I think the first time I heard the story was at high school baccalaureate. It is apparently an illustration relaying to us how Christian sacrifice works.Legend has it that a seminary professor was teaching an intro to Christianity class and wanted his students to understand and appreciate the Gospel.
So one day he selected a buff student named Steve and asked him how many push-ups he can do. He said about two hundred. They work out a deal for a class illustration.
The next day of class, Professor asks a girl in the first row if she wants a donut. “Yes,” she says.
“Steve,” says Professor, “Will you do ten push-ups so she can have a donut?”
He repeats the same thing for the next student. And the next one. And the next one.
He gets to one kid, another athlete, and asks if he wants a donut. The guy says, “can I just do my own push-ups?”
“Nope,” says Professor. “Steve has to do them. It has to be Steve.”
“Then I don’t want it,” says the guy, who has decided that his desire for a donut isn’t worth making another guy work that hard for no reason.
But Professor makes Steve do the ten push-ups anyway. Professor puts the donut on the guy’s desk, even though he doesn’t want it.
Increasingly, the students begin to say no. The more Steve does push-ups, the more they don’t want the donuts. More students from other classes come in to watch. Steve has to do ten push-ups for each.
It gets emotional. Even though Steve can stop at any moment and the only thing at stake here is a box of donuts.
Eventually, Steve collapses on he floor.
Professor gestures to Steve and says, “And that’s how Jesus paid for our sins.”
Honestly the first time I heard that story I laughed. What kind of illustration is that?
Salvation is not donuts. If I don’t have a donut, I don’t really lose much. The day will probably still turn out fine. And Jesus did more than push-ups. And he didn’t just do them for anyone who walked in the room. And I’m pretty sure you don’t just get a donut no matter what, if salvation is donuts, even if you reject it.
And donuts are bad for you. People have plenty good reasons for not wanting to eat a donut. Why would you guilt someone into NOT eating a donut? You’re supposed to guilt them out of it.
And if I was Steve, I would have been like, “hey Professor, why don’t I just not do the push-ups for people who don’t want a donut? You have a book full of material on Jesus. Why don’t you use that?”
What kind of depraved atonement theory is this?
What kind of warped gospel did these students graduate with? No wonder they spent all semester with this Teach and didn’t get it.
Just—look, if you hear that illustration on the last day of your seminary class, or whatever, just stand up and tell everyone that donuts are on you after class if they want any, and if they don’t, that’s okay too.
If you really want a donut, share this post and post a comment. I just might mail you one. And nobody has to do any push-ups.