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The Implausible God Who Died

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 25, 2005

Like many serious Catholics, I'm coping with listlessness today—the result of too little food. But on Good Friday it is difficult to think long about one's own sufferings without remembering the much greater sufferings of Christ. It is astonishing that God should have suffered for us. In fact, it is so astonishing as to be implausible. Is it really true?

Such wondering need not be harmful; it can deepen Faith. There are many excellent historical, logical, experiential and ecclesiological arguments for the truth of everything we believe, and we can all benefit from a healthy dose of apologetics from time to time. But sometimes formal apologetics isn't required. Sometimes the effect of a question can be altered profoundly simply by viewing it in a different light.

For example, is the idea of a God Who died really implausible? Well, yes and no. In terms of what we naturally expect of God, His suffering and death is certainly surprising. But in terms of why people accepted it when they first encountered it, and why they have continued to accept it over time, the very implausibility becomes an inducement to belief.

Consider that in those first days of Christianity nobody could possibly have believed such a bizarre and unlikely story unless they had extremely strong evidence that it were true. The proclamation of the crucifixion of God is hardly calculated to inspire confidence, yet witnesses of the actual event converted in large numbers, and then suffered and even died for this implausible truth in their turn.

Properly considered, then, implausibility very quickly changes from an argument against the Faith into what apologists call a motive of credibility. Christianity is fond of turning the obvious on its head in this way. Frequently all it takes is a change in perspective to resolve a doubt.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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