A Better Atonement: But Does It Preach?

It seems that the penal substitutionary atonement is so well liked in part because it lends itself to some powerful preaching. But I think that alternative versions of the atonement preach well, too. There’s a whole book out about preaching alternative atonements.

Of course, I have a book out about the atonement. And earlier this week, I tried my hand at preaching A Better Atonement to a few thousand freshmen at Baylor University:

Many thanks to the wonderful people at Baylor and at Truett Seminary for having me.

I’d love your thought – does it preach?

A Better Atonement: Jesus Died with Trayvon

Every Wednesday during Lent, I’m going to explore an alternatives to the penal substitutionary understanding of the atonement, the dominant theory of the atonement in my part of the (theological and geographical) world. You can read all of the posts, and my past posts on this topic, here. I’ve got an ebook on the subject as well.

This ebook is available now

“When God becomes man in Jesus of Nazareth, he not only enters into the finitude of man, but in his death on the cross also enters into the situation of man’s godforsakenness…He humbles himself and takes upon himself the eternal death of the godless and the godforsaken, so that all the godless and godforsaken can experience communion with him.”[i]

So writes Jürgen Moltmann at the climax of his groundbreaking book, The Crucified God. Growing up as a German humanist, Moltmann experienced the terror of war and imprisonment, and the love of God, during World War II. His subsequent career in theology has been indelibly shaped by that experience.

Common to human experience, Moltmann proposes, is the experience of godforsakenness. We’ve all felt it, that God has abandoned us, that there is no God. The Israelites felt it, and the Psalmist sang about it.

Of course, it is unthinkable that God would experience godforsakenness. How can a divine being experience his own absence? God is only able to do so because God’s very nature is trinitarian. In an act of ultimate solidarity with every human being who has ever existed, God voluntarily relinquished his godship, in part, in order to truly experience the human condition. And, as the early church hymn recorded in Philippians 2 states so eloquently, God was humbled even to the point of death on a cross.

Upon that cross, God himself in the person of Jesus of Nazareth echoes the Psalmist’s cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God himself experiences—and redeems—godforsakenness.

[Read more…]

For Whom Did Jesus Die?

Well, on the very face of it, you have to say that Jesus died for Barabbas.

I had the good fortune of preaching at University Baptist Church in Waco last weekend. I cheated a bit on the lectionary and preached about Barabbas, the insurrectionist and murderer who was released by Pilate.

There are numerous problems with this passage. One is that there’s no extra-biblical evidence of what Mark writes: “Back in those days, there was a tradition…” That tradition was to release one prisoner during the Festival of Passover. The problems are: [Read more…]

Follow the Way of the Cross During Lent

Here’s a great online site for making the Stations of the Cross online. Read the intro then click through the numbers in the banner.

The Way of the Cross and Resurrection

This is Jesus’ way.

You are invited – that it may become your own way.

If you stop and look, you may find you have been on this pilgrimage as well. Have you ever been condemned by another? Have you ever fallen? Has your life had difficulties? When you thought you couldn’t make it, did someone appear to help?

Have you had times of emotional agony? Were there times when everything seemed as if it were ending, yet after a while, much to your surprise, you found a new life on the other side?

Lent is a time to stop. And remember.

Follow the Journey HERE.