Triune Atonement: Christ’s Healing for Sinners, Victims, and the Whole Creation

Triune Atonement by Andrew S. Park

Triune Atonement by Park

In this recent book, Triune Atonement: Christ’s Healing for Sinners, Victims, and the Whole Creation (2009), Andrew Sung Park attempts to explore the biblical and theological meanings of Christ’s atonement for victims, oppressors, and nature from a Korean American perspective. Park underlines a new understanding of Christ’s death outlining two main parts: Part 1: Atonement History; and Part 2: The Triune Atonement.   

In Part 1, Dr. Park reviews the history of atonement by examining the major atonement theologies developed from the second century C.E. (Irenaeus) to the twentieth century C.E. (Tillich). He examines the main points of each theology of atonement using primary resources and evaluations. His critical review of the theology of atonement allows him to argue the fact that “most of them basically leave untouched the issue of the liberation of victims and their healing (p. 37).” Based upon his critical review of the development of this atonement of theology, in Part 2, Park develops his main theme of Jesus’ atonement for victims, oppressors, and all creation. In this matter, he rejects the traditional theories of atonement.   

 Why, then, the triune atonement? His idea of the triune atonement comes mainly from the Gospel of John and from the church fathers. He articulates that the Paraclete (παράκλητος) whose functions are to intercede, to comfort, and to help the victims. His intention is to highlight the significance of the work of the Paraclete involving the person of Jesus and God. In his introduction to the book, Park clearly asserts that “the church has not explicitly explained the work of the Paraclete for our atonement, but God has transformed, saved, and liberated people through the Paraclete (xiv).”   

Park argues that “Jesus’ cross restores victims’ integrity and dignity by repudiating the idea of a sin-punishment formula (p. 69).” This means that Jesus’ atonement includes both the victims and the oppressors. He emphasizes the idea of “sin-forgiveness” formula instead of the “sin-punishment,” as he suggested in his previous book, From Hurt to Healing (2004) in which he advocates a theology of the wounded. Park believes that the Bible shows that “the God of the Hebrew Bible is the God of mercy and grace,” and God even forgives people with no punishment as expressed in Jesus’ parable of the lost son in Luke 15.   

One of the most intriguing arguments in this book is the suffering of nature from abusive treatment by humans. His book ends with his own reflection on the passage of Isaiah (Isa 11:6-9) as follows: “Here the predators and the victims eat and play together, and the oppressors and the oppressed rest and enjoy each other in God’s creation. When we come to live with God’s nature in harmony, we will be able to acclaim God with shouts of joy (p. 108).” Thus, this book underlines the renewal of God’s whole creation. Park’s theology on atonement moves further from the redemption of humanity (both victims and the oppressors) to the restoration of the whole creation.   

One thing I want to make clear is that his book attempts to explain the meaning of Jesus’ atonement for victims and victimizers from an Asian American perspective. Park approaches this topic with the Korean term han. While he clearly defines the Korean word han to describe Jesus’ atonement for the victims, he does not develop how this particular Korean term han furthers soteriology in the idea of Jesus’ atonement for oppressors and the whole creation.

A Liverly New Interpretation of Genesis: Original Sinners

Today, I got a new book entitled Original Sinners by John R. Coats. As soon as I got the book, I looked at the contents. In his new interpretation of Genesis, Coats, former Episcopal priest, explores the strengths and weaknesses of the characters in the book of Genesis. Beyond the biblical scholarship, I think that his theological reflection on the people and stories of Genesis can help our own life, family, and colleagues. Senior Publicity Manager, Heidi Metcalfe introduces this book as follows:

Coats demonstrates how we can view the characters and stories on Genesis as metaphors in which to see the best, the worst, and all the intermediate states in ourselves- greed, generosity, betrayal, growth, and trasformation and redemption.  

I recommand the book anyone who wants to reflect the significance of the stories of Genesis for our contemporary life, not to explore the socio-historical contexts from which the book of Genesis emerged.

The 352nd Meeting of the Chicago Society of Biblical Research

The 352nd  meeting of the CSBR (Chicago Society of Biblical Research) was held at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. The meeting, in particular, was to honor the scholarship of Professor Hans Dieter Betz. Two scholars who are former students of Dr. Betz offered their tributes to Dr. Betz: Clare K. Rothschild and Margaret M. Mitchell.

Meeting of Chicago Society of Biblical Research

In the session, three papers were presented, and the followings are the abstracts: 

1. Revisiting the Judicial Species of Rhetoric for Galatians by Troy Martin (Xavier University)

 The primary purpose of this paper is to evaluate an old suggestion by Cornelius a Lapide and Heinrich August Schott about the syntax of Galatians 1:6-7 that supports Hans Dieter Betz’s association of Galatians with forensic rhetoric. Rather than connecting εἰ μή in verse 7 to the preceding relative clauses as do all other commentators, they connect these two words to Θαυμάζω in verse 6. According to them, εἰ μή introduces a protasis for an apodosis that begins with Θαυμάζω. The resulting syntax indicates that Paul adopts the rehtorical strategy of “shifting of blame” in this attempt to persuade the Galatians to return to his gospel. Since shifting of blame is a recognized strategy in forensic rhetoric, their explanation of the syntax of Galatians 1:6-7 makes this part of the forensic species of rhetoric useful for understanding one aspect of Paul’s rhetorical strategy in Galatians.

2. The Depictions of Paul and Other Jews as Present and Former Persecutors in the Acts of the Apostles by James Kelhoffer (St. Louis University)

This paper examines persecution as a basis for legitimacy in the Acts of the Apostles. In particular it considers Luke’s negative depictions of Jews as persecutors and Luke’s characterization of Paul as the persecuted former persecutor.

3. The Cultic Status of the Levites in the Tmeple Scroll: Between hermenutics and History by Jeffrey Stackert (University of Chicago)

The complex views of Levitical cultic status in the Pentateuch continued to develop in Second Temple Jewish Literature. In several texts (e.g., Chronicles, the Testament of Levi, Aramaic Levi, Jubilees), the status of the Levites vis-à-vis the priests changes and even improves relative to their rank in pentateuchal Priestly literature. Perhaps no Second Temple text, however, is more noteworthy on the question of the relative status of priests and Levites than the Temple Scroll. By both mediating between biblical Priestly and Deuteronomic perspectives and innovating beyond them, this text introduces cultic privileges for the Levites unattested in other Second Temple literature. In this paper, I will attempt to explain the Temple Scroll authors’ exegetical engagement with their biblical sources as a basis for their novel presentation of Levitical cultuc rights. I will also consider the historical conditions that facilitate the legal innovations that the Temple Scroll introduces with regard to Levitical cultic status.

A Biblical Response to “Test Case for Libertarian Free Will”

A couple days ago Denny Burk published an interesting essay entitled Test Case for Libertarian Free Will. It is a reflection on YHWH’s commission to Moses (Exod 3:18-19). Burk points out YHWH’s two predictions:

(1) The Israelites will choose to follow Moses. [and] (2) Pharoah will choose to reject Moses’ directives.

With these two predictions Burk discusses the issue of “free will.” He invites readers to think about the following quesitons: “Were the Israelites and Pharoah free to choose other than what they did?”

I’d like to answer the questions from the teaching of the Wisdom of Ben Sira (Sirach). Richard J. Clifford denotes that one of the main teachings of Sirach is “divine sovereignty and human freedom [my emphasis].” It emphasizes an “obligation to reassert human freedom and responsibility” (Clifford, 130):

Do not say, ‘It was the Lord’s doing that I fell away’; . . . ‘It was he who led me astray’ (15:11-12); ‘Do not say, I am hidden from the Lord, and who from on high has me in mind?’ (16:17).

Ben Sira’s emphasis on human freedom is based on the nature of human beings (15:15) and the character of God (15:11-20). So my answer to Burk’s quesions is simply “yes.” Both the Israelites and Pharoah were free to choose what they would have chosen.

Reference List

Clifford, Richard J. The Wisdom Literature. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998.

Greek and Hebrew Devotional in BibleWorks 8

I recently installed BibleWorks 8 into my computer. Whenever I open the program an annoying pop-up windows shows up. I hate pop-up windows. But I have learned that it is a new tool in BibleWorks 8 callled “Greek and Hebrew Devotional.” I found it is a very helpful tool (not just a pop-up windows) for keeping my reading of Greek and Hebrew everyday. Here is what the BibleWorks Classroom Resources comments on Greek and Hebrew Devotional:

A new tool in BibleWorks 8 is the Daily Light devotional. This new tool can not only provide daily inspiration from the Bible, but can also be used to refresh and enhance knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.

Click Tip 2.2: Greek and Hebrew Devotional for details.

The Monday Night Group

Did you know that there were missionaries who aided Korea’s democratic revolution? I went to the library today and found an interesting book entitled More Than Witnesses: How a Small Group of Missionaries Aided Korea’s Democratic Revolution (Seoul: Korea Democracy Foundation, 2006).

More Than Witnesses in EnglishMore Than Witnesses in Korean

This book is a collection of the witnesses of missionaries who got involved in Korea’s democratic revolution. They came from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Germany. They voluntarily walked the path of suffering in the darkest days of Korea’s political history in the 1970s and 1980s. The current president of Korea Democracy Foundation, Father Ham Sei Ung, designates them as “Good Samaritans.”

They are a small minority of missionaries those who were struggling for justice, while the majority of missionaries remained silent. They agreed to get together to share news about what was happening to their Korean colleagues, students, and neighbors on Monday nights. This is how the “Monday Night Group” was born.

As a missionary-journalist and a member of the Monday Night Group, Jim Stentzel edited this book, and all contributors of the book were also the members of the group.

Stentzel identifies the small group of missionaries with the small minority within the Korean Christian community:

One of the interesting things about the democratic revolution that occurred slowly in south Korea over the last three decades of the 20th century is that the Korean Christians who played such central roles in the revolution were a small minority within the Korean Christian community, which at that time comprised a minority of the south Korean people. Why is this worth noting? Because self-proclaimed ‘Christian majorities’- in south Korea today as well as in the United States- lay moral claim to levers o conservative state power. As a small minority within a minority Christian in the 1970s, the Korean Christian patriots could never have been accused of such arrogance. Any secret ambition to impose a religious or moral agenda would have been laughable. The Korean Christian patriots were more the conscience of the nation than a power base. They sought not power themselves but the empowerment of others, especially the exploited and oppressed (pp. 29-30).

This book provides a new aspect on missionaries to Korea. They were sent to Korea to transform Korean, but they were transformed. They were also introduced to some of the dark side of capitalism. They saw God’s handiwork to the Korean Christians who moved to the forefront of the country’s struggle for democracy and human rights.

Taste of Korea at Redeemer Lutheran Church

kevin.jpgKevin Roiseland, director of international student programs at Wartburg College, presented today his one-month experience in Korea at Redeemer Lutheran Church. The title of the presentation was “Taste of Korea.” As the title indicates, he heavily focused on the Korean food and their warm hospitality. He also addressed the current situation of Korea in relation to the U.S.

I helped his presentation, and also presented a brief history of Korea from the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945) to the present (2008). While I talked about the history, I invited them to think about these questions: What makes the Korean church grow? What do you see for the growth of Korean church from the history of Korea? I stressed the growth of Korean church cannot be separated from the Korean’s experiences from 1910 to 2008: the Japanese colonial period (1910-45), the period of trusteeship of the U.S. (1945-48), the Korean War (1950-53), the period of industrial development (1970-present). I insisted that the suffering of Korean people throughout the modern history is almost incomparable to any other nations. In my view, thus, the experience of suffering may be one of the main forces to lead the growth of Korean church.

How Do We Know the Locations of Biblical Place?

My colleague Kevin Wilson, who is currently teaching an introductory Bible class at Wartburg College, showed me a student’s test paper. The student completly messed up on the map test. The student locates Jerusalem at the vicinity of Damascus; Megiddo is located in Egypt; and so on.

I asked myself these questions, “How do we know the locations of biblical place?” “How are the locations of the ancient places determined?” “Did William F. Albright was completely right to locate the biblical places?” There can be little question, regarding the locations such as the Jordan River, ancient Jerusalem, Hebron, and Mediddo. But many biblical locations are problematic.

In his article, Maxwell Miller (“Biblical Maps” [BR 3/4, 1987]) notes three kinds of evidence to locate sites of ancient cities: (1) ancient written sources, including the Bible, provide to determine the loactions; (2) modern Arabic place-names that preserve the memory of ancient names offer a second kind of evidence; and (3) the archaeological excavations are the thrid kind of evidence.

Miller points out that the most influential biblical archaeologist William F. Albright was wrong to locate the biblical site Debir (Joshua 10:38-39; 15:15). After his excavations between 1926 and 1932, he published the book The Excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim (1933) and argued Debir is identified with Tell Beit Mirsim. His identification of Tell Beit Mirsim as biblical Debir was dependent on his military conquest model, and it is presupposed in a whole generation of Bible atlases, such as The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible. In the 1960s, however, Moshe Kochavi excavated a site called Khirbet Rabud, a deep in the hill country by southwest of Hebron, this site is regarded as a more likely candidate for Debir than Tell Beit Mirsim. 

Miller insists that our biblical maps and atlases represent scholarly opinion as result of the biblical and archaeological research, rather than primary evidence of what they assert. Thus, the three kinds of evidence-ancient written sources, modern place-names, and archaeology-must be used carefully and cautiously.

Reference List

Miller, Maxwell. “Biblical Maps” BR 3/4 (1987).

Who are the Exiles Today?

The Bible tells us about ancient Israelite expericences. One of the most prominent experiences of the ancient Israel would be the experience of exile. But how would you define the exile? In what sense the Bible accounts for the exilic experience?

The exile may refer to any people forced or voluntary to leave their tranditional homelands, so that the exile could be deportee, diaspora, refugee, alien, and immigrant. The Bible, indeed, is full of the exilic experience either by forced or by voluntary: the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (forced); Abraham and his family chose to leave their own land by the divine command (voluntary); Jacob’s fled from his own territory (forced? or voluntary?); Joseph was deported from his land (forced); Moses fled into the desert after his murder of an Egyptian (forced? or voluntary?); the Exodus from Egypt (voluntary); David’s deportation from his land (forced); deportation of Northern tribes by the Assyrians (forced); and the Babylonian Exile (forced).

The exilic experience is not just the experience of ancient Israel but the experience of modern people. Who, then, are the exiles today? They could be Mexicans in the U.S., North Koreans in China, Tibetans in India, and so on.

Peter Stalker introduces a survey conducted by the United Nations:

80 million people now live in “foreign” lands. One million people emigrate permamently each year, and another million seek political asylum. There were 18 million refugees from natural disaster or war (Stalker 1994, 3).

It is very important to respond to this reality. As a theological response, Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, who is a diasporic or exilic theologian, argues as follows:

Ancient Israelite responses to exile and diaspora, as reflected in the biblical texts, can provide the building blocks for rethinking the role of the Hebrew Bible in informing the modern Christians theological enterpreise (Smith-Christopher 2002, 6).

elvira-arellano.jpgSojourners magazine (September-October, 2007) introduces a movement so-called “the New Sanctuary Movement” that churches are the first to offer refuge to a person facing deportation. In the article “Living in God’s House” in this magazine, Celeste Kennel-Shank introduces an interview with an undocumented immigrant. Her name is Elvira Arellano who has taken sactuary in Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago since Auguest 15, 2006.

Kennel-Shank said,

Elvira Arellanno, 32, wants to be able to pick her son up from school and take him out for ice cream on hot days. But she cant’ leave her church, where she has taken sanctuary. . . after immigration officials told her she would be deported. she fears she will be separated from her son, Saul, who is 8 years old and a United States citizen.

The case of Elvira Arellanno is an example of exilic Mexicans in the U.S. But there are so many exiles in the world today. Smith-Christopher insists that exile is the daily reality for millions of human beings at the opening of the twentieth-first century. How would you respond to this reality?

Reference List

Smith-Christopher, Daniel. A Biblical Theology of Exile. Overtures to Biblical Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002. 

Stalker, Peter. The Work of Strangers: A Survey of International Labour Migration. Geneva: International Labour Office, 1994.

An Adopted Korean Student at Wartburg

I met an adopted Korean student here at Wartburg about three weeks ago. His name is Joshua Kim Dockum. When I met him for the first time, I was confused by his last name. We met several times over the next two weeks.

I wanted to know how he identifies himself. He started to talk about his bio-parents, and he expressed that he is eager for a meet with his bio-parents. Then he identifies himself as an adopted Korean-American and gave me a short article that he posted on Wartburg Trumpet entitled “Life Enrichment found through Adoption Process” (October 24, 2006). He is proud of his parents and encourages people to consider adopting as follows:

My name is Joshua Kim Dockum, and I am adopted. Furthermore, I am not ashamed. I am proud of my parents, and I encourage people to consider adopting.

U.S. citizens adopted 265,677 children between 1971 and 2001 from other countries, according to the Adoption Institute.

United States citizens tend to adopt more children from foreign countries following wars, periods of extreme poverty and social upheaval.

Sixty-four percent of internationally adopted children are girls, and 36 percent are boys. Most are girls from China. The Chinese government actually restricts births. Parents who have more than one child are encouraged to place girls for adoption.

Experts say that almost 90 percent of internationally adopted children are younger than 5. In 2001, nearly 75 percent of all children came from five countries; China, South Korea, Russia, Guatemala and Ukraine.