Wednesday, 22 April 2009

At-one-ment / at-wonder-ment

Over at John's blog, there's a discussion happening on various atonment theories.

Do we opt for Christus Victim?

Perhaps we might go for
Christus Victor?

Was Jesus a good moral exemplar for humanity?

So many theories, so little time :) ....

But I wonder: while I'm in no way discounting the work of doing theology, nor of ignoring what happened on the Cross, my sense is that sometimes we as church have been so caught up in the death of Jesus, that we've sometimes stayed with the Crucifixion and forgotten the Resurrection... and also of the impact of the whole of the life of Jesus. We've limited Jesus to 3 hours one Friday - there's so much more.

What is it to be in full communion with God?
What does it mean to live... to live truly, to live fully, a life that is abundant - and way beyond the shallow prosperity notions of abundance as merely material blessing? The life of Jesus points the way, not just his death.

And thinking about my previous post: how do the various theories of atonement impact on the way we structure our liturgy? I'm minded of my step-dad's words many, many years ago, reflecting on his early experiences of church: "Why do I need to go to church to be told how crap I am?" He never went back. I don't blame him one little bit. He's not alone in his thinking.

We need to hold, in our worship and in our lives, that balance of immanence and transcendence.... Of not just damning judgment all the damned time but of grace as well. And an understanding that all our words and all our theories are limited, imperfect fumblings in the half-light of dawn. I think we would be better off viewing atonement theories as all pieces that are part and parcel of a larger mosaic: shimmering glimpses into the heart of God and of God's love for humanity.

Henry Francis Lyte opted for a 'let's go for the whole lot' in his fabulous hymn -

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet thy tribute bring;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
evermore his praises sing:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Have we become so fixated on 'at-one-ment' that we've forgotten 'at-wonder-ment'?


Kate said...

Once again, beautifully said. I joked with Justin when we were at his parents' church at Christmas, 'They'll let Jesus be born, but they'll have him on the cross before the night is through.' Sure enough I was right. And when we were for Easter one year, Jesus died, was resurrected and then died again. It's one of those do you laugh or cry situations.

There's a great prosperity gospel preached by Creflo Dollar (yes, really) who, in the tradition of great televangelists, is under investigation for 'financial misconduct'. YouTube him. He's fab.

JohnO said...

You have a way with words which I envy. You express the wonderment where I can only type out the functionality. Nonetheless, I definitely share your concern about our loss of wonder. Much as I enjoy a theological argument, there's always a time to step back, gaze upwards (or outwards, or wherever) and simply say, "Wow!"
Every blessing.

Elizabeth Anderson said...

I wandered over here from Rev Ruth's blog (and have seen your name on A Telling Place). And what a fantastic first post to read! At-wonder-ment. I love it. And you have eloquently expressed some of my issues with current liturgy and theology (okay, not just current, try the past millenium). In a recent book I enjoyed, Saving Paradise, Rita Nakshima Brock and Rebecca Parker show that early church art and liturgy didn't focus on the crucifixion or portray it, but focused on Jesus as life-giving, frequently portraying him in a this-worldly paradise.

So, thanks for this post! I look forward to more reading!