A Better Atonement: When Atonement Begins

This week, as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter, we’ll have a post every morning about the atonement. Some will be by me, and some by guests. And don’t forget to check out the Storify and Tumbler, both tracking atonement this week. You can read all of the posts, and my past posts on this topic, here.

This morning, Fuller Seminary professor Daniel Kirk . Be sure to check out Daniel’s new book, Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul?: A Narrative Approach to the Problem of Pauline Christianity.

Died for Our Sins

“Jesus died for our sins.” Often, the problem with this core piece of our common Christian confession is that we think we know what it means. And so we limit our understanding of the fullness of the atonement.

Hearing this confession, many of us immediately home in the problem of guilt. Jesus is the means God provides so that sin’s guilt might be forgiven.

This is one way that scripture talks about Jesus’ death. But even when speaking of forgiveness of sins, guilt isn’t always the Bible’s primary concern.

In Colossians 1 we read, “God rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son; in him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Forgiveness is not merely about having guilt forgiven. Forgiveness becomes the means by which we are freed from an enslaving tyrant.

[Read more...]

Journey from Palm Sunday to Easter

With this video art by Debbie Topliff:

From Palm Sunday to Easter from debby topliff on Vimeo.

If Jesus’ Crucifixion Is the Solution, What’s the Problem?

A Better Atonement cover

I’ve got an article on Patheos’s homepage. It’s on — you guessed it — the atonement. It’s a summary of my thoughts on the issue (so far):

Christians know why Jesus died: He died for our sins. That’s what we’re taught from the earliest days of Sunday school.

And we all know how he died: A particularly gruesome form of public execution known as crucifixion.

But many Christians are less sure of how it works. How is it that Jesus’ death accomplishes the forgiveness of my sin? By what cosmic mechanism does that take place?

In other words, there comes a time in every Christian’s life when the Sunday School answer, “Jesus died for my sins,” falls short. We want to know how it works.

Read the rest: If Jesus’ Crucifixion Is the Solution, What’s the Problem?

Awaken Yourself…To a Free Book!

This post is part of the Patheos Book Club. Check out the Book Club for more posts on this book, an interview with the authors, and for responses from the editors.

Publishing is not dead. At least not as measured by the books that arrive on my doorstep every day to review and blurb. (Or maybe these publishers are all sending me books purely for my own edification. Bahahaha!)

About a lot of these books, I think: the folks who read my blog would probably like this. Some of those I get around to reviewing, and others get added to piles (with the best of intentions). Well, one came in the mail recently that I really do think will appeal to many of you. It’s Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation by David Benner.

Benner is a psychologist and spiritual director. In this book, he uses that expertise to examine mysticism, and to ultimately propose that mystical union with the Divine is possible. This isn’t a new proposal in Christianity, to be sure, but Benner’s book is significant for those of us who are drawn to mysticism but are also chastened by our training in the sciences. He writes,

Any awakening is, in effect, a response to an awareness of realities beyond our present self-organization. Such awareness of of these realities calls us to redefine and realign our self in relationship to transcendent realities that exist beyond our present awareness.

Patheos has a copy of this excellent book to give away. Anyone who signs up for my email list (or updates or confirms their subscription) will be entered to win. You can do that here. I’ll draw a name at random on the Monday after Easter.

[UPDATE: The book was won by Michelle Colon -- Congrats!]