Thursday, April 02, 2015

About that atonement thing

Holy Week can produce some of the worst in theology sometimes, but it can also produce some of the best. Brian Zahnd's post is in the latter category. Here's a bit of it, but read the whole thing.
What the cross is not is a quid pro quo where God agrees to forgive upon receipt of his Son’s murder. What the cross is not is an economic transaction whereby God gains the capital to forgive. These legal and fiscal models for understanding the cross simply will not do.

Jesus does not save us from God, Jesus reveals God as savior. What is revealed on Good Friday is not a monstrous deity requiring a virgin to be thrown into a volcano or a firstborn son to be nailed to a tree. What is revealed on Good Friday is the depths of human depravity and the greater depths of God’s love.

And a bit further
The death of Jesus was a sacrifice. But it was a sacrifice to end sacrificing, not a sacrifice to appease an angry god. It was not God who required the sacrifice of Jesus, it was human civilization. A system built upon violent power cannot tolerate the presence of one who owes it nothing. The sacrifice of Jesus was necessary to convince us to quit producing sacrificial victims; it was not necessary to convince God to forgive. When Jesus prays for forgiveness on the cross he was not acting contrary to the nature of God, he was revealing the nature of God as forgiving love.
And yet further
The crucifixion is not what God inflicts upon Jesus in order to forgive, the crucifixion is what God in Christ endures as he forgives. The cross is where God absorbs sin and recycles it into forgiveness.

The crucifixion is not the ultimate attempt to change God’s mind about us — the cross is the ultimate attempt to change our mind about God. God is not like Caiaphas seeking a sacrifice. God is not like Pilate requiring an execution. God is like Jesus, absorbing sin and forgiving sinners.

<idle musing>
Yep. And while we're thinking about atonement, you might want to check out Michael Bird's post from the other day. Here's the conclusion, but read the whole thing.
However, if we were to pick one ring to rule them all, one model which is perhaps capable of linking together the others without relativizing them, then I’d probably say Christus Victor. I say that because the CV is the model which best unites Christology, kingdom, and soteriology together.

In want of a summarizing statement about what the cross achieved, we could say that the atonement is the climax of God’s project to put the world to right through the cross of Jesus. The cross brings God’s people into God’s place under God’s reign to share in God’s holy-loving-glory on account of the love that is demonstrated in the cross and the justice that is satisfied on the cross.

I couldn't put it better myself.
</idle musing>

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