Swiss psychologist Paul Tournier once wrote,
We are nearly always longing for an easy religion, easy to understand and easy to follow, a religion with no mystery, no insoluble problems, no snags, a religion that would allow us to escape from our miserable human condition, a religion in which contact with God spares us all strife, all uncertainty, all suffering and doubt, in short, a religion without the cross.Today we come in our study of The Apostles' Creed to the very centre of our faith: the cross of Christ. It is the crux of Christianity. However, there is a great temptation to go around it, to have a religion merely of positive thinking, a religion where we can pull ourselves up by our own moral boot-straps and better ourselves, not a religion that involves the cross, not a religion that requires a suffering saviour to pay the ultimate price for us. That is the temptation, but we dare not give into it. T. F. Torrance once wrote that we should not "try to sneak around Golgotha".
In The Apostles' Creed, we confess that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate. That reference to Pilate anchors Jesus in history. The fact is attested in historical documents outside of Scripture as well as inside. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote in AD 112 about the persecution of Christians under Nero saying, "Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius."
Why is this important?
A Christian writer, Rufinus, in the fifth century, answers this question for us. "Those who handed down the creed showed great wisdom in emphasising the actual date at which these things happened, so that there might be no chance of uncertainty or vagueness upsetting the stability of the tradition."
Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate at a certain time and place; that means our faith is grounded in history. God entered history in Jesus of Nazareth and thereby changed history forever.