The Rev. Ed Bacon, formerly dean of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi and currently rector at All Saints Pasadena, has decided that substitutionary atonement is too icky for him and his parishioners, so they need to start talking about changing the Book of Common Prayer to reflect their enlightened theology [link in PDF format]:
I would like for us to make some occasions to discuss these matters as a faith community. In our reassessment of an injurious theology certain
hymn texts and Eucharistic prayers need to be examined.
What’s the problem, exactly? You’ll be shocked to learn that Marcus Borg and Giles Fraser - not Holy Scripture - figure prominently in Bacon’s thinking:
Much of institutionalized Christianity has taught a theology that disagrees with Jesus. Rather than seeing God with a powerful eagerness to forgive simply because of the nature of God’s love, which has no need for bloodthirsty sacrifices, the church has often expressed a competing theology (based on an 11th century theory of St. Anselm referred to as “substitutionary sacrificial atonement”). That theology has held that the very essence of Christianity is that without Christ’s sacrificial
death on the cross, “we would forever be guilty, ashamed and condemned before God.” (Mark Dever, “Nothing but the Blood,” Christianity Today, May, 2006, p. 29, quoted in Borg, Marcus, Jesus; Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary, pp. 267-268)
The Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, says about this theology, “the idea of God murdering his son for the salvation of the world is … morally indefensible. It turns Christianity into cosmic child abuse.” (Giles Fraser, “Cross Purposes,” The Guardian, April 4, 2007) Furthermore, Dr. Fraser (the Vicar of St. Mary’s Church, Putney,
in London and lecturer at Oxford) argues that it promotes a heretical theological basis for the death penalty, refusing to believe that pure and simple forgiveness without punishment can ever be a proper response to sin. Such a conditioned form of forgiveness is the basis of retributive understandings of justice (a debt has to be paid off in full) instead of restorative understandings of justice.