Interesting discussion in the previous post. Much of it is over my head. I’m not really looking to push beyond the bounds of orthodoxy – whatever that means – not saying that any of you are, but you could be. ;)
As I said in my post on The Future of the Church, I believe that we will begin to see more and more discussions about redefining the gospel, eschatology, and the approach to Scripture. There is currently an interesting discussion about the gospel at Scot McKnight’s blog.
I prefer to emphasize the simplicity of God’s story. Yet in many ways the Christian message has not included the essence of God’s intention for creation. My quest isn’t for knowledge as much as it is for understanding, and of course that being limited by my ability to understand.
Thanks to Paul for his contribution in the comments of the previous post. At his blog, he is writing an interesting series about Dr. Baxter Kruger’s book, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam. From Paul’s blog…
“If Adam and Eve had not ‘disobeyed’ would Jesus have come and died for human redemption?”
The Incarnation and death of Jesus was not a response to the failure of Adam and Eve, but an expression of something else much bigger and reflective of the whole purpose of creation.
In Jesus and the Undoing of Adam, Kruger makes the point that the birth, life, death, resurrection was not first a response to sin – a kind of Plan B or Plan C – this way:
The death of Christ is part of a seamless movement that began in eternity with the Father, Son and Spirit and reached fulfillment with the exaltation of the human race in the ascension of Jesus …. If we are to understand why Jesus died, what happened in his death and what it means for us today, we have to go back to eternity, to the astonishing decision of the Father, Son and Spirit to include us in their circle of shared life. For the reality that drives the coming of Jesus Christ and pushes him to the cross is the restless and determined passion of the Father to have us as His beloved children. The first thing to be said about the death of Jesus Christ is that he died because God the Father almighty loves us with an implacable and undaunted and everlasting love, a love that absolutely refuses to allow us to perish. (p.15)
The Christian God is interested in relationship with us, and not just relationship but union, but such a union that everything he is and has – all glory and fullness, all joy and beauty and unbridled life – is to be shared with us to become as much ours as it is His. The plan from the beginning, in the Christian vision, is that God would give Himself to us, and nothing less, so we could be filled to overflowing with the divine life. (p.17)
Part of what John means when he tells us that Jesus Christ is the Word of God is that there has never been a moment in all eternity when God wanted to be without us. The man Jesus, the incarnate Son, is not an afterthought or afterword. Jesus, the incarnate Son, the humanity of God, is the eternal foreword. The relationship between God and humanity that was hammered out in Jesus Christ was not a second plan. This relationship, this union between God and humanity in Christ, is the plan of God which precedes creation itself. God has always purposed to become flesh. (p.17)
Behind creation, figuring as the driving force of all activity, as the one thought at the forefront of the divine mind and the preoccupation of the heart of God, was the decision to give human beings a place in the circle of the Trinity. Before the blueprints for creation were drawn up, the Father, Son and Spirit set their heart and abounding philanthropy upon us. In sheer grace, the Triune God decided not to hoard the Trinitarian life and glory, but to share it with us, to lavish it upon us. (p.19)
Another, not necessarily contradictory, perspective on substitutionary atonement from Bob Hyatt, What Does It Matter Why Jesus Died?…
But without the substitutionary death, there’s certainly no substitutionary life, that is if Jesus didn’t die for me, He most certainly didn’t live for me either, and I’m left to cobble together my own righteousness, rather than understanding that I live in His; that His perfect life, his holiness and righteousness is what I get in the bargain of the cross.
All through the OT, God had promised a Messiah, someone who would come and bring peace, healing, wholeness, and restore justice and fairness. From Genesis, all the way up to the early chapters of Isaiah, this anointed one is talked about. Then you get to the middle part of Is. ch. 40 and on, and he appears- it begins to describe Him, bringing what was promised, bringing salvation to the nations.
But when we hit ch. 53 something tragic, something appalling happens. The one who was supposed to bring an end to violence becomes the victim of violence- the one who was supposed to end injustice becomes its victim. “Pierced” for us.
And the question is- How could this be the Messiah? It contradicts everything else that’s been said about Him to this point! How could the Messiah bring an end to injustice and violence and the brokenness of the world… by being broken Himself?
But… the whole thing begins to make sense when we get our Trinitarian thinking straight… If this is Immanuel, God With Us, then… God in human flesh is the only one who can say- My life is My own and I willingly lay it down- no one takes it from Me. And He laid it down- for us? This isn’t God crushing His unwilling Son- this is the Judge Himself voluntarily taking the place of the guilty condemned.
If God wasn’t going to pay us back for the wrongs we do to each other and to Him, then He was going to have to pay. He would suffer. And the cross, as gruesome as it was, showed that in stark reality. There- for all the world to see, our hatred, our violence, God’s love, God’s forgiveness… God suffering on our behalf.
What do you think?
- If the incarnation is God’s intention for reconciling creation in Christ, where do evil, sin, and the crucifixion fit in God’s eternal plan?
- Was sin inevitable or perhaps inherent to humankind?
- Was redemption ultimately necessary so that our relationship with God would never be based on our own merit?
- Is redemption about something beyond recovery from the Fall?