Tony Jones and "irony"

Thanks to my blogging conspirator Kevin for the heads-up. He points me to a blog by Tony Jones. According to Tony’s bio on the beliefnet website, Tony is “a leader in the emergent church movement and a renowned expert on postmodern theology and the American church landscape.” At Tony’s own website, he refers to himself as “an author, theologian, social commentator, blogger, and sought-after speaker on the topics of church, theology, spirituality, postmodernism, and politics.”

I’ll try to keep it simple so keep up!

Over Easter weekend, you know, the holiday in which Christian worldwide celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, Tony posted two blogs. One of them was entitled “Why Jesus Died“, and the other was “Why Jesus Rose“. In the latter, Tony writes,

“…there’s really no reason for the resurrection. It’s little more than Jesus, “Ta-Da! See, I told you that I was divine!” (Which, by the way, Jesus attests only ambiguously, and primarily in the Gospel of John. Take a deep breath, people. I’m not questioning Jesus’ divinty; I’m just saying that Jesus himself wasn’t particularly adamant about it.) There must be more to Jesus’ resurrection than another proof of his divinity.”

Re-read the statement…there’s no reason for it other than to prove His divinity, so there must be a reason for it. What?

In Tony’s most recent blog post, “The Irony of the Young, Restless Reformers” he mentions that in his aforementioned blogs, that while he “affirmed a traditional and orthodox understanding of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”, he is against penal substitutionary atonement, which he refers to as “PSA.” What is “PSA”? It’s the old, and apparently incorrect old chestnut that that Jesus, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished (penalised) in the place of sinners (substitution), so that God can forgive sins. Historically, criticism of PSA has come in several ways, from the anti-trinitarian Socinus who denied the deity of Jesus (which, tony does not), to the differing ideas of justice between the Hebrews (Old Testament) and the Roman (New Testament-Paul especially) to the post-modern idea that Christ on the cross is “cosmic child abuse.”

Tony’s understanding is that the real purpose of the cross and resurrection is that so God can really understand humanity. The only REAL way to do so would be to experience death.

Final comments:

Tony affirms “a traditional and orthodox understanding of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Does he want a cookie? Are we supposed to applaud? He is, after all, a Christian. (Well, he claims to be). Should we expect less?

In the latest blog post, “The Irony…” he posted a quote from the Edict of Worms from 1521 that blasted Martin Luther for straying from orthodoxy. In his next breath, Jones has the audacity to write, “Now, before you read some of these blog snippets, hear me well: I am not comparing myself to Martin Luther.”

Good, because you’re not Martin Luther. And the church of today is not the Roman Catholic Church of 1521. Penal Substitutionary Atonement is not even in the same ball park as ANY of Lutherr’s 95 Theses. It’s not even the same sport.

Speaking of irony, Tony…how’s this?

James 2:19- “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.”

I’m just saying.



Filed under edict of worms, emergent church, james 2:19, martin luther, penal subsitutionary atonement, roman catholic church, the problem with kevin, tony jones

3 responses to “Tony Jones and "irony"

  1. As often happens with those who try to critique him, I’m afraid you totally mis-read and severely flatten what Tony says in his posts.The point is that we need a much fuller understanding of atonement and the resurrection. PSA is one of many biblical understandings of atonement, but it unfortunately has been the sole player on the American Christian scene.PSA flattens that fuller understanding into the basic formula “Jesus died for my sins.” If that is all the atonement is then pray tell what purpose does the resurrection have? (Which is WHY tony says there is no reason for the resurrection for those who hold solely to PSA.)Again, when it comes to Jesus’ death and resurrection, Tony has said that it is MORE than God’s identification with us. The resurrection is the sign that the kingdom has been inaugurated in our midst; that there is not just a heavenly dimension to the kingdom of God but a very real earthly dimension to it as well.

  2. I’m not really certain what your criticisms are…you seem more irritated with than in disagreement with him. You quoted Tony and expressed frustration with him, but didn’t address any of the statements directly.

  3. “The point is that we need a much fuller understanding of atonement and the resurrection.”If that is the point, then Tony conveyed it VERY poorly. He said he that he finds PSA to be neither spiritually nor intellectually compelling. Granted, “compelling” is usually a weasel word someone uses when they wish to be dismissive, while allowing themselves to backpedal. Tony has done just that in subsequent blog posts.But, aside from wanting to have his cake and eat it too, I fail to find the depth in his words. What, exactly, has John flattened here?Every time an emergent leader receives criticism for saying something incendiary, they resort to the claim that their critics have unilaterally misread them. “PSA flattens that fuller understanding into the basic formula “Jesus died for my sins.””No it doesn’t. “If that is all the atonement is then pray tell what purpose does the resurrection have?”To demonstrate Christ’s deity, and to prove that we can have a new life. The questions of whether someone is God, and whether we can have eternal life are kind of a big deal, in my humble opinion. In order to defend this position, he asserts that this is out of line with “the narrative”, which is a catch all term for Tony’s belief that the Bible needs to reflect the God of his own pre-suppositions. How a man coming to Earth as God, fulfilling the prophecies of the OT prophets, and predicting his own death and resurrection does not fulfill the “biblical narrative” is beyond me. But, whatever sells books, I guess.

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