A Community Called Atonement

When are there moments of atonement?  Is the cross the only means of atonement?  Is the atonement simply being forgiven, redeemed, restored from our (individual) sin or is there a macrocosmic scope to the atonement?  Several chapters of McKnight’s book are dedicated to those moments of atonement where God redeems us from the problem of evil and sin.  Below are four moments of atonement and some quotes that I find very thought provoking.

 Atoning Moments: Incarnation As Second Adam

“God identifies with us in the incarnation.  Without identification, without incarnation, there is no atonement.  Which is to say that the atonement is an ontological act – God’s sharing our nature and our sharing God’s – at its core: it is about God identifying with us so that we might participate in God (2 Pet. 1:4)” (pg. 54).

Atoning Moments: Crucifixion

“I suggest that we see the achievement of the cross in three expressions: Jesus dies ‘with us’ – entering into our evil and our sin and our suffering to subvert it and create a new way; Jesus dies ‘instead of us’ – he enters into our sin, our wrath, and our death; and Jesus dies ‘for us’ – his death forgives our sin, ‘declares us right,’ absorbs the wrath of God against us, and creates new life where there was once only death.

Not only is this death saving, this same death becomes the paradigm for an entirely new existence that is shaped, as Luther said of theology and life, by the cross.  A life shaped by the cross is a life bent on dying daily to self in order to love God, self, others, and the world.  And a life shaped by the cross sees in the cross God becoming the victim, identifying with the victim, suffering injustice, and shaping a cruciform pattern of life for all who would follow Jesus.  The cross reshapes all of life” (pg. 69).

 Atoning Moments: Easter

“When, then, is the resurrection all about?  If the death of Christ wipes away sin, the resurrection of Christ makes all things new.  Resurrection is about new creation.  A theory of atonement that does not flow into the resurrection is an atonement that rids one of the sin problem but does not transform life and this world.  Stopping that flow of life from God into God’s people is the abortion of full atonement” (Pg. 70). 

 Atoning Moments: Pentecost

“Pentecost is both justification and judgment.  In this one act at Pentecost (1) the people of God, in God’s act of justifying and making his judgment clear, receive the power of the Holy Spirit to create a community wherein the will of God can be done, and (2) that new community creation is at the same time a judgment on the unjust rulers of this world” (pg. 76).

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Published in: on February 4, 2008 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

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