Lighthouse Trails Research Journal VOL. 7 | NO. 5 - Page 6

Lighthouse Trails Research Journal 6 Atonement Rejected!—continued from previous page of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world. 20 If what Borg is saying is true, then we would have to throw out John 3:16 which says God so loved the world He gave His only Son, and we would have to dismiss the theme of a blood offering that is prevalent throughout all of Scripture. In the Old Testament, it is clear: For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11) But Borg rejects this emphasis: To think that the central meaning of Easter [resurrection] depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death. 21 What is behind this mindset? Listen to one New Ager describe what underlies this line of thought: Jesus was an historical person, a human becoming Christ, the Christos is an eternal transpersonal condition of being. Jesus did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him, to follow in his steps, to learn from him, from his example. 22 Volume 7—No. 5 Fosdick would resonate with this. When he says, “Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented,” he means that Christ is an example to be followed, not an innocent sacrifice for our guilt and thus worthy of praise and worship. Satan wants desperately to be worshiped and adored as God. He hates all that Jesus’ death stands for. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, purchased with His own blood the lives of those written in the Book of Life. A very popular author today, William Paul Young (author of The Shack) also rejects the idea that Christ’s shed blood was needed to save man. He has come right out and said this openly. 23 And yet, many Christian leaders promote both Young and The Shack without any qualms. The Bible says, “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), and also, “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Are we to reject these Scriptures and other ones as well that speak of the atonement because it doesn’t sound logical? Scripture tells us that the carnal mind is at enmity with God. We need to recognize that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is our final authority, and we must adhere to the truth of its teachings. THE IMPLICATIONS any in the emerging church may in- sist they do not hold to the distorted view on the atonement that this article has described. But it is important to understand that the underlying nature of this view of rejecting the atonement is panentheistic (God in all) and pantheistic (God is all), which is the “fruit” of practicing contem- plative mysticism. To put it in plain terms, one of the key characteristics of the emerg- ing church is engaging in mystical prayer practices (i.e., contemplative). This in turn produces a drastic change in spiritual outlook that over time takes on panenthe- istic views. And when that happens, a new perspective on the atonement always occurs M because when one believes man is divine (god within), then he believes man does not need to have anyone make atonement for him. A substitutionary  death (taking a sinner’s place) on the Cross would not be necessary and in fact, would be an insult to man’s own divine nature.  It would be hu- miliating. Like Thomas Merton said, if we really knew what was in each one of us, we would fall down and worship one another. 24 He and other contemplatives say that man’s biggest problem isn’t a sinful nature; no, it’s that he does not realize he is divine. If Jesus’ going to the Cross and shedding blood was merely an act of service and sac- rifice, an example for others to follow, and was not actually a substitutionary payment for the sins of humanity, then why cel- ebrate the resurrection as so many churches do? It would make no sense. Churches that cling to contemplative/emergent ideologies and practices should consider this. While they cling to one (contemplative), they’re on the road to denying the other (the atone- ment) . . . even if they don’t realize it. Endnotes: 1. Beka Horton, Church History and Things to Come (Pensacola, FL: Pensacola Christian College, 1997 printing), p. 156. 2. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Dear Mr. Brown (New York, NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1961), p. 136. 3. Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Modern Use of the Bible (New York NY: The Macmillan Company, 1924), p. 230. 4. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Dear Mr. Brown, op. cit., p. 135. 5. Ibid., p. 134-135. 6. Riverside City Church, New York City, http://www.the riversidechurchny.org/ getinvolved/?fosdick-speakers. 7. Interview by Leif Hansen with Brian McLaren, January 8 th , 2006); Part 1: http://bleed- ing purple podcast.blog spot.com/2006/01/bri- an-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http:// bleedingpurplepodcast.blog spot.com/2006/01/ interview-with-brian-mclaren-part-ii.html). 8. Ibid., part II. 9. Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons, 2005), p. 132. Endnotes conclude on page 25 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019