An alternative to Barth and Calvinism ???

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For those who are keeping up to date with Gavin Rumney’s blog of late, he is discussing his displeasure with 20th century Swiss theologian Karl Barth and his theology (or Barthianity as Gavin calls it). What also equally torments Gavin is that the evangelical WCG has a strong admiration for Barth and Gavin has some uncompromising words for Barthian admirers saying that,”WCG’s Surprising God blog – a kind of mutual admiration forum for the terminally deluded.”

Gavin says earlier in his post “any mind poisoned with Calvinism is a terrible waste. ” Karl Barth was no exception. I, like Gavin also have trouble with many aspects with Calvinism with the exception of the sovereignity of God and their belief in once saved, kept saved. Other than that, I don’t care for Calvinism, especially their belief in predestinarianism either.

 Somebody had problems with Calvinism too back in the 19th century. This person was George MacDonald (yep, that guy in the picture above) a man who inspired C.S. Lewis decades later.  According to wikipedia, “legend has it that when the doctrine of predestination was first explained to him, he burst into tears (although assured that he was one of the elect). “

This 19th century Scottish fantasy writer and preacher also had an idea on the sacrifice of Christ,

MacDonald rejected the doctrine of penal Substitutionary atonement as put forward by John Calvin which argues that Christ has taken the place of sinners and is punished by God in their place, believing that in turn it raised serious questions about the character and nature of God. Instead, he taught that Christ had come to save people from their sins, and not from a Divine penalty for their sins. The problem was not the need to appease a wrathful God but the disease of cosmic evil itself. George MacDonald frequently described the Atonement in terms similar to the Christus Victor theory. MacDonald posed the rhetorical question, “Did he not foil and slay evil by letting all the waves and billows of its horrid sea break upon him, go over him, and die without rebound—spend their rage, fall defeated, and cease? Verily, he made atonement (Wikipedia, George MacDonald)!” I myself of recent times have shifted away from Anselm’s  (the Jack McCoy of his day 11 th century) view on penal substitution. I am hoping in the new year to write some book reviews on Christus Victor from Gustaf Aulen and Recovering the Scandal of the Cross and other posts on the Christus Victor view of atonement.

Also in Mark Tabladillo’s Jesus Loves Fellowship message board a few years back, Mark had listed George MacDonald as those who believed in the concept of Divine Perseverence where God makes a righteous provision for the unevangelized dead.  In my books, George MacDonald was trying to make God a “real nice guy” as opposed to what Calvinism presents him as a “cold, unemotional, stoic (and proud of it) God who simply predestines people either to heaven or hell, all to his glory.” Evangelicals have fared no better adopting some of these aspects of Calvinism into their theology.  Some emergents have raised issue, I hope other Christian believers will start raising issues too!

To read wikipedia’s biography on George MacDonald and his work, link here at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_MacDonald . Tell me what you think about C.S. Lewis’ mentor.