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Atonement


McKenna
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Hey y'all,

 

I was on another forum recently and someone mentioned that there have actually been five different major ways of understanding the Atonement throughout Christian history, substitutional atonement only being the most popular one right now. Does anyone know what the other 4 would be? Christus Victor is one I think, although I don't really know what that means...

 

Are there any interpretations, in your opinion, that would work within a Progressive Christian epistemological framework? How should we, as Progressive Christians, interpret Christ's death and Resurrection? Or is it simply irrelevent?

 

:)

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Hey y'all,

 

I was on another forum recently and someone mentioned that there have actually been five different major ways of understanding the Atonement throughout Christian history, substitutional atonement only being the most popular one right now. Does anyone know what the other 4 would be? Christus Victor is one I think, although I don't really know what that means...

 

Are there any interpretations, in your opinion, that would work within a Progressive Christian epistemological framework? How should we, as Progressive Christians, interpret Christ's death and Resurrection? Or is it simply irrelevent?

 

:)

 

Wikipedia has a decent summary listing variations on three different metaphors.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement

 

I prefer the "healing" metaphor.

 

"The third metaphor is that of healing, associated with Pierre Abélard in the eleventh century, and Paul Tillich in the twentieth. In this picture Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates the extent of God’s love for us, and moved by this great act of love mankind responds and is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit."

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Jesus' crucifixion is not irrelevant because it serves as that "great example" of one whose love of creation brought him a place where his execution by the power structure was inevitable. In this regard, I am reminded of the line from the hymn that goes "follow with reverent steps the great example of one whose only thought was doing good." There is also the passage from Phillipians that (in the NRSV) goes "Jesus ... emptied himself,taking the form of a slave ... and became obedient to the point of death--even death on a cross." (2:6-8).

 

As far as resurrection is concerned, I recall the statement attributed to Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero the "when I die, I will rise in the Salvadoran people." I think that Jesus is "risen" in all of those who have followed his example of supporting the oppressed.

 

Atonement, though, seems to me to be predicated on some notion of original sin, an idea that I do not accept. There may be other words, but I think they are an attempt to try to salvage something that does not seem all that worthwhile.

 

Which may bring us to the concept of salvation, but I trust that McKenna will address it in another thread.

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Hey y'all,

 

Are there any interpretations, in your opinion, that would work within a Progressive Christian epistemological framework? How should we, as Progressive Christians, interpret Christ's death and Resurrection? Or is it simply irrelevent?

 

:)

Without original sin, there would be no need for Atonement nor Grace, and

the death of Jesus Christ would be irrelevent.

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To atone for a sin you have to take on that sin, the world is more than willing to give to Jesus all of their sins, is the world accountable for their actions?

 

Did Jesus have to die for your sins?

 

The salvation and need for grace should not be to get out of your responsibilities to reconcile and repent...

 

You see Jesus can carry the burden of the world no problem the burden that is placed upon Jesus only make Jesus stronger and at the same time makes the world more evil. When you learn to carry your own burden the burden on others becomes lighter. But what of the victim like Jesus or any of the other number of victims that have followed the path to being good?

 

Did and do they have to suffer so?

 

I say with a word they could all be set free, the word is tRuTh... And to me Ruth is a very important book a book of Love.

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Dear McKenna,

There is no Atonement without the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

DavidK,

 

I respect your position. However, these were the questions I asked:

 

"Are there any interpretations, in your opinion, that would work within a Progressive Christian epistemological framework? How should we, as Progressive Christians, interpret Christ's death and Resurrection? Or is it simply irrelevent?"

 

My questions are framed specifically around Progressive Christianity. I know what your point of view, as a Conservative Christian, is, and I respect it. However, it is not the topic of this thread. Please do not get this thread off track.

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Wikipedia has a decent summary listing variations on three different metaphors.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement

 

I prefer the "healing" metaphor.

 

"The third metaphor is that of healing, associated with Pierre Abélard in the eleventh century, and Paul Tillich in the twentieth. In this picture Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates the extent of God’s love for us, and moved by this great act of love mankind responds and is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit."

 

Thanks for the reference!

 

Of the three metaphors, I agree with you, I prefer healing. But how, according to Abelard and Tillich, does Jesus' death demonstrate the extent of God's love for us? (I know all the standard answers to this, DavidK, my question is how did these two theologians argue this point.)

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Jesus' crucifixion is not irrelevant because it serves as that "great example" of one whose love of creation brought him a place where his execution by the power structure was inevitable. In this regard, I am reminded of the line from the hymn that goes "follow with reverent steps the great example of one whose only thought was doing good." There is also the passage from Phillipians that (in the NRSV) goes "Jesus ... emptied himself,taking the form of a slave ... and became obedient to the point of death--even death on a cross." (2:6-8).

 

Do you perceive any difference between Jesus' death and the deaths of others who have been killed in similar ways (i.e. killed for standing up for what they believe in, killed despite nonviolence, etc.)?

 

As far as resurrection is concerned, I recall the statement attributed to Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero the "when I die, I will rise in the Salvadoran people." I think that Jesus is "risen" in all of those who have followed his example of supporting the oppressed.

 

I guess I could ask a similar question to the one I just asked; do you perceive any difference, then, between Jesus' "rising" and the "rising" of others (i.e. Romero)?

 

Atonement, though, seems to me to be predicated on some notion of original sin, an idea that I do not accept. There may be other words, but I think they are an attempt to try to salvage something that does not seem all that worthwhile.

 

I agree. I just used the word Atonement because it is a word we can all recognize, so you'd all automatically know what I was talking about.

 

Which may bring us to the concept of salvation, but I trust that McKenna will address it in another thread.

 

Hadn't thought of that, but that's a good idea :)

 

To atone for a sin you have to take on that sin, the world is more than willing to give to Jesus all of their sins, is the world accountable for their actions?

 

Did Jesus have to die for your sins?

 

The salvation and need for grace should not be to get out of your responsibilities to reconcile and repent...

 

You see Jesus can carry the burden of the world no problem the burden that is placed upon Jesus only make Jesus stronger and at the same time makes the world more evil. When you learn to carry your own burden the burden on others becomes lighter. But what of the victim like Jesus or any of the other number of victims that have followed the path to being good?

 

Did and do they have to suffer so?

 

I say with a word they could all be set free, the word is tRuTh... And to me Ruth is a very important book a book of Love.

 

I'm not sure what you're trying to say about Atonement here...sorry!

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McKenna asked

 

Do you perceive any difference between Jesus' death and the deaths of others who have been killed in similar ways (i.e. killed for standing up for what they believe in, killed despite nonviolence, etc.)?

 

I think of humanity as part of a great tapestry that spreads over time and space. In it there are threads of gold that represent the lives of those who have given of themselves to make the world whole, that is, to bring liberation to the opressed and to challenge the destructive powers. These lives affect my beliefs and actions. Not all have died for their actions, but all have made sacrifices. Many of those golden threads trace back to Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Certainly there are other golden threads with other origins as well. Gandhi comes to mind, for example.

 

I hope this answer addresses the "rising" question as well.

 

And thanks for the "salvation" thread

Edited by grampawombat
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To atone for a sin you have to take on that sin, the world is more than willing to give to Jesus all of their sins, is the world accountable for their actions?

 

Did Jesus have to die for your sins?

 

The salvation and need for grace should not be to get out of your responsibilities to reconcile and repent...

 

You see Jesus can carry the burden of the world no problem the burden that is placed upon Jesus only make Jesus stronger and at the same time makes the world more evil. When you learn to carry your own burden the burden on others becomes lighter. But what of the victim like Jesus or any of the other number of victims that have followed the path to being good?

 

Did and do they have to suffer so?

 

I say with a word they could all be set free, the word is tRuTh... And to me Ruth is a very important book a book of Love.

Yes, the world is accountable.

 

God purposefully sent His Son to die as the sacrifice for our sin.

 

Salvation/Grace is not our responsibility, it is our need and it is God's to give, but not based on our works.

 

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

 

Love does not preclude suffering.

 

I like Ruth.

 

Further comment on this topic will be restricted to the other thread.

Edited by davidk
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DavidK,

 

I respect your position. However, these were the questions I asked:

 

"Are there any interpretations, in your opinion, that would work within a Progressive Christian epistemological framework? How should we, as Progressive Christians, interpret Christ's death and Resurrection? Or is it simply irrelevent?"

 

My questions are framed specifically around Progressive Christianity. I know what your point of view, as a Conservative Christian, is, and I respect it. However, it is not the topic of this thread. Please do not get this thread off track.

Likewise I respect you, but perhaps you may have overlooked this previous post:

"Without original sin, there would be no need for Atonement nor Grace, and

the death of Jesus Christ would be irrelevant."

 

That was an answer which conformed to the question of relevancy.

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"Without original sin, there would be no need for Atonement nor Grace, and

the death of Jesus Christ would be irrelevant."

 

You miss the point, which is that there is a progressive Christian understanding for Jesus' death that has to do with championing the oppressed and defying the domination system. So from a progressive perspective, a concept like original sin is not necessary for Jesus' life and death to be relevant.

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"Without original sin, there would be no need for Atonement nor Grace, and

the death of Jesus Christ would be irrelevant."

 

You miss the point, which is that there is a progressive Christian understanding for Jesus' death that has to do with championing the oppressed and defying the domination system. So from a progressive perspective, a concept like original sin is not necessary for Jesus' life and death to be relevant.

 

Which is (at least) similar to the metaphor of love and healing ... bring the oppressed back into society and facilitate healing.

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"Without original sin, there would be no need for Atonement nor Grace, and

the death of Jesus Christ would be irrelevant."

 

You miss the point, which is that there is a progressive Christian understanding for Jesus' death that has to do with championing the oppressed and defying the domination system. So from a progressive perspective, a concept like original sin is not necessary for Jesus' life and death to be relevant.

Respectfully, the point being missed is that while championing the oppressed and defying the domination system may be noble, they do not atone for sin. For it is by the Grace of Christ's sacrifice that atones, not our works, so no one may boast.

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The point that is being missed is that the position stated is one held by many progressives. There are differing concepts of atonement, sin (origional or otherwise), and salvation presented here. I would not claim that the position I have presented is the only possible one, nor should anyone else make such a claim on these TCPC boards.

 

Claims and counter-claims are appropriate on this debate board. Claims of uniqueness are certainly questionable at best. The claim that atonement must include original sin is simply not appropriate unless such a claim acknowledges that other claims have standing as well. One need not agree with other claims, but one ought to at least acknowledge their existence.

Edited by grampawombat
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McKenna asked

 

Do you perceive any difference between Jesus' death and the deaths of others who have been killed in similar ways (i.e. killed for standing up for what they believe in, killed despite nonviolence, etc.)?

 

I think of humanity as part of a great tapestry that spreads over time and space. In it there are threads of gold that represent the lives of those who have given of themselves to make the world whole, that is, to bring liberation to the opressed and to challenge the destructive powers. These lives affect my beliefs and actions. Not all have died for their actions, but all have made sacrifices. Many of those golden threads trace back to Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Certainly there are other golden threads with other origins as well. Gandhi comes to mind, for example.

 

I hope this answer addresses the "rising" question as well.

 

And thanks for the "salvation" thread

 

That's an interesting way of looking at it, thanks! I think it's true that "many of those golden threads track back to Jesus." Gandhi in a way does as well, if I remember correctly he was inspired by Jesus although of course his inspiration came from other sources as well namely his Hindu faith.

 

Thanks for your thoughts! :)

 

Likewise I respect you, but perhaps you may have overlooked this previous post:

"Without original sin, there would be no need for Atonement nor Grace, and

the death of Jesus Christ would be irrelevant."

 

That was an answer which conformed to the question of relevancy.

 

David,

 

I did not overlook that post. If you'll notice, my response was actually to your other post, which did not "conform to the question of relevancy."

 

Respectfully, the point being missed is that while championing the oppressed and defying the domination system may be noble, they do not atone for sin. For it is by the Grace of Christ's sacrifice that atones, not our works, so no one may boast.

 

You're taking the word "atonement" too literally. Look above at the posts concerning the word choice. Specifically, I said this: "I agree. I just used the word Atonement because it is a word we can all recognize, so you'd all automatically know what I was talking about."

 

You're trying to argue about atoning for sin, a concept that is generally not needed in Progressive Christianity due to the fact that the concept of original sin is generally missing. I guess I could have been clearer in what I was going for here (although nobody else seems to be having a problem understanding it...). Really I was just asking what relevance Jesus' death/Resurrection has for Progressive Christians. We are familiar with the concept of substitutional atonement, and I started this thread with the assumption that that concept is irrelevant to Progressive Christians. I am asking how else we can interpret it. So debating about substitutional atonement is not the point of this thread.

Edited by McKenna
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Dear Mckenna,

I am having no difficulty understanding your premise, and you did offer these questions presumably for a response: "Are there any interpretations, in your opinion, that would work within a Progressive Christian epistemological framework? How should we, as Progressive Christians, interpret Christ's death and Resurrection? Or is it simply irrelevent?"

 

I hoped it would have been understood I had responded with an opinion on Atonement, exposing Progressive Christianity as having no answer because Progressive Christianity has no interpretations expressing a need for a reconciliation with God. Progressive Christianity has no answer or need for Atonement, substitutional or not. It has no place in its doctrine. The point is quite moot.

Progressive Christianity has left Christ's death irrelevant.

--

Dear Grampa,

"Certainly there are other golden threads with other origins as well. "

"Claims of uniqueness are certainly questionable at best."

This expreses a noble and very generous position. One which I could support if it had any logical basis. Unfortunately, it doesn't.

If we have two opposing positions, only one may be right. Both may be wrong, but only one can be right. Both cannot be right. Christianity and Buddism cannot both be right. Atheism and Islam cannot both be right; etc., etc.

--

Dear minsocal,

"... bring the oppressed back into society and facilitate healing."

God is not one to show partiality; Acts 10:35ff.

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Dear Mckenna,

I am having no difficulty understanding your premise, and you did offer these questions presumably for a response: "Are there any interpretations, in your opinion, that would work within a Progressive Christian epistemological framework? How should we, as Progressive Christians, interpret Christ's death and Resurrection? Or is it simply irrelevent?"

 

I hoped it would have been understood I had responded with an opinion on Atonement, exposing Progressive Christianity as having no answer because Progressive Christianity has no interpretations expressing a need for a reconciliation with God. Progressive Christianity has no answer or need for Atonement, substitutional or not. It has no place in its doctrine. The point is quite moot.

Progressive Christianity has left Christ's death irrelevant.

--

Dear Grampa,

"Certainly there are other golden threads with other origins as well. "

"Claims of uniqueness are certainly questionable at best."

This expreses a noble and very generous position. One which I could support if it had any logical basis. Unfortunately, it doesn't.

If we have two opposing positions, only one may be right. Both may be wrong, but only one can be right. Both cannot be right. Christianity and Buddism cannot both be right. Atheism and Islam cannot both be right; etc., etc.

--

Dear minsocal,

"... bring the oppressed back into society and facilitate healing."

God is not one to show partiality; Acts 10:35ff.

 

 

To be progressive, one has to see from both sides and know the truth.

 

Let us review, So you think you are a Christian? You could be a liar... Why? Because is you believe the Bible to be without error then you could be convinced to believe a lie, why? The reaction you have to this very concept proves that something is wrong, if you are going to defend the Bible to be without error then stop and think and look again at the many errors that I've exposed or been shown or the many times that I've called out a contradiction which means error as two passages contradict each other. Examine your own belief before you examine the beliefs of others, and by all means set your beliefs on the path of truth before you set another person's belief upon the examination table searching for corruption in your neighbor's back yard.

 

Too many times we see the log in our neighbor's eye and fail to realize what we are actually seeing is the speck in our own eye. First we should remove the speck or error or the sin from our own eye or belief before we should correct the problems of our neighbor.

 

It was well after the sin had affected my life the sin by others that I had to go back and review my own belief system and structure, I became progressive because I could now see clearly that my own Christian belief system had many flaws. The flaws are in the Bible as it was written and transposed over many thousands of years through several different languages. I was taught that the Bible was pure and holy without error. That was a lie! I could see the errors from cover to cover from beginning to end... The truth is the Bible was written by man and there are many errors in the Bible.

 

The new question that I created was did Jesus have to die? The answer is no! Jesus did not have to die on the cross. Jesus did not have to be crucified, not at all... Does this offend Davidk? Probably and enormously it might also offend others and they react or become dissmissive of me for my point of view never to realize that I'm taking Jesus off of the Cross... I wish that others would join me in my effort to take down the injustice of 2,000 years ago and stop the injustice that is happening today. People do need to be held accountable for their own actions. If a person bears false witness they should be held into account and the injustice should be corrected and expunged from the record of the victim.

 

My GOD is big enough to love justice, repentence and reparations, my GOD is Ethical and Moral with no fault, with a word you can find Grace, the word is 'SAVED' by Grace and tRuTh. You need to protect yourself and others, the sacrifice of one for many is nobel, but did Jesus have to suffer the injustice and did Jesus have to be portrayed as dying on a cross to create this failed religion and create the murder of so many in the name of a little devilish god that delights in destruction?

 

Do you need a crucifixion or a Church? Answer: You do not need either, you need leaders that are accountable to tell the truth to establish true justice for ALL!

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Davidk has a valid point.

 

If there is no such concept of 'something' we might label 'original sin' then it follows, logically, that there is no need of something to resolve that situtation - something we have labelled 'atonement'. The resultant effect is that Jesus' death means little more than he was yet another martyr fighting for some social cause, worthy as such causes may be. So, we are left with what - following yet another freedom fighter?

 

I did something dumb the other day - headed off for a Doctor's appointment without taking some reading material. So I dropped into a second hand bookshop and picked up a paperback edition of Matthew Henry's Commentary for a very reasonable price. (Books in Australia are outrageously priced - it is much cheaper for me to buy books from overseas and get them posted here). I settled down in the waiting room and turned to Romans 7: 14.25 - the 'inner conflict' - the conflict between the law of God and the law of sin.

 

MH comments, '... while we carry this body about with us, we shall be troubled with corruption ...' The 'corruption of the body' is the recognition that as humans, as homo sapiens, we are subject to the laws of nature - not the laws of God. Regardless of our thinking, our body is subject to earthly persuasions. Paul's cry, 'Oh wretched man that I am' echoes our own recognition of that contradiction so; 'Who shall deliver me' from this conundrum? How do we resolve our humanity with our desire to live on a higher plane?

 

For a long time now I have recognised that 'we' do not belong here - 'our' home is somewhere else. I don't understand why 'we' are here - maybe 'we' stuffed up somewhere out there and this, this 'existence', is the price for such stuff ups. Regardless, it seems that for those who recognise that there is a higher plane, there has to be someway to overcome the inherent contradictions with which we are faced - how to resolve the necessities that enable us to live with the longing for that which is beyond human endeavour. We might label this contradictory existence as 'original sin' for want of a better name - it's not an existence we wish but one we are stuck with - for the present at least.

 

Overcoming this quandary is facilitated by the concept of the antonement - a circut breaker - stops overloading the mechanism (us humans). Regardless of the historic imperatives surrounding Jesus' death what we, as humans, need is a way out, a back door out of Nature. This is what Jesus' death has come to mean.

 

I know this is very 'unprogressive' of me - but sometimes we are in danger of throwing out the baby as well as the bathwater. We are in danger of diminishing the death of Jesus to the backwaters of human aspiration. We have invented many quirky techniques - are we not the imaginative animal - of how to avoid this riddle - earth versus heaven - that we often dazzle ourselves with the brilliance of our own argument and debate. We may not like it - being 21st C humans with all this vast technology at our fingertips and yet still have to face death - for we are still the same as Paul - still held captive to the earthly body. Even if Jesus did not die as an 'atonement' then we needed him to die that way otherwise we are forever locked into our own mortality without hope of escape and would continue to echo Paul's word down the centuries, 'Who shall deliver me?

 

So, has PC a better solution? Probably not. Perhaps then the concept of atonement may be more relevant than we have hitherto suppposed. Maybe we need Jesus death more than we realise.

Edited by Wayseer
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The flaws are in the Bible as it was written and transposed over many thousands of years through several different languages. I was taught that the Bible was pure and holy without error. That was a lie! I could see the errors from cover to cover from beginning to end... The truth is the Bible was written by man and there are many errors in the Bible.

 

Maybe you are just as guilty of those who taught you the Bible was inerrant. Maybe you are reading the Bible as historical textbook and not as received wisdom of the ages. There is a difference between the word of God and the Word of God.

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Dear TheGreatWhiteBuffalo,

 

McKenna asked an honest question concerning the Christian doctrine of Atonement. She has asked many times for help to recognize the specks and beams.

Your answers to her question merely confirms the argument that "Progressive" Christianity has no need for Atonement.

 

These two exerpts would have been sufficient for your entire post: "The new question that I created was did Jesus have to die? The answer is no! Jesus did not have to die on the cross. Jesus did not have to be crucified, not at all... "

"Do you need a crucifixion or a Church? Answer: You do not need either, you need leaders that are accountable to tell the truth to establish true justice for ALL!"

Edited by davidk
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Dear Mckenna,

I am having no difficulty understanding your premise, and you did offer these questions presumably for a response: "Are there any interpretations, in your opinion, that would work within a Progressive Christian epistemological framework? How should we, as Progressive Christians, interpret Christ's death and Resurrection? Or is it simply irrelevent?"

 

I hoped it would have been understood I had responded with an opinion on Atonement, exposing Progressive Christianity as having no answer because Progressive Christianity has no interpretations expressing a need for a reconciliation with God. Progressive Christianity has no answer or need for Atonement, substitutional or not. It has no place in its doctrine. The point is quite moot.

Progressive Christianity has left Christ's death irrelevant.

 

Okay, thank you for your response. :)

 

I think some/many/most (who knows) Progressive Christians would actually agree with you, that Christ's death is irrelevant except as a sort of martyr. I wanted to know if there was a way for his death to still be relevant within the PC epistemology; I am still working out my own thoughts on the matter, I suppose.

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