Again, “We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him” (Pope Francis, 6/21/14).
For the Christian, that Jesus saves is beyond doubt, but how Jesus saves is another matter. For the overwhelming majority of Christians the timeworn, stock, sound bite answer to the question, “How does Jesus save,” is “By His Cross we are saved.” “By His Cross,” means to the vast majority of Christians by His doing the will of the Father and accepting death by religiously and politically motivated torture and execution.
The problem with this and with nearly every interpretation of “By the blood of the Cross we are saved,” is that it turns God into someone other than God as incarnated in and revealed by Jesus in the Gospels. Pope Francis says what most Christians would say, “We adore God who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us…We have no God other than Him.” Jesus is the incarnation of God, the Word of God “made flesh” (Jn 1: ff), “the image of the invisible God” (Col1: 15).
Jesus therefore is to be adored, as Pope Francis says, that is, He is to be given that worship (latria) reserved to God alone. Hence when Jesus teachers and lives a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as the Way and Will of God, it is without doubt the Way and Will of God for those who believe in Jesus. God always acts as God is, and God always is as God acts, and Jesus is God. His words and His deeds, His truth and His message cannot be separated in the slightest from his Person. His Person is His message and His message is His Person—and that Person is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. To see Jesus is to see the Father because “the Father and I are one,” “He or she who sees me sees the Father,” and “I come to do the Will of the Father who sent me.”
A Father who refuses to be reconciled with humanity unless His Son obeys this Father and gets Himself killed—with or without offering violent resistance to His murderers—is not logically compatible with God as revealed by the Person, words and deeds of Jesus in the Gospels.
“But,” most Christians will object, “you don’t understand! God wills that His Son be tortured and murdered out of His love for humanity.” O, but I do understand! For all of recorded history fathers have been sending their sons and daughters off to suffer and die for the father’s myths, dreams, desires and fears, for the father’s gods, country, causes and vested interests. All of which each father thought was worth the sacrifice of his son or daughter’s life out of love for the end he desired to achieve.
The God who is revealed by the Person, words and deeds of Jesus in the Gospels is not logically compatible with this image and activity of historical fathers. To maintain that the Eternal Father of all does the same, and thereby raises such a choice to the level of divinity and divine approval is an attempt to morally validate one of the most heinous of human practices, child sacrifice. God, the Father of Jesus, does not will, command or send His Son, in Gethsemane or anywhere else, to be tortured and murdered for any reason, cause or end. God, the Father of Jesus, as revealed by the Person of Jesus in His words and deeds, is and must be a God of Nonviolent Love of all, friends and enemies, because God Incarnate in the Jesus of the Gospels is a Person of Nonviolent Love of all, friends and enemies. This precludes all possibility that the Father of Jesus would design or participate in a Plan for the salvation of humanity that required willing the destruction of His Son.
Please do give this some thought. It has implications.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
(To be continued)