Is It Wrong To Talk About The Financial Causes Of The Crucifixion?
First of a three-part series.
Why was Christ crucified? The Christian conversation about that has tended to default to the theological intent of the atonement. In other words, Christ was crucified to save us from our sins, to take our punishment, to save mankind. Those are matters of the telos, the purpose of the crucifixion, in the eyes of God.
But other actors (Scribes, Priests, Herodians, Romans) had different purposes (money, power, survival). The obvious historical facts about their narrow intents are not in conflict with the theological truths about God’s broad intent. In other words, the Gospels clearly indicate that the Sadducees at least partly wanted Jesus killed because He had become a threat to their economic interest. But this in no way contradicts what Jesus intended.
In other words, all of the little plans and their role in the death of Jesus do not need to be ignored in order for us to keep believing in traditional theology. If I say that Jesus died because crucifixion is fatal and tends to lead to either asphyxiation or heart failure, I’m not denying that Jesus died because his death was planned from before the foundation of the world. Those truths are on different levels. I mention this because when I talk to people about the historical background and economic dimensions of the Gospels, there is often a person or two who reacts negatively, because they think this level of explanation is intended to replace the doctrinal level of explanations. It would seem obvious to me that these are not in conflict. But for some reason a small number of people view political, historical, material, and economic analysis as though it is an attempt to replace theological doctrine.
But I would argue the contrary is true: that doctrines such as the incarnation (that God took on human nature) almost require us to see all elements of human nature operating in the death of Jesus. He put on human nature, not just a human body (the view that he only took on a human body but not a full human mind is the heresy known as Apollinarism). Both the Athanasian Creed and the Chalcedonian Creed teach that the Son took on both human body and mind. Here’s a quote from the latter:
“We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable (rational) soul and body; consubstantial (coessential) with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin…”
Jesus took on a reasonable, that is rational (thinking) soul. He is ‘in all things like unto us’ except without sin. This means he takes on every non-sinful aspect of human life. He took on a body, he took on a mind, he took on a family, he took on a village, he took on a nation, he took on its history, he took on an empire, he took on a world. He took on all the social, economic, and political relationships that humans have. To assert this is not heresy, but to deny it may well be.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.