“When I became a pastor, I resolved on a double focus for keeping my vocation on track: worship and community. At this point in my ‘long obedience,’ that resolve had been thoroughly tested and had developed an extensive root system. It had to if it were to survive. The religious culture of America that I was surrounded with dismayed me on both counts. Worship had been degraded into entertainment. And community had been depersonalized into programs.”
I received an email yesterday afternoon to this effect: Could someone please give a short, simple explanation as to why the issue of homosexuality is not like Christians differing on baptism or the millennium? Many Christians are willing to say homosexuality is wrong, but they’d rather not argue about it. Why not broker an “agree to disagree” compromise? Why can’t we be “together for the gospel” despite our differing views on gay marriage? Why is this issue any different?
The Cross as Cosmic Victory
Understanding the cross as cosmic victory means that, in the atonement, Jesus defeats the enemies of God by satisfying the wrath of God. Because the kingdom of God is a central theme in Scripture, our view of the atonement must account for how Jesus conquers his kingdom enemies: Satan, sin, and death.
Jesus defeats his enemies in the atonement and resurrection through vicarious victory. The atonement is vicarious victory because it is substitutionary and penal. It is vicarious victory because it is a conquest of all God’s enemies. Put simply, understanding the cross as cosmic victory means that the crucifixion brings conquest.
In American evangelicalism, you can’t believe in anything you want and call yourself an evangelical. That what Mainline Protestantism is for. That’s the route that “professional dissidents ” like Rachel Held Evans want evangelicalism to become, but that only leads to eternal pottage.
There is a pervasive trend that has developed within American Christianity, or at least a segment of professing believers. The development is terrifying. What is it? The lessening of sin and dismissal of any such notion in the Bible that God deals with sinners. It seems the gospel message has become all about the love of God with the absence of any warnings and set standard which God upholds. The idea is that God just loves you as you are and you are free to continue living as you do.