Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Beginning with God 7

Worship.jpgIt all begins with God — what we think about God shapes what we think about ourselves and those around us and our world. It begins with God. What is our “narrative” of God? What are the narratives that hinder our perception and life in God?

James Bryan Smith, in The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love With the God Jesus Knows (The Apprentice Series) , is guiding his readers into a wholesome narrative about God. And one of the wholesome narratives is that…


God is self-sacrificing.

Smith tells a story about his sister, who couldn’t quite comprehend why Christians are so tied into the cross. It seems almost child abuse to her and she wondered why God couldn’t just forgive humans out of grace.

The false narrative is that of karma: good deeds, good life; bad deeds, bad life.

Jesus’ narrative: God works his way to us. Smith’s approach is to imagine a conversation between himself and Athanasius who is the “doctor of incarnation.” Athanasius said the problem was human corruption and death. The divine dilemma is to be true to God’s nature and to God’s promise and still to forgive and re-create life. Jesus surrenders his life to our life and experiences our life and lives our life and dies our death in order to bring us out the other side in the new life of resurrection.


God, in Who God Is, is self-surrender within the Trinity and giving himself for — with, instead of, and for the benefit of — humans is the only way God can love. So, he entered into our condition in order to make us what God wanted us to be. What more could God have done, Smith asks, than to die for us?

For an exercise, Smith suggests reading the Gospel of John.

Comments read comments(6)
post a comment
Michelle Van Loon

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:03 am

The first time I read the gospel of John when I was a teenager, I saw this very thing, though I didn’t have vocabulary for it at the time. Thirty-plus years of hearing preaching focused on the cross-as-punishment for my sins has pulled my gaze from the awe of incarnation, though in recent years I’ve found my soul’s gaze returning to its impact and beauty.
Thanks for blogging through the book. It’s going on my wish list!

report abuse


posted July 23, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I don’t know.. I’ve never understood why God would need to sacrifice his son to forgive us. Would I kill my daughter because my dog wouldn’t stop chewing on the couch?
The Son came into the world and the evil world killed Him, just as it tries to do to everyone who teaches love over hate,* and then God raised Jesus up to show the ultimate triumph of Good over evil.
* I’m sure if Jesus, the subversive nobody from nowhere who speaks truth to power and preaches the Kingdom, were here right now someone would be working to kill him.

report abuse

Cam R

posted July 23, 2009 at 7:24 pm

JJoe #2,
While I agree that God raising Jesus from the dead shows his victory over death and evil I think there is a lot more going on then just that.
“Would I kill my daughter because my dog wouldn’t stop chewing on the couch?”
I don’t think this analogy is fair. A dog chewing on a couch doesn’t really capture our problem of being broken people or the severity of our capacity for evil. As well, your nature and your daughter isn’t the same as God the Father’s and God the Son’s.
Here is my view on it:
God as Trinity is still one God but three persons. In bringing life through Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection God is solving the problem of human evil and sin within Himself as a divine community.
I don’t think it was a case of God punishing his Son as an act of divine child abuse as some have put it. I would say Jesus dying for us and instead of us is God lovingly taking our problem on Himself–Himself sacrificing for us as the Triune God.
In terms of why did Jesus have to die? Does sin result in death? My take on it is that we are created beings who have become not as we were intended to be and in fact we have become our own worst enemies. Death comes through living independent of a right relationship with God. That broken part of us, our nature that is prone to that independent living needs to die–share in Jesus’ death so new creation can start.
What you do think?

report abuse

Cam R

posted July 23, 2009 at 8:02 pm

IN #3
I meant to end with:
What do you think?

report abuse


posted July 24, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I think the problem is now even more complicated, for you have made me realize that in my example I also created the dog!!
The magnitude of the evil doesn’t matter… the key point is why I must kill one creature I love for the sins of another creature I love.
Why would God have a problem of human evil and sin within Himself? The more I think about that, the more I see only pure symbolism – the concept that we must die to sin. So in our limited understanding, we project that need upon God.
As you say, my nature is not the same as God’s. I can see trying to kill part of my psyche, but is not God perfectly good? With therefore no need to die to sin?

report abuse

Cam R.

posted July 24, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Sometimes I think issues with different atonement theories stem from our Christology–who Jesus is.
Maybe your key point “why I must kill one creature I love for the sins of another creature I love.” hits on it. Was Jesus just a creature or created being? Or is He God both fully human and fully divine? If he was just a creature than him dying for our sins doesn’t make much sense.
I think Scot’s post on “God is holy” touches on why God would have issues being true to Himself as perfectly good and Holy and turning a blind I to sin and evil. Sin and evil is our problem in terms of where it originated and God has chose to do what we couldn’t do on our own because of His loving holiness.
I didn’t mean to say that God has a problem with human evil within Himself but I meant that He has chosen to deal with our problem of evil within Himself–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our evil is an issue because of his holy love for us. The need to die for sin isn’t for God to kill a part of himself but for us; so he can bear it for us, instead of us, with us.
Then in union with Jesus we share in his death, and in his life–the life of the triune God. For me, communion becomes a symbolic act of sharing in his death and new life through the Holy Spirit.
What were your thoughts on the God is holy post?

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog ...

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the ...

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: ...

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's ...

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or ...

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.