“Identification for Incorporation”

I am living with the book, A Community Called Atonement.  I have been strengthened and challenged in my thinking of what atonement is and what atonement accomplishes. 

Towards the end of the book McKnight (to use a phrase of McKnight’s) develops a bag that is able to hold all the metaphorical clubs of atonement.  Atonement is not just being atoned for our sins; “atonement is identification for incorporation (pg. 107).  McKnight wants us to understand that Jesus has died for us so that his life might become our life.


If McKnight is right that we are atoned “so that his life can become our life” then our churches will look drastically different than what they are today.  No longer will we be individually focused, no longer will be delivering hell, fire and brimstone sermons and then forgetting to tell “the sinners” what kind of life they are to live.  Instead we will become vessels in which the world sees God and what God is about.  We will find churches intentionally incorporating practices that bear witness to God’s love, peace and justice.  We will see churches participating in the work of God and becoming “the neighborhood church” rather than asking the neighborhood to come across the street to “our church.”  To quote McKnight,

In the rest of the book there is no attempt to be comprehensive or exhaustive about what a missional praxis of atonement looks like.  At rock-bottom reality each community will work out its own praxis of atonement, and that praxis will have a different shape and orientation in each community.  The central question of a missional praxis is this: “How can we help?”  This central question springs from a desire to go out into the community rather than an overwhelming desire to have the community come to the local church (pg. 118).

Published in: on February 20, 2008 at 1:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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