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penal substitutionary atonement

A reader writes:

I've been a fan of yours for several years now since hearing you at the Greenbelt festival in the UK. I'm so glad the vision for an equivalent festival in the USA has materialised.

It seems a "biggie" that has come up quite a lot recently on your blog is the old chestnut (hot potato?!) of penal substitutionary atonement. I've never really had to struggle with this coming as I do from a relatively liberal Christian background, but I have tried to understand where this particular view of the work of Christ comes from.

I've recently become interested in the work being down on Temple Theology by Margaret Barker (heard her at Greenbelt too). I don't know if you've come across her and her work? Her work relating the work of Christ on the cross to the true meaning of the ancient Day of Atonement rite has been really important for me. It's drawn on very heavily in this article by another theologian I find fascinating, James Allison (you guessed it, ANOTHER Greenbelt speaker!):

http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng11.html

His take on the substitutionary element of the Atonement is that God substitutes himself for the victims of OUR sacrifices thus exhibiting them for what they really are: ritualised murder.

I don't know if you'd have time to read James Allison's article, but as I say it's been incredibly important to me in opening up a new window on the cross. The rest of his stuff is very good as well, especially a Catholic reading of Romans 1...

Greatly looking forward to your next book. I thought your earlier book on spirituality was one of your best, so I can't wait!

Thanks so much for this link. What a beautiful and meaningful article by James Allison. That simple distinction between theory and liturgy is wonderful.

I'm really thrilled about the Wild Goose Festival - bringing the tradition of the Greenbelt Festival to this side of the pond. It looks like I'll be at both this year - I hope to see lots of friends in the US and the UK in June and August.