Christ Died for Our Prices

I don't know...I've said for years that making atonement a transaction is bad theology. This just takes it to the next level:

epic fail pictures

(from FAILblog)


Anonymous,  November 4, 2009 at 12:08 PM  

Just a quick question about something I picked up in your wording:
"I've said for years that making atonement a transaction is bad theology."

Does this mean you believe Christ's death was some form of atonement, just that the 'transactional' element of most theories of atonement is askew? I am kind of wrestling with this at the moment as I believe atonement is the most biblical perspective (though others such as Christus Victor can coexist as valid readings), yet I am uncomfortable with certain elements of it (that I'm unable to articulate presently due to lack of caffeine). You mean there's a way of acknowledging atonement without it being transactional?

Rev. Jeremy Smith November 4, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

I primarily have deep theological issues with making violence a part of a transaction between God and humanity.

The two most commonly accepted and professed atonement theories are transactional.
- Ransom Atonement: Jesus paid the ransom to the Devil for us and as ransomed people we gain eternal life.
- Substitutionary Atonement: Christ died for our sins as a sacrificial lamb, and in his death he redeemed God’s lost honor.

Transactional atonement theologies are problematic in that they glorify suffering and do not critique the violence done to Christ: they celebrate it as necessary.

Two lesser known (but classical) understandings of Atonement are not transactional:
- Exemplary Atonement: Christ's teachings and life are a salvific example for people to follow.
- Incarnational Atonement: Simply because God became human and suffered alongside us and died our death makes humanity at-one with God.

Non-transactional atonement theologies do not glorify suffering but exhibit it as the results of a lifestyle following Christ. The violence done to Christ or Christ's followers is not glorified but rather is critiqued to remove the violence's power.


Mikes Sumondong November 5, 2009 at 7:34 PM  

i really thought this was just humor post. I'm blown away that comments shifted in a very serious tone. but funny and interesting

Anonymous,  November 7, 2009 at 11:15 AM  

Thanks Jeremy! Well I definitely have issues with the Christus Exemplar thing as it seems to me that would lead to a 'we can save ourselves by following Jesus' kind of attitude, and appears to be based on an overly optimistic view of human's capability without God's grace (although I would accept it as a valid reading in some sense as long as it was by no means the dominant reading). I dunno, I agree with you about the violence thing being problematic, but it seems to me that real human forgiveness and love operate in exactly the same way - costly suffering when it comes to forgiveness, and some sort of substitution (draining) when it comes to love. So I guess I keep coming back to substitutionary atonement despite my misgivings. But I do definitely feel that it's a heresy to say that's the only reading you can have of the crucifixion and that anyone who believes differently is wrong.

John November 8, 2009 at 8:04 PM  

Bad, but incredibly popular theology.

I'd be really interested in seeing what the commenters at FAILblog had to say.

Theodore A. Jones November 19, 2009 at 10:29 PM  

You all need to remember that guilt relative to sin still remains as the outstanding issue AFTER Jesus' crucifixion which must be resolved. Jn. 16:8. Therefore it is a stretch that he has died in your place.

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