Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Beautiful Heresy

What's the Point of Jesus? from Recycle Your Faith on Vimeo.

Happy Easter Everyone!


Steve H. said...

You know, what is it with my more progressive Christian bretheran that they can't process redemptive violence. You can see it on Bart's face, he starts to go there but because he can't understand it, everyone who can must be crazy (or a religious legalist) because what "loving God could do that". He unwittingly sets himself up as judge declaring what a "loving" God would or would not do.

Aslan is not a tame lion

And why does he make an either or situation where we celebrate his resurrection but not the fact that he bore our sins on the cross. Are we not allowed to celebrate both? Can we celebrate that he did tell us to forgive 70 x 7 AND that he died as the perfect lamb of God to wash our sin away?

Don said...

Whoa! Excellent YouTube's you've been finding Andrew. I like this one. As Easter approachs, I've been searching for some meaning which says something to me....I think this works. Thanks.

Steve- Sorry, I'm with Bart. Don't need that kind of God. There's no way you could convince me to love a God of violence, however you perceive it. Be there, done that (for 59 years), got the Tee-shirt. Didn't like the results or what it did to me.

Andrew said...

I don't see anything on Bart's face other than a contentment in no longer having to play theological twister - God is a God of love, who will torture without hope of deliverance- God redeems, kinda sorta.

I see relief.

The thing is, we ALL declare what God would and would not do... that is why there are 10s of thousands of sects. That is why I think it is important to really sort out WHAT we are declaring. I don't think we can declare inconsistent and bad things about God, then just shrug and say his ways aren't our ways.

And I agree with you Don... I have become "fruit" inspecting when it comes to theology. I am not interested in defending a theology that consistently leaves tragedy in it's wake. Glad you enjoyed the video, Bart has become one of my favorites over the years.

Mystical Seeker said...

Great video. Thanks for posting that.

Logan said...

I lean closer to Bart's understanding on this subject...I don't have a problem processing the idea of redemptive violence per se, but I find the notion that God deliberately uses violence, brutality, evil, to accomplish His ends, to be very troubling. It also strikes me as being inconsistent with the concepts of mercy, grace and forgiveness...it seems absurd to talk about "free grace" or being forgiven by God if the Creator needs to exact punishment by shedding innocent blood. If the punishment is simply shifted to a substitute, if the metaphorical pound of flesh is taken from someone else, there is no "forgiveness".

It also doesn't fit with the example of Jesus himself...Christ talked about mercy and forgiveness, telling us to forgive like our Father in Heaven and going so far as to forgive his own executioners. If that says anything about the character of God it makes me think God's natural inclination is to forgive-and that he doesn't need redemptive violence to do so.

And as Andy pointed out about "God's ways are higher/different than ours"...that's certainly true...but I have a problem with that line being invoked sporadically and usually to defend behavior the Bible attributes to God that seem abhorrent to us (actually that is just abhorrent-why do actions like genocide become acceptable if God does them?) If words like "love" are to have any intrinsic meaning they can't mean one thing for us and something radically different for God...consistency is a virtue in more ways than one.

I've always thought Christ was executed because it was the will of man and not God...I've never felt comfortable with trying to picture the terrible events of Good Friday as being intrinsically good. However Jesus willingly delivered himself to the hands of his executioners-forgiving them in the process, believing it was what he was meant to do, and in the end the Resurrection validated that God could still use even the most evil actions of mankind to work out for good.

WES ELLIS said...


Great video! I think his critique on the kind of "substitutionary atonement" (where God has to "kill somebody") is right on!

However, he gets too close to downplaying and even skipping over the crucifixion. The cross is indeed a climactic moment in history, not because God had to kill somebody and not because he had to die in order to forgive but because he died in order for forgiveness to give life to freedom and new creation.

In the crucifixion, Jesus brought God to a cross--throwing the whole "order of things" out of whack and flipping the "social order" on its head--to share solidarity with the crucified and to thereby "take the sin of the world upon himself."

He didn't take the sin of the world upon himself in the same way many people talk about it; as though he's taking the bad stuff that I do and paying the price for it (although we may be able to get there hermeneutically). Rather, he's taking the sin of the world upon himself insofar as he is letting death (the culmination of sin and curse) do its' worst to him... even to God. He's becoming a victim of the curse so that he might defeat the curse.

Now, when death does its worst to us, the patterns of the world usually tell us that that's where it ends. Death has the last word. But the image of God on a cross is a profound challenge to the patterns of the world and to the assumptions of death's sovereignty. When death does its worst to God, however, "it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him" (Acts 2: something).

God, on a cross, taking the sin of the world upon himself, gets the last word and death is thereby defeated. Thus, God invites us to live such a life that we are not bound by the power of death but have the freedom to follow Him to the cross. He calls us to go to the cross and to share in his solidarity with crucified people. This gives birth to a new creation where resurrection, love, and forgiveness are the new "systems" of life.

Celebrate resurrection but first, follow God to the cross.

Steve H. said...

I don't disagree with the grace issue that Bart brings up but when I hear these ideas shared there is always the emphasis on the forgiveness and little on the justice. In Bart's universe, justice is never meeted out and sin has so real consequences in relationship with God because after all, we serve a loving God who forgives. When someone in our society breaks the law, they can ask forgiveness and we can forgive them, but the fine still has to be paid or the jail time served.

Just so I'm not misunderstanding, do you believe that Christ's sacrifice on the cross pays that price...or not?

Andrew said...

I have a different way of defining justice. To exact payment sounds more like retribution. If the ultimate goal is good relationship, why if everything is made right, do I still need to extract a payment?; and to me that is justice - things being as they should be. To my mind, Jesus paying for some punishment that I should have been receiving does not get to the root of the problem. I think it is this focus on punishment avoidance that accounts for a lot of contradictory evangelical behavior. I thought fellow blogger Richard Beck said it well:
"Salvation isn't a simple "forgiveness," avoiding God's consequences for sin. In fact, the worst thing possible, the real hell, is NOT suffering the consequences sin. Salvation, in short, is about character formation. And this formation must, absolutely must, involve removing sin from our hearts and minds. God, I learned from MacDonald, wants us to be clean. Not pseudo-clean, not bait and switch clean, not imputed righteousness clean, not "God sees Jesus and not me" clean, but really, truly clean. You and I, finally, coming into the love of God and becoming the people we were created to be. And you have to go through the purifying fires of hell to get there."

When I read those words, I realized that was the doublethink (Orwell) that used to take place in my mind when it came to looking at my life. Not very honest.

Gandhi said it well "I do not seek redemption from the consequences of my sin. I seek to be redeemed from sin itself. Until I have attained that end, I shall be content to be restless."

I think somehow, someway we are forgiven... but I also believe (per Romans 5) that is merely a beginning... we are reconciled to God, but now he wants to save our soul.

I think love and justice need to quit being defined as in-conflict in Christian circles.

Steve H. said...

Andy & Don,

Its hard to reconcile some of your statements with chapters and verses in the Bible like Isaiah 53 (verse 10 for example) "Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer"

I realize that we can get into a Bible battle which I loathe but I simply want to communicate that my understanding of the significance of the Cross has an underpinning in Scripture.

Andy, Are you saying that somehow, someway the death of Christ on the cross forgives us? What of communion? What does the shed blood and broken body represent in the Euchrist?

Also, I don't think there is a conflict of love and justice...as I've said many times raising Gabriel "sometimes love is a hug...sometimes its a kick in the butt" If we give someone a hug, when they need a kick in the butt, is it really love?

Don said...

Steve- Thanks for the convo. You and I see Isaiah 53 differently. You see Christ in the words of the prophet, I see the nation of Israel, so like you said, we could get into a Bible battle, but what would that prove....Nothing!

Don said...

These words of yours:

"the culmination of sin and curse"

tell me much about where you said on our present "condition". I believe, as Matthew Fox believes, in "original blessing" not "original sin (curse)". Therefore, our disjoint....

Don said...

Wes- If I could write the word I "meant" to, it would help...should read:

"tell me much about where you stand on our present "condition". I believe, as Matthew Fox believes, in "original blessing" not "original sin (curse)". Therefore, our disjoint....


Don said...

Man seeks justice, God seeks love.

Steve H. said...


We do have a different intrpret. of Isaiah 53 but lets say yours is true. Whether the person is Christ or the nation of Israel, its still God using violence for His purposes.

Also, I believe God seeks both love and justice...again, why is it one OR the other?

Appreciate the conversation as well

Andrew said...

I don't think love and justice should be an either or proposition, but the definition of Justice has to line up with Love ultimately. By all means, love can and does involve discipline, but if God is a good father, then all of his disciplines are aimed at redemption and reconciliation... he is not balancing the scales or getting his pound of flesh. A justice that leaves no hope would be in complete contradiction to Love.

As to my view of the cross, as I was saying to Wes yesterday, that is in development right now. Having grown up evangelical, I never even knew there were views other than penal substitutionary. Folks like the Orthodox and the Franciscans NEVER approached the cross from that angle.

So I am in flux, though I am pretty confident that God was not sacrificing himself to himself to calm himself down. In fact, I think blood sacrifices mean nothing, and have always meant nothing, to God. I think Logan sums up my take pretty well. Jesus not striking out, nor calling on a legion of angels demonstrated the way of peace and love is to turn the other cheek and it may cost us more than we think. I think that Mclaren hits on a valid point when he says that the "Pax Romana" (the peace of Rome) was established by shedding the blood of others, whereas Christ brings peace by allowing his own blood to be shed. Completely counter-intuitive to our ways.

Kay said...


Have you looked into a "Modified Christus Victor" atonement perspective? It's been a while since I read it last, but I think it still matches my own view pretty well.

Related Posts with Thumbnails