Old Ideas Meme

Doug Chaplin didn’t tag me, but I like his old ideas meme:

“Name one idea that used to be seen as a key Christian theme, but is nowadays regarded as either irrelevant or outdated, although you think it still has a lot to offer. In two sentences say something about why you selected this, and why it should be recovered or renewed.”

For me it’s the doctrine of atonement. In even its most brutally medieval manifestation, we learn positively from the way in which satisfaction, penal substitution, and ransom redemption interweave and take us into the eye of a paradox where wrath and mercy become one. While I believe this doctrine deserves to be transcended (the highest form of forgiveness is free forgiveness that doesn’t require any give-and-take in between), it involves a truth about the human condition that can’t be overcome so easily. People care deeply about issues of honor and justice, even if true enlightenment demands that we check them at the door. The doctrine of atonement is a blanket of security which affirms our need to do the right or honorable thing, while beckoning us to higher wisdom.

3 thoughts on “Old Ideas Meme

  1. Very nice, though I hardly think that things like vicarious suffering and substitutionary atonement can be transcended this side of ha-olam ha-ba. Both, after all, are the stuff of life.

    The best introduction to the topic for most people is the novel by Chaim Potok, My Name is Asher Lev. If you haven't read it, you'll be thanking me profusely once you have.

  2. Recently I started reading a good book on the atonement titled “God the Peacemaker: How atonement brings shalom” by Graham A. Cole-peace Jonny

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