Tuesday, October 26, 2021

10 Warning Signs That You Are Doing Well





10. You are using the word "No" when pressured to say "Yes." 

9. You are speaking soft words, instead of harsh words that come to mind.

8. You are following Jesus into situations where there is personal risk. (You are saying "Yes" to the call of Jesus.)

7. You are making right choices rather than utilitarian ones.

6. You have been going out of your way to be nice to people.

5. You are noticing God's active presence in circumstances that normally feel like a waste of time.

4. You are experiencing inner togetherness in the midst of outer chaos. 

3. You are having hard-to-describe positive sensations that transcend mere happiness. (Viz., "joy.")

2. You have been feeling compassion towards people who dislike you. (You are viewing people as persons, not as problems.)

1. You have been catching yourself humming worship songs to God.





***


My four books are:

Deconstructing Progressive Christianity   Larry Sparks interviews me about my book here. ( 34,000 views so far!)    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPBRf7skpvs&t=170s



Encounters With the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Giving Advice as a Form of Judgmentalism

Our kitchen

(I re-post this periodically.)

Unasked-for advice is usually received as criticism.

Imagine I come to you and say, "Did you know there are some really nice shirts on sale at Kohls today?" 


The thought comes to you: "He doesn't like my clothes." 

This "friendly advice" is received as a form of criticism and judgmentalism.

Often (but not entirely), people give unasked-for advice in an attempt to change people. If you want to advise someone because you see they are having a problem and you've got the answer, try asking their permission: "May I suggest something?" Or, I may ask you "What is a good restaurant to eat at?" Then, you give me your thoughts on this.

Or: "I advise you not to drive down Telegraph Road today. There's major construction going on." To which I say, "Thank you."

That's cool. But a lot of advice-giving is about control and manipulation. It produces anger and bitterness. Who likes a controlling person who is out to change them? 

Linda and I ask each other for lots of advice. We give each other permission to speak into our lives. When this happens, we don't feel criticized, because we don't criticize each other.

Sometimes, giving advice comes out of a person who is angry (frustrated, irritated). A person who advises you with a smile on their face may be upset with you. Not always. But this is common. 

On changing other people: you cannot do it. Period. You can force people to do something. You can threaten them, imprison them, and guilt-manipulate them. But the human heart, the human spirit, cannot be changed by other people. 


The human heart is influenced by other people. That's different. Many people have influenced me. One now comes to mind. 


He was in my church. I was privileged to be in a small group with him and his wife that met weekly. He was a great scholar, which I admired. He spoke when asked, and never advised when not asked. I found this intriguing because he was a psychologist, and psychologists (so I thought) were there to give advice. His character and demeanor, humility and Christ-in-him were compelling. So much so that, eventually, I sought him out to advise me about some things. Which he did, with wisdom and love.

Instead of advising others whether they ask for it or not, focus on connecting with Jesus, and allow Jesus to work on the stuff inside of you that he knows about and is able to change.


I need to be continually saved from my own self. You, "the other," cannot do this. You are not my Savior. But if you remain connected to Jesus and allow him to change your heart about things, the chances increase that God will use you to effect real heart-change in me.


The life goal is to know Christ, not advise others. God can use the brokenness effected in you to bring breakthrough to the people around you.


***
SEE ALSO:


Leading the Presence-Driven Church Online Seminar - This Wednesday

 

American Baptist Churches of Michigan is hosting me this Wednesday night. 7 PM. My seminar is on Leading the Presence-Driven Church. (My book is HERE.)

Anyone is invited. No registration needed. (Thank you ABC-MI!)

 


Is God the Designer of our Cognitive Faculties?

(Kelleys Island, Ohio)

Many of my posts are intended just for myself. My blog has become a way of cataloguing ideas which I can later reference or develop further. This post is one of them. But if you are interested in a deep read, check this out.

One of the books I am slow-cooking in is Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God: The Plantinga Project, by Jerry Walls and Trent Dougherty. This morning I am reading 
"The Argument from the Confluence of Proper Function and Reliability: Is God the Designer of our Cognitive Faculties? Evaluating Plantinga's Argument," by Alexander Arnold.

Alvin Plantinga is perhaps the greatest analytic philosopher alive today. If not the greatest, he's tied for #1. And, he is a Christian theist. I've long been interested in Plantinga's claim that, if non-theistic evolution is true, then we have no reason to trust our cognitive faculties, since evolution without God has nothing to do with truth. That is, the reliability of our cognitive functions is less likely on evolutionary naturalism.

The likelihood principle is this: given an event, and two competing explanations of that event, which explanation is more likely. So...

Where Pr abbreviates probability, R abbreviates reliability of our cognitive faculties, T abbreviates theism, and NTE abbreviates non-theistic evolutionism, here is argument (K) in likelihoodist terms: 

(K1) Pr R/T >>really small. (Premise)
(K2) Pr (R/NTE) = really small. (Premise)
(K3) Therefore, Pr (R/T) >> Pr (R/NTE). (From K1 & K2).
(K4) If Pr(R/T) >> Pr (R/NTE), then R favors T over NTE. (Law of Likelihood)
(K5) Therefore, R favors T over NTE.

While this may look similar to Bayesian reasoning, likelihoodism is different because it involves no speculation on prior probabilities.

Arnold writes:

"While (K5) is modest, if it’s correct, then (modulo some plausible assumptions connecting confirmation with rationality), it tells us M renders theism a bit more rational for us to believe than it does non-theistic evolutionary theory. That is an interesting claim, especially in light of the pronouncements of some atheists to the effect that theism has absolutely nothing going for it."

Arnold then goes on to examine the premises. If the premises are true, then the conclusions follow, since the argument is deductively valid. He examines difficulties he has with (K1).

Arnold concludes: "If (K2) is correct, then naturalism faces a serious problem independent of whether argument (K) succeeds."

Sunday, October 24, 2021

My New Book - Deconstructing Progressive Christianity

 


Progressive Christianity is a different kind of religion. I show this in my new book, which is now available in both paperback and for Kindle






Progressive Christianity is an ethos, a mind set, more than a movement. It is indebted to political progressivism and postmodern philosophy. It has a trajectory, which is secularism. In Deconstructing Progressive Christianity John Piippo explains this ethos, with its corresponding trajectory. He explains the differences between historic Christianity and progressive Christianity, and finds the latter to be a different kind of religion. In the process of deconstruction we see key missing elements, such as atonement theory, the resurrection of Christ, and non-natural realities. The idea of moral and spiritual human progress is seen as a myth, and progressive beliefs about love are examined. In this book you will come to better understand the progressive ethos as it relates to religion, and why progressive Christianity is best understood as distant from historic Christianity.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction: What Is Progressive Christianity?

2. The Roots of Progressive Christianity: Political Progressivism

3. The Roots of Progressive Christianity: Postmodernism

4. Are Beliefs Less Important than Behaviors?

5. At the Same Table, but Not on the Same Page

6. Can We Know Who God Is?

7. Can We Know Who Jesus Is?

8. Is the Atonement “Cosmic Child Abuse?”

9. Was Jesus Really Raised from the Dead?

10. What About the Supernatural?

11. The Battle for the Authority of the Bible

12. Marriage is Between and a Man and a Woman

13. The Myth of Progress

14. Love and Wrath

15. For Such a Time as This

NOTES AND RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY


Flourishing and Bearing Fruit in Old Age

In Detroit

I am seventy-two years old.

I've written Psalm 92:12-14 on a card. I placed it next to our downstairs computer.


The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age.

To bear fruit in old age. That is what I desire. I refuse to get so far away from the city of God that I no longer hear his voice.

A. W. Tozer writes:

"That is exactly what people in ruts find out about themselves. They discover that the passing of time tends to dull their religious feelings, and the signal that used to be quite clear is fading out." (Tozer, Rut, Rot, or Revival: The Problem of Change and Breaking Out of the Status Quo, Kindle Locations 392-394)

Not for me. It's time to flourish and bear more fruit.

Linda and I flourished from the beginning. We were caught up in the Jesus Movement. (See God's Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America.) If you flourished during the Jesus Movement, read this book.

That's the spiritual soil we thrived in. Today, decades later, our roots are deeply planted in the house of the Lord.

To flourish in the courts of the Lord. Life doesn't get better than that!

Friday, October 22, 2021

"Sin"

Chicago

Whatever happened to "sin?" 

I am told some churches rarely, if ever, talk about sin. Why not? Because people will be turned off by it.

Other churches talk about sin. I do. Of course! The entire biblical narrative, from Genesis to Revelation, will turn into one big smiley emoji if we eliminate sin from the story. The story will be lost in its entirety if sin is eliminated. Because then, there's no need for a Messiah, a Savior.

If you use the word “sin” in public some people will look at you like you are some kind of medieval religious crazy person. Like: "Jimmy sinned a few days ago." Say that and you'll get accused of being "judgmental."

I find all this ignorant, and troubling.

“Sin” is just a word. Which REFERS to something real

  •  “Sin” is a word that refers to behaviors and actions that create alienation and isolation.
  • “Sin” is a word that refers to choices and non-choices that cause emotions of anger and vengeance and sadness and bitterness and bring tears and loss and grief and cries for justice and so on and on and on…
  • If sin wasn’t about something very real and very dangerous and very alienating, half the movies that are made would not be made, and many of this world's tweets would be meaningless.
  • “Sin” is a big-time reality word. There are not a lot of things more real than the reality of “sin."
  • The English word “sin” is just an ancient word that refers to a reality that is still with us. And within us, if anyone should care to self-examine.
  • Everyone does it. Everyone has it. If you don't have it, then you can start throwing stones at the rest of us.
  • "Sin" is one biblical concept that is easily empirically verifiable.
G. K. Chesterton, in his book Orthodoxy, wrote:

Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin – a fact as practical of potatoes. Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. . . .

Sin is only meaningful if it has a reference point. The reality of sin evokes the question, "in reference to what?"

"Sin" falls short of something. Sin doesn't measure up. If there's no reference point, then moral outrage is absurd, and "sin" doesn't exist. Think about this.

Moral outrage is everywhere. Moral outrage is currently (but who cares) politically correct. Moral outrage makes no sense if sin (wrongdoing; evil; heinous acts; etc.) does not exist.

Everyone - me and you and you-know-who - has screwed up, and landed short of the Reference Point. (On atheism, there is no Reference Point. Philosopher James Spiegel states how difficult it is for the noetic framework of atheism to discuss evil. "The very notion of “evil” presupposes a standard for goodness which atheism cannot provide. Any notion of evil or, for that matter, how things ought to be, whether morally or in terms of natural events, must rely on some standard or ideal that transcends the physical world. Only some form of supernaturalism, such as theism, can supply this. So to the extent that atheists acknowledge the reality of evil, they depart from their own commitment to naturalism." (The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief)

We need to talk more about this, not less.

There always has been, and still is, a huge SIN PROBLEM in the world.

Churches should lead the way in this discussion.

And, BTW, "sin" and "death" were the enemies Jesus came to defeat. How foolish for churches not to let seekers in on this open secret.  

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Seven Commands of Jude

Image result for john piippo Linda
(Linda, at Lake Michigan)

In The Passion's introduction to the book of Jude there is a summary of the seven commands Jude gives at the end of his letter. They are,

(1) Keep building up your inner life on the foundation of faith. 

(2) Pray in the Holy Spirit. 

(3) Fasten your life to the love of God. 

(4) Receive more mercy from our Lord Jesus Christ. 

(5) Have compassion on the wavering. 

(6) Save the lost. 

(7) Hate any compromise that will stain your life. 

It’s when you live the truth of the gospel that you are sure to defend and contend for it most effectively.



***
My four books are:

Deconstructing Progressive Christianity.

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Encounters With the Holy Spirit (Co-edited with Janice Trigg)



Dealing with Anger: Some Resources

Image result for john piippo michigan
(Glasses - Glen Arbor, Michigan)

Here are some things I have written on dealing with anger.


How to Communicate When In Conflict


















Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Traveling Without a Map

(Kenya)

During the season of pandemic, people are having to make decisions they have never faced before. This goes for me, too. The truth is, I do not always know what I am doing and where we are going.

My verses for these days are Hebrews 11:8 - 10:

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.

Abraham traveled without a map. He went by faith. To live by faith is, in the act of faith, to go without a map.

I like how Thomas Merton puts this. He writes: "The real function of discipline is not to provide us with maps, but to sharpen our own sense of direction so that when we really get going we can travel without maps." (Contemplation in a World of Action, 108)

Our lives should look like the maps of the apostle Paul. Which means: Spirit-led, and thus unpredictable, and non-programmable. Ultimately, as we experience the mind of Christ, we become less map-dependent. We come to intuit when and where and how our Shepherd's voice is leading us.

***

Larry Sparks interviews me about my book here. (25,000 views so far!)    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPBRf7skpvs&t=170s

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Two New Books on Miracles

 


Two great scholars have written new books on the subject of miracles.

Craig Keener's book came out today. Miracles Today: The Supernatural Work of God in the Modern WorldThis new book summarizes Keener's basic argument but contains substantial new material, including new accounts of the miraculous. (For more, see Keener's massive and authoritative Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.) 

J. P. Moreland's new book comes out on November 16 - A Simple Guide to Experience Miracles: Instruction and Inspiration for Living Supernaturally in Christ

Authenticity Is Not a Necessary Good

 


Often, when I meet with someone I don’t know, I ask them the question “Who are you?” It’s interesting to see their responses.  

I’m not doing this as a game. I want to know who they are. I’m open to listening to however much they want to reveal about themselves.

Are they an “authentic” person? 

The word “authentic” comes from the Greek word “autos,” which means “self.” We use it in the old word “auto-mobile,” which means, literally, “self-driven.” “Authentic” connotes “real.” Are you authentic? Are you a real person?

This is neither good nor bad. 


In American culture "authentic" is a euphemism. The truth is, "authentic" carries no value apart from its context. Someone could be authentic when they say, "I just hate people." Or, "I am just being real - I am a rapist." Or, "The truth is, I would like to hurt you." That's who they are. Surely we don't praise them for their authenticity, right?

The core issues are what it means to be a person, and what does it mean to be good.  Someone who is authentically good is someone whose being has been shaped into goodness. Goodness comes out of them, since goodness has become their spiritual and emotional DNA. If we praise them, it is for their goodness, not their authenticity.

(For deep thinking about this see Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity.)

***

Larry Sparks interviews me about my book here. (23,000 views so far!)    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPBRf7skpvs&t=170s

 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Praying on the "Thank God Ledge"


(I'm re-posting this. It's from my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God. Linda and I saw "Free Solo" at the Imax in Ann Arbor. It's about Alex Honnold's rope-less climb of El Capitan. Amazing, and frightening!) 

Several years ago I watched a "60 Minutes" segment that fully engaged me. I dvr-ed it and showed it to several people. It was on rock climber Alex Honnold's "free solo" of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

Half Dome is a nearly vertical 2000-foot sheer granite wall. Alex climbs it... without the assistance of ropes or harness. It's just him, his hands, and his tennis shoes. It made me nervous watching him, even though I knew he survived. The shots of him clinging to the wall, with the trees and river a half mile below him, are astounding.

No one else in the world has done this. Perhaps no one else can. Alex's focus is amazing! One cannot help but think: one mistake and you are dead. No second chance. It's either perfection and completeness or total failure. This sport is unforgiving. To conquer Half Dome you have to be perfect.

Nine-tenths of the way up Half Dome there is a place climbers call "Thank God Ledge." This ledge is a 35-foot-long ramp that is anywhere from 5 to 12 inches wide. If a climber can get himself on this ledge he can jam his fingers into small cracks in the wall and "take a break." "Thank God Ledge" is a place of relief. It's a slim moment of mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Alex Honnold on
Thank God Ledge
Fortunately, when it comes to God, it's all about forgiveness, mercy, and grace. In Matthew 18 we read: "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."" (vv. 21-22) Which means: we just keep on forgiving other people when they fail and when they fall. Why? Because we have been forgiven. Of much. Paul writes, in Colossians 3:13: "Forgive as you have been forgiven."

Thank God that he is forgiving! His forgiveness is not narrow. God's love is wide. 

Back in the 70s I wrote a song called "How Many Times?" The words go: "How many times we all fall down, broken and bent by the wind. How many times His love comes down, lifts us up again." 

In the forgiveness of the Cross God has placed us on "Thank God Ledge." When we experience his forgiveness we are lifted up to this place of beauty and rest. It is a place of restoration and healing. When experienced and understood, it provokes praise. When we forgive others we invite them to join us in this place. Unforgiveness lets people fall to their destruction. Forgiveness rescues.

In the Cross of Christ you have been conquered by God.

There's plenty of room on Thank God Ledge. Pray there.

***
My new book is Deconstructing Progressive Christianity.

My book on prayer is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (May 2016)

My book on leadership is Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Books in some level of process are...

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Relationships (Co-writing with Linda)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Cognitive Limits of Personal Narratives

 


      (The River Raisin, in Monroe)


(These are some Wittgensteinian aphorisms on the limits of stories that I wrote during my praying time today. Perhaps to be further developed.)

Every person has a unique life story. If the goal is to understand a person, then we must listen to them as they tell their stories, or their sub-stories (stories within their life story). 

Uniqueness has nothing to do with truth. A story might be interesting, but "interesting" does not cause the listener to say, "Aha! That's so interesting. Therefore it is true."

The details of their story might not be accurate. For example, there may be exaggeration.

The hearer of the story must interpret it. (Unless the interpreter is a postmodernist, à la Jacques Derrida. According to Derrida, no one can interpret a text, at least in terms of authorial intention. Which means, Derrida expected no one to interpret his texts, thus proving his point, in a self-contradictory way.)

A story is something we listen to, for the sake of understanding.

A person's story is not something to be "affirmed." For example, if the person is a pedophile. If they applaud pedophilia, we can listen to their story (e.g., if we are a psychologist). We may discover how they came to affirm pedophilia. They may say "true" to this statement: Pedophilia is a moral good. But, hopefully, the psychologist does not affirm the statement Pedophilia is a moral good. That statement is false.

A story may be the bearer of truth, or the bearer of falsity. We may ask, "What is moral of the story?" But the expression of the moral of the story (in a statement) is extrinsic to the story itself.

Imagine I am sitting in your kitchen. It's just you and me. I pull out an assault rifle. While fondling its trigger, I share my story. Of how I grew to love shooting people with assault rifles. After hearing it, you are probably not going to reply with, "I affirm your story."

Stories, whether factive or fictive, can carry emotional weight and transformative power. Stories can move us, in certain ways. That may be good. But from all this emotion, this does not follow:

1) This story makes me emotional.

2) Therefore, I must affirm it as true.

The emotional weight of a story is not equivalent to the truth of its underlying moral point. A story may point us in a truth-bearing direction. Once that direction is identified, we dismount that horse to use reason (logic) to evaluate the truth or falsity of whatever moral point has been made.

Monday, October 11, 2021

In Praise of Singleness

(Circle of prayer)
(I'm re-posting this to keep it in play.)

There is nothing wrong with you if you are not married. There may be a lot right with you.

Some of our best friends are single. It's worth noting that Jesus, and the apostle Paul, were single. "Until the Reformation, most of the superstars of Christianity were single." (David Bennett, A War of Loves, p. 127)

When I became a Jesus-follower, God told me to lay off trying to hustle women, and take a full year away from dating. I did. 

That was a wonderful year for me. I began to find out about what Colossians 1:18 calls "the supremacy of Christ." Christ was my "head," I was part of his "body," the body of Christ, his "Church." (Col. 1:18 again)

I felt free from cultural pressure to date. My life-goal was no longer to find a "soul mate," because my soul was mated to Christ. The great quest was to find Christ, to be found in him. I was beginning to understand this. I was allowing God to change me in ways that would be good for any future relationship I might be in.

If you are not dating, or not married, give thanks to God. You have a Pauline opportunity (1 Corinthians 7:8) to draw so very close to the only One who purely loves your soul. Take advantage of this, and rejoice!

If you feel pressure to date and mate ask yourself, where does this come from? I have seen Christian parents who lay pressure on their children to date and get married. Too many times the child ends up marrying anyone, just to please, at least unconsciously, their mother and father. This pressure is not from God. It creates the idolatrous idea that marriage is life's greatest thing. It is not. Like any false god, this will let you down.

I've seen a lot of "Christian" marriages that are toxic, not because of "irreconcilable differences" or "incompatibility," but because of spiritual and emotional immaturity. These marriages are particularly hellish because both partners are Christians. If you are not in a marriage like this, give thanks. You have been spared from a dark existence. And, be thankful if you are not making babies with an adult baby.

Simply because a husband and wife are Christians does not guarantee their marriage will be wonderful. There is a ton of ongoing marital work to be done, and this never ends. Few people count the cost of marriage, and end up paying in ways they never imagined.

I don't want to minimize loneliness. I do want to inform you that there are plenty of lonely people in their marriages. 

There's nothing wrong in desiring and praying for a life partner. There is something wrong with the idea that life will never be flourishing without one. Imagine how Christ feels about that! David Bennett writes:

"Jesus was an unmarried, childless man in a Jewish society of family values, and a celibate in a Roman society of sexual liberation that mocked singleness. In a world of two-sided sexual obsession, Jesus invited others into pure intimacy, modeled loving friendship, and lived in life-giving singleness." (A War of Loves, p. 129) 

(What if you are in a marriage that is troubled? See my post - How to Save Your Failing Marriage.)

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Cross Was God's Idea

                                                                (Tree, on Lake Erie.)


My new book, Deconstructing Progressive Christianity, was published last week. In it I show how the progressive and postmodern metanarratives undergird the heterodox teachings in progressive Christianity. One of those teachings is the claim that any god who would send their child to suffer and die a brutal death on a cross is not worthy of worship, and is "a cosmic child abuser" (This is a favorite progressive phrase.)

The ethos of progressive Christianity is scandalized by the idea that God the Father is behind sending Jesus the Son to the cross to bear and atone for our sins. William Paul Young (of "The Shack") writes, in his book Lies We Believe About God, that one of those lies is that the cross was God's idea.

Here's Young. “Who originated the Cross? If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser, who in Divine Wisdom created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner… Better no god at all, than this one.” (P. 149) 

God? A cosmic abuser? God, not behind the cross of Christ? 

William Lane Craig (and MANY New Testament scholars) demolishes this idea in his book The Atonement. Listen close to just a few quotes from Craig.

"NT scholar William Farmer concludes, “This evidence indicates that there is an Isaianic soteriology deeply embedded in the New Testament which finds its normative form and substance in Isaiah 53” (Farmer 1998, p. 267; cf. Bailey 1998 and Watts 1998). 

What is remarkable, even startling, about the Servant of Isaiah 53 is that he suffers substitutionally for the sins of others. Some scholars have denied this, claiming that the Servant merely shares in the punitive suffering of the Jewish exiles. But such an interpretation does not make as good sense of the shock expressed at what Yahweh has done in afflicting His Servant (Is 52.14–53.1,10) and is less plausible in light of the strong contrasts, reinforced by the Hebrew pronouns, drawn between the Servant and the persons speaking in the first-person plural: 

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; 

yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, 

and with his stripes we are healed. 

All we like sheep have gone astray; 

we have turned every one to his own way; 

and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Is 53.4–6) ​

We may compare the Lord’s symbolically laying the punishment of Israel and Judah upon the prophet Ezekiel, so that he could be said to “bear their punishment” (Ezek 4.4–6). Here, in Isaiah 53, the Servant’s bearing the punishment for Israel’s sins is, however, not symbolic but real." (Pp. 17-18; emphasis mine)


See my chapter "Is the Atonement "Cosmic Child Abuse?" in Deconstructing Progressive Christianity.

See also William Lane Craig's monumental Atonement and the Death of Christ: An Exegetical, Historical, and Philosophical Exploration.

And, see The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views. Here are two quotes from the excellent introduction by Paul Eddy and James Beilby.

"This book is concerned with the complexities of the Christian view of the atonement— that is, the saving work of Jesus Christ. Broadly speaking, the term atonement— one of the few theological terms that is “wholly and indigenously English”— refers to a reconciled state of “at-one-ness” “at-one-ness” between parties that were formerly alienated in some manner. According to the great eighteenth-century evangelist John Wesley, “Nothing in the Christian system is of greater consequence than the doctrine of the atonement.”"

(Note: sin separates. Yet another "lie" that folks like me believe, according to Young, is that sin separates us from God.)

"The four views offered are (1) the Christus Victor view, presented by Gregory Boyd; (2) the penal substitution view, presented by Thomas Schreiner; (3) the healing view, presented by Bruce Reichenbach; and (4) a kaleidoscopic view, presented by Joel Green."

(None of the contributors deny that sin separates us from God, and that atonement was God's idea.)