EPHESIANS 2 GOSPEL PROJECT: DOES THE ATONEMENT SPEAK TO COLLECTIVE IDENTITY CONFLICT?
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
And he came and preached [the gospel of] peace to you were far off and peace to those who were near.”
–Ephesians 2:13–17 ESV
Our diversity is not an accident. God created and ordained the cultural diversity of humankind in order to more fully reflect his glory, his majesty, and his truth.
The Ephesians 2 Gospel Project aims to explore a mystery:
Why is Ephesians 2:11–22, a text about cross-cultural unity in Christ, widely ignored as part of the gospel—despite its significant atonement and gospel content?
In addressing this mystery we have the following goals and assumptions:
- GROUP HOSTILITY IS A BIG PROBLEM: We have much group-against-group conflict in the church. Racism, tribalism, casteism, nationalism—these idolatries dishonor God and cause much suffering.
- OUR SOLUTION IS THE GOSPEL—with all its social implications. There is a social, horizontal dimension to the gospel of Christ because there is a social, horizontal dimension to the atonement of Christ. The gospel of peace offers reconciliation to groups in conflict (Eph. 2:13–17).
- WE DESIRE A GLOBAL HERMENEUTIC: We desire an international conversation of scholars and practitioners to explore collective identity conflict—primarily in two related conversations: a) SIN: What is the nature of sin relative to collective identity conflict? b) ATONEMENT: To what degree does Christ’s atonement address collective identity conflict? Note: Research on other topics relative to Eph. 2 is also needed (click here to explore).
- OUR SHORT-TERM GOAL IS A BOOK—along with companion resources that are by and for the Global Church.
- OUR LONG-TERM IMPACT IS SHALOM: We envision God’s people embodying Christ’s peacemaking work—his shalom—through the gospel.
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WEBINAR RECORDING: “THE ATONEMENT RELATIVE TO COLLECTIVE IDENTITY CONFLICT”
In this two-part webinar, you’ll hear from Werner Mischke, Vice President of Mission ONE, and Kristin Caynor, resources developer for the Global Church. The title is “Introducing the Ephesians 2 Gospel Project: Does the Atonement Speak to Collective Identity Conflict?
This webinar covers the biblical context of the passage, historical examples of violence between peoples, a conversation about sin, atonement, and the gospel, a reflection about glory, and more.
Part one is a presentation by Werner Mischke: “Killing the Hostility: The Atonement Relative to Collective Identity Conflict in Ephesians Chapter 2”
- 09:34 Begins presentation by reading Eph. 2:13–17
- 10:50 Examples of violence and group-based conflict
- 15:27 Conversation about sin
- 23:28 Conversation about the atonement of Christ
- 26:49 Is “justification by faith” the whole gospel?
- 30:49 Ephesians 2: Marginal or vital?
- 31:14 Conclusion and lead-in to Kristin Caynor’s presentation
Part two is a presentation by Kristin Caynor: “The Multi-Colored Wisdom of God: The Gathering of the Nations and the Defeat of the Gods”
- 31:49 Brief introduction by Kristin Caynor
- 32:56 Canonical Context: The Gathering of Peoples in Unity
- 34:39 Distinct and United: A Fuller Reflection of Glory
- 37:14 Context of Ephesians: The Cosmic Effects of the Atonement
- 45:11 Greco-Roman Context: Status Relativized and Identity Transformed
- 51:10 Conclusion: Galatians 2:20
Additional Resources on Ephesians 2
These papers are the basis for the webinar presentations above. Click to download:
- Killing The Hostility: The Atonement Relative to Collective Identity Conflict in Ephesians Chapter 2 by Werner Mischke
- The Multi-Colored Wisdom of God: The Gathering of the Nations and the Defeat of the Gods by Kristin Caynor
PUBLISHED ARTICLES / BLOG POSTS
- Christ Our Peace: Violence, Shame, and Glory in Early Christian Reception of Ephesians 2:11-22 by Kristin Caynor, Journal of the Study for Bible and Violence, Issue 1.
- Becoming the New Humanity: Preaching and Cultivating the Seeds of Ephesians 2 by Kristin Caynor, blog post at Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence (csbvbristol.org)
- Poor People Don’t Need Help. Where rich and poor come together, there is the kingdom of God, says Ugandan bishop Zac Niringiye. That’s quite different from pity, charity, or aid. Article/interview by Frank Mulder at The Plough.
- An Honor-Bearing Gospel for Shame-Fueled Crises by Werner Mischke, Missio Dei Journal (2020)
- Ephesians and the Multidimensional Gospel of Peace by Kristin Caynor; opening lecture for Lent Lecture Series, Center for the Study of Bible and Violence (CSBV), presented March 3, 2022.
- Possible academic studies for Ephesians 2 Gospel Project: This document has a chart listing 37 possible research topics concerning Ephesians 2 across four categories: Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, Missiology, Social Sciences. We desire the fellowship of scholars throughout the Global Church and their contributions to this project.
LINKS TO RELEVANT SITES
- The Anastasis Center: “We proclaim the healing of humanity in Jesus and the restorative justice of God.” Learn about healing atonement and restorative justice through a multitude of videos, articles, curricula, and other resources.
- The Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence: CSBV is a research community producing academic output in the form of books, papers, conferences, podcasts, and lectures. It is an ecumenical Christian organization embedded within Bristol Baptist College in the UK.
- Quellen is a reconciliation ministry that spans Europe and America. “What is the remedy for love and reconciliation in the brokenness of humanity? We believe it is Christlikeness above everything with Christ as the source (Quelle) for a reconciled life.”
JOIN OUR CONVERSATION!
We invite you to join the conversation on Ephesians 2—and other gospel-driven topics. Would you like to submit an article or paper you’ve authored? Or share a comment? Please do so by filling out this form. You may also write directly to Werner Mischke at email@example.com.
“I have watched this excellent webinar…I’d very much like to keep in touch with the important work that you are doing. I have long preached the importance of Ephesians 2 in the ways that you outline, and I’m thrilled to see this being explored properly and promoted globally.”
–Dr. Helen Paynter, Director of the Center for the Study of Bible and Violence (CSBV) at Bristol Baptist College in the UK
About Mission ONE
At Mission ONE, we believe that contextualizing biblical truth removes unnecessary cultural barriers to the hope found in Jesus Christ. We also believe theological education should be available to any person—no matter where they live in the world.
With the technology and communication tools available to the Global Church, we are committed to creating resources, like this webinar, to provide clarity and context to better understand and embody the gospel of Christ.
Mission ONE envisions a world where every community is transformed for the glory of God and the honor of all peoples. It is through collaboration in the Global Church that we are able to provide creative solutions, training, and support to help strengthen communities and bring hope to people in the hardest places.
We pray that resources like this one bring sound theological teaching that is meaningful to you.