Metacrock's Liberal Atonement Theory

Over at Metacrock's Blog Joe takes evangelical atonement theories to task and then offers his own, called Participatory Atonement. According to him "Christ died in Solidarity with victims." I both "love" and "hate" liberal theologies. I love them because they argue with me against evangelical Christianity. I hate them because they are used to maintain a faith that doesn't make a difference and cannot be rationally defended as being specifically Christian. Here's my response to his atonement theory....

Your answer is cherry-picking and choosing from the Bible, it doesn't sufficiently answer the question why Jesus suffered, nor does it answer the problem of evil, nor does it answer the problems of the incarnation and the trinity.

The best way for God to show his solidarity with victims is to do for them what he commands YOU to do, and that is to help them out of their misery rather than to suffer with them. If I chose to go to jail with you in order to participate in your sufferings, for instance, then how does that help you? It might make you feel better about your sufferings, but it should instead make you question my sanity. Can you actually imagine my helping any victims in tangible ways by suffering with them, especially if, like God, I had the power to allieviate their suffering and didn't?

If like Process Theologians your God doesn't have that kind of power, then neither does he have the power to help victims by suffering with them. Why should victims care for God if all he can do is to suffer with them? He's impotent. Besides, he got us into this mess in the first place by selfishly creating us for his own pleasure with our evil tendencies. What good does it show you that God loves you if he cannot do anything for you except to suffer with you? Big deal, I would say. Do something about our suffering and then I'll be impressed, and then I'll care, and then I'll think God knows what he's doing.

It's obvious to me Joe, that you're working from within a given Christian tradition that if you weren't already inside of it, you wouldn't come to accept it in the first place. This is so obvious to me. You initially became a Christian because you thought otherwise of the atonement, but with further study you rejected that initial evangelical atonement view, for good reasons. But rather than rejecting your faith, you try desperately to hang on to it by replacing it with something you never would've accepted in the first place.

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