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Are we overly focused on the cross?

There’s a thought-provoking post by Bo Sanders up on Homebrewed Christianity today wherein he asks what might be to many a startling question: have we overdone the crucifixion?

Sanders thinks that we may have. He observes that, for evangelicals on the blogosphere (and, I’d add, in the current publishing market) it’s “all atonement theory, all the time”.

He goes on:

Here is my concern: in the resurrection God spoke a new word over the world. I would like to live into that new word and participate with God’s Spirit who was given as a gift and a seal of the promise.

To obsess on the cross and related atonement theories is to live perpetually in the old word and to camp in the final thing that God said about the old situation.

As I reflect on my own journey, I can see how the churches in which I grew up did focus on the cross and atonement to the great neglect of the resurrection. Not that we didn’t have amazing Easter celebrations, but somehow we never connected the dots between Christ’s resurrection and our own eternal future. That omission is the reason that when, at age 30, I finally read N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope, it so rocked my theological world.

So I think it’s a question worth thinking about. Do we overly focus on the cross as opposed to the other symbols of our faith? Is the focus on the cross a reflection of the evangelical personal sin/death/redemption focus, whereas a focus on the empty tomb and resurrection might drive a more corporate kingdom/social perspective?


To look at it another way: one of my daughter’s favorite stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible (highly recommended if you have kids) is the one on the crucifixion. But if she requests that story, I make sure we have time to read two stories, because I refuse to stop reading with Good Friday; I want to get to resurrection morning. Is our focus on the cross a grown-up theological equivalent of continually reading the Friday chapter without the Sunday chapter? Food for thought, for sure.

[Homebrewed Christianity]

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the shout out! i really looking forward more interactions in the future.

    I like how you brought in N.T. Wright… always a good move -Bo

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