Paul (and Friends),” a discussion of some of the themes from my work on Paul and their significance both for understanding Paul and for the life and mission of the church today. Advance registration for this seminar is required, and space is limited.
Click for seminar details and registration form.

Good Friday Reflections

Friday, April 6th, 2012

What makes Good Friday “good”? Or, what is the meaning of Good Friday?

The first thing to say is that it is good only in light of Easter. Given the reality of Easter, it is good because it reveals the depth of God’s love and communicates that love to us in order to liberate us from Sin and Death and to give us life in abundance and life eternal.

‘Volumes have been written on this, including some by yours truly. Here are just a few reflections summarizing some of what I have written elsewhere at greater length:

1. The main purpose of Jesus’ death was to create the people of the new covenant, who would be empowered by the Spirit of God to resemble Jesus himself: faithful to God and loving toward their neighbors and enemies.

2. The cross is not only the source but also the shape of our salvation.

3. The cross reveals the love, power, wisdom, and justice of God, and it does so, paradoxically but powerfully, in weakness.

4. The cross is not only the signature of the Risen One (so Kaesemann), but also of the Holy One of Israel; that is, the cross is a theophany.

5. The fact that Jesus died as the Jewish Messiah on a Roman cross means that his death contains within it a political theology and spirituality.

6. When the cross is used for anything that contradicts its character as divine love, power, wisdom, and justice displayed in weakness, it is being used blasphemously.

7. When I survey the wondrous cross, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

Chris Tilling on the Cross

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

I know it’s already Easter season, but I would point your attention to a wonderful series of Good Friday meditations by my friend Chris Tilling, given at Holy Trinity Brompton, London. Superb exegesis and theological insight given meditatively and pastorally–with a wonderful accent, no less! See

Good Friday from Holy Trinity Brompton on Vimeo.

Must-See Film: “Of Gods and Men”

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

If you have not yet heard of this film, it is the story of a small monastery in Algeria that lives among and serves the local Muslim population, including the provision of medical treatment. When terrorists come into the region in 1996, the eight men must decide whether to flee or stay.

Their work, struggle, and witness, both before and during the crisis, are stirring examples of cruciform love that expresses itself in interfaith sensitivity, solidarity, and courage. My advice: find it and see it–now.

The Cross our Liberation

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Ancient Christian texts and traditions have much to tell us about the cross on this and any Good Friday. The cross is the medicine of the world, for instance: crux est mundi medicina. Moreover, crux probat omnia, according to Luther: the cross probes everything.

A beautiful Taizé chant reminds us also that the cross is our liberation, and so we sing = pray twice:

Per crucem et passionem tuam
Libera nos Domine, libera nos Domine, libera nos Domine, Domine.

Per crucem et passionem tuam
Libera nos Domine, libera nos Domine, libera nos Domine, Domine.

Per sanctam resurrectionem tuam
Libera nos Domine, libera nos Domine, libera nos Domine, Domine.

By your cross and passion, by your holy resurrection, liberate us, Lord.

The Significance of the Cross

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

One thing that the entire New Testament makes clear is that the cross is not only the source but also the shape of our Christian existence, our salvation. May those who preach tonight and tomorrow preach both sides of that coin, and maybe it will make this Holy Week’s activities a bit more faithful to the NT’s message.

Mark Goodacre on Crucifixion and Passion Narratives

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

My friend Mark Goodacre of Duke has two very fine podcasts, one on crucifixion itself and one on the nature of the passion narratives; highly recommended.

The Cross at the Start of Advent

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

“The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!”

–Charles Wesley, “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending”

HT Charlie Collier, who reminds us that Wesley’s hymn tells us that we begin the new year where it all ends.

I have a beautiful new calendar from Rev. Dr. Ed Searcy, pastor of University Hill Congregation in Vancouver, that begins today and follows the Christian year. I am posting it outside my office.


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