Monday, March 06, 2006

Cross-Shattered Christ, by Stanley Hauerwas

Some of us were reading Stanely Hauerwas's book, Cross Shattered Christ as a Lenten meditation. I've been reading along in the early chapters. (It isn't a long book.)
In his first chapter on Christ's first "word" from the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), Hauerwas notes the following: "These words are not first and foremost about us, about our petty sinfulness. It is the Second Person of the Trinity who asks, 'Father, forgive them for the know not what they do.' The Son intimately addresses the Father. We loook away, embnarrassed by a love so publicaly displayed. According to Herbert McCabe, these wrds, 'Father forgive,' are nothing less than the interior life of the Triune God made visible to the eyes of faith. The Son asks the Father to forgive, a forgiveness unimaginable if this is all about us and out struggle to comprehend the meaning of our lifes in the face of death" (29-30).
As you can probably tell, the book is challenging, so I may not be understanding enough of it to comment intelligently, but one theme that seems to come through for me is that the events of Good Friday and Easter are not only "about us," but have cosmic significance. We're like the title character in the Book of Job: suffering and in need of answers from God, but spiritual wars are raging around us in which we are soldiers. We may never get the full picture.
I don't think Hauerwas is arguing that the traditional readings of Easter are necessarily wrong. In one sense, Easter is about us. But Hauerwas suggests in his early chapters that there are large issues at stake--some perhaps larger than mere humans can immediately comprehend. If it's not "about us," how can we ever know what was in the mind of the Almightly, in any of his three persons?
I had never before thought of Jesus's prayers as being in some sense the interior monologue of the Trinity. Does this understanding change the way we read any other prayers of Jesus?
Other thoughts by my fellow Anthrakians?
Best wishes,


Blogger ~Kat said...

A friend of mine is constantly blogging the theme "it's not about me." As a believer, I couldn't agree more. Salvation is only about us until we answer Christ's calling. Even Jesus spells it out that way. Jesus says, "Come, follow men, and I will make you fishers of men." Jesus doesn't say, "Come, follow me, and I will make you a better person and grow you till you join me with the Father." Jesus' take on it was that after our salvation, after our acceptance of His offer of grace, the very next step is to turn that outward toward others - not to keep it for ourselves. He says this a little more plainly in His "Great Commission" but He'd been saying it from the start.

Monday, 06 March, 2006  
Blogger Andrew Harnack said...

Mason, Amy, and others: I too was struck by Hauerwas observation that in listening to the words of Jesus on the cross, we are listening to the deeply private conversation of the Holy Trinity. What's happening on the cross and within the suffering heart, spirit, and mind of our Lord Jesus occurs "out of our range," so to speak, and only after acknowledging that we are interlopers might we presume to make commentary. I've read Hauerwas' first chapter several times and have hesitated to go the second, waiting for what he says in the first chapter to sink in. Tonight perhaps I'm enter the second chapter.

Monday, 06 March, 2006  

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