The Scandal of the Cross

Excerpt from The Cross and the Lynching Tree:

The real scandal of the gospel is this: humanity’s salvation is revealed in the cross of the condemned criminal Jesus, and humanity’s salvation is available only through our solidarity with the crucified people in our midst. Faith that emerged out of the scandal of the cross is not a faith of intellectuals or elites of any sort. This is the faith of abused and scandalized people—the losers and the down and out.


The lynching tree frees the cross from the false pieties of well-meaning Christians. When we see the crucifixion as a first-century lynching, we are confronted by the re-enactment of Christ’s suffering in the blood-soaked history of African Americans. Thus, the lynching tree reveals the true religious meaning of the cross for American Christians today. The cross needs the lynching tree to remind Americans of the reality of suffering—to keep the cross from becoming a symbol of abstract, sentimental piety.


Before the spectacle of this cross we are called to more than contemplation and adoration. We are faced with a clear challenge: as Latin American liberation theologian Jon Sobrino has put it, ‘to take the crucified down from the cross.’


This is the great theological paradox that makes the cross impossible to embrace unless one is standing in solidarity with those who are powerless. God’s loving solidarity can transform ugliness—whether Jesus on the cross or a lynched black victim—into beauty, into God’s liberating presence. Through the powerful imagination of faith, we can discover the “terrible beauty” of the cross and the “tragic beauty” of the lynching tree.


We are bound together in America by faith and tragedy. All the hatred we have expressed toward one another cannot destroy the profound mutual love and solidarity that flow deeply between us—a love that empowered blacks to open their arms to receive the many whites who were also empowered by the same love to risk their lives in the black struggle for freedom. No two people in America have had more violent and loving encounters than black and white people. We were made brothers and sisters by the blood of the lynching tree, the blood of sexual union, and the blood of the cross of Jesus. No gulf between blacks and whites is too great to overcome, for our beauty is more enduring than our brutality. What God joined together, no one can tear apart.

Our Broken Words

“She [Hannah] … prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore … she, spake in her heart.” – (1 Samuel 1:10, 13)


For real business at the mercy-seat give me a home-made prayer, a prayer that comes out of the depths of my heart, not because I invented it, but because God the Holy Ghost put it there, and gave it such living force that I could not help letting it out. Though your words are broken, and your sentences disconnected, if your desires are earnest, if they are like coals of juniper, burning with a vehement flame, God will not mind how they find expression. If you have no words, perhaps you will pray better without them than with them. There are prayers that break the backs of words; they are too heavy for any human language to carry.



Source: Thoughts for the Quiet Hour

An Evaluation of the NRSV

This is translation I use the most, so this was useful:

These criticisms are not intended to discourage readers from choosing the NRSV as their standard English translation. It would be easy enough to detail inappropriate and inaccurate renderings in any of the other English translations, and, if one had the inside information, one would undoubtedly discover very human elements in the particular translation process that lies behind each of these English versions. The NRSV remains a good translation. It is the English translation that I prefer. But no translation deserves unreserved loyalty. All are flawed, provisional, and only a witness to the earlier Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts that lie behind the translation. One must recognize the provisionality of all translation before one can use any translation, including the NRSV, wisely.

Source: Bible Research