Saturday, May 20, 2017

CWG (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6: Is the Centrality of the Cross Thesis Defensible?

Boyd wants to preemptively respond to two possible objections what he has so far argued.

Some argue that the cross couldn't have been central to the early Christians because it doesn't show up in the surviving early Christian art. Greg doesn't think much of this objection on a number of grounds. First, it doesn't account for the findings of the previous chapter (that the NT does focus on the cross). Second, we have documentation that the early Christians utilized the sign of the cross. Third, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper centerd on Jesus' death on the cross. Fourth, some significant evidence for early Christian 'cross' art does exist. Fifth, it is understandable why early Christians may have avoided depicting Jesus' death on the cross (emotional, theological, strategic, etc.).

A more serious objection to Greg's cruciform hermeneutic and theology is the suggestion that it lacks precedent in church tradition. In other words, why hasn't a cruciform hermeneutic been applied to violent Old Testament passages before now? Greg begins by reiterating that a cruciform hermeneutic has been employed at key points throughout church history (though not consistently). But since Augustine (Determinism) & Constantine (Church/State Blend), the church has largely attempted to justify (its own) violence. The motivation to re-interpret these OT texts disappeared. The Anabaptists recovered the early church's motivation, but persecution meant that they didn't get very far in this endeavor. Tragically, it is only in the last decades that efforts to apply the cruciform hermeneutic to these passages have restarted.

Personally, I felt the section on early Christian art would have been better as an appendix (though I did enjoy learning some things). Boyd had some strong responses to the question of why what he's attempting seems (and, to some degree, is) novel. It seemed plausible to me (I am, after all, Anabaptist in theological orientation).

I liked how Greg pointed out the cross actually plays a MORE central role in Anabaptist theology for the very reason that they allow it to apply to all areas (not just a narrow view application to atonement theology). I also enjoyed his thoughts on divine wisdom and divine determinism.

No comments: