Franciscans never believed that “blood atonement” was required for God to love us. We believed that Christ was Plan A from the very beginning (Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-14, John 1:1-18). Christ wasn’t a Plan B after the first humans sinned, which is the way most people seem to understand the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Great Mystery of Incarnation could not be a mere mop-up exercise, a problem-solving technique, or dependent on human beings messing up. The Incarnation was not motivated by a problem but by love.
Did God intend no meaning or purpose for creation during the first 13.8 billion years? Did the sun, moon, and galaxies have no divine significance? The fish, the birds, the animals were just waiting for humans to appear? Was there no Divine Blueprint (“Logos”) from the beginning? This thinking reveals the hubris of the human species and our tendency to anthropomorphize the whole story around ourselves. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Love at the Core of the Gospel”
Jesus’ teachings seem to have been understood rather clearly during the first few hundred years after his death and resurrection. Values like nonparticipation in war, simple living, and love of enemies were common among his early followers. For example, the Didache, written around AD 90, calls readers to “share all things with your brother; and do not say that they are your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more in things which perish.”  At this time, Christianity was countercultural, untouched by empire, rationalization, and compromise.
However, when the imperial edict of AD 313 elevated Christianity to a privileged position in the Roman Empire, the church increasingly accepted, and even defended, the dominant social order, especially concerning war, money, and class. Morality became individualized and largely sexual. Formal Christianity slowly lost its free and alternative vantage point, which is probably why what we now call “religious life” began, and flourished, after 313. People went to the edges of the church and took vows of poverty, living in satellites that became “little churches,” without ever formally leaving the big church. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – A Nonviolent Atonement”
El Greco – Christ Carying the Cross
Google the words atonement and emergent church together, and your computer screen will soon heat up a few degrees. A lively (and not always civilized) debate has broken out among those who defend classical theories of the Atonement and those who see them as some variation of the caricature Dorothy Sayers drew 60 years ago:
God wanted to damn everybody, but his vindictive sadism was sated by the crucifixion of his own Son, who was quite innocent, and, therefore, a particularly attractive victim. He now only damns people who don’t follow Christ or who have never heard of him.
Since Jesus’ death nearly 2,000 years ago, theologians such as Origen, Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, and John Calvin have proposed ways of understanding it: as a Ransom paid to Satan, a Satisfaction required by God, a Moral Influence for humanity, a Penal Substitution for the punishment due to humankind. Some of these theories, referencing animal sacrifices and God’s wrath, can make for a hard sell for many in modern
Interested? Read more HERE.