Molech, Moses and Mercy

Before God gave Israel the sacrificial system, he invited them to be a kingdom of priests.

From the moment man left the garden of Eden, after the fear of God had entered man’s soul, he began to offer sacrifices to God. The practice exploded so that ritualistic offering of sacrifices eventually dominated pagan culture. Egypt had a highly sophisticated, well-established sacrificial system with elaborate temples and extensive public rituals. The Ancient Near East cultures worshiped Molech, sacrificing their children in the process. It was common in ancient pagan culture to believe that by sacrificing their firstborn they would ensure further fertility. Continue reading “Molech, Moses and Mercy”

Price, Payment and the Transactional Trap

Was Jesus’ self-sacrifice a payment?

The concept of price has many connotations, but it is not always related to a payment.

For example, when a soldier pays “the ultimate price” we do not make the illogical leap that somehow his life was a payment to someone. Actions have consequences, and we often refer to a negative consequence as “the price that has to be paid” e.g. if you decide to have offspring, then you will need to nurture and care for them for at least 18 years. That is the “price you pay” for having children. But there is no transaction, no payment to anyone.

So when something (freedom, peace etc) has been “bought at a price” it does not mean literally that some type of exchange or transaction took place. Continue reading “Price, Payment and the Transactional Trap”

How is Christ a sacrificial lamb?

Now that we are re-thinking the sacrificial system and how it pertains to Jesus’s sacrifice, many questions arise. Here a Presbyterian asks a key question over on PTM’s website, and Brad Jersak provides a clear and really helpful response…

Understanding Sacrifice

Where there is love, there is sacrifice.

Just two highlights from a fascinating article on Jewish sacrifice:

“…some people thought of sacrifices as a kind of bribe: if we make a generous enough gift to God then He may overlook our crimes and misdemeanours”… “This is an idea radically incompatible with Judaism.”

“In other faiths the driving motive behind sacrifice was fear: fear of the anger and power of the gods. In Judaism it was love.

We see this in the Hebrew word for sacrifice itself: the noun korban, and the verb lehakriv, which mean, “to come, or bring close”. The name of God invariably used in connection with the sacrifices is Hashem, God in his aspect of love and compassion, never Elokim, God as justice and distance. ”

What proponents of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) Theory need to address

References to Christ as a sin offering, a ransom, an atoning sacrifice, a passover lamb prove nothing about wrath or punishment

Proof Texts Unchecked

The arguments for PSA rely heavily on the same set of Bible verses. What is clear is that most of these are generic and common to all atonement theories. References to Christ as a sin offering, a ransom, an atoning sacrifice, a passover lamb prove nothing about wrath or punishment. These verses are also embraced within Ransom theory, Recapitulation, Scapegoat theory etc.  Yet, despite their commonality across Atonement Theories, they are constantly traipsed out and used in defence of PSA. That Christ was pierced for our transgressions is universally acknowledged by all atonement theories, and so to bring it into the argument for PSA is surely an act of wilful misleading. Continue reading “What proponents of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) Theory need to address”