Archive for November, 2010

The Atonement: an introduction to an introduction

Posted in Theology with tags , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by stephengardner

During study for my end of year doctrine exam today, at Moore Theological College, I did some thinking about the atonement and thought I might blog some initial thoughts. I have (at this stage) seven introductory aspects of the atonement I want to explore – but I’m open to your suggestions too.

But, to kick off, as a kind of introduction, I thought I would post some helpful words from T.F. Torrance. Having argued that the atonement is, firstly, a profound mystery, he concludes that there is ‘no logical relation’ between the cross of Christ and our experience of forgiveness of sins.

There is of course a mighty continuity between the death of Christ on the cross and the forgiveness of our sins, but it is a continuity that God himself achieves and makes through his atoning act and the intervention of his own being. And therefore the cross provides a wisdom that ‘the Greeks’ or humankind in general know nothing of. Thus we cannot begin to understand the atonement by bringing to it principles of formal rational continuity or by adopting an abstract theoretic explanation. In seeking to unfold the meaning of the death of the Son of God, therefore, we must have recourse to putting together conjunctive statements based upon the inherent synthesis to be found in the person of the mediator and not in any logical or rational presuppositions which we bring to interpret what he has done for us. Here above all, then, in seeking to understand the death of Christ, we must follow Christ, and think only a posteriori, seeking throughout to be conformed in mind to Christ himself as the truth. That is the only way to understand and at the same time to reverence the infinite mystery and majesty of this atoning deed on the cross which by its very nature reaches out beyond all finite comprehension into eternity.                                                                                                                              ( T. F. Torrance, Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ. 2-3)

Taking on board Torrance’s encouragement to follow Christ as a first and foremost outcome of ‘studying’ the atonement, what would you included as a must have in introducing the idea of the atonement?

Anglicans for Restitution

Posted in Australia with tags , , on November 10, 2010 by stephengardner

Check out this organisation, Anglicans for Restitution. The organisation was launched in the wake of Peter Adam’s 2009 lecture. At the moment it is a purely Melbourne based initiative, do you think something like this will happen in Sydney?

Thanks to Mark Eargney for the tip off.

Barth on Obedience and Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 10, 2010 by stephengardner

In prayer, he (the Christian) makes use of the freedom to answer the Father who has addressed him, or, to put it in another way, to go to meet the Father whose goodness he proceeds, or, to put it in yet another way, to give direct and natural expression of the truth of the situation in which the Christian finds himself as a Christian. When he prays, he puts himself in the position in which faith and obedience can always begin again at the beginning. As this primitive movement, prayer, which is the basis of all other activity, is included in obedience. It is itself the act of obedience par excellence, the act of obedience from which all other acts must spring. (Church Dogmatics III.3 49.4. p.265)

Barth on Faith and Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 9, 2010 by stephengardner

“Faith itself cannot be without prayer, for, as we have already maintained, faith is neither a possession which is transferred to the Christian from without, nor is it a conviction which he has reached from within, but it is an act which is creaturely by nature, which fulfils itself in those two movements, but the fulfilment of which is anything but self-evident, needing the awakening of man by the Word of God. Therefore, it is inevitable that in faith, in the fulfilment of this act, God is always a surprise to man, and man a surprise to himself. Man stands amazed before the divine goodness which gives him the freedom for this act. And he stands amazed before all that it shows him—the fatherhood of God, his own sonship, and the right of sonship in the house of the Father as the Father confers it and he himself receives it. It is in this inevitable surprise that the faith of a Christian as such is also prayer—the prayer of thanksgiving and praise. Again, he stands amazed before the unmerited gift that he himself is actually enabled to believe, to believe this. And he can never understand how it is that he is able to do so, to receive this unmerited gift. Indeed, the more freely he can believe, and the more fully he receives in faith, the more he is conscious of his own inability and unworthiness, his own incapacity. It is in this surprise that his faith as such is prayer—the prayer of penitence and confession of penitence towards the great God who has done such things towards man, and still does so. And again, the Christian stands amazed before the nearness of God, and the superabundant wealth of all those things which call him to faith, and which as the gift of God are calculated to appease his hunger, to cover his nakedness, to make good his deficiencies. ” (Church Dogmatics, III.3 49.4. 252-253)

Peter Adam: why sorry isn’t good enough

Posted in Australia, Reconciliation with tags , , , , , on November 7, 2010 by stephengardner

You might remember that in August 2009 Dr. Peter Adam of Ridley College Melbourne caused quite a stir when he claimed that the federal government’s apology to Indigenous Australians did not go far enough. In this video he urges Melbourne Anglicans to be a prophetic voice to the nation, seeking restitution.

Dr. Adam’s lecture was widely reported on in the blogosphere, Chris and Matt provided some great reflections. Over the next few months I hope to come back to Dr. Adam’s challenge to the Church to be a prophetic voice to the world on the matter of reconciliation.

Miroslav Volf on Violence in the Name of Faith

Posted in Reconciliation, World with tags , , , on November 5, 2010 by stephengardner

In the last post I introduced Yale’s Faith and Globalization Initiative of which Volf is key contributor. There he was introducing the topic of faith and reconciliation between different faiths, here he introduces the topic of violence and faith. Is violence intrinsic to faith as some voices from within the ‘new atheist’ movement suggest? What are the conditions in which faith becomes violent?

Volf distinguishes between external conditions (political power, association with holy spaces)and internal conditions (absolute truth claims). External conditions, so he says, legitimise the defence of power and place.


Miroslav Volf on Faith and Reconciliation

Posted in Reconciliation with tags , , , , on November 4, 2010 by stephengardner

This is part of a fascinating series of lectures that Volf gave in partnership with, amongst others, Tony Blair, dealing with the subject of faith and globalisation. Here Volf introduces  the topic of reconciliation and drafts a brief way forward for how people of contradictory faiths may reach reconciliation.