Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 17 January 2024

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Abusive unhealthy traditional Christianity, theology and practice

Alex Fry ViaMedia.News More than Theology? How Beliefs About Women’s Ordination are Socially Rooted

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church More Scrutiny of the CofE and its Safeguarding Record. The Glasgow Report

Neil Elliot NumbersMatters New year: new data?

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Kate Keates
Kate Keates
1 month ago

I can’t get through Fry’s lengthy article but is the TLDR takeaway the unsurprising conclusion that men are more likely than women to object to the ordination of women?

Peter
Peter
1 month ago

I am no longer commenting on the Church of England, other than to hold bishops accountable for their incompetence. (To the extent that is possible).

The Gospel and the bible is a different matter. Colin Coward’s article is a fundamental distortion of the Gospel. It is also a false account of the high view of Scripture which is a feature of orthodoxy.

He is at least honest about his perspective. He and I agree on one thing. It is not and never has been about sexuality.

It is and always has been about the Word of God.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

But just for a moment suppose that the Holy Spirit has been part of the discernment process of the current episcopacy? I am aware of the vast amount of care and prayer that goes into senior selection, and pouring over the scriptures for wisdom and understanding. And now you brand them as incompetent? I agree that its all about the Word of God, but its also about the Grace and Mercy and Compassion of God too. I think the bishops are in a totally invidious position trying to balance the extremes that one person’s distortion is another persons orthodoxy and… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

The bishops should be held accountable, but they are a side issue.

Colin Coward sets out what was always the logical next step in the LLF process. I deplore his theology but he is being candid and transparent which is helpful.

It is about the authority of the bible. That is and always was the basis of the division.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

And who are you to say that Colin Coward is wrong and you are right on the authority of the Bible? And is there “an” authority of the Bible? The Eastern and Western Churches split 970 years ago in a very nasty divorce, each side I’m sure citing the authority of the Bible for their positions. And others would say there was only an iota’s worth of difference between their viewpoints. Likewise Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, out of which the Church of England was born, with King Henry VIII supporting the Roman Catholic Church until he felt it didn’t support… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Are you suggesting I am expressing a personal opinion ? Seriously ?

Please, can we at least conduct a discussion based on reality.

Colin Coward himself accepts that he is advancing a view that amounts to a radical change.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Whose reality? – surely your post is at the heart of this. Whose reality and whose theology? The danger is we end up debasing the bible, rather than addressing sola fide as opposed to sola scriptura – or a more Anglican balance of scripture reason and tradition. Peter – you cant just sit on a one legged stool and pronounce valued judgements. Surely, this site is to grapple with the complexities of all this without binary judgements.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

I have said nothing at all that supports the claim I am ignoring tradition and reason !

I have pointed out that Coward has been transparent and clear in his fundamental claim. We are not divided over sexuality. We are divided over the bible.

He is correct in that one regard.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I have said nothing at all that supports the claim I am ignoring tradition and reason”

You just did!

You cannot separate the bible from tradition and reason – and you just have. The three are integrated in a holy and wholly and beautiful mess and we need to work our way through this – that’s what Thinking Anglicans are trying to do.

And these are such old arguments! Have we not moved on, Peter?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

You are perfectly entitled to advance your own argument.

Telling me what I have or have not said is not advancing an argument. It’s a distraction/mis direction.

My analysis is neither lacking in reason or divorced from tradition.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

I don’t want to waylay an important discussion, but this is so far-fetched as to demand response. In the 16th century Richard Hooker spoke of scripture, reason and tradition. 1) to the first was priority given *in his own formulation*. I am sure you find the section if you care to look it up. 2) reason was not an independent pole, but arose from his understanding of natural law and creation, in that same century: the appeal to ‘reason’ wasn’t about unaided human thinking and it wasn’t an independent ‘resource’ of some kind I’d welcome any single bit of evidence… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Anglican Priest
Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

The “three legged stool” idea is the device used in the Church of England to sniff out fundamentalists – sometimes known as orthodox believers

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter – Changing Attitude’s campaign for justice in the CofE, more specifically now for equality in ministry and relationships (the latter led by the Campaign for Equal Marriage) inevitably requires a radical change in Christian teaching and practice. The change required isn’t simply a change to allow LGBTQIA+ people to enjoy intimacy, have a sex life, fall in love, get married, be ordained and licensed (with same-sex welcomed and affirmed). These ‘developments’ require radical changes in Christian theology, liturgy, Biblical exegesis, tradition and reason. And this requires a grasp of Christian history and the relationship between Jesus the human being,… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

I appreciate the felt need to move a lot of furniture around (so to speak) to accommodate a fuller understanding of human sexuality, but I’m not convinced its a) worth the effort or b) actually necessary. Firstly, I don’t feel it’s worth the effort in and of itself because once one has done all the moving one is left with the same furniture but in an arrangement that is no longer coherent: a nonsense-room where nothing serves the function it is intended to serve. The whole theological house becomes a shambles. Secondly, I don’t think it’s actually necessary to do… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

The early church eventually came to see Jesus as the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin, creating a theology that no thoughtful moral person can believe in any longer.’

I like to consider myself a thoughtful moral person and I definitely believe Jesus was a sacrifice for my sins. As a matter of fact, that belief lies at the core of my faith and the faith of lots of other young progressives I know. There may have been a generation who stopped believing in the Jesus of the Creeds, but thankfully they’re on the way out.

José Ribeiro
José Ribeiro
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

Whatever the Bible may say, Substitution Penalty is morally untenable – as anyone out of the Christian Buble will tell you.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  José Ribeiro
1 month ago

Amen to that. My sins are my own. I am responsible for them and I am the one who needs to atone for them. No one else’s saintly life and tragic death for trumped-up crimes against the State can substitute for my own atonement. I believe both Judaism and Christianity state that God desires that sinners repent of their sin and they will then receive God’s mercy. A God that demands a human sacrifice in order to sate God’s vengeance is a God unrecognizable to me. Not to mention (taking a long breath), since according to the Gospel of John… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

It would seem to me that both Judaism and Christianity teach that our own works are insufficient to atone for sin. That is why in Judaism sacrifices were required to make atonement, and even these had to be repeated endlessly. The conclusion, as the writer to the Hebrews makes clear, is that a better sacrifice was needed. We simply cannot make good our wrongs because they are not only perpetrated against our neighbour, but against God and even, in some cases, against ourselves. The gift of God is indeed himself in the person of Jesus who not only lived a… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

It is fairly breath-taking in its reductionism, and if I may, ignorance. ‘Eventually came to see’ — Matthew and Paul in particular (amongst myriad witnesses) obviously believe this, and the overtones of Isaiah 52-53 are arguably the most sustained across the core kerygma regarding Jesus and the work of his cross. From the beginning of anything being said about Jesus Christ. ‘Ultimate and final sacrifice for sin’ — I am trying to imagine a penultimate sacrifice for sin by the giving of one’s life and I am drawing a blank. And again, this is almost a direct quotation from the… Read more »

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Anglican Priest, my experience of thirty years involvement with the church as a gay campaigner is that we are operating in a theologically and historically uninformed vacuum in which all the time people are saying X or Y is the truth. Most especially have they done this about what it’s like to be gay – sinful, engaging in disgusting sexual activities (that heterosexual people never engage in), promiscuous, incapable of forming a mature adult relationship, not to be trusted with children. The secular Western world has mostly overcome these deep-seated, ignorant prejudices. I grew up in a church that did… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

With 43 years in full time ministry, your ‘we’ needs some kind of self-critical and self-correcting ‘brake,’ in my view. I simply have no ‘we’ in the self-evident form you presume it. Pentecostals in the US; Mennonites in Canada; the liberal UCC in New England; the Free Church in Scotland, the reformed in France, US, Canada, Scotland; the African Methodist down the road where a young teenager’s funeral (drive by shooting) was last week; the LGBT crowd boycotting in front of a faculty member’s house with whom one must try to find fellowship; my kindly French Catholic parish holding a… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

Thanks, Evan. I’ve been around a lot longer than you, and the ‘penal sacrificial atonement’ doctrine was until recently the only way of understanding Jesus’ death that I’d heard of – a background in evangelical churches of various types saw to that. Of late I’m a little more attracted to the idea of Jesus being a substitute for me, perhaps with a little bit of the scapegoat as well – and no, I can’t give you a line by line, technical explanation of the mechanics involved. All I know is that Jesus by some mysterious and spiritual means took my… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  John Davies
1 month ago

AMEN and again let the faithful day, Amen.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

Are there theories of atonement in the Creeds? I’m struggling to see anything of that nature there at least in the three recognised by Anglicans. ‘For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate’ is not Jesus being sacrificed to satisfy the Father’s wrath.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Fr Andrew
1 month ago

The Athanasian Creed says Jesus suffered for our salvation, which is probably as close as one gets. But I didn’t have theories of the atonement in mind when I referred to the Creeds, simply a way of thinking about Jesus. Either one accepts how the Church has received Christ or one does not, and goes it alone. I’m very happy to acknowledge that everything we know of Jesus is mediated- the gospels themselves- so ultimately one has to decide whether to trust others or to trust only oneself and effectively invent a new faith.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

I grew up with the penal substitution theory of the atonement, and didn’t know other brands were available until I did my theological training. It is part of the Christian tradition, and I can see it’s useful for those who really struggle with a sense of sin. But it does come with problems other than the ‘morally repugnant’ one. Firstly, those who believe that it’s the only way to explain Jesus’ work on the cross, have to convince everyone that they are terrible sinners. My father used to call this ‘preaching for a conviction of sin’, and very terrifying it… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

The Cross solves our fundamental objective problem. Our rebellion against God and his holiness.

We may or may not feel bad about ourselves, or our sin or our past.

That is not the question to which the Cross is the answer because it is not actually the most important question.

I obviously realise you are unlikely to agree with the theology – but you have created a “straw man” by pointing out the fragility of humanity and saying that means Jesus cannot have died in our place.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter, I did not at all say that ‘Jesus cannot have died in our place’, or even that he did not or would not have done so. What I said is that there are other ways of describing the atonement, in terms which Jesus himself used. I think all the theories of the atonement, including PSA are helpful to some degree, but that none of them is sufficient on its own. Indeed, all of them together are not sufficient to explain so great and wonderful a mystery. To use your term, the cross is the ‘answer’ to many questions, not… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

I entirely agree with your first paragraph above and I don’t think I made any attempt to put words in your mouth in regard to the Atonement itself.

I think where we differ is that the real problem is the anger of God and we have to present that even if it contradicts what people think matters

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

And where in the New Testament, and in the gospels’ accounts of the life of Jesus, do you get the idea that ‘the real problem is the anger of God and we have to present that’?

Do you find that Jesus always and in every circumstance presented people with the anger of God?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Since you ask, Romans is the most obvious and clear place to start.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

The Gospels’ accounts of Jesus don’t show him talking to people about God’s anger – unless, of course, he was speaking to religious leaders ‘who lay heavy burdens on people’s backs and don’t life a finger to help them’. (He also called these people ‘whitewashed tombs’, because they were respectable on the outside but inside were full of evil thoughts) Jesus healed people without saying God was angry with them. He might say their sins were forgiven, but he didn’t tell them how much their sin revolted God. In fact, he was known as the ‘friend of sinners’, and for… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

The story of the sheep and the goats (Mt 25) does, at face value at least, imply that the wrath of God falls on the unrighteous — those who do not care for those in need.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

We are all unrighteous, Simon. Everyone of us.

I am not attempting piety. It is just a fact and the reason for The Cross

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

One of the reasons for the Cross.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Yes. There are times when it’s appropriate to talk about God’s anger/condemnation of certain behaviours.But if I understand Peter correctly, he’s saying that God’s anger is a fundamental – perhaps the most fundamental – fact that we have to present to everyone. And I just don’t see that in the NT. Jesus was very sparing in his use of that language.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

If God is angry, Janet, I am struggling to think what could be a bigger or more fundamental problem.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

The most important thing about God is not God’s anger but God’s love. God’s anger at certain behaviours must be seen within the context of his love, the eternal lovingkindness of God. ‘God is love…we love him because he first loved us.’ People are most truly won to Christ by love, not by fear.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

We are using the term anger in two different ways.

I am taking about the righteous indignation that is the expression of His holiness. It is an indivisible aspect of His character. It is not less important than His love.

You are taking about his anger in the sense that people are angry. I appreciate you will be crediting God with a moral purity we do not have but you are still characterising it in essentially emotional terms.

The “ anger or love” polarity is an imposition on the text. It is just not there in the Bible.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

The point is extremely important. Forsyth’s the Cruciality of the Cross is one of the better (and preeminently readable) treatments on this theme. ‘The LORD, the LORD, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in great mercy, who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting…’. His patience is his forbearing, the holding back of his righteous anger — solely for the same of His Name, the LORD. Compassionate and merciful. Being true to Himself and His own divine will. He sent his son so as to preserve his righteousness, making him the offering for sin. He had foreborn,… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Do you then agree with Peter that the most fundamental problem is God’s anger (note, he doesn’t say ‘our sin’) and that we must present people with God’s anger? Whatever their circumstances, mental health status, or feelings? Because that’s what this discussion is about.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

We present everybody with the mercy of God in the Gospel.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

I think where you halt is in not understanding what he means by anger, which he explains is not an emotion, subject to ebbing and flowing in the same manner as we ‘get angry.’ I was expanding in his statement, “the righteous indignation that is the expression of His holiness. It is an indivisible aspect of His character.” East of Eden, the human ‘imagination is evil from its youth’ — this is not something to be eliminated by flood waters, ever again, and God decides to forebear out of love and for the sake of His Name. The divine name… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I’m afraid not. We will have to agree to disagree.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

About what? You asked me to reply. I went to the effort to do that. “I’m afraid not”–OK, don’t ask for someone to respond then.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I have been familiar with that theology since infancy. I asked if you agreed with Peter that presenting people with God’s anger – note he didn’t qualify it with talk of ‘mercy’ or put it in the context of God’s love – in all circumstances, no matter what their state of mind, is the right approach. What I was looking for was an awareness of trauma and the effects of being a victim of someone else’s sin. I have not found the theological framework you explained very helpful in my pastoral work, particularly with e.g. survivors of severe sexual abuse.… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

That is really helpful. The mercy of God is the answer to Janet’s dilemma

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I don’t have a dilemma. I just don’t agree with you. Teaching majoring on God’s wrath while neglecting to emphasise God’s love has done a hell of a lot of damage.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Jesus talked about Hell repeatedly and spoke of it as a place which was the destiny of the many not the few.

I do not recognise the distinction you seem to be making between the religious as the bad people (especially their leaders) and everybody else as the mostly good people – to the extent we are working from the New Testament.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I’m interested that you feel I’m making a distinction between ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people. I didn’t say that at all. I said that Jesus loved, and spent time with, notable sinners, but was angry when ‘respectable’ people put stumbling blocks in the way of poor sinners. He preferred the self-critical publican to the self-satisfied Pharisee.

We’re all a mixture of good and bad.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

But somewhere in the Anglican prayer book it says ‘God, who hates nothing you have made….’ (including us sinners) and, as one popular song also says, ‘on that cross, where the wrath of God was satisfied….’ Depending which verses you take, you come up with very different answers – and how you choose to interpret them.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Some people think PSA is the sum-total of the scriptures’ teaching on the atonement. I do not. There is, however, something to be said for its place in a wider scheme of redemption into which the various atonement theories all fit comfortably- and sequentially. Thus, we might say that Christ dies willingly in our place (substitution) averting the wrath of God on sin (penal) and paying the price of sin which is death (satisfaction), thereby achieving the destruction of death and the power of the devil (christus victor), freeing us from slavery to sin and death (ransom), showing us the… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

And the poverty of our liturgy, which so heavily emphasises the sin/forgiveness angle at the expense of other models.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

This is surely right. Good accounts of the atonement are those which show the roots of the models Aulen set forth in his classic study, Christus Victor. Even Aulen, who preferred the victor model, accepted that the Anselm and Abelard accounts had biblical warrants (Matthew and Luke). I did not read ‘The early church eventually came to see Jesus as the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin, creating a theology that no thoughtful moral person can believe in any longer’ as exclusively what is here being called ‘penal substitution.’ See my comment below. In fact, upon reflection, it is probably… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

Nobody with any grasp of the New Testament tunnels themselves into just preaching “PSA”. Obviously The Cross can and should be explained in a number of different ways.

The divide is not about an acronym. It is over the nature of future judgement.

Steve Chalke started by rejecting the Atonement. He went on to preach there is no final judgement.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

Thank you, Evan! It cannot be ‘either/or’ because no one theology, no one person’s understanding can ever be complete – or the sole answer in the light of Scripture. That harmonisation you’ve just set out is both beautiful, and very, very helpful.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

A clerical friend of mine said that PSA ( oh, bother the acronyms, I know four different meanings of this one, depending on context!) was of great meaning to anyone brought up under the Roman legal system, particularly for anyone accused or convicted of murder. Fair enough – it reflects the thinking of the time. But we don’t live under the Roman law. And that, perhaps makes it harder for us to accept, or indeed to understand a theology based on that system. Like you, Janet, I grew up as a Christian with that as my sole understanding. And, as… Read more »

William
William
1 month ago

I’m not sure how Colin Coward’s view that reverence for Mary is a later addition to the Christian faith squares with the fact that her image appears in the catacombs of Rome.

Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

‘The early church eventually came to see Jesus as the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin, creating a theology that no thoughtful moral person can believe in any longer.’

You might disagree with the late John R.W. Stott, or with Fleming Rutledge, but I think it would be insulting to describe either of them as being neither thoughtful nor moral.

Jeremy
Jeremy
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

I’ve been going to church for 40 years, and I’ve never heard of either of those thinkers/writers.
PSA is glorified guilt-tripping and is also logically silly. I agree that PSA is untenable.
And no, I’m not going to read anything to learn more about nonsense.

Sam Norton
Reply to  Jeremy
1 month ago

Speaking as an Anglo-Catholic PSA sceptic I urge you to reconsider Fleming Rutledge! She’s really, really good

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Jeremy
1 month ago

You might not have heard of these men – I haven’t heard of Rutledge, myself – but that’s neither here nor there.

But I disagree with Colin Coward on this actually, because it’s clear that many thousands – millions – of thoughtful and moral people do believe that Jesus is the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin. It’s equally clear that many thousands or millions of people regard PSA as a major stumbling block. What a good thing we have other models of the atonement to work with!

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Fleming Rutledge is a woman, not a man. She’s hugely influential in the USA. Her book ‘The Crucifixion’ is a masterpiece, And she’s an Episcopal priest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleming_Rutledge

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Jeremy
1 month ago

I know about Mr Stott very well (having grown up in his sort of church) but have never heard of Rutledge.It all depends what kind of church background you started from. It shouldn’t be surprising that the heroes of one group or strand within the wider body of Christ are unknown outside of their own particular group.

And, as my wife says (a very firmly committed fundamentalist) the entire gospel, from annunciation to ascension sounds logically silly from a rational human perspective!

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

In the 19th century scholars from Baur to v. Harnack strove to remove the ostensible accumulated accretions of the faith, as if they were so many barnacles, in order to attain what they perceived to be the real Truth. However, once their scrubbing had been completed there was often comparatively little sustenance left over for the faithful to feed upon. This may have been a not insignificant factor in the inexorable decline of Western – and certainly north European – Christianity in the modern era. Having now read Mr Coward’s salvos directed at many of the major facets of the… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Even the redoubtable Harnack would have glimpses of constructive thought, often random, and usually in reaction to those more radical than himself (e.g., Lessing). He was, however, a figure totally at home in his era, a 19th-early 20th century Germany unaware of what the mid 20th century would bring, culturally, in its wake. The militarization of Germany under an Iron Cross. This kind of deracinated ‘Christianity’ also was deeply ‘racinatedly’ anti-semitic. The Lord Jesus whom Niebuhr recognized from his own culture (Baur to Harnack) had become, in the 20th century, part of a new drama: “A God without wrath, brought… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Yes indeed! Your remarks remind me that Harnack’s attitude towards the OT was not a million miles away from that of Delitzsch (or, indeed, Wilhelm II): https://drmsh.com/PaleoBabble/BabelBibelBias.pdf. Morever, Harnack did have his moment of truth and parting of the ways with his 1914 ‘manifesto of the intellectuals’: https://lif.blob.core.windows.net/lif/docs/default-source/default-library/rowan-williams—the-deadly-simplicities-of-adolf-von-harnack—january-2014—lecture-transcript-pdf.pdf?sfvrsn=0, which Barth described as a perversion of Christian ethics, dogmatics, Biblical interpretation and understanding of history. Harnack was of course, by that time royal librarian, and so had an interest in seeing victory as a manifestation of ‘kultur’, but I cannot help noting that someone born and brought up in Dorpat would… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Colin has promised a further blog – this one is only part the first. So we need to see what that second instalment says, and hold the two in balance before making a judgement. Now I have to say that I don’t buy into the ‘divine child abuse’ concept. Steve Chalke did give an account of its origins – a comment made by someone talking to him, and, for me, it reflects a limited understanding of the Trinity (not surprisngly – I doubt anyone, certainly not me, could understand the Trinity). Jesus was God – part of the godhead and… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

In a way, it now seems charming to see him hedging his bets,

“That the earth in its course stood still; that a she-ass spoke; that a storm was quieted by a word, we do not believe, and we shall never again believe; but that the lame walked, the blind saw, and the deaf heard will not be so summarily dismissed as an illusion.”

Well, thank you Adolph! Those latter concessions will also be swept away by the ensuing decades in the hands of your most careful acolytes.

James H
James H
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

A depressing thought, Froghole, but let’s wait for Colin’s next blog, eh?

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Froghole I think that if the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement is the thing that all Christians must believe then we have been wasting our time, yes. Adrian Thatcher’s work is a very important corrective to unhealhy forms of Christianity and I commend it to you. I think you will find that he offers healthy forms of a Christian attitude towards our bodies.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

To be fair, Coward is pretty candid that he is “clearing the ground” in preparation for an articulation of his view of Christianity”.

The smoking ruins he wants to leave behind do not offer grounds for optimism as to what happens next, but he does clearly have more to say

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

“The early church eventually came to see Jesus as the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin, creating a theology that no thoughtful moral person can believe in any longer.” Thanks. I also did not see this statement as seamless with what is being called here “penal substitutionary” (presumably this language is evoking Anselm?). Jesus as the “ultimate and final sacrifice for sin” says nothing specifically about satisfaction/propitiation. In theory, Abelard believed that “Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin” without referring to anything about God the Father. This sacrifice evokes in our heart sympathy and appreciation and gratitude… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

The debate about the Atonement is, in my view, a proxy for the theological question “do I think God is angry ?” I would make an educated guess that the people on this site who object to substitutionary atonement are pretty ambiguous about God’s universal anger. The inevitable outcome of their perspective is that Final Judgement gets ditched. If God is not angry with everybody why is a final judgement needed ?? You end up with a belief system that is essentially humanism with a few “bells and whistles” added to give a hint of the transcendent. Idols come in… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I don’t dispute a single thing you say. ‘He will come to judge the quick and the dead’ is a credal affirmation, it is the main theme of Christ the King and the first 2-3 Sundays of Advent, it belongs to the warp and woof of the OT and NT. It could be–and you have said this–that at stake is some category called ‘what thoughtful people think is moral’ versus believing that the church is guided by the sentences and paragraphs of sacred scripture in order to ascertain what is ‘thought’ itself, measured against ‘your thoughts are not my thoughts’… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I don’t know if you have come across Steve Chalke ?

To his credit he has done a huge amount of good work in bringing a (mostly) Christian ethic into our public services. However he has not been a success as a theologian.

He rejected the classical understanding of the Atonement some years ago in lurid terms that made the headlines. He now preaches that there is no future and final judgement.

I had not thought of your final point before but it must be true. Eternity ceases to mean anything without judgement.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I do not know him. I do agree that when you deviate from the basics that Neibuhr articulated, e.g. you get all kinds of odd declensions. So, Jesus no longer ‘gives his life as a ransom’ — fine, well what is he doing here exactly? Is he is victim of bad people? Well, many many people suffered far worse deaths than he did, so that just puts him alongside other injustices, which remain and will never find any final resolution. Though it is our job to put our scrawny hand to the plow. Is his teaching supposed to do something… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Indeed, and for some the cross itself can become an idol. Final judgement does not require an angry God, only a just one. A judge driven by anger is, in fact, rarely just. Justice, in this case, is overcome by mercy. God speaks our judgement, but shouts His mercy over the top of it. Whether that mercy required an enabling sacrifice, whether that mercy required that the “mechanics” of the material universe be overcome in Christ in order to free us from death, what we get is the judge who is both just and merciful, and who is also our… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

Exactly this. As a Father pitieth his children… A not dissimilar analogy can be drawn with ‘as a father is angry with his children whom he loves.’ Divine parenthood should always be represented as loving and therefore displeased when we act in ways that harm ourselves and others. Only an unloving God would not care enough to be upset and to want to set it right.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

It is not all about us.

The refrain that runs through the Old Testament is God’s concern for His own name.

He will not be insulted and defamed.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Randolph Churchill’s assessment is probably a valid one.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
1 month ago

So what was that, please? I only know Randolph Churchill as the brother of Winston, and the Home Office firearms expert in the case of PC Gutteridge.(Seriously) Or is he a different Randolph Churchill?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

But what does it mean — to take the name of the LORD in vain? Do we not take the LORD’s name in vain when we say that we believe in God, say that we love God etc, but we do not do the things that God has asked us to do — to love our neighbour as ourself. That is defaming the God we say we believe in.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

I rejoice in the God who bears righteous anger in His heart against the atrocities which surround us.

You are thinking of a different God to mine

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Yup, there’s more on the way, Peter.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Froghole, there is a richness of theology, truth, unconditional love, goodness, truth and beauty, sacred, holy, healthy, encountering that named ‘God’ every morning for me in a profound presence, silence, breathing and embodiment – God infused in my being and me infused in the life-giving energy of God in all creation. I note your choice of words for my description – irreversibly malevolent. You may well indeed have difficulty imagining what a healthy form of Christianity could mean. I am pursued by a hound of heaven that drives me to at the very least open the possibility that the Church… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Colin Coward’s column is long, and he certainly doesn’t hold back telling us exactly what he thinks. His condemnation of penal substitution is spot on. I find his idea of God the Father as God the Abuser when it comes to God the Son as jolting, which it’s meant to be, but logical, for reasons I lay out in an earlier comment. But Colin Coward, also, lays out the tired old stereotype of the Jewish God being harsh and cruel. Do all Christian theologians, clergy, and pundits stop reading the Jewish Scriptures after the Five Books of Moses, the book… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

And yet Jesus said this; ‘At the resurrection people will neither marry or be given in marriage – they will be like the angels in heaven.’

Rather than seeing Mary as ‘an impossible standard of moral and physical purity’ can we not see her as travelling a path that we ourselves are called to follow?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  William
1 month ago

I wouldn’t like to guess at what will happen when earthly joys and pleasures are fulfilled in heaven, but it seems odd to suppose that a lack of marriage in heaven implies a lack of sex – surely it could just as easily be that we might be able to love others as and more deeply, more devotedly, than we currently (may) love one person?

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

I think it was C S Lewis who suggested (The Four Loves?) that sexual intimacy was a kind of poor foretaste of the complete union – both spiritual and in some undefinabled way physical, a total blending and merging of whatever form our bodies may take which may await us topsides. Apparently among Rev Charles Kingsley’s papers was a cartoon suggesting he perceived it as one huge perpetual orgasm – which, I’d suggest he may have since found to be VERY disappointing. (To me, lack of marriage does imply exactly what you suggest – or some very pathetic substitutes!) Whatever… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  John Davies
1 month ago

My theology is perhaps excessively shaped by Lewisian thought, and it was likely one or other of his works that guided my comment.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

Well, whatever guides our thinking, Jo, there is (at present, or should be) room for us all.

One of my recurring dreams sees it as an enormous, celestial toyshop, full of all the beautiful Edwardian trains I can only admire in photographs.

Given the number of celebrated clerical railway enthusiasts there have been, well, they may well be ‘laying golden rails in heaven’. But unless the gold up there is very different to that down here, the platelayers will have an eternal job relaying them. They’ll wear out pretty quickly.

William
William
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

‘surely it could just as easily be that we might be able to love others as and more deeply, more devotedly, than we currently (may) love one person?’

Yes I agree – that’s exactly what it means. The whole point is that our earthly notions of sex and sexuality limit us in a way which the heavenly experience won’t.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  William
1 month ago

I suspect that any of our earthly notions are much too limited to come anywhere near the reality which awaits us ‘when the roll is called up yonder’, ‘way beyond the blue.’ Seriously, the traditional imagery, the gates of pearl, the city of gold and rich jewels etc don’t mean a great deal to me – I recognise they’re symbolic, trying to express a richness and wonder which is beyond our ability to imagine. For me, it seems best expressed in terms of relationships; warmth and acceptance but in what way, shape or form is impossible to say. A Scottish… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

If you think getting rid of the idea of God’s judgment will lead to better appreciation of the Old Testament, the opposite is true. Just look at a major strand of 19th century NT scholarship. It married up quite reflexively with the Iron Cross and the camps. For the deutsche christen, Jesus was an Aryan teacher — never a sacrifice for sin, an abominable and unmanly idea.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Hullo again, Peter, and thank you for this. Having read John Drane’s book ‘Introducing the Old Testament’ I found it an absolutely eye opening piece of work – he makes it crystal clear that the Jewish religion was solidly based on the same trust and faith as my own Christian faith – if you didn’t have that faith and trust in God, the sacrifices etc were actually empty, null and void. The acts had to be come from the heart, and an acknowledgement of the believer’s dependence on God. The God who seems so harsh and cruel if you read… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
1 month ago

It may be helpful to put Colin Coward’s article within a wider historical context, and one way of doing that may be to use Philip Sheldrake’s “underside of history” thesis from his 1991 book Spirituality and History. He argued that across history those with the power wrote and defined history, and those with less or no power had their history written for them. He wrote “Who is permitted to have a history and who is not is a vital issue. . . Recorded history, imposed from above, is controlled history, beyond whose boundaries are silence and darkness. . . . Those… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Continued from previous. Just to give three examples, in “The Darkening Age”, Catherine Nixey describes the Christian destruction of the classical (Roman) world from the 4th to the 6th century, where even quite a famous theologian bishops were involved in violent suppression of those they opposed. Augustine caused riots in North Africa with preaching, and even Benedict led a mob of monks to break down pagan shrines on his mountain before building his monastery. It did not take long for the bishops to move on to violently enforcing their strict sexual ethics onto the local populations, whether Christian or not.… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Simon Dawson
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

“The church has done a huge amount of good over the centuries, but it has also done huge amounts of harm.” Many thanks for your observations. I think that what is required is nuance: not everything is wholly light, and yet not everything is entirely dark. In Late Antiquity the Church’s relation to the State was not unlike that of a parasital spider wasp: in A. H. M. Jones’s masterful yet merciless ‘Later Roman Empire 284-602: a Social, Economic and Administrative Survey’ (1964, especially chs. 22, 23 and 25) the author notes that the Church claimed fiscal exemptions which bore… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

In another place David Wilbourne quotes from his recent biography of John Habgood. I was really struck by this: ‘Ever the biologist, [Habgood] senses the Church is an organism, which it is, none other than the Body of Christ. But organisms affect how we use language, both limiting and enhancing it. You can run a bus, but you can’t run a person; you can improve a machine, but you can’t improve a child. You can observe a child, cherish a child, desire their flourishing, but you can never control him, unless he becomes an automaton rather than a person. In… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thanks, Froghole. You are exactly right. Neither Colin (I suspect) nor I, nor many others involved in this work want to do away with the church, or to deny all that is good in its history. But it is important to move to a place where we can constructively discuss the much that has also gone wrong. All this is a bit of a learning curve, but hopefully we can move beyond the initial shock at Colin’s comments and engage with the deeper questions. I like your call for nuance and paradox. These are not simple questions. For example, one… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Simon Dawson
Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

“All this is a bit of a learning curve, but hopefully we can move beyond the initial shock at Colin’s comments and engage with the deeper questions.”

Au contraire, what he writes we have already seen before. To miss that is to not know church history (early church or 19th century, for that matter). It’s the failure to see this “deja vu all over again” that makes this sinner worry about our age. No grasp of, or concern for, the long history of ideas. To not know, is to repeat — as the old maxim had it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anglican Priest
William
William
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I agree. Nothing shocking here. If anything such views are quaintly old-fashioned.

William
William
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I think a key part of being progressive was the ability to shock and subvert the status quo. An increasing problem now is that progressives have become the status quo in pretty much every area of society. Look at the way banks have embraced (cynically in my opinion) all things LGBT. The only thing that appears to shock people these days is someone who adheres to a traditional world view.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  William
1 month ago

IOW, in some cases (banks in your example), the powers-that-be have abandoned their old prejudices (at least in practice, if not at heart) and begun to follow a more accepting and loving attitude toward the once-despised.

And you think this is a bad thing?

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  William
1 month ago

I do think you are right about one thing certainly. And it isn’t about ‘have begun to follow a more accepting and loving attitude’ toward the erstwhile minority view (see below). It is that the new orthodoxy wants to claim it is still some ‘minority’ needing redress, when it is in full ascendency. Having lived and taught at Yale for nearly two decades, what was once affirmative action is now ‘exclusive action.’ If one were to apply for a post and say that marriage is between a man and a woman, you’d be shown the door, no matter what the… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I agree with you. But don’t you think the persistence in speaking of mistreatment is vital to the progressive mindset? Without that sense of injustice, they don’t really have any reason to exist.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  William
1 month ago

It certainly is a major element.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Simon and Froghole, I appreciate your engagement with my lengthy and inevitably partial and inadequate blog. Froghole, I would still be engaged with the Church, still campaigning, still spending time reading, researching and writing. I’m only doing this because rich, deep foundations of faith and spirituality were laid by the priests and congregations of my youth, starting in 1956 when I was 11. There has been a huge amount of good in the course of my life and many people who lived by the precepts they preached and proclaimed and in doing so inspired me for life. But in the… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

Thank you, Colin. I look forward to the second blog. And I admire your moral courage. God bless.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

Thanks Colin. I took the risk of, to a certain extent, speaking on your behalf in my posts. But knowing you and your position I felt the risk was worthwhile.

Believe me – you are not alone.

It is fascinating how, even in the 50 posts above this discussion, what started as a full out attack on your position on theologies of atonement has developed into a much more balanced and nuanced debate.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Simon, I’m very aware of what you have been doing. It wasn’t a risk from my perspective. I’ve really appreciated your contributions to what has become a debate and engagement around ideas that I’ve wanted for a very long time.

I know I’m not totally alone with the ideas I’m expressing, but out here on the plain, I can feel very isolated and lonely. The meeting of five of us in September was me wanting to check out that I wasn’t totally alone. The decision to hold an event – the event! – was made then.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

Many thanks to all three of you. I guess that the tragedy of the Church is that it is a human institution, in which there are the same power dynamics at play as in most other institutions. However, these dynamics are profoundly subversive of its self-proclaimed mission. Personally, I look forward to the day when there is a final bonfire of the episcopal vanities, and those who claim to ‘run’ the Church are shorn of all residual status and ‘suasion’. It is surely right to note that the Constantinian appropriation of the Church into the folds of the imperial State… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

“It is surely right to note that the Constantinian appropriation of the Church into the folds of the imperial State was both a moral disaster and a political triumph which has cast the longest shadow over the subsequent history of the Church.” Exactly right. I am very happy to agree with AP (not a thing I often say !) when here he demands the ability to grasp “the long history of ideas”. Of the three examples I cited about where church history might be criticised, I would argue that this historic post Constantinian example has the most current relevance. We… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Salivating at the thought of more than a Trump presidency. A Trump autocracy combined (somehow) with the USA as an officially Christian state. Molded in their likeness.
Conservative Christian groups overlook that none of the Trumps learned to share their toys. Donald Trump will want all of the power.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Looking back at those early Christian examples it’s like a symbiotic relationship. Two distinct organisms cooperating for their mutual benefit. The Christian leaders rally their followers to support the secular leader. And in return the secular leader gives the Christian leaders some of what they want. It has happened a lot right across history. It is already happening at a state level in the USA, with conservative Christian leaders rallying the troops to support conservative governors, who in return pass anti-abortion, anti-trans, and “don’t say gay” type measures,. But as you say, at the risk of mixing metaphors, is it… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I’ve encountered the phrase ‘Faustian pact’ to describe this sort of (apparent) symbiosis.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

They also overlook that Trump has never been a practicing Christian of any stripe.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Augustine seemed happy to work with pagan imperial powers in Africa, so I suspect modern Christian leaders will overlook Trump’s faith, or lack of it.

But it’s that strange nuance and paradox that Froghole talked about. There is no black and white.

Augustine was a man who could act with shocking cruelty to advance what he saw was the true faith. Yet some his writings are so beautiful that David and I used an extract from his “On Friendship” as a reading at our wedding.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

Colin Coward, thank you so much for your blogs so far, and for your candid courage. A book would render a great service to the overall conversation. Your writing is a Spirit filled reflection on experience. It is important for groups that have been marginalized, exploited or persecuted within and/or by the church to lay claim to biblical narratives in giving voice to liberation. I have found both your work and the comments overtime by Simon Dawson very helpful in a number of ways. It is in keeping with what others have done i.e. liberation theologies, Black theology, Indigenous/First Nations… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I had a black lady Mormon as a colleague at one time. She told me that her daughter was sufficiently ‘hot’ in their faith structure to be sent to Salt Lake City as one of their evangelism team. The poor girl was quite badly shaken to discover a level of racism and sexism within their city and community that she had never, ever experienced here in Birmingham. Interestingly, around the same time I passed through Salt Lake City on a tour (Heard a marvellous choir in the Tabernacle) and noticed only one black man on the streets. And, remembering the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  John Davies
1 month ago

John, I replied to this. You had several comments on the go at the time and I posted my reply on the wrong thread. My bad! My reply ended up on the January 13th thread, currently near the newest comments, under your reply to a comment from Jo B. If the editors are inclined perhaps they could move it here. Anyway, you can read it there.

Peter
Peter
1 month ago

Colin Coward wants to announce a new Gospel and a new religion.

He may choose to speak for himself, but it looks to me as though he would have no objection to my description of his intentions.

New Gospels are, in fact, always a re-worked version of a previous “new” religion.

Colin Coward is surely a contemporary prophet of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism.

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I have read the discussion about the theology or theologies of atonement with great interest . Can I now offer you a poem? Written somewhere between the C8th and C10th the Dream of the Rood, written in Old English tells the story of the Crucifixion from the perspective of the cross. In the cusp of different traditions, Christ is described as a warrior who willingly and bravely ascends the tree ‘that he might free mankind.’ 18 verses are carved in Runes on the C8th Ruthwell Cross, though it was only in the C 19th that it was realised that the… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
1 month ago

Yes, this is the Christus Victor model of the atonement that Gustav Aulen favored personally, after describing with care the classical (Anselm) and expressive (Abelard) models. All three have clear biblical warrants, all three give rise to hymnody and poetry (for Anselm, ‘O Sacred Head’; for Abelard, ‘My Song is Love Unknown’; for Christus Victor, ‘Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus’ — thou hast full atonement made, etc). One thinks of the moving verses of RS Thomas poem, Jesus and the Father observing the world as through water, rivers tainted with the slime of the Serpent, and a Tree whose boughs… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Anglican Priest
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

The anonymous writer(/s) predates Anselm and Abelard by at least two centuries and wasn’t writing in Latin – the first word of the poem – Hwæt -is the same as the first word of Beowulf, which is usually seen as a call to attention by a storyteller The Warrior Christ in the Dream of the Rood is in the Germanic tradition of a great warlord to be followed, so may not be quite such a neat fit in the Christus Victor theory of atonement. What interests me is how close this was written to the time of Bede ( who… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
1 month ago

“Poems and hymns can raise us up too.”

That is their task.

The old maxim was, Proverbs in youth; strong verbs; Qoheleth, exceptions to the rule; weak verbs — the ones we use the most often; Song of Songs, heavenly hymns. Ascending, each with its own place. ‘To every season.’

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
1 month ago

What a delight to find someone else with the same high opinion of the Rood poem! Admittedly, it draws heavily on germanic tropes which some might find hard to stomach – it’s not exactly your non-violent atonement stuff – but the image of the Lord eagerly hastening to the cross to free humanity (l39ff: Ongyrede hine þa geong hæleð, ‘The young hero stripped himself, he who was God almighty….) is about as far away from the penal substitutionary theory as you could get, thoroughly Johannine, and has echoes back via Venantius Fortunatus’ ‘Vexilla regis prodeunt’ to (IIRC) Justin the Martyr’s… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  David Rowett
1 month ago

“is about as far away from the penal substitutionary theory as you could get, thoroughly Johannine” — and there is no evidence that John thinks his passion narrative or his Gospel is some kind of rejection of other models, and other Gospels. So, here John and whatever we might assume about ‘the Rood poem’ (something existing in no panel of Gospel accounts) part obvious company.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
1 month ago

Poetry is a wonderful form of creative speech. Thank you for the suggestion

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