3/17/11 Sandra, mid 50’s
On my way home from visiting a church brother in the hospital, I stopped at a laundromat to talked with some people and met a woman there named Sandra. We had a lot in common, both of us having grown up in mainline Protestant denominations and worked with non-profit organizations, so after a nice chat I asked about her faith and hope of heaven. “”I think God would say I’m a pretty good person” she began as she went on to list a variety of impressive ways in which she has helped the poor, getting misty eyed as she told of her concerns. I asked what she believes about Jesus – “Why did he die on the cross?” She thought he had been trapped politically. I asked “How could he have allowed that to happen?” and she went on to explain that he was setting an example for us of self-sacrifice and love, an example that we should follow. Atonement for our sin was never mentioned because in her mind she was a good person, not needing the forgiveness that only comes through faith in Jesus. I’ve heard this theory lately – it’s called the “exemplar” model of atonement – from many Catholics and mainline Protestants that I’ve witnessed to. And now it is being taught by “Pastor” Rob Bell in his new book, “”Love Wins” . He writes that Jesus' "giving act on the cross" shows us that "he is the source, the strength, the example, and the assurance that this pattern of death and rebirth is the way into the only kind of life that actually sustains and inspires." The emphasis of Bell and many liberal protestants is that the cross is our “inspiration”, a deception based on truth – we should be inspired – but ignoring our hopeless sinful condition and need for a savior from the condemnation we deserve.