Most Christians agree that the central, defining feature of Christianity is the cross. I think it’s fair to say that no other religion has such a universally recognised identifying symbol.
However, when it comes to what we understand the cross to mean, things get more complicated. And what we understand the cross to mean is of huge importance, because it shapes our entire understanding of God and what it means to be a Christian.
If I were to put it to a roomful of Christians that God is most perfectly revealed in the crucified Christ, I’m pretty sure I’d get a lot of hearty amens. But the fact that we could all agree that God is most perfectly revealed in Christ upon the cross emphatically does not mean that we have a shared understanding of the cross or what it tells us about God and our relationship to him.
Let’s try to unpack this a bit by exploring two alternative understandings of the cross.