“15 Glances” at the Crucifix | Lent {11}

In the tradition of giving honor where it’s due, I’ve like to offer up the post that served a the inspiration for this whole series I’ve been doing on “The Lamb Eternally Slain” (which still isn’t done, even though it’s no longer Lent. It’ll be okay, though). The post is by Ben Myers, a thoughtful and thought-provoking theologian who draws from many theological corners for his thinking (much like myself). Here it is:

The Icon of the Cross: 15 Glances | Faith & Theology

Austin Ricketts, who wrote a couple of the posts in this series, sent to me this post of Ben’s nearly nine months ago. I still remember where I was as I read it and was caught up in it’s transcendent, sweeping reflections on the icon of the Cross. (Yes, we are referring here to “icon” as in the artistic representation of religious things for use in meditation or worship. Don’t worry, fellow Protestants, icons aren’t nearly as bad or idolatrous of a thing as we were raised being told.) I had the idea then for this blog series on my blog, but held on to it until Lent, thinking it most appropriate for this time (instead of Advent, haha).

In his post, Myers spends some time jotting down 15 reflections (or “glances”) on this icon. I have copied a few of my favorites below, but please check out the full post–there’s far more beauty in store for you.

1. The icon portrays revelation: the crucifixion of the human Jesus as the appearance of the eternal God. The divine being is eternally cruciform, even as it is eternally radiant…

3. At the centre of Christian devotion is not a revealed doctrine, a religious ideal, or even a right way of life, but an embodied human person. Christianity began not with beliefs about Jesus, but with people who had known Jesus. They were affected by Jesus as we are affected by a powerful friendship, not as we are affected by reading a powerful book or encountering a new idea… The heartbeat of Christian faith is embodied encounter…

6. The eternal cross is a theodicy. Death and hell are safely circumscribed within its shining frame…

8. Is not history – the history of Jesus –completely fixed and immobilised in this representation? Is it not suspended in eternity like a beautiful figure inside a glass ball?…

15. The truth of the icon[ography of the Cross]…is that there is, for us, no means of access to Christ accept through religious veneration. Our only contact with Christ is through worship in the company of the living tradition of the saints – even if our worship immediately becomes indistinguishable from idolatry. We cannot have Christ without religion: that is the truth that the icon teaches. But – this is what the icon forgets – we can speak of “true religion” only as we speak of a “justified sinner” (Karl Barth).


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