Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Thursday, May 10

Girardian Scapegoatism

Buck Eschaton has introduced me to the Girardian concept of atonement and scapegoatism.

While it raises some valid points, and rightly denounces any form of mob lynching, it requires you to suspend a consistent interpretation of scripture, zooming in on the bits that support the theory but disregarding those that don’t.

This idea reduces the death of Christ to a mere mob lynching (it was a lynching but that is only one aspect of it).

It denies that God is angry at sin. (He’s not much of a God if he will watch Hitler and Pol Pot without getting a little hot under the collar…)

It denies justice for the victims of sin. Unqualified forgiveness is an insult to the victims. (See recent press reports of English Vicars who sexually abused choir boys and the church forgave without taking disciplinary action. These cases have now blown up 20 years later.) In true Christian Atonement, the perpetrator is punished by God in Christ, and so from the victim’s perspective, bearing in mind that He forbids us from taking revenge but says "Vengance is mine, I will repay", justice is received from God.

It denies the divine origin of the Old Testament sacrificial system, in particular the scapegoat ritual. (It makes this section of the OT to be a product of Josiah’s reforms.)

It introduces a non-biblical “Oh, well, never mind, forget it” concept of forgiveness which has more in common with Islam than Christianity. (as above)

It insults the heroes of our faith, and makes Joshua to be guilty of lynching Achan, when he was following God’s orders in a state execution.

The whole idea is a classic case of theological invention, and a poor one at that, which would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. In fact, blasphemous. It interprets the work of God as human sin.

Some of you will no doubt follow my links, read it and be taken in. I urge you see instead the gaping flaws in the logic.

For example – in one of Buck’s posts he denounced Joshua for sentencing Achan without the evidence of two or more witnesses. Well, he confessed, and when a group of men went to his tent they found it was true, ie there were more than two witnesses, and the legal requirement was fulfilled. If this is the quality of the Girardian case, it is clearly weak.

The strength of this rant gives it more credit than it is due.

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