Jesus re-creates humanity with a Cry

the-view-from-the-crossWatching the sunrise this morning on this Good Friday, I had a thought inspired by recent discussions of Jesus’ Cry from the Cross – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Here’s the thought I had.

God creates ex nihilo or out of nothing. This ‘nothing’ isn’t a certain sort of something out of which God creates; we are not assembled into being from other more fundamental parts or created events. From the finite perspective of our conscious experience, this nothingness represents the Void whose absolute closure threatens to consume our present existence with final meaninglessness. The Void represents the nothingness from which God calls us into being. But it occasions a necessary and fundamental choice to relate to existence in one of two ways – either peacefully, giving our finitude to God in trust, or despairingly, anxiously, in the fragmenting narratives of self-assertion and fear.

I want to suggest that on the Cross, in Jesus’ Cry (“My God, My God, why?”), God is recreating humanity ex nihilo, that God, via Christ’s humanity (God’s own humanity), takes creation to the very edge of that nothingness from which we are called into being, and there humanity finally relates to the Void truthfully and peacefully.

Christ takes the essential question at the heart of the Cry (Ps 22) and submits himself to the Father as its answer. The Cry of Ps 22 is there not because Christ believes himself abandoned by God (the Psalm and gospels prevent such a conclusion) but because the humanity he is re-creating believes itself to be abandoned by God. The Cry becomes the point of departure, the basis upon which we can locate ourselves within the event of the Cross. It becomes the doorway through which we experience ourselves being re-created ex nihilo. There is a question in the Cry that is, after all, just the question that finitude must ask: Why this? Where is God in this? The Cry tells us that Jesus is standing at the very place before the Void which marks the spot of humanity’s despairing failure to trust God, and that he also has occupied the place of innocent suffering which occasions in us misrelation and despair, but which Jesus fills with peaceful and benevolent trust in God.

Jesus asks our question (Why?), yes, and he asks it from the regions of our worst suffering, but he answers it differently. And the answer he gives is how and where he re-creates humanity ex nihilo. Why ex nihilo? Because the answer Jesus gives (that answer being “I am not alone, for my Father is with me” John 16.32-33) exceeds the resources of finitude. Its truth is not derived from any created resource. Since creation is asking the question about itself, it cannot itself be the answer. The answer “I am not alone, my Father is with me” comes from the other side of the Void, i.e., from a transcendent and uncreated source.

15 comments on “Jesus re-creates humanity with a Cry

  1. Tom,
    Who else, do you know, has said this?
    It is inspired.
    Our fear… of lack, of not being all that we should, of ceasing to exist, of not knowing why we exist and where we come from is the problem – not the sin these fears engender.
    This is what Jesus answers in all of his life: the cross and Jesus’ cry from it is a continuation of this. He show us who to trust and gives us the the hope to do so.


  2. Tom,

    I am going to riff off of this post (and reblog it as well). The cross becomes the tree of life, which the trees of life point to both in the protological and eschatological Eden, and Christ the fruit that we eat unto immortality. Without the passion of Christ both in dying and in rising neither the first or the second Eden would exist, and it is the cross that stands at the midpoint of history that encompasses both. God does not create within the world of duration, he does so from the timeless reaches of eternity, so we can properly maintain that he indeed does create the world at the cross.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on ST. JUDE'S TAVERN and commented:
    Tom over at An Open Orthodoxy offers up a powerful Good Friday reflection on how God re-creates the world at the cross… At the fountain-head of the new creation stands the cross, the tree of life and the fruit of our immortality.


  4. Robert Fortuin says:

    It seems to me more workable in the alpha-omega grand scheme of theology proper and salvation history that ex nihilo is not an abyss of sheer and absolute nothingness, but rather that the no-thing from which the cosmos originated is God, the effect of his will. ‘Creation’ both as verb and noun is beset with anthropomorphism so that it is less fitting than is ‘emanation’ in that regard. Creation is shown to be problematic in our conception of ex nihilo, for creation has to be ‘ex’ or ‘from’ some thing and some place. So we imagine an abyss and erect ‘the void’. But we can’t square this with the non-dualism of Orthodox theology. The void, rather, is rational creation’s vain attempt to rid itself of God. The triumph of Easter, the Good News, is that the void we erect is relativized by the redeeming passion of the Lover of mankind. The void is shown for what it is, a wholly impossible fantasy not even a true nothingness. It is exposed as a false idol by the Kingdom of God which is come from the Eschaton. There is hope for the hopeless, the losers, the unmentionable discards, for those in the void.

    A most blessed Pascal tide to all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Robert. Fair point. “Nothingness” isn’t a certain sort of “something” out of which God withdrawals creation, like the magician’s hat out of which he draws a bouquet of flowers, i.e., not a kind of non-divine ‘negative space’ where God goes to create. God only makes use of himself in creating, so in that sense, yeah, creatio ex deo. But the realization of this something one experiences one’s way through to appreciating. One has to let go certain natural inclinations to establish one’s meaning “alongside” God, the assumption that God recognizes our value as something other than himself. So ‘ex nihilo’ makes that construal of human meaning-making impossible. See that truth about oneself can rock one’s world.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Tom,
    Peter Rollins, in his book “The Idolatry of God” suggests that creatio ex nihilo can be seen to express how WE create a GOD from nothing – trying to satisfy our sensed lack (as we are created from nothing) with something. He suggests that our constant seeking of something better /different /other TO SATISFY ourselves is our problem and is it is this seeking to be satisfied that is the truly idolatrous.
    Seeing God in everything and embracing the world as it is is Salvation.
    Jesus is speaking our thoughts, not his, in his cry – God never leaves or forsakes us and it is this revelation that saves us, allowing us to cultivate God’s sustaining presence in every situation and interaction.


    • Tom says:

      Yeah, I’m familiar with Rollins on that point. Just read a piece about him this morning on this issue, so it’s interesting that you mention it! I admit I have profound differences with Rollins.


    • Tom says:

      Here’s the piece I read today. There are key points I’d champion right alongside Rollins, but as far as I can tell, his work is a fundamental misrelation to the Void.


      • Tom says:

        Rats. Thought I could upload a document to these notes. Can’t.

        It’s Katherine Sarah Moody’s article “Wither Now: Emerging Christianity as Reconciliation to Death, Decay, and Nothingness,” in Currents in Theology and Mission (April 2015) Vol. 42, No 2. That whole issue (entitled Whither Now Emergence) is dedicated to Emerging Christianity. I’m assuming the “Wither” in the title of her article is a typo. I found it online for free. I’ll email it if you want a copy. Frankly – I found the Emergent vision of creation as she describes it nauseating.


  6. Tom says:

    Reblogged this on An Open Orthodoxy and commented:

    Still feeling this strongly, as true as ever…


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