Spilled Blood & The Cosmic Christ: Atonement Dissonance

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“It’s a sad, sad day when those in the believing community (rather it be local or at large), consider the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ to be insufficient or even irrelevant to their spiritual (which is their only) lives. This matter touches on everything from the forgiveness of sins (which some deem to be such a small, small, matter), to the entrance into and residence within the Kingdom of God (which, all of a sudden, seems to be such a huge, gigantic matter). These two matters cannot truly be separated.It would seem as if there is some sort of mass movement which is based upon works rather than faith, whose aim is….honestly, I don’t know what their aim is.”

So begins my dear friend and former Atlanta church-mate Johnny in a post entitled Dogmatic Statement from an Emerging Fundamentalist. I don’t think Johnny is truly emerging into fundamentalism, but his frustration (and good, heartfelt articulation–please, go and read his entire post) is borne at least in part from my poorly-stated sharing about something that’s been bugging me lately: How evangelical Christians interpret Jesus’ atonement.

In short: I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with a depiction of God-the-Father that supposedly requires blood sacrifice in order to divert his vengeance from a humanity he hates so much that somebody’s gotta die. This is not consistent with the God of Jesus Christ that I see depicted in the Gospels or the Epistles; it seems to focus on a forensic understanding of “the cross” derived from a particular reading of Romans and especially Hebrews that ignores the rich tapestry of other atonement understandings held by the first followers of Jesus.

Nonetheless, I am not saying that human beings are peachy-keen on our own merits and in no need of reconciliation. I think we are cracked eikons, fractured images of God who are gathered up in love and power of Spirit for restoration and wholeness, insofar as we surrender to this process. I think we are alienated from God, creation, and each other; inwardly, outwardly, and collectively we can be a tangled up knot of dis-integration and dis-ease (I am not afraid to call this sin, though it’s a religiously-loaded term these days), in need of God’s cleansing presence. I believe that God is all-in-all, but that we receive a special blessing when we open ourselves to God’s omnipresence, trusting Jesus and “letting God in” volitionally. And I think that Jesus’ life, actions, teachings, power, execution, resurrection and ascension and indwelling are intimately bound up in this glory-displaying, grace-enacting gesture flowing out of a gratuitous Triune God.

I simply think that when it comes to God and us being alienated from each other, we moved. And we know a prodigal God, who’s on the move toward us always. It isn’t that “God can’t countenance us without The Blood ’cause we’re too shameful to look at.” Hogwash! Jesus laughed with, visited, and ate meals with all the wrong kind of “filth” before his State-and-Religion-sponsored execution, deliberately trouncing the prevailing opinions of the purity codes of his day. To Jesus, uncleanness wasn’t contagious, holiness was. We need to ask forgiveness of all we have wronged, God first and foremost. But God’s hand isn’t a fist until said moment. It never was.

Johnny, I’m sorry if to you I’ve seemed to deny the “eternal and inward” paths of Christian spirituality to embrace “world peace” and “God’s Kingdom” exclusively. To me these are two facets of an unbroken whole, too. It may be that we’re assembling these pieces together differently these days, which can be painful, I know. Disunity sucks, especially when brothers in faith have walked in such unanimity in times past. Please be patient with me as I go through this (post?)structural renovation of my spirituality and thinking about this matter. I wish to “chuck” nothing that is wholesome, good and true. I don’t want to magnify what I do for God; my boast, too, is only in God’s sustaining presence. All of my rethinking–or reimagining if you prefer, hee hee–is not to adapt myself to the latest theological fashion, but in a quest to love God more fully and honestly, as well as my neighbors more vitally and holistically.This is for the survival of my interior life–my prayer and worship. It’s also for how I frame the Hope I have within me to others. I am terribly interested in how I communicate the good news of God in Jesus to friends, enemies, and strangers. I only want to share with them the very best, and very truest. Even though our images of the Divine are always, constantly provisional, I want the image of God I hold in my heart to be as authentic as possible.

On a practical note, I’d like to get us both a copy of Scot McKnight‘s newly-released book, A Community Called Atonement, to read together. From what I hear McKnight might help both of us articulate what’s nagging at our hearts about Jesus’ death, and its significance to our lives. I know it is written as a peace-making, bible-teaching book, calling for a ceasefire in the “atonement wars.” Sound good?

For the rest of you, please stop by Johnny’s insightful post, and comment there. (You can comment here too, but maybe in light of both of these posts.) Give pause and take your “atonement pulse.” If you follow penal substitutionary atonement (currently the one in favor in official evangelical and Catholic theologies), why is this understanding of Jesus’ death and shed blood meaningful to you? If Christus Victor, moral influence, mimetic, or ransom atonement understandings resonate with you, why is this? What is it like being the underdog in soteriology? [If I get really industrious I might make a post later of nothing but links to define all these terms; I know they might be daunting for some of you. But I don’t have time right now…sorry!]

72 Responses to “Spilled Blood & The Cosmic Christ: Atonement Dissonance”


  1. 1 Amie September 12, 2007 at 4:22 am

    Mike,

    The “someone’s gotta die” thinking doesn’t sit well with me either. Who says? I’m not sure how that meshes with the whole God desiring mercy and not sacrifice thing, but to me that’s getting a bit side-tracked.

    I’m struggling with the idea that God loves us soooo much, that he committed suicide as well. Does that not ring the unhealthy bell?

    I suspect that the answer lies in the life that he died to share with us.

  2. 2 Amie September 12, 2007 at 4:23 am

    Dangit! I can’t edit and I didn’t proofread! HOW will I sleep! 😉

  3. 3 Jason Clark September 12, 2007 at 6:08 am

    As Mike invited me to read and comment here, I’ll post these links:

    http://jasonclark.ws/2007/06/12/christus-victor-atonment-for-the-postmodern-world/
    http://jasonclark.ws/2007/08/31/the-cross-and-caricatures/

    I think there has been a reduction of the gospel into a caricature of penal substitution. On the other hand I think ther has been and a rejection of penal substitution when what is needed is the rediscovery of the doctrine in it’s fuller context.

    The two links I posted are some resources and conversations about that process.

  4. 4 Monk-in-Training September 12, 2007 at 10:35 am

    I don’t know exactly how Jesus’ death on the Cross redeemed the world, but I do know that it did. It isn’t about “someone has to die” for me, it is far more about God entering human life, suffering and even death, and redeeming it and filling it with His Presence.

    In my darkest hours, as my wife lay dying, I KNEW Jesus was with her and me, that He had walked this road before us, and had therefore taken the sting of death away.

    Not very theological, I suppose, but it is how I see it.

  5. 5 Brian Davis September 12, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Mike,

    Reading your post was like looking into my own mind! That whole forensic/judicial approach to atonement, which has now become an article of faith in evangelical Christianity, makes little sense in 21st Century western cultures. God killing his own son to “pay” for someone else’s transgressions would (rightly) be regarded as unjust and even absurd.

    Evangelicals are hyper-sensitive about this issue, and some come close to saying that those who don’t subscribe to the penal substitutionary view can’t claim to be Christians at all.

    I’ve always tried to distinguish between the FACT of atonement (“God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself”) and THEORIES of atonement which attempt to explain how Jesus’ life, death and resurrection played a crucial part in reconciling humanity to God.

    I don’t believe there is a unified theology of atonement in the NT writings. I see the various writers using a whole range of metaphors and analogies to try to understand what God accomplished through Jesus. And some of these analogies make more sense than others 2000 years later in a radically different social and political culture.

    One of the things I least like about penal substitutionary theories is their one-dimensionality…as if the only thing that mattered was that Jesus’ blood was shed, and his life and teachings and resurrection/vindication are secondary to this one pivotal event. The constant emphasis on “the blood” seems morbid and obsessive at times, and any theory of atonement which doesn’t give a central place to God’s raising of Jesus from the dead (as Paul does in his letters) is seriously defective.

    Of course I don’t deny that Jesus “died for us”, in some real and important sense, but acknowledging that fact is not the same as having a defensible theory of atonement which does justice to the NT scriptures and to reason and experience.

  6. 6 Brian D. Smith September 12, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Mike,

    I wish I had time to go into this in depth. I think this a MAJOR thing when it comes to our relationship with the Father. The “someone’s gotta die” theory just doesn’t work for me and I believe is rooted in man’s insecurities, not G-d’s.

    I’ve written a post on this that covers my thoughts in great detail.

    Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

  7. 7 christianmystics September 12, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    In shorthand:

    I do not believe we are obligated to accept the theory of atonement any more than we are obligated to believe in Newtonian Physics.

    The major problem with the theory, which was unknown to Jesus and was a later development by certain communities of early Christians, is that it ignores the life and teachings of Jesus in favor of the EVENT of Jesus.

    As in the Newtonian Physics reference, the atonement theory may have been invented or “discovered” to try and explain events, but is nothing more than a point of view. As I have said, it distorts Jesus and shifts the power from the individual to the Church, negates the meaning of Jesus’ life in favor of his death, and frees the person from having to actually follow Jesus’ teachings and, instead, to simply accept the heretic belief that God required a sacrifice. A God demanding death to atone for the sins of all who follow is not the God of Jesus, nor of myself and countless others.

    There isn’t the time or space to go into the development of such a belief and its absence in the the oral and early written traditions on which the gospels themselves were based.

    There is as different understanding of atonement. It has to do with at-one-ment, which is exactly what Jesus taught and lived, what he attempted to portray in story and life, and brings the focus back to his basic teachings, one fundamentalists often do not get. The message of Jesus is not “Accept me and go to heaven or deny me and go to hell” or “I’m dying so there aren’t any more sins.” The message was at the base of the gospels, at the root of the teachings, at the heart of the life: The kingdom (or kindom) of God is here and now, and it is a wonderful mystery, an open feast that all are invited to in this very moment.”

    Brian

  8. 8 geoff holsclaw September 12, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    on a practical note, as one who regularly prepares the musical portion of our worship service, I can recognize that over the last couple of years I have shied away from “bloody” songs in regard to the atonement (i.e. hymns or choruses all about ‘blood flowing’ and similar imagery. it is not some much that I think the Atonement is only an “example”, but rather that the resurrection is just as important than jesus’ death.

    For me it is not so much that we are saved “from” or “out” of SIN, but that we are saved “for” and “into” LIFE.

    Similarly, it seems that those lamenting a loss of focus on the ‘bloody’ side of the atonement seem to thing there is a correlative shift from faith to works, but I don’t think that is the case. And emphasis on faith not works, but coupled with a robust understanding of the ‘new’ life leads to a life transformed, issuing in good works, not a life of good works seeking righteousness.

  9. 9 Brother Johnny September 12, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    I only have a moment right now to respond, but I plan to get back around to conversing some more on this subject.

    The offering and slaying of the lamb has to do with redemption.

    It is illustrated over and over in the old testament.

    No. It is not the only thing in the scripture, but it is key.

    This is all related to sin and pardon.

    Paul understood sin in a big way.
    He was essentially a killer.

    For him, ‘pardon’ was a big deal.
    If we are honest, we must admit that we are all the same. We are ‘killers’ as well….(and adulterers. theives, etc…).

    The scripture says that “God would provide Himself a lamb”.
    And that He did.
    Himself.

    I’ll get back around here when I get a chance….
    God bless you all.

  10. 10 zoecarnate September 12, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you for commenting, all of you! I’m gonna re-read these after breakfast. But for now, I wanted to thank Johnny for reading these and interact with him a bit.

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that “pardon” isn’t a big deal, that it’s un-needed. As Brian Davis said, “I’ve always tried to distinguish between the FACT of atonement (”God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself”) and THEORIES of atonement which attempt to explain how Jesus’ life, death and resurrection played a crucial part in reconciling humanity to God.”

    So no one is saying we aren’t out of sync with God and in need of “at-one-ment.” Nor are we saying that Jesus didn’t do something really important and monumental for us, something sacrificial, even. We’re just wrestling with what “that” is.

    But Johnny’s right, everyone–if we’re saying it’s not a straight-up case of human sacrifice, the burden of proof is on us to articulate what we think it is. Religion and culture the world over has a deep history with blood-sacrifice, and some kinda vestigial-intuitive understanding that shed blood equals making-right. The Hebrew faith was not immune to this kind of thinking, although I think many would agree that it began to be subverted at least as early as the Exilic period.

    But…what do we do with all that blood-sacrifice imagery in the Old Testament? And how it is appropriated by some New Testament writers in their making-sense of the Jesus event?

    Jason C., I will be reading your posts about reclaiming substitutionary atonement…after breakfast. And I will respond to everyone else as well!

  11. 11 Peter K Bell September 12, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    I’m just like Brian Smith, Johnny, and Mike in this: I don’t have acres and oceans of time in front of me, the quantity and quality of time and attention needed to even begin to face this issue with the degree of importance–with the CENTRALITY of focus–that it rightly deserves (and actually HAS) in our spiritual (which is our ONLY) lives, to quote Johnny…

    So I will give this a ‘lick and a promise’ (as the old saying goes) and say only the following about it as my knee-jerk ‘instant’ response:

    1) I am making a promise to go ‘inward’ and look into the witness of my Spirit on this topic, to see what I may have to add to the conversation, as soon as a little of that coveted time becomes available.
    2) Historic revivalism (from AT LEAST the Moravians and the Pietists in Europe to the great American camp-meeting awakenings of the past 2 centuries–not to skip Wales, Azusa Street, and many others) often contains the testimony that a re-discovery (which in the case of most individuals is a NEW discovery)of the life-giving properties of the cross, the blood of Jesus, the atonement, has the power to transform individual lives and consequently the state of society. The reason I mention this it to confirm the validity and key importance of Johnny’s current quest.
    3) The fullest, richest, craziest, most intensely personal, most radical and most complete single source of understanding of this topic, spiritually, theologically, poetically, and experientially all rolled into one–that I have ever run across in my own search–is the Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich. The love of God for us is the only ground of all God has done for us in Jesus, and Madame Julian spells this out incredibly thoroughly. Please forgive me for exalting any human vessel this much, but I am quickened and rejuvenated in my spirit nearly every time I read Julian, and this refreshing comes directly from her treatment of the atonement and its application to our individual experience.
    Thanks for listening to me. Gotta run–ttyl,
    Peter

  12. 12 Peter K Bell September 12, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Oh yeah, there is one other part of my “knee-jerk” response I want to toss in here:
    In our growing home group of ‘Recovering Baptists’ we had a rather intense discussion a couple of Fridays ago about whether (why, how, how much, etc.) we need to repent and receive forgiveness after our initial justification or ‘born-again’ experience. I responded passionately, in three ways:
    1) Immediately I prophecied over the most worried and self-condemning of the saints there, by the Word of the Lord: “I see no sin in you.”
    2) As soon as I got home I fired off to the whole group a link to John Wesley’s sermon of 240 years ago called “Repentance of Believers.”
    3) The next morning I woke up with a complete sermon outline (only we don’t do sermons in our group!!) on the topic. The essence of this says that in our ordinary lives we have far too weak a view of how bad the bad (the “old life”) in us really is, and far too weak a view of just how wonderful and powerful and miraculous the nature of the new life of Christ in us actually is too. I have not been able to share this fully with the group yet, but I carry it as a (light and easy) burden for the church, that we would see this and come to know the reality of it, for the sake of the victory and power it will release into our lives.

    I have a feeling that all this is intimately tied in with Johnny’s quest–in ways that I haven’t even discovered yet!! I look forward to looking farther into this.
    Yours in Christ,
    Peter

  13. 13 John L September 12, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Mike,

    I’m an INTJ engineer. I want to know exactly how things work. That’s why following Christ is a daily death to my rational views – I have no clue how he created water from wine, sent strange entities into a herd of pigs, and raised dead people back to life – including himself.

    Echoing Monk-In-Training, I have no clue how Jesus’ death on the Cross redeemed the world. Yet the cross remains central to the NT. Everything Christ did was a metaphor of dark to light, death to life, old to new, guilt to innocence. The cross and resurrection is our world’s ultimate expression of this redemptive power.

    We cannot contain Christ’s depths in rational thought. Perhaps that was His intent – that the cross remain as a mind-blowing, consciousness shifting, logic-busting event that weaves its way into our ecclesial unconscious. Which it has…

    On a deeply personal level, the cross is a daily reminder for me that “salvation” is not something I achieve through my own efforts. That becoming Christ-like means dying to self, dying to desire – remaining focused on the Other. I cannot find a more compelling path to follow than Christ’s trail of redemption – perfected and finished in the cross and resurrection.

    Without redemption, the Kingdom of God is a non-starter.

  14. 14 John L September 12, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    And wine from water…🙂

  15. 15 Peter K Bell September 12, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Sorry for the ‘triple play’ here–no need to apologize, right?

    “The only thing in the Scripture”? Well, yes, actually, I see that this IS the only thing in the Scripture, in this sense:

    In “The Man Born to Be King,” Dorothy Sayers has Mary the mother of Jesus say of the crucifixion of Jesus, “This is the only thing that has ever happened.”

    I agree: this is the center of reality, the Lamb on the throne, slain before the foundation of the world. This is where all the rest of it comes from, and where it is all heading as well.

    I agree with Johnny that this is a “key.”

    In the interest of furthering the conversation,
    Peter

  16. 16 Ed Brenegar September 12, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Culturally, we live in a weird time, caught between the extremes of anti-military passivist political culture and a violent media-soaked entertainment one.

    Is this reaction to penal substitution a reaction against the inherent violence in western society? If so, should we rather be trying to understand what the biblical writers meant in their socio-econonmic-religious-political context?

    Does blood sacrifice atonement actually speak to our culture in a way that nothing else can? We are a culture that has a different view of death than any recent generation. So, we hide from it through the diversion of entertainment.

    What standard does our postmodern culture provide that gives meaning to Christ’s death. It did happen. It wasn’t metaphorical or was it? If it is just a “way of understanding God’s love?”

    I make a distinction between the biblical account of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and what theologians through the ages have said. These theological theories are attempts to understand something that is beyond. All these interpreters, including you and me and the rest of those who are commenting, are providing our own perspective on Christ. It doesn’t change what happened.

    I freely accept that we cannot fully understand God’s mind about the atonement. That is reality. I don’t believe in the atonement because I find its logic compelling. I believe in Christ because his sacrifice says something about the extent of God’s love for us, and of his power over his creation. I can understand that much. Is this anti-intellectual fideism? Not in my book, but I can see how others might see it that way.

    The challenge is to believe and question without losing faith. And we need each other as Christ’s friends to help us find clarity along the way.

  17. 17 Andrew Perriman September 12, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Since you asked, Mike, my contribution to the discussion would be to draw attention to the narrative-historical framework of the New Testament notion of atonement. Penal substitution, to my mind, makes complete sense when (and only when) Jesus’ death is interpreted in light of the fact that Israel according to the flesh and Jerusalem in particular faced destruction because of sin, because it had reneged on the covenant. Jesus suffers and dies on behalf of a nation that would soon be devastated by war so that at least a remnant might emerge from the wreckage to fight another day. Isaiah 53, Daniel 9 and the Maccabean writings provide the theology for seeing the death of an individual (and the suffering of a community) as a consequence of and atonement for Israel’s sin.

    Because in the Old Testament salvation of the nation invariably entails the defeat of Israel’s enemies, there is a very close connection between the substitutiuonary motif and the Christus Victor theme which Jason highlighted. But still these things need to understood historically. The enemies of YHWH and of his people were the corrupt Jerusalem hierarchy, who arrested Jesus, the Roman hierarchy, which tried and executed him, the cult of the emperor, which fundamentally opposed the rule of God over his people, and behind all that Satan and death.

    These two articles address the matter in greater depth:

    http://www.opensourcetheology.net/node/1026
    http://www.opensourcetheology.net/node/1273

    Penal substitutionary atonement is central to the New Testament’s understanding of Jesus’ death. It does not work, however, as a modern theological concept. The dislike that many of us have for the doctrine arises because, as Jason observed, we have taken it out of context. We have ripped the liver from the living body of the New Testament and we wonder why it just looks a bloody mess.

  18. 18 Wendei September 12, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Paul, the apostle, once wrote that he could speak for 18 months on the cross and not completely plumb the depths of what truly happened there and what happened as a result. So I agree that we could describe and attempt to understand this world-altering event with a million metaphors and theories, and all of them could equally apply.

    I see the cross as being penal substitutionary act, but I’m uncomfortable with the view that that’s all there was to the cross. The event was simply too large to reduce it to one understanding. Wayne Jacobsen (probably influenced by George MacDonald) has an interesting take on the cross. He cites this analogy to explain: A couple has just been told that their child is sick with a fatal disease. “However, there’s hope,” says the doctor, “because we’re experimenting with a new cure. This cure involves the disease being injected into one of you. You’ll die, but since your body is stronger than your child’s, it will first produce an antidote to this disease that can be extracted from you and given to your child so that your child can live.”

    Jacobsen takes this view from 1 Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In other words, Christ became sin, which killed Him, in order to produce the cure for sin for us. He points out that in the OT, sin was often “cured” by *instant* death to the sinner, but in the sinless Christ, it took six hours to “cure sin” and for Christ to die. He also points out that sin results in shame, which results in a feeling of alienation from God. (In other words, our sin doesn’t alienate us from God, but our shame does.) This would explain why Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” That’s rather hard to believe, but if Christ were feeling shame as a result of becoming sin, then it makes sense that Christ felt that our Father had forsaken Him. After all, Hebrews 2:12 says that Christ “despised the shame.”

    Of course, this theory (sorry, I’m sure of the exact doctrinal label) doesn’t explain WHY death is the only cure for sin, but it does offer a rather fascinating look at just one of many facets of the cross. And I apologize that I didn’t explain this as well as I would’ve liked; those who would be interested in Jacobsen’s stellar explanation should go here: http://www.lifestream.org/transition/transition.html, and listen to “The Cross: Cure Not Punishment.

    Like I said, I see penal substitution in the scripture, but I also see this view as well, and in light of the fact that I was raised to view God as harsh and stern, this is the view that I best understand. Mike — I appreciate your honest and humble approach to this topic.

  19. 19 Mike September 12, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Mike – A HUGE issue…

    Here’s my response in short: I don’t believe God sent Jesus to the cross because He required a blood sacrifice. I think he went because we required it.

    Slight–but not sufficient–expansion of that idea: Jesus came to bring the Law to completion, fruition, a close, etc.

    “OK, you people are addicted to the sacrificial system, so much so that you’ve missed the point. Alright then, let’s make one final sacrifice for forgiveness of sins, and be done with it. Now, can we please move on to actually living out life in the Kingdom please?”

    (That was my take on God speaking, btw.)

  20. 20 Peggy September 12, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Mike,

    Here goes a basic (although long–sorry that I do not have a site to which I could link…someday!) shot at how I understand the atonement of God in the blood of Jesus in his death on the cross. Atonement, at its core, is about reconciling relationships…and in order to understand why relationships need reconciliation, we must understand God’s view of relationships: covenant.

    God has revealed through scripture that he is a covenant-maker and a covenant-keeper. God’s covenants are the “ground rules” and the “culture” for right relationships. God made them with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David…just to name the big ones most of us are familiar with. But all along, he was hinting at, and preparing humanity for, the BIG one to come: the new (and final) covenant in Jesus Christ, God incarnate!

    So, please bear with me and follow the process:

    1. All of God’s creation was holy in the beginning. It was all perfect—precious. While it all suffers from the effects of The Fall, and is no longer perfect, it is still precious to God. Man is, of course, the most precious—being the Image Bearers of God—but next (not equal, as so many want to believe today!) after man were the animals. And they were especially precious because their living bodies contained a precious, life-giving substance called “blood.” The animals only shed the blood of another animal for food to survive. And the first record of an animal whose blood was shed gave his life so that God could make coverings for the nakedness of Adam and Eve…a start at reconciling the shame of their broken relationships!

    2. After this we begin to see “sacrifice” as something God required that showed honor and submission to God—offering to him the best that we have in recognition that all we have comes from him. It was a sacrifice because it was costly—to the human offering the sacrifice as well as the animal whose life was given back to God. Wealth was commonly counted by the size of one’s herds, back in agrarian cultures.

    3. Then we see God doing something special with the amazing covenant made with Abraham. He “cuts” a covenant (think blood brother rituals in cutting wrists and mingling the blood as something somewhat similar). He instructs Abraham to slay and cut the sacrifices into pieces and lay them out in a certain manner. And then God, present in the darkness through smoke and fire, passed between the pieces—God bound himself to Abraham in this oath. The oath—a blood oath—was taken by touching the blood of the covenant-making sacrifice, which basically was saying “may my blood be spilled (as this sacrificial blood is spilled) if I break this covenant.” It is significant that God is the one making this oath…and its importance will become clearer later!

    4. The important thing to remember about covenants is that they are agreements between parties with terms and conditions which must be faithfully kept. There are blessings for faithfulness and consequences for unfaithfulness. That God is the one binding himself to Abraham with the blood oath is important because God is the ever-faithful one. And this is the basis for Abraham’s famous faith—his faith was in God and the awesome blood-oath that he made with Abraham. God bound himself to bless Abraham—all Abraham was required to do was believe and obey God’s instructions. With this covenant, there is no “atonement”—that comes with the Mosaic covenant, hundreds of years later. God was taking “baby steps” in beginning to shape human relationships.

    5. After Moses brings God’s people out of Egypt—in keeping with his promise to Abraham, long after his death—he takes the next step: he gives them the law to make them separate and distinct from all other nations on the earth. He gives them the most amazing structure and the most specific instructions (which just goes to show us that if he wants to give detailed directions, he can and has…and in the absence of those details, he wants us to take some responsibility for prayerful and wise actions). There is an important addition to this covenant—as God had bound himself hundreds of years ago to this covenant with Abraham, he was expanding it now by requiring that the people also bind themselves to it and him. Abraham’s faith in God had been shown to be well placed…Joseph’s faith also…and the amazing way in which God had delivered them from bondage in Egypt—bringing away with them outrageous wealth as well—showed them God’s power. There’s was not the “blind” faith of Abraham. And so they come to the Mountain of Fire…and God descends to their midst. Blew their minds…

    6. No longer was the relationship of Israel with God (as formerly) something not quite tangible or regular—the God of their Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God was physically present among them…and Moses was his friend—a face-to-face friend. God delivered to Moses the terms and conditions on the tablets (along with all the other instructions later), and the people—talk about “shock and awe” agreed to be bound by them. They all brought the required sacrifices, and as they passed by Moses, tribe by tribe, clan by clan, family by family, he sprinkled them with the blood (mixed with water). Now it was not just God who was bound with the blood oath—the people had bound themselves with this blood oath. To break faith with God was to bring the consequence of death. (You will notice that covenant breaking had one big consequence: death.)

    7. Was this ruthless of God? No—in his mercy (since no human is capable of total faithfulness), God provided a way of escape. And here’s where “substitionary atonement” enters the picture. God allowed them to substitute the blood of animals for their own death to cover their lack of faithfulness—but only for those terms and conditions that did not carry an immediate sentence of death.

    8. In all of this Old Covenant history, you will see the mercy (Hebrew hesed, translated as mercy as well as love and loving-kindness) of God toward those whose hearts were turned toward him and who were quick to ask forgiveness, take responsibility for their actions and make restitution. (Think: David!)

    9. We see that God’s long-suffering toward the consistent covenant-breaking of Israel resulted in many calamities befalling them—with the Assyrians taking the 10 tribes in the north and dispersing them throughout the world. And then the Kingdom of Judah was eventually taken into the Babylonian captivity for 70 years—and Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple destroyed and plundered.

    10. But He brought them back to Jerusalem…and restored an Israel that would never again worship idols…in preparation for the final, grown-up, covenant. In this final covenant God would again be the one who would bind himself in a blood-oath—only this time it was not the blood of animals. It was his very own blood—the blood of Jesus, God incarnate—perfect and innocent, powerful enough to be the once and final sacrifice. This sacrifice was both covenant-making sacrifice AND covenant-breaking sacrifice. God shed his own blood to show the extent of his love and faithfulness toward us—and, in this new covenant, moved away from hundreds of terms and conditions (and so we must grow up and be responsible) to essentially two: Love God completely and love your neighbor as yourself. And even though we cannot perfectly keep covenant, God sets his seal on our hearts by making his dwelling in us by the Holy Spirit. His presence is his hesed—faithful covenant-keeping, providing everything we need to be faithful—if we will accept and submit to his aid—to obey.

    11. And this makes the focus on accepting God’s gracious covenant in Jesus—and being faithful covenant partners. God’s faithfulness to us comes from the Holy Spirit and through all the other covenant partners—those who comprise the Body of Christ, his beloved Bride. We are to be vigilant in loving God and loving each other, doing everything we can to help each other be faithful—the Holy Spirit in us coming to each other’s aid so as to prevent the Body from failing and falling.

    12. As a result of this, the point becomes not one of convincing folks that they are sinners in need of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice to appease an angry and holy God in the face of their filthy, sinful lives! It is to share the good news with everyone, in every culture and context, that the God who created the universe wants to be their heart-to-heart (better even than face-to-face) friend—and he offers us a binding blood-oath covenant to adopt us as sons and daughters, transforming us by coming to live in us, preparing us for an eternity at his royal court in heaven. Oh, and by the way, the “death sentence” part of the terms and conditions (for when we don’t quite live up to our part of the bargain) of this covenant has been paid—in advance—by our elder brother, Jesus. There is no fear of failure in this covenant, only love and freedom and power to obey—to faithfully love God and our neighbors.

    13. But there’s the rub…we do have stuff to do. We have to pursue this covenant faithfully. We must obey the law of love actively, continually, consistently, perseveringly, humbly, forgivingly, graciously, unconditionally…it is work—and it is the work we sign up for when we join God’s family. But the price for our adoption and our life-long process of transformation has been paid in advance. This is the good news—the Gospel—with which we are to teach and disciple the nations. And when we baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, they take their oath of fealty and “touch” the blood of Jesus in the waters of baptism, partake of his death and burial, and rise to newness of life as part of the family of God, the Body of Christ, the Bride, the Church.

    Amen.

    So that’s my story–at least the simply, cut-to-the-chase version of it!

    Blessings…

  21. 21 Shawn September 12, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with a depiction of God-the-Father that supposedly requires blood sacrifice in order to divert his vengeance from a humanity he hates so much that somebody’s gotta die.

    Yeah, me too. Luckily, the first 1000 years or so of Christian expression on this very, very important subject provides us with a solid alternative to the alternative that is penal substitution theory.

    Christus Victor is very much consistent with Jesus’ expression of non-violence and active resistance against evil and evil powers. It is also very consistent with the overarching New Testament dualistic (good vs. evil) framework. It has always been somewhat of a struggle to reconcile Jesus teaching re: non-violence with his proclamation re: the relationship he shared/shares with the father (i.e., if you see and hear me, then you are seeing/hearing the father!). It seems seriously illogical then, that this father who is illustrated as non-violent, would then use violence to defeat violence.

    Rather, Jesus overextended an evil force by non-violently battling it. Love wins. God is love; Jesus is love; we can be love now too, because in his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus defeated evil and broke the chains binding each of us. So, Christus Victor is all about sacrifice, Jesus dying for each of us, and God’s original love – not wrath – expressed for us.

    Penal Substitutionary theory is just twisted. It twists God too.

  22. 22 brotherjohnny September 13, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Wowee, Peggy.
    You saved me a lot of homework!
    Not only that, you confirmed (and expressed in way much better than I ever could) much of what was in my mind and heart.

    I still plan to contribute later, but time is sooo precious!

    Shawn, you touched on something that I also wanted to bring to the table.

    It is the oneness that Jesus shares with His Father that which keeps me from viewing His execution as a “Dad conceived me to kill me” frame of mind.
    In fact, God became everything (and everyone)that ever could have been against God and took it all to the grave.

    AND THEN HE ROSE AGAIN.

    There was death for Jesus, but it could not hold Him.

    Jesus, while facing His death said to His misunderstanding (however sincere and well meaning) followers, “Don’t weep for me. Weep for yourselves because you don’t believe.”

    “Death” is such a tragic thing to those who cannot see beyond it.

    Don’t get me wrong.
    I mourn the loss of my loved ones (and even strangers sometimes!!), but all in all, it’s because I miss them, not because I see death as the ‘grand finale’.
    One of the most blessed things about being in Christ is the fact that, although Christ died, we do not have to ‘miss’ Him.

    He Is….here!!!!
    We possess Him, and He is in our midst.

    Okay…the last thing that I want to say for now is about the “Now what?” factor which Mike brought up earlier.
    First, check out the immediate scriptural context for John 3:16 verses 12-15 (NKJV):

    “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
    No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

    There it is folks.
    The Son of Man MUST be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent on his staff.

    Now, 3:16:

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”.

    PURE SACRIFICIAL LOVE FOR THE WORLD.
    And how is this salvation appropriated (or refused)?

    “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    Jesus declares that condemnation is a given! (YIKES!)
    But then He also elaborates on what that condemnation is:

    “And this is the condemnation, that the light (Christ) has come into the world, and men loved darkness (not Christ) rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Because if Christ hadn’t come, mankind would not have known sin).

    Now for the “Now what?” question:
    “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

    Deeds.
    “Works” even.
    But it is all founded in Christ…not only His teachings, which reveal the sinfulness of mankind, but also His work, which is the answer to that darkness.

    The problem with considering truth to be theory, is that it prevents one from coming to the truth.

    No offense, (from me) anyone.
    I just callz ’em like I seez ’em.

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock,…
    Gotta run!
    Grace to you all!

  23. 23 Jon September 13, 2007 at 5:14 am

    Hi, Mike!

    Well, my comment is a post on my blog.

  24. 24 Brother Johnny September 13, 2007 at 11:27 am

    It is the oneness that Jesus shares with His Father which keeps me from viewing His (crucifixion) as a “Dad conceived me to kill me” frame of mind.
    In fact, God became everything (and everyone) that ever could have been against God and took it all to the grave.

    AND THEN HE ROSE AGAIN.

    There was death for Jesus, but it could not hold Him.
    Same for us who are born of Him.

    Jesus, while facing His death said to His misunderstanding (however sincere and well meaning) followers, “Don’t weep for me. Weep for yourselves because you don’t believe.”

    “Death” is such a tragic thing to those who cannot see beyond it.

    Don’t get me wrong.
    I mourn the loss of my loved ones (and even strangers sometimes!!), but all in all, it’s because I miss them, not because I see death as the ‘grand finale’.

    One of the most blessed things about being in Christ is the fact that, although Christ died, we do not have to ‘miss’ Him.

    He Is….here!!!!
    We possess Him, and He is in our midst.

    Okay…the last thing that I want to say for now is about the “Now what?” factor which Mike brought up earlier*.
    First, check out the immediate scriptural context for John 3:16 verses 12-15 (NKJV):

    “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
    No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

    There it is folks.
    The Son of Man MUST be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent on his staff.

    Now, 3:16:

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”.

    PURE SACRIFICIAL LOVE FOR THE WORLD.
    And how is this salvation appropriated (or refused)?

    “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    Jesus declares that condemnation is a given! (YIKES!)
    But then He also elaborates on what that condemnation is:

    “And this is the condemnation, that the light (Christ) has come into the world, and men loved darkness (not Christ) rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Because if Christ hadn’t come, mankind would not have known sin).

    Now for the “Now what?” question:
    “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

    Deeds.
    “Works” even.
    The stuff we do (or don’t do).

    Maybe even more accurately, ‘The Way we Live our (His) Life’.

    But it is all founded in Christ…not only His teachings, which reveal the sinfulness of mankind, but also His work, which is the answer to that darkness.

    The problem with considering truth to be theory, is that it prevents one from coming to the truth.

    No offense, (from me) anyone.
    I just callz ‘em like I seez ‘em.

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock,…
    Time…
    More precious than gold.
    Gotta run!
    Grace to you all!

    * The “Now what?” factor, I believe is more or less, “Now that we know that we have been redeemed by God, what do we do in light of that fact?”
    My response at this point is, ” Let’s be sure that we are in the light of that fact, and then we can ‘work out’ our (notice the plural ‘our’ as opposed to the singular ‘my’) salvation from there”.

  25. 25 zoecarnate September 13, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Insightful comments, everyone! And I’m gonna attempt to reply to all of you now, so bear with me…🙂

    Amie, I think you’re on to something when you say “I suspect that the answer lies in the life that he died to share with us.” Jesus’ death can not be parsed off and separated from the life he lived somehow. He did not get crucified for some abstract theological reason–at least not in the minds of his executors! There was something extraordinarily threatening about the way he lived and what he taught; I wish we–his friends and followers–could be “caught” being just as subversive.

    Alas, Jason, I’m getting an “Internal Server Error” when I try to pull up your blog posts…I’ll attempt again later. But you’re absolutely right that we should be humble, and not dismiss a model of atonement that many have found meaningful and life-giving through the years. I don’t want to evaluate a straw-man, I want to hear a robust and enthusiastic description of it, which I think Peter Bell and others get to later on here.

    Monk-in-Training, it’s perfectly acceptable that this is not “very theological”–thank you for beings so vulnerable with us here about your experience with Jesus and your wife. I agree that Jesus’ incarnation and death are vital parts of God’s redemption of the world–the descent, loss, and emptying are facets of faith and life we need to face squarely.

    Brian Davis, I suspect you’re right when you say “I don’t believe there is a unified theology of atonement in the NT writings.” For instance, “The Cross” was such an all-pervasive tool of terror for the State that I don’t think we need to force uniformity on all the NT authors and speakers when they use it metaphorically. So often I was taught growing up that to affirm the inspiration of Scripture, one needed to affirm that all its voices spoke in a monochrome fashion. Thank God this isn’t true–God speaks via a rich tapestry of voices, even ones we need to hold in creative tension.

    Brian Smith, I hope that people here read your entire post on this, whether they embrace God’s unconditional reconciliation of humanity or not. If you don’t mind I’ll quote a couple of salient points. “Jews find this idea of human sacrifice too horrible to even think about. It’s a major stumbling block for many devout Jews to believe that G-d had anything to do with this. The lesson Jews take away from Abraham’s trip up the mountain with Isaac is that G-d does not want human blood.” You get down to the crux of what I’m thinking (and what Mike Todd says too) when you say–this is a long quote folks but it’s worth reading–:

    The New Testament doesn’t talk about G-d being reconciled to man. Of course it teaches the reconciliation of man to G-d by the death of Jesus (Christ). That is clear. But, the problem was not a problem within G-d. It’s not that G-d was schizophrenic or had a divided mind. The G-d who could not forgive without a pound of flesh was the god Baal (I Kings 15:32-32; 18:26-29; Psalms 106:28; Jeremiah 11:17; 19:5; 32:35. Zephaniah 1:4-5), the god Molech (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5; Jeremiah 32:35) and the gods of the Mayans and Aztecs. Frankly, I think the ancient Hebrews were influenced by the gods around them and attributed some of these traits to YHWH. That’s why they came up with the idea of blood sacrifice.

    Let me interrupt the quote here for some of you who might be balking that this is “unbiblical.” Remember what I just said about different voices speaking in creative tension, all in divinely-inspired Holy Writ? I think this is the case here, because other voices in Scripture denounce the whole sacrificial understanding of spirituality. Which is where Brian continues…

    “The prophets said, on more than one occasion that G-d did not want Israel’s blood sacrifice (see below). But, man knows that sin is wrong and wants there to be a way to make up for it. So, we create this idea that if we do something wrong, we can make up for it by “sacrificing”. If you really think about it though, this doesn’t really make sense. Sure, in a few crimes, there is the possibility of restitution. But, the saying that two wrongs don’t make a right is true. Punishment never reverses the course caused by sin. No amount of punishment can “pay” for sin. True Justice, the Justice of G-d “justifies” the ungodly (Romans 4:5). G-d takes the responsibility for the ungodly (Romans 5:6), as He should. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”.

    Ponder these verses from the Tanakh (Old Testament if you will) concerning sacrifice:

    “For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices; but this thing I commanded them, saying, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.” (Jeremiah 7:22-23)

    “What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.” (Hos. 6:6)

    “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me?” sayeth the Lord. “I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs or of he-goats…bring no more vain oblations…. Your new moon and your appointed feasts my soul hateth;…and when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.” (Isa. 1:11-16)

    “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yea, though you offer me burnt-offerings and your meal offerings, I will not accept them neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy song; and let Me not hear the melody of thy psalteries. But let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:21-4)

    Who Killed Jesus?

    OK, here’s a major point that deserves a new paragraph. Brace yourself because this might be very new to you. G-d didn’t kill Jesus. We did. We’ve been taught G-d sent Yeshua to die. That’s true. We’ve been taught this was the will of the Father. That is also true. But, it’s man that killed Yeshua. Our ridiculous judicial system, our hard heartedness, our anger, killed Him. We drove the nails into Him and hung Him up; not G-d. G-d allowed Himself (or His agent) to be murdered by us to show us how much He loves us. He allowed us to torture and kill Him without missing a beat of showing how much He loved us. He broke our hard stubborn hearts and showed us the Way to salvation. We have to die (to ourselves) and be resurrected to experience the Kingdom of Heaven. Yeshua’s death was the ultimate act that showed man just how wrong we had been about G-d. Our projections of His anger and disgust with us were just that, projecting our own anger and disgust on Him. The G-d and Father of Yeshua is the ultimate friend of sinners. G-d is not the one who demands blood. G-d is the one who gives blood ”I have given you the blood upon the altar (Leviticus 17:11).”

    Brian’s insight continues, so read on.

    christianmystics (who is apparently YET A THIRD Brian!), your comparison of models of atonement (or any form of theology, really) to Newtonian physics is apt. As Andrew Perriman points out, we do violence to ancient paradigms when we attempt to “cut and paste” them into our present context.

    Geoff, I think you’re right about trends away from bloodiness in song-worship. Sure this can be lamented if all we’re replacing it with are happy-clappy praise choruses, but we really can’t blame people in the pews for being deeply uncomfortable singing about bathing in a man’s blood–even if it’s the Son of Man!

    Johnny…I replied to you last time.🙂 And I see that you tried to post a reply here last night? How odd. I promise I didn’t ban you or anything, bro!

    Peter, thank you so much for bringing us this robust expression of substitutionary atonement that I was clamoring for earlier. If everyone who embraced it was as humble and irenic as you (and Johnny), our religious/political culture would be a much kinder place. You’re right–there is something life-giving about the cross, the blood of Jesus, the atonement, that has real power. I experienced this shared sense of energizing in many a Baptist and Pentecostal meeting growing up…it’s like a primal force. Meister Eckhart writes of the Passion and how now “God’s blood flows through our veins.” Consider this whole post faith seeking understanding, exploring this Mystery. And yes, we underestimate both darkness and light, don’t we? (And I love what you said about Sayers and “This is the only thing that has ever happened.” There is something primal and resonant about the Lamb on the throne, slain before the foundation of the world.)

    John L, you say some quotable things when you say “We cannot contain Christ’s depths in rational thought. Perhaps that was His intent – that the cross remain as a mind-blowing, consciousness shifting, logic-busting event that weaves its way into our ecclesial unconscious. Which it has.” It sure has! And, you hold some profound truths in tension that are at the nexus of what we’re discussing. On the one hand, “salvation is not something I achieve through my own efforts.” And on the other hand, we are participants in the Passion ourselves: “Becoming Christ-like means dying to self, dying to desire – remaining focused on the Other. I cannot find a more compelling path to follow than Christ’s trail of redemption – perfected and finished in the cross and resurrection.” I think that those who emphasize “finished work,” liberty, and grace need to have a long, mutually-edifying sit-down with those who see our life in Christ as a Path to follow, as actionable items that mirror God’s Kingdom. We need both.

    Hi Ed, I’m not sure which political culture you live in! In the one I see, a pro-military, pro-war political culture dominates on both sides of the aisle. Unless you mean the global outcry about the tragedy that is Iraq…but we won’t get into such politics in this post!🙂 I totally agree with you that our culture has this sanitizing taboo toward actual death, and therefore we release this pent-up repression via an ultra-violent media culture. What does all this do to the way we–all of us–see the crucifixion of Jesus?

    I’m also with you that “I don’t believe in the atonement because I find its logic compelling. I believe in Christ because his sacrifice says something about the extent of God’s love for us, and of his power over his creation. I can understand that much. Is this anti-intellectual fideism?” Not at all! I do seek understanding here, but realizing that it’s always only approximate, and that at the end of the day a theory or model of atonement is not what my heart craves. It craves the unfolding fellowship of the Godhead, disclosed Mystery.

    Ah, and I’m afraid whatever else is said here and about this, it will be in the light Andrew Perriman sheds here. It’s all about the narrative–we can’t separate the particulars from the biblical story, and think we’ve done something ‘timeless.’ Andrew says “Penal substitution, to my mind, makes complete sense when (and only when) Jesus’ death is interpreted in light of the fact that Israel according to the flesh and Jerusalem in particular faced destruction because of sin, because it had reneged on the covenant. Jesus suffers and dies on behalf of a nation that would soon be devastated by war so that at least a remnant might emerge from the wreckage to fight another day.” Even though he calls me a “yapping, excitable Jack Russell” by association, I think he’s right. Let’s all read this and this together. I believe this will pave the way forward, for all of us. While I still maintain that there is a voice in Hebrew faith that calls us to transcend the sacrifice paradigm, I’ll admit it’s the minority voice (possessed by the Prophets and not the Priestly strain), and one read sympathetically by contemporary voices, at that. It’s not that penal substitution/sacrifice ideas aren’t “biblical”–it could be that they’re so biblical and Jesus’ “sacrificial” death did such a thorough job of excising our religious consciousness, that the notion of blood atonement for covenantal transgression is now completely foreign and even profane to us now. If this turns out to be true–and I think it will–then we as the Church in the 21st century will have to consciously be “un-biblical” in our articulation of the good news today–for fidelity to God and in the name of being truly biblical, recognizing the passing of a paradigm.

    Wendei(y), thank you for your thoughts on this–I think we all agree, atonement is big! And thanks for bringing George MacDonald and my friend Wayne Jacobsen into this. I’ll be listening to the link to Wayne you provided.

    Mike Todd, I’m with you and Brian Smith in this, that “I don’t believe God sent Jesus to the cross because He required a blood sacrifice. I think he went because we required it.” I think that the whole scape-goating scheme is intimately rooted in our own religious tit-for-tat nature; but I do think it is something that God condescended to use, both in the Old Covenant and, ironically, as one lens or springboard to catapult us into the New. But even though God gave meticulous instructions about how to “do” sacrifices “unto him,” I think it’s like kings and holy places–initially, God didn’t want ’em! (For those who may not realize, the first times in the Old Testament the Hebrew people brought up a.) having a King, and b.) having a holy place, like a temple, God kind of laughed and snorted and said “What do you need that for? What do I need that for?” God wanted to relate to humanity directly, and across all the earth. Same with “prophets”–according to the narrative, God gave the people prophets at Sinai because they didn’t all want to hear God’s voice. I’m horrible with Scripture references this morning so I can’t proof-text each of these three instances–a little help from my bible-beltin’ brethren and sistren?) But God used ’em, because we called for them! But I see in Jesus, God taking back his original dream in all it’s robust-ness. That’s where the great eschatological banquet comes in–no rulers, no ‘sacred vs. secular’ places, and no sacrifice…a world of mercy, not blood atonement. The blood atonement paradigm is at the root of all vengeance, all wars. It had its day in the sun, but it is done away with in the perfect Love which casts out fear.

    Peggy, Shawn, Jon, Johnny (do try and post your comment again here!)…I will continue later, but I’m exhausted. Whew! All this typin’ and articulatin’.

    But I want to thank you, all of you, for this insight. In interacting with your comments I already feel like I’ve absorbed more of the mind of Christ, the wisdom of God, on this. Even if half of you now think I’m a heretic.😉 More later…

  26. 26 Amie September 13, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Acknowledging that God is not limited to any gender, I like to relate to God mother ‘e mother from time to time. Another woman shared a thought concerning that via a story that she read about a mother who spotted a swarm of bees coming at her child. She ran at the bees, arms flailing, nostrils flared, to the point (I would imagine) that the child was afraid. The subject was the wrath of God. I can’t help but to imagine a mother bear in such a case, lol.

    Anyhow, she was running at the bees, and not at the child as the child might have perceived.

    Leaping further in the imagination, what if other children stood between she and the endangered one? Some might actually perceive a danger to their sibling and work against her efforts, while others might have not even noticed what was happening. They too, would be in danger of getting hurt.

    What if Jesus was letting some know that he was about to go after the bees and to get out of the way? What if he laid down his life bringing that warning?

    What if the bees were bullets, and he was about to jump in front of them?

    Are either of those sacrifices penal?

    Not unless intent by the bees or shooter is brought into the equation, and I can see that correlation per “the way of Cain” (yet another sibling).

    I agree with Mike – God was not the triggerman. This wasn’t suicide, it was a sacrifice.

    This wasn’t Jesus saving us from God’s target practice, rather, this was humanity being saved from itself.

    I see how the sacrifice of Christ could be seen as penal, I do not see how it is limited to it.

  27. 27 bob September 13, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    I understand the desire to clean up the picture a bit. I think it’s a natural trajectory of our desire to follow the Prince of Peace.

    However… a number of things are clear to me (in other words, this is all IMHO).

    First, ANYTHING taken too far gets out of balance, out of joint. Preach ONLY a God of Love and you’ll be just as whacked out as those who preach ONLY a God of Justice. He’s both. And the fact that His love AND His justice met on the Cross is an essential part of the Gospel that can’t be forgotten.

    Second- it’s not just a particular reading of the certain Pauline passages that get you to substitution. I mean, c’mon, folks…
    This is the ENTIRE scope of history from the Garden on- the substitute that stands in the place of the weak, the sinful… that covers them, dies for them (in their place) and does what they can’t do. The sacrificial lamb who finds ultimate fulfillment in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
    To say that picture only comes from a certain reading of Paul does great, HUGE disservice to the rest of the Scriptures.

    Third- to degrade (as some famously have) the Cross as “cosmic child abuse” shows a poverty of Trinitarian thinking. It’s not that God was so mad, “hates [us] so much that somebody’s gotta die”… but that he hats SIN so much and sin had to be judged.
    And it wasn’t that God was looking around for someone to punish. He took the punishment HIMSELF.

    Lose that aspect of the substitutionary atonement, and yeah- it feels out of whack. But put it in its proper perspective of God being so just He had to punish sin and so loving He took the punishment Himself and we’re back to something that, while sounding “evangelical” (and I certainly hope we’re not all being so reactionary we throw out true theological formulations just because people we don’t want to be like ascribe to them) fits extremely well with the whole scope of Scripture.

    Lastly- as has been said by others, much more eloquently than I- the Atonement is a multi-faceted jewel. Christus Victor? Absolutely. Ransom? Yep. Example? Most certainly. Substitute?

    Yes.

    The only way to deny it is to do a Thomas Jefferson on both the Old and New Testaments, and we wouldn’t want to do that would we?🙂

  28. 28 Amie September 13, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Bob,

    Do you believe that God wanted to punish us?

  29. 29 zoecarnate September 13, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Bob, thanks for stopping by! I know there are a ton here, but I hope you can take a few moments to read the comments here, ’cause they’re far better than the post. I think we are (or at least I am) coming to a shared understanding of the meaning of atonement, elucidated in three quadrants here by Peggy (Covenantal–largely what you’re speaking of), Andrew Perriman (Narrative/Contextual), and Brian Smith (subversive/minority textual reading, whose time has finally come). These three have to form an interplay, methinks. Bob, I know in recent days/months/years you’ve been cautious of what you’ve perceived as the “liberal wing” of the emerging church conversation–I understand. But I think, given time (and time is kind’ve compressed now, that we’re online!), we will self-correct and all of the voices will contribute to a new synthesis. I don’t think I or anyone on here want to live up to H. Richard Niebuhr’s epithet: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” And yet, maybe words like “wrath” and “judgment” aren’t what we’ve taken them to be along “conventional” lines of thinking. Read George MacDonald’s sermon “Justice,” from 1883. I’d be interested in your take.

    Oh and Amie, I don’t think Bob is saying that God wants to punish us; I think he’s saying (correct me if I’m wrong, Bob) that God needs to punish (or more adequately, eradicate) sin…your whole bees and child and mother illustration.🙂 Maybe.

    One final thought, Bob: Have you read Chalke and Mann’s Lost Message of Jesus? ‘Cause it’s a wonderful book IMO, and I don’t think they’re saying what people think they’re saying in fielding the “cosmic child abuse” objection. This phrase is not even original to them; I think it’s at least a decade or two older.

  30. 30 ladynada September 13, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Another facet of what Jesus did, in His Death on the cross was killing the carnal-man on the cross. This understanding ties in with our need to present our own bodies as a living sacrifice _and_ taking up our own crosses daily – i.e. crucifying our own carnal-mind and its lies that it whispers in our minds.

    I write extensively on the carnal-mind in man and teach that it is both the thorn of the Apostle Paul and the the carnal-mind IS the son of perdition.

    I think if we move in that direction we will receive more insight and revelation from the Holy Spirit about just exactly _why_ Jesus of Nazareth had to ‘die’ to gain redemption for all.

    More: He was tempted as we are, but did not sin – meaning He had to endure the whispers of the carnal mind inherited from His mother’s flesh, but He did NOT OBEY the carnal mind, no, not even ONCE.

    We, however, have all obeyed this lying thought producer in our minds at least once, and thus this teaching also teaches how that everyone has indeed sinned and fallen short. To sin, is to think, speak and/or act on a LIE. This explanation helps many more people ADMIT to themselves and to God, that yes, okay when you put it like that, I have sinned. Alot of people do not understand what sin is, and this definition helps them come to repentance.

    So, even though Jesus was(is) the Son of God, and He could have commanded angels, He could have established His Kingdom, etc. etc. NO, no no, He could not, because His BODY of flesh which He inherited from His mother had this carnal-mind construct attached to it, just as we all do, which we inherited from Adam, due to his disobedience ( thinking, speaking, and acting on a LIE).

    So, Jesus had to put the carnal-mind to death in His flesh, both during His lifetime by NOT obeying, and on the cross, before He could get the NEW BODY.

    As Christians, we are to do exactly the same thing. Stop obeying the carnal mind’s commandments by seeking to hear God’s Voice more clearly, and, look forward to His Kingdom first, in the which we expect to receive the new body. It was the new body that Paul the Apostle wanted when his race was finished. Paul wanted to be glorified – and assumed, correctly, that that was the last step in the sanctification process. But the timing was not right — Glory to God — the time is near right here, right now, both to see Paul raised, and for us to be Glorified by God’s Grace.

    love,
    nada

  31. 31 brotherjohnny September 13, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Arnie,
    Do you believe that the Lord chastens those He loves?
    Just wondering.

  32. 32 brotherjohnny September 13, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    (Looks like I am able to comment again!!)

  33. 33 ladynada September 13, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    I need to add:

    For Jesus, it was succinctly the fact that He was OBEDIENT even to the going to the cross, that clinched the destruction of the carnal-mind construct – in that act – Jesus did indeed become what some call the Cosmic Christ – which instead of being disparaged as a new age witchcraft term, could be more properly understood to convey the fact that Jesus of Nazareth redeemed the entire creation from, thinking, speaking and acting on LIES.

    It is with LIES that the principalities and powers in the second heaven destroy people’s souls through DECEPTION, in which the people, by their own free will, obey and thus sin.

    The “world system” is a death system and is not the Kingdom of God, nor will the world system be redeemed. The world system is to be destroyed once and for all. And Jesus’ death on the cross, His obedience, is what destroyed the Babylon system and the false wisdom of the Harlot, and the antichrist lying mind.

    So, therefore, it was OBEDIENCE that did it. Just as it was the First Adam’s disobedience that allowed the fallen powers to attach the denial-mind construct to the flesh of mankind.

    Please, please please, understand that this evil-mind that speaks thoughts in our minds, IS NOT our own mind at all. We are admonished to put on the Mind of Christ for this very reason. You are, whom you obey. We must obey the thoughts of Christ which are given to us by the Holy Spirit who teaches us everything that Christ says and cleanses us of all unrighteousness (world system thinking, speaking and doing).

    It is crucial that every Christian ask for the Holy Spirit. To lead us to ALL TRUTH is the ministry of the Holy Spirit – and should be the focus of every believer when it comes to teaching about the purpose of the Holy Spirit. All the the other things we teach about fruit, power, infilling, baptism in, etc. all THAT, comes as a RESULT of our OBEDIENCE to the TEACHING of the Holy Spirit, within us. First, ask for the Holy Spirit and then allow the Holy Spirit to teach you, one on one, how to think, speak and act. If we, by our own free will, OBEY the Holy Spirit, then we become the Sons of God, and all the fruits, power, and infilling will be ours now.

    Only, only, only the Holy Spirit can give us the POWER to overcome the influence of the thoughts of the carnal mind. We can NOT battle the carnal mind with only our own mind, because it is too deceptive and will pretend to be battling itself, as an example of how insidious it really is.

    This whole issue about the Holy Spirit and the carnal mind in man, is why Christians have been so powerless all these centuries.

    I could teach all day on the carnal mind. My deliverance came in August of 2002, and the Holy Spirit can and will get you to the point where the battle is much much easier. Once you allow the Holy Spirit to begin processing out your worldly thinking, you will:

    1. Hear God’s Voice more and more clearly.
    2. Desire more and more for more cleansing. (cry Purify Me!)
    3. Allow God to cleanse you of bad habits according to HIS timetable and HIS choice of which ones need cleansing. In other words, His priority list, not yours.
    4. Be in God’s Will more and more and eventually all the time.
    5. All things work together for good, even if you make a mistake or have an accident.
    6. This one is HUGE – your LOVE-QUOTIENT – will grow. Your capacity to hold God’s Love and spontaneously express God’s love will increase.
    7. You will know God’s heart about more and more things.
    8. Your ability to forgive increases for real, not just because you should.
    9. this one is huge too – you will UNDERSTAND why people act so mean, because they too are being beat up by their own carnal mind, thus you forgive and love them, for real.

    Other things that may happen:

    1. when you hear or see an ambulance/police car, you will pray for the people involved immediately.
    2. You wont be able to watch the same stuff on tv
    3. Your heart will break a little here and there over how bad things are because we are all deceived by the carnal mind. ie you will feel God’s pain over our plight.

    so… that should give you ample ideas of what this carnal mind business is all about and why it is God’s Prime Directive in these times that every person, especially Christians who have access to the ONLY POWER over the carnal mind, MUST BE TAUGHT ABOUT THE CARNAL MIND IN MAN.

  34. 34 ladynada September 13, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    I did not speak to the blood issue. The Life is in the blood, we know the Bible teaches that. We all have to partake of all the new parts that Jesus’ obedience provides. New mind, New heart, New Body, and New blood.

    God Bless Us,
    nada

  35. 35 brotherjohnny September 13, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    “It’s not that penal substitution/sacrifice ideas aren’t “biblical”–it could be that they’re so biblical and Jesus’ “sacrificial” death did such a thorough job of excising our religious consciousness, that the notion of blood atonement for covenantal transgression is now completely foreign and even profane to us now. If this turns out to be true–and I think it will–then we as the Church in the 21st century will have to consciously be “un-biblical” in our articulation of the good news today–for fidelity to God and in the name of being truly biblical, recognizing the passing of a paradigm”.

    So we cut out all the stuff about the substitutional death of Christ, in order to be more relevant for today?

    “Behold, the Lamb of God who is fluffy and cute!”

    I dunno…

    How far do we want to take this ‘un-biblicalism?

    If you take the work of Christ away from Christ, you no longer have the whole Person and soon you will have to take away Christ (which may or may not be a problem for some).

    And likewise, if you take away Christ, then you take away the work of God, and you have a the same problem again.
    (Not that this is anyones intention here).

    If you mention the name “Jesus”, the cross will always come to mind, in spite of whatever mental associations/aberrations we may have of that thought. And if we were to try cut that part of ‘the story’ out, again, you take away the very work of God in Christ.

    So long as blood runs through the veins of men, and as long as there is sin in the world (and if you don’t think there is, consider the lost souls who rape little kids and beat up old grandmas), there will be also an instinctual desire to put that sin to death (sometimes this is manifest in desiring to bring to reality the Kingdom of God).

    This is the way that was demonstrated on the cross, and, believe it or not, it was a sacrificial act of unconditional love.

    This is also the Way that we are called to live among one another.
    Bearing our own “cross” and even the ‘crosses’ of others (to some degree).
    Sure this teaching can be abused, but as someone in this thread already pointed out, any aspect of total truth, removed and magnified in and of itself can become perverted.

    There are many authoritarian groups who use teachings along the lines of ‘A Tale of Three Kings’ in order to control and manipulate their people. That being said, we should not throw out the practice of ‘submitting ourselves to one another’ simply because certain dogs and wolves corrupt the truth of Gods counsel.

    Anyway…
    You caught me ranting..
    Sorry🙂

    This is my last comment on this subject here but I appreciate your response(s) Mike, and everyone.

    Grace and Peace to you all through Jesus Christ

  36. 36 zoecarnate September 13, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    I’m afraid you misunderstood me, bro–or maybe I mis-communicated, again.

    I’m saying that, what if one of the things Jesus died and resurrected to redeem us from was the whole notion of retributive justice and blood-sacrifice? If, as Hebrews says, Jesus is the final sacrifice, and he did this 2,000 years ago, then it makes sense that the whole notion of a human sacrifice for others wouldn’t make sense to us today! Jesus’ sacrifice was so effective, that the notion of ‘sacrifice’ (in this narrow sense) is effectively lost to our contemporary consciousness.

    What I mean by being ‘intentionally un-biblical’ is not to promote biblical ignorance as though it were a virtue; I think communities of faith should be deeply rooted in the biblical story–we should know it inside and out, far better than we do now, in fact. (Read the links that Andrew Perriman has provided to some of the story–he’s actually with you that penal substitution was how Israel and the earliest church made sense of Jesus’ death) But in so doing, we’ll see just how particular it all was, and how it can’t just be plucked out of its context and “applied” to us today.

    And yet, the early Christian movement was a universalizing force, and they did see cosmic, age-abiding significance to what happened with the execution of a Palestinian peasant and his divine vindication. So we have to ask two questions: 1.) How was it that our earliest faith-expression made the jump from being a localized Jewish apocalyptic phenomenon to being something that reconciled “Jew and Greek”, and 2.) What, if anything, does this have to do with us today?

    I think it has plenty to do with us today, by the way. But I don’t think it’s as obvious as “applying” the Bible to our present situation. I think that a.) We need to tell the ancient stories, as painstakingly faithfully as we possibly can; b.) Tell our own stories, rooted in the stories of our forbears, but making them our own and tracing new currents of divine meaning and activity in our midst, today. This assumes that c.) Holy Spirit is still living and active today, permeating our lives and infusing them with meaning. These new stories will have echoes of, and pay homage to, the biblical days of old–but they will be remixed, playful, midrash, uniquely ours. Because God is moving forward.

    As Jesus says in Matthew 13:52: “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

  37. 37 Amie September 13, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    Mike,

    I appreciate the clarification on Bob’s behalf. The question was sincere, I hadn’t drawn any conclusion.

    brotherjohnny,

    What inspired you to wonder? I do think that there was a time and place for chastisement. I’m not sure that it would translate into the present.

    Amie

  38. 38 brotherjohnny September 14, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Okay. One last comment.

    Dang it…you are just too engaging.

    Mike, over all, and in general, I totally understand the gist of everything you (and others) are saying..and I actually agree with much of it.

    It’s just some of the smaller blurbs that are interwoven within the conversation catch my attention, rub me the wrong way, and I react… (inappropriately sometimes).

    Debt and redemption go much deeper than blood sacrifice for sins.
    This is truly a universal reality that permeates all things in the created world.

    Taoists call it yin yang,…others ‘give and take’,…off and on, push and pull….etc…(you get it).

    When telling someone the good news, I have often used terms related to finances.
    Everyone understands money and how it works.

    In the world, we must work for our money. We use it to buy things.
    If we run out, sometimes we must borrow and we find ourselves in debt. As a matter of fact, in our case, we inherited the debt from our forefathers, …even born into it.

    Dang!

    The good news is that SomeOne has written a check for…all the money in the world, and your (our) name is on it.
    There is nothing that you (we) have done which earned you (us) this check, but instead it is freely and happily given to you.
    No strings.

    This check is not only enough to spring us from our debt, but it is also enough to give us all that we would ever need FOREVER.
    All we need do is accept and receive this check!!!

    Now we could be arrogant or proud and refuse, but our debt is so tremendous, we could never truly work long or hard enough to pay it off, and thus, as long as we lived, we would never know what freedom really was.
    Well, God is that SomeOne, and He is also that Check in the Person of Jesus, AND HE is also what the check is worth.
    And MUCH more.
    So we grab hold of the check and see that it is dated “before the foundations of the world”.

    Now this is the first time that we have ever actually seen the check, but we find that it has always been there for us.

    (I promise I never heard of this example before telling it myself, although I have since heard very similar presentations….not that I was the first or anything🙂 )
    Now this example may fall short of what you have in mind as the debt/redemption story is still involved….
    I know that you value that fundamental aspect of Christ, but I also know that you want to move forward.

    Which is wonderful!

    So let’s do that.

    Now that SomeOne has freed us, we find ourselves incredibly grateful to Him, and we want to do for others what He has done for us.

    He becomes our “Daddy”, and as the old saying goes, “Father Knows Best”.
    We want to learn from Him, and He is willing to teach us.

    He is a real Person.

    We come to boldly to the throne of grace, but we also come humbly to the Great Teacher for His instruction.

    We can either move on with Him in this (and of course there is more than just teaching…there is genuine Father-son relationship as well…), or we can forget that we have been ‘purchased’, and walk in our own pride.

    I think this is what you are talking about.
    I understand the limitations of metaphor, but I think this one conveys my heart and mind, and what I believe to be the mind of Christ as well.

    At this point, we are saying, “Ok. We have the funds. We have stability. We have plenty. So, now let’s reach out to those who do not (both spiritually and physically).
    Let’s be like Father.

    If this is the gist of it, then I say, Amen, and Amen.
    If not,…what do you say?

    Can you give me your own personal example of a modern day, relevant presentation of the good news…or as you say, story?
    It would make a great new post (hint, hint).

  39. 39 Brother Johnny September 14, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Ah…quick correction here.

    I shoul;d not have said, “Debt and redemption go much deeper than blood sacrifice for sins”.

    Actually, I don’t think it get’s any DEEPER than this…but this same principle is demonstrated in many other ways as well (As illustrates in many different parables).
    That’s all.

    And Amie…,
    There is a strong correlation between ‘chastisement’ and ‘punishment’.

    Peace.

  40. 40 Brian Davis September 14, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Mike,

    For me, what Brian Smith said in his blog reflects precisely how I feel about the substitutionary view of atonement. And, as Brian clearly showed, principled opposition to the temple-based sacrificial system is found within the Hebrew prophetic tradition, and Hosea’s words “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” are repeated by Jesus himself in the gospels. Probably Ezekiel was the first prophet who was prepared to accept a reformed version of temple worship, rather than condemning it outright.

    Bob said that God’s love and justice meet on the Cross, but I just don’t see that – where is the justice in the execution of an innocent man?

    I also doubt that the animal sacrifices in the old covenant system were viewed as substitutionary. The sheep or goat did not bear the sins of the person making the atonement or take his place ; the only animal on to which sins were transferred in this way was the scapegoat, which was not sacrificed at all but driven out of the camp.

    When John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”, this is entirely the wrong metaphor for substitutionary atonement – if that’s what he had in mind he would have said “sheep” or “bull” or “goat” of God, not lamb. Possibly John was referring to lamb slain at Passover, but this was not an atoning sacrifice for sin.

    Without getting into a nitpicking exercise over biblical metaphors and symbols, my point is this : too often all of the different metaphors used by NT writers are mixed together as if they all had the same basic meaning – sin offering, scapegoat, Passover lamb, ransom or redemption from bondage, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, victory over ‘the powers’ and so forth. But there is no single, unified “biblical” view of atonement that can sweep all these different metaphors together and harmonise them into a unified theory.

    Two final points :
    (1) Given the rich variety of metaphors used in the NT to understand what God did in Jesus to reconcile us to himself, we should be wary of pronouncing just one these approaches “the biblical view of atonement”, or worse still insisting that anyone who doesn’t accept a specific theory is denying the fact of the atonement itself.

    (2) We should permit ourselves a generous degree of freedom to work out a theology of atonement in terms which make sense to us as 21st Century believers who are not first-century Jews or medieval Christians.

    Brian

  41. 41 John L September 14, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Everyone wants to understand the cross. Penal? Substitution? Contextual? Subversive? CV? DCA? When someone can adequately explain HOW Jesus materialized food and reattached body parts, perhaps then we can move on to (far) more esoteric concepts, like atonement.

    I hear in MM and others a plea to keep the cross bigger than our attempts at logical reduction – to keep the conversation open and fluid – allowing the cross to emerge into ever-greater spiritual depths. If God’s love is unconditional, then Christ will always be bigger than our conditions.

    Perhaps that is a perennial message of the cross: whether we’ve lived our entire life praying and serving (and parsing atonement theory..) OR murdering and thieving (or, horrors, following another religion..) – the difference between us in God’s eyes is nothing but a brief moment of faith (Lk 23: 43).

  42. 42 brotherjohnny September 14, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    When John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”, this is entirely the wrong metaphor for substitutionary atonement – if that’s what he had in mind he would have said “sheep” or “bull” or “goat” of God, not lamb. Possibly John was referring to lamb slain at Passover, but this was not an atoning sacrifice for sin.

    Hmmm.

    Lev 14:12-13
    “And the priest shall take *one male lamb* and offer it as a *trespass offering*, and the log of oil, and wave them as a wave offering before the LORD.
    “Then he shall kill the lamb in the place where he kills the sin offering and the burnt offering, in a holy place; for as the sin offering is the priest’s, so is the trespass offering. It is most holy.

    Seriously. This could go on and on and back and forth forever.
    I have a post that I am working on to ‘cap off’ my input into this conversation. When I finish it, I’ll post a link here.

    Grace and Peace in Christ.

  43. 43 Brian Davis September 16, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Just to set the record straight…
    Johnny quoted Leviticus 14:12-13 where indeed a lamb was to be sacrificed. But the passage starts by saying that “this shall be the ritual for the leprous person at the time of his cleansing” (14:1), which is quite different from the sin offering described in Leviticus 4&5 for which the appropriate sacrifice is a goat or a sheep and not a lamb.

    Brian

  44. 44 brotherjohnny September 17, 2007 at 12:16 am

    What is easier to say, ‘you are healed’ or ‘your sin is forgiven you’?

    Well, as promised, here really (yes, really and truly, and finally NO KIDDING), here is my final word on the matter here.

    http://brotherjohnny.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/the-working-of-the-blood/

    It’s been fun guys (and gals), but only so much time in a day.
    Peace.

  45. 45 brotherjohnny September 17, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Here ye, here ye…
    Why the heck won’t they let us edit!?

  46. 46 Frances Franklin September 17, 2007 at 4:37 am

    Brian Davis,

    You said “Just to set the record straight…
    Johnny quoted Leviticus 14:12-13 where indeed a lamb was to be sacrificed. But the passage starts by saying that “this shall be the ritual for the leprous person at the time of his cleansing” (14:1), which is quite different from the sin offering described in Leviticus 4&5 for which the appropriate sacrifice is a goat or a sheep and not a lamb.”

    But doesn’t that make sense, though? I mean, when you look at Jesus’ crucification as simply atonement for my sins [which are many and are actions that I take ] but for the fact that I am a sinful person. That I am unclean. That there is something about me that is fundamentally flawed. In Jesus’ time lepars were considered unclean, and dirty and filthy. They were truly the untouchables of their era. This is a physical metaphor for who we are as people. The Lord knew that the issue was not sin(s) i.e. the things we do, but the issue was our state of being. We were unclean, dirty, filthy, disgusting, flawed, fallen, sinful, unacceptableintheeyesofGod race. So yes, you are absolutely right, a goat or sheep sacrifice would not have been nearly enough to cover who we were, because that would have only covered our actions. We needed a sacrifice to deal with who we were, not what we did.

    Also, since you are getting completely hung up on semantics, lambs are sheep.

  47. 47 Peter K Bell September 17, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    The Broken God Theory

    I may no longer be capable of articulating a comprehensive version of atonement theory, as I probably was during my theologically more active days….But I DID promise to pray about how to say what I do know about this (by experience? by the Spirit? by revelation?) and here is what has come of that:

    I believe in God’s progressive revelation of Himself through history. By this I do not mean the naive progressivism of the privileged West of a century ago, assuming that things were always going to get better, or the new age Aquarian thinking of 40 years ago which placed us on the verge of harmony and understanding abounding for all people. Rather, I mean a ‘biblical’ (to use a much-discussed word in this conversation!) view that God has determined to reveal Himself progressively, increasingly, through time; that the New Testament undeniably provides us with a closer, more intimate look at the heart of the Father than the Old Testament did.

    Not only that, but I believe in a certain DIRECTION of that progressive revelation: He is working to reveal Himself on the INSIDE, to write His laws and His judgments in our hearts, to free us from dependence on outer forms and rules and to empower us (by His Spirit) to INTERNALIZE the content of what He wants to convey to us, to fulfull His ultimate passion (as in the book by Frank Viola that Mike sent to me, or as in Gene Edwards) to purify a bride for Himself.

    In this view, when mankind (= we) sinned, we became broken: we broke our communion with God the source of our life; we broke our own integrity, our goodness, own personal identity and health and wholeness; we became fragmented and alienated from one another and from our very selves as a consequence of our broken communion with God.

    But God by His nature could never be content with this state of affairs. As has been eloquently shared by several of you, the Cross happened because WE required it: God in compassion for us entered into our brokenness and experienced it so that we could be made whole. As Apostle Paul says, he who was rich became poor for us, he who was Righteousness became sin for us, so that we could become the righteousness of God in him.

    Jesus identified with our INTERNAL condition of lost-ness and alienation, with all of its pain, so that we could become whole in Him–from the inside out. As has also been eloquently stated in this discussion, this killed Him, but He was raised from the dead by the Spirit of Holiness and became the source for all our life and hope and wholeness: the good news of the Gospel.

    Sorry to say that I can’t put one of Mike’s labels on this–I don’t know which of those it may seem closest to, and I don’t even have a label for it other than to call it “The Broken God Theory.” I know that God chose not to remain aloof from our alienation but to identify with it and become our sin so we can be healed. In Isaiah 61 he says he came to bind up the brokenhearted. The idea of brokenness covers both the sin itself (Jesus died to forgive us) and it consequences in our bodies and souls (Jesus came to heal us).

    I want to express my appreciation for the efforts of the universalists in this conversation (notably Brian D. Smith) to make sense of the death of Jesus for us without the harshness of judgmentalism that Calvinists and other traditionalists favor. I see you as striving mightily to retain a view that is highly honrong to the reputation of God. The centrality of the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world and seated on the throne, the power of the endless life of the Melchizedek priest, stands without question, and the voice of those who have admitted that we may never arrive at complete (or even functionally satisfying) understanding of how this works needs to be heeded. Yet I would proclaim that the search is valid (as long as we refuse to take our half-formed conclusions too seriously!) and that our inquiring minds (as those of Mike and his friend Johnny) need the liberty to explore the depths and heights of this.

    Thank you for the privilege of sharing, and for your willingness to hear me.

    Peter

  48. 48 Brian Davis September 17, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    Lambs are sheep, it’s true, but not all sheep are lambs. And sometimes the regulations in the Mosaic law are very precise, stipulating that the lamb/sheep has to be no more than a year old.

    Sacrificing an animal to help cleanse someone from leprosy might or might not be a good symbol for what Jesus did on the Cross, but I doubt it’s what John the Baptist had in mind.

    But the main point I’ve been trying to make is that we are talking metaphors and symbols here, not literal meanings. I can’t make sense of viewing Jesus as a literal sacrifice made to God for the atonement of sin, in the same way that an animal was sacrificed on the altar. Maybe for the first-century Jews who wrote the NT, rooted in world of the Torah and the Temple, that kind of image sprang to mind when they reflected on Jesus’ death.

    But that was far from being the only way they looked at it. There are lots of other metaphors used in the NT writings, not just those of animal sacrifice (such as ransom/redemption from bondage). And even within the Hebrew religious tradition, there were significant voices (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Amos) who flatly opposed the notion that God required blood sacrifice rather than or as well as repentance and righteous living. Daniel’s advice to Nebuchadnezzar was : “Redeem your sins by doing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor” (Dan 4:27).

    We have to be careful about getting hooked on a single metaphor, and making it into the entire, literal truth of what happened on the Cross. Unfortunately, since Anselm, some kind of substitutionary theory of atonement has almost become a badge of Christian ‘orthodoxy’ and those of us who find it unsatisfactory (and even sometimes bizarre or disturbing) have been made to feel as if we have somehow devalued what Jesus did for us when we are trying to find a better way of understanding it and explaining it.

    Brian

  49. 49 Lenz October 9, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Podcast “Recovering the Scandal of the Cross”
    Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007 at:

    http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/P8

  50. 50 Heather June 9, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Piper just came out with a book that speaks this subject, called appropriately enough “51 Reasons Jesus died on the cross.” Or something like that.

    Now, I am not a Piper follower, though I am a Piper enthusiast. But my point in posting this book is not to put the attention on “oh, look what PIPER said.” The point is rather the title of his book –

    FIFTY ONE reasons ….

    Was the cross meant as cure? You bet it was. Yeah, that was one of the fifty one reasons.

    But “as often as you meet, do this in remembrance of me,” HE said. Do what? Remember the body, yes, but also remember the blood. Why anyone would want to remove discussing or singing about the blood from a gathering of believes seems to me to reflect a lack of understanding of something that was on the Lord’s heart at His last meal – as often as you meet together, do something to cause you to remember blood, in remembrance of Me.

    For most of my christian life, I had no real appreciation of the cross. It was a fact, a theological construct, but songs about “the nails in your hands” just made me yawn. Until one day I was in desperate need and I won’t go into the details, but there was a day when all the sudden the blood meant something it never meant to me before. From that point forward, there is a richness there for me and a point of connection with His love that when I hear people trying to explain this away as not sitting right with them, it just makes me feel like they haven’t really gotten it yet.

    Those who have touched this in their spirits are resonating with me as they read this – those who haven’t probably just think the statement to be arrogant. Someone had told this to me once and I had thought they were nuts – but the Lord compelled me to ask Him one day, “Lord, show me what I’m missing…”

    Anyway, it’s hard to escape that idea that God DOES have wrath! Once it is recognized that God does have a significant wrathful side to be accounted for in our theories of Him, it is not that much further of a step to think that maybe the wrath of God WAS somehow involved in the crucifixion – after all, once it is established that God can be quite wrathful towards us, well, we better find a place of escape somewhere!

    We can theorize all day long, but let’s at least have some verses to theorize ourselves around:

    “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” –Romans 5:9-10

    “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. . . For God shows no partiality.” –Romans 2:5-11

  51. 52 Cathryn September 5, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Short, sweet and to the point-
    With out the Cross there would be no resurrection – that’s a biggy. Isaiah was given some serious prophetic insight as to what was coming and even from the Cross- Jesus was quoting!
    Also, the “there is no greater love than laying one’s life down” point- and we are Friends of Jesus, HE said that…right?
    So yes – it was a mockery of justice – taken in the middle of the night, and all the stuff that went with the hiddeness of that matter- which to me just reflects how man can’t judge worth a shit on things that really make them take a long hard look in the mirror and ask which Kingdom do you want to serve. I do agree that we separated ourselves from God- free will and free love has it’s price- even the fallen angels had to contend with that one. But that’s the other part – at least in my charismystic heart that is worthy of a gander into the spirit realm. It’s not all heady theology based interpretation, i have to laugh at God’s response to JOB…. “who are you that contends with the almighty!” There are things that affect several realms at once.. there are portals, and stuff that is going on that need the veil to be pulled back from our eyes to see the heavenly realm. Blood, guts and gore are all a part of life on this plane of existence – so if we reject the blood thing… what is the meaning of the resurrection?
    shalom, cat

  52. 53 marion September 12, 2008 at 10:20 am

    others have said it better than me and in more detail…if there was an ability to quote here I would quote some great points from a number of posts..

    some have said, [understandably], that we cannot know exactly how our redemption was achived by the Atonement…but I would say, we can get to know God’s character, [even though, I know, this never ends]
    because of that I would have to say, I very much believe in substitutionary atonement but not penal substitutionary atonement.
    God was punishing no person, but sin and death.

    as someone [Mike] said above
    ”I don’t believe God sent Jesus to the cross because He required a blood sacrifice. I think he went because we required it.”

    again, I stress, our theology must be learned in consistency with getting to know His character better…from the whole bible…and, bearing in mind, as someone else has said, the bible is progressive revelation of Who God really is.

    Steve Chalke and N.T. Wright have written well on this matter I think [and caught the flak for doing so from those who misinterpret and misunderstand them, some graciously and some quite maliciously :(].

  53. 54 marion September 12, 2008 at 11:06 am

    quote:Mike M.
    I think that the whole scape-goating scheme is intimately rooted in our own religious tit-for-tat nature; but I do think it is something that God condescended to use, both in the Old Covenant and, ironically, as one lens or springboard to catapult us into the New. But even though God gave meticulous instructions about how to “do” sacrifices “unto him,” I think it’s like kings and holy places–initially, God didn’t want ‘em!

    I really think you’re onto something…that makes so much sense in accordance witht he fact that the God of the Old covenant is the same God of the radically different new covenent

    I was brought up with ‘types and shadows’ through my ‘plymouth brethren elder’ dad and assembly background…and understanding of these has great value…
    but what you have written helps to reconcile God as not having changed in nature, even if the practice and understanding of Him has changesd because of Jesus’ incarnation, showing us what He is really like.
    Thing is…many others assert that God hasn’t changed in nature and go on to assert that means He is wrathful and seeks outward liturgical functions and sacrifices [although not animal etc]…
    but it’s the other way around!
    i.e. we need to see the God revealed in Jesus in the N.T.[e.g. ”neither do I condemn you”…and John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him]…in the God who we read of in the’old’ testament…
    by better interpretation.

    thanks

  54. 55 marion September 12, 2008 at 11:14 am

    quote:me
    Thing is…many others assert that God hasn’t changed in nature and go on to assert that means He is wrathful and seeks outward liturgical functions and sacrifices [although not animal etc]

    when I said that I meant that we can feel that He needs appeasing…pleasing…to abate His anger…
    blood sacrifice…[exact orthodoxy in precise words is another form of that, perhaps]..

    as I think Steve Chalke? has said, that is more akin to a pagan god.

    it is so hard for us to really accept…that we are ”accepted int he Beloved.’
    That He is NOT an angry god…that He is not angry with us…

    I venture to say that those who promote the notion that He is wrathful and He picks us up on, and rejects us because of, small details, are struggling with this themselves….i.e. they do not believe [subconsciously, deep in their spirits] they are accepted by God…and, of course, this will make them less accepting of many kinds of ‘others’
    as they will feel that He doesn’t accept them either.

  55. 56 Charlie October 19, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Just a wee short idea.

    The Cross was the revelation not only of the heights of Divine Love but the exposure of the scapegoat mechanism by which mankind tries to keep itself from self destructing.Father reveals that He is on the side of the innocent victim by Christ’s resurrection.The Principalities and Powers are now exposed for what they are their secret weapon now being exposed.The resurrection is the overturning of human violence and indeed of sacrificial ( in the fundamentalist’s understanding of penal substitution) religion.I have found Rene Girard’s theory of mimetic desire the explanation of ‘sin’ and Christ’s death as its antidote.I would recommend Girard’s ‘I saw Satan fall like Lightning’ book – it is very enlightning for post – fundamentalists like ourselves.

    Charlie

  56. 57 Satvinder and Judy Kalley January 31, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    1) “I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with a depiction of God-the-Father that
    supposedly requires blood sacrifice in order to divert his vengeance from a humanity
    he hates so much that somebody’s gotta die.”

    Response:
    a) Hebrews “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”
    b) “The blood of bulls and goats could not atone for sin”

    2) “is not consistent with the God of Jesus Christ that I see depicted in the Gospels
    or the Epistles”
    a) Would this be the god who destroyed Sodom and Gomorah (sp?), including
    men, women, children, cats, and dogs?
    b) Would this be the god who likewise wanted ALL the inhabitants of Cannan
    destroyed (including puppies?)
    c) We want a cute, cuddly God; instead we’re stuck with one who dislikes sin with
    a passion we don’t share (we’re Ok with many sins, and only get upset with a
    handful)

    3) “In short: I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with a depiction of God-the-Father that supposedly requires blood sacrifice in order to divert his vengeance from a humanity he hates so much that somebody’s gotta die.”

    a) Read Noah’s flood: God hated humanity so much He regretted creating us, and
    almost (Noah and his wife/extended-family aside) wiped the slate clean.
    b) How angry and vengeful do you have to be to do that?
    c) And what was Noah’s first act upon emerging from the Arc? He offered
    numerous blood sacrifices.
    d) As an aside: How did David stop the plague that resulted from his sin? He
    offered numerous sacrifices. David sinned (in numbering the people) — and lots
    of other people and animals died. Sure, they had probably sinnned in various
    ways, but they were killed for DAVID’S sin, not their own. Does this seem
    consistent with the God of Jesus Christ?

    4) “it seems to focus on a forensic understanding of “the cross” derived from a particular reading of Romans and especially Hebrews that ignores the rich tapestry of other atonement understandings held by the first followers of Jesus.”

    a) We are a product of our age and a good deal of what we believe is a product of our culture and place in time
    we believe slavery is wrong — but earlier ages were Ok with it
    we believe women should be able to vote — earlier ages did not
    we believe all adults should vote — earlier ages restricted that to property
    holders,
    etc.
    b) My point: the “first followers” were just as screwed up as we are. If they
    believed X (which we agree with) and Y (which we disagree with), does not mean they were right to believe X or Y.

    5) “somebody’s gotta die”
    a) Assume I break your window. The only person who can say, “I forgive you,”
    is the one who is going to pick up the bill for its repair. Even if you say, “I
    forgive you,”, it can only be because YOU have decided to pick up the bill.
    The bill does not magically go away because you (or anyone else) feels kindly
    disposed; in your terminology, somebody’s gotta pay”

    6) I think we are alienated from God, creation, and each other; inwardly, outwardly, and collectively we can be a tangled up knot of dis-integration and dis-ease (I am not afraid to call this sin, though it’s a religiously-loaded term these days), in need of God’s cleansing presence.
    a) The Bible says we were DEAD in trespasses and sin (Eph; chapter 3 I think)
    b) Sin is an Ok word—the Bible uses it a lot, much more than I’d like.
    c) What does “religiously-loaded” mean anyway?

    7) I simply think that when it comes to God and us being alienated from each other, we moved.
    a) The Bible says we were DEAD in trespasses and sin (Eph; chapter 3 I think);
    how does a dead person move exactly?
    c) The Bible also declares we are conceived in sin, sinners by nature if not in deed, from the sperm meeting the egg. Did the zygote “move”?

    8) To Jesus, uncleanness wasn’t contagious, holiness was.
    a) Read Hagii (sp?) to learn that uncleanness is contagious
    b) Read Galations (bad company corrupts good morals)
    c) A doctor needs to mingle with sick diseased people, putting himself at risk;
    it does not mean it’s a good idea for us to do that, nor does it mean the people
    he mingles with are Ok.

    9) But God’s hand isn’t a fist until said moment. It never was.
    a) We are ready to be condemned at any time (see Lam 3:22, 3:39-40)
    b) We are not condemned at the Great White Throne: if we have not received
    Jesus, we’re condemed already (John 3:36 – notice that the verse is in the
    present tense).

    10) Our problem is that God is not a very nice person. We want a God who is made of sugar, and spices, and all things nice – and He isn’t. We want a Jesus who pats little children on the head, not one who terrified the daemons (see Matt 8:28-32). (As an aside, notice that this ‘torment’ involves deliberate action to inflict pain – forever. And if Jesus is the one who will be tormenting these daemons in Hell, who do you suppose will be tormenting the people in that place? How “nice” does Jesus sound now?)

  57. 58 Satvinder and Judy Kalley January 31, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    My husband wrote the above comment as an exersize to me and I liked it so much I just added it with no editing. I apologize for that if they come up blunt sounding. That was not my intention.

  58. 59 Peter Zimmerman March 6, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I guess if I was a biblical literalist, I would be stuck with a loving depiction of Jesus that is radical and fierce love and also a very scary god in the OT.

    but I walked away from church 12 years after 1 private event and 2 public ones.

    the public #1: at baylor I learned that adam and eve were not real people…death has always been a part of god’s plan. not Spiritual death but physical death. noah’s ark? no koalas move 4000 miles and all the fresh water fish would be dead. “is a city destroyed unless the LORD DOES it?” umm…no amos, god does not actually cause the destruction of cities. the bible is a record of god’s interactions with people and it has a very human side. the bible is wonderful but at times sexist, patriarchal, pro-polygamy, and pro-abortion (read leviticus)
    being raised in the idiocy called modernism, this made faith more difficult because my faith in the bible as perfect not JESUS as risen lord.

    #2 mainline liberal churches, in realizing that SOME of the supernatural things in the bible probably never happened and that SOME things can’t be taken literally seemed to retreat into a generic god that generically loves people but really can’t transform their lives.

    so I quit church.

    now I am back. the bible is from god but it was humanly constructed as well. hilariously, it was CATHOLIC BISHOPS who decided which books made the final cut. the first 190 years christianity had some churches with 5 gospels, some with 2, etc. orthodoxy is a human construction. i don’t have a ton of problems with most of orthdoxy but if the trinity, 66 books etc. were SO KEY to faith then why did god and apostles fuck around and not say so? seriously, the apostles died and simply passed their authority to their followers. they did not close the canon.

    jesus first appeared in matthew at galilee. in luke it was first in jerusalem. both cannot be historical. the bible has erros. welcome to the real world.

    the way paul interpreted the OT totally ignored the original context of the passages. the same with matthew and the book of isaih. how did they interpret it? BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.

    i hate to break it to you but christianity is totally “new age”

    #1 we make a human being Divine. how new age to make the messiah divine! (i actually like the divine jesus but it just sounds so new agey!) no good jew would call the messiah god. new age!
    #2 the holy spirit guides us into all truth.

    you want truth?

    culitvate meekness, humility, forgiveness, seek to be at peace with all men, turn the other cheek, don’t even sue those that sue you if they are christians.

    the anabaptist, the quakers, the mennonites, the moravians, the early pentecostals, the early methodists…they all got it write. GOD is our authority in the final analysis. the bible is our written story, but god is still writing the ending.

    I don’t need a grand theory in the end to HOW jesus saves me. I just know he did. even if the bible was never written, orally I would have been told the gospel and sovereignly god would have called me.

  59. 60 Peter Zimmerman March 6, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    here is my main problem:

    I can see a god who gets pissed off and smacks people around. I could believe in a God who was coercive.

    but I have never seen or experienced the Divine to be anything other that terrifyingly honest (but not coercive) wonderfully loving, and radically committed to forgiving me and reconciling me.

    i just have never met this God who like killin’ babies.

    but I have met Jesus who loves the little children and hookers but hates the religious vipers who stand in the door of the kingdom and don’t let people in.

    what do modern conservatives seem to do? interpret jesus so narrowly that people don’t want this vindictive bastard of a god. send me to hell, before you send me to mean ass god.

    seriously, the god of most people is just a torture-bully on judgement day who says “hello honest atheist, aware their flaws and shortcomings, acted loving in life, hurt people but always asked forgiveness….eternal FIRE HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!”

    but consevatives are not the only problem:

    what do modern liberals do? forget there is door! and that people need saving!

    seriously, if I am mad at God or don’t like god, is your final answer really “I will fucking burn you forever!” what a weak and pathetic god.

    dictators are weak. bullies are broken. despots don’t have the POWER to cause people the love them.

    I believe that God does have the power to reconcile all that are willing to the spirit of love and that the wicked will be judged. seems only fair.

  60. 61 mgjdmv April 25, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    I recently read The Shack, and I was reading over the people who endorsed the book. I did this because I detected an heretical view of God in the book. And I was amazed that so many people were endorsing and passing around the book as if it were some “message from God for the 21st century” or something.

    Anyway, that’s what lead me to your blod. I must say, though, that I’ve read so many opinions on this blog. Most people here, including Mike, strike me as being Biblically illiterate. No offense, but God has revealed Himself, and very well, in the scriptures. When I read words like, “I can’t see a God who..” it reminds me of the itching ears we are warned about when men will not adhere to sound doctrine. I’m reading about the god of men’s hearts. I must say that the God of the scriptures is not the god of the imagination of men. And the God of the 21st century is the God of ALL time. He doesn’t change – (where did I hear that before…?) Anyway, the Holy Spirit does reveal God to us, and you will find that He does the most revealing in His Word.

  61. 62 detailed project governance May 5, 2013 at 3:12 am

    I enjoy reading a post that can make men and women
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  62. 63 0% balance transfer credit cards May 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm

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