Arguing about the atonement

Adrian seems to be getting tied in the same old knot: Adrian’s Blog: Arguing about the atonement.

For what it is worth, my own view is that "penal substitution" is one way to understand  the cross and atonement. However, both historically and currently it is not the only understanding and given our limitations I do not believe it alone can be a full understanding.

So often the debates between Adrian and I seem to fall into this same
pattern. Adrian states a position, he claims (not without merit) that
this is the truth and then he extrapolates from that to state that it
is a requirement to accept this truth and only this truth.

I have two key problems with this approach:

  1. I find this a very limiting view of God. The thought of claiming
    that I can understand everything about any aspect of God terrifies me.
    What a limited God I would be worshipping if I could understand him.
  2. This view causes immense problems for our view of other Christians in the past, present and future. If we are not careful we revise history and discover that huge swathes of Christianity from the past no longer meet our definition of Christian. We also divide and condemn Christians around the world who do not have the same views as us.

In this particular aspect I warmly recommend "The Crucified God" by J Moltmann as a way of opening up the meaning of the cross and what it accomplished. Also one of the standard texts on theories of atonement which will open up the range of understandings that have been and are held by Christians.

[Update] See Richard’s response in connexions: An argument about the Atonement.

5 thoughts on “Arguing about the atonement

  1. Bene D

    “…we are saved by Christ from the wrath of God. If you cannot accept that I am not convinced that you are definately saved…”
    oh my.
    Quite the trench dug there.
    Plain english too.
    Good thing salvation isn’t dependent on New Frontiers or a theology buff being convinced.
    I to just got a clearer picture why you and Richard have spoken up on atonement.

    Reply
  2. Lorna

    interesting. I wonder what definitely saved really means -and I’d like to hear more witnessing about saved from what. That bites!!
    The more I get to know God the less convinced I am in black and white theology. Other than faith in Jesus Christ the ins and outs are really red herrings so much of the time I find.

    Reply
  3. Pam

    The more I get to know God the less convinced I am in black and white theology.
    Amen, alleluia, can I get a witness?
    I know what I was saved from: the concept of an abusive God who alternately ‘loved’ me then wanted to send me to hell. Serious comment.

    Reply

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