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Atonement


McKenna
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The Atonement of Christ is the sacrificial work of Jesus for sinners, I would say progressive Christians accept this and are moved deeply by this act of selfless love. In his death on the cross, Christ atoned for the sins of humanity. Progressives believe humanity means all people if DavidK wants the difference between Progressive Christians and non-progressive Christians this would be the point. Non-progressive Christian think Jesus died for only a select few. Progressives feel reconciliation is accomplished for all who are redeemed. The death of Christ on behalf of sinners is an act of selfless love and grounds of redemption.

 

To overcome the feeling of self and self-preservation, which is one of the first instincts of nature, one must overcome the force of selfishness. Selfishness is like the force of gravity, it pulls us down; therefore, to surmount it reveals enlightenment, a condition of selflessness that establishes one in the all-pervading consciousness of love. This implies a passionate knowledge of one’s unity with all, which Jesus illustrated to us by laying down his life for our souls. Progressive Christians appreciate this.

 

The love Jesus showed us is naturally creative and includes everyone. If we work selflessly for humanity, we will also experience the size and the positive nucleus of this all-pervading consciousness. This love or consciousness is in everyone and everything although it is not expressed in the same way and can be expressed either positively or negatively. This is one reason why it is necessary to experience human love and happiness so it is possible to know divine love. Until one has the ability to love and see that it exists in every cell of everything and everybody, one will remain in a closed, narrow, selfish, concept of love.

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Guest wayfarer2k
The Atonement of Christ is the sacrificial work of Jesus for sinners, I would say progressive Christians accept this and are moved deeply by this act of selfless love.

 

Good post, Soma. What you wrote spoke to me.

 

Speaking for myself though, I have to let the word "Atonement" go. For me, it carries too much baggage to be useful, even to try to recapture it's original meaning.

 

In it's original context, referring to the Jewish day of Yom Kippur, it is true that the Jews felt that their sins were covered by the blood sacrifice of an animal or taken away by the scape-goat. This was an important symbol for them. They felt that their sins had separated them from God. And their levitical laws described this as the main way in which the sins of their nation could be dealt with, thereby restoring their at-one-ment with God. Of course, the writers of the NT, trying to find some providencial meaning in the death of their messiah, interpreted his death through the lense of Yom Kippur. Jesus became, for them, the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins (not of just "believers" but) of the world." He became the sacrifice who "died for them." But the whole interpretive grid proves that it is a metaphor, not a literal truth. Jesus, was he a lamb? No. Did his followers, for whom he died, still die? Yes, they did. This is metaphorical truth, not, as Davidk suggests, a literal contract or transaction.

 

The Atonement, as a doctrine stipulated by "the fundamentals" published around the turn of the 20th century, made Jesus' death myopic. In fact, it made Jesus' life and teachings irrelevant. It interpreted Jesus' whole existence as coming ONLY to die as a sin offering. For many fundamentalists, as long as the gospels reflected Jesus' death as an appeasement of God wrath toward sins and sinners, they would happily remove all of Jesus' teachings and acts. They interpret Jesus as SOLELY a sacrifice that changed God's mind about what to do with sinners. God wants to destroy us, Jesus wants to save us. Jesus' death makes it possible for God to save us, but we still need faith in that death.

 

It is interesting to note that, according to the gospel writers, whenever Jesus mentions his death, his disciples rebuke him. Granted, these were, for the most part, simple people. But they were well-steeped in the OT, in the Law and the Prophets. They foresaw no suffering messiah in their view. They could not concieve of Jesus dying as a sacrifice for sins. Rather than waiting for his blood to be sprinkled on them at his death, they fled from his cross in fear. Rather than placing their hands on him to impart their sins and then to call for his release to die in the wilderness, they hid in fear. It was only in retrospect that the early Christians began to see Jesus through Yom Kippur.

 

And I believe that this is an interpretation that, today, needs to die. Blood, even Jesus' blood, does not take away our sins. God is a forgiving God, perhaps even Forgiveness itself. Forgiveness does not require a payment nor a punishment. To believe that Jesus' death 2000 years ago existentially changes anything between me and God today is, to me, nonsense.

 

But, as you said, I still find great meaning in Jesus' death. He comforts the grieving. He gives his life away so that his disciples are not killed. He offers forgiveness to the thief. He forgives the very ones crucifying him. All of these facets of his death could be (and should be) explored in depth. But to think that the only purpose of his death was to appease the anger of a wrathful God, that I cannot and will not accept, despite scriptures that paint that portrait.

 

Many people will not consider Christianity because it is such a bloody religion. I sympathize with them. Many of our sermons, hymns, and rituals center around "the blood of Jesus." I don't think we need to let go of the death of Jesus. It happened. We need to search for meaning in it. But to say that it's only meaning was that God demanded it, well, that is, to me, ancient superstition. I won't worship a God who had to kill Jesus in order to love or accept me. As a conservative, I grew tired of being responsible for Jesus' death. The guilt caused by that framework was unbearable. I had to find a better interpretation. And I believe there is one.

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The atonement view is a model and there are different views from theologians, similar to the different models of the atom. We can't see the atom so different models are used to describe it, but none really describe it even the wave model is incomplete. I don't think there are false theories of atonement. I feel we use it in our spiritual practice or not. I use it because it is very powerful in raising my consciousness in meditation beyond the mundane world. The conservative Christians have pressed and forced their model beyond the logic of the Bible. They use it like Joe the plumber in a campaign to win followers in a campaign. The problem is the followers seem not to want to think, just follow. Why else would they buy into the absurdity of a way to heaven through a narrow gate on the side. They then spend most of their time debating thinkers about whether God killed Jesus or not. They say God sent Jesus, it was His plan for Jesus to die. Is this justice or injustice? . I don't think Jesus was punished by God, but I feel he took up our pain and bore our suffering because that selfless act moves me beyond myself to what I call Christ Consciousness. Conservative Christians don't like the words Christ consciousness because then people would not need a ticket to get in the side door, they could arrive naturally.

 

Some Christian philosophies and some scientific theories have a lack of total explanation. They have lost the power to bring about the original experience of oneness and have become superstitions and an impediment on the road to spiritual development. I feel the essence of the real problem is the relation between the individual consciousness and the mystery of all life, the universal Christ consciousness or God consciousness. Theories don't matter as much as one's imagination and intuition in this understanding so God stops being an object and become an actual experience.

 

Wayfarer, You are moved and find great meaning in the death of Jesus so you have found the essence that is why we are moved by your post. They reach the point, the pulse beyond the rhetoric of theological positions. Thanks

Edited by soma
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Wayfarer, You are moved and find great meaning in the death of Jesus so you have found the essence that is why we are moved by your post. They reach the point, the pulse beyond the rhetoric of theological positions. Thanks

 

Ditto Wayfarer2k.

 

Your post does indeed reach beyond the pulse of theological positions.

 

Joseph

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