What do we mean when we confess Jesus as “savior”? Should we take our central cues from Jesus’ own portrayal of salvation or from later Christian salvation theologies about Jesus?
My essay, “The Doctrine of Salvation”, argues for an approach that focuses more on the biblical story than doctrinal theology. When we do so, we see God’s mercy as the driving force in the establishment of the possibility of human salvation–not God’s impersonal holiness or justice that must be satisfied by a violent act of sacrifice.
Such a view of salvation undergirds the Christian ethical vocation of peacemaking and restorative justice. God seeks to make us whole so that we might be God’s agents for wholeness in the wider world.
This essay is the eighth in a series that examines core Christian doctrines, consistently asking what shape they should take if they are articulated in light of Jesus.
Many people, we could call them the “cultured despisers,” reject the Old Testament as a “bloody book.” Many others, probably more, affirm the Old Testament as a “bloody book” and all too often use that “bloodiness” as a justification for their own.
This article, “Mercy not retribution,” argues for a reading of the Old Testament that recognizes the centrality of God’s mercy in the story–and sees that mercy as the biblical basis for Jesus’ own peaceable message.
It was originally published in The Mennonite, September 6, 2005.
Revelation five is the most important chapter in the book. Here we face the big question of human life–how do we understand God to be working out God’s purposes? The vision of the scroll in the right hand of the “one on the throne” addresses this issue. How will the scroll (which contains the message of the resolution of history) be opened and its contents made manifest? First John fears no one can open the scroll. Then, he is told someone has been found–a great king, intimating a great warrior. But what he sees is the true reality: a lamb that was slain and now stands is the one with true power. This vision at the heart of Revelation, according to my sermon, “How Does God Win?,” makes clear that persevering love, not coercive firepower, reflects the deepest element of God’s power–and serves as our model.
If we take the life and teaching of Jesus as our starting point for the construction of our theological doctrines, the results will be quite a bit different than traditional doctrinal theology. This essay,The Doctrine of God, proposes that Jesus-as-starting-point leads to viewing God as merciful and engaged with human beings–in contrast to views of God as wrathful and “above the fray.”
This essay is the third in a series that examines core Christian doctrines, consistently asking what shape they should take if they are articulated in light of Jesus.
The Book of Revelation might seem an unlikely place to find a theology of justice that emphasizes mercy over retribution, but here’s an attempt to present a case that this indeed is what we find. This essay, “The Justice of God in the Book of Revelation,” is part of my book-in-progress, Pacifism with Justice: The Biblical and Theological Case.