Questions I’d like answered 2 – The Cross

Posted: January 25, 2013 by J in General

The cross is where God is most fully and definitely revealed. We all agree about that. So whatever God is seen to be doing at the cross, will be core to his identity.

We say that the main thing happening at the cross is Penal Substitutionary Atonement. God punishing his son for sins we committed.

From the point of view of the Son, graciously ‘suffering for others’ is presumably revealed as core to his divine identity.

But for the Father, what is revealed? Here at the definite revealing of the Father, what do we see?

The infliction of punishment.

QUESTION: Is that really what we want to say about the core of God’s identity? If not, which bit of the above reasoning would we change?

  1. Mike Wells says:

    The question is ” is the Father revealed in the Son, or is the Father revealed in what he does to the Son”
    Doesn’t Jesus say “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father?”, rather than “Anyone who has seen what has happened to me sees what the Father is doing”
    God the Son reveals God the Father by hanging on the cross.

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks for your comment, Mike. I think you’re saying that it’s the actions of the Son that do the revealing, rather than the actions of the whole Trinity.

      That kind of insulates the Father from having his action at the cross take as definitive. And presumably the Spirit too. I think that’s your point.

      I don’t know what I think of this as a solution to my problem. I will think on it. In the past, I’ve tended to see the action of the Trinity at the cross as definitive for their identity. But all seen, of course, in Jesus death/resurrection.

      It would be a little strange if the Father’s actions didn’t reveal the Father, wouldn’t it?

  2. Seumas says:

    The problem with the question is the implication that the Father and Son are somehow different in this respect – what the Son reveals, he reveals of the character of God. That would be my first response, Trinity saves us from identifying punishment with the heart of the Father.

    My second would be that we should never divorce ‘judgment’ from ‘justice’. Judgment, to our modern ears, always sounds negative. But Justice is always the reckoning of evil. At the cross we see that God will not stand for evil, but will himself deal with it.

    • Jonathan says:

      thanks Seumas for your thoughtful comments.

      God will deal with evil, yes, but specifically deal with it through punishing – that’s what we emphasise around here.

      This attribute ‘will not stand for evil but will punish it’ – are we happy to assert this as the core of God’s being? If we had to write a top three things we wanted to say to about God, would we be happy to include this on the list?

      • Seumas says:

        On this point, I’m just not sure I want to assert that somehow the Cross reveals things that are at the core of God’s character in a way that the rest of salvation-history doesn’t. I’m more than happy to go along with the Cross as the focal point, but I’m unconvinced we want to prioritise characteristics of God based on whether they are more or less revealed in the Crucifixion event.

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