Archive for September, 2010

Lund NT Lectures in Chicago Postponed

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Due to my father’s hospitalization, I will be unable to give the Lund New Testament Lectures at North Park Seminary in Chicago this Wednesday, nor will I be at the North Park Symposium on the Theological Interpretation of Scripture. I am disappointed but it has to be.

I hope to post most of the North Park paper (which is completed and submitted) in the coming weeks. Otherwise preoccupied at the moment.

The lectures will be rescheduled.

Shane Claiborne on the Non-Koran-Burning Pastor

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Shane Claiborne has a magnificent post on his Facebook Notes on the decision of Pastor Terry Jones not to burn the Koran yesterday.

The Koran, the Church, and the General

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

In one of the most bizarre stories of the year, a (so-called) church in Florida is planning to burn a copy of the Koran Saturday. Now American General Petraeus fears for the safety of American troops if the burning takes place. So far the pastor says the general’s concerns do not concern him.

Here’s one of the great, ironic sadnesses in this: a church is poised to do a very unChristian thing, and if it decides to undo its plans, it will be because the act would be unAmerican, not because it would be unChristian. The church, like the general, would be more concerned about the reputation of America and its soldiers than about the reputation of Jesus and his followers.

This is a (possible) bizarre feat of civil religion. I think the general is probably right, and I have no interest in seeing more people die in this era of war, be they Afghanis or Americans or anyone else. But the general’s reasoning should not be what motivates the church! We (are supposed to) have the mind of Christ.

Richard Hays’s Installation Service and Homily

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Last Tuesday Richard Hays was installed as Dean of Duke Divinity School. I was privileged to go and offer support and congratulations to my colleague, mentor (from a distance; I was not his student), and friend.

It was a wonderful event, capped by a powerful homily by the new Dean—highly recommended viewing and/or reading.

The day was greatly enhanced by catching up with former students and colleagues from when I was a visiting professor at Duke in spring 2009, and by being with my son and his family, he in the choir and they with me.

Duke has posted the entire service, the video and text of his homily, and other items here.

Why We Need a New Model for the Atonement

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

An excerpt from my soon-to-be-discussed paper in Chicago…

The Need for a New, More Comprehensive Model of the Atonement

There are at least four major problems with the traditional models of the atonement as a group. The first is their isolationist, or sectarian, character. Each one is constructed as a kind of stand-alone theory that supposedly tells the whole story and requires the exclusion of other versions of the story. Only rarely, as in the case of Colin Gunton (The Actuality of the Atonement), does a theologian try to appropriate and integrate various traditional models.

The second problem derives from the first: the atomistic, or non-integrative, character of the traditional models. They do not naturally pull other aspects of theology into their orbit. “Atonement,” however interpreted, often stands apart, separated from ethics, spirituality, ecclesiology, pneumatology, and missiology. In some cases, atonement becomes a narrow branch of theology that is almost irrelevant to the actual life of Christian individuals and communities.

The third problem is individualism. The traditional models have a nearly exclusive focus on the individual, rather than both the individual and the community, as the beneficiary of the atonement. Scot McKnight (in A Community Called Atonement) and others have, of course, also recognized and begun addressing this problem.

The fourth problem we might call “under-achievement.” That is, the models do not do enough. We may summarize a model of the atonement in terms of its understanding of the fundamental effect of the cross on a person (or on humanity). In the satisfaction-substitution-penal model(s) the effect is propitiation, expiation, and/or forgiveness; in the Christus Victor model the effect is victory and liberation; and in the “moral influence” model the effect is inspiration. In the new covenant model I will propose, the effect is all of the above and more, but that effect is best expressed, not in the rather narrow terms of the traditional models, but in more comprehensive and integrative terms like transformation, participation, and re-creation.