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CVA Weekly Newsletter
January 20, 2012

  1. Activist Feedback
  2. Upcoming Activism Outreach Opportunities
  3. Activist Film Tour in New York City, January 26
  4. Comments on Recent Essays
  5. Essay: Some Societal Implications of Substitutionary Atonement Theory
  6. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Activist Feedback

Lorena, who leafleted with Julie and Ana at Winter Jam in Atlanta on Jan. 15, writes:

Leafleting went fantastic! Julie, Ana, and I gave out 900 booklets in less than 1 hour. We also managed to pick-up the discarded ones and re-distribute them. This was the first time I leafleted this event and next year I’ll make sure to bring at least twice as many booklets and recruit more volunteers if possible.

The crowd was mostly young people and they seemed receptive to the message. Most of them were reading the booklets while waiting in line.

2. Upcoming Outreach Opportunities

1/26 MS Biloxi The Rock and Worship Show

1/27 AL Huntsville The Rock and Worship Road Show

1/27-28 FL Miami Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade

1/28 IN Indianapolis The Rock and Worship Road Show

1/29 MN St. Paul The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/2 IL Hoffman Estates The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/2-3 AZ Phoenix Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade

2/3 MI Ypsilanti The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/4 WI Madison The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/9 TX Corpus Christi The Rock and Worship Roadshow

2/9-11 AZ Phoenix Joyce Meyers Conference 2012

2/10 TX Dallas The Rock and Worship Roadshow

2/11 TX Wichita Falls The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/12 NM Las Cruces The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/17 OK Tulsa The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/18 TX Lubbock The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/18 MT Billings Women Of Faith One Day

2/23-25 TX Arlington Joyce Meyers Conference 2012

2/25 CA San Jose Women of Faith One Day

2/25 TX Dallas Women of Faith One Day

2/26 MO Springfield The Rock and Worship Road Show

3/8-9 NC Charlotte Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade

4/22 CA San Diego TABLE EarthWorks' EarthFair 2012

4/22 MO St. Louis TABLE Earth Day Festival

4/28-29 CT Hartford TABLE Connecticut Vegetarian & Healthy

Living Festival

5/20 CA Van Nuys TABLE WorldFest 2012

International events:

1/29 CANADA Alberta Edmonton Third Day Christian Rock Concert

3. Activist Film Tour in New York City, January 26

The Activist Film Tour will include three animal advocacy films. They will start at 6 PM on Thursday, January 26 at Columbia University – Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th St. in New York City.

“Vegucated” follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Initially, they were enticed by the prospects of weight loss and better health, but as they learned about how animal foods were produced they became inspired to confront the industries that abuse animals. This entertaining documentary shows the evolution of three people trying their hardest to change in a culture that seems dead set against it.

“Together: Dancing with Spinner Dolphins” This is a short film about a human dancer and a spinner dolphin who express mutual affection and shared excitement by dancing together.

“From Farm to Fridge,” narrated by James Cromwell. This is an eye-opening exploration behind the closed doors of the largest industrial poultry, pig, dairy, and fish farms, hatcheries, and slaughter plants, detailing the abuse inherent in generating flesh destined for the fridge.

4. Comments on Recent Essays

I would like to commend you for discussing problems with the substitutionary theory of the atonement. In my theological studies, I spent some time researching the 19th-century English and Scottish theologians (e.g. F.D. Maurice, John McLeod Campbell, and Thomas Erskine of Linlathen) whose writings on the nature and extent of the atonement have been considered so significant as to be referred to as a Second Reformation. George MacDonald was influenced by these earlier theologians. C.S. Lewis was influenced by George MacDonald, but seems to have missed a great deal of the spirit within GMD's core beliefs. GMD, like his predecessors, rejected substitutionary theory as unjust and abhorrent, having the power to distort and corrupt not only our understanding of God's character, but also our own spirits. C.S. Lewis' portrayal of Aslan's sacrifice as an appeasement to some sort of "deep magic" requiring the shedding of innocent blood to free the guilty, has probably done a great deal to influence Evangelical adherence to substitutionary atonement as the only orthodox understanding of the nature of the atonement. However, as Thomas Erskine noted, this is "man's religion; and it is in fact nothing else, than his natural selfishness acting in relation to the things of eternity, just as his principle of worldly conduct is selfishness in relation to the things of time." And as self is the very "misery of man," any theory of atonement which strengthens the principle of the self rather than subordinating the self under the love of God, is seriously flawed: "No pardon which leaves this undone is of any value" (Thomas Erskine).

Looking forward to seeing where you are going with your reflections on animal sacrifice itself.

Franceen Neufeld

5. Essay: Some Societal Implications of Substitutionary Atonement Theory

Last week, I discussed theological difficulties associated with substitutionary atonement theory – the theory that Jesus death was a sacrifice needed to atone for humanity’s sinfulness. Some of the theory’s social implications are problematic.

Substitutionary atonement theory treats sin as a legal problem – humanity’s offense against God – rather than as a social problem. The theory does not regard sinfulness in terms of society’s institutions or events of human history (other than original sin). Consequently, the theory does not challenge unjust human institutions, making it easier for Christians to countenance injustice. This, I think, is one reason that Christianity has, at various times in history, accommodated slavery, subjugation of women, cruelty to animals, and other unjust arrangements.

Substitutionary atonement theory sees Jesus’ death as satisfying the penalty for sin. Now that human sin is no longer a barrier to justification before God, one may focus on one’s own individual salvation and pay little attention to social justice. Although Christian doctrine generally holds that “saved” Christians naturally reflect God’s love, in practice many Christians, confident of their justification before God and therefore convinced that God is guiding their moral decisions, can believe that selfish and other patently unjust behavior represents God’s will.

Another difficulty with substitutionary atonement theory is that it portrays Jesus as innocent yet voluntarily submitting to suffering. This has often been an obstacle to people who suffer as a consequence of unjust social structures, because church authorities have often told victims of abuse, “in imitation of Christ,” to submit to domestic or other abuse in the same way that Jesus accepted his tragic destiny.

Finally, substitutionary atonement theory adopts the logic of Caiaphas who, in trying to convince the chief priests and Pharisees to call for Jesus’ execution, said, “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish" (John 11:50). Substitutionary atonement theory posits that it is indeed better for one innocent man to die to save everyone else, which has been the logic of scapegoating violence throughout human history. Indeed, one might wonder whether substitutionary atonement theory presents Christianity as a new revelation, or whether it presents Christianity as a variation on the perennial religious theme that gods demand sacrificial violence.

Next week, I will discuss theories regarding the sacrificial killing of animals in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

6. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

The Living Results of a Truly Soft Heart 

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