Monday, March 03, 2008

A Community Called Atonement Ch. 3 and 4

As I approached these chapters, I was hoping that the first two chapters were more of a diving board and that the next couple chapters would more like the actual plunge. Although, the two chapters focused on "where a theory of atonement begins", I think Scot McKnight took his readers a little deeper.

I'm curious to hear your responses, especially to his thoughts on humanity (Eikon), sin as corruption, atonement as relational restoration...

Let the conversation begin!


Doug Paul said...

My friends, it grieves me that I have not been able to participate in this discussion. As we speak, Scott Marshall has "borrowed" my book and has not yet returned it. You can see how this might make a book discussion difficult for one to participate it.

If you would like to email complaints and stern reprehensions, you may do so at

If you would like to curse the day he was born or leave prickly comments, you may do so at his blogspot:

Grace + Peace to you all.

Josh said...

Doug...I'm very sorry for this. We all are. But perhaps you could enligthen us with your thoughts on Eikons. I think you liked those thoughts.

Scott...hmm...spread the love, my friend. :)

Scott said...

One comment on chapter two: "Atonement creates the kingdom of God." If he means something ontological there, I would disagree--Jesus was announcing with his ARRIVAL that the kingdom is here, not his death. And it was his resurrection that vindicated his life and death in the first place. But I think he is being more descriptive than ontological, so I move past that. Also, at this point, he hasn't really addressed what everyone thinks of when they think of atonement: namely, Jesus hanging on a cross and the ever-troublesome question, 'Why did Jesus have to die?'

Scott said...

And Doug will just have to suck it up.

Josh said...

Chapter Three Thoughts...

What I liked:

1. His emphasis that humanity be described by comparison to God rather than the rest of created order . I think this not only puts humanity in a more positive light but also gives us a goal to pursue.

2. His description of sin as "comprehensive corruption" (22) and "hyper-relational". When sin is described as such I believe it paints a bigger picture for what atonement actually deals with.

In these first two points Scot seemed to have both a high view of humanity and sin. In my own (sinful) experience I lean more heavily on a high view of humanity and see sin as something easily dealt with. But Scot's perspective seems to beckon a healthier balance...

3. I also liked that his missional language wasn't complete without talking about forgiveness (reciprical performance 28). For some reason I have a dichotomy in my mind...I split missionality and reconcilation. I think that I still (unconciously) buy into the model where being missional is being a group whose primary task is presenting the gospel in creative ways (on Sundays or whenever you officially meet) and that reconciliation is something that happens after those creative presentations. Scot's writing brought that split into the light for me.

What I disliked:

1. I wish he would have developed further the discussion about human nature (18). I felt like the words just filled the space and did little to add to the following thoughts, unless you have some background on the subjects he addresses.

My question to you:

Where is your default starting point when you describe God, humanity and sin? do you start with God, sin, eikon?

Kevin Snow said...

I'm still waiting for the good part . . . Here's just a few thoughts.

1. I think his assertion that where a person starts shapes where they will end up as concerns atonement is valid. So, it helps explain the one most of us grew up believing. "If you begin with wrath, you get an atonement that tells the story of wrath being pacified."

2. I liked his summary of the biblical story as it relates to his idea of Eikons: "What we learn in the sweep of the biblical story is that the created Eikons of Genesis 1-2, the ones designed by God to represent God in this world, become 'cracked' Eikons in Genesis 3, and the rest of human existence is the life of cracked Eikons who do not accomplish their task of ruling in this world as God's representatives. . . . The atonement is designed by God to restore cracked Eikons into glory-producing Eikons by participation in the perfect Eikon, Jesus Christ, who redeems the cosmos. To be an Eikon, then, is to be charged with a theocentric and missional life"

Here are my responses to some of your thoughts.

1. Scott, I like what you said about Jesus announcing that the Kingdom IS here rather than it being linked with His death and resurrection. I said something similar last week.

2. Josh, I highlighted what you talked about when he says that humanity should be compared to God instead of the rest of creation. But . . . I'm not sure I'm ready to drink the Kool-Aid. If we see God in the rest of creation, then is the rest of creation not a reflection of Him too. I understand that the Bible says that we were created in His image and it doesn't say that about anything else. But I certainly believe that we are linked with the rest of creation too, because we are all simply that, created. Think about our belief that we should nurture and not destroy the rest of creation. Is it simply because we have the duty of caretaker or is it because we are a part of God's redeeming the whole of creation? And I'm still not willing to die for my definition of what being created in the image of God means.

3. Josh, my answer to your question, "Where is your default starting point when you describe God, humanity and sin? do you start with God, sin, eikon?" is for me always God. I'm not yet convinced that you need the other multiple starting points that Scot purposes.

Anyway, the discussion continues . . .

Josh said...


Kool-Aid! Where? What flavor?...

...Feeling a little woozy...


I like how you pointed out that we are still a part of the creation and probably should allow being created to define who we are and how we should live with the rest of creation. But I think Scot did hint at that when he talked about the hyper-relational sin, and how we are disconnected in relationship with God, self, others and the world itself.

To answer my question about where to start...I think many times when I am talking about God's story, I actually start with the brokenness of the world. I have found that when I do this I can connect with what my friends already see at work in the world. And then with the common assumption that the world is broken, I begin to talk about how the world wasn't meant to be this way and that God intended wholeness. Does that mean that I have sin as the starting point? In my head, no, but when I communicate with others, most of the time.