Atonement: The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, Part 4

deathofthemessiahandthebirthofthenewcovenantWe are continue to reflect on Michael J. Gorman’s The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement.

Deuteronomy 30:6

Another path that Gorman might have traveled down is the Old Testament thread beginning with Deu 30:6. It is, in my mind, as central to the Mosaic covenant as, say, the Ten Commandments.

(Deu 30:6-10 ESV)  6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.  … 8 And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today.  9 The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers,  10 when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 

Deuteronomy records the second giving of the Law, just as the Israelites were preparing to cross the Jordan River to begin the conquest of the Promised Land. It’s in the form of an Ancient Near East treaty. And it therefore concludes with a series of blessings and curses. Continue reading

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U2’s “Songs of Innocence”

Exclusively through iTunes — but they’re for free. Just out!

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Atonement: The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, Part 3

deathofthemessiahandthebirthofthenewcovenantWe are continue to reflect on Michael J. Gorman’s The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement.

The Lord’s Supper

The accounts of Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper refer back to Jeremiah —

(Mat 26:27-29 ESV) 7 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,  28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

(Mar 14:24-25 ESV) 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.  25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 

(Luk 22:20 ESV) 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

(1Co 11:25-26 ESV)  25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Luke and Paul explicitly reference the “new covenant,” an obvious reference to Jeremiah 31. They add “in my blood.” How is the new covenant “in” the blood of Jesus? Continue reading

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Atonement: The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, Part 2

deathofthemessiahandthebirthofthenewcovenantWe are continue to reflect on Michael J. Gorman’s The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement.

Transformation — another missing element

Gorman cites several New Testament texts that speak of our salvation in terms of the death and resurrection of Jesus, such as the baptismal discussion in Romans 6. He concludes,

In texts such as these, we see that the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ death was to create a transformed people, a (new) people living out a (new) covenant relationship with God together. Moreover, this people will not simply believe in the atonement and the one who died, they will eat and drink it, they will be baptized into it/ him, they will be drawn to him and into it.

That is, they will so identify with the crucified savior that words like “embrace” and “participation,” more than “belief” or even “acceptance,” best describe the proper response to this death. (Even the words “belief” and “believe” take on this more robust sense of complete identification.) Continue reading

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Atonement: Michael J. Gorman’s The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement, Part 1

deathofthemessiahandthebirthofthenewcovenantLong-time readers know that I’m a fan of the writings of Michael J. Gorman. I consider his Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology life defining — one of the most important books I’ve read. I did a series on it back in 2010. It’s up there with Mere Christianity as a book all church leaders should read.

The problems with most atonement theories

In The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement, Gorman now seeks to rework the church’s view of the atonement — no small task. And he does so in a way that should dramatically change how we think about the gospel and our salvation.

Atonement theology deals with the question of how we are saved. What is it about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that saves us?

He also notes that many denominations and many congregations focus on atonement theology to  the near exclusion of all else. How can the atonement be so disconnected from the rest of Christianity? Continue reading

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Additional Reviews of Muscle & a Shovel

muscleshovelMuscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank is a self-published book relating the story of his conversion from being a Baptist to a member of the Churches of Christ.

It’s gained immense popularity among the more conservative Church of Christ congregations. Some churches are buying copies by the box and distributing to their members. It’s a popular Bible class study.

I posted a series of articles reviewing the book beginning last year. In just the last few days, a number of further reviews have been published.

John Mark Hicks has published a 64-page review in the form of a short book, available at Amazon as a $2.99 Kindle ebook. He has also posted his review at his blog as a free .pdf download. As is true of everything he writes, this is well worth your time. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 9:1-10 (an apostle’s rights; how to read Torah through Jesus)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondChapter 9 appears at first to be an off-subject interruption between the discussions of meat sacrificed to idols in chapters 8 and 10, but Paul is actually making a point regarding Christians and the exercise of their rights at the expense of others.

Mathematicians would call this a “lemma,” or a proof made in order to prove a larger theorem. (“Lemma” is Greek for something received.)

To show the Corinthians how to live in love toward their weaker brothers, Paul gives himself as an example. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 8:4-13 (meat sacrificed to idols)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondPaul now gets to the issue at hand: meat offered to idols. As the Pulpit Commentary explains,

But Gentiles had always been accustomed to buy meat in the markets. Now, much of this meat consisted of remnants of animals slain as sacrifices, after the priests had had their share. … 

Theophrastus, in his ‘Moral Sketches,’ defines the close-handed man as one who, at his daughter’s wedding feast, sells all the victims offered except the sacred parts; and the shameless person as one who, after offering a sacrifice, salts the victim for future use, and goes out to dine with someone else. The market was therefore stocked with meat which had been connected with idol sacrifices.

The Christian could never be sure about any meat which he bought if he held it wrong to partake of these offerings. Further than this, he would — especially if he were poor — feel it a great privation to be entirely cut off from the public feasts (sussitia), which perhaps were often his only chance of eating meat at all; and also to be forbidden to take a social meal with any of his Gentile neighbours or relatives. 

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1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (Oh, to be known by God)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondIn chapter 8, Paul begins a three-chapter discussion of food offered to idols. And that seems about as irrelevant to modern church life as can be.

Except this is, in fact, a passage the speaks immediately and importantly to the 21st Century church — especially the Church of Christ, because Paul is dealing with the “weak” and the “strong” and how they should get along in a single church.

You see, in the early church, separate congregations didnt exist for every slight difference on divorce and remarriage or whether instruments may be used in a wedding. There was one congregation per town, under one eldership, meeting in multiple houses — meeting all together by a river or the like, except when a synagogue or pagan official might look the other way and let them gather in a large enough building. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 7:36-40 (remarrying in the Lord)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyond

(1Co 7:36-8:1 ESV)  36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed [or virgin], if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry — it is no sin.  37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well.  38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.  

The translation of this passage is difficult and controversial. Continue reading

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