Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cruciformity: The Cruciform God (part 2)

On the basis of the Christ event, Paul infers not only the depth of human lostness . . . but also the depth of divine grace and love. . . . [God] does not wait until he can let the principle of poetic justice rule. Rather, according to Paul, his nature consists in re-creating the unlovely so that under his love they become lovely, in turning enemies into reconciled people, in giving worth to the worthless. This is the self characterization of the Father of Jesus.[1]

The section I found to be the most interesting in the first chapter was Gorman’s teasing out what it means to say that ‘God is for us’. Essentially God is for us because God loves us, and this love is God’s way of being, and it corresponds to the self giving love of Christ on the cross. Gorman explains this further by relating the relationship between God and Jesus to the proverb ‘like father, like son’. Its reflexive: if Jesus is like God, then God is like Jesus.

‘For Paul, there was a necessary ‘family resemblance’ between the Father and the Son. The Father was like the Son, and vice versa. If the Christ of Paul’s experience was the faithful, obedient Son of God, then he acted in life and especially in death according to the will and character of God. That is to say, the Son’s act on the cross was an act of ‘family resemblance’ of conformity to God. If so, Paul would have reasoned from his experience of Christ, God must be a God who by nature wills and does what the Son willed and did. God is, in other words, a god of self-giving love whose power and wisdom are found in the weakness and folly of the cross.’

The powerful implication for those who seek to follow the crucified One is that all praxis must now pass the test of conformity to the cross of Christ.

[1] Jürgen Becker, Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles, trans. O.C. Dean jr. (Louisville: Westminister/John Knox, 1993), 378-79.

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