Friday, September 16, 2005

Perfect Penitent

This is where the theories change a bit and become more complex. This is described well by McLaren in his book, The Story We Find Ourselves In

"Yes. OK. Next, there's the 'perfect penitent' theory. This theory acknowledge the question your raised before: 'If God wants to forgive us, why doesn't he just do so?' And the real answer this theory gives is that forgiveness, for it to be legitimate and real, requires and expression of sincere repentance from the wrongdoer."

"And?" Kerry asked.

"And none of us are very good at repenting. None of us can repent sincerely or fully, because deep down, a part of us, at least, still loves to sin. Our best repentance is always ambivalent, partial, holding back. so this theory sees Jesus' acceptance of death--after all, he could have escaped any number of ways--as his enacting, on behalf of the whole human race, perfect repentance for us. He becomes a representative of all humanity and willingly submits himself to being condemned and punished on our account, in spite of his true innocence, as a way of acting our real repentance for the human race.'

"I've never heard of that one," Kerry said.

Neither have I, and I'm a pure-bred Baptist form Atlanta!' Carol added.

Page 105

I continued. "It was the view preferred by C. S. Lewis, ...He had problems with the substitutionary atonement theory for the same reason you do.

I noticed I quoted more than I meant. I'm pretty sure I looked up Lewis' thought in Mere Christianity and it really started making some sense. I'll see if I can update that later today.


Anonymous said...

This is all really interesting -- thanks for exploring this.

I keep going down this path for now: "Are all forgiven?" -- I'm still having to think, "Yes, we are."

To cobble the scriptural argument: Romans says, "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

And from II Corinthians:
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them."

When we were still God's enemies, we were reconciled through the death of Jesus. God was reconciling the WORLD to himself in Christ. Everyone. Everything.

If this is true, a lot of the pressure is off. I mean, pressure to get a person to go through a lot of hoops we've set up. That guy's forgiven by God, now I have to forgive to be in line with that reality. I need to point him toward the good news of the Kingdom, and encourage him to follow Jesus. The breathtakingly good-news scandal is that, "Dude, you're already forgiven. Even as an enemy of God, He has forgiven you."

...if I'm reading this all right.


Brian said...

I don't think this is way off base. I think you are following McLaren through his trilogy of books, BUT... just as McLaren, your next stop is HELL. Not that you are headed there, but if everyone is forgiven, who is headed there? It is also difficult Scripturally to deny hell, at least of some sort, that not all will get eternal life with God.

Shaun Groves said...

I'm enjoying this. Nothing to add or interject besides encouragement - someone out there in the blogosphere is reading and thinking in new ways, inspired by the complexity and otherness of God and by the mind he's given you and others to communicate Him to us.

I know it can be difficult to blog sometimes, wondering if you're saying the things you should. Should I go lighter, deeper, funnier, more trivial, etc. I don't know what you SHOULD do but what you ARE doing is scratching an itch I have. So thanks.