Thinking Anglicans

Easter opinions

Lucy Winkett Telegraph As the bad news gets worse, the Good News keeps getting better

Rowan Williams Mail on Sunday Archbishop on Easter – Article for the Mail on Sunday.

Rowan Williams Lambeth Palace The Archbishop’s Easter Sermon

John Sentamu Sunday Times New life, new spirit

Giles Fraser Guardian The merciful crucifixion

Jane Williams Cif Belief God’s life is inexhaustible

Jonathan Bartley CifBelief Easter and anarchy

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Kurt
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Kurt

Congrats, Canon Fraser! (And a blessed Easter to all!)

Drew_Mac
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Drew_Mac

I don’t know how it’s possible to excise the idea of substitutionary sacrifice completely from the atonement. Sure it’s a very challenging notion for people not raised in a sacrificial religion but it’s there none-the-less. Surely it has to remain as one metaphor amongst several – even if it is not painted quite so starkly and horribly as Giles does. God himself provides the sacrifice – and sin always has its price (consequences) even if it is not necessarily God who requires these. The other problem I have with the idea that the notion of sacrifice is not necessary at… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Thank you Jonathon for reminding us how Christianity became co-opted by tyrannical tendencies. Thank you Giles for reminding us that God is loving and compassionate. God so loved this world that when the world cried out from its torment by Satan, God bounced Satan out of office. God so loved this world that when Gaia requested a male guardian, and the Jews cried for a new messiah, God gave them Jesus. Jesus did some pretty fine tap-dancing to convince, Gaia, the Cherubim of the Ark and others that he could be trusted to fulfill the scriptures in a loving and… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

Canon Fraser seems to assume that any sacrificial view of the Crucifixion or the Eucharist is tied up with the doctrine of Substitionary Atonement. I think that’s a mistake.

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

Thank you, Giles Fraser! To me, the notion of Jesus of Nazareth living a wonderful life, preaching and practicing a wonderful ministry, and then being sacrificed to appease God is bizarre. Cruel, bloodthirsty, and capricious. Especially when you consider, according to orthodox Christian teaching that God’s Son — Jesus of Nazareth — was part of God from the beginning, is now part of God, and will always be part of God. So God creates humanity, knowing that humanity is prone to error and sin. From the beginning, God also knows that God’s Son is going to have to come to… Read more »

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

Thanks, as so often, to Giles.

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“No, Jesus is not a blood sacrifice to appease a vicious God.” See, I usually like Giles Fraser a lot, but this statement, because it is correct, is incorrect in a sense. Jesus is indeed not a blood sacrifice to appease a viscious God. But that doesn’t mean that His death on the Cross isn’t a sacrifice. I read a piece, I thought by Fraser, where he drew the comparison with a firefighter who dies rescuing a child. We would all agree the firefighter sacrificed her life, but how many would say it was necessary because of the sins of… Read more »

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold)
Guest

I hadn’t thought of that before – Saul looking for a job as a Temple priest. What did they say, “Given the locals and these Romans, it’s likely only to be a temporary post.” But then they all were, if Saul was susceptible to belief in the last days. Perhaps the priests didn’t like being told it was now only a temporary job. So they told him to go and do something else. So he went off touring the synagogues instead, peaching for evermore the incompatibility between having a Messiah and following the Law, and then thought there was a… Read more »

Drew_Mac
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Drew_Mac

“..sin, bad behavior, etc., demands atonement by the individual, not through sacrficing animals or humans, but through a change in course, restitution, or, if so desired, punishment.” I thought the point about the cross was that *God* himself suffered, not simply some innocent animal or human, to bring an end to the OT sacrificial system which was, after all, only a metaphor for the seriousness of sin – which is something so serious that humans CANNOT atone for their own sins by any means. I doubt that any sort of ontological ransom was *really* paid to God or anyone else… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

Yes BillyD I agree it looks that way. Christ was obedient even unto death…and God has highly exalted him. I agree with those who here suggest an orthodox kind of Patripassianism is a helpful angle. But the sacrifice arising out of God’s love is for US rather than for him and Giles is right to keep banging on about there being no need for appeasing God in any way.

peterpi
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peterpi

“sin causes serious suffering and that it can be forgiven through self-sacrificial love” – Drew_Mac Agreed. What you said needs no “Substitution Atonement” theology. Sin is harmful, and needs major personal atonement by the person who sins, a sacrifice of one’s spirit, to fix it. If I sin, then Jesus of Nazareth’s death by crucifixion doesn’t atone for the sin. Only by my own actions, by a change in my own behavior, can I accomplish it. Jesus preached a new way to approach God and atonement. A way that did not involve unthinking ritualistic following of rules without looking deeper… Read more »

Drew_Mac
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Drew_Mac

“Sin is harmful, and needs major personal atonement by the person who sins, a sacrifice of one’s spirit, to fix it.”

And yet the message of the whole of scripture, not just a bit of it, is that humans cannot atone for their own sins – that’s why “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”

I’m not a great fan of the Substitutionary Atonement theory and do understand the criticisms but I don’t see that we can just ditch it without ditching the whole Bible and starting a new religion.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“The death and resurrection of Jesus show that God’s life is inexhaustible, and cannot be curbed by our arid and muddle-headed judgments.” – Jane Williams – Here is a woman theologian (the wife of our ABC), telling it to us exactly how it is – that God bypasses our tendency to judge others, and ourselves, by our standards. Rather, by his self-offering through Jesus on the Cross, God has offered us ‘the new and living way’, breaking though the Temple Veil, and revealing to all humankind what Love and Mercy are all about. This just proves the veracity of the… Read more »

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold)
Guest

A small point, peterpi. Jesus or followers of ritual order would not say:

“Gee, if I do A, B, and C, in the right order, then God will be pleased with me and I don’t have to change.”

Because “Gee” is a corruption of Jesus, and that would be like talking to himself or addressing him on a non-him matter.

I thank you (exit stage left).

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“I’m not a great fan of the Substitutionary Atonement”

Nor am I, frankly, I think it borders on blasphemous. All the same, there is an element of punishment in the way the Crusifixion is approached in Scripture. I just don’t think it forms the basis of the message. And it was a joy to find out it is not a core part of the Tradition. The Real Orthodox find it very dodgy, in fact, blame it for the decline of faith in the West.

BillyD
Guest

‘And yet the message of the whole of scripture, not just a bit of it, is that humans cannot atone for their own sins – that’s why “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”‘

Quite so. If I could atone for my own sins, what would I need Jesus – or you lot – for?

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Glossing over distinct (even if subtle, language) uses and meanings of sacrifice, simply will not do. Did glossing ever do? Sin has innate consequences. When we humans miss the mark – when we intentionally aim low and target others to get favors or rewards; surely we are diminished in all our relations – to God, to neighbors, to self. A simplistic sacrifice gloss on all that hamartia-consequence? Sounds well meant among many posters here. I’m disquieted, the sacrifice gloss is wanting. Our deepest, best grasp of what sin is, can hardly be that, Somebody Somewhere Must Pay. (After a proper… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“If I could atone for my own sins” I think we need to unpack this phrase a bit. Look at it in the light of the quote about Christ “reconciling the world to Himself.” We tend to think of sin as crime, of forgiveness being about punishment, and atonement gets lumped in to that. But “reconciling” something to something else, like two email address books, is not about punishing one address book because it isn’t like the other. It’s about making them the same. So, Christ takes our imperfections and makes them perfect. “He became as we are so that… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

Well, Ford, sort of. There’s sin, the condition, and there are sins, the acts in which we act out on that condition.

Bottom line: killing someone is still a sin, even if it’s not sin.

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

I’m sorry, but if the individual doesn’t acknowledge his or her own sinful behavior and try to change it, if a person doesn’t try to atone for their own sins, then — according to classic Christian theology — Jesus may have died on the cross for that individual, but in vain. Jesus the Christ isn’t a combination of Santa Claus and Superman. He isn’t going to save us from ourselves if we’re just going along for the ride. There has to be real change in the individual. At the absolute minimum an acknowledgment that we harmed another individual or acted… Read more »

Drew_Mac
Guest
Drew_Mac

“Christ’s atonement treats the disease.”

TS Eliot (East Coker)

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

I certainly appreciate that Orthodox treatment of what happens in atonement – but it still leaves those difficult questions levelled at Substitutionary atonement.

Why did our healer have to die on the cross to heal us? Was there not a less violent way to achieve the cure?

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

Do not overlook the fact, in your rush of Christian adulation, that there was (And is)salvation in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish people long before the death, or even the birth of Jesus.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Why did our healer have to die on the cross to heal us? Was there not a less violent way to achieve the cure?” – Drew_Mac – And herein lies the question: Did God put Christ on the Cross? Or was this the action of the very human beings Christ came to redeem? My feeling is that God knew that Christ would have to endure the Cross, but it was not God’s plan to put him there. God just knew it was a distinct possibility. And who was it that made the determination? Not the Roman Governor, but rather the… Read more »

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold)
Guest

To follow the logic of this story through, how good of God to choose a Roman regime on the edge of empire that would kill perceived opponents and disturbers at the drop of a hat. Couldn’t God have waited for more restrained times in more favourable circumstances in order to reveal his loving son?

The more you think this through, the more absurd it gets.

BillyD
Guest

“Do not overlook the fact, in your rush of Christian adulation, that there was (And is)salvation in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish people long before the death, or even the birth of Jesus.”

That being the case, one wonders why Jesus didn’t just save himself the bother…

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

Fr. Ron Smith, stoning was the Jewish form of execution. Romans used crucifixion. Jesus didn’t build his own cross, lug it to Golgotha, nail himself to it, and somehow get the cross erect. The Jewish authorities didn’t nail Jesus to the cross, carry him to Golgotha, and place the cross upright. Yes, Jewish authorities were responsible for bringing the charges, but it was the Roman authorities who determined he was a trouble-maker, and it was Roman authorities who determined his sentence, flogged him, forced him to walk with the cross partway, nailed him to it, and executed him by crucifixion.… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Substitionary Atonement models are despicable. There are some cultures/faiths that prefer the male authority figure with the females dependent. When the men are given prison sentences, they send one of their female relatives to do their time for them. Some mystics suggests there are male/female soul-mates and that the female gets hammered by God until the male comes to his senses, and then the male is meant to heal the female. Sacrificial paradigms need to be thrown out. Sociopathic males don’t give a toss and never get around to healing the females (or vice versa). Rather Ezekiel 18 should apply… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“The more you think this through, the more absurd it gets.” Yes, exactly – to those who are without the benefit of faith. As Saint Paul says: “If it was God’s wisdom that human wisdom should not know God, it was because God wanted to save those who have faith through the FOOLISHNESS of the message that we preach … a crucified Christ; to the Jews (of which Saul/Paul was one) an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

‘But life has meaning and depth that we can hardly imagine, and we find it today in the fire and bread and wine of Easter.’ And Canon Lucy writes this having referred to the need for ‘translation’ …in a society where most adults live their lives without reference to any organised religion. It’s a story we hear through a series of cultural filters, and, for a modern generation unfamiliar with its vocabulary and characters, it needs translation. As commentators say on the Telegraph thread…where is the good news…feel good generalisations…platitudes to ease the ear. And what a terrible and ghastly… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Why did our healer have to die on the cross to heal us?” Because the Incarnation was about taking the entirety of the human experience and restoring it to its original state. So, the Incarnate God had to die, death is a part of being human. The classic mythology is that it didn’t stop there. He then endured what all endured up to that point: going to the place of the dead: Gehenna for Jews, Hell for Germanic peoples, Hades for the Greeks, Ad for the Slavs, Imenty for the Egyptians, and on and on. He then destroyed those places… Read more »