We couldn’t be more excited to announce the re-publishing of Mbird “founding father” Paul Zahl’s Who Will Deliver Us?: The Present Power of the Death of Christ. It came out just as Thriller was hitting its stride in 1983 and believe it or not, the original title was “The Blood of Christ in an Age of Depression.” Here goes:

“An old joke is repeated year after year in the graffiti on public buildings. Someone writes for all to see, ‘Christ is the answer.’ After it someone has added, ‘But what is the question?’. The addition is perceptive. Unless Christ is a response to a question we are really asking, it makes no sense to say that he is the answer…

Is there a real problem to which the atonement of Jesus Christ offers a solution? What is irremediable about the human condition that it should require a death for healing to occur? The extreme nature of the solution, one person’s death for the ‘salvation’ of others, presupposes an extreme need on the part of the others.” (pg. 9)

I am suggesting that the fear beneath all fears, which in turn creates the stress, depression and anger of everyday life and human history, is fear of judgment. This is to say, the fear of ultimate condemnation, because fear of judgment implies condemnation… And condemnation spells a loss of status and position that in turn connotes a radical diminishing of the self, to the point of non-being.” (pg. 16-17)

“How can something that happened long ago meet the judgment that afflicts us now? We have proposed that the problem of being human is essentially a factor of fear. We live our lives under judgment. Whether it is for wrongdoing in a conscious mode or the pervasive, irrational, multiform fear that we are worthless and no good, we live our lives under judgment. St Paul’s way of stating this is that humanity is under law… But, says Paul, God has intervened.” (pg. 38-39)

“If a transition were possible in human experience from lives devoted to unsuccessful strategies attempting to overcome fear, to lives of heroism and trust, then many of us would be interested. If it were really possible to make a move from cowardice to heroism – and not because of duty, but because the roots of cowardice had been dug up, exposed, and withered, and it was no longer necessary for us to be cowards – then many of us would try. I believe the atonement of Jesus Christ has made such a transition possible. Both vindicating the rule of law and terminating it, the atonement has opened a route to freedom that points to the possibility of heroism in human lives.” (pg. 45-46)

Christianity promises many things. It promises above all else peace and joy in believing: It promises freedom from judgment, hence from fear. It promises joy in the present because the future is secured. It does not, however, promise exemption from sorrow and pain. Quite the contrary, it pleads suffering as its center.” (pg. 69)

“Although it is an overused word today, honesty is a fitting synonym for what the Bible calls repentance. Honesty is a truth-telling about our experience that has given up on strategies of flight, appeasement, or confrontation. Honesty means facing up to a tragic situation. In the New Testament, honesty is exemplified in Paul’s confession that his righteousness, his claim to moral superiority – let alone integrity – in the face of judgment, is equivalent to garbage (Phil. 3:8). In the light of such honesty, God’s imputation to us of Christ’s moral perfection is a precious gift.” (pg. 73-74)

“A ministry based on atonement allows for an anchored trust. We do not underestimate the force and brunt of affliction. But we interpret our way through it by means of a secure hope that is anchored in the past. Providence puts the burden of hope on God. It does not expect too much from our personal exertions. Not much we do is likely to diminish the fear and suffering that exist so pervasively throughout our histories. But God, as the Bible never tires of saying, will keep us from falling. While we shall retain a healthy suspicion of ourselves, our efforts and our motives, it is finally he who is ‘at work within us, both to will and work for his good pleasure’ (Phil 2:13). God provides.” (pg. 79)