The Fourth Fundamental: Miracles and the Resurrection, Part III

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 15 August 2007 0 Comments
Please login with your account to read this essay.


Why is the Friday before Easter called "Good Friday"? Where did the term originate?


Words do convey strange meanings, don't they? I can remember asking my rector the same thing when I was a lad. The Friday that observes the crucifixion of Jesus was the most somber day of all to me as a child. To call it "good" seemed strange indeed.

The word good reflects the rescue and atonement theology of the Church. It was an attempt to say that the result of what happened on that Friday was good. The death of Jesus was thought of as good, since it broke the power of evil, rescued us from the original sin of the fall and restored us to the original relationship with God. That is how the word good became part of the title of the day of the Crucifixion.

Today, that theology is badly dated and has been abandoned by all but the fundamentalist elements of the Christian Church — which come, as I always remind people, in both a Catholic and a Protestant form.

As post Darwinians, we no longer believe we were created perfect. We were created as single cells of life and evolved into our present complex, conscious and self-conscious forms. Since we were never perfect, we could not fall into sin. Since we could not fall into sin, we could not be rescued. How can one be rescued from a fall that never happened or be restored to a status we never possessed?

Of all the symbols of the Christian faith, these are the ones most in need of rethinking and reformation since our theology, creeds and liturgies all infected these dated concepts. This change will cause a mighty upheaval in Christian understanding. Indeed it will signal the beginning of a mighty reformation.

Until then, I doubt if Good Friday's name will be the subject of debate. It is too far down the consciousness ladder




Leave a Reply