Easter has come and gone for another year, but yesterday I had a listen to the Nomad conversation with Alan Mann. I first read Alan in 2004 when his book (co-written with Steve Chalke) The Lost Message of Jesus was published. At the time it caused a lot of controversy, but I found it a thoughtful read. At the time I’d been reflecting a lot on how to talk about “sin” in a meaningful way, as the term had lost it’s currency in what was and remains a post-Christian New Zealand (if indeed we could ever have been called a “Christian country”. I was looking for a new language; a new way of talking about what it meant to talk about a wide range of human experiences; feelings such as shame, brokenness, pain, failure etc.
I subsequently read Mann’s first edition (Authentic Media, 2005) of Atonement for a Sinless Society. Mann was trying to reframe the conversation around “atonement”; rather than primarily offering a new theological take on the atonement.
Anyway, back to the focus of today’s post. Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Dave Ward popped “over to Bristol to chat with Alan Mann. Alan asks the question, what could the atonement mean for a society that doesn’t consider itself sinful in any traditional sense. Rather than ‘sin’ Alan believes the issue we now face is shame and it is this that Jesus’ death needs to set us free from…”
You’ll find the (downloadable) podcast here. The conversation starts around the 5 min mark.
For more on the atonement I recommend J. Denny Weaver’s The Non-Violent Atonement (2nd Edition). Weaver offers critical reflection on Mann’s (and Chalke’s) take on the atonement in the book – pages 300-306. Also published in 2005 was the very accessible Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley edited collection essays titled Consuming Passion: Why the Killing of Jesus Really Matters. It features essays by Steve Chalke, J. Denny Weaver, Giles Fraser, Stuart Murray, Ched Myers, Michael Northcott, James Alison and others. Well worth a read is the 2006 Mark D. Baker edited Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary Images of the Atonement. This features some excellent essays by the likes of Brian McLaren, Steve Taylor, Richard B. Hays, and Rowan Williams.
Finally, I also highly recommend one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read on the subject. James Alison’s very accessible and exciting Knowing Jesus (first published in 1993), which has a foreword by Rowan Williams. See also his more academic The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes, written from the perspective of the resurrection.