Imaginations fit for the larrikin Jesus

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:


“Jesus was the most active resister know perhaps to history. His was nonviolence par excellence.”

-Gandhi -Vol.84, June 26, 1946

I too hold that Jesus is not less than, as Gandhi put it elsewhere, “the greatest practitioner of nonviolence in history.” And while we could whine and moan in long self righteous diatribes about the extent of the distortion of Christianity today that often merely provides a ‘spirituality’ to accompany the satanic destruction of God’s good creation and the oppression of the poorest of poor all in nice sanitised suburban packaging that has somehow separated the nonviolent ‘Way of Jesus’ from ‘Jesus being the Way’ making a mockery of the cross with it’s pro-power, pro-war, pro-greed stance, …that’s a little to easy 😉 and all gets a bit tiresome.

So instead like to suggest some Australians who might also seem odd at first when considering people to help us gain an imagination for one aspect of Jesus’ controversial and crucifixion inducing nonviolence that is often overlooked. His provocative, disarming, larrikin-like humour. I want to make the case that nonviolence, Jesus’ nonviolence that Gandhi considered “par excellence”, is what we were created for, as St. Irenaeus put it “The glory of God is a human fully alive” and to be fully alive is to be creative, fun and often funny! In considering this God given creativity to reflect the “disarm[ing of the] the powers and authorities, making a spectacle of them” APEC comes to mind and the actions of… The Chaser boys!

Chaser lads as Osama at APEC

For those that missed it here’s a link to the BBC’s coverage on youtube (click here) 

In all honesty sometimes I hear nonviolence, (or love, or justice) being talked about… and it’s so bloody boring!  Asked to think of creative ways to get back at our enemies our imaginations run wild yet invited to imagine blessing our enemies in transformative ways that speak truth to power and we often go blank.

We’ve been sold the lie that loving our enemies is just for saints or super humans not recovering sinners like me.  As if those words where abstract philosophies to be written about in big books that gather dust instead of those words being evocative of our experience of the God revealed in Jesus.  Nonviolence (or love, or justice, or beauty) sadly become words that no longer open us to what God wills the world to be ultimately, (that we have seen start in Jesus) but instead stagnant principles that don’t challenge the empires we are living through.

One of the most humbling shout-outs EPYC has received has come from that mega-phone of amazing grace, Shane Claiborne author of The Irresistible Revolution who said reflecting on his time in Iraq,

“One of the doctors I met in Iraq said (with tears in his eyes), ‘This violence is for people who have lost thier imagination.’ Jarrod McKenna and the good people of EPYC are prophets of imagination. They are on a mission to create new heroes and sheroes and to reclaim God’s dream for this world. And as they help young folks to learn not to hurt each other, hopefully the nations will take some lessons.” day of the outlaw download

I believe the Holy Spirit empowers us all to become prophets of imagination.  Prophets of Jesus’ creative  way out of the cycles of violence and retaliation. Then we’ll be able to resist the temptations to have our understandings of ‘nonviolence’ (or love, or justice) be made sanitised, safe, nice and all a bit Fat-Cat-Humphy-Bear-Barney’s-Worldish. 

Jesus’ nonviolence provocatively and prophetically turns over tables in the temple while much we often consider ‘nonviolence’ is cowardly concern for owns own innocence rather than confronting injustice. This is only compounded when our understanding of Jesus gets separated from the earthy and engaging Jesus of the New Testament. (evangelicals are not exempt from when they treat the Scriptures like a context free collection of memory verses!) I’m not sure if it’s been in the interest of keeping Jesus ‘holy’ that we’ve often lost his earthiness, playfulness, creativity, anger, edginess, and humour. We’ve taken an amazing human and in the interest of saying he’s also ‘fully God’ made him less than ‘fully human’ (which is as heretical as saying Jesus isn’t the full revelation of God). We’ve made Jesus a bit 2-D. A bit plastic toyish. A bit weird and other worldish. A bit not as human as us. Comic bookesk. A bit cardboard cut out. A bit hard to call ‘brother’. And ultimately a bit boring!

I think the opposite is true. I think the more we witnesses to the fully humaness of Jesus the more the sandal of the incarnation comes to light. I think the New Testament witnesses to a fully alive, larrikin Jesus. As N.T. Wright puts it “the humility of God and the nobility of humanity.” Or as St. Ephrem the Syrian put it in the fourth century contemplating the Christ who reveals God to be a love that does no harm,

“it is so right that humans should acknowledge your divinity,

It is so right for heavenly beings to worship your humanity.”

Let’s pray we’ll have the imagination to follow the larrikin Jesus, the miraculous Patch Adams of Palestine, in his way of disarming humour.  We’ll hear the call to be practical jokers of the peaceable kingdom that pull the pants down on our suicidal society bent on unsustainabllity and self destruction. We’ll walk the narrow road of the sacred silliness of love in a world of satanic serious which spends each fourteen times the amount of money we need to end absolute poverty around the world on weapons whose sole purpose is to take life.

May we come to see a messiah, God’s idea of a real king, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfils prophecy in such a surprising and disarming way that it makes an ass out of the Roman military war horses and the Jewish expectations of a violent messiah in an inspired and moving act of holy clowning that’s as ridiculous as the expected liberating leader arriving on a tricycle when everyone is expecting tanks. Maybe the Chasers boys can help give us eyes to see.

57 thoughts on “Imaginations fit for the larrikin Jesus

  1. “the humility of God and the nobility of humanity.”

    I like that.

    Thanks for your challenge to discover the real Jesus. Not just in these words, but in your life. You’re tops.

  2. “Jesus was the most active resister know perhaps to history. His was nonviolence par excellence.”


    The issue I have with this is that it conjurs up all sorts of images of Jesus, which to me, are so far removed from the Jesus I read about in the Gospels, its not funny.

    Jesus gets filthy mad at people, he abuses them, he is sarcastic towards them, and He is even violent to them..”So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”

    You can exegete this passage whatever way you like, but Jesus was and is a passionate, angry and at times physically forceful person. Yes, He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, but He is a whole lot more than that. I think Gandhi is twisting Christ to fit his own paradigm.

    and what are we to make of Christ’s return as pictured in Revelation?

    Meek, mild, Patch Adams ….as if

    Now you might think that I have misrepresented your views…and I dont want to do that, but the language used is an issue for regular Australians such as myself.

  3. Whilst I think it is true that we twist this Jesus character to meet our own preconceptions, the truth is that very few ‘twist’ (if that is what is happening) him to ask searching questions about their own behaviour and as a result turns their lives upside-down. The reality is that the lives lead by Gandhi, Dave Andrews and Jarrod are not ordinary Christian lives. And for me, that is a very good thing.

  4. It still sounds to me that Gandhi (is the ‘h’ in the right spot) created a Jesus after his own image. Mark E sniffed the same thing, that the Jesus of the Gospels sounds a little different to the Jesus of Gandhi…Jesus the social activist… or Jesus the greatest practitioner of nonviolence…

    The pinnacle of Jesus ministry wasn’t the compassion he showed to the poor, the sick, and the undesirable (though he certainly was motivated by love to do that) his chief act of redemption, restoration, reconciliation (all those other threological words used to describe the benefits of the death of Jesus) was setting his face to the cross were there in his death he secured resurrection life for those who don’t deserve it. Life that starts now, life that is real now, life that works for justice now, but continues on into eternity…

    So Paul argues to the collosians,

    “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

    The Jesus of Gandhi didn’t do that…


  5. i’m not sure the cross was intended to be used to justify a type of all-powerful, steroidal, dominion-smashing he-man champion of the universe.

    Isn’t that the scandal of the cross – that Jesus was humiliated, exposed, vulnerable, tortured – all by choice.

    And that very act of willing surrender and humiliation and sacrifice were the keys that unlocked the most joyous revolutionary eternal truth – that not even our sin and rejection can stop God from breaking into our reality and loving us with or without our permission!!!

    As we punch our defiant fists in the air, screaming “CRUCIFY HIM!”, he whispers, “father, forgive them.”

    oh that as we catch a glimpse of God’s greatest act of non-acting, that we might be able to bend low alongside the roman centurion at the foot of the cross, and confess “surely he is the son of God”

  6. can i throw this one into the mix…

    what if jesus life had no pinnacle?

    what if the “compassion he showed to the poor, the sick, and the undesirable” was as much a pinnacle as his death on the cross?

    what if to the outcast, the leper, the prostitute, and the blind – those who had been told and shown by the temple chiefs, that they were beyond God’s reach – Jesus’ act of compassion ie, recognising them, and stopping & touching them was exactly the same message as the cross?

    why do we see jesus living as separate to his dying? as less important and more important, like they are different choices at different times?

    Surely, the in the living, there is dying, just as there is life in the death – it all stems from the same good news – that God does recognise us and does love us, even when we are at our most unlovable and untouchable, our most violent and vindictive.

  7. what if the cross was exactly the culmination of his social justice and nonviolence? Social Justice and Non violence basically are the idea that oppression is violence, and that reacting to that oppression and violence we are to love those persecuting us, and seek for not only them to stop the violence, but also to be converted to the way of love in the process. Jesus action at the cross was the ultimate victory over the principalities and powers, and became for us the way into a new life, and the redemption from not only the evil of the powers, but the redemption of the evil powers in our own lives as well. Enabling us to walk in the new Kingdom, as new creatures.

    And from reading about Gandhi’s life, that is exactly what he set out to do. Not only to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly, but to love others so much that you desire not only them to stop hurting others, but to be completely converted to the way of love. You see this over and over again in Gandhi.


  8. Note to otherendup

    “i’m not sure the cross was intended to be used to justify a type of all-powerful, steroidal, dominion-smashing he-man champion of the universe.”

    Dude read your Bible…

    Jesus on Jesus: Luke 22:66-71

    Paul on Jesus: Phil 2:5-11, Coll 1:15-22

    Luke on Jesus: Acts 4:10-12

    Peter on Jesus: 2 Peter 16-18

    John on Jesus: Revelation 1:12-18

    Hebrews writer on Jesus: Hebrews 1:1-4

    Humble Yes

    Merciful Yes

    Compassionate Yes

    Forgiving yes

    But also Powerful. determined, authoritative and victorious etc…….

    Dude your Jesus is too small…

    no wonder you just see him as a social activist

    Reflect on the above Scriptures and get back to me!

    Hamo Where’s that Christology 101 class when you need it?


  9. Gav,

    you want to see God’s powerfully revealed look to our Lord on the cross.


    I don’t worship a “good cop” Jesus until “bad cop” Jesus comes back as Rambo. Revelation is one of the most importantant books for understanding the churches position in the world today but it’s also the most dangerous when read in the ways you seem to be implying.

    Tell me, You think Jesus will literally have a sword for a tougue (ch. 19) or do you think John’s vision might be getting at something else about how Jesus will defeat his enemies?

    Is the cross not enough for you interms of how God has,

    “forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

    Was God not please to have his FULLNESS dwell in him?

    Ok off to garden in Lockridge Community Garden for the day… lookforward to hearing back.

  10. All I ask for Jarrod, and O’up, is a balanced view. I clearly stated that Jesus is a lamb led to slaughter, but He is also the Lion of Judah, The Warrior, the Leader of Men, I think some pick out the Jesus they like, that suits either their personality type, or philosophy.

    You say you dont worship a Rambo Jesus, news flash, I dont either, nor have I said I do. But there are definete images of Christ which are in the gospels, which the model you seemingly put forward does not allow for.

    In my interpretation, Jesus is an earthy man…..with some very real passions, anger and even violence. That is my interprentation of the stories of the New Testament. Then if we are allowed to go out of the gospels, there are verses like this one which add to the mix,

    Is 42 13 The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;

    with a shout he will raise the battle cry

    and will triumph over his enemies.

    We don’t like the OT God, we dont like the fact Jesus is presented in this way, but the full witnes of the scriptures present Jesus as He is, and if we dont like it, tough…..He’s God, we are not.

    I want to say this respectfully, because I dont discount for a second the work you are doing for Christ, and your credibility, but I really think you are twisting and misinterpreting these scriptures to fit your own worldview. But you know what? I dont want to have some full on scriptural debate on this, even though it may appear that way. I respect you, and your views, but I do want to say, that many good people totally disagree with them. And that is the beauty of being part of the body of Christ, we can do that with grace.

  11. yes, gav – powerful indeed, but the irony of that power is that it looks nothing like what we so often consider as powerfu.

    You say “all powerful conquerer of the universe”, I say “broken, frail, naked and humilliated” – we both mean the same thing.

    But depending on which “poster of Jesus” we have on our wall, will pretty drastically determine what our life of discipleship looks like. I can tell you which poster GW Bush has and I can tell you which poster Gandhi has. And i can tell you rght now, the “rambo” version justification has a lot more with ME wanting to be all powerful, than it has to anything to do with Jesus.

    You say “my Jesus is too small” – I say, the more you feel it necessary to try and convince me of how big he is, the more you become guilty of your own charge – all you succeed in doing is limit him to fit the 2 dimensional, impotent ,”mine is bigger than yours”, dominant power discourse that is brandished in the world today.

    Can’t you see that the soiled baby in the manger, the sweaty carpenter’s apprentice, and the crucified lifeless Christ, precisely shout to the heavens “My God! How powerful and mighty is he that would choose to become so weak!”

    So what of us, that choose to follow Him? Is it non-violence and peace or is it powerfully asserting the eternal conquering dominon?

    Isn’t the second found fully contained within the first??? Jesus seemed to think that was sufficient didn’t he?

  12. I can’t get away from the centrality of the cross, both as God’s means of redemption and as a way of life. “Whoever would come after me must take up his cross daily…”

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  14. i too think the centrality of a daily cross is precisely where the answer lies – a life of daily death, a choice of daily smallness, a submission to daily restriction.

    I think we can get “stuck” on the precise moment of christ’s death on the cross and forget that he wasn’t the first or the last person to be cruicified.

    instead – his physical cruicifixon was the final act in a life of daily cross carrying. we are urged and guided to see this as our lot in life as well.

  15. Again there are a number of important threads worth pursuing here are a few thoughts:

    I fully agree that foolishness of the cross is God’s great demonstration of power. (I want to explore what the death of Jesus acheived as another thread) But you can’t talk about Jesus as the humiliated one without also talking about him as the resurrected exalted one. Both truths hold together in Jesus alone. Jesus didn’t stay humiliated as the raised, glorifed, exalted ascended Son of Man. God the father has given to the Son authority to rule the nations and judge them on the “Last day”. Is this your Jesus too?

    As for political implications it is right to do right, to show compassion, seek justice…As for George W Bush he will bow the knee before the risen Lord Jesus and be accountable for how he has recieved him as Lord. I am anti the sword, ante-violence myself. It is pretty clear the sword coming out of Jesus mouth is the word of God. A sharp two edged sword according to Hebrews 4:12. Proclamation of the Gospel of the risen Lord is the way God’s Kingdom advances, adorned by the Godly life in community.

    Jesus is the servant king.

    Both humble, servant, humiliated

    Both exalted, raised, ascended, judge

    Death could not hold him down for he is Risen!


    The humialiation and death of Jesus

    I say “broken, frail, naked and humilliated”

  16. PS I want to point you to the Scriptures to let them show you how they present an exalted Jesus. That too has implications for how we live now!


    I think we need to discuss what the Cross acheived also. His physical suffering was less significant(though awful thanks Mel Gibson for reminding us)and it paled in comparison to the spiritual suffering he received as the Passover lamb, the sin bearer, the one who drank the cup of God’s wrath, the suffering servant who was numbererd amongst the transgressors Isa 53 (these are all images Jesus used of himself check out Luke 22 for start)

    Is your cross too small too?


  17. i think “my” cross is big enough to incorporate all that christ’s life and death achieved, not just his death.

    PS did you know my dad killed the dead sea?! 😉

  18. G’day Mark a quick lunch time responce…

    I’m not balanced… I have an agenda… I’ve been baptised into it, as a baptist I’m guessing you have been as well. 🙂

    The Kingdom of God is not neutral.

    I believe in a Warrior God, I believe in the Lion of Judah and I believe they have been fully revealed in the slain lamb (Rev. 12 might be worth a read, apparently John’s Jesus isn’t balanced either) 🙂

  19. “i think “my” cross is big enough to incorporate all that christ’s life and death achieved, not just his death.”

    Where does his resurrection, exaltation, and ascension fit?

    “PS did you know my dad killed the dead sea?!”

    What The ???@@#$#???

    Dude none of this discussion is personal, I don’t even know who you are? As for your Dad the dead sea killer?


  20. the dead sea comment was a joke – we just started to sound a bit like two school yard kids…

    “my cross is bigger than yours!!!”…

    “tis not!!!”…

    “tis so!!!!”….

    “tis not – infinity no returns!!!!”

  21. I hate it when my kids do that…you have to work a bit harder in blog discussions to have clear comminication.

    I am sure you are fun at parties…!

    Introduce yourself to me sometime…otherendup is still a mystery to me!


  22. As a Christian committed to the nonviolent transformation of all things, how would you challenge military exercises involving over 30,000 US and Australian troops engaged in live fire exercises, including bombing and the use of active sonar, in one of Australia’s most pristine wilderness areas?

    If you answered ‘with a game of frisbee’ then we’re on the same wavelength!

    Just our humble attempt at living out a prophetic imagination in the tradition of the larrikin Jesus…

  23. other_end_up sums up the changes in my understanding and experience of God over the last 3 years. Essentially, things have been turned upside down, or maybe downside up 😉

    effectively, it is this reversal that saw me need to leave full-time traditional church ministry in order to stop from imploding.

    it’s been an interesting journey to say the least.


  24. Paul states that Jesus death, resurrection and subsequent witness of this event was of first importance (1 Cor.15:1-5). It wasn’t just Paul’s personal (“my”) view that this was of first importance but fundamentally significant from the perspective of the Scriptures (…according to the Scriptures). Furthermore, Jesus’ death was not simply one of humility and sympathetic suffering, but most importantly the means by which God’s justice was met against sin (see 1 Cor.15:3; also propitiation – Rom.3:21-26). God’s wrath was poured out on a perfect substitute: Jesus. This is where God’s love and justice meet simultaneously: at the cross. Yet Jesus’ resurrection/exaltation are fundamentally bound to His death as one event; for if he was not raised we are still stuck in sin!

    Of first importance is Jesus’ death for sin; yet the cross also serves as the matrix for all Christian ministry. That, we do not know how to love and serve others if Christ has not first demonstrated it to us (John 15:12-13; Philippians 2:1-11; John 4:10-11).

    His resurrection has implications for the present and the future. Primarily, His resurrection means that He has authority over all things and for those who do not trust him in the present will face an eternity of torment in hell (Acts 17:31; Rev.21:6-7)

  25. I certainly have agendas, and the fact you admit you do as well, helps me understand why you post what you do, I presume you are seeking to provoke a reaction, only problem is that on this blog you are a prophet having honour in his own home. Far too much back slapping going on around here for my liking, epecially since I disagree with most of what is posted…and you need people like me and Gav…to keep you honest 🙂

    What I will say is this, it took more courage than Rambo ever displayed to ‘set his face towards Jerusalem’ knowing he could call down all the powers of heaven, yet also knowing His path was one of not allowing Himself to do that.

    do you think the emerging church, whatever that is, will die a natural death like all other church fads over the past 2000 years? :0 🙂

  26. Mark, why is it you don’t allow people to have a go at churches on your blog. But you come on here and say things like the emerging church is a fad.

    It is very hypocritical.

  27. Gav, What you don’t seem to understand is power, and humility are not seperate, but in Jesus are actually the same thing. The cross and the resurection was the supreme act of power, and Jesus killed no one, Jesus forced his will on no one, Jesus never took up power like the world does. In fact, if He did, He would be a hypocrite as he asked the disciples to not wield power over others. Jesus is a power that cannot be defeated, a power of love. The love of Jesus took all of the violence of man, and was not quenched, and His resurrection gave us the promise of the future reign, and the completion of God’s kingdom.

    The cross was where Jesus died, in perfect love, refusing to fight back with violence, but instead fought back with forgiveness and compassion. Now we are called to pick up our cross. To make our cross into our problems with our neighbors and our bad job, is the ultimate desecration of Jesus’ work. Our cross is the same as His, to give up our life in service of our neighbor, and so bring the kingdom of God, rushing into the present. The idea of a “spiritual” saving, and a “future” glory, continues to keep people living in denial of the cross. Oh, not Jesus cross, we love to talk about that, that is where Jesus got us a free ticket to heaven no matter how screwed up we live here and now. We don’t deny that at all. The cross we deny is the one we are called to pick up, our own. And it is a damned abomination.


  28. What if the sacrifice of Christ was for us, not God. That God, the great lover of our souls has always forgiven those who aknowledge their own weaknesses because of his great grace. That it is us who need to know the cost of our forgiveness because it is human nature to hold little value to anything that costs nothing. I believe in Christ, his life, death AND resurrection.

    If you want to be close to God, follow the Way of Christ, give up your life and follow. For Christ, who was closer to God than anyone else, that road led to a criminals death.

  29. Gav, there was a smiley there for a reason….sorry if it caused any real offence…

    I dont think the EC is a fad, I actually think it is providing some redress and balance, even though I dont ascribe to a lot of it, I do respect the heart of many of its practioners…

    JMC…fair cop….you are not accountable to me for your views…and I am not here to keep you honest….and I have said enough…I dont agree with your assesment of Christ, I think its wrong…but I have probably said enough…blessings and peace

  30. Jesus…

    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,taking the very nature ?of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in ppearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Humility & power

    death on a cross & exaltation to the highest place

    Are we saying something different?


  31. Mark, I am up for a theological tussle

    It keeps the mind sharp and the life humble! The regulars here a different flavour to me…

    I am also hard to offend! I would send a smiley But I haven’t worked how to do it!


  32. Note to Rev (here is an action replay)

    I think we need to discuss what the Cross acheived also. His physical suffering face without returning violence was less significant(though awful thanks Mel Gibson for reminding us)as it paled in comparison to the spiritual suffering he received as the Passover lamb, the sin bearer, the one who drank the cup of God’s wrath for us, the suffering servant who was numbered amongst the transgressors, Isa 53 (these are all images Jesus used of himself check out Luke 22 for start)

    Is your cross too small too?

    (the other dude took offence when I said this

    but it is a genuine question!)

    Not the small cross Jesus called you to carry

    but the big one Jesus carried for you?

    Penal substitutionary atonement is at the heart of the three images Jesus uses to teach the disciples about his death before it happens in Luke 22: The passover lamb, The Cup, the suffering servant.

    It is not just Paul who bangs on about that kind of thing…


  33. I don’t accept the penal substitution model. If anything, I think it diminishes the life of christ.

    Yes, many places people talk about the sacrificial lamb, but then the culture is of such things. If you stop to think about it, God doesn’t NEED a lamb any more than God NEEDS the death of Christ for forgiveness. Lambs and people die all the time, why should the death of one in a special way make any difference to God? It doesn’t, that is nonsensical.

    The lamb was for the people not for God.

  34. Gaz,

    I might ask you if your cross is too small, yours not Jesus.

    I am not sure where I stand on the substitutionary atonement, but I lean more towards a Cristus Victor theology. And let me show you why:

    Jesus forgave sin often during His ministry with no atonement.

    Jesus tells us that how we treat the least of these determines our destination in the parable of the sheep and the goats, not our application of His atonement by faith

    Jesus says that those that follow the teachings of the sermon on the mount have built their lives on a secure foundation

    Jesus tells us that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father, yet Jesus does not show us a legalistic, punitive, nor violent Father.

    Jesus in His own words says that we just forgive others, but does not say if they have payed for their price, or had someone else do it.

    In Jesus parable about the man forgiven a huge dept, the king did not require anyone else to pay the dept for him, he just gave the man grace with no sacrifice.


    The idea that God is bound by some legalistic idea about sin, and that God cannot forgive sin, without killing something or someone, in my opinion makes God smaller. How can the God of all creation who spoke the world into existence, be that weak? If God can speak creation, he can speak forgiveness.

    Jesus, by being the passover lamb, shows not that Israel needed to punished for its sins, so He took the punishment, the passover lamb was not about sin, but about not being a part of the spirit of death. This lamb was sacrificed and the blood was put on the door so the people of Israel would escape death (receiving life) and then begin to participate in the promised freedom of God’s people.

    The sacrifice of the atonement comes later.

    Ultimately the idea of the substitutionary atonement leads to this idea that all I have to do is believe that God was so mad at me He needed to kill someone, and that Jesus took my beating for me, and I get to go to heaven. The resurrection is after I die. But in fact, Jesus asks us to pick up our cross, and in so doing to also begin living in the resurrection here and now. The cross was the method in which God brings about the new kingdom, showing the principalities and powers for what they are, injust, violent, and ultimately not powerful enough to destroy the kingdom.


  35. Rev, how do you explain the teaching of Jesus in Luke 22 The Last Supper imagery? the cup of God’s wrath in Gethsemane? The deliberate identification with the suffering Servant of ISA 53? They are all deliberate images of atonement (Penal substitutionary)

    I would like to challenge your exegesis on a few points you made but here is not the place for that kind of detail.

    Atonement leaves me grateful that Jesus died in my place so it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. Atonement is not cheap grace it cost Jesus his life so I could live. The Christian life is a life of grateful service, I am not free to do what I want, I am free to serve God Gal 5.

    This discussion was generated from Ghandhi saying Jesus was “the greatest practitioner of nonviolence in history.” This grossly underestimates what Jesus set his face to when he went to Jerusalem for the last time…

    As for the application of the sermon on the mount maybe we can throw that around another time….


  36. I Have Found N.t. Wright Very Helpful Esp. “the New Testament And The People Of God” Where He Talks Out The Importance Of Atonement in the Jewish expectations. But It’s A Bit Heavy.

    Here Are Some Books I’ve Found Very Helpful In Raising Great Question And Going Back To Scripture:

    “the Nature Of The Atonement” Beliby And Eddy

    “the Nonviolent Atonement” J. Denny Weaver

    “recovering The Scandal Of The Cross” Joel B. Green

    “decieving The Devil” Darby Kathleen Ray

  37. Hey Rev, Jo and Gav

    As You Know I Really Do Share You’re Desire To Express A Understanding Of Atonement That Does Jesus Justice (Instead Of A Punitive God Who ‘does Justice Too Jesus’!). Joe I Really Like The Way You’ve Been The Same Desire.

    Here’s An Event That I Organized Earlier This Year That Will Now Happen Next Year:

    I May Present At This At The International Historic Peace Church Gathering In Indonesia In December.

    But There Is No Question The Substitutionary Atonement Is Part Of The New Testament Understanding, The Question Becomes How Do We Understand It And Is The “penal” Explanation Of The Twelfth Century Helpful. In fact Substitution Is Part Of The Christus Victor Motif. My Take Is Lets Seek To Understand Like The Early Christians In Ways That Foster Us Living Christ-like Lives So We Too Can Continue To Pray With Paul,

    “i Want To Know Christ And The Power Of His Resurrection And The Fellowship Of Sharing In His Sufferings, Becoming Like Him In His Death, and So, Somehow, To Attain To The Resurrection From The Dead.”

    Gav and Rev (and whoever else) I’d be interested to hear you thought’s on this:

  38. Jarrod,

    I think Moses, Jesus and Paul and lived before the 12th Century but my history is fuzzy in places…(smiley if I could put one)

    Thanks for the Tom Wright article…I am about to go on School hols I will try to reflect more deeply on it there. Tom Wright is a prolific writer it is hard to keep up with him as a local church pastor!


  39. Moses, Jesus, Paul… Yes!

    Anselm, Abelard, Calvin, Luther… Not authoritative (but worth our time and critique).

    But I’m a bit fuzzy as well 12th century was way wrong… Anselm’s “Cur Deus Homo” was published in 1098… opps. 11th century!! 🙂

    I think you might really enjoy the work of James Alison… apart from the fact he’s a gay Catholic which might not make him the poster child of Sydney Anglicanism. 🙂

  40. Hey Jarrod,

    Has Dr Gingerich finished his paper yet and fwd to you – I think that began to stir some of the discussion for a few of us around this attonement concept. Would love to get a look at his finiished work.

    And can’t wait for Lee Camp to come out some time in the future.

    peace, matt

  41. Well Gav, I certainly believe that the scriptures do put that out there, but the understanding of it must be qualified by the fullness of Jesus teachings, life, death and resurrection. And in this my feeling is the tradtional penal understanding is not only incorrect, but damaging to Jesus’ message, and the person of God the Trinity.

    If you want to challenge me privately my email is johnj at


  42. Thank you Jarrod for all your work to spread the love of Jesus and His teachings of His Father’s Kingdom in helping make peace around the world.

    For those of you looking to move your created imaginations beyond theory or blogs and into practice, please consider partnering with Women’s Forum Australia, Australian Christian Lobby, and others on the “Women Are Worth More” campaign. This is a campaign for those opposing the WA Prostitution Amendment Bill. Violence is horrible for anyone to experience and there is no industry that is more violent against women (and some men) than the prostitution industry.

    For information:

  43. Thanks for your kind words Lance.

    As I said in a previous post:

    “I support anything that will work to further protect sex workers from futher exploitation and efforts to further prevent children being involved in prostitution. But more than that I pray the we would become communities of ‘grace activists’ where we can support people in finding work that reduces the commodification of life. Rather than ‘distant moralising’ or telling other people how they should live, I pray our communities would have the courage to embody God’s ‘costly compassion’ and share in peoples sufferings, in Christ’s sufferings.”

    here is a link to the bill for those who which to be more informed: 6C025665A6543C9FC82573460019CB31/$File/EM+-+Bill+226-1.pdf

    You buying lunch next time mate? 🙂

  44. here’s another practical option that people are welcome to join us Peace Tree crew on Sunday:

    “Gulu Walk” for the children of Uganda.

    here’s the website:

    “The walk is to raise awareness for child night commuters in Northern Uganda who flee their homes every night to escape being abducted by the LRA where they will either be killed or forced to fight as soldiers. GuluWalk is telling the story of this much ignored humantarian crisis and demanding a better future for the people of Northern Uganda. We are hoping you will join us!!”

    Date – 23rd September 2007 (Sunday)

    Time – 2.30pm with a 3pm start

    Where – We are meeting at Beaufort Park in Bedford. It is on the corner of Beaufort St and Drummond St.

    Walk – The walk will begin at Beaufort Park in Bedford, go along Beaufort St through Bedford, Inglewood, Mt Lawley, Northbridge and then back up to Mt lawley again. The walk will conclude at the ASeTTS building near the corner of Beaufort St and Brisbane St. There is a map of the walk with distance times located on our website.

    Walk Length – the walk is approximately 7kms. Depending on your walking speed, the walk will take roughly 1.5 – 2 hours.

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