Atonement
Dave Farcas

The Hebrew concept of God's justice is about God overturning the wrongs of this world and making things right. God is just because he saves. God's justice is salvific and not in any way punitive or distributive (getting what one deserves). God's justice is grace, giving to us better then we deserve - freely and unconditionally.

I read the Bible from Golgotha, back to Genesis, and forward to Revelation. The godforsaken death of Jesus on the cross is the definitive self-revelation of God. The cross of Jesus is the glory of God, the 'non-power' of God that is the causal act of the New Creation that will result in universal resurrection: the transformation of the universe from the subatomic to the galactic.

Yes, the death of Jesus is central, and without it there would be no possibility of universal resurrection. But it is not Atonement in the traditional understanding of the term. It is not a sacrifice to appease the wrath, or satisfy the offended honor of God. Jesus' death does not make it possible for God to forgive us; to the contrary, Jesus died because God had already forgiven us. Like the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God's heart was never closed to us, he never wrote us off.

In Jesus, God seeks us out in our godless and lost state. He identifies with us, in our finitude and struggles and makes our pain His own. His solidarity with us, and all of creation, takes on cosmic dimensions on the cross, where he experiences a godforsaken death among the godless. On the cross, the defining relationship between the Father and the Son is ruptured and God experiences death - the final and total death that threatens his beloved creation. And because of this sacrifice, this sovereign, free act of God to give His all to us on the cross, we are saved from the fate of eternal death (damnation). Because God, in Jesus on the cross, has truly become Emmanuel (God with us).


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