Primitive and Obscene

“Some parts of the Bible are so clear and simple that they are offensive to those suffering from intellectual arrogance. I once was lecturing about how Christ’s death on the cross fulfilled the curse motif of the Old Testament. In the middle of my lecture a man in the audience interrupted me, saying loudly, ‘That’s primitive and obscene.’ I asked him to repeat his comment so that everyone present could hear his complaint. When he repeated it, I said, ‘You are exactly right. I particularly like your choice of words, primitive and obscene.’ The entire history of redemption is communicated in primitive terms, from the episode of the encounter of Adam and Eve with the serpent to the devastationg destruction that God visits on the chariots of Egypt in the exodus to the crass and brutal murder of Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible reveals that God hears the groans of all of his people, from the peasant to the philosopher, from the dull-witted to the sophisticated scholar. His message is simple enough from the most simplistic of fallen creatures to understand. What kind of a God would reveal his love and redemption in terms so technical and concepts so profound that only an elite corps of professional scholars could understand them? God does speak in primitive terms because he is addressing himself to primitives. At the same time, there is a enough profundity contained in Scripture to keep the most astute and erudite scholars busily engaged in their theological inquiries for a lifetime.

If primitive is an appropriate word to describe the content of Scripture, obscene is even more so. All of the obscenities of sin are recorded with clear and forthright language in the Scripture. And what is more obscene than the cross? Here we have obscenity on a cosmic scale. On the cross Christ takes upon himself human obscenities in order to redeem them.”

– R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, p. 18-19

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