A Community Called Atonement and the Counter-Cosmic Gospel of Jesus Christ

Finishing up Scot McKnight’s latest book, A Community Called Atonement.  Highly recommend it.  Gives some excellent language and images faithful to the way the church has talked about the significance of Jesus’s saving work on the cross, the atonement.  I especially  appreciate the analogy of golf clubs and strings on a violin as a helpful way to imagine how the various theories of atonement could possibly work together to express God’s redemptive work in the world and our participation in that work. 


1.  The atonement is much more than about what God has done for us.  It is also about what God is doing through us “in Christ”.   The community of Jeus is called to radical subversive participation in God’s redemptive work in the world.

2. The over-emphasis by Christians on the judicial and legal decree of being righteous needs to be ‘deconstructed’ in the church.  The atonement oftentimes seems to be a simple and narrow transfer or conferring of a proper legal status upon the believer because of Jesus’ sacrificial death.  There is little talk about ‘participation’ in the justice or righteousness imputed.  There is the conversation about ‘sanctification’ or being made holy by God’s Spirit but this oftentimes gets reduced to personal piety.  McKnight’s book reminds us that participation in God’s right-making or justice-making in the world includes the self’s relations to God, the world, and others. 

When I read rich texts like this one it normally leads to other ideas.  Like this one:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not just counter-cultural.  It is also counter-cosmic.  Counter-cosmic in the sense that the gospel calls us to living in God’s world in a way that counters the fallen theological, political, social, and economic ornamentation and configurations we exist in daily.    


7 thoughts on “A Community Called Atonement and the Counter-Cosmic Gospel of Jesus Christ

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  1. Hey Ant, I love it, but …

    Can you unpack this idea of “cosmos” a bit more? Where are you finding this in Scripture? etc.

    Evangelicals tend to talk about the “world system.” Is that what you’re talking about?

    Help a brother understand 😉

    Thanks, man!

  2. Good to see you back in the pulpit, as it were. And for reminding us that theology is praxis. In light of the previous questions about discussing “cosmos” more fully, any particular significance to “ornamentation” and “configuration”? I like them.

    Paul of course talks about powers and principalities in cosmic terms; Chuck D offers another powerful configuration of similar ideas with “fight the power(s).”

  3. Did somebody just reference Chuck D in a theology discussion? 😀 Lovin’ it.

    My wife used McKnight for her senior honors project on reading the Creeds in terms of orthopraxy, rather than just orthodoxy. I really enjoyed the project, so it seems like McKnight’s someone who’s being helpful (I’ve never read him).

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