Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Jason Clark found some good atonement discussion at time magazine (see his site for the full text):

Some modern atonement theorists maintain that only one answer - theirs - flows inevitably from Scripture. But more agree with Chicago Theological Seminary's Theodore Jennings Jr. "The New Testament is just all over the map" on the question of why Christ died, he says. Its writers "are all persuaded that something really drastic, fundamental and dramatic has happened, and they're pulling together all kinds of ways to understand that."

The book Hebrews, for instance, directly appropriates the Jewish sacrificial metaphor, except this time, Jesus is both priest and sacrifice, spilling, "not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." The Gospel of Mark favors Roman legal language for the freeing of slaves: "the Son of Man came ... to give his life as a ransom for many." The First Epistle of Peter, meanwhile, takes a radically different tack, posing Jesus' trials as occasion for imitation: "because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." And Paul's letter to the Colossians pauses only briefly at the Cross on its way to the triumphal image of the risen Christ parading demonic enemies in chains: "He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him."

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