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A reader writes … challenged and angered

A reader writes:

I am reading through your book Generous Orthodoxy and as all good texts should it has challenged me in some places, angered me in others, and given me hope in yet others. If we ever have a chance to sit down over a cup of coffee I would be interested in discussing more about your views of ethnic cleansing in the OT since you argument in the book seems problematic to me. But that is for another time, if the opportunity presents itself.

Something more pressing to me personally is something I just read in your final chapter. I read the familiar words, Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (paraphrase). I have become very interested lately in exactly what others think that means. I was raised in a fundamentalist, charismatic, pentecostal non-denominational church (the only thing missing were the snakes) and was always taught that verse was related to the penal substitution view of the atonement. The law required blood, so it was taught, and Jesus fulfilled this blood debt in our stead. I cannot accept this view of atonement, and from what I gather you are not sympathetic to it either (please correct me if I am mischaracterizing your views). So, if it does not refer to penal substitution, what does 'fulfilling the law' mean? And how does 'fulfilling the law' free us from being under the law?

I know you are probably very busy, so if your answer is simply in the form of pointing me to an appropriate source, it would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks for writing …
On the biblical genocide issue, my thinking on that subject continued to develop after writing A Generous Orthodoxy. I am much more satisfied with my treatment of the issue of divine violence in A New Kind of Christianity and Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? You'll also find a more thorough treatment of the issue of atonement in those two later books. Again, after A Generous Orthodoxy, my thinking continued to develop - becoming, I hope, more generous and no less orthodox (in the best sense of the word).

On "fulfilling the law" - my upcoming book, We Make the Road by Walking, devotes a whole chapter to that issue. I think you'll find it helpful - that chapter was one of my favorite ones to write. But you'll have to wait until June of this year …. which will give you time to delve into the two books I just mentioned. Thanks again for writing.