Q&R with Brad Jersak – “Do ECT & PSA hold any theological merit for you?”
Do ECT (eternal conscious torment) and PSA (penal substitutionary atonement theory) hold any theological merit for you?
Only in that some of my brothers and sisters hold these views and I believe we’re meant to continue in fellowship around our shared love for Jesus. I only wish that more Christians who hold those views felt the same way. When these positions are held as essential dogmas necessary for salvation, they too easily become a cause for breaking fellowship (in the name of ‘faithfulness’).
So, is fellowship the best way to treat a theology that was born out of the Genesis 3 disease?
The essential error of Adam in Genesis 3 was that he turned away from the Life and Love of God toward independence and alienation.
The essential error involved in dogmatizing eternal conscious torment or penal substitutionary atonement was in assuming that when Adam turned away, God also turned away—and even had to, lest somehow he would compromise his holiness. It imagines a division in the Trinity where God the Father could actually turn away from God the Son, or that the God of infinite love, whose mercy endures forever, could turn away from his own children, forever and ever. In each case, turning away is about ‘separation’—precisely the problem you see echoing from the delusion of Adam into these doctrines that seem, in retrospect, unworthy of the God revealed in Jesus.
Therefore, I have become convinced that the remedy for the disease of turning away is never turning away. Turning from ‘the other’ because of how they live or what they believe (even belief in ECT or PSA) is still the same old disease at work. You can’t heal separation by more separation. Turning away is never the remedy AND never turning away IS the remedy. This is what we see at the Cross: God’s faithful refusal to turn from us even when humanity murdered him.
Jesus showed us that the cure for the disease of separation is turning and returning toward Love—love of God, of brother and sister, of neighbor and stranger, and even those we imagine as enemies (including theological opponents). Now, healthy boundaries serve that love in important ways, but that topic awaits another conversation.