Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The cross should offend no one

The makers of the soap Coronation Street recently filmed an wedding scene in a quintessentially English church. Concerned that a cross would offend people they concealed it from view with flowers and candles before filming. You can read about it here. There have been apologies for this error and the upset it has caused. However, the following comment from a spokesman at the Diocese of Chester caught my eye:
"The cross is universally accepted as a symbol of Christianity, and should offend no one."
I'm not surprised that the media wishes to cover up a cross. Such a move is ideologically driven and intellectually shallow, but not particularly surprising. That's what people do when they are on the run from God. It is an act of suppression to relieve the pressure of God's special and general revelation.

But it is somewhat bizarre that a church spokesman should say that the cross should offend no one. The cross should offend everyone. It is a direct challenge to our moral calculus, to our deeply held philosophies, to our assessment of human nature, freedom and ability. The cross strips away all our religious, intellectual, and ethical pretensions.

The cross is the very central point of the "scandal of particularity." It tells us not only that God is to be found in this way, and in no other, but he cannot be known rightly without us coming to terms with our sin and corruption and with this way of rescue alone.

The cross leaves all people, in all cultures, at all times, horribly exposed as God defying, God evading, rebels. And yet at the same time the cross displays, as nothing else can, the wisdom and power of God. Who would have thought that the very God that we spend all our lives rejecting and replacing should give his own Son to die in the place of the guilty, and to bear their punishment? That he should freely offer to all people life and forgiveness through the cross of Christ? That God should be in the business of making his bitterest enemies his closest friends?

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