Monday, June 13, 2011

Thinking about the Work of Christ- Atonement

Recently I was at a cell (small) group meeting where the study was on the forgiveness of sin and the concept of atonement was discussed. Being good Presbyterians, the understanding was that of penal substitution. However the people there were stupified and horrified when I introduced them to other concepts of atonement such as Christus Victus, ransom, moral influence, moral government and the satisfaction view. These good Christians grew up with the idea that penal substitution is the only explanation for atonement or the work of Christ on the Cross.

They were understandably disturbed and I am disturbed because they were disturbed. I wondered whether I should have kept my mouth shut and left them alone without rocking the boat.

After spending some time in reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it is good for them to realise that their tradition do not have the final word on God, and that human beings do not know everything. It is good to acknowledge that God is still a mystery in many things.

What do you think? Should I have kept my mouth shut?

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7 Comments:

Blogger U-Liang said...

Maybe you shouldn't have even blogged about it?

5:45 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

why not? I will like to know whether I have done the right thing or not.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I think that if you can show the biblical evidence for other views, then it would in the long run be a helpful thing.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Paul,
I am sure as a pastor you struggle with this. How much theology do you teach your congregation. Most Christians want things in black and white.

Do we tell them what to believe or how to believe?

8:51 AM  
Blogger pearlie said...

I would want to say no, you should not keep your mouth shut and having brought it out, it would have to be followed up, discussed, agreed/disagreed. That is how we all learn. But I do see the risk and sometimes better to keep mum. However, I am with you in this: it is good for them to realise that their tradition do not have the final word on God, and that human beings do not know everything. It is good to acknowledge that God is still a mystery in many things.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Paul Long said...

Alex

Tough to find a balance.

Most people are sadly not interested in theology.

Also I think it is not just wanting things in black or white but also holding on to a position or understanding that may be too simplistic (comforting). Many I find do not want to consider the fact that the Bible is filled with tension and paradoxes.

What also "worries" me is too much quoting of what "so and so says / writes" without examining what the Bible teaches. So for example, showing an NT Wright video on his understanding of the after life (life after the after life?) but not seeing the importance of pointing out biblical evidence / references to support his view). So what if NT Wright says this or even John Stott? I want to examine what they say based on what the Bible says, examine the reasons why they say what they say and their interpretation of a passage that supports their views etc.

My 2 cents (hope NZ's is worth more LOL)

10:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your 2 cents worth. I need to check the currency exchange to check whether the NZ is worth more :)

I guess Bible teachers are partly to bless. We offer an inadequate understanding of the 'inerrancy of the Bible',an often too high view of theology as the absolute truth and then we teach in absolute terms our 'one true view'.

I also agree with you about too much quoting of celebrity theolgians. However I do understand the congregations' dilemma- without a background in theology, why do you judge what that particular theologian is speaking the truth or nonsense?

So what can we do?

10:57 AM  

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