October 22, 2009

what we owe God...

I've been thinking a lot about atonement theories as we journey through the book of Hebrews in worship. 

Anselm's understanding of atonement says that we owe an infinite debt to God because we have marred God's honor.  Christ comes and pays that infiinite debt for us.  All fine and dandy. Thank you Jesus.

But in response, we often talk in the church about how much we owe Jesus for what he did for us.  We owe our entire lives in gratitude. 

Does that just replace one kind of infinite debt with another? 

I'm seeing that in Hebrews, there very much is more of an understanding of restoration of righteousness involved in the atonement.  The Hebraic understanding of atoning sacrifice is meant to restore God's righteousness, set things right again.  And because we screw up so many times, we have multiple needs to seek atonement.  It's not an infinite debt kind of thing, but a continual need for small re-alignments.  What makes Jesus so great, the High Priest, is that he can offer one sacrifice, himself, for all of us, for all time, for all of the multiple small and big sins and transgressions of our lives. The righteous order of the universe is cosmically shifted and balanced.

That's mostly how I understand it... but then there is the passage in chapter 6 that talks about how when we backslide, we crucify Christ yet again... so maybe I'm off on that insight.

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