Sunday, June 27, 2010

On the Atonement

I've wanted to lead a discussion/study group on the ideas of the Atonement for some time. I love to lead these discussions not to share ideas, but to share the journey of exploration that I'm already on myself - to invite others to the discussion I'm already trying to have. I'm sure I'm not up to the task, but I keep coming across prompters that push me in that direction. Right now, I'm leading a discussion on ideas of the soul, death, what happens when we die and how that can and should affect how we live now. Beyond this discussion lies a discussion of judgment, hell and punishment. And then atonement! We'll see how far beyond this discussion I get!

In any case, Richard Beck's summarizing, reviewing and championing the writings of George MacDonald over the past year have proved invaluable and uplifting to me on a variety of levels. Most recently, he made this post summarizing what Beck characterizes as MacDonald's "magnum opus" of theology regarding the atonement.

Here's a quote:

"To believe in a vicarious sacrifice, is to think to take refuge with the Son from the righteousness of the Father; to take refuge with his work instead of with the Son himself; to take refuge with a theory of that work instead of the work itself; to shelter behind a false quirk of law instead of nestling in the eternal heart of the unchangeable and righteous Father, who is merciful in that he renders to every man according to his work, and compels their obedience, nor admits judicial quibble or subterfuge. God will never let a man off with any fault. He must have him clean."

In short, I find MacDonald here utterly compelling. What a marvelous thought! In this I believe MacDonald has captured a glimpse of God's nature that is at once refreshing and new but utterly and immeasurably old. A description so true and real and resonant that I wonder how anyone could see it any other way even as I acknowledge that I have had to grow to it painfully myself - and even now only just.

1 comment:

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