Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Kwanzan Cherry Tree

Exquisitely soft falls the chill April rain
that separates blossom from leaf
and petals the pavement with color,
as if in lamentation for splendor passing.

Beside the Ephemeral Pond

Beside the ephemeral pond,
among the low wild grasses
bent-brown and green,
winter-summer tangled

the earth-scurrying killdeer
nested four mottled eggs,
then brooded, vigilant
in April's lilting uncertainty

which is when we came along
and heard the anxious cry,
then observed, so keenly
the fierce urge toward life

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Some Thoughts on Substitutionary Atonement

Reading a book of essays on NT Wright's thought, and coming out of reading Wright's "How God Became King" and participating in the Good Friday liturgy ....

It seems to me that much of substitutionary atonement thinking is highly individualistic. In this thinking, Jesus substituted for me, for each one of us. That is, Jesus the one man or one person substituted for the one man or one person. In this sense, Jesus capitulates Adam for me, for each of us. Now NT Wright, without denying or dismissing this, contends as well that Jesus capitulates Israel, the nation or people. This would broaden substitutionary atonement to corporate identity and action, not simply individual identity and action. That is, it would broaden it from a narrow emphasis on the sacrificial system alone to encompass the fullness of a people and a body politic (in the broad sense, not simply the political sense); otherwise we reduce the identity and history and formation of Israel, and God's saving action therein, to merely the sacrificial system. What if we then take all this further to recognize that Jesus capitulates not only Israel and humanity but creation itself, the whole of creation. Thus Jesus substitutes for creation in his life, death, resurrection, and even in his ascension (in the sense that God created humanity to rule in creation). That is, Jesus had to die because creation was dead, and only by taking on creation's death could Jesus (God in Jesus) take away creation's death. Thus: sacrifice, substitution, atonement; but not narrowly or solely construed and enacted within the meaning and mechanism of the sacrificial cult as seen in the temple.