Every Christian holiday is the same, but this one seems more “in my face”. I blame it on Facebook since I am certain that most of my friends wouldn’t physically walk up to me and say, “Hello, He is risen” . They also wouldn’t have the impulse to show me 27 pictures of their stinky infant with mashed potatoes on his face, but that’s Facebook for you.
This morning I wake up at 7:00 and roll over, grab my phone to check the actual time and, as I am in a habit of doing check my email (for work reasons) and then Facebook (for personal reasons). There it is… over and over again.
“He is risen”.
“1 Cross + 3 Nails = 4 Given”
“Thank you for redeeming me. I love you Jesus.”
It’s Easter Sunday I am reminded not so subtly. My Christian friends want to share how much Easter means to them as they celebrate this day. But do they even know what they are proclaiming outside the talking points of their religious expressions? Do they understand the many theories of atonement throughout history? Do they care?
I care. And so today, I pulled out my systematic theology books and begin wading through the theories of atonement. I am only partially through this process and it is very apparent thus far that you have many choices. The most prevalent current thought that most of my Christian friends seem to believe is the one I was raised with and is expressed in the thought: “Thank you for redeeming me”.
There are thousands and thousands of articles and books written on “atonement theory” and the veracity of these claims and the corresponding evidence for and against them. They are still discussed ad nauseam at seminaries, in books, religious journals and on blogs. None of them mean anything to average people. Maybe they should but they don’t.
For the average Christian who writes, “He is risen” on their Facebook wall, none of what has been written theologically matters one way or another. They believe in the risen Christ because they just feel it to be true. They’ve experienced the love of Jesus in their life and nothing could change their mind. “He is alive” they say.
For me, the fact that there is an ever-changing climate surrounding the theological theories of atonement is a problem for the Christian church. The 2,000 year old resurrection story is written for those who lived in superstitious times with superstitious minds. The ideas of slavery, redemption, justice and the costs involved are much more evolved now than they were then. Theologians are constantly updating the narrative much to the ignorance of those who prefer their version of theology to fit on refrigerator magnets or pithy Facebook status updates.
To most Christians, what matters is that “He is Risen”. However, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.