Last year’s John 14:6 challenge was a blast – so we decided we would throw out another challenge and ask the deacons to call in. We will pick a selection of calls and posts to interact with on the next TNT.
Here are the step-by-step instructions:
- Read the challenge post below
- Think about a response
- Write up your thoughts
- Use the speak pipe on the front page to send us an MP3 message
Here is the challenge:
Suppose I was to say:
We need to stop saying “God sent Jesus to die on the cross”. The only place the New Testament even talks about God sending Jesus is in John 3:17 – Jesus was sent into the world, not to condemn it but to save it.
The danger of saying any more than John 3:17 says itself is that it distorts our image of God and our understanding of the mission of Jesus.
What really happened is that Jesus died an unjust death. He was nailed to a cross by the Romans – as many threats to political peace and social stability were.
In the years after that weekend’s traumatic/amazing events, Jesus’ followers came to ascribe bigger and cosmic meaning to his death and their experience of his resurrection.
Believers, in those first few centuries, retro-fitted divine intention and design into Jesus’ death.
This comes down to us through the centuries and gets distilled as “God sent Jesus to die for our sins” or ,even worse, “Jesus came to die for our sins”
No – Jesus came for many reasons. He was then assassinated by an unjust regime in cahoots with a corrupt religious system.
God vindicated this injustice with the event we now call Easter. That signals God’s solidarity with those who suffer and are persecuted under unjust systems and structures.
The death of Jesus was seemingly as senseless as any victim of the powers.
It was only afterward that Jesus’ followers retroactively ascribed this kind of meaning and divine intention on his death. Doing so is:
- poetics at its best – and very appropriate.
- problematic at many levels including metaphysics, nature of time, and child abuse (to name just 3)
The selecting of narrative elements to illustrate a thread is a common way to give meaning and direction to a story. We do it at weddings all the time. We have this couple standing at the altar and we trace narrative threads back to show how they were ‘destined’ to be together or even ‘made’ for each other.
It’s a nice way to talk and it is poetic and beautiful. I am fine with doing it – both for a couple’s wedding and for Jesus’ death – as long we understand that this is what we are doing.
When I say that a couple was meant to bump into each other at the party/parking lot/ dating site … I am trying to ascribe an extra level of meaning or significance to their relationship.
When we say that “God sent Jesus to die for our sins” we are doing the same thing. It is our way of attempting to ascribe an extra-ordinary level of meaning or significance to his life and influence.
What would you say to that?
Comments, questions, concerns?
I look forward to your SpeakPipe calls!