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Atonement Debate

I found Thomas Baldwin’s piece on Alastair McIntosh interesting, particularly Mr McIntosh’s wrestlings with the Atonement theory (February issue).

He’s not alone in that, and it put me in mind of a little book called Testament of Faith written towards the close of his life by William Barclay, Church of Scotland minister at Renfrew and later Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at Glasgow University.

It was Professor Barclay’s view that the Kirk, and indeed the Christian church as a whole, had hugely misunderstood the nature of God, and nowhere was that more apparent to him than in the church’s take on the Atonement.

Professor Barclay believed that Jesus didn’t come to change God’s attitude to men but to demonstrate God’s attitude to men. In short, for Professor Barclay, neither God nor Jesus were as the Christian church made them out to be.

He consequently rejected any notion of the wrath of God being unleashed on Jesus or of God obtaining satisfaction through his death, and he likewise rejected all belief in bloody sacrifice and penal substitution. Instead he held to an eternally loving God who wanted mercy, not sacrifice, a God who so loved the world that he sent Jesus to make that love fully known.

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About Life and Work

Inside this month’s issue we have an unexpected Easter Feast, Jolyon Mitchell considers the impact and influence of art in telling the story of Emmaus and opening eyes. Tim Porter highlights the work of the Halo Trust, a charity involved in a key project to improve access to the site of Jesus' baptism.
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