What to do with an atoning/non atoning Jesus?

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  • Well actually, I assumed that any citations/links would end up being to a particular piece of fiction.
  • Even so, there's nothing about a Coptic gospel in any of my fiction. :smiley:
  • Even so, there's nothing about a Coptic gospel in any of my fiction. :smiley:

    So why is that naïf liberal anachronism here?
  • @James Boswell II , I did indeed spot your attempt at humour, if that's what it was, but refrained from expressing my suspicion that you might, once again, be advertising your novel.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    [tangent Coptic gospel]

    Ah, it all reminds me of the Gospel of Dave (written by a youth worker of my acquaintance). Its basic purpose was to afflict the comfortable even more than the gospels already do. His YFC leader observed that while he was not unused to letters of complaint from "the comfortable" re the activities of youth workers, in the case of this youthworker there were so many that he had to weigh them.

    (Said youthworker is now an ordained Methodist minister)

    [end tangent Coptic gospel]

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Can you get hold of The Gospel of Dave and give a link? Or was it too actionable? It sounds very interesting.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Can you cite your own fictional work as evidence for your belief? Feels somewhat circular.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    John 8: 13-14.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Personally, I think Jesus is different from James Boswell ll. You’re welcome to regard them as the same, though.
  • As for citing my own fictional work, I'm not permitted to "advertise" it here. I got suspended the last time I did. But if you go looking back at what got me suspended, or at the picture accompanying my name....

    HOWEVER, there was a serious purpose behind the Coptic gospel sham I presented above.
    It was not just an attempt at humor, nor merely something silly, nor an attempt to be deceptive. The simple fact is that I have often heard people refer to the traditional understanding of atonement as nothing less than child abuse!

    Here is section from a recent sermon a liberal pastor friend of mine preached to a very, very liberal-progressive church:

    My guess is that you, like me, at times shake your head at religious claims and practices. Maybe at first you couldn't buy claims of a Virgin Birth. Or that a Supreme Being literally carved commandments in stone and handed them to Moses, or made the sun stand still for Joshua, of fought horrifically cruel wars on behalf of a chosen tribe, or sent a divine Son to die under torture to save you from your sins.

    That's an example. That's another way of saying the God of the atonement doctrine is a child abuser.

    So what would those of you who say you DO hold to the doctrine of atonement say in answer to him, or better yet, to the myriads of persons who, hearing that God loaded all our sins on an innocent Jesus and punished him with the punishment or chasetisement all the rest of us deserved -- how would you answer those who loudly object that's pure and simply the crassest form of CHILD ABUSE that I have ever heard!!!!
  • With regard to youth being confrontational, I have never forgotten a NC state regional assembly of our church that was largely run by teenagers chafing to protest racism and especially the war in Vietnam that was then raging.

    They wore jeans to conduct the large opening worship, as they led us in singing,
    "Like a herd of turtles moves the church of God;
    brothers we are treading, where we always trod..."
    Etc.
  • JEANS?? They wore JEANS to conduct worship??

    IS OUTRAGE!!!

    FFS...
  • IS OUTRAGE!!!

    Five cents, please.
  • My People will be in touch with Your People...
    :wink:
  • As for citing my own fictional work, I'm not permitted to "advertise" it here. I got suspended the last time I did. But if you go looking back at what got me suspended, or at the picture accompanying my name....

    HOWEVER, there was a serious purpose behind the Coptic gospel sham I presented above.
    It was not just an attempt at humor, nor merely something silly, nor an attempt to be deceptive. The simple fact is that I have often heard people refer to the traditional understanding of atonement as nothing less than child abuse!

    Here is section from a recent sermon a liberal pastor friend of mine preached to a very, very liberal-progressive church:

    My guess is that you, like me, at times shake your head at religious claims and practices. Maybe at first you couldn't buy claims of a Virgin Birth. Or that a Supreme Being literally carved commandments in stone and handed them to Moses, or made the sun stand still for Joshua, of fought horrifically cruel wars on behalf of a chosen tribe, or sent a divine Son to die under torture to save you from your sins.

    That's an example. That's another way of saying the God of the atonement doctrine is a child abuser.

    So what would those of you who say you DO hold to the doctrine of atonement say in answer to him, or better yet, to the myriads of persons who, hearing that God loaded all our sins on an innocent Jesus and punished him with the punishment or chasetisement all the rest of us deserved -- how would you answer those who loudly object that's pure and simply the crassest form of CHILD ABUSE that I have ever heard!!!!

    It depends what you're trying to achieve. The non-silent apparent majority here would agree. I agree. But I would never say it in the home or church of those who don't. Unless asked. And one never is. Only ever told. I would say it in the market place. Acknowledging, of course, that Jesus agreed with them.
  • I've always had difficulty with God's apparent bloodthirstiness in the OT, but I guess we have to remember that we're dependent on the accounts handed down by Bronze Age people, whose thought-patterns, and world-view, were different from ours.

    As for PSA, again, I have difficulty in the 'sacrifice for sin' stuff, but I'm not sure I've ever heard the idea described as 'child abuse'. If Jesus was the Son of God, self abuse would seem a more accurate term!
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Bishops Finger: As for PSA, again, I have difficulty in the 'sacrifice for sin' stuff, but I'm not sure I've ever heard the idea described as 'child abuse'. If Jesus was the Son of God, self abuse would seem a more accurate term!

    .......On the other hand PSA does test trinitarianism to distraction, doesn't it?
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Yes, it does - and I've always had problems with understanding the Trinity (but I guess I'm not alone in that!).
  • @Martin54
    I have encountered the child abuse charge from more than one layperson. It was thrown up to me rather strongly by a woman who read an earlier historical Jesus novel I wrote.

    I have said earlier about all that I have to say about atonement (my long post on p. 11).*

    I think that the fact that Jesus himself struggled with it says a lot. And yes, such scholars as Ben Witherington, John P. Meier (Catholic), and very notably the excellent scholar Dale C. Allison and even the conservative Jew Amy-Jill Levine seem to be moving the needle toward the once discredited position that Jesus must have been strongly influenced by Isaiah 52:13-53:12, in which the "punishment/chastisement" of others is placed by God on others. No wonder Jesus had some difficulties, especially as he would have been expecting to be so disfigured/marred as to appear hardly human!

    Yes, Virginia, there was a Jesus, and No, Virginia, he was not a Santa-like myth but a living, bleeding human being who blanched in Gethsemane before what he was facing. But he faced it.
    _________

    *One additional comment to what I said on p. 11 (and I may already have said this elsewhere):
    I freely admit that I still have trouble understanding how Jesus could so struggle with the servant's task, yet was able to express so strong a sense of the Father's limitless love in, for example, the sermon on the Mount. Somehow Jesus seems to have sensed that, painful as his death would be, the Father was not being cruel, as some have charged. Did Jesus feel that in his death the Father would suffer as much as he did, or even more, and did that make him love the Father all the more?
  • error: first sentence in longer paragraph should have read "the 'punishment/chastisement' of others is placed by God on Jesus."
  • Yes, it does - and I've always had problems with understanding the Trinity (but I guess I'm not alone in that!).

    Anybody who thinks they understands it might as well think they understand quantum mechanics. Or nature of Jesus. Then and now.
  • This.

    O dear - the older I get, the less I understand (or believe).
    :confused:
  • Thank goodness for that! I'm not alone!!
  • Indeed you're not - I suspect that many, many, peeps, if they were honest with themselves, would say the same...
    :wink:
  • Indeed you're not - I suspect that many, many, peeps, if they were honest with themselves, would say the same...
    :wink:
    Indeed. I find myself more and more identifying with the wise words of the King of Siam, though he may have been speaking (singing?) in a more political context than a spiritual one.

    But strangely, I find that as understanding and confidence of belief waiver or fade in and out, more room is made for simple trust, which is somehow more sustaining. YMMV, of course.
  • I've always had difficulty with God's apparent bloodthirstiness in the OT, but I guess we have to remember that we're dependent on the accounts handed down by Bronze Age people, whose thought-patterns, and world-view, were different from ours.

    This paraphrases my POV, I think.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Mine too.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Indeed you're not - I suspect that many, many, peeps, if they were honest with themselves, would say the same...
    :wink:
    Indeed. I find myself more and more identifying with the wise words of the King of Siam, though he may have been speaking (singing?) in a more political context than a spiritual one.

    But strangely, I find that as understanding and confidence of belief waiver or fade in and out, more room is made for simple trust, which is somehow more sustaining. YMMV, of course.

    Not in this instance. As 'God' said to 'Job' - You've 'ad yer say, now piss off and keep busy.
    LeRoc wrote: »
    Mine too.

    Snap.
  • Last Sunday I met for the third time with a free thinking class of United Methodists who had read and were discussing my (ahem) fiction. I was impressed by two things: First, their (I would say healthy) skepticism, and, second, their hunger for the kind of scholarship that can give them at least some sense of what really happened with regard to Jesus. They were appreciative toward me and the scholars who have influenced me in that.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Well, good for you! I'm pleased to hear you had such a satisfying session.

    Yes, scepticism can indeed be healthy, and I'm glad you recognise that scholarship can only go so far towards helping with our understanding of Jesus.
  • I find it exciting and encouraging that amid all the clutter it is possible at times to establish what could probably be regarded as moments of bedrock historicity.
  • That's nice dear. Like what? That we don't already all know? And what's that got to do with atonement? And Jesus' incarnate, enculturated, fully humanly ignorant, divinely natured understanding of it?
  • Ah-ha! Do I espy some healthy scepticism, @Martin54?

    Despite all the words, and (doubtless) deep scholarship, we will NOT know the full 'meaning' of Jesus, and all the rest of it, until we get to Heaven (should such a place, or state, exist).

    Meanwhile, as @NickTamen says, we go on, in simple trust.
  • Aye, I'll buy that fer a dollar. Take the wager. I can't envisage transcendence except as a realer than real holodeck, how agency and physics work there... Must watch What Dreams May Come. We cannot know, but we can thrash Him out a bit in the light of infinite eternity.

    He's an Earth local chromatophore on God the Sepiid.
  • I think you might need to unpack that last sentence a bit...
    :confounded:
  • The pigment cells on cuttlefish. They camouflage uncannily and communicate with them. It's the start of a metaphor for incarnation. It gets worse : )
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    :lol:

    Thanks! (I think...).

    An ingenious analogy.
    :flushed:
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Bishops Finger: O dear - the older I get, the less I understand (or believe).

    Yes, scepticism can indeed be healthy, and I'm glad you recognise that scholarship can only go so far towards helping with our understanding of Jesus.

    Agreed!

    A major problem with this discussion, as with any on the atonement, is that what pose as theories are really no more than metaphors for a reality that is beyond comprehension. A further complication in the presentation of the atonement as fulfilment of prophecy is that the concept of Messiah in Christianity is conflated with notions of Isaiah's Suffering Servant and Son of Man from the intertestamental period, which is not the case with the employment of these terms in the OT, where they are quite different and often incompatible concepts. Thus, as I understand it, the humiliating treatment of Christ as Suffering Servant demonstrated to the Jews he was cursed of God and could not be, therefore, his anointed Messiah. That may well be why the Christians had such difficulty in persuading the vast majority of Jews otherwise. I have no problem with Christians being attracted to one or more of these metaphors, (though I have serious objections to the portrayal of God in the PSA version), but they should also recognise what helps one to be reconciled to God may not work or even repel others. It is the certitude with which James Boswell II asserts his position that bothers me.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Kwesi wrote: »
    A major problem with this discussion, as with any on the atonement, is that what pose as theories are really no more than metaphors for a reality that is beyond comprehension.
    Agreed. Which takes us right back to this post by @mousethief on the first page of this thread.

    As I recall, in another thread—possibly on the Old Ship—the parable of the blind men and the elephant was invoked to make the same point.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Yes - I think @mousethief put it rather well.

    Has the circle just been completed? Is class dismissed? Surely, there can't be anything worthwhile left to say...
    :smiley:
  • @Kwesi
    I myself used to reject as abhorrent any kind of atonement thinking. But later I became convinced that Jesus himself was into some such form of thinking, most likely based on his understanding of some of the Isaian servant passages. That does not mean that he was necessarily correct about that. If he could be wrong about the nearness of the eschaton, he could be wrong about much else.

    I, however, find it intensely moving that Jesus could so have thought, and even struggled intensely with such thinking -- as reflected, I think, right after his revelatory ("you are my Son!") baptism experience as he was "tempted by Satan" telling him that as Son of God nothing bad could ever happen to him, and in his strong reaction to Peter also similarly tempting him "to think the way people think rather than as God thinks" -- Jesus' own words), and especially in his own intense agony in Gethsemane.

    I think my "certainty" about this is based on some pretty good scholarship. Dale C. Allison Jr. in his Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History has done a masterful job of arguing that there is strong historical evidence that 1) Jesus expected to die, 2) believed that to be God's will, for some good purpose, 3) and consequently accepted and did not run from death. Allison cautions, however, that this, even if true, does not constitute a theory of the atonement (p. 462). I agree. Nor does he argue as strongly as I would that Jesus was influenced by Isaiah 53.*

    On the other hand, Amy-Jill Levine, a conservative Jewish scholar, states that "...also influencing the Gospel writers, and most likely Jesus himself, were Isaiah's Suffering Servant songs, particularly Isaiah 53 (The Historical Jesus in Context, p. 37).

    And by the way, Amy-Jill Levine in an interview with U.S. Catholic ("A Jewish Take on Jesus: Amy-Jill Levine talks the Gospels") has said that if she could meet Jesus, she would ask him what he was thinking as he was dying on the cross -- was he in utter despair, or did he still hope to live again, and did he think his death would affect Israel positively (and what would he say to us today now that things did not turn out as he expected?!).

    I think she also gives a better reason than you do for why Jews of Jesus' time and soon thereafter decided he was not the Messiah. See my next post.
    _____________
    *My own understanding of how Jesus could have come to see himself as the Suffering Servant Messiah in Isaiah 53 I have expressed in fiction far better than I can do it here.
  • Did Jews reject Jesus because he wasn’t the Messiah they were expecting?

    Amy-Jill Levine:
    That claim that Jews rejected Jesus because he counseled peace and all Jews were looking for some warrior Messiah whose job it would be to get the Romans out of the country misses the variety of messianic ideas that were floating around in the first century.

    The majority of Jews did not accept Jesus as a Messiah because most Jews thought that the Messiah and the messianic age came together. The messianic age meant peace on earth and the end of war, death, disease, and poverty, the ingathering of the exiles, a general resurrection of the dead. When that didn’t happen, I suspect quite a number of Jews who were highly attracted to Jesus’ message of the kingdom of heaven thought: That’s a good message, but we have to keep waiting.

  • The majority of Jews did not accept Jesus as a Messiah because most Jews thought that the Messiah and the messianic age came together. The messianic age meant peace on earth and the end of war, death, disease, and poverty, the ingathering of the exiles, a general resurrection of the dead. When that didn’t happen, I suspect quite a number of Jews who were highly attracted to Jesus’ message of the kingdom of heaven thought: That’s a good message, but we have to keep waiting.

    A good illustration of the concept of US wanting to work on 'electrical time' (no sooner said than done), but GOD working on 'arboricultural time' (taking ages - literally - to grow, blossom, and bear fruit).

    IYSWIM.

  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    James Boswell II: My own understanding of how Jesus could have come to see himself as the Suffering Servant Messiah in Isaiah 53 I have expressed in fiction far better than I can do it here.

    But what credence can be placed on arguments based on "fiction"?
  • None whatsoever, or we'd all be members of the DanBrownian Church...
    :worried:
  • LOL Read it and you will see. The Da Vinci Code is fiction based on fiction. My novel is fiction based on facts. But I must not advertise here.

  • No comment!
  • No comment!

    Would that such a wise stance were more prevalent on some threads.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Maybe some people rejected Jesus as the Messiah for the same reason we would when we see someone saying: I am the Messiah?
  • According to our earliest sources, Jesus didn't go around saying that.
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