Today I have had my first foray into the big, wide world of the internet. My post The powers exposed, which I wrote on 4 March, was published as a guest post over at major US Christian blog site Internet Monk. So far, there are eighty-eight comments and counting. If you haven’t yet, why not head over there, have a read and maybe leave a comment. And why not take the time to have a look at some other posts while you’re there.
I don’t have time to write anything much today, since I’ve already spent a fair amount of time engaging in the comments at Internet Monk. However, here are some personal observations based on my reading of the comments and responses so far:
– People are very, very invested in their particular understanding of the atonement, particularly when it comes to the so-called “penal satisfaction” theory. If you question it, you’d better be ready for some forceful responses. Shake that tree and the bees are comin’ a-buzzin’!
– Some people respond quite aggressively to any kind of theological debate. You can find yourself painted as being outside of orthodoxy in the space of two or three comments. The discussion quickly becomes polarised and it’s not easy to avoid getting drawn into a tit-for-tat game of one-upmanship.
– Having said that, there are others who are a delight to converse with, who understand what it is to disagree without becoming disagreeable.
Finally, I’ve been pondering quite why it is that the penal satisfaction model of the atonement is so fiercely defended. I mean, even if you consider it a viable option, it’s certainly far from the only biblically consistent view of what happened at the cross. Here’s my conclusion so far: if I believe in a God who is fundamentally exacting and judgemental, I can happily continue to be exacting and judgemental myself. Black-and-white, them-and-us thinking seems to fit quite snugly with that kind of God. But the moment I let go of that kind of God and begin to understand God as endlessly merciful and forgiving, I am greatly convicted and challenged about my own judgmentalism, rivalry and aggression. To put it another way, knowledge of God as infinitely forgiving and merciful seems to work much more deeply in me than knowledge of God as infinitely to be feared.
I hope to resume normal service tomorrow.