Personal Finance & Spiritual/Practical Wisdom with James Choi

Personal Finance & Spiritual/Practical Wisdom with James Choi

Hey Dave/Curtis,
I’ve had a question floating around in my head that seems to be perfectly calibrated for you two, so I thought I’d toss it out.

There has been a lot said on the West’s individualism in contrast with the more collectivist way of understanding the world that is cultural backdrop for the biblical writers, particularly of the Old Testament. I was hoping you guys could zoom in on one very specific aspect of this contrast: the effect of English Common Law on our understanding of the atonement.

Since the large focus placed on the individual before God in the penal substitution atonement model during the Reformation, a lack of emphasis on the collective kingdom of God, as seen in Christus Victor models of the atonement, has plagued the Protestant church. I am wondering how much this is reflective of the reformations writers understanding of the law in secular terms? John Calvin was a lawyer, and I am sure that other read their own legal context into the legal and penal language in scripture.
How does this match up with the development of English Common Law? It seems to me (as an outsider to much of this surely) that the English Common Law system is primarily focused on individual rights and individual responsibility. If that is the case, it seems natural to me for a modern westerner to read legal language in the Bible and jump to qualify it as only applying to the individual (see discussions of CRT, the social gospel, personal evangelism, and reparations). Is my understanding of English Common Law too narrow to burden it with the charge of ushering individualism into the Western legal mind? Did this development occur throughout the continent, or would it only have effected English writers? How has the calcified individualism seemingly inherent in the English Common Law tradition distorted a modern reading of scripture, and particularity the theology of the atonement?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *