Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Friday is for Friends

posted by xscot mcknight

“I believe in the forgiveness of sins,” a famous line in the Apostles’ Creed, means “I believe in the rebirth of relationships” according to Telford Work in Ain’t Too Proud to Beg (166). To help himself discuss the Lord’s prayer petition for forgiveness, Telford explores Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons.
Which left me out since I haven’t read the novel. But, in spite of this, I got through this chp with not a few highlights and (I must confess) some confirmations of my newest book, A Community called Atonement.
Telford explores, as a result of the novel, the sinful human condition as “barrenness.” “It is futile,” he says, “to try to make something out of nothing; only a Creator can do that. It is specious to try to turn something wrong into something right; only a Redeemer can do that” (153).
We are bankrupt debtors (title of book gets its explanation in this chp) and we learn that “judgment and forgiveness are God’s new creation of those formerly barren relationships” (154).
We are back to the issue of defining our problem well enough: “The wages of sin were estrangement, oppression, corruption, vengeance, calamity, panic, starvation, defeat, slavery, torpor, idolatry, decline, sterility, death” (154).
Telford explores forgiveness as atonement, that atonement is integrally connected to other theological ideas … “Where sin is barrenness, atonement is replenishment” (159). Forgiveness is also mission. “Apostolic forgiveness is thus mission, and apostolic mission is forgiveness” (165). Forgiveness is also rehumanization.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted December 14, 2007 at 5:48 am


Rich and it really does parallel quite well, your book “Community Called Atonement”, Scot.
I love the idea of forgiveness and mission. And also the idea of rehumanization.



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Bob Brague

posted December 14, 2007 at 9:25 am


For another take on barrenness, read Sarah Hinlicky Wilson’s essay, “Blessed Are The Barren” over at Christianity Today online (Scot pointed it out to us himself a couple of days ago.)
And all those things Telford mentions (estrangement, oppression, corruption, vengeance, calamity, panic, starvation, defeat, slavery, torpor, idolatry, decline, sterility) are symptoms of sin, not wages. The only wages mentioned in the Bible is death (Rom. 6:23).



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Kellen

posted December 14, 2007 at 11:40 am


Perhaps: Where sin results in death… atonement results in life?
Bob is correct about the symptoms comment. It would seem that atonement at minimum would include everything that is a part of abundant life. What is the abundant life? How broad is the scope of abundant life in the teachings of Jesus? Jesus carried in his own body our sickness, infrimity, sorrows, etc.



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BeckyR

posted December 14, 2007 at 3:06 pm


I’m not commenting on what seems to be the meat of this convo, but. I’ve been purposefully thinking of each line of the Lord’s Prayer week by week. That is, another line each week. I got to “forgive us our sins aw we forgive others.” I don’t know Greek and right now our Strong’s is holding up our monitor to eye level (ain’t that funny?!), but I rethought that to where it is not saying God will forgive us if we forgive others, which it looks like and is taught to be with some others. But rather, that it is saying “forgive us our sins and go about our lives forgiving others’ too.” Not conditional, but rather a statement of what is going on in the whole. We go about trying to forgive others and God has forgiven us even when we were enemies against him. Hope it makes sense.
And oh, we’ve been going through an extended teaching on grace in our church group. No, not cracking open your book Scot. Just thoughts one of our people has put together. It is quite exciting emphasizing the reality of who we are in Christ now, because of what God says of us, and how that effects our self image day to day because of that, and how that effects how we act and/or react. Oh, that may be why I started thinking through the Lord’s Prayer thought by thought in it. Or maybe because of this topic in this blog. Anyhow, what I wrote above has come out of all of that.



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BeckyR

posted December 14, 2007 at 3:08 pm


that should be “and WE go about forgiving other’s too.”



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Scot McKnight

posted December 14, 2007 at 3:39 pm


BeckyR,
There are three parts to forgiveness and forgivingness (our part):
God forgives in grace
We forgive others
God’s response to our grace of forgiving is more forgiveness
The Lord’s Prayer is talking about the second and third line.
That’s my view.



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BeckyR

posted December 14, 2007 at 3:55 pm


Weellll Scot, can’t say I can go along with your views. Can’t say I agree God doles out more forgiveness. Way I see it, God has forgiven us even when we were his enemies. He’s there, he’s forgiveness. Back to the prodigal son thing. The father is living there in his house with love and forgiveness for the son, already. He doesn’t dole it out more when the son returns. The son returns to what is already there. The son experiences the reality of the father’s love and forgiveness when coming in contrition, the heart place needed to be open to the experience of love and forgiveness. We may understand more and more the ramifications of God forgiving us and from that understand what it is to forgive others. The teaching I’ve been under and accept to this point, is God’s forgiveness is there, period. When we ask for forgiveness we aren’t asking for forgiveness to be doled out, we are agreeing with God about the forgiveness that is there already.
Ok, I won’t keep going on and on.
I will accept your knowledge of Greek as to what the “as” means in “as we forgive others.”



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Scot McKnight

posted December 14, 2007 at 4:07 pm


BeckyR,
The text in Matt 6:14-15 is pretty clear, and so also is 18:21-35 where our forgivingness is tied to being forgiven (though it is not earned; God forgives first and it unleashes a cycle of “embracing grace”).



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RJS

posted December 14, 2007 at 4:28 pm


Scot,
Isn’t it also implicit in Matt 5:21-24. If presenting an offering at the altar – go first and be reconciled with your brother.



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Scot McKnight

posted December 14, 2007 at 4:50 pm


RJS,
Yep, there too.



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BeckyR

posted December 14, 2007 at 6:12 pm


Well, that’s what I get for meditating on the Lord’s Prayer and not getting beyond it yet. Twas a good thought about what the word “as” meant – “forgive us our sins as we forgive one another.” Instead of conditional that it meant we go about forgiving and you go about forgiving.
Ok, so kind of thinking out loud here. Romans says God forgave us when we were enemies against him, so we are forgiven on God’s side before we become reconciled to him on our end of the deal. In that way, God is like the prodigal son’s father, at home with love and forgiveness even when the son is off doing his thing. The son comes home to the love and forgiveness. When his heart is in the position to let in that love and forgiveness, that is, not take advantage of it, he is in the good mindset/position. This is where we are to be with God per forgiving others. God has the love and forgiveness, it is who he is, we put ourselves in a position where it can effect our life positively or continuing on negatively.
I’m having a hard time with God will not forgive us if…….., when Romans says he forgave us when we were enemies against him (side note – kind of what enemies means, to be against.)
Ok, off to more gift wrapping. Bout halfway through. Still gor ribbons and bows to do.



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mariam

posted December 15, 2007 at 2:43 am


I’ve also seen God’s forgiveness in the way Becky does, that is not tied to an act on our part but freely given, and also as an ongoing thing. God is constantly forgiving me when I ask for forgiveness, I try to be always mindful of forgiving others and seeing their weaknesses as my own. What I do believe, however, is that it is difficult for us to understand the necessity of forgiveness and the nature of forgiveness until we have truly and deeply been hurt by someone else. Then the weight of our own sins and betrayals become starkly terrible to us and become tied to the hurt done to us. It is then that we realize how unfair it is to ask God for forgiveness when we harbour anger or hatred in our own heart. How can I, in front of God (and myself) baldly ask for forgiveness when I am no different than the person I refuse to forgive. A heart filled with hatred can neither forgive, nor receive forgiveness. So I see it not so much on God holding out on us until we give Him what He wants but of Him waiting for us to come to the realization of the connection between our sins and the sins of those who have hurt us and necessity of forgiveness if we are to move on to a fruitful, not barren, life.



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Dianne P

posted December 15, 2007 at 1:05 pm


Great discussion! I think that one of the issues here is that we are limited by space and time, while God is not. When I pray this part of the Lord’s prayer, I imagine that His forgiveness bathes us in his light and love without restriction of time, free from any type of *if…then* restrictions. Our concept of forgiveness is necessarily carried out within the realm of time moving forward, so we understand things in the context of some sort of *if… then* construct. Then I have to stop thinking about it after awhile, because trying to imagine anything outside of my limited understanding of space and time makes my head hurt ;-)
On another note, re the *I Am Charlotte Simmons* book. It connected me to another recent thread here about reaching the E-gens with respect to #4 on the list of their social manifestations:
“EGens participate in sexual serial monogamy ? a series of partners.”
As a boomer, reading Tom Wolfe’s book was crucial to giving me a much better understanding of the current sexual culture in which E-gens are immersed. It’s a pretty dehumanizing picture, but from everyone I’ve asked and everything I’ve read, a pretty accurate one. For anyone trying to connect with E-gens, I think it’s a *must read*, especially for anyone like me who has not experienced this culture from the inside. The dehumanization of sexuality that pervades this book puts a very human face (and a very young human face at that) on the barrenness that Work discusses in this chapter. It leads me to see Work’s barrenness as sad, alone, estranged, lacking in meaningful relationships, maybe not even believing that meaningful relationships actually exist. Life as a hook-up, then time to move on.



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