Monday, January 18, 2010
The Shape of Soteriology
I read a book two years ago from which I took notes that have stayed beside me for most of that time. It's John McIntyre's The Shape of Soteriology. This is the theology concerned with salvation though the death of Christ.
I am a children and family pastor.
I am trained in education methods.
I am trained in children's cognitive development.
I am also theologically trained.
Therefore I think I know why Christ died.
I think this statement could potentially demonstrate an arrogance that there is nothing more to know. It exudes occasionally from some Christians who preach and teach. I think that's why there is a salutory warning in Scripture to those who teach others!
The temptation is to teach about Christ to adults and children in a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the question: "why did Christ die?".
As I hope I have pointed out, a danger I became aware of in myself, is that those who sit under our influence may be missing out on the RICHNESS of the depth of God's love for us by our presentation of a one-sided picture of what took Jesus willingly to the cross.
McIntyre details no fewer than THIRTEEN models over several pages of his book to explain why Christ died for us.
1. as a RANSOM
2. as REDEMPTION
3. for SALVATION
4. as a SACRIFICE
5. as PROPITIATION
6. as EXPIATION
7. as an ATONEMENT
8. as RECONCILIATION
9. as CHRISTUS VICTOR
10. as PUNISHMENT or PENALTY for our sins
11. as SATISFACTION (remember good old Anselm?)
12. as our EXAMPLE
13. for LIBERATION
I'm going to add a fourteenth to this list, courtesy of Bruce Reichenbach,
14. for our HEALING *
My point in this post as a children's specialist is to WIDEN OUR MINDS as to what we:
(a) teach children and young people about the death of Christ and
(b) OPEN OUR MINDS to what we think they are capable of understanding.
This will allow children to enter into the rich metaphors for God's gift of grace and love woven throughout the pages of the Bible.
Here's a challenge - taking each of the views above, can you write down a simple one line explanation of what it means in words that a child can understand?
If you like, substitute the word "child" for EAL speaker (English as an Additional Language speaker) or "adult with limited educational attainment" or "new Christian who doesn't get christianese jargon yet".
* for more on the healing view (and Joel Green's excellent Kaleidoscopic approach), see The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views, Edited by James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy (2008)