Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Cross I Can Embrace

What follows is a summary of sorts by Richard Rhor about his discussion of many of the "theologies of the cross" in the book sited here at the end of the post. I highly recommend this book for those who are willing to think for themselves with a critical mind about their faith but beware, it will challenge much of what has been passed down to you. I find here a cross I can truly embrace. This theology of Duns Scotus makes much more sense to me than a loving God who requires blood in order for me to have a relationship with him/her.
To get the full import of what is being said here you may need to read the book.

A Bit of History 

In the thirteenth century, the 

Franciscans and the Dominicans 

were the church’s debating 

society, as it were. We were 

allowed to have minority 

positions in those day, which 

makes me think we have moved 

backward. We invariably took 

opposing positions in the great 

debates in the universities of 

Paris, Cologne, and Oxford, and neither opinion was kicked out of the church in those days. One of the debates was on St. Anselm’s famous and influential writing, Cur Deus Homo? (“ Why did God become a human being?”). St. Thomas Aquinas and the Dominicans were being true to the Scriptures, many of which give you the impression that a ransom has to be paid to someone, and that atonement has to be made to God. They were just being faithful to Jewish temple metaphors of sacrifice, price, and atonement. But our Franciscan teacher Blessed John Duns Scotus, who established the theological chair at Oxford, said that Jesus wasn’t solving any problems with God. Jesus wasn’t changing God’s mind about us but, rather, he was changing our mind about God. Scotus built his argument much more on Colossians’ and Ephesians’ understanding of the preexistent Cosmic Christ. Jesus is “the image of the invisible God,” who came forward in a moment of time so we could look upon “the One we have pierced” and see God’s unconditional love— and at the same time see what humans do to almost everything— and then witness God and Jesus’ unconditional love-response to that. The image of the cross was to change us, not to change God, andso Scotus concluded that Jesus’ incarnation and death were not at all necessary:

Jesus was a pure gift, and the 

realm of gift is much better than 

the realm of necessity. We were 

not saved because of any problem 

whatsoever, or to pay any debt to 

devil or to God, but purely to 

reveal to the soul Divine Love. As 

usual, the Franciscans were 

right, but unfortunately we lost 

the debate, and the mainline 

Dominican position has been 

held by most Catholics and 

Protestants to this day, with a lot 

of sad results. Someone called it 

“the most unfortunately 

successful piece of Christian 

theology ever written,” because 

it implied that God was not 

naturally and unconditionally in 

love with what God created.

Rohr, Richard (2012-06-11). Lever and a Place to Stand, A: The Contemplative Stance, the Active Prayer (Kindle Locations 1274-1278). Paulist Press. Kindle Edition. 

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