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The Atonement, Academics, Apostiority, Apriority and Athanasius (Check)

And that’s only most of the big words starting with an A. Mark Baddeley, a former Moore college lecturer and now a theological lecturer at Queensland Theological College gave the main talks at Cite, on the atonement (or what God did to save us).

 

Author: 
Stuart Southwell, University of Newcastle
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And that’s only most of the big words starting with an A. Mark Baddeley, a former Moore college lecturer and now a theological lecturer at Queensland Theological College gave the main talks at Cite, on the atonement (or what God did to save us). The talks were specifically targeted at postgraduate students and staff; Mark assumed that the majority of us were in good bible teaching churches and had a decent understanding of the basics of Christianity. Consequently, rather than focusing on telling us what to think and why, he aimed more to provide us with a framework that would enable us to understand not only the typical evangelical view of the atonement, but also the different positions that others take and why. 

As a part of providing this framework to us, Mark explained how people come to their different theological positions. If a person holds one theological view, it will be affected by another that they hold and vice versa. Particularly critical for the atonement is a person’s understanding of humanity’s problem since the fall. If someone’s view of humanity’s problem is that God is angry and will judge us, then what they think of the atonement will align to fix this problem – probably that Jesus’s death means that God is no longer angry with us and will not judge us. If, however, someone thought that our problem was that we were in bondage to evil and/or demonic forces – then their view of the solution would probably involve Jesus defeating these forces and releasing us from their power. 

This information became particularly relevant as Mark outlined the main objections and potential alternatives to the typical evangelical view of penal substitutionary atonement. Mark clearly explained these different perspectives, but also provided the background as to why people take these varied stances. For example, if someone is uncomfortable with the idea of God being angry, they would probably lean towards another view of what Jesus did to save us (my personal experience supports this). One thing that Mark was clear on – and I agree with him – is that many of these alternatives are not incorrect – they are a part of what Jesus has done to save us – it is just that Jesus paying the penalty for our sins so that we can have forgiveness remains at the centre. Personally I found Mark’s talks very helpful. Not only do I feel like I comprehend the atonement better, but I also feel able to better understand the views of some of my friends. Some of them have quite different positions to me and I now feel like I will be able to further understand their position – including what leads them to hold it – and consequently engage them more effectively in discussion. If you didn’t come to Cite in 2014 I’d strongly encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity this year. Learning about God in this depth is something that you don’t get to do at many places outside of Bible College and while you can cheat the system and hear the talks here, you’ll enjoy them far more if you come along to the conference.

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