IVP - Addenda & Errata - Good Friday's Empty House

March 20, 2008

Good Friday's Empty House

Roderick Leupp’s forthcoming book, The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology: Themes, Patterns & Explorations (IVP Academic, October) reminds us that the best theology touches the deepest marrow of life. In Chapter Three, he is exploring a trinitarian theology of the cross, with help from Moltmann and Lewis. Here is an excerpt for Good Friday:

N. W. Clerk is a footnote to twentieth-century Christian writing, because it was under this pseudonym that C. S. Lewis first published his small work A Grief Observed. In coming to grips with the death of Helen Joy Davidman, Lewis shows his theological mettle and comes to the brink of a trinitarian theology of the cross. After Joy died, Lewis found no easy consolations. He was tempted to believe the worst about God. At times, to retreat to a loving God was only
a door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. (Lewis, A Grief Observed, p. 18)
Has anyone ever described Good Friday as “an empty house”? Could there possibly be a better description? Lewis admits trying some of these thoughts on a confidant, who reminded the grieving writer “that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ ” Lewis is brave enough to state what many think but fear to say. The conclusion he dreads “is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer” (Lewis, p. 19). The truth of the Father who resurrects his Son in the power of the Spirit comes brightest of all to those who have asked Lewis’s questions.
As grief-struck parents, we have watched our eldest daughter’s slow, halting and to this point incomplete recovery from traumatic brain injury due to an automobile accident, the academic exercise of the theology of the cross has wilted.
. . .
Horrific though our daughter’s circumstance may be, it is scaled to human proportions. The trinitarian theology of the cross cuts to the center of God’s very nature. As precarious as our daughter’s condition remains and as brutalizing as was its onset, the frightening and at times paralyzing grief cannot match the Father’s for his Son. Also unmatched in human terms is the blessed complicity Father and Son share in their common pathos. No, it is not complicity, not an evil scheme but something much finer: “This deep community of will between Jesus and his God and Father is now expressed precisely at the point of their deepest separation, in the godforsaken and accursed death of Jesus on the cross” (Moltmann, Crucified God, pp. 243-44)
Posted by Dan Reid at March 20, 2008 2:32 PM Bookmark and Share

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