Scorning what is holy…

My thanks to Todd Pruitt for this:

“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])

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

One thought on “Scorning what is holy…

  1. We have lost, if we ever had, the understanding of the relationship between Christ being completely broken for us and we having to be broken of our self-centeredness to be able to relate, and to apreciate the need for openess and vulnerability – really needing help and unable to help ourselves to the point of begging in humiliation. We whose eyes bulge out with fatness and whose tongues wag through the earth, too full to feel our emptyness.

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