« 'Till Monday | Main | Small annoyance »

March 28, 2005



It was Unamuno who said, "Faith that does not doubt is not true faith."

Hugo, you have spent your his life in intellectual history, yet your faith is anti-intellectual. I always wished you had first contemplated Aquinas or Origen rather than the mysticism of the Desert Fathers or perhaps Gregory of Nyassa. The greatness of Aquinas is that he gave the Roman Catholic Church a system of thought from which it has never recovered. BUT an awe-inspiring system nonetheless, and one which could serve to anchor your less rigorous sensations over such profundities like atonement (consider "at-one-ment", and then meditate on the Sacrifice at Golgotha). Paul reminds us to put away childish things, and move from sucking milk to chewing meat. I believe you will do that, though rather more slowly than quickly.


A friend just pointed me to your blog, and I'm enjoying it tremendously. I'm especially moved by your assertion that the teaching that Jesus died for your sins is at the heart of your impetus to promote justice and act righteously in the world. I've often seen them divorced, which has never seemed quite right to me. Granted, I'm not Christian, but from where I sit it certainly looks like Jesus practiced a pretty radical way of interacting with the spark of holiness in each person he met -- what Martin Buber would much later call I-Thou interaction, if you will.


I have not yet read Unamuno. And Bebe, I understand that Paul asks us to put away childish things. I also understand that my Lord has a slightly different view. I'm very, very fond of Matthew 18:3-4.


I don't think attachment to atonement theory is simple or childish any more than love is. I'm with you in that this one event is the pivotal experience in my faith.

From http://www.livejournal.com/community/laymans_terms/1420.html?mode=reply

Most days, if you asked me, I'd say I don't have a favorite passage of scripture. On those days, I'd be wrong. ...It's Isaiah 53:2b-9....

Every year at this time - nay, even more often than that - I am struck, smitten, buffetted by the awareness of why Jesus CHOSE to die. Could he have come down from the cross? Certainly. He chose not to. He chose to fulfill the scriptures for you and for me. He chose to suffer so we don't have to. Yes, there is suffering in the world still today, but it's because that's the natural result of our choices, not because suffering is required for the justification of our sins. We've already been justified by the suffering of Christ for the grace of God.


By the way, I'm not at all sure that it's "simplistic" or "childish" to hold on to the affirmation that "Jesus died for me" even if one has a hard time articulating that in a fully worked-out and intellectually satisfying theory of the Atonement. The church has never (perhaps for good reason) come to an ecumenical consensus on the Atonement, so it seems to me that we are free to discard theories of the Atonement that are unhelpful in understanding the mystery of the Cross. C.S. Lewis has a good bit on this very point in Mere Christianity.


"I have read Weaver, and like it very much -- very good for those who like the Anabaptist, middle-way approach on things."

Middle way? How dare you, Sir?! ;-)

I have to confess that Camassia is onto something. I've been challenged this Easter to regain aspects of my "personal" faith that I thought I'd grown out of. One of the benefits of PS, I guess, is that it's inherently personal.

Oh, and I don't even know what Marshmallow peeps are! :-)

Eric Lee

Just found this post through Lee today. Thank you for this post.


Are you aware of peeps Research? Very valuable.
See http://www.peepresearch.org

Thunder Jones

I found this and wanted to share. It's from an interview with Stanley Hauerwas on Beliefnet. You may disagree, but it's certainly thought-provoking:

You say in beginning of "A Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words" that you don't want to explain Jesus' seven last words. Are you unsatisfied with past explanations?

Yes. There's an inclination to get on the inside of Jesus' psyche, and I think that's a deep mistake because it assumes that what you have here is someone analogous to us. Of course it is analogous to us—he's fully human—but it oftentimes fails to take into account that this is the Son of God. I tried to exegete the seven last words in a way that does justice to their mystery.

You seem to critique the narcissism of today's Christians, saying "sentimentality is the urge to make the gospel conform to our needs, to make Jesus our 'personal' savior." This seems to echo what happened after the movie 'The Passion.' A lot of people were repeating the well-known profession, "Jesus died for me"—but with quite an emphasis on the 'me.'

That Protestant evangelicals would leave Gibson's movie and say "gee, I didn't know he had to suffer so much for my sins"—quite frankly, that's to make yourself more important than you are. It also underwrites satisfaction theories of the atonement, which fail to do justice to the fact that this is the second person of the Trinity who is suffering.

When you say, "someone had to suffer to reconcile me with an angry Father," you forget: it's not an angry Father who has given the Son to receive our violence. The problem with saying "I didn't know he had to suffer that much for my sins" is it fails to do justice to the Trinitarian character of the Christian faith. What is happening in the cross is a cosmic struggle.

Can't evangelicals still make an argument that we should think of Jesus as our personal savior, and think of the gospel in terms of how it affects individual people?

I really don't like the word 'personal.' It makes it sound like I have a relationship with Jesus that is unmediated by the church. They have the idea that "I have a personal relationship with Jesus that I go to church to have expressed." But the heart of the gospel is that you don't know Jesus without the witness of the church. It's always mediated.


I was just doing an assignment which means I have to write a booklet on The Atonement which teenagers can relate to and came across your blog and read it. I haven't read any of the other comments above this one, I didn't want to scar my opinion, so I might be repeating others. Thank you, I've being going mental with all the different theories but you've reminded me that what matters is Jesus, His life, death, resurrection and return. God bless.































The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004