The Crucified God: The Death of Jesus

Whatever else we may say about our Christian faith, I think most of us would agree that at the very least, Jesus reveals the nature of God. When we see Jesus, we see and understand what God is like, who God is, and how God feels toward us. That’s what… Continue reading

The Death of Jesus: The Scapegoat for Everyone (Mark 15:21-39)

(Based on the writings of Debbie Blue and Rene Girard) The concept of scapegoat goes back to Leviticus 16 in the Hebrew Scriptures. Originally it referred to the goat upon which Aaron, the priest and brother of Moses, symbolically placed the sins of the people of Israel on the Day… Continue reading

The Death of Jesus: The Way of the Cross

Luke 9:23-25—Then Jesus said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who would want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save… Continue reading

The Death of Jesus: Christus Victor

In the previous article on atonement I told you that the Eastern Orthodox Church never interpreted the death of Jesus in Penal Substitutionary terms. I also wrote that for the first thousand years of the church, the Penal Substitutionary interpretation we are so familiar with today was not the message… Continue reading

The Death of Jesus: Penal Substitutionary Atonement

Since the very beginning of Christianity, the death of Jesus has been central to the Christian faith. No interpretation of that faith can avoid the significance of that event. Jesus’ death, however, for many centuries was never looked at or thought of in isolation. What came before and after his… Continue reading

Genesis 4:17-26 “The First Things” (The Boast of Lamech) Part 12

The Cain saga continues. The fugitive Cain now lives east of Eden and settles in the land of Nod. He marries a woman and she bears him a son he names Enoch. Cain then builds a city and names it after his son. Once again, we see that we are… Continue reading

Genesis 4:1-16 “The First Things” (Where is Your Brother?) Part 11

We now come to our third story in Genesis—the story of Cain and Abel. The origins of this story probably explain the violent competition for land between herders and farmers at the beginning of civilization. Farmers need land to cultivate. Sheep herders need land to graze their sheep. Historically, even… Continue reading

Genesis 3 “The First Things” (The Fall and Original Sin) Part 10

Many people throughout church history have believed that this chapter in the Bible is the decisive text for all the rest—that it states the premise for everything that follows. But as Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann points out, this is at best a marginal passage in Scripture. It is never… Continue reading

Genesis 3 “The First Things” (The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) Part 9

At the beginning of this sermon series I suggested that we could better understand and interpret the opening chapters of Genesis if we realized that these traditions are primarily stories—ancient stories which have profound wisdom to impart regarding God, humankind, and creation. They are not historical and scientific accounts of… Continue reading

Genesis 2:15-17 “The First Things” (East of Eden) Part 8

(based in large part on the exegesis of Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann) In an earlier sermon I shared with you the consensus of Old Testament scholars that these opening chapters of Genesis represent centuries of tradition. We now know that the final form of these chapters crystallized during the… Continue reading

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