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Why submit to humiliation and death on a cross, in order to save those who hate you?God suffered punishment in our place because of a radical love.And salvation is not about us earning our way to some place in the clouds through good works.On the contrary; there is nothing we can do to reconcile ourselves to God. I was too aware of the cycles of poverty, violence and injustice in human history to think that some utopian design of our own, scientific or otherwise, might save us.In becoming fully human in Jesus, God behaved decidedly unlike a god.Why deign to walk through death’s dark valley, or hold the weeping limbs of lepers, if you are God?

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Humanism was the major intellectual movement of the Renaissance.This sacrificial love is utterly opposed to the individualism, consumerism, exploitation, and objectification, of our culture.Just as radical, I realized, was the new creation which Christ began to initiate.With an awkward but humble reluctance, I opened a book of sermons by philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich.As I read, I was struck at how intellectually compelling, complex, and profound the gospel was. A few months later, near the end of my time at Oxford, I was invited to a dinner for the International Society for the Study of Science and Religion.With the freedom of being an outsider to American culture, I was able to see an active Christianity in people who lived their lives guided by the gospel: feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.

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