Lighthouse Trails Research Journal VOL. 7 | NO. 5 - Page 5

Lighthouse Trails Research Journal 5 Atonement Rejected!—continued from previous page deliberately punished for another man’s crime? . . . [S]ubstitutionary atonement . . . came a long way down in history in many a penal system. But now it is a precivilized barbarity; no secular court would tolerate the idea for a moment; only in certain belated theologies is it retained as an explanation of our Lord’s death . . . Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented. 13 authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply. 11 THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST his idea of rejecting God’s judg- ment placed on Jesus Christ instead of us is integrated into the teachings of many others. William Shannon (biogra- pher of Catholic monk and mystic Thomas Merton) said: T This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people . . . He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger . . . This God does not exist. 12 (emphasis added) So in other words, according to Fosdick, McLaren, and Shannon, Jesus should be seen as a model of sacrifice to follow in our own lives, but to view God the Father as a judge against sin is not a proper view of God. Those who reject the atonement realize the greatest threat to their heretical views is those who take the Scriptures literally and seriously. Fosdick explains: Were you to talk to that fundamentalist preacher, he doubtless would insist that you must believe in the “substitutionary” theory of atonement—namely, that Jesus suffered as a substitute for us the punishment due us for our sins. But can you imagine a modern courtroom in a civilized country where an innocent man would be Volume 7—No. 5 This is a perfect example of how the emerging “progressive” church turns doc- trine it doesn’t understand (or accept) into a mockery against Scripture and God’s plan of salvation. God’s ways are not our ways and to expect them to line up with our own human reasoning is ludicrous: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9) The late Catholic contemplative author Brennan Manning (still a favorite among many evangelicals) joined the ranks of those who rejected the substitutionary atonement. In his book Above All, Manning quotes William Shannon almost word for word, regarding the atonement: [T]he god whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger . . . the god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased, is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist. 14 (emphasis added) DYING FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD he late Marcus Borg (another favorite among evangelicals) was a lecturer and the author of several books, some of T which are Jesus and Buddha, The God We Never Knew, and Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seri- ously But not Literally. His thinking greatly influenced the emerging church move- ment and its leaders. Brian McLaren has “high regard” 15 for Borg, and the two of them participated in a seminar series at an interspiritual center in Portland, Oregon one summer. 16 Rob Bell (the now-defected former pastor and a major influencer among young evangelicals) references and praises Borg in his still-popular book Velvet Elvis. 17 Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary and one of the contributors to Richard Foster’s Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible, considers Borg an essential part of the “new” Christianity. Brueggemann states: Marcus Borg is a key force in the emerging “new paradigm” of Christian faith. 18 Borg explains in his book The God We Never Knew that his views on God, the Bible, and Christianity were transformed while he was in seminary: I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God.. . . I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority. 19 This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say: Jesus almost certainly was not born Continues on next page SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019