Atonement—cherishing our oneness with God

How can anyone ever expect to be good enough to deserve the depth of God’s affection for us? Some wrongs people commit seem too full of evil to be forgiven. In fact, any wrong at all is unjust before God, who is Love and always loves. Yet, without total freedom from evil-doing, how can anyone ever truly be saved from the effects of bad behavior? Even murmuring, doubting, and withholding grace may be unthinkable before a God who is always good. 

Jesus’ supreme act of sacrifice on the cross is the answer to these questions for those who believe in him. For the past two millennia, Christians have believed it but have had difficulty explaining it. They have devised numerous “doctrines of atonement,” but the Christian church as a whole has never agreed on the “right” explanation. One of the troubling unresolved issues in some of the classic doctrines of atonement is how Jesus’ crucifixion absolves someone of his or her own mistakes. Especially when someone who claims to “believe in Jesus” goes right on terrorizing others, it is difficult to imagine how Jesus’ suffering make everything OK! In fact, despite all these doctrinal explanations, it still remains a long leap of faith for many to consider how Jesus’ dying has anything to do with our own mistakes.

April 11, 2011

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