Posted by: rogermitchell | November 19, 2011

atonement as cosmic sewer

As is clear from the previous few blogs on the abominable poppy, and from the central thesis of my new book, I regard the appeasement approach to the cross as secular, pagan, and part of the deep structure of empire that the salvation story is intent on undoing. From my reading of the Jesus story, the cross, and the incarnation that it consummates, is the opposite of the politics of empire and appeasement that lies behind Western history and the contemporary nation state. Rather, the cross is the embodiment of a divine transcendence that pours out in a fulness of power that is the reversion of hierarchical sovereignty and its destructive effects. It follows that the atonement it secures is a dynamic reconnection of God and humanity, transcendence and immanence, in an outpouring of love into the whole creation. Seen in this light it is the revelation of kenotic power that that some of us have developed the word ‘kenarchy’ to describe (from the Greek ‘keno’ ‘to empty’ from Paul’s famous hymn in Philippians 2:7).

I still remember the first time I heard Roger Forster preach on the cross and describe it as the location and point in time when God reached into the detritus of human history with a cosmic dishcloth and mopped all the mess into himself. It is not too difficult a move from that to the image of the lavatory or sewer where God flushes into himself all the injustice and sin of the human race with its toxic effects. This is informed by a particular reading of Jesus’ statement in John’s gospel “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself” (Jn 12:32 MKJV). Most translators include the word ‘people’ or ‘men’ to qualify ‘all’, but the word in the Greek is ‘pas’ which according to Strong includes “all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole” and that Abbot Smith defines as “all, every, of every kind.”

So the cross draws everything into a transhistorical moment in time where it is evaluated and aligned, both evil and good, in terms of kenarchic love. That which is unloving is sucked into the heart of God, like a cosmic virus vault or hell, (for where else can hell possibly be?) and that which is truly loving is raised into eternal life, a new creation, an “incorruptible seed,” with which it is possible for anyone who so desires to be inseminated. As Paul puts it “it is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body” (1 Cor 15:42), and as Peter has it “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1Pe 1:23).



  1. Really looking forward to reading your book, it’s been great tracking with all that you’ve articulated through this blog. It’s a pleasure when people express clearly what you have only felt or intuited in fragments, or indeed when they blow you away with new connections between concepts. Thanks for all you’re doing!

  2. I always love it when toilets are the analogy!

  3. This makes me think of all the countless people over the ages who had difficulty believing that God loved them, even with the witness of the gospel. Somehow, that love was never real to so many people. Perhaps because the God that was preached was in need of appeasement. Fail to appease correctly and you fail to garner His love. Interesting, that the latest move of the Spirit resulted in such a lot of teaching about the Father’s love seemingly, in any case I can think of, without challenging this core concept and view of who God (and Jesus) really is. c.

  4. Excellent post Roger. A very helpful and exciting exegesis of John 12:32.

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