What to do with an atoning/non atoning Jesus?

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  • @Rublev
    Do you find that you abhor, hate, despise and reject the "doctrine of atonement" as much as many people do?
    If so, why? If not, why not?
    What say you?

    Again, only if you want to touch this.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    The best insight that I have read on this subject lately is by Martin54:

    Incarnation + Resurrection = Atonement.

    What is it that you want to discuss about the atonement?
  • Our earliest sources = Paul. He doesn't say anything about what Jesus went around saying, so that's kind of unhelpful as a criterion.
  • The earliest sources that tell us what Jesus did go around saying are the Matthew=Luke parallels and the Gospel of Mark. Jesus does not go around calling himself the Messiah in them.

  • Rublev wrote: »
    What is it that you want to discuss about the atonement?
    You could go to my long post on p. 11 above, July 9, and respond to it.
    But only if you want to.
  • Sorry, that was August 9, not July.
  • :lol:

    Thanks! (I think...).

    An ingenious analogy.
    :flushed:

    Some years ago I came up with the metaphor that the incarnate Jesus was a curtained human window on the light of the The Second Person. It began to draw open, ovum sized at first. Finally man-sized. Then closed at death. On the Resurrection the curtain opened to infinity. But that assumed a single incarnation. There have been infinite. Is the resurrected Jesus spread thin, dilute, homeopathically dissolved with them all on the surface of the Son? Or is He a local (for a billion cubic light years or so) transcendent chromatophore? So is God amorphously infinitely deep everywhere in infinity in informational terms? Or sufficiently and uniquely? Know what I mean? Ah hah, you say, God has no extent. But infinite extent is within Him. He is a dimensionless point of infinite density of dimensioned information. No?

    What a business eh?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Google: 'God's cross: a reading from Peter Abelard.'

    It sees the crucifixion as a snapshot of God's eternal suffering love for humanity. And gives insight into the vulnerable God.
  • I approached this dragging my feet, for I have long felt that Abelard's attempt at what has sometimes been called (perhaps wrongly) the moral influence theory of atonement robbed it in some ways of significance. But when I read this, I was very deeply moved.

    However, I believe it is actually from a novel and may not represent Abelard as well as one might hope. Still, I am very, very glad I read it.

    (Anyway, I appreciate that you apparently picked up on my use of the word "vulnerable" for God. It first came to me from a woman in a discussion group.)
  • The earliest sources that tell us what Jesus did go around saying are the Matthew=Luke parallels and the Gospel of Mark. Jesus does not go around calling himself the Messiah in them.

    Not that word, mebbe. Son of God, Son of Man, Judge of the World. So you'd say none of those titles is necessarily linked to Messiahship?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Messiah (or Christ) is simply 'Anointed One,' so it can mean whatever you want it to mean. Jesus is intentionally ambiguous in his use of titles. And you can understand why when you read what happened to Peter and John who were immediately hauled before the Sanhedrin and almost martyred for proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah in the Temple (Acts 5: 42).

    John the Baptist called himself 'A voice crying aloud in the wilderness', but it is significant enough to get him interviewed by a delegation of priests from Jerusalem asking him if he is the Messiah or Elijah or a prophet (John 1: 19-26). John denied it - but if he had claimed the title then he could have found Himself on trial for blasphemy and sedition like Jesus eventually did (Luke 22: 66 - 23: 5).

    According to Mark and Matthew Jesus sealed his fate by quoting the Messianic prophecy of Daniel before the High Priest (Mark 14: 62; Matt 25: 63-66; Dan 7: 13; Ps 110: 1). In the Synoptic accounts Jesus' favourite title is the resonant 'Son of Man' of Ezekiel. You can't blame Him for wanting to be circumspect about proclaiming his identity. It was an invitation to execution to claim to be the Messiah. And for the early Christians such as the martyr Polycarp it was subversive even to say that 'Jesus Christ is Lord' rather than the emperor.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Rublev wrote: »
    Google: 'God's cross: a reading from Peter Abelard.'

    It sees the crucifixion as a snapshot of God's eternal suffering love for humanity. And gives insight into the vulnerable God.

    Whereas, in fact (it rationally has to be if it is), it is an infinitesimal snapshot, one of infinity, of divine eternal suffering for, of, with eternal suffering creation; the price, the vulnerability you pay for being God grounding that.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    St John of the Cross said that 'a great love awaits us.' And the crucifixion demonstrates that the love of God for us is an eternal suffering love. The incarnation reveals the vulnerability of the God who seeks after us. He comes to us in humility as the suffering servant Christ.
  • Us all. Infinite in our suffering from eternity.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    As the Bible demonstrates it is always a difficult time to live as a person of faith. Mind you, I wouldn't have wanted to live at the time of the Maccabees.
  • It's difficult to live period. To think. Who isn't a person of faith?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Yes, it is probably even more difficult to live a life without the strength and hope of faith. The life of Psalm 23.
  • There are no atheists in foxholes.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Google: 'God's cross: a reading from Peter Abelard.'

    It sees the crucifixion as a snapshot of God's eternal suffering love for humanity. And gives insight into the vulnerable God.

    Link it.
  • Yes, please do. Linkies are Good Things™.
  • Yahweh frequently addressed Ezekiel as "son of man" (a way of saying, "hear this, you mere mortal!'). More important for Jesus, however, was Daniel's expression "one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven to be served by all nations and people of all languages."

    By using the third person expression "the Son of Man" for himself, Jesus could claim great personal authority while keeping himself out of trouble.
    "He said he can forgive sins!"
    "No, what he actually said is that the Son of Man has authority to do that."
    "He said he is Lord of the Sabbath!"
    "No, what he actually said is that the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath."
    "But he meant himself!"
    "But he didn't say himself. We can't prosecute him for saying that 'the onelike a son of man' in Daniel has that kind of authority!"

    More startling were such Jesus sayings as,
    "Birds have their nests, foxes their dens, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head,"
    and "The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners,'"
    and "one can say a word against the Son of Man and yet be forgiven,"
    and "The Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

    But there was no protection for Jesus after he used the phrase in conjunction with his affirmation to the high priest that he was indeed "The Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One."
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @Martin54 @Bishops Finger

    Sorry that I can't make a link to this text. Perhaps some kind Samaritan would care to oblige?
  • Thank you!
    :grin:
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @James Boswell II

    My thanks to the kind Samaritan.

    This passage about God's Cross comes from Helen Waddell's novel Peter Abelard.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Hmmm

  • As in hmmm, there's something weird going on here as I can't make a link either.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    @James Boswell II

    My thanks to the kind Samaritan.

    This passage about God's Cross comes from Helen Waddell's novel Peter Abelard.

    That's better. It is a tad... buggered the linking mechanism is it not? And non-intuitive in working round.

  • How does God suffer our collectively infinite suffering? And why should we pity Him if He does? And why do we whether He does or not? Pity Him? Feel compassion for Him? It hurts Him more than it hurts us? Bollocks. WE suffer. Creation suffers. Life is loss. It's either worth it, as it can't be any other way whether He exists or not. Or not.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    This is what the classic theology of the passion and crucifixion is saying - that Christ suffered to redeem humanity. And at the resurrection Christ appears with a new resurrection body but continuing to bear the wounds of the cross in His body in heaven for eternity. I think there is something very significant about that. The crucifixion was not just an historic event, but a cosmic one. And since Christ is the image of the invisible God, then I think Helen Waddell is correct in her insight that the crucifixion was a snapshot of the eternal suffering love of God for humanity. After all, both the OT Law and Jesus show a particular concern for the marginalised. And the parable of the sheep and the goats says that all acts of compassion towards the poor and needy are received by Christ. He is present in the suffering of His people.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Rublev: I think Helen Waddell is correct in her insight that the crucifixion was a snapshot of the eternal suffering love of God for humanity.

    Fair enough, that's what works for Ms Waddell and many others, but I would quibble over "correct" if by that you mean other interpretations are wrong. Individuals relate to the cross in all sorts of ways, depending on their spirituality, and if those varied journeys lead to a deeper relationship with God ISTM they are equally valid pathways to reconciliation, atonement.


  • Rublev wrote: »
    This is what the classic theology of the passion and crucifixion is saying - that Christ suffered to redeem humanity. And at the resurrection Christ appears with a new resurrection body but continuing to bear the wounds of the cross in His body in heaven for eternity. I think there is something very significant about that. The crucifixion was not just an historic event, but a cosmic one. And since Christ is the image of the invisible God, then I think Helen Waddell is correct in her insight that the crucifixion was a snapshot of the eternal suffering love of God for humanity. After all, both the OT Law and Jesus show a particular concern for the marginalised. And the parable of the sheep and the goats says that all acts of compassion towards the poor and needy are received by Christ. He is present in the suffering of His people.

    It was locally cosmic. To Earth. Not to the quadrillions of other worlds in this infinitesimal universe alone. So not cosmic at all. Waddell is wrong as God has not suffered love for mere, insignificant humanity since eternity.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    The idea that God has suffered love for the sake of humanity is a persistent theme of the Bible. The prophets sought to recall God's people throughout the history of Israel: 'All day long I have held out my hands to a rebellious people' (Is 65: 2). And the story of humanity and the Fall in Eden is recapitulated by the death of Christ as the Last Adam according to St Paul (1 Cor 15: 45).
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Humanity has only been around for two hundred thousand years, may be only fifty thousand with the capacity for speech. But there again our hominid ancestors were making fires a million years ago. That is a persistent theme of the rocks. That is the story of insignificant humanity in them. What has God ever suffered and how? And don't tell me what the Bible says. I know. It's irrelevant. Unless you can deconstruct it scientifically and rationally beyond empiricism.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I'm very interested in the critical analysis of the Bible. The answers you get depend on the questions you ask. It helps if you pose questions which can be applied to a document like the Bible. So I don't think a scientific analysis of the Bible will take you very far. But you can certainly discuss the theme of the suffering love of God for humanity in some depth.

    This has also been the insight of the Christian mystics about God. Julian of Norwich said that we are enfolded in love as deeply as the bones in the flesh.
  • That's the sound of one hand clapping. That's less than half of critical analysis.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Please contribute the missing other half Martin54.
  • I can't do it for you. Using the Bible to 'critically analyse' the Bible is oxymoronic. Adding allegorical, magisterial, mystical 'interpretation' to the mix makes it worse.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Please contribute the missing other half Martin54.

    O dear.

    The whole point of that saying is that there is no other hand...

  • As I just said on the Errant John thread,
    I tire of this emphasis that you and others seem to have. You seem to want to delight and wallow in saying, "We can know nothing."

    Or, conversely, "It is all just faith and fancy."
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    And, as I said on the other thread, I am sorry if you find a certain attitude (shared by others on this discussion board) tiring.

    Personal attacks, however, do not help.

    I do not - repeat NOT - delight, and wallow, in 'not knowing'. It is, FWIW, the state of mind I find myself in as I get older, and unwiser. I'd love to be as 'certain' as you seem to be, but it's unlikely that I will be, this side of my death.
  • Oh, I am old and facing death too. And I have doubts aplenty.

    But I say to you and others, do not engage in the personal attack of constant cynicism toward those of us who think doing careful, thoughtful scholarship can help.
  • What do they know that we don't? You know, the way nuclear physicists know about achieving sustainable fusion? They must know something right?
  • @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.

    It's nice that they half-heartedly agree with me. With us. To you and me it couldn't be more obvious that that's how Jesus thought according to the C1st church, starting with Paul. That that's how they thought. That's how He thought. Greek and Roman culture increasingly rejected that Jewish take coming up with all manner of stuff as they couldn't think like you and me. No one else here can or ever will here either. So we must be wrong :smile:
  • @Martin54
    I'm not so sure there is that much disagreement with the way I framed it, especially in my long post on p. 11. But I simply love to say it in the way that I did there, and in discussion groups about my novel I have found approval and appreciation for that way of putting it, though of course views will always be divided.

    But see my next.
  • I just submitted the following to our local newspaper, The Pantagraph, for its From the Pulpit column:
    __________
    From the Pulpit

    James Boswell

    Since I published my historical Jesus novel, NAME, I have met with several local groups to discuss it, and I’m discovering that there are many who feel a hunger to find out more about the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, there seems to be a need to form what I would call “Jeshuan study groups” both within and outside of churches.
    What is a Jeshuan? (Don't look for that word in any dictionary -- it’s my own coinage.) A Jeshuan can be anyone interested in honestly studying Jesus (Jeshua, Yeshua) using the best historical research methods available.
    That’s all it takes to be a Jeshuan -- that kind of interest in Jesus!
    Can a Jeshuan be a Christian? Yes. Must a Jeshuan be a Christian? No. A Jeshuan can be a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, or a member of any of the world’s other great religions. Jeshuans may also include skeptics, agnostics, and atheists, as long as they are willing to engage with other Jeshuans in polite discussions regarding honest research.
    Some Jeshuans may have strong anti-Christian or anti-church feelings. Some may be convinced that Jesus never even existed. Others may be firm Christian believers. All opinions should be welcome in Jeshuan discussion groups, as long as honest, objective scholarship is civilly pursued.
    If you are interested in participating in such a group, I have scheduled a meeting titled “The Exciting Search for the Historical Jesus” on Tuesday, August 27th at 6:30pm at the Bloomington Public Library, 205 E. Olive St., Bloomington, IL, in the Community Room (lower level).
    I would also be glad to meet, free of charge, with any interested group to offer suggestions as to how they might go about the task of setting up such a study. Contact me through my email below, or go to my website at CENSORED and look into some of the possibilities there.
    In these turbulent, uncertain times, questioning minds are seeking clearer insights into the historical realities concerning Jesus. Although historical study can be challenging, it may also be intensely exciting and rewarding.
    ___________

    Boswell is a retired pastor of the Disciples of Christ. Contact him at his email address CENSORED.

    [The censorings are mine, in accordance with this blog's not advertising policy.]
  • The letter was accepted, except that the following will not appear:

    "I would also be glad to meet, free of charge, with any interested group to offer suggestions as to how they might go about the task of setting up such a study. Contact me through my email below, or go to my website at CENSORED and look into some of the possibilities there."

    [They also have a policy against too much self promotion and pointed out that my email address at the end is sufficient.]
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Host hat on
    Please note my host post on this thread’s cousin, which applies here too.

    Host hat off
    BroJames Purgatory Host
  • @Martin54
    Regarding atonement, etc., I am going to go over to the inactive "What to Do With and Errant Jesus" thread and start posting there concerning something I was asked about, as follows:

    I've frequently expressed my opinion that the Gethsemane scene in Mark is historical, and indicates that Jesus expected to die a death willed by God, and that he was probably influenced by Isaiah 53 in thinking that, for there it is said that it was Yahweh's will or even pleasure that the servant should undergo punishment/chastisement for the sake of many by bearing their sin and being wounded that they might be healed.

    I have been asked why I am so convinced that Isaiah 53 stands behind much of Jesus' thinking.

    I'll soon be going over to that inactive thread and try to tell, in a semi-fictional form, why I think that. It will be a somewhat long story and I hope I will be given space and time to tell it.
  • Will we be able to distinguish fact from fiction?
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