Fleming Rutledge’s book on the Crucifixion challenges the Church to quit hardening our categories. When we try to deal with the why of the Cross, we tend to get overly literal.
She does insist in a literal cross and a literal crucifixion. What gets lost in the explanations, however, is the nuance.
“Much of today’s literal-mindedness is doubtless owing to the fact that fewer and fewer people read novels and poetry. Much of the complaining that we hear about atonement language, for example, is owing to a misunderstanding about the way that language works. (ASIDE: It gets so ridiculous I’ve actually heard people call the crucifixion “divine child abuse.” THAT is how we destroy our understanding fully in what is trying to be described.) Sally McFague is very good on this point: ‘The poet mounts many metaphors, many ways of seeing ‘this’ as ‘that’, many attempts to ‘say’ what cannot be said directly. The poet sets on metaphor against another, and hopes that the sparks set off by the juxtaposition will ignite something in the mind as well.'” (p. 211)
When we get overly rationalistic in our “theories” we force the poetic pictures into restrictive categories. We will miss the deeper pictures being painted about what Christ did on the Cross.