Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Christ's Redemptive Work: Absurd, Impossible, and Accomplished for Our Sake

For [man's] sake He came down (from heaven), for his sake He preached, for his sake "He humbled Himself even unto death—the death of the cross" (Phil 2:8).  He loved, of course, the being whom He redeemed at so great a cost.  If Christ is the Creator’s, it was with justice that He loved His own; if He comes from another god, His love was excessive, since He redeemed a being who belonged to another.  Well, then, loving man He loved his nativity also, and his flesh as well.  Nothing can be loved apart from that through which whatever exists has its existence.  Either take away nativity, and then show us man; or else withdraw the flesh, and then present to our view the being whom God has redeemed—since it is these very conditions* which constitute the man whom God has redeemed.  And are you for turning these conditions into occasions of blushing to the very creature whom He has redeemed, (censuring them), too, as unworthy of Him who certainly would not have redeemed them had He not loved them?… For which is more unworthy of God, which is more likely to raise a blush of shame, that God should be born, or that He should die? that He should bear the flesh, or the cross? be circumcised, or be crucified? be cradled, or be coffined? be laid in a manger, or in a tomb?… Was not God really crucified?  And, having been really crucified, did He not really die?  And, having indeed really died, did He not really rise again?  Falsely, then, did Paul "determine to know nothing amongst us but Jesus and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2);" falsely has he impressed upon us that He was buried; falsely inculcated that He rose again.  False, therefore, is our faith also.  And all that we hope for from Christ will be a phantom.… The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it.  And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.  And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible.  But how will all this be true in Him, if He was not Himself true—if He really had not in Himself that which might be crucified, might die, might be buried, and might rise again?

Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ 4-5

* I.e. man’s nativity and his flesh.

No comments: