CategoryJesus

Prophecies were made to be broken. Why restoration might be the last word.

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The most horrific of all Christian doctrines is the doctrine of the eternal judgement, the declaration that vast numbers of humankind will experience eternal punishment at the hands of their Creator. In its most extreme form it imagines a house of horrors in which people experience excruciating torments that never end and for which there is no hope of an end. In its milder forms it imagines those...

Is Marcus Borg a Christian?

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One of the most helpful books I’ve read in recent years is a short popular work by the Jesus scholar Marcus Borg. Titled Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Borg describes his shift away from the conservative faith of his childhood to a fresh engagement with Jesus. I found myself excited by the Jesus he described: a spirit person with profound knowledge of the spiritual realm who calls...

A Jesus I Can Follow #4. Teacher of Subversive Wisdom

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What does it take to live successfully? What does a life well lived look like? These questions have occupied human beings throughout history. Some centuries before Christ there was an international movement dedicated to these questions. We meet some members of this movement in Old Testament books such as Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. Commonly described as the “Wisdom movement”...

A Jesus I Can Follow #2. Echo of a New World

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If you’re prone to bad dreams or have a penchant for horror movies, then you’ll relate to the Old Testament book of Daniel. It’s full of terrifying dreams, but rather than waking up at the climactic moment of terror, the dreams continue until they find a hopeful resolution. One of them in particular seems important for how Jesus framed his mission. The dream pictures four...

A Jesus I Can Follow

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The last decade or so I have really enjoyed reading the works of “Jesus scholars”. They are part of a movement often described as “the quest for the historical Jesus.” The quest starts with the assumption that the Jesus pictured by the biblical writers and church tradition is quite different to the Jesus who walked the earth. So they try to peel away the layers of...

Why We Need to Move Away from Substitutionary Atonement

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The last couple of months I’ve visited a few churches and been struck by how central the idea that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins is in their worship. It’s there in the songs they sing, in the prayers they pray, in the words of the worship leader, and inevitably makes an appearance in the sermon preached. It is the central and defining message. Yet, as I’ve argued in an earlier post...

The Problem of Violence in the Bible

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The Bible is a violent book that describes a violent God. In Genesis 6 God sends a flood that wipes out life on the earth he created. Only the select few on the Ark are saved. Fast forward to the liberation of the Israelites from slavery and God kills all the firstborn sons of Egypt before drowning the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. The Israelites are brought to their own land and told to commit...

Jesus and Suffering

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“Life is difficult.” So begins Scott Peck’s best selling book, The Road Less Travelled. This has certainly been driven home to me the last couple of years. At some stage most of us experience significant pain. A broken relationship. A debilitating illness. A period of unemployment. A violent assault. And finally, death. Christians are not immune to this. We follow a suffering Saviour who warns...

A Non-Violent Atonement

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In an earlier post I challenged the notion that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. Since then, people who read the post have asked me what is an alternate understanding of how God puts us right with himself and how do Jesus death and resurrection figure into that. The best answer I have come across is in J Denny Weaver’s A Non-Violent Atonement, which I am currently half way...

Why did Jesus die?

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In a recent post I suggested that the notion that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins is not a particularly convincing notion. This throws many Christians, who, like me, have been raised to think this is the gospel. A little background might help. On my bookshelf I have the very mainstream evangelical  Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. In the entry “Atonement, Theories of the” it states...

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