Lent 2016 - Aspects of Love, Five Glimpses of the Cross, understanding the significance of the death of Christ, Mondays in Lent at Broad Street Methodist church, PE11 1TB, 7:30pm; all welcome.
A downloadable poster remains available at the foot of this page; click on the small blue arrow. While there were no recordings of this year's talks, Steve Weatherly-Barton supplied these summaries.
Monday 14 March: The Cross as Triumph; 'The winner takes it all' (Abba)
David Curran introduced the evening with a reading, prayer and the hymn 'How marvelous'
Steve Weatherly-Barton introduced Jan Whitbourn and Callum Pepper who spoke of the work of Tulip Radio in the community.
Annie Weatherly Barton reprised Da Vinci & William Blake and drew us in to Da Vinci's last supper, saying how art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
This week takes us to Sweden, not to join Abba in ‘The winner takes it all’, but to celebrate a remarkable man who for many years was Bishop of Strängnäs.
Gustaf Aulen wrote a very influential book called ‘Christus Victor - an historical study of the three main types of the Atonement.
Aulen thought that the earliest Christian view of the Atonement - the ‘Ransom Theory’ - was not to be discounted.
The theory had lost favour because of crude explanations of Christ actually paying a ransom price to Satan.
The ‘Scholastic’ view suggested that the death of Christ was an offering to God.
The ‘Idealistic’ view saw his death as a demonstration of the sacrificial love of God.
The ‘Classic’ view - the death of Christ as a ransom - needed to be re-visited.
Aulen argued that when Jesus spoke of it he was depicting his death as a drama - the dramatic story of a rescue mission in which God triumphed over the powers of darkness and rescued mankind from sin and death.
This view is clearly supported in Hebrews 2: 14-15, and in Colossians 2: 13-15.
Through his death Christ offers mankind liberation
From evil powers
From sin and death
“In the raising and exaltation of Christ, God has chosen the one whom the moral and political powers of this world rejected – the poor, humiliated, suffering and forsaken Christ. God identified himself with him and made him Lord of the new world ….. The God who creates justice for those who suffer violence, the God who exalts the humiliated and executed Christ – that is the God of hope for the new world of righteousness and justice and peace.” (Jürgen Moltmann).
There is no ‘official’ view of the atonement. We have looked at a great mountain that seems different from every angle. But every angle shows an Aspect of Love.
Music this evening included 'For the beauty of the earth' and 'Glorious day' by Casting Crowns (YouTube)
Monday 7 March: The Cross where Jesus died for me; 'In my place' (Coldplay)
Dee Moden introduced the fourth lecture in the series with the hymn 'Beneath the cross of Jesus'
Steve Weatherly-Barton welcomed Kevin Pallister who outlined how he worked his faith in the workplace. Steve offers this summary:
1 'In Christ alone' - some have questioned the words: '... on the cross when Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied'
2 The Reformers saw God not so much as an offended King, but rather as a Judge maintaining justice.
3 The death of Christ was therefore presented not as payment of a ransom but as the bearing of a penalty.
4 So Philip Bliss in another great hymn wrote ... 'Bearing shame and scoffing rude in my place condemned he stood.'
5 Frances Ridley Havergal - 'out of pity Jesus said he'd bear the punishment instead'.
6 But this understanding of the cross has been described as 'repulsive'. Steve Chalke and others used the phrase 'cosmic child abuse'.
7 Clearly the secularism of modern culture has been quick to question Christian dogma.
8 But there is also a healthy willingness by the Church to examine itself. Can we still believe and preach that Christ died 'in my place’?
9 We look at Jesus to see what God is like (John 14:9).
Jesus spoke of judgment - (Matthew 12:36)
Jesus displayed wrath - righteous anger - (Matthew 23:15)
10 In his cry of desolation on the cross he revealed the full horror of separation from God - Matthew 27:36
11 The weakness of some presentations of ‘substitution’ is that they suggest a merciful Jesus trying to withstand and placate the wrath of God
12 Paul makes it clear there is no tension here. God was in Christ - and so God in Christ hung in my place - 2 Corinthians 5:21
Were you there when they crucified my Lord (YouTube) by the Annie Moses band was reprised
Monday 29 February: The Cross as a Debt paid to God; 'Satisfaction' (The Rolling Stones)
The third lecture was introduced by Rev Robert Sheard with the opening hymn 'When I survey' and Matthew 18.21-35 from The Message.
Steve Weatherly-Barton introduced his wife Annie and their dog Clint; Annie drew on pictures by
Masaccio, Leonardo da Vinci and William Blake.
Our speaker provided this summary:
The last hymn written by Philip Bliss before his tragic death includes in its refrain ‘Paid the debt and set me free’. The same idea occurs in ‘Lord I lift your name on high.’
Yet no references in Scripture to Christ paying our debt. So where did this come from.
The nearest biblical reference is that of Ransom (only one reference in gospels but a crucial one). We have already considered the teaching of:-
Irenaeus etc. ‘Christ died to pay a debt to the Devil’.
Ambrose of Canterbury - (more a philosopher than biblical scholar) - ‘The debt was paid to God’.
Peter Abelard disputed this, but the ‘Ransom paid to God’ theory prevailed. It was clearly influenced by the Feudal System in society - ‘Do not dare to offend the King’.
This became the prevailing view in the Roman Catholic Church. Christ obeyed God so perfectly that there remains a ‘credit’ of obedience that we can draw on.
The Reformation however stressed the concept of Christ’s death satisfying the justice of God.
But the concept of debt is central to Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness.
Lord's Prayer (Luke’s version - ‘We forgive our debtors’)
Luke 7: 36-50 (Jesus anointed by a ‘sinful woman’).
Matthew 18: 21-35 (The unmerciful servant)
Is there a problem here? - God forgives … but still demands payment?
The answer to that problem is rooted in The Trinity. The debt is not paid by a ‘Third Party’. It is paid by God himself. The Bank Manager has paid off your overdraft!
The Franciscan monk John Michael Talbot's song 'Pleiades and Orion' was played
Monday 22 February: The Cross as our Example; 'All you need is love' (The Beatles)
The second in this year's series was introduced by Pat Gooding with the opening song 'In Christ alone'; Steve Weatherly-Barton interviewed Richard Uglow and played Bach's St Matthew Passion (YouTube), with counter tenor Andreas Scholl. Steve Weatherly-Barton offered this summary:
never defined an ‘official’ view of the Atonement. Earliest view was that of a Ransom.
Monday 15 February: The Cross as Ransom; 'If you love somebody, set them free' (Sting)
The evening was introduced by Rev Alan Barker; our speaker, Steve Weatherly-Barton, summarised:
1. General introduction. Note that the Song Title’ subheadings are a clue to the content, but not to be taken too seriously!
2. Theme. Aspects of love. Pictures of Mt. Suilven in Scotland demonstrate how different the same mountain can look from different angles. So it is with the Cross of Christ.
The Church has never defined an ‘official’ interpretation or stance..
3. Mark 10:45 - this verse dominated early thinking about the death of Christ. A ransom.
4. But a ransom to whom? Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd Century) saw it as a ransom paid to Satan for the release of his prisoners.
5. Anselm of Canterbury (about 1100 AD) argued that this view gave too much power to Satan. Sin is an affront to God's honour. Man cannot satisfy that honour. The ransom is paid to God. Later this developed into the concept of penal substitution, whereby God’s justice was satisfied.
6. These men did not fully understand the Jewish background to Jesus’ words. In the Old Testament the concept of Redemption was a part of everyday life. It was not always clear that the payment was a ransom price - though we shall return to this idea later in Lent. God was the Redeemer of his people. See Deuteronomy 7:8. Isaiah 63:9.
7. The last of Isaiah’s ‘Servant Songs’ (Isaiah 52:13 into 53) brings together the concepts of self-offering, service, intercession. Mark 10:45 must be read with the verses that precede it - Jesus’ teaching about service. Paul covers the same ground in Philippians 2: 1-11
The music included:Were you there when they crucified my Lord (YouTube) by the Annie Moses band