“At the heart of Christian belief lies a suffering, crucified God. Yet in recent years some have argued that Christian emphasis upon a suffering Jesus is dangerous, that it gives rise to an ideology that encourages those who suffer oppression simply to accept suffering. There are more things wrong with this argument than I can take up here, but it is not surprising that such arguments should arise in a culture devoted to self-realization. In such a setting, the cross must always be countercultural.
Suffering is not a good thing, not something one ought to seek for oneself or for others. But it is an evil out of which the God revealed in the crucified and risen Jesus can bring good. We must therefore always be of two minds about suffering. We should try to care for those who suffer, but we should not imagine that suffering can be eliminated from human life or that it can have no point or purpose in our lives. Nor should we suppose that suffering must be eliminated by any means available to us, for a good end does not justify any and all means.
Unless we are thus of two minds, understanding suffering as an evil that can nonetheless have meaning and purpose, medicine is likely to go awry. It seeks health — but not Health. The doctor is a caregiver, but not, we must remind ourselves, a savior. Ultimately, all of medicine is no more than an attempt to provide care for suffering human beings. That care, however, cannot by itself offer the Health and Wholeness we ultimately need and desire. If we respect the moral limits that ought to bind us, we will not always be able to give people what they desire. We may not be able to give the infertile couple a child, the elderly man an old age free of dependence, the young woman freedom from the child she has conceived, parents the healthy and ‘normal’ child they had wanted, the terminally ill patient a painless death. But we can and should assure them that the story of Jesus is true — that the negative and destructive powers of the universe are not the ultimate powers we worship.
Part of the pain of human life is that we sometimes cannot and at other times ought not do for others what they fervently desire. Believing in the incarnation, that in Jesus God has stood with us as one of us, Christians must try to learn to stand with and beside those who suffer physically and emotionally. But that same understanding of incarnation also teaches us that to make elimination of suffering our highest priority would be to conclude mistakenly that it can have no point or purpose in our lives. We should not act as if we believe that the negative, destructive powers of the universe are finally victorious. Those who worship a crucified and risen Lord cannot give themselves over to such a vision of life.”
~ Gilbert Meilander, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Eerdmans, 1996), 7-8.
“To confess that Jesus is Lord is to say that Jesus, together with the Father and Spirit, has created all things; he sustains and upholds all things, he rules history and guides it to its goal, restores and renews all things, and at the end he will judge all things. If we confess only ‘Jesus is my personal Savior’ and neglect ‘Jesus is Creator, Ruler, Redeemer, and Judge,’ then we have an emaciated worldview. A biblical worldview is about getting right who Jesus is.”
~ Michael Goheen, Living at the Crossroads (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Baker Academic, 2008), 32.
“‘Thinking Christianly’ is a vital part of expressing a Christian worldview, but thinking will arise from a worldview. And our worldview is deeply connected to our life in Christ. If thinking Christianly becomes disconnected from the whole experience of life in Christ Jesus, it leads to a distorted, intellectualized Christianity lacking grace and humility. A truly biblical worldview is centered in an existential relationship with Christ; it will be as much about nurturing this relationship as it is about rigorous critical thinking that arises from this relationship.”
~ Michael Goheen and Craig Bartholemew, Living at the Crossroads (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Baker Academic, 2008), 20.
Consider what Kristen Birkett has to say in light of Colossians 1:15-16: [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through Him and for Him.
We will never understand what it is to be human and will never be fully human until we take seriously our purpose in being created for Christ. . . . Knowing what we were made for is the only thing that can give meaning to all our other knowledge. It is the only thing that can actually turn knowledge into wisdom.
~ Kirsten Birkett, “I Believe in Nature: An Exploration of Naturalism and the Biblical Worldview“
“We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine — ‘dull dogma,’ as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man — and the dogma is the drama. . . . This is the dogma we find so dull — this terrifying drama which God is the victim and the hero. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven’s name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore — on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certifying Him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.”
~ Dorothy Sayers, quoted by Michael Horton in The Gospel-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Baker Books, 2009), 63-64.