A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement

March 3, 2015 — Leave a comment

51-K0sC-AFL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A few weeks ago Books at a Glance published my review of Michael Gorman’s book on the atonement. I found it a stimulating book and he had some arguments to consider. Here is the thesis of the book.

Gorman proposes what he calls “a new-covenant model.” He argues it is broader because it incorporates the other models, yet also focuses on the ultimate purpose of the atonement, to create a new-covenant people.

The purpose of Jesus’ death was to effect, or give birth to, the new-covenant, the covenant of peace; that is, to create a new-covenant community of Spirit-filled disciples of Jesus who would fulfill the inseparable covenantal requirements of faithfulness to God and love for others through participation in the death of Jesus, expressed in such practices as faithful witness and suffering (cruciform faith), hospitality to the weak and servant-love for all (cruciform love), and peacemaking (cruciform hope).

And part of my conclusion.

Although Gorman may have not done justice to the arguments of the other models, his model does more clearly incorporate ethics, spirituality, ecclesiology, pneumatology, and missiology. Some might argue that such a big blanket thrown over the atonement covers precipices rather than revealing them.

The promises of the new-covenant in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah are internal transformation, forgiveness of sins, and return to the land. Ezekiel emphasizes the role of the Spirit in this, and Isaiah uniquely emphasizes the role of the suffering servant in establishing the covenant. Elements of soteriology, ecclesiology, and ethics are also all part of the new-covenant.

The question becomes whether in the new-covenant there also is an element which is foundational?

Patrick Schreiner

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I teach New Testament at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I am married with three children. This blog, against all wisdom, includes anything I am interested in. That includes movies, music, theology, culture, hermeneutics, the Gospels, and politics. Feel free to comment and let me know you are reading or that you have found something helpful. I reserve the right to delete unhelpful or rude comments. Many of these posts are simply things I find interesting and therefore I am not asserting I agree with everything I link to.

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