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A Community called Atonement

posted by xscot mcknight

I’ve been sitting here waiting to hear if “our” new book, A Community called Atonement, is available and I’m happy to say that it is now in stock at Amazon.com. The issue of atonement is, as you may know, both central to the gospel and has amazingly drawn so much controversy of late that I hope this book can put out some of those fires. Maybe some will find a reason to debate the book’s theses as well. The next book in this series from Abingdon (with Emergent) will by John Franke on truth and pluralism.
Every presentation of the gospel, every catechism and nearly every sermon has a theory of atonement at work. Ever notice this?
cca.jpg



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RJS

posted August 16, 2007 at 12:23 am


I intend to pick up a copy as soon as possible.



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Ted Gossard

posted August 16, 2007 at 12:36 am


I certainly look forward to getting my copy to learn much myself. And also to interact with one of my friends on this topic, who is at odds with all atonement theories except his overcompensated justice theory, which has showed up in some places at least in piecemeal form, and on which he has done alot of work himself.



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MartyS

posted August 16, 2007 at 3:04 am


Just ordered my copy of Amazon…
Look forward to enlightening myself…



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Paul B

posted August 16, 2007 at 6:41 am


Ordered my copy last night with expected delivery on Monday…can’t wait!!!



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discokvn

posted August 16, 2007 at 7:09 am


“some will find a reason to debate the book’s theses as well”
have you stated the theses already in a previous post and i missed it or can you state them now in this post?
pretty please with sugar on top…



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Matthew

posted August 16, 2007 at 7:53 am


Scot,
I am not sure what it would look like to present the gospel without broaching the subject of atonement.
For example, a foreign co-worker asked me the other day about communion. Imagine trying to tell someone about why you eat bread and drink juice as a religious practice, especially when the person is an intelligent adult that you cannot assume knows anything about the Trinity, the Bible, or Jesus. When you explain that it represents body and blood, which kind of sounds weird, I think you are necessarily into atonement.
Backing up a step, I wonder if you can give the gospel to someone coming from a polytheistic culture without dealing with atonement. Perhaps I am only revealing ignorance about how to present the gospel. But it seems to me that someone who trusts many gods will very amazed at the notion of hanging all of one’s hopes on Jesus. Why Jesus? Well, he reconciles us to God. Why?
My question, stemming from your comment that every presentation of the gospel has a theory of atonement at work, is: Is it possible or even desirable to avoid the subject? I think it is inseparable from the good news that we share. Am I mistaken?



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Scot McKnight

posted August 16, 2007 at 8:16 am


Matthew,
Now don’t mistake me here. I don’t think we get into “atonement theories” in every conversation we have, but yes, you’ve got it. Atonement theories are at the core of everything in the faith.



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BB

posted August 16, 2007 at 8:30 am


I saw a copy (actually abut 5 copies) of the book yesterday at the local seminary’s bookstore.



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Matthew

posted August 16, 2007 at 8:32 am


Scot,
Thanks. That certainly underscores the importance of getting it right.



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Anonymous

posted August 16, 2007 at 8:35 am


The Weekly Stash | The Emergent Mind of a Depraved Dogmatist

[...] – Scott McKnight thinks every gospel presentation, every sermon and every catechism has a theory of atonement at work. He is trying to put out some controversial fires with a new book called A Community called Atonement now available on Amazon. [...]



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Bob Robinson

posted August 16, 2007 at 8:55 am


“Every presentation of the gospel, every catechism and nearly every sermon has a theory of atonement at work. Ever notice this?”
I just experienced this in a telling way–
My 7-year old twins have showed us a love for Jesus and a desire to follow him as Lord. They’ve asked to be baptized. Our church asks for parents to have children meet with a children’s pastor before their baptism to determine if they indeed are ready for this step. The pastor doing this presented the kids with a pretty advanced articulation of the penal-substitutionary view of atonement (saying that “God punished Jesus for your sins”), and when the kids weren’t quite “getting it,” he was suspicious as to whether or not they were ready to be baptized.
It sure struck me as a very odd experience!



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Scot McKnight

posted August 16, 2007 at 8:57 am


Bob,
Good one. Maybe your kids think God loves them so much he sent his Son for them.



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Scott M

posted August 16, 2007 at 9:08 am


Bob, that has actually been the odd part for me raising kids in this particular tradition. I watch everyone telling kids how much Jesus loves them, that he died for them, and teaching them to love Jesus. Then in the middle of childhood, everyone suddenly switches gears and tries to tell them they’ve done wrong, are separated from God, and sometimes even that God is angry with them. Then they are told they need to love Jesus and trust in him to solve this problem. By and large, the already love Jesus! We’ve been teaching them to love him their whole lives! It’s always looked a little psychotic to me — a bit of a break from reality.
Of course, though I didn’t at first know them by their “official” names, it’s always been the recapitulation and ransom aspects of atonement which have meant the most to me. I don’t care all that much about the law court decision.



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John W Frye

posted August 16, 2007 at 9:48 am


Swwwwweeeeeeeeeet! Scot.
I am pursuing a copy even as I type this…



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Michael W. Kruse

posted August 16, 2007 at 12:47 pm


I’m off to Amazon.



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Rick Meigs

posted August 16, 2007 at 4:51 pm


I’m well into my free “review copy” and I’ve got to say that it is one of the best reads around! A much needed and well done treatment of the subject. Thanks Scot.



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Jason Powell

posted August 16, 2007 at 6:39 pm


Yuppers, I ordered my copy from Amazon day before yesterday…as soon as Tony Jones gave me permission…haha.
So far, as I can tell how we approach atonement is going to be crucial to bridging an authentic gospel experience to the lost living within a postmodern mindset. (geez, upon reading that it sounds really generic…oh well…I’m a sucker for an understatement!)
Can’t wait to dig in!!!!!!!



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Peggy

posted August 16, 2007 at 9:11 pm


Bob,
My younger sons, 6 and 8, talk regularly about when they get to be Christians…and wonder when that will be. I tell them that we’ll keep learning about what it means to join this New Covenant that makes us Christians, and when they’re ready to make that commitment to obey God like Jesus did, then it will be time.
Their older brother, 12, began to badger us at age 4 about being baptized. We held him off for two years, but were overwhelmed by his persistent determination and ability to articulate what he was getting into…
We have decided to take longer with the younger ones because the decision to enter covenant with God is not one to be taken by one too young to really understand all the ramifications. Nine was a good age for me…because I heard (at my first year at church camp) how the missionaries taught the children about being obedient to God by being baptized. I was stunned that there was something that I was supposed to do and hadn’t done it. My Dad had to drive all the way up to camp to convince me that it was okay to wait until I got home so that our church family could be part of the witness.
I really does depend on the individual child, doesn’t it.
Scot…how am I ever going to get caught up on reading your books…if you keep pumping them out! ;) Sigh….



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Tony Stiff

posted August 16, 2007 at 9:25 pm


Scot you may want to delete the link I’m posting here, but I found one of the chapters from your book for free online, chapter 5 “Atonement as Praxis: Who does atonement?”
http://troybronsink.typepad.com/churchasart/files/mcknight_part_5.pdf
If its alright I thought this might be able to wet the wistle of some of your readers here?
Tony



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Tony Stiff

posted August 16, 2007 at 9:29 pm


I’m curious what’s the significance of the cover art? Is it to signify a mosaic or tapestry of views wedded together?
For those interested Scot also has delievered a very thoguhtful lecture on the atonement for purchase here as well, “An Ecclesial Theory of Atonement” (original title, An Emerging Theory of Atonement)
http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/4962/nm/An_Ecclesial_Theory_of_Atonement



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Scot McKnight

posted August 16, 2007 at 10:07 pm


Tony,
Well, who in the world got a chp and put the thing online?
On covers, I’ll put it this way: publishers have basically quit asking me what I think and suggesting covers and saying we like this one and don’t you think you ought to agree…
But, I’ll take credit for A New Vision for Israel. I suggested that one and good ol’ Eerdmans took it. And, I forgot, Baylor took my suggestion, but I think they thought I was a little lulu on that one.



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graham

posted August 17, 2007 at 5:47 am


I’m glad this is finally out, Scot.
It’s a good book that makes a very valid contribution.



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Bob Robinson

posted August 17, 2007 at 8:40 am


Scot and Scott M,
About kids, their faith, and Atonement:
My wife and I have been telling our kids a diverse set of stories about Jesus and his atonement for us. We’ve certainly told them the “law-court” story, but it has been only one of the stories. Probably the most told story I tell them is one about Christ’s victory over evil. This one they really relate to in that it invites them into the story – they can become (according to the particular story I’m telling) secret agents or knights or Jedi that are on Jesus’ team that overtakes evil with good.
When I explained this to that children’s pastor, he kind of looked at me sideways, wondering if I was teaching my kids some kind of works-righteousness. I assured him I wasn’t, but that it’s important to me that they not only state they “love Jesus” (which I truly believe they do), but that they are willing to show that love in following him into his work of redeeming the world. Again, I got a sideways look…



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Bob Robinson

posted August 17, 2007 at 9:08 am


Peggy,
Thanks for your insight. It’s very helpful. I have a 9-yr old too that wants to be baptized, and it is HIS lack of commitment to the ramification’s of being in covenant with God that is holding us back on him.



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Peggy

posted August 17, 2007 at 11:30 am


Bob,
I find that the young ones have the same problem with connecting thought and action when it comes to salvation as they do in everything else. They “understand” in their minds why it is important, but have trouble translating that into correct action…not that they have tons of great examples in many of the older (not necessarily more mature) Christians around them…sadly :(
It does, however, raise the bar for everything in our home. I have long said that having children is one of the best way to understand what God is about–it is grueling work, don’t you know, but the correlations are pretty consistently spot-on 8)
Sometimes (usually?) I wish we were this careful with adults who are seeking to enter this New Covenant with God through Jesus…maybe that would stem the aweful “infant” mortality rate…



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Bob Robinson

posted August 17, 2007 at 12:41 pm


Peggy,
Applying our theology to child-rearing is where the rubber meets the road. Especially when it comes to obedience and discipline! If I want my children to obey out of a heart transformed by the grace of God, then how is it that I treat them differently than an adult that I would want that for?! It seems that we short-circuit our children’s spiritual growth when we all-too-quickly take the behavioral approach to coercing obedience from them. It’s a balancing act we’ve been struggling with… We want to parent our children in a way that woos their hearts to desire obedience, rather than simply demanding it (though there are times that we must simply demand it!). Yikes. This parenting game is hard work.



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Peggy

posted August 17, 2007 at 2:08 pm


Yeah, there are challenging implications to the thorough education I have been providing my sons as we have read through every level of children’s Bible and are now actually reading through the actual text from the beginning (using Peterson’s The Message version that is paired with the NIV, we are in I Kings now) and processing the implications as we go. They are way too smart now and know how to argue for how they should be treated. I, however, get to talk daily about the importance of obedience and all the other attributes of Christlikeness.
It is the very best (read: effective) kind of experience– learning and struggling along with my children. I must embrace the tools of influence and put away the tools of coersion…
I can’t wait until we get to Hebrews so we can talk about the importance of discipline to recognition as true sons and not illegitimate sons…



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Peggy

posted August 17, 2007 at 2:13 pm


…not that I haven’t already had that conversation with them, but to see them make the connection when we get there in Hebrews. That is the most fun thing about this–watching them connect God’s Word to their lives. 8)



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Everett

posted August 21, 2007 at 11:25 am


Just a heads up. I ordered a copy from Amazon and a few days later got a notice that they wouldn’t be able to fill the order until December. The Amazon page for the book still says it’s in stock. Abingdon’s page is showing November as the publication date.



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