The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Logical Contradiction

Quick (or not so quick) question:

If one holds to penal substitution and if one also believes that Christ atoned for all mankind, does that mean that no one goes to hell?

If hell is the punishment for sins and Christ bore the punishment for the sins of all mankind, then for any person to also bear punishment is double jeopardy, right?

I fear that I am in a contradiction… I am as convinced that there is a hell, as I am as convinced of penal substitution as I am becoming convinced that God will save everyone eventually. But now I am questioning whether it is logically feasible to believe all three.

:open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:

They seem contradictory to me too. I no longer believe in hell or think of the cross as penal substitution. The cross reveals our value to God, the love of God for us. We are worth dying for. And, well, one day all shall be reconciled to God and there will be no more weeping, and the lion shall lay with the lamb and the child shall play with the viper. Death shall be no more. The kingdom of darkness shall be eclipsed by the kingdom of light.

I think the cross is what it took to set us free. I think of Jesus as a rescuer – in that sense, a sacrificial lamb because He sacrificed His life to set us free FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. He died to save sinners (from sin). Without His work on the cross we can never be free. We are slaves of this world’s system, just as a married woman cannot be set free from the law of her husband unless he dies. Then she is free to marry another and will not be called an adulteress if she does remarry.

Even so, this world has been made dead to us and we dead to the world through the work of Christ on the cross. Why? So that we can belong to a new Kingdom; the Kingdom of our Father. We have been crucified to this world IN HIM. Father has taken us out of the kingdom of this world and placed us in the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption (freedom!) AND the forgiveness of sins.

Regarding penal sub, you might want to check out this video: in which Josh Tongol makes some extremely interesting observations about the Septuagint and how it differs from certain of our interpretations of the suffering servant passages in Isaiah. The bible is a book like no other book ever written, but in translation, it is subject to the same limitations (and more, to intentional or not intentional MISS-translations which on occasion might reasonably be put down to eisegesis) as other ancient documents. As I’m sure you will agree, the more we know about the original work, the better off we are. I don’t know how to check Tongol’s information, but you probably would have some idea as to where to start at least. It would be interesting to hear your estimation of the accuracy of what he says.

I believe that God IS the fire and that His love IS the fire. (And I even believed that way back before I watched The Flaming Toilet of Death here: (It’s the second video.) If there is anything worthless or harmful in our lives, it will be burned up in judgment whether we are Christ followers or not. Gold, pearls, and precious stones remain. So we should take care how we build (and with what) on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Yes, Christ followers (not just sinners) are in danger of suffering loss in the judgment and being saved through the fire.

Though I didn’t see this through the logical route by which it seems to be coming to you, I “knew” something didn’t work. It took me a while to figure out why. My friend and brother David tells our group the things he’s received from God through study of scriptures. I study the scriptures too, but what I get from God comes (with their influence) straight from His Spirit. Probably He does this because I don’t have the mental equipment David has – but if I don’t, WHOSE fault is that?! :laughing: I just say to David, “Oh yes, I know that.” He says, “What have you been studying to get that?” I say, “God just told me,” or “I had a dream and this is what He said it meant.” This is fun; I like teasing David. :wink: All the same, it’s great to have him around as a back-up. I could get off track by relying solely on my intuition just as David could wander the wrong direction by depending solely on his intellect. We need one another.

Study up on the various (complementary, imo) theories of the atonement. I think you will be delighted, possibly surprised, and that it will open doors that will lead you further into the joys of our Lord via His holy word.

Blessings, Cindy

Thanks for your reply Sherman.

Truth must be rational. If there is a contradiction, then it cannot be truth, and it is unworthy of belief. I must be wrong in at least one of the three positions:

  1. The death of Christ effectually reconciles the world to himself (universal reconciliation)
  2. Christ suffered God’s wrath in the place of those for whom he died (penal substitution)
  3. Some of mankind will experience God’s post-mortum wrath

Calvinism teaches 2 and 3 and rejects 1. That’s where I came from. I will not go back.
If 1 and 2 are correct, then there is no “hell.”
If 1 and 3 are correct, then penal substitution is errant.

No offense, Sherman, but I cannot believe that the warnings of scriptures to flee from the wrath to come are just empty threats. Why would God say that those whose names are not written in the Book of Life would be cast into a lake of fire if there are none who will actually be there?

So, I am left with questioning penal substitution. Yet, this is too much. I’ve been taught and believed that penal substitution is the gospel. From by background, if there is a “heresy” worse than UR it is the denial of penal substitution.


Thank you for your reply.

I find the above to be very much agreeable. The concept of penal substitution does not deny that the work of Christ frees us from bondage to sin. It isn’t one or the other; it is both/and. Our baptismal union with Christ (Romans 6:1-14) means that we died to sin in Him and have been resurrected to life in Him.

However, there appears to be more to it. Consider Colossians 2:13,14:

What is the “record of debt” with “legal demands” ? How is this explained without saying that there is a legal penalty that must be paid?

Also, consider 1 John 2:1-2:

The word propitiation means satisfaction. The work of Jesus Christ is a satisfaction to the Father for our sins. He is our Advocate/Defender/Protector. Why do we need an Advocate to the Father? Who is it that requires a satisfaction? Sin is an offense to God. Christ is the satisfaction to God for our sins. There appears to be more here than just a ranson from slavery to sin.

I listened to it last night, then again tonight. Concerning the Spetuagint translation of Isaiah 53, it’s all Greek to me. However, I don’t see how a translation (Greek to English) of a translation (Hebrew to Greek) can be a better translation than a direct translation from Hebrew to English.

Interesting you point this out. I was just reading an article this evening concerning apokatastasis (Universal Reconciliation) in the Eastern Church, and it says the following concerning Origen, who believed the same thing:

Thanks for the encouragement. As I said in my response to Sherman above, I’ve always believed that penal substitution was the gospel. How dare I question such things?!?!?

First off…forget about the word hell. It is an english word used to translate 1 hebrew and 3 greek words. It should never have been done like that. A gross mistake made by the translator of the KJV.

Secondly, there is judgement…It’s just not eternal. It is for those in the 2nd resurrection and it’s purpose is to purge the carnal nature out of all mankind, with righteous judging Godly fire. The Lake of fire. It won’t be pleasant but it is part of the process that God has ordain to reconcile unrighteous mankind to himself.

So there will be a reckoning for sin, just not a tortuous eternal burning. God judges righteously and punishes righteously as well. The punishment for sin is death. Not after death…but death, and after this death is thrown into the Lake of Fire, then resurrected life.

I hope that helps explain it simply for you. :mrgreen:

i haven’t studied the other theories of atonement all that much, but i know that PSA doesn’t satisfy me.
God arbitrarily and deliberately setting up a system where He knew we would fail and anger Him, and making it (again arbitrarily) impossible for us to atone for this and simply say sorry, and then dying to satisfy His own wrath at us failing this arbitrary system does not make any sense at all.


from this point of view, the way i’d been taught by Infernalists is that if you ACCEPT Christ’s sacricife, you are totally and utterly exempt from any punishment.

if you reject it, you get the punishment.

if you want to accept that point of view including PSA, and want to accept UR as well, then you have the option of accepting that the word translated as “eternal” in certain translations of the Bible does not mean that at all. in that case, PSA could cover the believers, and finite cleansing discipline/chastening/pruning could affect the unbelievers, until there sin is atoned for. you can chuck out Anselm(?)'s horrid theory that my tiny finite sin is an infinite sin against the infinite dignity of God, as that doesn’t make any logical sense…and then you are left with a far more Biblical view of punishment for sin.

the only problem with this is that many (all?) of Christ’s warnings of (possible) eschatological punishment were directed not at unbelievers but at believers…which to me is yet another issue with PSA.

my own view is more Girardian. i think Christ died as a scape-lamb to make it clear and obvious to humanity that we are locked in a cycle of imitated unhealthy desire leading to war of all against all, synchronising into all against one, the vulnerable in our midst, who we scapegoat and kill to “cleanse” ourselves of our own chaos. which works a treat (for the murderers), until the religious euphoria wears off and the cycle of covetousness starts again, and we seek a new victim we can blame. we can’t blame Christ, though we tried - as He is OBVIOUSLY innocent, and so He offers Himself as a means to break the cycle.
this is a radically different perspective, but it fits the narrative of the Bible, and makes God’s justice more about re-establishing loving relationships, raising up the victims, putting down the murderers…raising valleys and lowering mountains as Isaiah says.

Hi Watchman,

Thanks for your reply. I don’t think it is so simple.

I use the term “hell” as the common usage, and it is easier to write than “lake of fire.” When I use the word “hell” the lake of fire is what I mean, not an intermediate state between death and resurrection.

Then the finished work of Christ is not enough to save humanity. The ordinary means of grace (Word and sacrament) by the work of the Spirit is not enough to apply the finished work of Christ. Something more is necessary than what Christ accomplished and what the Spirit applies.

So the work of the Holy Spirit uniting us (by the sanctifying power of the Word of truth) to finished work of Christ does not accomplish the reconciliation for the majority of mankind, but punishment does ?

If I grant that the penalty for sin is finite (note the “if”), that still doesn’t take care of the sin problem. Suffering punishment for sin doesn’t make people holy. Sinners are still sinners. There would be an infinite succession of sins to pay for. It is not enough to have a payment for sin. The sinner must be regenerated. He must have an actual righteousness. This requires union with Christ. The question of theory of atonement isn’t either/or but both/and… that is: sin must be paid for and the sinner must become holy.

How does that make one actually holy? Without holiness, no man can see God. There must be a radical change in man, not just a “break[ing] of the cycle.”

No, i disagree: there is no “if”. Lamentations 3:31 says God does not cast away forever, and Psalm 35 (IIRC) says God’s anger is but for a moment. Punishment CANNOT last forever. Time and time again we see this in Scripture: a pattern of discipline (which is a process that not just deals with sin in a retributive manner (if it does at all, which i SEVERELY doubt: see my point at the beginning of God arbitrarily creating a system in which we would definitely fail: retribution would be pointless and monstrous in that case, and Calvinism as an example doesn’t allow for the free will that might explain a portion of that, but Armenianism makes it a big gamble at BEST), but mostly in a manner that trains up and teaches (“so that they may know my name is the Lord!”)) [apologies for extended nested parantheses].

However i TOTALLY agree that pure suffering (ie hell) does not make one holy, but i do not agree that because legal/financial systems of justice are used as incomplete analogies we are to assume that “paying for sins” is a concept that works in eternity, with God as the righteous Judge. A sin can be forgiven: it cannot be “paid for”. The only way to totally eradicate a sin is to undo it. The stolen thing returned, the murdered victim resurrected, the broken relationship reconciled. THAT is justice. God is Love, and so Love’s justice must work as love would work. Love does not keep a record of wrongs, it simply forgives. It is DONE.

If that is the case, why do we see “punishment”? For the process you mention: being made holy…not that suffering causes holiness… but loving discipline is a means of training us, chastening, pruning, etc. It is unpleasant, but when it is over, it is with gratitude we look back and see how we have been changed. suffering does not bring this…but a faithful rebuke from God…a time even in the Lake of Fire…can

Even more though, why did Jesus die if God can simply forgive? Why does He demand discipleship and faith from us?
Jesus died to destroy the works of Satan: that is, wrongful desire leading us to conflict, leading us to kill each other, particularly the innocent. Jesus died to show us our sins. Breaking the cycle is not a nice way to put something…it’s not an easy alternative to saying “God’s wrath must be satisfied”…it is paramount. it is the difference between us continuing in sin that ruins us and others, and repenting of (abandoning) our sin, having a change of mind through His Spirit, and continuing on to holiness (which is a word thrown about a lot…it means being Called out, Separate, and Good - all things that God’s loving discipline, Christ’s sacrifice of Himself to us to set us free, and many other things result in.)

“Breaking the cycle”, which you so casually dismiss, is to me a far more radical change than simply “becoming a Christian”. it is what happens when, even if you don’t know His name, you become His disciple and allow Love to change you. what else can it mean but pure holiness? not false piety but real Love working out through our actions and words.

A Calvinist Universalist would say that Christ died for all and his PSA paid the price for the sins of all; therefore no one goes to hell

A Calvinist hypothetical Universalist would say that Christ died for all and his PSA is sufficient to save all but is only efficient for the elect. Therefore the reprobate go to hell (but there is a softening of the division between elect and reprobate in the idea of Christ’s death being sufficient for; this intimates heaven will have a wider population than Calvinists I guess (and indeed the hypothetical universalists have been more charitable)

A Calvinist who believes in limited PSA atonement believes that ‘All’ does not mean ‘All’ but rather human beings from all classes and nations who are elect. Most people go to hell on this reading.

Which one seems the most or the least logical to you?

Those of us who do not hold exclusively to PSA would agree that PSA gives us insight into part of the truth – Christ did pay the debt for our sins and cancelled this debt; he became sin for us and stood in the place of alienation and abandonment from God for us; if sin had not been dealt with in Christ’s death the consequences of sin would still be corrosive and virulent whereas now the consequences have been dealt with giving them a fatal blow even if they are still with us.

But for example we would argue that substitutionary atonement is not the whole picture -

When God threatens to destroy Nineveh the people repent and he does not need to destroy them – nor does he need to have infinite satisfaction from them for the infinite offence to his honour. He’s satisfied with their repentance.

As James said there are many passages in the Hebrew Bible where God speaks of his anger as monetary, something he is slow to, something he can also repent of.

God desires mercy and not sacrifice

When Jesus tells his listeners to ‘flee from the wrath to come – this does seem to be about the destruction of Jerusalem, and is linked to other verses of lament over Jerusalem that tell Christians to flee. And they did flee – they got out before the Romans surrounded the city. PSA – in its Calvinist form – is all about what God does. It’s not about a human action like ‘fleeing’.

Colossians also tells of how Christ in his cross led the Powers of this world in triumphal procession – in his humiliating death he turns the tables on the powers of Rome the powers of this world that lead the defeated captives in triumph. The theme of the defeat of the powers does not seem to fit PSA – but it does fit Christus Victor models of which Girard’s theory that James has articulated rather nicely is a variant.

The defeat of death – the freeing of all people from captivity to death through crucifixion and resurrection in a key NT theme that PSA does not seem to do justice to.

The external logic of PSA also does not do justice IMHO to themes of our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ and our sanctification through this participation as the old Adam dies and the New Adam rises and we grow from the broken image of God into the likeness go God (without in any way becoming God). We become sanctified though imitation of Christ - and I fail to see how the moral theory of atonement can simply be dismissed.

Christ’s death was foolishness to the Greeks – and they invented logic. If we perceive God on the model of a human feudal King or an early modern centralised state then yes PSA makes sense. But God is far greater than any feudal monarch or early modern centralised state. And ‘King is just one image associated with God – and of Christ first comes as King he comes riding on a donkey. We also have others images wit which to communicate the mystery of God revealed to us in the Bible - Logos, Wisdom and pre-eminently Abba-Pappa . And Abba surely bring sus to the heart of what God is through the example of our Lord and Victor Jesus. What does the Father in the Prodigal son have to tell us about God - he requires no infinite payment for infinite offence?

PSA has its own coherent logic but logic can be valid without being sound.

For example (a trivial one too) – If I were to argue:

I am human
Human beings are descended from banana fritters covered in raspberry jam
Therefore I am descended from a banana fritter covered in raspberry jam

This is a valid argument. The conclusions follow logically from the premises. However, for an argument to be sound it must also correspond to reality.

The problem with dogmatic PSA is that it is a valid logic but it only fits the reality of certain biblical texts and has to ignore others. Dogmatic PSA also has to ignore the historical reality that it is a new kid on the block (by insisting on PSA being the only view of atonement and taking offence at other views it could be argued that sectarian Calvinism is giving offence to the memory of the early church, the church of martyrs that did not hold to it - have a look a the book TULIP Reconsidered. And I would argue that it is limited in its ability to express the whole truth of the experience of salvation in Christ.

And the entire system of hard Clavinist logic that you find the likes of van TIil ignores the earlier Christian understanding of mystery and our inability to fully comprehend mystery. And the atonement is one such mystery – we can do our best to responds to it and to comprehend it but its fullness remains beyond our grasp – or else its saving truth would become an idol in a tidy system. If the saving faith of Christ were meant to be a system of deductive logic Christ would have taught in syllogisms I think. But Christ spoke in parables – and parable, and symbol, an sacrament are necessary to our all too human understanding.


Dick :slight_smile:

You said,

That’s the easy one, so I’ll give my opinion on it first. At the time the Septuagint was made, the translators were closer to the origin of the Hebrew text and at a great advantage over us today, two more millenia and half a world away, and being from a far differing culture. We understand biblical Greek better than we can understand ancient Hebrew and Aramaic. Therefore I think the interpretation given in the Septuagint by people highly invested in ‘getting it right’ should be given quite a large amount of weight.

The one about the propitiatory seat (mercy seat) is a little more complex; I will try to get to that one a little later. Right now I should be folding clothes. :blush:

I wonder whether you’re attachment to PS is rational. If I had believed all my life that the earth was flat, and evidence came to me from reliable sources that it was in fact spherical (more or less), then I would be wise to at least consider that possibility. Maybe I’ve already said this to you – if so, please forgive my repetition. Two or maybe three years ago I had begun to ask Father to correct any false ideas I had about Him. False ideas are so very hard to see because we’ve always believed them. It’s like having sunglasses on and seeing the world in a certain (distorted) way. You still see it, and you can make your way around perhaps better than in the full sunlight, but really, it isn’t quite that brown or blue or amber, etc. If you don’t know this, you’ll go your way in your amber shades believing blue to be more like turquoise and never knowing that what you call blue, those with clearer vision call turquoise.

I asked Father this. I told Him I’d believe anything that He could prove to me from scripture (so that I’d know it was Him, not me or someone else) and He showed me several wonderful things (and is always showing me MORE!), but then I thought I must have come to an end of revelations because surely I knew all there was to know (basically, I mean) about His revealed plans for people. I was shocked, surprised, flabbergasted, filled with a wild hope and nearly breathless when He said to me, “What if they’re right? What if there are universalists who are orthodox Christians, and what if they’re right?” I’d been pondering some of the (seemingly) contradictory sayings in scripture regarding who is saved and who is not. That evening I downloaded Robin’s book for my Kindle, but I already knew what had happened in me. I already believed it; I just needed to be shown why EU was right, because I had a LOT of questions before I could allow myself to rejoice.

Do you really want to hold PS if it isn’t the truth – or if it isn’t ALL the truth? What if there’s more? What if PS is only a small (and perhaps distorted) part of the true picture of the atonement. I don’t say that PS has no merit at all. I do say that we are like children trying to understand quantum physics. We have to be shown in simple pictures, and sometimes the pictures are so very simple that if we were more mature, we would even consider them to be lies by reason of over-simplification. Scripture gives us these simple pictures and stories to build a foundation for us to understand the ever unfolding beauty of truth. There is more to it than PS. Once we see Him, I’m convinced that our greatest theological wisdom will seem foolish to us and that the simple message of love will by then be so profound that we will wonder why we didn’t see how it was always the answer for everything.

Meantime, though, please don’t be afraid to embrace truth wherever Father shows it to you. To say to Him (if there’s even a chance of PS being less than a complete picture of the atonement): “I’ve always believed this and I’m not willing to let it go” would do nothing but delay your journey into His likeness and His presence.

nicely said, Sobornost and Cindy :slight_smile:

The first and the last one are logically consistent.

…and thus we are justified by the work of Jesus Christ alone. That is, the merits of Christ (his active and passive obedience) are the sole basis of justification. Faith is the instrument of justification.

I think you’ve hit on the main point here. The more I think about this, the more I am wondering if the two competing theories under discussion (CV and PS) is what primarily separates Protestantism from Eastern Orthodoxy.

(I’m not sure of Rome’s position precisely, but according to the Catholic Catechism, they appear to hold to Anselm’s Satisfaction theory. sec, 1992 - “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy.” from: link ).

I keep finding that the primary criticism (both on this forum and various web sites I am now researching from) of Penal Substitution is that it allegedly ignores the accomplishment of Christ in destroying our captivity to sin. Hence, you continue:

But it isn’t dismissed. Just because Protestantism distinguishes between justification and sanctification does not mean that we believe you can have one without the other. Those who have been justified are being sanctified.

I think the misunderstanding is because Protestants clearly distinguish between justification and sanctification. We say that justification is the act of God alone, while sanctification is the work of Spirit within us. We co-operate in the process of sanctification by availing ourselves to the means of grace (Word, sacrament and prayer) and resolving to obey. Justification is not a process within us, but a declaration by God concerning the imputation of righteousness (see Romans 4).

Sanctification is necessary. Protestants confess this:

Sanctification is “through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection.”

As I have read through articles concerning Christus Victor Theory, I have found it agreeable to what Protestants believe. Penal Satisfaction doesn’t negate that the work of Christ really sanctifies us. It only stresses another point as well, that is, we are justified by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, received by faith.

That we cannot fully comprehend the mysteries of God does not mean we cannot attempt to make logical sense of them.

I’ll not get into the rationalism vs. irrationalism debate. It was Clark (the rationalist) who accused Van Til of being irrational. The irrationalism of Van Til & co. with their view of “common grace” and blindly accepting that God is love, even though he will eternally damn those he supposedly loves, that defies logic. At least the rationalistic Calvinists (Clark & co.) are honest enough to say that God does not love the reprobate. They are cold blooded, but you know where they stand.

I liked your point about Christ not teaching through syllogisms.

Thanks for the explanation.

I have to work through this slowly, because this has everything to do with the gospel. Penal Substitution isn’t a lone doctrine. There is a lot connected to it. As I mentioned to Dick in my reply above, it seems that this has much to do with the distinction between justification and sanctification. The penal substitution theory was developed to clarify that distinction. To the Reformers, the distinction between justification and sanctification is a big deal. Why is it that the Reformers considered justification by faith alone, “the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls”? That sounds pretty serious to me. It would be arrogant of me to not give ample consideration to a doctrine that literally divided the church. Rome responded by anathematizing the reformers for teaching that justification is by faith alone. Maybe I should take my time and think long and hard about penal substitution, because men who were a lot smarter than me considered it a grave matter.

Jesus revealed the mind of God. He didn’t change it. God’s attitude towards us before the cross was no different to after. God is the same today, yesterday and forever. Christ doesn’t change God’s mind about us, but our mind about God.

Forgiveness presupposes an innocent victim. If I forgive you $1000, the innocent party (me) must suffer the loss of $1000 for the sake of the guilty party (you.) There’s no way around it. This is what forgiveness means. It makes absolutely no sense for me to force my wife to pay me $1000 before I feel I can forgive you. It would be both unjust and unnecessary. And since my wife and I both share the same bank account, it would be slightly crazy as well. :open_mouth:

We owe God a zillion dollars. We cannot repay. He forgives the debt by taking the loss. He’s been taking it on the chin every since we began to do intentional evil. We’ve caused God no end of grief, but it’s been hidden from our view. Christ has made it plain for all to see. In Christ, we see the suffering of God at the hands of sinful men.

The empathy we feel for God, our sorrow at his sufferings, becomes the mainspring driving our acts of service and love. Let us strive to bring God some joy and comfort in his long sorrow. Christ breaks our heart, and liberates us from self-obsession. By loving those he loves, by obeying his words, even by speaking to him tenderly, we can bring a smile to God’s face.

(Contrast the two crucified thieves. That says it all.)

Christ’s finished work was HIS finished work. Not ours. He made the way and WE must walk it. But there is a different path taken by those in the first resurrection than those of the 2nd… This is pretty basic stuff. Are you confused for some reason?
Purification by fire to a state of righteousness must be made before we can enter into his presence. He designed it that way. Who are you to question it? Imputed righteousness is not the same as being righteous.

That’s great :smiley: – ponder it.

When you say ‘Protestants’ you mean Calvinists here. Yes justification by faith alone is central doctrine of Protestantism – against the controlling penitential sacramentalism of late medieval Catholicism. Justification by faith is not necessarily connected with PSA however. For example Luther’s more emotional and imaginative statements of Protestant justification are not tidy and forensic like Calvin’s. His atonement theory is strongly suffused with Christus Victor themes and whether Luther believed that justification gives us a real or imputed righteousness is a matter of some debate.

We co-operate in the process of sanctification through the imitation of Christ who is lovely and loveable. A chief criticism of Calvin by other Reformers of his day – especially the radicals – is that with his forensic syllogisms, and his division of humanity into those hated by God (and therefore not covered by PSA(, and the elect (who are covered by it), put a spirit of hate into him. As he wrote after the burning of Michele de Servetus (not an isolated incidence) –

" Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt… Wherefore {God} does demand of us so extreme severity…and (to) forget humanity when the matter is to combat for his glory…(H)umanity must be almost obliterated from our memories…Many people have accused me of such ferocious cruelty that I would like to kill again the man I have destroyed. Not only am I indifferent to their comments, but I rejoice in the fact that they spit in my face." (Love your enemies? God is generous like the sun which rises on the just and the unjust? Therefore act accordingly?)

OK so the accusation came from Clark the rationalist – I’d thought the argument was over presuppositionalsim versus rationalism (and I guess, as you imply, the debate is pretty ’ in-house’ and esoteric to sectarian types of Calvinism). I just know the argument was bitter in invective and sectarian in outcome in fury premature (IMHO). But Friend it is this sort of ‘honest, cold blooded logic’ that actually seems to have driven you to the edge of losing your faith – which is the only reason I (and most of the others here it seems) are engaging you in debate as a brother in distress (although it’s only this thread where I personally still feel distress coming from you now. I guess it’s because you have put out a challenge about PSA and some of the answers you are getting back are confrontational in turn. Oh well…)

Anyway this sort of logic – where the two edged sword of faith becomes a syllogistic dagger – is not soundly rational (although it may have coherence). It selects some texts and syllogises them to make us bite the bullet that God hates most of his creatures and creates them for damnation. However, when other texts that testify to God’s all embracing love, and the character of that generous love as revealed in scripture are produced to counter this, the sectarian Calvinist takes refuge in the non-rational mystery of Gods’ absolute sovereignty to hold on to a faith sharp as steel and cold as steel.

I’ve always been tickled by the idiom of ‘Procrustes Bed’. In Geek mythology, Procrustes the Inn Keeper would lop off his guest feet or even their heads to make them fit the beds in his rooms more snugly (apart from that he was a lovely bloke and kind to his Mum :laughing: ). Logic can be procrustean. The syllogism for limited atonement may be coherent - but it has to qualify the ‘All’ of the bible so that All does not mean 'All it just means Some. A universalist would say that this is a prime example of procrustean logic doing a savage injustice to biblical revelation (there is an excellent biblical rebuttal to the TULIP contention that God only loves some human beings on site here written by our Jason at

Have a look at it if you haven’t seen it already - it’s worth serious attention)

Christ tells us that we are able to judge for ourselves what is right. Sure Calvin may have been smarter than you and I in terms of a facility for forensic logic – but perhaps your heart is in the right place (and where your treasure is, there will your heart be also)

Blessings - and I hope you come to a broader space - and that for you may well be touching base with a more generous Reformed tradition (even Jurgen Moltmann comes very much out of the Reformed Protestant tradition, rather than the Lutheran Protestant, Anglican Protestant, or Radical Protestant ones :slight_smile:
Dick :slight_smile:

P.S. I understand the idea of ‘common grace’ originates with Abraham Kuyper. Isn’t the idea here that God in this life actually gives certain graces to the reprobate - like the ability to love, and to be creative - and in this sense Calvinists can collaborate with them as human beings? However, at the judgement one of the torments of the reprobate will be to have this common grace taken away from them? I guess this does muddy the waters - if I am correct - and in a way at least you know where you stand with Clark.

Here’s a nice summary of the Eastern Orthodox view of Justification for anyone who is interested -

There’s a little more to it than that. The Septuagint translated from a different Hebrew. The writers of the New Testament either quoted from that same Hebrew or from the Septuagint itself. Thus their quotes resemble or are identical to the Septuagint, but differ substantially from the Masoretic Hebrew text type from which our Old Testaments have been translated.

In Quamram Cave 4, the same Hebrew text type has been found as that from which the Septuagint has been translated, whereas the Masoretic Hebrew text type is found in all the other Dead Sea scrolls.

It has been mentioned that the Orthodox view of the atonement differs from that of the Catholic Church, and is NOT that of penal substition. There are 12 videos of Mikhail Hany, a teacher from the Coptic Orthodox church who says that their view was the same view held throughout the centuries until the Catholic Church separated from it in 1050 A.D. The protestants who separated from the Catholics retained the penal substitution view of the atonement. Here is a link to the first of Hany’s twelve videos: