One reason why I like Easter less than many of the other Christian festival is the tendency of the substitutionary atonement theology that creeps in. I call it "The Old Rugged Cross" theology for short--it's the idea that our very creative God could not come up with any other way to unite with humanity than to have Jesus die on the cross as a substitute for the kinds of animals that we might have brought to the Temple to offer in our efforts to get forgiveness for sins.
The idea of animal sacrifice as necessary for atonement is so foreign to so many of us in developed nations. Why do we accept it as part of our Christian faith?
Many, many books have been written in an effort to answer that question. I won't try to do it here. But it is one of the hazards of Easter for me, this idea that we must be washed in the blood of Jesus to be cleansed.
Yesterday I began my Easter Sunday by listening to this episode of On Being which featured Richard Rohr. He finished the interview with this wonderful quote: "So that’s why I’m anxious to present the vulnerable God, which, for a Christian, was supposed to have been imaged on the cross. But again, we made it into a transaction. Transaction isn’t vulnerability anymore, really. Vulnerability transforms you. You can’t be in the presence of a truly vulnerable, honestly vulnerable person and not be affected. I think that’s the way we are meant to be in the presence of one another."
Yes, the transactional nature of death on the cross--that's what bothers me. I would not have put it as eloquently as Rohr, which is why I wanted to preserve it here.
I'm lucky to be at a church that avoids much of this troubling Jesus came to die for my sins in this gruesome way because there was no other way kind of theology on Easter--particularly now that our former choir director has moved on.
Yesterday, as I was on alert for something new in the Easter story, I was struck by the folded grave clothes. Imagine: Jesus comes back from the dead and folds the grave clothes.
How would our society be different if we had focused on this aspect of Jesus instead of the cross?
feeling the feelings…
7 months ago