Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Leave it to Wikipedia. I actually saw the best description on the meaning of Lent there. But I do take issue with some bits of it. While discussing the reason some denominations fast during Lent, they point out that "This sacrifice is referred to by Christians variously as a substitutionary death, a redemptive death, and a death which satisfied the perfect justice of God, who actually provided the means for that satisfaction by sending Jesus to die in the place of humanity."

That's a pair of powerful phrases, "Substitutionary death" and "Redemptive death." Where I struggle is in what those phrases actually mean. I have always been afraid of how that was defined in the church where I grew up because it was a variant of what the Wiki page had...there was some reason God had to be "satisfied" for the sins of humans. This has always seemed more like the end result of a lynch mob to me than a theological principle. I can remember thinking as a child, "I don't want to worship a God who gets so bent out of shape he kills his own son, even if it is to save humanity." This had too many parallels to child abuse to suit me. God was this demanding guy who wants satisfaction.

I tend to prefer what Julian of Norwich had to say about the matter:

...On the cross God absorbs into himself our falleness and its consequences and offers us a new relationship. God shows he knows what it's like to be the loser; God hurts and weeps and bleeds and dies. It's a mystery we can hardly glimpse, let alone grasp; and if there is an answer to the problem of suffering, perhaps it's one for the heart, not the reason. Because the answer God's given is simply himself; to show that, so far from inflicting suffering as a punishment, he bears our griefs and shares our sorrow. From Good Friday on, God is no longer "God up there", inscrutably allotting rewards and retributions. On the Cross, even more than in the crib, he is Immanuel, God down here, God with us...

He absorbs into himself our fallenness. In other words, God does not demand his tribute, does not exact a price, does not engage in a prisoner exchange. In other words, the redemptive death is not an unpaid debt on our part. The sacrifice of the Lenten season is not penal, but regenerative. Good way to look at it!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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