This post grew out of a brief handout I drew up quickly for a class I was teaching on the atonement, which I then shared on Twitter. I thought I would expand it here with some initial definition and reflections.
Let me note two things at the outset. First, I took initial inspiration from Ben Myers' lovely patristic-flavored post on atonement theories from a few years back. Second, it seems to me that atonement is a particularly resonant English word that is very nearly interchangeable with salvation. To ask what atonement consists in, it seems to me, is to ask how Jesus saves. Or at least so I have assumed in what follows. Third, atonement is not one of my pet doctrines; I haven't read widely and deeply in it the way some of my friends and colleagues have. I'm sure that, somewhere below, I have left something out or inexpertly explained this or that theory. Pardons in advance.
Without further ado, my sixfold (really, 6 x 5) typology of the atonement.
Well, it happened. Abrams didn't even rise to his own best level. He capped off a 42-year cinematic saga with a stinker so bad that it sullies not only the new trilogy he helped to launch but his own reputation as a filmmaker.
I thought I'd avoid writing about the film, but instead of spending time on Twitter or Slack, let me just share my thoughts here.
What makes The Rise of Skywalker so bad? Well, there are multiple levels of badness involved.
[SPOILERS HEREON Y'ALL.]
First is the filmmaking itself. This was the most shocking thing about IX. I knew Abrams would go for nostalgia and servicing fandom. I figured he'd undermine VIII. I didn't know he would make such a straightforwardly bad movie, one alternately boring (the guy next to me on opening night fell asleep) and poorly told (my wife can't be the only one who found it difficult to follow).
The opening 30 minutes in particular move so fast, across so many worlds and plot points and characters old and new…
The two Bibles my wife and I read to our children are The Jesus Storybook Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, and the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook, by Sarah Young. Their favorite story by far is "the Moses story" (a title I required instead of their original "the Pharaoh story"), which they quickly came to know like the back of their hand.
One night, when I persuaded them to let me read them something other than the Moses story, we read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. To my delight, when we got to the part where the three were thrown into the fiery furnace, and "a fourth figure" was there with them, and none of them were burned by the fire, the text and illustration both delivered on the christological implications of the episode and drew the figural connection implicit within it.
First, my children recognized the fourth figure as Jesus, for the simple reason that he is depicted exactly as he is later in the same Bi…