Symbolic bloodBy Eugene K. Souder Grottoes, Va.
Regarding “Bloody Hymns” (Letters, April 2) Dan Leatherman finds “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood” “a residue of a bygone era’s atonement theology.” His recommendation: Christus Victor theology seems more “effective” for communicating the message today.
The hymn’s author went too far with the literal analogy. But Jesus also uses a literal description: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54). Many disciples left him because they didn’t understand.
But Jesus was not speaking literally: “The words I have spoken unto you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). “To eat” Jesus is to depend on him for eternal life, just as Christ depended on the Father (John 6:57-58).
Some need Jesus only as a great example. That’s important, but our overwhelming need is for a Savior who came to free us from our bondage to sin (Matt. 1:21). To do this, it took Christ’s death, his blood. Paul says, “Christ did this by making peace through his blood on the cross” (Col. 1:20).
Throughout Scripture, “blood” is used to describe Jesus’ crucifixion death. Revelation concludes with: “You are worthy to take the scroll [God’s plan for history] and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased people for God” (Rev. 5:9).
Blood is a symbol, as is the cross. But let’s keep Jesus Christ joined to both symbols, lest the symbols become fetish and distort their meaning.
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