Dr Macneil’s Public Teaching
During a series of lenten sermons in 2013, whilst preaching on the parable of the Prodigal (Luke 15), Dr Macneil stated the following:
Although we tend to hear [the parable of the Prodigal] as a parable highlighting God’s welcome to all sinners, expecially those who have lurid pasts, like the younger son, its placement in the Gospel of Luke aims it straight at the religious authorities – the goody two shoes upholders of the faith. Will they join the party? Or will they stick to their rigid adherence to the Torah, tithing even the herbs in their cupboards, but neglecting mercy and compassion?
We can ask where it is that we are working within rules that neglect mercy and compassion.
Is it the Anglican Church of Australia’s reluctance to allow the ordination of gay people in same sex relationships?
While this is a rhetorical question, the intended meaning is transparent. Macneil is advocating for the ordination of people in same sex relationships as something that is good and godly “mercy and compassion”.
In a sermon at St Luke’s Enmore, Sydney, in October 2010, Dr Macneil gave a clear description of Penal Substitution and then labels it as ‘mechanistic and grim’.
It is clear from the gospel [Luke 10:1-9] and from Acts that Luke is not thinking of salvation and atonement in terms of what we now call penal substitution. This view uses the logic of retributive justice and argues that it was Jesus’ death on the cross that saved us from our sins and brought us into right relationship with God. A debt had to be paid for human sin and disobedience in order to satisfy God’s demands of justice. This is what made Christ’s death upon the cross necessary. In his great love for us, Christ is therefore said to had taken the punishment deserved by all humanity upon himself.
This rather mechanistic and grim understanding of atonement, prevalent not so very far from here, was not part of early Christian thought and clearly not part of Luke’s thought world. Nor does Luke regard Jesus’s death as a sacrifice or as an expiation for sin. His focus is more on Jesus’ life and on the wholeness that is brought to humanity through contact with the suffering Messiah.
There is no doubt in the gospel that Jesus is the Messiah, no doubt that he will suffer and die, but the wholeness that comes to people because of him, comes from their encounter with him.
Jesus’ presence is what brings life, peace, forgiveness of sins and right relationship to God
This same redefining of the atoning death of Jesus, is expressed in her Sermon for Christmas 2012:
Of course, some would argue that this is irrelevant – that Jesus’ sole purpose was to provide our passport to salvation, a mission he fulfilled very effectively, if somewhat mysteriously, by dying. He was, in short, a man born to die. If we believe that he is God, then everything will be OK. In this way of seeing things, the focus really belongs on his death and resurrection. The events of the 33 years or so between birth and death were pretty irrelevant really and just show us that he really was the long expected chosen one of God.
But I want to argue a very different kind of line. For I believe that the birth of Jesus as a human child, as one of us, has a much richer significance than that and is indeed infinitely more challenging. The incarnation is not some sort of crazy rescue plan; it is a systematic and timeless revelation to humanity about what it is to be human and about our relationship with God. Jesus’ life is not so much to show us who he is but rather to show us who we are, and who we are in relationship with God.
What Dr Macneil responds to here is a false dichotomy (that those who teach the atoning death of Jesus insist that his life is irrelevant), the same movement away from Jesus’ atoning death to an exemplar life, as she attempted to do at St Luke’s in 2010, is clear.
How Dr Macneil’s teaching conflicts with Anglican formularies and the Scriptures…
Read it all from here