Friday, February 16, 2007

Forde on Atonement - Conclusion

As I stated at the outset, I don’t think Forde necessarily denies vicarious satisfaction in toto. Rather he dismisses what might be considered the cruder forms of it - those forms that make God the primary obstacle to reconciliation, rather than us. Such thinking can turn God into a blood-thirsty God who demands his pound of flesh before he can show mercy. Such a view makes God out to be neither righteous nor merciful.

Forde concedes that certainly the work of Christ does satisfy God’s wrath. But he insists on placing this in a context that does not ignore the real problem - our wrath against God, and specifically our wrath against his mercy.

“There is indeed a sense in which we must say that Christ’s work is to “ satisfy” the divine wrath. But it is surely a mistake to say, to begin with, that Jesus was killed because God’s honor or justice or wrath was the obstacle to reconciliation which had first to be “ satisfied “ before mercy could be shown. Surely the truth is that Jesus was killed because he forgave sins and claimed either explicitly or implicitly to do it in the name of God, his Father. When we skip over the actual event to deal first with the problem of the divine justice or wrath, we miss the point that we are the obstacles to reconciliation, not God.”

Forde clearly does not deny that the death of Christ removes God’s wrath against us. He writes,

“As “God of wrath” he submits to death for us; he knows he must die for us. That is the only way he can be for us absolutely, unconditionally.”

At the same time, Forde does not deny the victory motif either. The cross absolutely marked the defeat of Satan, sin and death itself. Forde would not argue with this. He simply recommends that this victory be placed in a context that does not remove us from the scene. He says about this view:

“Surely the view must be deepened to say (at the very least) that the demonic powers operate through us, their quite willing lackeys.”

In the end, it seems to me that Forde does not discard any of the atonement theories entirely. They each display some aspect of what actually was accomplished at the cross. I think he is merely reminding us to be careful when we search for the necessity of the cross, especially if that search takes us away from the actual event itself, our personal involvement with it, and the unconditional love and mercy of God. ("For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son...")

2 comments:

Adam T. Arn said...

Good conclusion. Helps me understand Forde a little better. Maybe it would have helped if I had actually taken the time to read the article you were referencing.

Anonymous said...

Sola Scriptura?

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