Review of The Message Of The Cross, by Derek Tidball

When I read a book or watch a movie I am on the look out for the one thing upon which the book or film is centered. Sometimes this one thing can be an entire scene, but more often than not, I find that it is one line. As an illustration, I would argue that the entire movie Monster’s Ball was built to make Halle Berry’s guttural “I want you to make me feel good. Can you make me feel good?” confession as powerful as it was.

Which brings me to this book I received from a pastor’s personal stash. It’s all about both the symbolism and (possible) reality of Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion. The author, Tidball, is a pastor and the book certainly carries his preaching voice throughout. This is mostly annoying. On the whole, there are all sorts of quasi-theological points and what have you, but unless you’re a Christian looking to invest some time acquiring answers to some very particular questions, I don’t think this book has much value–save one point.

With an emphasis on an “everyone is on their own journey” attitude, one thing that keeps me very interested in Christianity is its prophetic aspect. I wrote earlier about discovering the money-changer showdown prior to the arrest and crucifixion was at the temple, the same one that was destroyed as Jesus seems to have prophesied, the same one whose site is still being fought over today in the middle east.

Likewise, Tidball’s single scene or line in The Cross is found in Genesis 22:6. He calls to our attention that during the infamous Old Testament scene where Abraham unquestioningly follows god’s command to sacrifice his first and only son, the Bible has it that Abraham places the wood for the burnt offering on his son Isaac’s back for him to carry up the mountain. Boom!

Or crickets.

Remember that we’re talking about stories here. Remember also that words are not things, but the way we attempt to describe things.

So you’re telling me that the one true god’s chosen people–meant to be a beacon of hope for the world–out of whom some say the savior of the world was birthed had as their founding father and exemplar a man who obeyed this god’s command to sacrifice his son up to the point of the down-stroke of the knife; you’re telling me that the son walked with wood on his back at some point during the event? And then, thousands of years after this story had taken root, you’re telling me that a man who claimed to be the savior of the world carried wood on his back as he willfully submitted to his own sacrificial execution? In my book, that’s a pretty powerful and difficult to deny theme, a theme that might actively contribute to the claim that one story reigns as the greatest story ever told.

Unfortunately, in my own life of late I can admit that the Christian god has been at the least hiding, at the most absent in certain tribulations. And yet Isaac carried wood on his back long before Rome invented crucifixion or a father god sacrificed his own son.

I don’t know what to do with information like this, but I will say that I find it to be the most pleasant and empowering thing to think on, so I will continue to do so.

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Lucy Furr

    Yeah, I have to wonder what kind of relationship Abraham had with his son following the near-death experience. Was it like, “Hey dad, it’s great that you’re obedient to your so-called loving God, but I’m outta here. Gonna go live with my heathen friend Joey cuz it’s safer there…and a helluva lot more fun. Oh, and btw, the fact that you made me carry my own wood for your God’s luny faith-test was a bit over the top. Seriously?! Wtf!! Later man.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      In retrospect, I feel like I came off as making light of the wood-carrying. Ha. Oh boy. Not my intention at all. I really am fascinated by the pre-cross-carrying event. I stuck around despite believing my parents were crazy…not sure that Isaac would’ve been too different. 🙂

      Like

  2. noelleg44

    Books written by theologians can test your mettle, intelligence and belief system. I like that you found the one thing that spoke to you in this book. I strongly suggest you read some of the books by Peter J, Gomes. His The Good Book and Sermons are particularly wonderful. BTW, Peter and I grew up together…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s