Along with many of my fellow bloggers, I grew up being told that Jesus died for my sins — in fact, that to die for my sins is the sole reason Jesus came to earth. Jesus’ death for us is the atonement, and there are a host of theories: Irenaeus’s recapitulation theory, the classical ransom theory, Anselm’s satisfaction of divine honor theory, Abelard’s exemplary theory (if a theory at all), the Reformers’ penal substitution theory, and Grotius’ governmental theory (which no one seems to care about any more at all — though I’ve thought at times someone ought to pick it up for a little fun).
I’ve been posting of late about the “posts” of postmodernity, and I want to offer you tonight a challenge to think about.
Here’s what we claim to be true: Jesus died for our sins and he rose for our justification (roughly Rom 4:25). I think it can be proven with historical methods (as if we needed them) that Jesus died; it can be demonstrated with pretty solid arguments — many have undertaken this task — that Jesus rose from the dead. It is not provable at the same level that he died, but his resurrection is the best explanation of the evidence.
Now, here’s the challenge: how do we go about proving that Jesus died for our sins? We know he died, but how do we prove that his death actually did something for our sins? To me, the entire issue of postmodernity presses in on this question and it is worth all of us looking at. To quote Anselm, “What do you think Boso?” (I pronounced that Bosso — but I’m unsure.)
To respond to me, you will have to sign in to blogspot.com. So far as I know they won’t be calling you on the phone trying to get you to buy roses or give money to the police or anything like that. But, because I have some potshots from Anonymous bloggers who think they are above decency when it comes to how to disagree with others, I have clicked one of those boxes to make sure only named people can sign up. Again, I am asking for decency here — disagreement is fine. Try to avoid lengthy responses. I’ll do what I can tomorrow to respond.