this post may contain affiliate links
I am excited to share my review of “Did God Kill Jesus?: Searching for Love in History’s Most Famous Execution” by Tony Jones. Tony is a theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, and teaches theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Tony serves as a senior acquisitions editor at Fortress Press, curating the Theology for the People line of books. He’s developed an iPhone app called Ordain Thyself. Learn more about Tony at TonyJones.net.
“Across the theological spectrum, Christians struggle to explain how Jesus’ death worked on our behalf.” What really happened on the cross? Tony reminds us that it is not necessarily one united voice. “What I mean is that the Bible and the Christian tradition are not unanimous about the reason that Jesus had to die and what his death accomplished.”
Tony begins the book with a discussion of sacrifice, the Gospels’ views on the death of Jesus and Paul’s theology. In subsequent chapters, models that explain what happened on the cross are laid out: The Payment Model, The Victory Model, The Magnet Model, The Divinity Model to name a few.
The last few chapters of the book were of particular interest to me. Tony shares his views and what his faith journey has revealed to him.
The Divinity model resonated with me. I am a centering prayer practitioner. I believe that each one of us is a divine being with a little “d”. I believe that our humanity is best expressed when we connect to our inner divinity.
For now, I have concluded that I am a blend of the Divinity model and the below key points from Tony’s views.
Father and Son Love Us
“And the main message of both Father and Son is that they love us and want to be united with us.” This ultimately is what the cross accomplishes. We are united with God and Jesus!
“While we can only guess as to God’s motivation for creating us, we can conclude that God’s act of creation was an act of self-limiting love. God’s very first act was an act of humble love, an act in which God retreated and gave us room to live.” This makes much sense for us as it does for Jesus. “God the Father withdrew enough to let Jesus follow his own fate.” God withdraws and lets us live our life. I do this with my children. I best love them when I withdraw and let them live too.
God Experiences Absence of God
“And when Jesus cried out from the cross in despair and anguish, God experienced something that God had never before experienced: God experienced the absence of God. God experienced atheism.” As Tony mentions, God became fully human. God’s Divinity took a backseat to His humanity. Note this in no way diminished God’s humanity.
“God chose not to stop the execution, as we have seen, because God’s chosen deportment is one of self-limitation and humility.” This is the ultimate act of love.
I have to be honest. I never thought God could change. I never thought God learned. I now believe God does both. “In Jesus, God moved from sympathy with the human condition to empathy. And God changed as a result.” “We can say that in Jesus, God was experiencing something that God had not experienced before. To take it one step further, we can surmise that in Jesus, God was learning.”
The Gift of the Holy Spirit
“The beauty and power of the resurrection is that our friend didn’t just die on that cross. He lives on, offering us ongoing friendship. Even death couldn’t kill this friendship between God and humanity.” Yes, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit continues to be present with us and within us. As Tony says, “God’s power is presence, quiet presence.”
Meditate on the cross. Continue to ask questions. Why did Jesus die? Did God kill Jesus? These are important questions that need to be asked and explored. Read Tony’s book. It will challenge you to reconsider your views on what happened on the cross.
Brad Jersak, A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel
If you enjoyed reading this post, please recommend and share it to help others find it.
Save 15% on All Orders at Open Mike’s Coffee , Use code SHAKE15
I am currently taking on clients for Centering Prayer One on One Coaching sessions. I am happy to setup weekly, bi-weekly or monthly sessions with you over the phone or skype to help you go deeper into your centering prayer practice and integrate it into your daily life. Contact me for more information. The first session is 1/2 off.
Learn how I use my prayer bracelet.
Our friends at Contemplative Light are offering Contemplative Practices. This course examines in-depth traditional practices of the Christian mystics, including: The Examen, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer and Christian Meditation.
Contemplative Perspectives: Frameworks for the Divine: With the historic practice of The Jesus Prayer as a jumping off point, we explore the experiential aspects of the Purgation/Illumination/Union path of Christian Mysticism.
I am currently reading The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault and Contemplative Living: An Invitation to a Deepening Journey by .
The Way of the Wisdom Jesus: Going Beyond the Mind to the Heart of His Teaching – If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. In this online course, Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader Cynthia Bourgeault serves as a masterful guide to Jesus’s vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teaching for yourself. Based upon her book The Wisdom Jesus.
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. It is based on his book Simply Jesus. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
This course is a short course based on Prof. N.T. Wright’s latest book, Simply Good News. Tom Wright will guide you through the chapters of his book through videos that suggest what some of the main points are. You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament. You will be brought into their world in order to make more sense of what ‘good news’ means in our world.
Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – This is a great way to listen to books with your cell phone while you drive, walk or relax at home. I frequently listen in my car during my commute to and from work. I’m a proud affiliate.
David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)