Terribly Good Friday

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In Charles Williams’s Descent into Hell, someone flippantly describes something as “terribly good.” But it’s clear she doesn’t know what either terror or goodness are and how they could be joined in a coherent description. As I recall (my library’s packed, and my memory’s spotty), this theme runs through the book as the main character encounters things that are both terrible and good.

Good Friday is the quintessential terrible good — the horrors of the brutal murder, of the creatures rebelliously turning on their creator, of the wrath of God for the sins of the world poured out on the Innocent — cannot be separated from the glories of His obedient and sacrificial love, of the cleanness of blood-washed sinners, of the ripped veil that removes the separation between God and man. It is terrible. It is the most terrible thing ever done by man to God and by God to Man. It is good. It is the best good ever done by God to man and by Man to man. The terror and the goodness are of one piece, like His undivided garment.

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