Atonement and Incarnation: An Essay in Universalism and by Vernon White

By Vernon White

During this e-book Vernon White units out to deal with the main issue of credibility that more and more has affected conventional claims made for the Atonement, and makes an attempt to provide an explanation for how the lifestyles, dying, and resurrection of Jesus Christ may have a common saving importance. the current paintings stands as whatever of a sequel to the author's prior booklet the autumn of a Sparrow, which tried to teach how God could be conceived as being universally and in particular energetic on the earth. during this examine, White concentrates at the saving nature of that task, and the coherence which he feels emerges if this can be grounded within the particularity of the Christ-event. In protecting the constitutive nature of Christ's position within the salvation of the area, with no hoping on Anselmian or penal substitutionary versions of atonement, White proposes an atonement version which can rehabilitate this kind of trust with no offending ethical and conceptual sensibilities. A assisting bankruptcy is equipped outlining the type of christology required to maintain this version, whereas the ultimate chapters of the ebook speak about the moral implications of the location followed.

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For while fully accepting there are difficulties in articulating models of particular actions constituting universal effects, there is also the danger that we are being manoeuvred into making the task harder than it need be. For a start, to claim that a particular action is constitutive of universal reconciliation need not imply it is the only significant place of action. It may rather be taken as that action which constitutes the possibility of all other actions of the agent concerned. More specifically, we are not required to offer a model of how a particular event changes God's attitude to all people; the point need only be to conceive that a particular action enables (makes effective) God's saving action to all.

Dramatic analogies make the point best: Macbeth's encounter with the witches, to take just one instance, broods over the whole play, affecting his relationship with every character and the meaning of every event of the plot. Nor is this a defence simply conjured up under recent pressures. From the beginning there have been hints that Christ may be present in situations where he is not immediately recognized as such. Hence the element of surprise in many Gospel parables. And it was as early as the second century that Justin Martyr developed the notion of the logos spetmatikos, expounding the Johannine claim that Christ is, in some sense, a 'light which enlightens every man'.

Of course this may not be a decisive objection, in the sense that we are not always entitled to what we may wish for. We may well have to put up with indirect access to an elusive God. But we should at least make this point sharp enough to counter inconsistency, and hold the non-constitutivists more rigorously to the logic of their own position. For it has to be said that some of those who are most cautious of admitting the constitutive presence and action of God in Christ are most confident in asserting the character of God revealed there; they proclaim his self-giving love and forgiveness, not as faint, elusive analogies, not as abstractions drawn from the likeness of God, but as if we do have epistemological access to some concrete, constitutive act of God.

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