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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The price of punishment - and theology

Rev. Jonathan Chambers

Dear Reader, when Miss Eagle comes across theological phrases like Penal Substitutional Atonement her eyes glaze over. A normal human response she thinks - a bit like reflexes, involuntary breathing, and blinking. Why wouldn't you?! Then after the glaze clears Miss Eagle realises she has come across a Pharisee, a member of that ancient religious sect to whom Jesus delivered all the Woes. She then recalls that they are alive and well within the Christian tradition and are every bit a challenge to the Christian's faith as they were to Jesus Himself.

After all, the basic message of Jesus is so simple that a child can get it. Certainly there is no need for five-syllable words.

Now Miss Eagle is moved to discuss this topic with you, dear Reader, because of this challenging and enlightening article. This was brought to Miss Eagle's attention by Jonathan Chambers in last Sunday's sermon at St Thom's at Upper Gully. Jonathan who, as Senior Chaplain, co-ordinates the Anglican Criminal Justice Ministry in Victoria challenged the people in the pews on Sunday not only at the very roots of their belief but also demonstrated how such belief can have implications for one's view on justice - retributive justice versus restorative justice - and prison reform.

Miss Eagle can confess to you, dear Reader, it challenged her. But it also opened her mind to the consequences of such a way of describing what she believes Jesus did for her by His death on the Cross. So, dear Reader, can you help Miss Eagle? She is praying about all this. Thinking about all this. Wanting to know what God has to say on all this. So she invites your comments, dear Reader. But, beware! She is looking for comment that provides light - not heat. Otherwise, not only will her eyes glaze over: her ears will get so sticky she won't be able to hear!