FAST FOOD (2018): Seventh Helping
The Post-Constantinian theological lavishing of concentration of interest upon the physical death of Jesus vitiates, by intentional de-emphasis, all of the salvific teachings of Jesus that precede His death. The pre-death work of Jesus as He struggles against the false ideas about “what kind of God God is and what God expects of peoples” is reduced to near irrelevancy. Indeed, the ceaseless theological focus on the physical death of Jesus and its implications is so excessive and exclusive that Jesus’ death is almost never called by its correct name, murder. Murder is different from mere death and it raises questions and opens up doors of reflection, and closes others, on the salvific work of Jesus prior to His murder that the generic term death does not. Everyone dies, but everyone is not murdered.
If the physical death of Jesus was all that God desired for reconciliation with human beings, why didn’t Jesus simply suffer and die in utero. If beyond His physical death, what Jesus said and did in His life as recorded in the Gospels is not essential for the salvation of one and all, for reconciliation between humanity and God, then why not have that accomplished by a miscarriage or an abortion. The fully divine and fully human person, who is Jesus, is in Mary’s womb from the time of the Annunciation. Death in the womb and death on the cross are equally death. If Jesus’ death is the exclusive sine qua non reality for the salvation of the world and eternal communion of humanity with God, why does Jesus have to live for 30 to 40 years and teach, e.g., the rejection of violence and the love of enemies, and why did He have to die as He did, e.g., rejecting violence and the loving His enemies?
—Emmanuel Charles McCarthy