12 January 2008

Putting One's Hope in the The Word Made Flesh

Below is an excerpt from a Letter to the Editor from this week's edition of The Church Times entitled 'Putting One's Hope in The Word Made Flesh' written by Jeremy Craddock of Huntingdon.

I'm posting this excerpt mainly because it resonated with me, but I think that there are also connections to two entirely separate conversations I've been having in the blogosphere about: 1) The Fall; 2) The place of 'death and dying' in Christian theology. To me, there seem to be shades of WH Vanstone's theology in this letter.

'Mr. H' wrote a letter the previous week articulating the age-old objection to faith that 'bad things happen every day'.

Mr. H says that, in addition to all our good qualities, God also made cruelty, cancer, and tsunamis. But suppose that God did not design the world directly and in detail. If he did, then there would be no freedom of choice, and he would be some kind of monster. Suppose instead that he made the world make itself. If that were so, then he would be suffering as creatures preyed on one another, and species died out to make room for others.

Now suppose that God's act as creator is really that he sustains the world that makes itself, moment by moment, at a cost to himself. That is, he stands by creatures who suffer from cruelty, cancer, and tsunamis. Indeed, he suffers with them; but we might want - accepting that human words fail to describe the unknowable God - to say that he suffers with his creation because he observes its suffering at first hand.

But the idea of incarnation goes a stage further. Of course Jesus was fully human. Be the incarnation suggests that, in Jesus, God knew by experience, not just observation, what it was to be rejected, and hunted down; and by experience, to know the ultimate horror of being God-forsaken. The reason I can't cope with a love such as that is not just that I want to think of Jesus as no more than a godly man; it is that I can't bear it.

No comments: