Monday, 30 July 2012

Atonement & all it means (part one)

I've had to define and document my core views on the doctrines of the Christian faith as part of my registration for Queensland Baptists. This has had me thinking about these issues that are the very core of our faith. So I plan on writing a few posts over the coming days/weeks which look at this central issue of 'atonement' and then the reverberating effects it has on what we believe and how we live.  Erickson in "Christian Theology" highlights the importance of gaining an understanding of the atonement.
In the atonement, we come to a crucial point of Christian faith, because it is the point of transition, as it were, from the objective to the subjective aspects of Christian theology.  Here we shift our focus from the nature of Christ to his active work on our behalf; here systematic theology has direct application to our lives. The atonement has made our salvation possible... In the doctrine of the atonement we see perhaps the clearest indication of the organic character of theology, that is, we see the various doctrines fit together in a cohesive fashion. The position taken on any one of them affects or contributes to the construction of the others.  Here the doctrines of God, humanity, sin and the person of Christ come together to define the human need and provision that had to be made for that need.  And from our understanding of these other doctrines issues our understanding of the various facets of salvation: our being given a righteous standing in God's sight (justification); the instilling of spiritual vitality and direction into our lives (regeneration); the development of godliness (sanctification)...
So this is just an introduction into the idea of the topic.  I hope to break it down a bit more over a series of posts.  Simply put the term 'atonement' refers to Jesus paying the price for our wrong doings. His actions on the cross we atoning because he substituted himself into a punishment we deserved and could not avoid.

The importance of all this in a theological sense is that we need to take what is objective about God (the things we can't change no matter what we believe) and then through Jesus' actions apply them to the subjective theological ideas that impact our lives.  Hopefully these posts will help us understand the importance of what Jesus did, but also show us how it continues to effect the way we live each day.

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