Mainline / liberal Christianity (at least from what i’ve gathered) poo-poos the idea of a transactional salvation – so mainline Christians seem to avoid using the story or idea of God using Jesus as money to pay off some debt sinners have incurred so the score is settled and sinners can be redeemed. Of course, I
grew up was raised conservative/evangelical/fundamentalist and this transactional salvation – atonement based on payment – was what I was taught. Those hymns i sang and led during my years of being a worship leader (which remain my favorites) are rife with the language of “Jesus paid it all/ all to him i owe…”
I approach theology now more as art – so some of that poetry I don’t mind. I understand the fear of presenting Jesus as a commodity – and how it takes away the better story of Jesus being murdered for being Love incarnate – a gift we would not receive, so we killed him. I get that.
Anyways, I was listening to this song this morning. And there’s some of that “payment” language both in the original hymn -ROCK OF AGES- and in the new “chorus” that the band puts into it. And i heard the idea of “paid the price” in a new way. Now, I know that because of this pastor’s background and the band’s association with a conservative fundamentalist church in Seattle, that they absolutely are talking about the substitutionary atonement stuff – but maybe i can keep the language if i look at it like this:
Jesus paid the price of being love incarnate- walking around forgiving sins – touching the unclean, all that – he paid the price for being Grace Walking by being murdered by those who would not hear his message. He paid the price for being truth and for being the way to God – the way he was God extending peace all over the place. He paid the price for that by being crucified and now that cross, the instrument of his death, becomes our symbol of rising from the depth of despair to the hope of eternal life. How’s that?
Here’s the video.