[F]or Paul, salvation does not primarily mean the end of past disaster and the forgiving cancellation of former guilt. It is . . . freedom from the power of sin, death and the divine wrath; that is to say, it is the possibility of new life. –Ernst Kasemann
Preachers get paid the big bucks to think on such things as did Jesus have to die on the cross? If so, why? What happened with his death? How do we put that in words?
With that comes my own discomfort on the emphasis of atonement and words like justification and redemption. Too often, these concepts (that Jesus ‘had to’ suffer the cross in order for humanity to be restored, redeemed, reclaimed, reconnected, reconciled [notice all the ‘re-’s?] to/with/for God) echo in my own mind with the sharp feminist critiques of thinking that such views somehow require God to turn to murder (if not Jesus, then it would have to be us) in order for everything to work out right.
This thinking makes (for me) the most fervent prayer: Thank You, Lord, for not killing me.
Is that really the prayer God desires? It seems small enough thanks to offer – the cringing plea of the undeserving supplicant grateful to be spared what she surely had coming.
Somehow this line of reasoning seems to me to combine in an artificial way The Fall (original sin) and Jesus as the curative restorative that reduces the thing ‘saved (humanity) to a thing pitiable beyond recognition.
I am a grateful woman and offer regular thanks . . . for the beauty of the world and all within it . . . for the many graces I have experienced in a lifetime on this planet . . . for the very gift of life itself . . . for each new marvel of ingenuity . . . for children and laughter and good food and quiet times and playing bridge and big thoughts and night-sky wonders and . . . and . . . and . . .
But I find that I am never grateful that God didn’t kill me as I so richly (according to some) deserve . . .
Perhaps that makes me a bad Christian.
But it also makes me, perhaps coincidentally, a thankful one.