Teaching Grace and Redemption

Authored by Amette Ley in Issue #35.2 of The Sower

‘But how does it work, Miss?’
She really wanted to know. At the start of Year 5, still interested in the way things work, even in religious education, she was genuinely puzzled as to how Jesus dying on a cross saves us from sin. She may have been sweet natured, sincerely interested and willing to learn, but she was only ten years old. How was I to answer her question in such a way that she could grasp its truth without being overwhelmed by its depth?

The question of how the death of Christ saves us has long been debated. The essential truth is the doctrine of atonement which holds that our reconciliation with God has taken place through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This reconciliation covers both the forgiveness of our sins and adoption as children of God. After the Fall, our relationship with God was destroyed in such a way that humanity could never reestablish it. What we could not do however, God has done in Jesus Christ. Christianity’s central message is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been saved from sin and made children of God.
However, although in teaching that atonement really happened, the question remains of how it happened, leading to more than one theory explaining the manner in which Jesus Christ brought this about. So which of the several different theories best lends itself to a child’s ability and imagination? We cannot help but think of God and his works in analogical terms, but all analogies eventually fail. Still there seems no other way to attempt any kind of explanation, both for ourselves and for our children.

I would like to consider the main theories of atonement and their appropriateness, or otherwise, for use with children, keeping in mind that they are not necessarily mutually contradictory, nor will they prove to be the solution to a ‘puzzle’; rather they provide a viewpoint from which to ponder the mystery.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact sower@maryvale.ac.uk

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Recovering God's Work in the Sacraments
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The distress has been palpable. Important voices within the Church decry clericalism as the cause of the current scandal. Others point to the Church’s teaching concerning sexuality not being lived or taught with clarity. Still others describe a lack of authentic conversion, that many of our leaders are not allowing the grace of Christ to bring... Read more
The Eucharist: Who, When, What, Why, and Where? Part 1
By Peter Kreeft
Free Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Buddha and Confucius and Lao Tzu all gave us their minds; Christ gave us his body. They all tried to save the world from ignorance by their philosophies; Christ saved the world from sin and death and hell by his body and blood—both on the cross and in the Eucharist. Christ said, “Come unto me.” Buddha said, “... Read more
The Two-Fold Gift of Sacramental Grace: To Heal and To Uplift
By Sr. Mary Madeline Todd, OP
One of the marks of contemporary experience seems to be a widespread sense of brokenness, a sort of heaviness of being. Therefore, one of the least debated claims of Christianity is that we need healing, both personal and societal. Social analysts repeatedly look for the causes of this individual and collective discontent. While there are cultural... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now