Posts Tagged 'NT Wright'
Tags: conversations on courage and faith, Ian Cron, NT Wright
Tags: Bruce Chilton, Craig Keener, Historical Jesus, NT Wright, Soularize
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Tags: atonement, Bifrost Arts, blood guilt, Bob Kauflin, Christianity Today, David Crowder, David Crowder Band, David Dark, Derek Webb, Fred Sanders, Gugnor, Hillsongs London, Israel Houghton, Matt Redman, Mike Crawford, NT Wright, Paper Route, penal substitutionary atonement, People of Destiny, Rob Bell, Scot McKnight, Sovereign Grace, The Civil Wars, three-tiered universe, Trinity, Welcome Wagon
Update: The conversation continues, both below & in the comments at Bob Kauflin’s blog. Please be courteous if you decide to comment over there. 🙂
So I wasn’t at the David Crowder Band-hosted Fantastical Church Music Conference held at Baylor earlier this month, but apparently it created quite a stir. For one thing, it brought together a diverse group of people: Gugnor and Paper Route and Bifrost Arts and Mike Crawford and Welcome Wagon and David Dark and Derek Webb and the Civil Wars (!), alongside CCM worship music stalwarts like Matt Redman, Israel Houghton and Hillsongs London (along with preacher/producer scribe Louie Giglio). But amidst this celebration of aural diversity, there was apparently one voice who was the wrong kind of diversity for some folks: Rob Bell. Quoth Christianity Today:
On Friday morning Rob Bell challenged his audience to drop “blood guilt” and “three-tiered universe” metaphors in their songwriting. He said we needed metaphors that connected to people today. Plenty of people in North America, he said, feel an aching sense of loss of home and we need songs that offer Christ as their true home.
(In the comments section, someone who also attended the conference clarified that Bell didn’t suggest that anyone ‘drop’ blood metaphors, but rather to not solely rely on them.) Are there better ways to think and sing about our universe? Better ways to celebrate the meaning of Jesus? Can I get an “amen”?
Apparently not, from some quarters.
While I appreciate relevance and clear communication, developing our own metaphors for the atonement potentially undermines and distorts the gospel. Yes, it’s important to recognize and communicate the vast and multiple effects of Christ’s death and the resurrection, and yes, Christians can overemphasize theological precision and definition at the expense of actually communicating the good news. But every description of Christ’s work on the cross is connected to our need to be forgiven by and reconciled to a holy God. If we fail to communicate this, we have failed to proclaim the biblical gospel…all metaphors for the atonement are ultimately grounded in penal substitution…[emphasis mine]
One of his comment-ers, Clarice, asked:
On Bell and “metaphors”: I’m not totally clear on what Bell is talking about with metaphors of the atonement…that sounds really abstract and confusing to me. 🙂 Does he mean stuff like Galatians 4, Hagar and Sarah, or…?
To which I replied: “Hi Clarice [which can’t help but make me think of Hannibal] – in my opinion, language about atonement (and really, language about ‘God’ in general) is metahphorical in the sense that it is not a 1:1 depiction of the grandeur, majesty, and mystery of God. So: We speak of Jesus’ death as a ‘sacrifice’ for our sins; our Reformed brethren (like Bob here) will likely refer to it as a sacrifice of the Son *unto the Father* for our sins – but these are metaphorical in the sense that Jesus wasn’t literally led to a consecrated altar, and sacrificed before His Father. (We might, indeed, condemn such gross literalism as child sacrifice, which YHWH condemns!) And so historic Christianity has seen this as a way of speaking about the meaning of atonement – one that approximates, but can never fully compass, its meaning.
This doesn’t mean that other atonement metaphors carry more privilege. Pentecostals and charismatics like me in my growing-up years always historically emphasized a ‘ransom’ metaphor of atonement – Jesus rescuing us from the tyranny of the world, the flesh, and the devil. More recently, many of us in what some call the emerging church conversation appreciate NT Wright’s retrieval of the ‘Christus Victor’ model (or metaphor) of atonement, wherein the Father vindicates the goodness and perfect obedience of the Son vis-a-vis bodily resurrection, proclaiming victory over death, and the principalities and powers. Still others, in Quaker and Anabaptist and Girardian schools, rightly empathize the ironic nature of Jesus ‘sacrifice’ as a repudiation of all violence.
While I wasn’t at the Fantastical conference, my guess is that Bell wasn’t suggesting that songwriters make up new metaphors ‘cold turkey,’ but create them in continuity with the great tradition of historic Christianity, giving ourselves the same permission the biblical writers had to seek the Spirit afresh and interpret Gospel goodness to those in our time and place. Because let’s face it, the author of Hebrews is right – Jesus Christ was the final sacrifice! Because of this, sacrifice and blood guilt terminology is a Jesus-authored anachronism, something that no longer makes sense 2,000 years later. Jesus has triumphed over sacrifice once and for all – and our worship should move on accordingly.
To explore more of the sacrifice metaphors of Scripture, I’d recommend Scot McKnight’s ‘A Community Called Atonement,’ as well as atonement links I’ve catologued on Delicious. Grace & peace to you!”
It wasn’t all controversy, though. In addition to great music, some good theologizing about music happened, including this snipped that Bob also blogs about:
At one point I quoted Harold Best: “All our musical offerings are at once humbled and exalted by the strong saving work of Christ.” We touched on how our singing is not something we originate, but flows from the relationships of the triune God who sings (Zeph. 3:17; Heb. 2:12; Eph. 5:18-19). We sing because God sings and we’ve been made in his image. I never got to mention it on the panel, but a very helpful book on the Trinity is The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Fred Sanders.
As someone who’s part of a new church plant in Raleigh called Trinity’s Place, that sounds good to me!
As part of my ongoing interest in the songs we sing and the God this reflects, I’ll hopefully be reviewing some contemporary worship offerings this Fall – ranging from the New Hymns movement to shoegazing emergence music and slam poetry. If you’re an independent worship artist or church who’d like their music to be considered for review, contact me via the comments section of this post.
Soli sapienti Deo!
Tags: Abba, atonement, blood, bloodshed, Books, Brad Jersak, Christus Victor, conservative, Derek Flood, evangelical, fundamentalist, God, Graham Old, Holy Spirit, J. Denny Weaver, Jesus, Joel Green, Justice, Kevin Beck, liberal, mainline, Marcus Borg, Mark Baker, Miroslav Volf, modernist, nonviolence, NT Wright, Paul, penal substitutionary atonement, Ransom, René Girard, resources, Richard Rohr, Rita Brock, Romans, Rowan Williams, S. Mark Heim, sacrifice, Scot McKnight, victims, Walter Wink, Wayne Jacobsen
My reflections on the meaning of Jesus’ atonement are far from finished. I think such multifaceted and rich dimensions of the life of faith rarely are. This year, as I’m able, I’m going to be reading through the following volumes in my library, books that have been recommended to me as valuable resources on reconciling messages of Jesus with messages about Jesus. Most of these I’ve read at least partially before, but I’m gonna buckle down! Here they are:
Stricken By God? An incredible anthology edited by Brad Jersak, featuring Rowan Williams, Miroslav Volf, Richard Rohr, Marcus Borg, NT Wright, and a ton of others, it has been a most enjoyable read this past year.
Recovering the Scandal of the Cross by Joel Green & Mark Baker
Consuming Passion: Why the Killing of Jesus Really Matters An anthology – Hard to find in the U.S.
The Nonviolent Atonement by J. Denny Weaver
A Community Called Atonement by Scot McKnight
Saving Paradise by Rita Brock
This Book Will Change Your World by Kevin Beck
I’ve had this one recommended to me, but haven’t recieved one yet – Saved from Sacrifice by S. Mark Heim
In addition to books, here are a few free online resources I’m working through:
The Day God Turned His Cheek by Graham Old
The Cross: Cure Not Punishment by Wayne Jacobsen (audio)
Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor by Derek Flood
Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence by Walter Wink
Rethinking the Death of Jesus: Cross Purposes by David Heim
Clarion Journal of Spirituality & Justice articles on atonement
…so what resources would you recommend?
Tags: Bishop Wright, Colbert Report, Comedy Central, NT Wright, Stephen Colbert, Tom Wright
So here’s the NT Wright clip from the Colbert report for some reason, Comedy Central and/or WordPress won’t let me embed the clip; it’s not as easy as YouTube, folks; any techies out there wanna give me the cut-and-paste-secret, leave me a comment.
…I’d recommend watching the whole episode here – it’s best to take Wright in context, as he shares this episode with none other than Cookie Monster. Colbert is funny as always, though you can tell he appreciates Wright, he’s a bit ‘softball’ – the good Bishop Tom, for his part, is affable and even occasionally funny, but its easy to see the inherent limitations of satirical TV as a medium for discussing ‘serious’ theology. Nonetheless an intriguing entree into a vital area of Christian spirituality – what is the nature of resurrection? Of New Heavens and Earth? Parousia and eschatology? While I differ with Wright in some key areas, I credit him more than anyone else living for bringing this conversation to the forefront of popular consciousness today. One could hardly hope for a better conversation partner. You go, NT!
Tags: Bishop Wright, Colbert Report, Comedy Central, NT Wright, Stephen Colbert, Tom Wright
This just in from the man himself:
“Bishop Nicholas Thomas Wright of Durham wants us to take a good look at what we think happens when we die. Is it heaven? Where do we go? His latest book, ‘Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church,’ explores Western religious thinking and confusion about the afterlife. The Bishop has served as Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey and has taught the New Testament for two decades at Cambridge, McGill, and Oxford Universities.” – No Fact Zone (HT: Becky Garrison)
NT Wright, funny? Yes, he had us in stitches at Soularize. If you get Comedy Central, tune in tomorrow night, Thursday June 19 at 11:30 p.m. EST. Otherwise, watch this space and I’ll see if I can’t troll around for some clips…
Related Post: Colbert, Charismatic? (Hilarious dancing video)
Tags: agnostic, agnosticism, Bart Ehrman, bible, evil, faith struggle, God, injustice, Jesus, NT Wright, pain, problem of evil, problem of pain, suffering, theodiciy