Cynthia Bourgeault: Substitutionary atonement theology was there from the beginning in the Old Testament in the Temple theology with its sacrificial system and they just took the system and that was in place thirty years after Jesus’ death.

Richard Rohr: Because the metaphors are all there – ransom, sacrifice, atonement, ‘Jesus died for our sins’. If you follow the temple metaphors, it looks transactional, not transformational. The Bible understood things magically, transactionally. The transactional view does not satisfy your soul. It makes God look arbitrary.

If your dad had to be bought into loving you, wouldn’t you for the rest of your life doubt whether your Dad’s love was really reliable? That’s the instability that a lot of Christianity is trying to build on. It is a whimsical God whose love is not a rock, whose love is not reliable.

William Paul Young : The target of the crucifixion was death itself. I think that’s the enemy. How does God who is life encounter death? by becoming fully human submitting to our violence and we kill life itself.

The cross is the destruction of death. Death no longer has power. When he dies we all die. When the Creator arises, we all arise. Now, that’s different than saying we all understand it, or agree with it.  God only counted on one element of our participation and that was to kill him. That’s the only thing God counted on; everything else God did.  God included you apart from your vote. You can say no, potentially forever. That’s the tension that is held in the New Testament because of the high view of humanity.

CB: I would just nuance that to say that the last enemy is not so much death as thralldom to death which makes us define life in opposition to it.

I always feel sad on Maundy Thursday when the sermon says that Jesus is gathered with his disciples for this paschal meal and he has this little unpleasantness to go through but on Easter he will pop right back up again. And the idea that the reason he could undergo the crucifixion was because he knew that he’ld live, puts the hope, the accent and the real freedom in the wrong place.

The point is this, if he knew he were going stone cold dead into oblivion, there was nothing, no redemption on the other side. If you knew you only had one choice which was, like Job to curse God and die, or to go “into your hands I commend my spirit”, which would Jesus do do you think? Find it in yourself.

If you have done Centering Prayer and letting go, you will find that you just can’t do resisting and grasping, because it’s harsh, it’s anti-love. Without any need for reward you open into love. And there’s the freedom. We die; we all die. Jesus may have taken away death, but death can become a passageway into a life upon life, and I’m not talking about being risen from the dead.

The only death we face is the death we face before we die. If we get through that one, the actual dissolution of the body house isn’t the problem. It never was the enemy. Jesus neutralizes death by love and he finds love in the total freedom of consent. As we can learn to walk that path, then we already begin to walk in resurrection life regardless of outcome.

WPY: The focus of New Testament writers is actually on Ascension, not even resurrection. Let that refashion the Passion.  On the Mount of Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah show up that is what the goal is here. When Stephen is being stoned: “He sees the Son of Man coming out of (ek) the right hand of the father,” not just sitting next to him, but coming right “out of” the father. We need to look through that lens at the Passion and the incarnation.

RR: Martin Luther said the Ascension was terribly underplayed. Unless we get the last piece, the full circle isn’t formed.

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