The Parish of Burchetts Green

This month Rev Keith writes about

the wisdom of the cross


Day? Who takes any notice of them now? And what of the arrogant assumptions of Marxism, and Freud that so dominated the last century? We have reached a philosophical dead end. We have lost the ability to say anything; nothing has meaning, there are no general norms, only what you think and what I think, what is right for you and what is right for me. This being so, can I ask, quoting St Paul, 'Where is the one who is wise? Where is the debater of this age?'

True wisdom

True wisdom cannot be found unless we allow God to be God and accept that God is wise and we are not. To continually ask whether the cross was necessary, to refuse to accept what God has ordained is to repeat the mistake of the Garden of Eden. Although we may struggle to understand why Jesus had to die on the cross, we cannot but be astounded by its effectiveness. Jesus towers over human history. Millions of people have found reconciliation with God though faith in him, no other character has ever approached the impact on the world that Jesus has. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If we are prepared to allow God to be God then far from finding foolishness, or a philosophical dead end, we will find ourselves able to begin to appreciate true wisdom, the true wisdom of God himself.

A murder mystery

At the heart of the Christian faith is a murder mystery: Jesus's death on a cross. But this murder mystery is not so much a 'whodunnit', we know that Jesus was crucified by the Romans at the behest of a Jewish crowd whipped up by their religious leaders. Rather it is a 'whydunnit'. To put it bluntly if Jesus is the Son of God, what was he doing hanging on a Roman cross? It doesn't seem rational; it's a category error. If Jesus was really divine he couldn't have ended up there, could he?

I remember a vicar saying to me, “the main problem is not Jesus' resurrection, and whether or not that happened, but rather that Jesus died in the first place.” He meant that, if Jesus is God's Son, his resurrection is far easier to take than his crucifixion. God doesn't die. Dead people are not divine, full stop.

Paul's experience

Paul, the most famous and effective Christian of all time, knew from personal experience that God had raised Jesus from the dead. But it still left him with the question, 'why did Jesus have to die in the first place?'

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul admits that the philosophers of his day considered the Cross of Christ to be foolishness. He doesn't try and argue against them; rather he agrees that from a human perspective Jesus's death is foolishness. But, he goes on to say that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom and through the death and resurrection of Jesus God has made human wisdom look stupid.

Where is the wisdom of our day?

And he was right.

Where is the so-called wisdom of the philosophers of Jesus'