CategoryJesus

A Story of Salvation

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In my last blog post I shared some of my difficulties with the doctrine of penal substitution. In this post I sketch how I articulate the biblical story of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. In this I am heavily indebted to Tom Wright, The Day the Revolution Began and Darrin Belousek Atonement, Justice and Peace. The story begins with the creation of the world…. Genesis 1 sees the cosmos as...

Your gospel ain’t good news to me…

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The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are central to the Christian faith. Christians have long understood that God was “reconciling the world to himself in Christ.” The earliest preaching, as it comes to us from the book of Acts, had a relatively straightforward take on this. Jesus came with the good news that God was gathering Israelites together to be the community they were always meant to...

Jesus, Sacrifice & Forgiveness. Why We Need to Take Another Look.

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This is a longer than usual piece. So grab a cuppa and take some time… For most of my life I’ve thought that the Old Testament sacrificial system was a way for people to be forgiven for their sins. The death of an animal was a powerful reminder to Israelites that they deserved to die for their sin, but that God accepted the animal as a substitute for them. This then affected the way I read...

Everywhere and always God’s graceful presence. Letting go of a God of fear and fury for the God of Jesus

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  Grab a cuppa and give yourself some time. This is a longer than usual piece When I was a teenager I remember being both excited and fearful when one of my non-Christian school friends came to church. I was excited because they were expressing an interest in faith. I was fearful lest they take communion, for it had been drummed into me that “anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup...

No, Penal Substitutionary Atonement is Not the Heart of the Gospel.

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I wrote a blog piece earlier this week in which I suggested that the good news of the gospel cannot and should not be reduced to the declaration that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. In the process I questioned whether the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (PSA), which is a fairly detailed elaboration of how it is Christ’s death saves us from the consequences of sin, is...

Now This is Really Good News! Reframing the Gospel

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When Jesus burst into the Galilee the Gospels tell us that he came with the news that “the reign of God was near” and called people to “repent and believe the good news”. The Old Testament prophets had spoken of a time when God would deliver humankind from those things that robbed them of life. The poor would be delivered from poverty; the hungry would have full bellies; the...

The King, Sheep, Goats & Salvation.

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One of the most confronting parables Jesus told was his account of the sheep and goats (found in Matthew 25). The end of the age has come and humanity is gathered before Christ for judgement. Humankind is sorted into two groups: sheep, who the king claims fed him when he was hungry, gave him a drink when he was thirsty, provided hospitality when he was a stranger, clothed him when he needed...

The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating

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The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating I live in the space between hope and disappointment. I am a hoper. A few weeks back I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, at the very spot Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and it was profoundly moving. It was a place of hope, a shrine to the possibility that...

When God ceased being a perpetrator of violence and became its victim. A Maundy Thursday reflection

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Today is Maundy Thursday, the day on which Christians remember two great symbolic acts of Jesus: the celebration of the Passover and the washing of his disciples feet. Passover festival was a celebration of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, a liberation that was accomplished through the means of violence that I find almost incomprehensible when attributed to God. The text of...

Christmas déjà vu. Has the whole Jesus thing been a failure?

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Reading the Christmas story in Matthew one has a sense of déjà vu. A violent regime that shows no hesitation in slaughtering innocent people for political purposes forces a family to flee for their lives. We could be describing Syria under Assad, but instead we’re describing first century Judea under King Herod. 2000 years have passed since Jesus walked the earth. The Middle East remains mired in...