Construing the Cross


From Frances Young’s Construing the Cross: “In a way I take my cue from the fourth-century writer Ephrem the Syrian… He not only did theology through poetic composition, but even spoke of two divine incarnations; first in limited human language in the words of Scripture, then in the limitations of flesh in Jesus. God speaking to us, he suggested, was like someone trying to teach a parrot to speak by placing a mirror over his face, so that the bird thought it was conversing with one of its own kind. The language in which we speak of the infinite, transcendent God is never adequate, always allusive, suggestive, metaphorical, pointing beyond itself, and, as other fourth-century writers, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzen, suggest, only able to get near its object by a multiplication of images overlaying each other and correcting each other. Insight into the saving mystery of God’s presence in one who cried out in God-forsakenness on the cross requires similar multifarious meditations, as well as a willingness to embrace the possibility of truth in paradox. As with all theological enterprises, construing the cross demands the richness of Scripture, the suggestive wealth of ecclesial traditions, the plurality of experience in different socio-cultural environments, along with endeavors to make some rational sense of it all: in other words, the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.”


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