Friday, March 25, 2011

scorning what is holy ...


This from Todd Pruitt via Peter Cockrell ...

“There’s nothing wrong with talking and singing about how the ‘Blood will never lose its power’ and ‘Nothing but the blood will save us.’ Those are powerful metaphors. But we don’t live any longer in a culture in which people offer animal sacrifices to the gods. People did live that way for thousands of years, and there are pockets of primitive cultures around the world that do continue to understand sin, guilt, and atonement in those ways. But most of us don’t. What the first Christians did was look around them and put the Jesus story in language their listeners would understand.” ~ Rob Bell on the atonement from Love Wins

To strip the atonement of its substitutionary nature, as Rob Bell does, is to strip it of its power. It is to take the “good” out of the good news. It is to rip the heart out of the Gospel and therefore the hope out of human hearts. It is an act of profound cruelty for it robs the sinner of what he truly needs: a guilt-bearing substitute.

This is nothing new. Theological liberals have been diluting and even neutering the gospel for generations. In the 1920′s J. Gresham Machen saw this clearly.
They [liberal preachers] speak with disgust of those who believe ‘that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner.’ Against the doctrine of the Cross they use every weapon of caricature and vilification. Thus they pour out their scorn upon a thing so holy and so precious that in the presence of it the Christian heart melts in gratitude too deep for words. It never seems to occur to modern liberals that in deriding the Christian doctrine of the cross, they are trampling upon human hearts. (Christianity and Liberalism, 120 [pagination may differ])


Geoff said...

There is nothing in the quote you've mentioned that in any way "strips the atonement of its substitutionary nature". Maybe the rest of his book does, I haven't read it. But because he's saying that the metaphor doesn't translate well to contemporary society, in the same way as the KJV doesn't translate well. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons to pick on Rob Bell, and you've made some good arguments along the way, but I'm pretty sure this isn't one of them.

Of course, maybe this paragraph is in the context of saying that atonement isn't in any way substitutionary (though you just know he wouldn't have said it that way), in which case I'm reading this through my regular hippie rose-colored glasses.

rick said...

Geoff - 100% agree based on this paragraph alone. So perhaps this would have been better if it didn't say "as Bell does" implying this is proof and offered as more of a challenge to be cautious and aware.

Like so much of Bell, it's more implication than statement so it's hard to comment well.


Bob Spencer said...

As is clear from this quote, Rob Bell hates dogs and babies, too!

rick said...

The point is that this is more of the same. I saw "The God's are Angry" and had the same understanding. In all things relative to the atonement in that, some of this other writings, and in Love Wins, there's a dismissal in the sense that God's people were copying pagans or writing in a way pagans could understand.

I think he errs.

This one quote doesn't prove that and if isolated, I wouldn't presume it ... and therefore I agree with the feedback yet don't agree.