Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sacrifice and Christus Victor

I find that seminary has three parts to it. 1st you come in with your own ideas and are able to defend them, they are clear and boundaries are demarcated through experience in and of your local church. then you start considering other parts (this would be part two) and you start hearing the logic and views of your classmates. meanwhile you're in another setting with other ways of doing and view the Christian Tradition. This leads to confusion and boundaries start to bleed. the third stage is just before you graduate you realize what you used to believe and claim it again, only this time, more loosely as you're able to consider other points of view.

applying this to my understanding of atonement, it would look like this:

1. i came in thinking that these two models at hand (Jesus as sacrifice and victor) were awful and bad theology.In the words of James Allison, i thought that these atonement theories set up "God and his Son in some sort of consensual form of S&M- one needing the abasement of the other in order to be satisfied, and the other loving the cruel will of the Father." I would have claimed, as Allison does that these theories "have done more to contribute to atheism among ordinary people than any number of clerical scandals, and that if being a believer means believing this, then it is better to be among the non-believers."

2. I have examined these more closely and tried to consider their Christology and historical import as seen in the previous post on the matter.

3. Where I'm at now sees how others view and i even see a place where we intersect. an email conversation with DPS proved quite fruitful in coming to this conclusion. he suggested two books, Susan Bond's The Trouble with Jesus and J. Denny Weaver's The Nonviolent Atonement. DPS claimed that you can't be a universalist without being in the Christus Victor model, or believe apokatastasis without it in some form. it's just what form that is important. in the next few posts, i'll talk about my interactions with Bond and Weaver and where i stand. hope you'll stick around!


Sabio Lantz said...

Yeah, it is funny how we are affected by those who surround us. If you had spent your last 3 years in a Zen temple (as a Christian) you would have come out with very different questions. If you weren't applying for a job in the normal-Christian-consumer market, your felt philosophical pull would have been different. Your social choices in the future will affect your philosophy far more than your philosophy will affect your social choice. IMHO.

Even in my Christian days I always felt that if God were real, then THEOLOGY should be simple. Instead, you know why I think theology is so convoluted and diverse. It is all so much work for something that should be obvious for an all-powerful, all-caring, all-knowing intervening deity. I am daily amazed at how people don't get that.

Luke said...

the world is messy and our categories are constructs. everything in biology cross-pollinates, we gotta figure out which ideas mesh well together and which are like a dog and a cat trying to get it on (i.e. not work) ;-)

Sabio Lantz said...

"everything in biology cross-pollinates"

Sorry, I don't follow that. Not in the Biology I have observed and studied.

"Our Categories are constructs"

Absolutely. Bridges and rocketships are constructs too.

Nathan said...

Hi Luke,

This seems like the easiest place to comment - I'm not going to have a go at you in front of the mob at the Friendly Atheist - and feel free to delete this post, I couldn't find an email address for you.

I've got to wonder if you actually read my post (on my blog) and not Hemant's interpretation of it?

"funny about thing about “2. Being outnumbered makes actually engaging with arguments hard.” is that this dude lost sight of the first 300 years of the tradition. what we see here is a dude confronted with his own privilege of being in the majority and thus is uncomfortable in having to reason out his beliefs."

Is not at all what I was saying. I was saying it's very hard to seem anything but disingenuous if you appear to be cherry picking the easy questions while ignoring the hard ones. The nature of a forum where you're the lone voice of disagreement is that your disagreements, valid or not, will be drowned out by a chorus of other voices.

"it’s easier to be a lazy blogger, make claims and have them go unchallenged. things like “there is a God” “Jesus died for your sins” and “Jesus is God” are things rather widely accepted in most Christian circles. but if you question these presumptions often times the believer has no idea how to answer them."

Feel free to ask me the questions, I suspect a brief perusal of my blog would have revealed that I'm in a similar boat to you (though firmly in the "reformed" camp). I'm not some uneducated American cultural Christian scared that my worldview is being brought down around my ears.

"he’s looking to convert whereas i’m looking for blindspots in my own worldview. i think that makes a big difference."

Yeah, but shouldn't you be doing both? I hate to use such a pithy overworked catchphrase - but what would Jesus (historical or theological) be doing in this circumstance? He'd be wanting these atheists to meet him.

"i dislike anti-theists who say no to everything just as much as i dislike anti-atheists who claim damnation for others and state that other Christians are not Christian. both get on my nerves."

That's really not what I did in my post - which is why I'm assuming you didn't actually read it - and thus you too have failed to take context or nuance into account and have strawmanned me, a fellow believer, in public to put your model of interaction forward as the ideal. Not really cool.

Luke said...

Sabio: "Sorry, I don't follow that. Not in the Biology I have observed and studied."

really?! no cross-breeding, no mutations, no random jumps in evolution or adaptation? is your biology really that neat and clean and sterile that everything that happens can be reasoned through and known? if so, it's no biology i'm familiar with.

Nate: you bring up good points. i've seen some of your posts but not all and maybe i strawman'd ya. the last paragraph is just a general thought and not directed toward ya specifically. i like your explanation of #2 and find we're in agreement. as much as they decry it, mob-mentality rules and atheists are just as subject to it as we believers are. such is the nature of the human condition. thanks for checking out my blog, i'll check yours here shortly once i have time. until then, i'll amend my comments on that site.

Sabio Lantz said...

Wow, Luke's nasty side comes out.
I was responding to "Everything" as if everything blends with everything else. When you use poetic language to try and draw science analogies to your worldview (we have been here before) the stretches beg for misunderstandings.

I am pleading for discernment and not open non-discrimination. I am asking for careful thinking.

Luke said...

nasty side? just more assertive i guess. if you weren't down with the poetic language and can't recognize the form (ala form criticism)in the comment and seek to stay on a literal interpretation, then yes, you will see a nasty side come out.

i agree that i could have put in a little more careful thinking in my wording, but is there some responsibility on your part for reading for the meaning?

so let's work on fixing it, how about:

"the world is messy as is our categories are constructs. there is a lot of cross-pollination in our biological systems as there is in our thinking thus we must figure out which ideas mesh well together and which are like a dog and a cat trying to get it on (i.e. not work)

*note the smilie/winkie emoticon that suggests this is to be taken lightly with some humor, thus not literally.

there, fixed?

Sabio Lantz said...

Sure that works.
"We influence each other, but we should not hesitate to disagree peacefully".
Same thing, right?
Say it simple enough and it is disappointingly bland common sense, eh?

Luke said...

"Say it simple enough and it is disappointingly bland common sense, eh?"

sure, but someone has to say it. and if it's common sense, how come it's not so common? i mean we're on here always discussing it because we rarely find it in our experience, so i guess we want to name it. just say'n.

Anglican Boy said...

To get back to the topic at hand, I am excited to see where you land following this format. It is interesting and a subject that is important to my faith.

Sabio Lantz said...

* Anglican Boy throws out a re-enforcement treat (reward cookie) in the training process

Nathan said...

Hi Luke,

Thanks, appreciate your comments on the thread. I can't comment there so soon after withdrawing from such discussions without being accused of hypocrisy.