Celebrating the Resurrection, but Denying the Atonement?

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The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.–Alan Jones1

As we here at Lighthouse Trails have joined with other believers in exposing the truth about the emerging church and contemplative spirituality, we have come to learn that the core of the New Age believes that the teachings of the East and of the West must be fused and blended before the true and universal religion-for which the world waits-could appear on earth. In other words, all religions must come together under the umbrella of metaphysics (mysticism). While the average Christian would agree that this doesn’t line up with Scripture, the Christian church has been overtaken by this very concept, but in a deceitful, cunning manner. But recently, after these years of trying to show why contemplative/emerging spirituality is dangerous and wrong, we have begun to see the underlying layers of this dark and anti-Christ “theology.” And what we are seeing is horrifying. It rejects the very thing that can save a soul – the atonement for sin on the Cross by Jesus Christ. He was a substitute, and He took our place. Without that atonement we are lost forever.

This weekend, people throughout the world are celebrating Christ’s resurrection. Even people who don’t believe in the resurrection are celebrating the weekend and wishing Happy Easter to others. But while that seems odd to celebrate a day when you don’t even believe in it’s reason, what is more odd is that so many Christians are celebrating the resurrection but are throughout the year promoting a spirituality that ultimately denies the atonement. Without the atonement, why bother thinking about the resurrection – it would mean nothing.

Some may be saying right now, my pastor doesn’t deny the atonement. Really? Does he ever promote Brennan Manning or Richard Foster? What about the college you attend? Do your professors ever tell you to read Henri Nouwen or Dallas Willard? And what about the women’s Bible studies you attend? Do you ever read books by Keri Wyatt Kent, Beth Moore, or Ruth Haley Barton? And what about the youth group that your teens go to? Do they watch Rob Bell’s Noomas and read books by Dan Kimball and Brian McLaren? You see, the spiritual formation movement (of which category all these authors and leaders fall into) has a core of mysticism. And mysticism, by its very nature, denies the Cross, the atonement, and certainly the resurrection. So to celebrate the resurrection and yet to embrace spiritual formation is a terrible contradiction. Now it is true that not all of the people who promote contemplative reject the Atonement, but by their adhering to and promoting the spirituality that does, they in a round about way reject it also.

Those who believe in the true elements of contemplative/emerging spirituality say they love the Cross and they consider Christ an example of a great servant who sacrificially gave His life for others, but they deny the idea that He was a substitute – in other words He paid the penalty that we should have because we have sinned. They say that God would not send His Son to a violent death on a Cross to bear the sins of others (see our research on this). They say Jesus is their model but cannot say He is their Lord. By Christian leaders embracing spiritual formation as they are now doing in large numbers, they are inadvertently denying the atonement and are helping to usher in a world religious system that will attempt to snuff out the true gospel. This effort is already knocking at the door.

Below is our recent article called “When They Reject the Atonement,” which will explain further what is taking place in Christendom today:

“When They Reject the Atonement”

In 1922, liberal pastor and theologian Harry Emerson Fosdick stated the following words in his sermon titled “Will the Fundamentalists Win?”:

“It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement. They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord; that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration-that the original documents of the Scripture, which of course we no longer possess, were inerrantly dictated to men a good deal as a man might dictate to a stenographer; that we must believe in a special theory of the Atonement-that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner.”

Fosdick considered the doctrine of a blood atonement a “slaughterhouse religion”1

What this line of thinking is saying is that while Jesus’ going to the Cross should be looked at as an example of perfect servanthood and sacrifice, the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death on the Cross is barbaric and would never happen. Thus, Fosdick (and those who adhere to this reasoning) rejects Christ as a substitute for our penalty of sin(“the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23).

In our earlier article titled “Slaughterhouse Religion”, we showed where contemplatives and emerging church leaders hold to the same view. 2 During this time of the year, when so many churches are holding Easter services (in honor of the death and resurrection of Jesus), how many of these same churches are clinging to contemplative/emerging spirituality without even realizing what it really stands for. If Jesus’ going to the Cross and shedding blood was merely an act of service and sacrifice, an example for others to follow, and was not actually a substitutionary payment for the sins of humanity, then why celebrate Easter and the resurrection? It would make no sense. Those churches who cling to contemplative/emergent ideologies and practices should reevaluate this. While they cling to one (contemplative), they deny the other (the atonement) even if they don’t realize it.

More Information:

Slaughterhouse Religion

Alan Jones and the doctrine of the Cross is a “vile doctrine”

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