CRUCIFLED June 21, 2011

The key to understanding Jesus and most of the New Testament, the real secret, is the cross. Failure to recognize this is doomed for a more critical failure.

The cross intersects straight through human experience. It doesn’t help to deny it, ignore it, wish it away, or mutate it into something marketable. So many of us and our churches are doing everything possible to flee from the reality of human suffering. It is a permanent fixture in the world.

Once that is admitted and truly seen, then authentic resurrection life emerges.

Buy the original cartoon!.
Buy a fine art print of it.

If you haven’t bought my book of cartoons, I invite you too. It addresses concerns such as this. Nakedpastor101: Cartoons by David Hayward“, from,, Great for laughs and serious discussion!

"Nice vid David - hilarious! We'll miss you and wish you all the best! (and ..."

nakedpastor’s goodbye video to patheos
"Good idea! I look forward to exciting developments at your own site. I like Patheos, ..."

nakedpastor’s goodbye video to patheos

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Thought provoking! May we never forget the cross and all the significance behind it.

  • rich

    Theology of the cross.

  • You’re really on a role here, David. These last few have been especially great.

  • (I think I might have meant “roll.” How embarrassing . . . 😉 )

  • Potent.

  • Love it! Keep speaking truth, Brother!

  • The cross.

    An instrument of self-improvement, right?

    Isn’t that the way SO MANY churches view it?

    God is not trying to make you better…He’s wants to kill off that Old Adam/Eve, so that He can raise a new Man/Woman.

    So many of the things David speaks ou against are a direct result of this wrongheaded theology of Glory that abounds in todays churches.

    A theology of the cross keeps us centered on Christ and what He has done for lost and condemned souls that can’t be fixed…but need to be saved. And on that cross we see our dear Savior.

  • Steve: you said “So many of the things David speaks ou against are a direct result of this wrongheaded theology of Glory that abounds in todays churches.” Where in the heck did that come from. I thought you would LOVE this cartoon!?

  • I DO love the cartoon!

    The abuses thatb you speak out against in the church stem not from the theology of the cross, wherein Christ bids one to come and die, but rather from the TOG (the theology of glory) where one is prodded to progress in the Christian life, to ascend higher and higher.

    The TOG is all about law (what WE DO). The TOC (the cross) is all about what Christ has done for those who could NOT do for themselves what God demands.

    Where law (what we do) is employed to make people better Christians, you end up with prideful, self-righteous Christians lording it over others. or you end up with despairing Christians who are ready to chuck the whole thing overboard.

  • well i appreciate the theology refresher but i’m wondering what that has to do with the cartoon… that’s all.

  • I was commenting on why so many flee the cross.

    We don’t want to die…we want GLORY.

    And then I felt it appropriate to mention that the theology of glory is one of the main reasons that SO MANY in the church are screwed up.

  • There is a young man (on a short video) that I have featured on my blog, who is just the kind of person in the church who causes people to become prideful jerks, or who causes them to despair deeply in the Christian faith.

    He is a poster boy for this TOG, BS.

  • David, If I may intervene :)…. It sounds to me like Steve is affirming what your cartoon exposes rather than opposing.

  • Christine

    Steve – this killing off of the old person to raise a new one, what does it look like?

    I mean, it is something that happens only spirutally/invisibly, or does it also change something in a way that we can notice?

  • Christine,

    We might notice something, we might not. God does change us, but it may be a long slow process for most of us. I think that is why we (as St. Paul says) “walk by faith and not by sight”

    We believe that this death occurs in Baptism. Romans 6 states “Do you not know that those of you who have been baptized, have been baptized into a death like his?”

    We believe that He puts the Old sinner to death in baptism. And He raises the New Man/Woman in baptism also (along with Christ).

    It is an external work that God does for us totally outside of our thoughts, actions, feelings. Something that we can rely upon without having to “work” on ourselves.

  • Christine

    Do you mean that we might not notice right away, or that we may never notice?

  • I don’t know if there are those who never notice, although I guess that is possible.

    Personally, I noticed a change in myself in the fact that I wanted to learn more about God, worship Him, speak about Him etc.
    My behavior is STILL a mixed bag, so I don’t really look at that.

    I guess that is a tough question and maybe one that has a different answer for everyone.

    That’s one of the reasons that we don’t focus on ourselves, but rather those promises that are external, that come to us from God.

  • m

    there is no such think (not ‘thing’, think like a mental construct) as suffering.
    there is only pain which is good and necessary.
    but then again ppl fail to recognize that everything is but illusion and if ‘suffering’ tickles you fancy go for it 🙂

  • nevertheless, m, even if it is a mental construct, there is still human suffering. it isn’t only in our minds. it extends, or manifests, even out to our environment. hence the importance of compassion on all sentient beings.

  • Christine

    Steve – So, what then is the purpose or benefit of this transformation? Is it only heaven and not at all about the here and now?

    Seems to me that the NT letters are filled with talk about people acting differently, behaving differently, as a direct result of this transformation; and not just James, Paul too. Talk of what the transformation means for this life now.

    For instance, a realization of how much we have been forgiven should make us more forgiving. If it doesn’t, do we really believe it? Having the “new person” means having the Holy Spirit, and therefore exibiting the fruits of the spirit. Being loved and being instructed to love should result in acts of kindness and generosity towards others.

    I agree that the letters don’t say that people will somehow stop doing bad things or having mean thoughts – or that they can somehow overcome any of this by sheer act of will, or that they should even try to do so by those means.

    But I do see an emphasis on going more good. On fewer sins of omission, of just not giving a damn about anyone else.

    I don’t think the new testament writers would say that someone’s salvation rests on any of this, or that it would be endangered by certain behaviours or lack thereof. But I think they would look at a complete lack of change in someone’s life and wonder if there’s really been a conversion at all – or if they are just going through the motions, paying lip service.

  • m

    compassion is only to make one feel good. it does not fix anything hence its a mistake

    taking responsibility is _the_solution_
    you can only ‘fix’ yourself. let everything else be!
    once you ‘fix’ yourself you will clearly see that nothing need ‘fixing’ all is perfect as it is


  • Christine,

    I’m just headed out the door to go to work, so I’ll be brief.

    God does change us. But the Old sinner remains a part of us. Our lives are a mixed bag, now. And they remain a mixed bag. Many can attest to big changes that the Lord has worked in their lives.

    I’m all for fixing yourself in the here and now. We ought to!

    But where God is concerned, for righteousness sake, that cannot be done by us. Not at all. He has to do it all.

    Got run. The salt mine beckons!


  • It seems that the main point of David’s cartoon is being missed in all this discussion about transformation. I understand David to be talking about SUFFERING! In his notes he identifies that “churches tend to flea from the reality of human suffering.” The comments being posted here are a good indication that believers even tend to flea from it in conversation! 🙂 David’s cartoon speaks powerfully of suffering! How about discussing…. Are you suffering? Do you rejoice in it? Is there is transforming power in suffering? What does love look like? Isn’t it suffering for and with others?

  • james

    So many people ask the question… how could god allow such suffering, when something bad happens on this earth.

    S/he allows it to help us to be fully human – what would be be without sufering?

  • m

    all of life comes to me with ease joy and glory.
    no room for ‘suffering’

  • wow m. do you realize how much people would pay for your bubble?

  • m

    ‘bubble’? well i call it consciousness

    i was were you are all hung up on bs

    being happy is a CHOICE

    chose to be happy

    Life is but an adventure.
    there is nothing to win or lose.
    no ‘right’ and no ‘wrong’.
    thats why Buddha is laughing his ass off.

    _There is nothing to know_.

    just BE. fully BE.

  • Colossians 1:24
    Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.

    I think what we see in Colossians 1:24 is the living out of Jesus’ words in Mark 8:35, “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall save it.” The pathway of salvation is the pathway of “losing one’s life for the sake of the gospel.” The point is that taking the gospel to people (across the office or across the ocean) ordinarily requires sacrifice and suffering, a losing of life or a denying of self. This is the way Christ means for his saving sufferings to be taken to the world, through the sufferings of his people.

    We are to live for the sake of the gospel and to do that through suffering. Christ chose suffering, it didn’t just happen to him. He chose it as the way to create and perfect the church. Now he calls us to choose suffering. That is, he calls us to take up our cross and follow him on the Calvary road and deny ourselves and make sacrifices for the sake of presenting his suffering to the world and ministering to the church.

  • I so often do NOT rejoice in my suffering.

    From time to time (when I can forget about myself – rarely) I don’t get a glimpse of how God is using that suffering in my life for a purpose…but this sinner still doesn’t care for it.

    I guess the theologian of glory (which I rail against) is alive and well inside of me, also.

  • Christine

    Steve – I didn’t expect to hear you say that we should be trying to fix ourselves.

    Everytime there is a cartoon or comment that implies we should be trying to do better, you always quickly remind everyone that we should never be trying to do things ourselves, that we’ve just all been ascribing to a theology of glory or operating under the law.

    If you agree with self-improvement, why all the talk to the contrary, why all the opposition?

    Bonnie – Yeah, we get off track. Or, perhaps more accurately, we have trouble not having one track minds. (Steve has been having this same conversation with people, including myself, for months now.)

    I don’t think it’s really about a reluctance to even talk about suffering. Though, you never know. 🙂

  • Christine

    Ok, to be on topic:

    I get the suffering for a purpose, when it means something. When you do the right thing, and it causes you to be persecuted and to suffer (as it often does), then it is meaningful, even if not pleasant.

    Even suffering that doesn’t have a direct effect, but that forms something essential about our growth or the human experience, is at least not worth denying or fleeing from.

    But then there are those who venerate suffering for its own sake. Was it the “flagellants” who whipped themselves constantly? (That history class was a long time ago.) But, in modern times, people still revel, even brag, about how hard things are for them, even when the hardship is unnecessary and purposely. (Not quite what it means by “rejoiceing in my sufferings”…)

    I don’t think there’s anything godly or holy in that.

  • Christine,

    As far as the “fixing ourselves” thing goes, we have to make a distinction between the two kingdoms.

    Down here, in this life, we ought try, and strive, and do the best that we can for ourselves and our neighbors.

    But as far as our relationship to God is concerned, no striving is necessary. That was all done for us by the Striver, Himself…Jesus Christ.

  • Christine

    Yeah, Steve – I think often on this site, people are talking about the first, and you react like it’s the second. To the point where I (and it seems others) thought you were radically opposed to the first.

    To clarify, when there’s talk of churches doing better, and people treating each other better in churches, which of the two do you see that as being?

  • i think you nailed it. (oh, yeah, HE already did)