Initial Thoughts on René Girard

In the past couple years, I read a lot about René Girard, I’ve listened to numerous interviews with him, I’m consulted the Girardian Lectionary numerous times, and I’ve had innumerable conversations regarding Girard’s thought. But only now am I diving into Girard’s writing itself. I’ve begun with I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, a book with one of the the worst covers you’ll ever see:

That cover notwithstanding, Girard’s writing is airy and approachable. This book lacks scholarly footnotes, having only footnotes from the translator. Those are particularly helpful when running into words that are unique to Girard, or at least when his use of a word is unique.

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I Think Your Atonement Might Be Wrong [VIDEO]

God Is Not “Perfect” [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity continues this week with a question from frequent commenter, Lausten North:

If God just was, before time, before the universe, and he was perfect, why did he create the imperfect universe with us imperfect humans? If he wanted us to choose to love him, then he wasn’t really perfect before, he was lacking love in some way. If we are actually perfect as we are, then that is a strange re-definition of the word perfect. If you say there is a plan and we just can’t understand it, then you are just avoiding the question.

In a comment to the original post, Lausten clarifies:

Primarily, the question addresses the particular types of theology that assume unknowable perfection. In that theology, we can’t know God, we can only place our hopes in the glimpses of a better way that He gives us. So we can’t define perfect, other than as something beyond anything we know.

Certainly pain and bad design are examples of imperfection. The known physical universe requires a lot of death and destruction to continue with its creation. You could say that is a balance, but I consider it imperfect and incompatible with the existence of a loving God who claims to have performed the miracles found in the Bible.

Lausten, thanks both for the original question and the clarifier. I take it from your comments that you’re an atheist, and I’m particularly glad that you and some other atheists have begun reading this blog as a result of this series. At the very heart of your question is an assumption that you’ve stated in other comments: that Christianity is bedeviled with internal inconsistencies that ultimately undermine its claims on truth. But I think your question does something quite similar to that.

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A Better Atonement: Jesus Died for This

This week, as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter, we’ve have a post every morning about the atonement. And I’ve curated streams on Storify and Tumbler, both tracking atonement. You can read all of the posts, and my past posts on this topic, here.

Before I conclude, let me express my thanks. This blog has picked up many new readers over the past month, as I’ve written my way through my thoughts on the atonement. I welcome you here, and I appreciate your comments (and tweets, FB posts, and blog posts). I also appreciate the favorable reviews of my ebook, A Better Atonement. Some of that book appeared originally on this blog, and some of it is exclusive to the book. This, my concluding post on the topic (for now), is not in the book.

Some have wondered why I am consumed with this topic. My brothers and sisters more liberal than I state that they figured this out long ago, and that I just making too much of Jesus’ death. One, John Vest, writes,

I titled this post “Ockham’s Atonement” not because William of Ockham had a theory of the atonement (that I’m aware of). Rather, I’m suggesting an approach to Jesus’ death that applies Ockham’s Razora simpler explanation is better than a more complex oneJesus died because he was executed by the powers he threatened. To suggest anything else is to overlay this fact of history with unnecessary theological speculation.

Am I just too evangelical, looking as I am for cosmic import and redemption in the death of at Galilean peasant two millennia ago?
I think not.