The bloodiness of our religion is off putting to some. At a recent controversial conference, "Re-Imagining...God, Community, the Church," Delores Williams, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, told the group, "I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all. I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff."
I believe a response to Dr. Williams’ comment by Betty Evans Streett in a recent issue of The Christian Century was right on:
I can’t imagine how Delores Williams, a speaker at the Re-Imagining conference, doesn’t see the need for a bleeding God. My husband and I live on a river bank and last week we watched ten baby mallard ducks follow their mom to the water and swim away. The next day a small child with a stick hit one of the babies on the head and apparently caused internal bleeding. Daily we see scenes of bloody bodies in Bosnia and Rwanda. Every day, kids shoot people for kicks. Almost every day, I lacerate someone’s character with my tongue. Blood is everywhere.
Atonement goes both ways. I would not need, wouldn’t even find interesting, a God who didn’t share my human nature by suffering, bleeding and dying. And who couldn’t, or didn’t demonstrate love’s absolute ascendance over the evil of this world through the power of the resurrection.
As a T. S. Eliot character said, "I’ve gotta use words when I talk to you." God has to use blood.