Unpicking Atonement’s Knots

I remember sitting in my truck, in the parking lot of a Baptist church, reading James Alison’s "On Being Liked," specifically the essay, Unpicking Atonement’s Knots, when the whole penal substitution thing finally collapsed for me and I was set on a path of trying to understand atonement, not as substitution theory, not as satisfaction of a debt, not as appeasement, not even as God’s suicide on our behalf, but as a liturgical undergoing. That is, as God’s occupying the place of victim of our wrath, exposing not God’s, but our victimizing and sacrificial ways.

Now, more than a couple years later, I’m still somewhat off-balance and dizzy from the emancipation, and no doubt the emancipation of my understanding of a semi-peaceable God.

That chapter, Unpicking Atonement’s Knots, to answer a previous question, is a wonderful (and accessible) place to start in understanding God as non-sacrificial. And in seeing the ongoing organic, creative, and lively connection between atonement and Creation as opposed to a more static Creation, Fall, Redemption schema.

(I’ve also listed related books on another post)

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  1. Thanks Steve:
    I’m sorry I lost my mind and my memory (I score in the 11th percentile for short term memory).

    I will make a start on it.
    I’ll try to comment on the Allison essay when I have read it.

    When you first offered the syllabus I was unraveling some other things (so I skipped the details and forgot that a list had been offered. Sorry about that.)The nonsacrificial atonement question is rising to the top of my must think about agenda (that and trying to understand how we should proceed to redeem and reconcile the Church’s relationship with people of same sex orientation.

    So many knot to unravel, so few Boy Scouts.


  2. Thanks Steve for the car park event in your life. Mine is a plane trip with Hamerton-Kelly’s book on Mark in 1994.Working slowly with Girardian books including Alison the ride of life continues to be a joy .And thanks for the blog.


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