Monday, September 10, 2007

Part 3-- A Community Called Atonement

In Part 3 of A Community Called Atonement "Atonement as Story: Whose Story?" I had the feeling that Scot McKnight was a skillful and knowledgable tour guide taking us to some of the most interesting "places" in the land called Atonement.

Why did Jesus choose Passover rather than Yom Kipper as the backdrop for his atoning mission? Doesn't the Day of Atonement logically fit Jesus' saving intent? We are treated to atonement in the story created by Jesus, and it is fascinating with some tidbits thrown in about the actual meal Jesus ate with his disciples---a "Passover-like meal." Interesting, indeed. With this excursion into the Jesus story, the vast panorama of atonement captures our minds. Only in Part 3 of the book is Mark 10:45 introduced as crucial.

Question: Why did Paul go a different way than Jesus with his atonement story? Why did Paul not feel obligated to mimic Jesus' details? Why did the Early Church Fathers feel free to create their own stories of atonement and not mimic either Jesus or Paul? Why does Paul haul us into a courtroom? Why is Paul obsessed with "death"? (Scot calls Paul a 'mortician.') We have to know the story that Paul is trying to tell. We get McKnight's take on the theological hot potato called NPP or New Perspective on Paul.

Scot walks us through what I will call the Atonement "hall of fame," that is, the various theories of the atonement. Scot likens the theories to golf clubs. Rather than picking one club as the best or dogmatically asserting only one as "the biblical view," Scot puts them all in the golf bag that he calls Jesus' identification for incorporation. Scot shows how each club is needed and each club is biblical. We must listen to them all if we are going to hear the beautiful and robust orchestration of the music of atonement. Scot values penal substitution, yet points out a couple of weaknesses in that theory which makes it too restrictive to tell the whole story of atoning grace.

Next: Part 4



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