Day Three was somewhat disorienting. It started with Wayne Cordeiro. Now Cordeiro comes bouncing up on the stage, spends significant time kidding with Hybels and then – almost incongruously – speaks of his bout with an emotional breakdown. Now I get that: “I’ve suffered from major depression and now I’m all better” is the message.
The message was powerful and a fearful warning for ministry people who may be closer to the edge than they know. He discussed symptoms of ministry burnout; the positive things that can come out of only suffering; and then some practical thoughts on how to avoid or recover from breakdown.
Bill Hybels finished up the conference and his talk had two parts. This contributed to my sense of disorientation. The talk was entitled, “The Power of Clarity;” and, knowing Hybels, you might expect a the-stakes-are-too-high-to-not-be-clear-about-your-vision-for-without-vision-the-people-perish thing. But that was not to be. He began by talking about how something recently caused him to change his mind about what he’d talk about today. OK, that’s got my curiosity up, right there. Now I'm disoriented. What happened? What’s the catalyst for the change? Then he used the title to make a clear and strong statement about the place of the theology of Substitutionary Atonement.
Now Hybels said some great things about this, and I appreciated his stand. Far too many in certain segments of the “Emerging Church” movement have – wrongly – stated that Substitutionary Atonement has no rightful place in Christian theology, doctrine, or belief. This ranges from Brian McLaren’s rather lukewarm acknowledgement of even the existence of the term to some more rabid bloggers who deny the validity of the doctrine. In the hurry to affirm the true-at-the-same-time other models of the Atonement, several have decided to jettison Substitutionary Atonement. This is wrong, of course.
So it gets me back to wondering what event cause Hybels to change his talk to become an affirmation of Substitutionary Atonement. Hmmmm.