Renown Poet and Aphorist, Stanislaw Lec once posed the question:
Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?
This question sets the scene for my teaching on Atonement which I presented last week with the central question:
Did Jesus die to appease an Angry God, or did he die to demonstrate self-emptying (kenosis)?
I noted that sacrificial lamb idea was used by the early or primitive church as a metaphor for Jewish audiences who were already familiar with Temple worship and practices, to highlight Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was also used in shaping the minds of gentile converts who were already familiar with similar Temple rituals within their cultural contexts.
Unlike other deities, God neither seeks human or animal sacrifice for communion with humanity. Neither is God Angry and Unforgiving.
In the early days of Nation forming, the Jews replicated the idea of known institutions from other civilisations, but they incorporated their spiritual philosophy within such context – hence the first and subsequent Temples. We also see this pattern in their government – from rule by the prophets, to rule through a royal dynasty, and an organised army like the nations around them.
I argued further that Prophets like Amos challenged Temple worship much later in their trajectory, drawing them back to a time when all they had was the Tabernacle, while addressing issues around social justice and morality as means of ‘atonement’.
Furthermore, for the Atonement through death formula to stand, there has to be the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ and an ‘Angry God’, however, Jesus never presented either of these positions to us. Instead, he continually showed us a loving Father who seeks relationship with his children – even before his death on the cross.
Jesus came to show us the Father. He demonstrated and modelled this in many instances, particularly in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Therefore, I concluded that a God that seeks human sacrifice (let alone the innocent death of his son) is not different from the pagan gods, even if we take the view that God died for us through Jesus.
This teaching is erroneous, and leads to grave consequences in our understanding of Jesus’ ministry, and our view or perception of God.
If ever there was an Atonement, Jesus’ selfless living, ministry, non-violence stance against opposition, and death in innocence; enlightens our understanding of God. By this he bridges the gap, bringing us at One with God (Atonement). He came to show the Father!
Join us for the series: God was in Christ, as I delve further into the Doctrine of Atonement.
3pm – 4:30pm
The Parish Hall
St John’s Sidcup,
Kent DA14 6BX
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