A Note to My Readers -
I've decided to remove my Sunday posts from the weekly cycle. Although I hope they've been of benefit to some of you, they are necessarily secondary to my regular work of sermon preparation each week. I've found that having that extra post to write simply added to the burden of my work. For those readers who would still like access to my weekly work in Scriptural exposition, I would ask them to access the podcasts of my sermons (available through a link in the sidebar), since that remains the primary form of my Bible teaching each week.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

95 Theses, #60-61: Further Models of the Atonement

To see the introduction and disclaimers for my 95 Theses, first go to: 95-Theses-Introduction

Prerequisite: Theses 58-59 

 (Painting: "Le Calvaire," by Gustave Doré, 1877)

60.) The Meaning of the Cross: Exemplary - The Passion of the Christ is the center of the Christian mystery. Here, in one man’s life, in an obscure backwater province of the Roman Empire, God gave his resounding Yes to humanity despite all our rebellions against him. The vast majority of humans still said No to him once again. But this time, it didn’t matter. Christ was the representative of the new humanity, and in him, humanity began to be re-made. God will never force anyone to accept his grace, but what we see in Christ is that he will never stop offering it, he will never give up on his love for us. He went to the absolute furthest possible limit—giving up himself to suffer the consequences of our rejection of him—to show us how vast his love is. Jesus on the cross is the clearest picture we have of God, our deepest insight into who he is and how he loves us. This way of speaking about the cross is known as the exemplary model of the atonement—now we know the love of God, which he himself has made known, and nothing can ever take that knowledge away. Though sometimes held as the one and only interpretation of the cross in certain forms of liberal theology, a faithful reading of the Scripture would show that, while this model is certainly true, it is simply one of the many aspects, along with the substitutionary and Christus Victor models, through which we view the prismatic beauty of Christ's atonement.

61.) The Meaning of the Cross: Christus Victor - The third meaning of the cross is that it represented Christ’s victory over the power of evil. Here we see in one glimpse the paradox of God’s redemption in the world. He defeats the cruelty and pain of our world, of our oppressive regimes, of our self-willed bondage to Satan, not by taking up arms to fight against it, but by submitting and accepting all that hatred and cruelty and violence upon himself. In a dynamic that we are seeing played out more and more in the politics of our contemporary world, there is an unshakable power in a righteousness which refuses to play by the world’s rules. Love is more powerful than hatred in the end, though hatred may seem at first to be winning. Simply by the fact of being an innocent victim, willing because of his love to give himself up to unjust violence, Christ made a mockery of Satan’s ways and of the oppression of the world’s systems. In what he did on the cross, he rendered their way hollow forever. In the case of Satan, though, Christ’s victory went even further. As the representative of the new humanity, the first person ever who represented a full, whole-person Yes to God, Christ shattered the hold of Satan on humanity. Satan had been able to keep us in bondage because our No to God had been a Yes to Satan’s kingdom, but with the creation of a new humanity, there was now a new way to be human that Satan had no power over.

No comments: