Readers write: April 13, 2020 issue

April 8, 2020 | Opinion | Volume 24 Issue 8
Various Contributors |
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Reader was ‘struck by’ Easter feature’s deficiencies
Re:Out of holy weakness, mysterious power arises,” March 16, page 4.

I am thankful for this article and the attempt to imagine how to talk to 12-year-olds about the crucifixion. 

It struck me, though, that none of the responses mention the fact that the focus was on how to talk to 12-year-olds about the meaning of the crucifixion. On the basis of the article, the pastors did not make age-specific responses aside from their own memories of being that age. What difference might there have been in the responses if the question was simply about anyone at any age? For example, how do seniors receive guidance on such an important and relevant subject? 

I was also struck by the fact that none of the responses mentioned any theologians, even though this is a highly theological and vigorously debated question among adults. No one mentioned that the Nicene Creed makes a big deal about Jesus’ death, and its “for us” needs to be explored. 

I also was struck by the fact that there was no mention of how the Substitutionary Theory of Atonement came to prominence since about A.D. 1100. There was no mention by anyone about an alternative understanding of Atonement that is traced back to the Franciscan John Duns Scotus. 

Finally, I was struck by the fact that there was no mention of recent writers on this subject, like Sharon L. Baker, Ted Grimsrud, J. Denny Weaver, Bradley Jersak and Brian Zahnd.
John H. Neufeld (online comment)


Youth ‘definitely have questions’ about the Atonement
Out of holy weakness, mysterious power arises,” March 16, page 4.

As someone who led a youth Sunday school class for the last couple of years, I can tell you that young people definitely have questions about this. In my experience, folks who work with youth spend a lot of time thinking about how to talk about it with them!

I’m not sure that their questions are different because of their age; I always found the young people in my class very thoughtful and insightful. Often they’d heard very different messages about it from different people, which can be confusing. I tried to help them be comfortable with the reality that there are many understandings of the Atonement, even outlined in our Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.

I think having some names for the different Atonement theories can help younger folks pick apart why they might hear different things about the reason for Jesus’ death from different people and from different churches, so we talked about Christus Victor, moral example and penal substitution.

I think a lot of folks in more liberal churches struggle with talking about Jesus’ death as sacrifice because we’ve heard really reductive preaching about Jesus’ sacrifice—stuff that makes God out to be angry and unforgiving, holding Jesus out as the one who has to defend us from a wrathful God. It’s hard to hold that together with God as Trinity, all parts as one.

There’s some great stuff in the Book of Hebrews that can help develop some more nuanced thinking about what Jesus’ sacrifice means when contrasted with earlier temple sacrificial practices. But sadly the bit that’s most often quoted in evangelical circles, as Will Braun references early in his feature, is taken quite out of its context.
Matthew Froese (online comment)
The writer lives in Winnipeg.


Senior writer shouldn’t be upset by pastor’s letter
Re: “ ‘Inclusivity’ will always ‘silence’ some voices” letter, March 2, page 7.

Senior writer Will Braun should not be unduly upset by the reply from David Driedger, a Mennonite minister in Winnipeg, to his article—“Listening to those who have left,” Jan. 20, page 15—speaking for the person who felt excluded by the inclusivists who now appear to be dominating many churches.

For the minister of a large Mennonite church to have no more perspective than to view a moral debate as a power issue says nothing about Braun’s concerns and a lot about the poverty of the minister’s.

Braun may be wrong in the concerns he has expressed, but the minister is most certainly not right in the way he has framed an issue for the church. Braun can rest easily.

I invariably find Braun’s pieces enlightening.
Harold Jantz, Winnipeg

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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