The Offense of the Cross

The message of the cross is offensive because it deflates human pride and condemns the “works of religion.” As Paul put it, we cannot be made “perfect by the flesh” (Gal.3:3)


Thanks Shannon for sharing
“The message of the cross implies that humanity is sinful and under the sentence of divine wrath, and therefore the cross is an offense because it represents condemnation of the world. Contrary to the romantic notions of optimists, New Age thinkers, and progressive liberals, “the whole world lies in the wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Human nature is not inherently good. The cross declares that all of the religiosity and moral attempts of mankind are entirely incapable of pleasing God, and that humanity itself is unable to attain genuine revelation about ultimate reality. The cross reveals that we are lost… Apart from God’s intervention and saving grace, all people are doomed.”

This article is excellent.

Funny how it implies whatever we bring to the party.

I do not understand what you are saying to me Klax.

I enjoyed a good hunk of the read as I thought the massage was solid but thought the same thing. I also disagree with what I perceive to be a penal substation model of atonement throughout it. The Cross does not mean that for me.

Hengel’s small tract Crucifixion is a bit dated but still relevant on how this “folly” was viewed in antiquity. To Jesus’s earliest followers, Rome essentially squashed the movement. They were superior to Jesus and his Father. Just as Flavian propaganda was a thing when Rome destroyed the temple. So in the later Christian mind, either this had to be the plan all along (I get the sense late in his ministry Jesus came to understand he was going to die and willfully did so, but I’m not buying that he taught he would die and rise again all along and no one understood it) or his followers had to really be convinced he was resurrected and his passion predictions are theological damage control or historicized charismatic events in the early church by the risen and transforming Jesus (I’m buying).


Sorry Kelli. I agree with @Vinnie until his last sentence. Love does not experience wrath let alone express it, does not condemn, impute wickedness in some pathologically righteous fashion. Even although all of that and PSA is perfectly ‘scriptural’. It’s all just stuff we made up. If the Jesus story is for real, the Crucifixion is the means to the end of that reality: resurrection to eternal life where all is put right for all, so live kindly in that light. Love is competent.

The Spirit of Love ministers to us all Kelli, but we all receive Her differently.

We come from all points of the compass Kelli. With completely divergent stories. Converging on God as He yearns for us. None of us are C1st Jewish Christians with their damnationism. But that meme is very powerful to this day, especially in Protestantism and Islam. Love damns no one. Love saves every one.

At first I was puzzled because I saw nothing offensive about the Christian teaching of Jesus’ death upon the cross. I mean, certainly, see the event as an act of evil, as Jesus Himself did also, however willingly He gave Himself up to it. But I didn’t think this to be what the words were referring to.

When I followed the link and read the article, I came to understand that the point this and a string of other passages taken out of context was to justify an incoherent theology. If I want to know what Paul meant when he talked of “foolishness” and “stumbling block” then I would simply read these words of Paul in context – just as I will read the other passage misused in their proper context.

Where Paul speaks of foolishness.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Where Paul speaks of the stumbling block.
Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. 7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves!

And as an example of a passage taken out of context…
1 Corinthians 15:35 But some one will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall[b] also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

No none of this is about bathing in the blood of a human sacrifice of an innocent victim in order to transfer their innocence to you and get indulgences for your sin. The foolishness being talked about here is made pretty obvious in the story of John chapter 6, where Jesus is facing a crowd of people who want to make Him king because He fed 5000 people. Jesus responds with a message which taken materially and literally would imply cannibalism and so not interested in the spiritual message He was teaching they abandoned Him. Thus the contrast of wisdom of the world and the foolishness of God is all about material practicality versus spirituality and not about black magic or rationally incoherent dogmas.

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