In the conclusion of his series on the cross of Jesus, Ronnie speaks to the suffering of God and how that suffering is an act of solidarity with all who face injustice, pain, and inexplicable hurts. Ronnie says: "To speak of a God who cannot suffer is to speak of a God who cannot sympathize or understand. To believe in a God who is indifferent and unaffected, is to believe in a God who is deaf, blind, and calloused. But God, in suffering love, has in Christ come to join us in our own sufferings. Thus, when we suffer, it is not a sign of God’s disapproval or withdrawal - it’s actually God’s arrival. 'For here is a God who understands…Only the suffering God can help us now.'”
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, through His transcendent love, became what we are, that we might become what he is." So said the Church Fathers, and so says Ronnie in this 9th installation of his series on the Cross of Jesus. The cross must mean something for today, Ronnie says, as we "don't have to die to get in on it."
In Episode 8 of Ronnie's series on the Cross of Jesus, Ronnie addresses "everything that is wrong with the world" (An overly ambitious statement, he admits). But he also address the solution, as the cross is a way of God saying: "I know you need to offload the burden of simply being a human, of being that unique species, the only one on the planet committed to revenge. I know you are capable of envy, hatred, violence - the very worst - so put it on me. I can take it. I’ll bear it.I’ll give it a resting place. Because if someone must take the blame for all your rivalry and its sinful results - if somebody has to die - in order for you to find peace, then let it be me."
"Everyone into the DeLorean!"
And with that, like Marty McFly going "Back to the Future," Ronnie takes listeners back in time to the ancient roots of our faith, exploring the sacrificial system of the Hebrew people. Why the strange rituals? What was all this blood about? What happened on the Day of Atonement? What is a scapegoat? These are questions that Ronnie answers and then applies to our understand of the cross in this seventh installment of his current series.
Ronnie takes on a view of the cross now known as "Penal Substitution." While honoring the image of Jesus as a substitute and sacrifice for sin (more about that will be forthcoming in this series), Ronnie outright rejects the idea of a furious, Puritan-like God whose murderous anger must be assuaged only by blood. Adapting a a line from Jonathan Edwards, Ronnie says, "Not for one more minute longer will I believe in a God who, 'not only hates us, but who holds us in the utmost contempt; who wants nothing more but to trample us down as the mire of the streets.' That God is inconsistent with Jesus of Nazareth."
In episode five of "Crosswords: How the Cross of Jesus Reveals the Love of God," Ronnie talks about the importance and impact of an overlooked view of the cross called, "Moral Exemplar." Ronnie describes it like this: "The death of Jesus was such an act of loving sacrifice, such a far-reaching, world-transforming, relationship-changing event - that if understood even remotely - then Jesus’ example of all encompassing love would break our hearts open to love in return."
Ronnie's continuing exploration of the cross of Jesus arrives at what scholars call, "Christus Victor;" summarized best by Irenaeus, who was born not long after the first Apostles died, said: “[in Jesus] God came to Earth that he might kill sin, deprive death of its power, restore life and freedom to all humanity, and raise a monument of victory.” But this is not a stuffy, theological lecture. Ronnie uses contemporary examples to help us think about how the victory of Christ works itself out in the world today.
In his third installment of "Crosswords: How the Cross of Jesus Reveals the Love of God," Ronnie reaches for the oldest image Christian faith used to understand the death of Jesus. From the oldest Gospel, the words of Jesus himself: "The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom .” Ronnie explores how the cross "works" as a ransom, liberating us to live in freedom.
This is Ronnie's second installment of a series on the Cross of Jesus. It could be sub-titled, "Love and Scandal." Using provocative, contemporary examples, Ronnie talks about the "foolishness of the cross." From the talk: "Could you for a minute get your mind around the fact that a military and political prisoner, taken in the land of our enemies, and executed by the world’s superpower, is the hope for the world? Or would you find such a story to be so far out of bounds, that the only conclusion you come to is absurdity, stupidity, scandal?"
In what promises to be a thought-provoking, belief-behind series of talks, Ronnie has launched a series on the meaning behind the Cross of Jesus. In this introductory talk, Ronnie points to Divine Love as the energizing force behind the "sacrifice of Jesus." Ronnie says, "Jesus did not come to save us from God - but to show us who God is. So, whatever happened on that hill outside Jerusalem all those years ago, it wasn’t God torturing his Son. Love cannot do that. It wasn’t God committing an act of colossal child-abuse. Love cannot do that. It wasn’t God acting as a cruel and sadistic executioner; it wasn’t God’s attempt at redemptive violence. If God is indeed love, and love was the motivation that brought Jesus to the place of self-sacrifice on a cross, then love demands better answers."