Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Community Called Atonement Ch. 1 and 2

So, we come to our first discussion!

Before we get to the questions, since we'll all be posting from all over the US (and maybe even Asia) I think we should all give a brief intro. Name, location, family, work...etc, should be cool.

I'm excited to hear your thoughts on how McKnight is attempting to connect the kingdom of God and atonement. His bag of images and "game of atonement" made me laugh...but also gave me some hope, especially in light of his comments on how Christians can use theology as a dividing line.


Anonymous said...

By way of requested intro: Scott Marshall - follower of Jesus, dad, husband, pastor, runner, cheesecake eater (in that order, though I think they move around a bit from time to time).

My only comment on this scintillating post by Josh is that I should probably buy the book.

I'm looking forward to the discussion.

Doug Paul said...

I'm Doug.

I live in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. I've got a beautiful, SPUNKY and talented wife named Elizabeth and a peculiar and quirky Weimaraner puppy named Chandler Bing.

I'm really looking forward to our discussion...maybe not as much as Cadence, though!

Josh said...

I'm Josh.

I live in York, PA. I'm married to Aubrey, have a splendid daughter named Cadence and we are expecting (though Aubrey is doing most of the expecting) a new baby in May.

I'll start off the comments with some salient points that I noticed.

1. Atonement is communal. It's not just about me, but about those around me and around the world. This seems to be a transition from the individualistic treatment of atonement which I have heard in the past, where Christ came to give me "at-one-ment" with God.

2. Atonement is missional. I didn't see this developed with much clarity, but I can sense that Scot is going in this direction and am excited to see where he takes us.

3. Atonement theories don't have to be dividing lines. I'm really curious to see how he is going to hold the various approaches to atonement and hold them in creative tension with each other. My experience has mostly been that atonement theories each have their own bunkers from which they lob their destructive "loving rebukes".

4. This generation is tired of the distinction between social justice and evangelism. The point of atonement is not just for me to be saved, but also for restoration to made to all of creation. I'd be curious to see how some of you explain the difference or similarity of social justice and evangelism.

Ross said...

Hi, my name is Ross.

I live in Baltimore, MD. I am married to my lovely wife Rachael. I work as a Mechanical Engineer, I love to enjoy God's beauty in the outdoors by Hiking, Kayaking, camping, skiing...

I need to read a bit more before I add such salient points as Josh but I dont think that Social justice and evangelism were meant to be separated, but maybe as the individualized Jesus idea became dominate, people stopped caring for others as much since they lost the grand vision of the Kingdom and community with others.

Scott said...

I really liked his emphasis on the communal and kingdom aspects of atonement: "...atonement is only understood when it is understood as the restoration of humans--in all directions--so that they form a society wherein God's will is lived out and given freedom to transform all of life."

I was raised on the idea that to understand a thing was to be changed by a thing (how much of this was my personality, how much my subculture, I don't know). The idea (much more true to Jesus) is that to live a thing is to be changed by a thing. I.e., "the wise man built his house upon the rock..."

Scott said...

I'm sure he gets into this later, but I certainly don't want to lose from the atonement the idea of personal at-one-ment with God.

If that's not true on some fundamental level, then am I only a member of the borg who simply needs to be assimilated?

Anonymous said...

Uncle Dan here,
By way of introduction, I am Josh's Uncle through his mom, my sister. So that makes me somewhat older than Josh,but he still asked me to be a part of this dialogue. I have been looking forward to the read. I have 2 Children, Jacob,just turned 16, and Lydia who will turn 11 in July. I am a property manager in the inner city of Cleveland Ohio. I consider this a ministry in many ways 1 being that I am under payed. Others are that I am often the only good news many of my tenants will come in contact with today. I am classically trained as is Josh, in "CHURCHI-ness" But fight some of my training that I recieved at Seminary. I have pastored in traditional churches and found it very unsatisfying.
That all saidI have also not least of these been married 22 years and need grace and mercy each day, not just in the marriage covenant but in many ways.
I also have a huge tendency to be course and misspell words.
What I have found in the 1st 2 chapters Josh is a want or need to be communal not independent in ones relationship with the atonement, maybe that is the purpose of the book. I like that but I wonder where he will go from here. The Brethren church, the "ana-baptists" say God saves us to do good works. The story of the nurse to me illustrates the new-ness of ones heart. All of us as Christians on this journey express that type of love, it may not be as grand or compelling but that is what the grace of God does to us. For me it may be choosing kindness over cynism in a situation. A natural propensity of mine. The atonement is an act of God, our choice is how we let that act effect us. The Atonement is personal, but it empowers us to make choices that move us from self-centered-ness to the choice that others are more important than me or my needs. The question that I leave these 2 chapters with does the Atonement effect a community? Or does atonement effect individuals who than effect community? This may be obvious, but this is what I am looking forward to.

Kevin Snow said...

Hello Everyone:

I'm Kevin. I live in Austin, TX. I have a great wife and 2 girls and a boy (8, 7 and 1). I love being a part of conversations like this. Thanks for helping me on my journey.

I'm disappointed a little bit with chapters 1-2 because I got really hopeful reading the comments about the book by others and the introductory material. I still have hope for the rest of the book but just think he had a weak beginning.

I do like the fact that he began with the question: "Does Atonement Work?" It's a very valid criticism some people have of Christians is that we are not better or more (loving, giving, etc.).

I also like his connecting Atonement with the Kingdom of God. But I can't quite agree with his emphasis that the Kingdom of God equals a community where God's will is done. I think it's much bigger than that. Nor do I like his assumption that Atonement creates the Kingdom of God. Jesus announced the arrival of the Kingdom before Atonement was made.

I've been on a journey the last few years kicking around what is the central idea of Christianity; especially with one friend of mine. We certainly have always declared that it's the Atonement. Many today declare that it's the Kingdom of God. I still have not completely been converted but I definitely lean most of the way there.

Now, just a few comments in response to y'all's thoughts in reverse order.

1. Dan, I like your main question from the reading as to whether the Atonement effects a community or individuals who effect a community. I would say that it's both/and but that we still have a ways to go in our culture to see evidence of it effecting a community.

2. Scott, you're not alone in your questioning if we are losing our personal relationship if we emphasize the community. I believe strongly that each person has a relationship with God but it is not on their own. My relationship with God is impacted and changed by your relationship with God. (Well, it will be after more of these conversations.) Put it this way, my relationship with God is impacted and different that it would be if I were not connected to Josh and he was not connected to God. I readily embrace a stronger emphasis on the community because I feel that our Western need for the individual to dominate is more us . . . than God.

3. Ross, I think your comments about seaparating evangelism and social justice and the reasons that happened are right on.

4. Josh, I too liked his teaser that Atonement is missional. His statement right before the story in chapter 1 is where he's headed, I think. "To be missional means to participate in the missio Dei, the mission of God to redeem this world." If Atonement is helping us do that, then it will be harder to lauch our bunker grenades (great image).

Thanks again for all of your thoughts. Feel free to prod and push mine.


Josh said...

Responding to Ross:

The Grand Vision of the Kingdom. What do you mean by that? I'm not asking what the grand vision is...but what do you mean by calling it grand? I think you are onto something there and want to hear how you would express it more fully.

Responding to Scott:

I appreciated the idea of "to live a thing is to be changed by a thing". I may be dense, but in our conversation are you talking about living the atonement? And I'm sure that Scot will tell more stories...but how would you say the atonement is lived?

Responding to Uncle Dan:

Perhaps Uncle Dan takes it further when he reminds us that the atonement is something God does for us and that we respond to through our lives.

Kevin: I too was not "thrilled" with the first two chapters. It seemed as if they were more introductory than anything else. In a longer book they probably would have been balled into the introduction...

Your question "What is the central idea of Christianity" seems to be exactly what Scot is trying to get us to examine. And it seems to me that he is leading us to connect that kingdom and atonement are the central ideas. But...I'm wondering if the question should be what is the central set of ideas. It seems that all ideas ought to start with this: A creative and relational God. Hmm.