How does the cross overcome not just our guilt, but our shame?

Jon Kuhrt writes: A continual challenge in Christian community work and social action is the connection between the practical work being done with the actual message itself. People can pour into church buildings for toddler groups, foodbanks, lunch clubs, youth clubs and night shelters. But often these social action programmes become detached and disconnected from the message which inspired the work in the first place.

Fruit and roots

How does this work connect with the church’s core message? How can the fruit of social action remain connected with the roots from which it has grown? These questions are important. If not addressed they create tensions which turn easily into strife and conflict between churches and the projects they have started. It’s a reality I have seen many, many times.

There is often a tangible lack of confidence and ambition to make connections and to integrate the message alongside the action. Some people use woolly theology to justify this dis-integration, sometimes trotting out the line attributed to St Francis:

‘Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary’.

But as Justin Welby succinctly put it:

‘Francis almost certainly never said it. And if he did, he was wrong’.

Articulating hope

I agree with Welby. Our failure to communicate what we believe is nothing to celebrate. The gospel is good news. It is a message about God’s grace and truth: what God has done and what God continues to do.

This message is best illustrated and clothed in action. But we need to be able to articulate the basis of the underlying hope behind our action. If we don’t, then the Christian message can morph into being one about how good and gracious we are. That’s a message which is sure to let people down.

Shame and guilt

So with this in mind, I was interested to read the recent Grove booklet The Cross and Shame: Speaking of Atonement to a Shame-filled Society. It is written by Rebecca Winfrey, a former GP who has studied pastoral theology and now works for a church reaching out to disadvantaged families.

Winfrey grapples with the challenge of how best to communicate the gospel message into the context in which she is working. Her thesis is that society today struggles to feel guilt, but is very much aware of shame. Referring to the popularity of Brene Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability, she says:

‘I am defining shame in a particular way—as a sense that one’s whole self is of little worth. This is the not shame that comes about through doing something wrong. This is shame that says ‘There is something profoundly wrong with me.’

Resistant

She then argues that the church places too much emphasis on guilt and does not talk enough about the issue of shame:

‘When Jesus died for our sin, he died for both guilt and shame, but in the West we have often just focused on the guilt’.

This is one reason why the church’s message is failing to connect with how society thinks. Using a medical analogy, she says:

‘The disease of our culture appears to have become resistant to the treatment…as our culture has changed we in the church have carried on giving the same medicine…we need a different explanation of the cross that connects with the sense of wrongness that people carry.’

Critique of atonement explanations

Winfrey is making a bold point: that the church needs to adapt how it articulates its core message about what Jesus’ death and resurrection achieved. She strongly critiques the ‘substitutionary’ idea of atonement, with its court-room analogy which is so popular in evangelical churches. But she also critiques more liberal interpretations which focus just on the moral influence of Christ and his self-sacrificial love.

She believes that the best explanation of atonement is the oldest: that Jesus’ death and resurrection achieved a decisive victory over evil. This victory came about through participation in the shame of the world—illegitimate birth, being a refugee, abuse, betrayal, torture and death. In doing so he stands in solidarity with us in our shame—and overcomes it.

‘God in Christ, far from being the distant God of the courtroom, is right down here with us, sharing our mess, understanding our shame’.

Rings true

My two main areas of practical experience are homelessness and youth work and in both Winfrey’s thesis rings true. Shame deeply affects many people affected by homelessness.  Often these feelings will be buried deep, meshed with trauma, addictions and regrets about failed relationships and lost opportunities. Often the material issues, such as food and shelter, are the easiest things to address; the deepest problems are those which has been internalised and where shame has corroded someone’s very identity.

In youth work, especially in the safety of summer camps, it is so common to see young people open up about their struggles with shame. Within a comparison-heavy culture where so much of what we do or how we look is rated and judged, it easily affects young people’s sense of who they are. So many voices tell them they are not good enough and that there is something intrinsically wrong with them.

Real and corrosive

The answer to this challenge is not an overly liberalised theology which ignores sin and reduces the gospel to feel-good fudge. Sin is real and corrosive, but we need to avoid clumsy or formulaic theology which intensifies shame and imprisons the gospel within middle-class morality.

In this brief booklet Winfrey covers a wide range of ground—discussing shame in childhood and adult experiences, before delving into the Bible’s perspective on shame and how we need to ‘adjust how we explain the gospel’ before sharing practical advice on putting this into practice. As she says,

‘We need to speak of God’s unconditional acceptance before we talk to people of their sin. We need to talk of a new identity that God gives in exchange for our old, shame-filled identity before we talk about the challenge to our behaviour.’

Accessible and helpful

I would highly recommend this short booklet. At 28 pages it can be read in one sitting and easily be used as the basis for discussion within a project team about how gospel truth can be integrated alongside compassionate practice.

It is an example of the most helpful theology—brief, accessible, reflective and mission-oriented. It is a book which helps us connect the truth of the gospel to practical action.

You can buy the booklet post-free in the UK or as a PDF e-book from the Grove website for £3.95.


Jon Kuhrt was Director of Community Mission for Livability (formerly the Shaftesbury Society) from 2002 to 2010, and Chief Executive of the West London Mission from 2010 to 2018, leading their work with people affected by homelessness and addiction. He is now Rough Sleeping Adviser to the government, specialising in how faith and community groups respond to homelessness. He lives in Streatham with his wife and three children, and is a member of Streatham Baptist Church and is involved each summer with Lee Abbey Youth Camp. He is an avid cricket lover. He blogs at ‘Grace + Truth’ where this article was first published.


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48 thoughts on “How does the cross overcome not just our guilt, but our shame?”

  1. I wrote a paper on Shame when at collegem, there is an excellent book that deals with it by Pattison called Shame: Theory, Therapy, Theology. Guilt says that ‘I have done something wrong’ and can be a healthy thing, Shame says ‘I am something wrong,’ which is not healthy; although shame stops us walking around naked, but that could be a cultural expectation….

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  2. I haven’t read the Grove booklet so possibly it references it, but Alan Mann’s Atonement for a ‘Sinless’ Society was very good on this

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    • It was, and it contributed significantly to my thinking when I was reading for the Masters dissertation which was the origin of this Grove book. But though I found Alan Mann’s description of the recent change towards a more shame-based society helpful, his conclusion about the way to think about the atonement was not sufficiently concrete for me. He drew on the ‘moral influence’ theory, saying that the cross shows Jesus’s great love for us.. which of course is true. But I felt that the chains of shame that trap many who have been subject to repeated abuse require an explanation that gives some sense of the conclusive change to the cosmos that happened when Jesus died. The earthquake, the tearing of the temple curtain and of course the resurrection imply a cosmic power struggle, which occurred as Jesus was overcoming the powers of evil. That’s the kind of strength needed to overcome shame.

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  3. Also Jackson Wu. Eastern cultures seem to have generally operated with an emphasis on shame more than guilt. Our society is perhaps moving in that direction. This is neither good or bad, but as the post suggests, may influence how we explain the Good News.

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    • That is interesting – I have always seen it as (a) the broadest and most general, (b) [therefore] the most all-encompassing, (c) [therefore] the most accurate, (d) the most cross denominational. However – your words ‘the most authentic biblically’ intrigue me – are the others (however partial) inauthentic?

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      • Indeed Christopher.
        Surely the atonement is multifaceted, multidimensional, all embracing substitutional, vicarious; an unbeatable, unbreakable, glorious: God’s Great Exchange.
        Our shame is Christ’s: he despised the shame of the cross
        Our failings, failure; his successes ours
        Our disobedience; his active obedience, ours
        Our defeat, defeated: his victory ours
        Our separation, his; His union, ours
        His condemnation, our, “no condemnation”
        Our weakness, his strength
        Our poverty his: his riches ours
        Our rejections , his: His acceptance, righteousness ours
        Our lamentations, his: his joy, ours
        His servanthood, our “sonship”
        His Abba, our Abba
        Our pride of life: his humility to death
        His Spirit, our Spirit,
        His indwelling, our dwelling in
        Our enmity, his Peace
        Our estrangement , his: his fellowship, ours
        As outcasts, he is cast out; his union with God, ours
        Our death, his; his life, ours
        And more…
        He is worthy. Worthy of all honour, praise and glory.

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        • And:
          His punishment instead of our deserved punishment.
          That is why ‘there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus’

          Phil Almond

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          • Indeed, Phil,
            His condemnation.
            Context is all, with 7 previous chapters,
            Maybe you accept the rest: there is a wholeness. a fulness to salvation and sanctification in Christ and our Triune God’s purposes.

    • I think that view is just one of many, not the ‘most authentic biblically’. There is clearly substitution going on in the death of Jesus, whether or not it is ‘penal’ is debatable. But it is still a substitutionary death. But Christus Victor is another facet of it.

      Peter

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      • Peter
        A key issue is this:

        Do those whose names are not found in the book of life on the Day of Judgment face any judicial punishment, any judicial retribution, at all? Leaving aside for the moment whether that punishment, that retribution, is eternal or not. The converse of Romans 8:1 is that those not in Christ Jesus do face condemnation (katakrima).

        According to both Strong and STEP katakrima (Romans 5: 16, Romans 5:18 and Romans 8:1) means both condemnation and punishment, so the answer is ‘yes, they do face judicial punishment, judicial retribution’.

        Therefore Christ must have borne the judicial punishment, the judicial retribution which those whose names are in the book of life deserved. Otherwise Christ’s substitution is incomplete.

        Phil Almond

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  4. Working in South Asia, where shame is a dominant feature of culture and worldview, the way my friends there overwhelming viewed salvation was this:

    “I am in Christ.” (Here they would often do a hand gesture like link hands or intertwine fingers). “Joined with Christ, I am dying but have been raised.” (here the hand motion would often sweep down and back up again).
    Thus to them, the position of Christ was incredibly important. He is seen as number one, of most honour, of highest standing and of greatest power. Then, if they give their allegiance to him, the are joined with him (sometimes the Spirit is described in this, sometimes not). And joined with Christ they are dying but already have been raised (and here the joy of Romans 8 type language is often used. Indeed it mirrors the flow of Romans 6 to 8). And this was by people who often had not read the Epistles, but only knew the Gospels and the stories of Jesus.

    I think this is important, as it shows new identity, new life, and new creation is linked with being joined with Christ. Its a participatory atonement. I think this is key for our quickly changing culture here.

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    • That’s really encouraging Colin.. thank you! In the Grove book and the dissertation that preceded it I made more of Irenaeus’ concept of recapitulation, which is what your South Asian friends are describing, than Jon did in his review. I came to an intuitive conclusion that this would be helpful, and have used it in my own pastoral practice, but here you are independently showing me that this works in real life. I’m reassured.

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      • Thanks Rebecca. Yes, its links in well with recapitulation and with Athenasius’ view on “straw being soaked in asbestos”. I had the privilege of doing my PhD on looking at the believers in South Asia from a Muslim background, looking at their atonement concepts. This was to the fore, with very little concept of judicail scenes or exchange. An important aspect is that it addresses shame, as opposed to guilt, and meets their felt needs of understanding in their worldview where shame is a major dynamic. (shame as in falling short, pollution and impurity, low value, low status, need for what is shameful to be annihilated and disappeared with only new creation being a way through this). Muller’s honour and shame touches on this.

        As you say, it means people presenting the gospel need to do so in the “key” (ie musical key), of honour, patronage, recapitulation, shame, union with christ, and new creation. A gospel presentation in the key of guilt, wages of sin, judicial scenes and exchange fall on deaf ears. They are not tuned to hear or understand in that mode.

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  5. “I agree with Welby. Our failure to communicate what we believe is nothing to celebrate. The gospel is good news. It is a message about God’s grace and truth: what He has done and what he continues to do.”

    Agreed.

    But it is also a message of warning. If the terrible warnings, not least from Christ’s own lips, are not communicated alongside the wonderful invitations and promises, we are not being faithful to the total message.

    Phil Almond

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    • Hello Phil,
      It would be interesting to hear your conversion story. The how, the factors, convictions, perhaps how you see in retrospect, the order of salvation if indeed there can be separation into discernible categories, which has tested many a theologian.
      One of the scriptures for me was the the end of Romans 7, but it was one of a number of scriptures to not only convict, forgive but to the promises and Goodness of God in Christ; the kindness of God leading to turning to Him, but in awe. After all, all scripture is living and active, sharper than a two edge sword.

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    • Indeed Phil.. but just think how human relationships get going for a moment. If we start a relationship with anyone with criticism, the relationship won’t even get going. A relationship that starts with fear or shaming is never going to be one of trust. It’s only once a relationship is well established that we can listen to our friend’s criticism or warnings and potentially receive and act on it.

      Surely something similar applies in our relationship with God?

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      • Rebecca
        See my September 29, 2020 at 6:48 pm post which includes:

        “….I believe that because of the Fall of Man and the sin of Adam we all face from birth onwards the wrath and condemnation of God and are born with a nature inclined to evil. That terrible condition stays the same as we grow up (compounded by our personal sins) and results in retribution inflicted by God on the Day of Judgment until and unless God in his love, mercy and grace, and in accordance with his sovereign election before the foundation of the world, regenerates, justifies, adopts us, unites us to Christ and starts and completes the process of conforming us to the image of Christ………………”.

        That is our relationship with God from birth onwards. He takes the unilateral initiative to save those he has decided in eternity to save.

        Do you believe that the doctrine of Original Sin, as truly expressed in Article 9, is true?

        Phil Almond

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      • Rebecca

        I should have added, to minimise the chance of misunderstanding, that I think that when Calvin wrote (in comment on Ezekiel18:23): “Besides, it is not surprising that our eyes should be blinded by intense light, so that we cannot certainly judge how God wishes all to be saved, and yet has devoted the reprobate to eternal destruction and wishes them to perish” – he got it right, whatever he wrote elsewhere. And Kuiper agrees with him in God-Centred Evangelism, page 41

        Phil Almond

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  6. “ ‘I am defining shame in a particular way—as a sense that one’s whole self is of little worth. This is the not shame that comes about through doing something wrong. This is shame that says ‘There is something profoundly wrong with me.’”

    It’s so helpful to have definitions in our rapidly changing semantic world. However, does that working definition now mean there is no place for the words ‘shameless’ or ‘shameful’ in relation to some forms of behaviour or actions? It just seems that if the definition of wrong is based on an individual’s feelings and hence is in some way bespoke, there is little place for applying the divine measure of ‘righteousness’.

    We always used to deal with the deceptions of shame as lies of the devil.

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    • Shame is a big set of related issues. Like the linguistic variant meanings of “love”. For shame it can be:
      Discrection shame – Knowing where the boundaries are and keeping them. Modesty. Decorum. So, to be shameless is to not know, or not care, about acting properly in a situation.

      Disgrace shame. There are many forms of disgrace and humiliation. These include
      1. Being of low status,or judged as low value (this includes the gender shape of shame so that “shame adorns women like jewellery”). e.g. being a white, working class, shell suit wearing failure.
      2. Loss of status and loss of face. Being belittled or shown up as deficient. e.g. Failing at an exam.
      3. Alienation and the despair of aloneness. The effect of being outcast, rejected, ostracised, cancelled etc.
      4. Pollution, impurity and defilement. “I felt so dirty”. To be touched by, or associated with, someone polluting. E.g. You’re a Muslim and some Muslims are terrorists. Through to the effects of abuse.
      5. Sense of low self esteem. That continual placing of self as of low value, worth or esteem
      6. The emotion of shame, often overwhelming and governed by the emotions of loss, isolation and defilement. This felt most keenly as the response to an acute shaming event. “Oh ground, open up and swallow me now”.
      7. Rage: the white hot desire to destroy and tear at the causes of the shame

      So to have a definition that hones down on the type of shame being discussed is useful, without negating the other meanings of shame in the semantic field.

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      • Colin. Greetings. I have memory of you sharing before from your experience of Asia in relation to the the topic of shame in relation to the cross . I would love to read more. I have ordered Rebecca’s book but if you could point me to any other resources – perhaps anything you have written? I would be grateful.

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        • David, I dont’ have your email. I’ll happily send you a condensed bibliography and my PhD (which is written to be read – so not as hard work it sounds). I’ll ask Ian for your email address.

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          • Can I read your PhD too, Colin please? It sounds very interesting. Please can you ask Ian for my email address too?

    • Peter – you are right that there are many definitions of shame. I have chosen just one to talk about, which is why I needed to define it. The kind of shame I am talking of has been called ‘toxic shame’ by some, to distinguish it from the necessary shame which prevents us from behaving in a shameless manner. Those from honor-shame societies see shame as an important check to people’s wrong behaviour. Te-Li Lau has recently released his book ‘Defending Shame’ to make this very point.

      I have been careful to say that a felt sense of shame is only one aspect of wrongness – guilt and misdeeds are very much there too – so there is room in my scheme for an objective measure of righteousness. It’s just that I have been trying to right the balance, because in our concern with wrong deeds we appear to have forgotten to take account of the deceptions of shame, which indeed are lies of the devil. Our inner Accuser gets to work on our inner conception of ourselves in a way which is bespoke..he knows our areas of weakness all too well. And out of the subjective sense of inadequacy/shame he has evoked come envy, anger and fear and these result in objective unrighteous actions. It’s all muddled up together.

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  7. It is interesting to reflect on how the majority of the responses to this review focus on the comments about the atonement. I am not surprised because these words are provocative but its worth reflecting on why.

    Maybe an academic, cerebral perspective on scripture provides a hermeneutic which focusses more on the ‘technical’ rather than the ‘human’. The gospel stories say very little about ‘how’ the atonement was achieved but are full of stories about Jesus bringing shalom and transformation to people.

    This is the focus of the booklet – it is a work of pastoral theology, written because of a desire to see God’s message of hope and wholeness break into people’s lives.

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  8. The gospels are also full of warnings from Jesus to repent and believe. Also the gospels climax with the blood shed for many for the remission of sins. And for those who know that their sins deserve eternal retribution nothing is more pastoral and human than the terrible and wonderful truth that the Incarnate God has borne that retribution in his human nature.

    Phil Almond

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    • But Phil, your response reinforces my point. I don’t know anything about your pastoral experience but I would not think that this kind of language or approach is very effective with reaching out with compassion and, what feels to them like, grace.

      With blogging and comments, we can trade all the remarks we want about doctrinal positions but how does this actually work when you are seeking to connect someone with God’s forgiveness and love?

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      • Jon

        As I see it there are two questions in this discussion.

        First question: what are the truths, true for God and true for us, of Christianity.

        Second question: how should those truths be communicated (preaching, teaching, counselling, private witness etc.) to people.

        This post just explores the first question to see if you and those on this thread who have supported you agree with me on certain truths, certain doctrines, of Christianity.

        Depending on the outcome of debate on the first question we may then be able to have a discussion about the second question.

        You have heard all this before but I do not apologise for repeating it because this is the most important discussion/disagreement we have.

        I believe that because of the Fall of Man and the sin of Adam we all face from birth onwards the wrath and condemnation of God and are born with a nature inclined to evil. That terrible condition stays the same as we grow up (compounded by our personal sins) and results in retribution inflicted by God on the Day of Judgment until and unless God in his love, mercy and grace, and in accordance with his sovereign election before the foundation of the world, regenerates, justifies, adopts us, unites us to Christ and starts and completes the process of conforming us to the image of Christ.

        This is true for all of us, rich and poor, self-confident and broken, intelligent and not intelligent, victims and oppressors.

        The need to be delivered from the wrath to come is the paramount need of us all, infinitely more important than all other needs, though many of those other needs are extremely harrowing.

        The death and resurrection of Christ results in manifold blessings to those who submit to him in repentance, faith and obedience. But one of these blessings is essential to meet our deepest need: the terrible and wonderful truth that the Incarnate God has borne that deserved retribution in his human nature.

        So, Jon and others, do you agree with all of that, some of that, none of that?

        Phil Almond

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        • To your first question, I would say that the core command of God to humanity is that we love God and love our neighbour. On this will we be judged.

          The church’s job is to help people do that through following Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

          I don’t see in your words above the compassion and humanity of Jesus – I see a lot of doctrinal word-play which reads very differently to the truth revealed in the life and example we read in the gospels.

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          • Jon
            Thank you for your reply. You have not answered the question I asked, but your reply gives me the impression that you don’t believe that the doctrine of original sin is true. Have I got the right impression?

            Phil Almond

          • I agree with you Phil –

            Jesus first words at the outset of his ministry were “repent” not “let me heal you of your shame”

  9. This helpful article reminded me of a couple of lines in an old commentary on Galatians by John Stott. At one point he says this – ‘every time we look at the Cross Christ seems to say to us, I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying … Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there that we shrink to our true size.’ But not everyone has an inflated view of themselves. Some have no view at all – but devastatingly low self esteem and deep shame. To them these words just crush them further. He seemed to me to completely miss the gift of Christ’s cross to those who needed lifting up, not pulling down. By contrast I am was much influenced in my training by Dr Frank Lake who had an extraordinary ministry to long term broken sufferers and victims in this world – those who have been left largely shattered by their experiences of life to have any inflated notions at all. He believed that we focused far too much on personal guilt and blame when we spoke of the cross. He would actually say to such folk ‘the cross is God’s apology to you for a world that has caused you so much pain’. I have known people transformed by hearing that spoken to them – that Jesus is unashamed to come to ‘even’ them and raise them up in love.

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    • Thanks David – the quote you share has captured the challenge nicely. It shows an author, who despite his humility in many ways. is also writing from a natural place of authority and inherited privilege.

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      • Thanks Jon – yes ‘a natural place of authority and inherited privilege’ captures it very well. And a place most naturally inhabited by men who were the only preachers and leaders for so many years.

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    • Ah yes, David,
      That has reminded me of Lakes erudite clinical theology which was informally taught by a none stipe CoE minister with a locally approved healing ministry.
      Brokenness can be a key aspect to bringing people to Christ, broken for them.

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    • “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”

      ― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

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    • Well put David. The effects of shame is deep alienation, and the healing of shame is acceptable connection and identification with. “Hi, I’m Colin and I’m an alchoholic”. “Yep. I am too”.
      Jesus connects and identifies with us, such that I believe his incarnation was completed when he died on the cross. He became sin, and knew shame. What I look from my place of shame I see someone who says “I know. Me too”.
      But this is where my South Asia friends then help take me forward. Joined with him, identified with him in our death so we are with him in his resurrection and re-creation. Its not so much an exchange in the atonement, its an identification, a joining with in both death and new life.

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      • Thanks Colin,
        I’d suggest that it is not either or, but both and; Divine Exchange and Union with Christ joined to him.
        It is a reality which is a much neglected, forgotten teaching from the reformation.
        Two have been a great influence in this; Mike Reeves and Sinclair Ferguson.
        Reeves suggested that Union with Christ renders redundant the objection to the court room drama of justification which complains that it is little more than a legal fiction.
        Ferguson has some excellent teaching available online, and if I remember correctly weighs up how frequently the term, “in Christ” occurs, and it’s meanings.
        An illustration in my formative Christian life came from a principal of a Scottish Bible college. It was similar to the illustration you gave above in an earlier comment.
        Hold out a hand with fingers stretched out and thumb, upright at right angles, in an L shape. Fold down thumb into palm of hand and wrap fingers around it, fist like. That represents what it is to be ” in Christ”. It forms life illustration on which to add scripture, moving hand down – dying in Him- and raising it up – new resurrection life in Him.
        Then the other hand can wrap around the first, representing life in Christ in God.
        Clearly it is imperfect as full theological exposition.
        Thank you for pressing the point. It overcomes categories of privilege gender and skin colour.

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        • Thanks Geoff, I’ll look up Ferguson and Reeves. I haven’t run in to them so far.

          One point: You rightly say “its not either/or” with respect to exchange and participation/union. However, it seems to me that there are cultures, and subcultures, that are tuned to resonate with one or the other. So in mission, evangelism and in presentation of the Gospel, the message given with an emphasis on one will not by heard or understood by those of the other culture. I give my South Asian experience above in a reply to Rebecca. There, their culture tunes them to resonate with a participation/union understanding of the Gospel, almost to the exclusion of western jucidial concepts. Metaphors like ransom, and payment of debt were also quite low on their radar. However, they did resonate strongly with cleansing, being joined with Christ (and therefore dying and rising with him), having shame addressed etc. Its almost like they live in Romans 6,7, & 8 without knowing much about Romans 1,2 and 3. Whereas maybe Western culture has been somewhat the reverse (though that is changing at a precipitous rate).

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          • Agreed, Colin, though Ferguson sees it as central today, everywhere, even in the West, including the reformed. I don’t think I’m exaggerating, or misrepresenting him, though, as always, I stand to be corrected.
            Reeves: I’ve downloaded some of his teaching a number of years ago, from UCCF, and New Word Alive. His “Our life in Christ” book, while not on the scholar level, was also inordinately helpful.
            Ferguson: While I downloaded a lot some years ago, there is much to be found recently with a simple search, including this which I’ve not listened to nor have access to, a taster to a series of teaching:
            https://youtu.be/ipAIgjdmFX4

            It was this in Christ, union with Christ teaching, probably starting with Mike Reeves and your illustration that brought to remembrance the visual hand illustration I saw years ago but which I didn’t really take in for a number of years later.

          • Thank Geoff. I’m listening to that as I type.

            Many years I ago I was at bible college, and whilst making a coffee in the common room a friend, almost absentmindedly said “What do you think it means to be ‘in Christ'”. I don’t remember what I said, but it was some pat answer. My friend rounded on me, fixed me with an irritated glare and said “you didn’t even listen to the question. What does it MEAN to be ‘in Christ'”. And I realised I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t even have a foothold on which to begin to find an understanding.
            Since then, that question has sat on my shoulder whispering to me. I keep finding more out, but its never fully answered. I wish that question to all my sisters and brothers in Christ.

    • Thank you David – I so agree! It has always fascinated me that the Magnificat, which Anglican clergy are supposed to say every day, has as its model of salvation the lifting up of the lowly rather than the forgiveness of sins. Despite the fact that it is said every day its truth rarely seems to reach the pulpit. Perhaps it is because it is a perspective from a woman, someone who started from a low position, unlike most preachers?

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      • Rebecca

        ‘And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins’

        ‘And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour’

        Phil Almond

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  10. Restoring the Shamed: towards a theology of Shame. By Robin Stockitt. Published by WipfandStock and Stock. Available on Amazon.

    Reply

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