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What do you think of this line of reasoning?

Sleeper

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I know the cross is a mystery, and I have no real desire to apprehend it beyond what we're given to apprehend, but something I've always puzzled over was, Why crucifixion? The scriptures tell us that Christ was "slain before the foundations of the world" so I know it's not in order to fulfill things in the Old Covenant (which were themselves shadows of something that had mystically already taken place). So there has to be something else about it.

I was wondering if perhaps the saying (St. Athanasius?), "That which is not assumed is not healed" might provide a clue. My line of thinking goes something like this.

Christ assumed the whole of creation in His incarnation, including death and sin, "reconciling all things unto Himself." He defeated "death by death" so it makes perfect sense that He had to die to accomplish this most marvelous of mysteries. But why did it have to be that death? Why, for example, would a death of old age not accomplish this, especially if old age was something that needed to be "assumed" in order to be healed?

The thing I'm mulling over is, maybe Christ had to experience the absolute depth of human pain and suffering, so that even the most horrific of things that could possibly happen to a person on this planet could be "assumed and healed"? Am I way off base with this?

Please know that I am hesitant to even ask questions about such a profound mystery and in no way whatsoever mean this to come across as crass or inappropriate. Something about it makes sense to me, but I don't want to entertain such thoughts if it's all nonsense.

Thoughts are appreciated.
 

Asteriktos

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I think you are on the right track. It was St. Gregory the Theologian who said about that which is not assumed is not healed (Epistle 101), and here are some other quotes by him that I mentioned a little while back.

Asteriktos said:
"We needed an Incarnate God, a God put to death, that we might live. We were put to death together with Him, that we might be cleansed; we rose again with Him because we were put to death with Him; we were glorified with Him, because we rose again with Him." - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 45, 28

"Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; to-day I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; to-day I rise with Him.  But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us--you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world.  Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image.  Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died." St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 1.4

"For Christ also likewise, when it was possible for him to abide in His own honour and deity, not only so far emptied Himself as to take the form of a slave, (Phil. 2:7) but also endured the cross, despising the shame, (Heb. 12:2) that he might by His own sufferings destroy sin, and by death slay death." - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 12.4
 

Skydive

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why crucifixion?

because it is meant to be a symbol of Christianity(Christ on the Cross, the crucified Christ), just like the erected bronze snake in the wilderness was a symbol for those who were bitten by snakes. As Moses lifted up the Serpent…  John 3. The cross was a mystical symbol from paganism. The cross is associated with a lot of things among whom the meeting of the heavenly plan with the earthly plan, suspension, connection, switching, reversing, etc..

I personally think there were people who suffered more horrific deaths than Jesus.

I am just guessing and presuposing. I am not much of what people would call a "believer" .
 

tcolon90

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But why did it have to be that death? Why, for example, would a death of old age not accomplish this, especially if old age was something that needed to be "assumed" in order to be healed?
You mentioned Athanasius. His book, "On the Incarnation" answers this question.
 

Skydive

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tcolon90 said:
But why did it have to be that death? Why, for example, would a death of old age not accomplish this, especially if old age was something that needed to be "assumed" in order to be healed?
You mentioned Athanasius. His book, "On the Incarnation" answers this question.
the answer being?
 
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The cross was seen then as the ultimate horror of punishment. It was a sign of extreme humiliation. It was something that was the exact opposite of which it has become, which also can be seen as defeating the people who carried it out because it became a sign of life and love instead.

Thus God made his message about mercy, a shining rebuke and example to those who seek the most cruel ways of treating others.
 

tcolon90

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Skydive said:
tcolon90 said:
But why did it have to be that death? Why, for example, would a death of old age not accomplish this, especially if old age was something that needed to be "assumed" in order to be healed?
You mentioned Athanasius. His book, "On the Incarnation" answers this question.
the answer being?
Read the book. Some answers aren't as simple as a sentence or two. Can't put 80 pages of theological reflection into a paragraph.

The Cross has to be viewed within the context of the entire event of salvation. Unless we understand the Incarnation, the ministry, the resurrection, etc, we can't really begin to talk about the death and it's meaning. It's not an isolated issue.
 

Skydive

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tcolon90 said:
Skydive said:
tcolon90 said:
But why did it have to be that death? Why, for example, would a death of old age not accomplish this, especially if old age was something that needed to be "assumed" in order to be healed?
You mentioned Athanasius. His book, "On the Incarnation" answers this question.
the answer being?
Read the book. Some answers aren't as simple as a sentence or two. Can't put 80 pages of theological reflection into a paragraph.

The Cross has to be viewed within the context of the entire event of salvation. Unless we understand the Incarnation, the ministry, the resurrection, etc, we can't really begin to talk about the death and it's meaning. It's not an isolated issue.
If you would understand the "answer" you would be able to put not 80 but 1000 000 pages into one paragraph.
 

Skydive

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I remember reading On the Incarnation, but not recall seeing what that poster suggested. Perhaps he can high line or quote that particular part?
 

Mor Ephrem

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Sleeper said:
Christ assumed the whole of creation in His incarnation, including death and sin, "reconciling all things unto Himself." He defeated "death by death" so it makes perfect sense that He had to die to accomplish this most marvelous of mysteries. But why did it have to be that death? Why, for example, would a death of old age not accomplish this, especially if old age was something that needed to be "assumed" in order to be healed?
IIRC, St Irenaeus believed our Lord to have been older than the thirty-three years we usually take for granted, and he takes this to indicate the "assumption" of old age.  

Anyway, regarding crucifixion, I found some details in Brant Pitre's Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist fascinating.  IIRC, he makes mention that the method for sacrificing the Paschal lamb around the time of Christ involved impaling the lamb lengthwise but also with a second rod roughly through its shoulders: in effect, what you have is a lamb on a cross, a "crucified lamb".  I'm not sure to what extent Christ's death had to be a crucifixion in terms of "This is the most horrible form of death ever devised" or because of pre-existing mystical significance(s) ascribed to the figure of the cross, etc., but this "iconic" importance to crucifixion was one I had not heard of before this book and I found it helpful.
 

Skydive

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Bringing in some quotes from On the Incarnation, which are still not satisfactory for me :

He did not lay aside His body by an individual act of dying, for to Him, as Life, this simply did not belong;
but He accepted death at the hands of men, thereby completely to destroy it in His own
body
.
There are some other possible objections that must be answered. Some might urge
that, even granting the necessity of a public death for subsequent belief in the resurrection,
it would surely have been better for Him to have arranged an honorable death for Himself,
and so to have avoided the ignominy of the cross. But even this would have given ground
for suspicion that His power over death was limited to the particular kind of death which
He chose for Himself; and that again would furnish excuse for disbelieving the resurrection.
Death came to His body, therefore, not from Himself but from enemy action, in order that
the Savior might utterly abolish death in whatever form they offered it to Him. A generous
wrestler, virile and strong, does not himself choose his antagonists, lest it should be thought
that of some of them he is afraid. Rather, he lets the spectators choose them, and that all the
more if these are hostile, so that he may overthrow whomsoever they match against him
and thus vindicate his superior strength. Even so was it with Christ. He, the Life of all, our
Lord and Savior, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be
afraid of some other kind. No.
He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by
others, and those others His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible
and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death,
He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognized as finally
annulled. A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they
thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to
death's defeat. Therefore it is also, that He neither endured the death of John, who was beheaded,
nor was He sawn asunder, like Isaiah: even in death He preserved His body whole
and undivided, so that there should be no excuse hereafter for those who would divide the
Church.
(25) So much for the objections of those outside the Church. But if any honest Christian
wants to know why He suffered death on the cross and not in some other way, we answer
thus: in no other way was it expedient for us, indeed the Lord offered for our sakes the one
death that was supremely good. He had come to bear the curse that lay on us; and how could
19
Chapter 4. The Death of Christ
He "become a curse"27 otherwise than by accepting the accursed death
? And that death is
the cross, for it is written "Cursed is every one that hangeth on tree."28 Again, the death of
the Lord is the ransom of all, and by it "the middle wall of partition"29 is broken down and
the call of the Gentiles comes about. How could He have called us if He had not been crucified,
for it is only on the cross that a man dies with arms outstretched? Here, again, we see
the fitness of His death and of those outstretched arms: it was that He might draw His ancient
people with the one and the Gentiles with the other, and join both together in Himself
. Even
so, He foretold the manner of His redeeming death, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men
unto Myself."30 Again, the air is the sphere of the devil, the enemy of our race who, having
fallen from heaven, endeavors with the other evil spirits who shared in his disobedience
both to keep souls from the truth and to hinder the progress of those who are trying to follow
it. The apostle refers to this when he says, "According to the prince of the power of the air,
of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience."31 But the Lord came to overthrow
the devil and to purify the air and to make "a way" for us up to heaven, as the apostle says,
"through the veil, that is to say, His flesh."32 This had to be done through death, and by what
other kind of death could it be done, save by a death in the air, that is, on the cross? Here,
again, you see how right and natural it was that the Lord should suffer thus; for being thus
"lifted up," He cleansed the air from all the evil influences of the enemy. "I beheld Satan as
lightning falling,"33 He says; and thus He re-opened the road to heaven, saying again, "Lift
up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors."34 For it was not the
Word Himself Who needed an opening of the gates, He being Lord of all, nor was any of
His works closed to their Maker. No, it was we who needed it, we whom He Himself upbore
in His own body—that body which He first offered to death on behalf of all, and then made
through it a path to heaven.

 

Skydive

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About the choosing part… Christ says in the Gospel to Pilate " You would have no power over me if it would not be given to you from above" and to his disciples "The hour has came that I should be handed over" . How do those reconcile? Plus how would all the OT symbolism of the Cross would have been met otherwise?
 

Sleeper

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Skydive said:
About the choosing part… Christ says in the Gospel to Pilate " You would have no power over me if it would not be given to you from above" and to his disciples "The hour has came that I should be handed over" . How do those reconcile? Plus how would all the OT symbolism of the Cross would have been met otherwise?
This is why I made a point to stress the fact that Christ was slain "before the foundations of the world." The OT symbolism is pointing towards something that, in reality, had already taken place. The OT references didn't come first, but after.
 

Sleeper

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Also, thanks everyone for the thoughtful contributions, very helpful!
 
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