Yesterday, I engaged in some friendly-fire over twitter with the honorable Dr. Jim West.
The issue: is it precise enough to say that ‘God died on the cross’ or must Christians add the qualifier ‘God the Son died on the cross’?
First, I agree with Jim’s initial concern: the Father did not die on the cross. I also agree that the phrase “God the Son died on the cross” is correct. However, I think an equally strong (and precise) point is made when one states that on the cross “God died.”
As a student of Cyril, I take issue with hedging our bets on Jesus’ divinity: Mary is the Theotokos, not the Christokos. Whatever is true of Jesus is true of God, without qualification, for he is fully and completely divine.
I think there are dangers and temptations lurking around both preferences. I worry that such “precision” in terms leads to tritheism and that folks hear “a third of God had a really bad weekend.”* Jim worries that without the qualifier I’m open to be heard as suggesting either that the Father died or a complete denial of the Trinity.
What do you think?
* Fred Sanders has a brief, but well-written, section on this issue while discussing one of Charles Wesley’s hymns in Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective.