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The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

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3.22.2008

What happened at the cross?

I'd like to continue to talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus perhaps at next week's discussion group.

Traditionally I have always thought about the death of Jesus as a very legal matter: We sinned and God's justice could not let sin go unpunished so Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. My friend Mindy likes to use a courtroom analogy that God is the Judge, Satan is the prosecutor, We are proven guilty and sentenced to hell, but Jesus steps in and takes the punishment for us. This hasn't ever completely made sense to me, but I usually can't explain why when it is laid out in the normal tract fashion. The main thing I react against is that it is a guilt-driven system which makes me feel like I am indebted to God and now I need to serve Him with my life because He bought me from hell. I felt like this through a lot of high-school: angry and enslaved to God, but too scared of hell to do anything about it.

Reading Donald Miller's Searching for God knows what started to break that down a lot and enable me to think of it more like a relationship thing then a legal transaction.

I read this article today which has a lot of interesting ideas that I'd like to look into a lot more. I think this view really enables me to love God more, but I'd like to look more into the scriptural basis for it.

Basically the idea is that:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always existed in communion.
Jesus becoming man was God's original plan for our adoption into the Trinity since before Adam sinned.
On the cross Jesus didn't take on all our sins, but rather kept in complete communion with God through even the ultimate trial of humankind death and in doing so conquered death and sin.
Jesus fully human sitting at God's right hand is what enables us humans to enter into the fellowship of the trinity.

I don't think I really have enough information on this topic to be able to lead a discussion, but was wondering if we could all look into it a bit together? If a couple people are willing to help me out with it I think it'd be a good topic. If someone else has something they'd like to discuss that's fine though.

7 comments:

Jesse said...

I would be very interested in talking about this topic as well. The Atonement is a major area that "Emergents" are rethinking, and the implications are huge.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is no one "right" way to understand what Jesus did on the cross. Above all, it is a mystery, and so there are many ways to understand it and many things happened and the reasons for Jesus having to die are also many.

This post on emergent village addresses that idea, and also offers several different Atonement analogies:

http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/the-friday-we-call-good-atonement-contest-results

I would be willing to help lead some discussions on this, and perhaps it could be a longer study, taking a look at different ways to understand the atonement on different weeks. We should maybe start not next week, but the next discussion group.

Nick Johnson said...

Zack, thanks for posting this. I do think it would be great for us to discuss this sometime (we had discussed having our next session at the art museum, so maybe we could start this discussion in three weeks?). I have quite a few questions about this, and it is quite likely that we might not all agree with each other which will be good fun.

One question I had after reading the post you referenced, if Jesus was the plan all along, why did he wait so long? A lot of people lived between Adam and Jesus, what about them? I've heard the answers before and they have never really convinced me, maybe one of you can? (my answer might be that Jesus wasn't plan A...)

Also, if Jesus was in constant communion, why did he ask why have you forsaken me? (once again, I've heard the sunday morning answers, but they rarely make sense)

Greg said...

I enjoyed reading that article, Zack, and look forward to discussing the atonement more at a future gathering. Did you also happen to catch the blog on emergentvillage that listed the winners of their recent "atonement contest?" Each essay is succinct while offering a distinct, if not revolutionary, perspective. Here's the link:

http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/
the-friday-we-call-good-atonement-contest-results

Greg said...

(sorry for the redundancy...I realized after posting that Jesse had already pointed out the link I mentioned in his earlier comment.)

Zack said...

Nick,
I really don't know why it took Jesus so long.
But, I'm glad you asked about the "why have you forsaken me" thing because that is one that I think I have a pretty good answer for: When Jesus says this they quote him in Aramaic and then translate it which is interesting.
I've heard that back then to refrence a scripture they would just say the first line so instead of saying Psalm 22 they would say the first line which happens to be "My God, God why have you forsaken me" so Jesus was essentially saying go look up Psalm 22 that's how I feel right now. And I think the original readers would have understood that's what he meant.
Psalm 22 starts out like "Why do I feel like crap" and even has "They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me." But then turns to "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to his cry for help." and ends praising God. I think that Jesus is in real torment and feels far from God, but maintains in perfect communion with God and that the Father never turns his on Jesus.

Zack said...

Great I forgot about the Art Museum thing that'll be sweet, and will give us more time to dig into this topic.

Nick Johnson said...

Zack, thanks for your response. That makes quite a bit of sense and helps me understand it a lot better.