The Evangelical Universalist Forum

"NT conception of the atonement is defeat of dark powers"

How dare you put ‘work’ work before feeding us starved literary creatures here!


Ohhhh, I have a pretty solid meal on the way here in a minute. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

I’m at the stage now where I’m trying to figure out how best to post it. I may have to eat first, though; I skipped lunch to work on this today. (Speaking of starving, etc. :wink: )

I’ll probably start with a reckoning of how the NT authors use the word we translate as “propitiate” (and variants); then do a parallel reckoning on how they use the word we typically translate as either ‘atone’ or ‘reconcile’ (and variants); and then, having established my context, I’ll finish by corresponding with Ran directly.

Knowing Jason, that’s means foot 43 of the scroll. But seriously, I am looking forward to what you’ll present. In J.I. Packer’s ‘Knowing God’ he paints himself into the universalist’s corner over propitiation - ‘The heart of the Gospel’ as he called it. But as a Calvinist he couldn’t take that next step - which he admitted was universalism. What a strange world theology is…when it’s chained to a particular flavor of dogma. The same goes for Karl Barth. It’s like these guys break into the sunshine for a moment and then are dragged back into their gray-colored gospel from the shear weight of it. Hey, it’s a pay-check.

Or starting on the 43rd entry, maybe. :laughing:

I think I can agree pretty strongly that ‘propitiation’ is ‘the heart of the Gospel’, though I have a suspicion that JIP and I are using the term rather differently. I also suspect that one reason he couldn’t take the next step out of Augustinism/Calvinism into universalism, was because of his idea of what propitiation means.

So I’m glad I’ll be working on that term first. :smiley: (Though I think I can say that ‘atonement/reconciliation’ is ‘the heart of the gospel’, too, even though it and propitiation aren’t at all the same word in Greek.)

phew, though… I’m wondering if it might be better to put up two entries, one with a doc file analyzing uses of ‘propitiate’ (etc.), one with a doc file analyzing ‘atone/reconcile’ (etc.), and then do a correspondence entry (which isn’t nearly as long as the other two parts).

Or, maybe it would be better to set up two new threads and do the examples one at a time, per entry, then link back to them from the discussion here…

Yeah, I like that idea more, the more I think of it. That way there can be discussion on particular examples, more examples can be more-easily added if found, it’ll be easier for people looking for commentary on the terms to find the commentaries, and it won’t gump up the discussion here.

No, his definition was solid theology. He knows his Greek. If you have that book of his lying around, you’ll see what I’m talking about - in the chapter by the same name. I don’t have it here. When he has essentially proven universalism - he pulls up short with something like - “It’s only looks like universalism because we know he only saves the elect.” It’s been more than 20 years since I first read it.

Then there’s Luther. “Christ took away the sins of the world, therefore, he took away my sins.” Does it really matter WHEN one confesses that??? If there is a hell, I wanna be an attorney for the defense…with all the Jewish lawyers there (and they would ALL be there) passing the word…‘trust me, hire a Christian’.

Isn’t that what all this debate is about? Passing the heavenly bar exam? And dressing in white? I mean that. If you can’t defend humanity even in the face of: ‘scripture cannot be broken’ then what crown can be given you?

Not really necessary, though: the scriptures say the judge Himself is already on our side, and always ultimately has been and will be, and doesn’t need convincing by anyone to mercifully save us at last. Not because of anything we’ve ever done, but because of Who He essentially is.

I have no need to hire a Christian for my defense; or even to ask (much less hire :mrgreen: ) ‘Christ’ to defend me against ‘God’. What I do need is to admit my sins, give myself to God for Him to save me from my sins, and throw myself on the mercy of the court.

(Or under the mercy-seat, for propitiation from God, to put it in Biblical terms. :smiley: The ‘propitiation’ analysis is now up. And now the ‘atonement’ usage report, too.)

Whew. Long day. Time to nap… :slight_smile:

Yeah, it’s the ‘essentially Just’ part that has humanity on edge. Some of us want to know what he’s done to fix it.

Jason, where is thy tome? Or skip the tome, (I might just figure out your foundations by the questions you ask). Anyway, let’s have fun (which really ticks off the dark powers).

On the way soon. :slight_smile: I was more than usually ill last weekend (when I posted up the other two tomes, as linked to previously), so I never got around to finalizing my reply on this thread. Then super-busy at work this week. (Enough so that on a couple of days I had to skip even doing my usual daily copy-paste of GMacD material and, for the most part, previously written BSM material.)

Spent Saturday recuperating as much as I could. I intend to post up here, though, before I go to lunch today, and then (hopefully) work on the other two material-commentary threads after lunch. (and maybe after a nap. i’m still kind of wasted. september is possibly the worst month of the year for me, for different reasons. doubt it’ll get better anytime soon. sad, because I really love sept more than any other month. :frowning: :neutral_face: :slight_smile: )

Hm… fourteen pages.

I may do this in portions…

I’m a little fuzzy on where I have ever once, EVER, presented the voluntary self-sacrifice of God, in and as Christ, as being only on the level of an unfortunate incident. Could you point to where I’ve ever done so, please? Because I can point to plenty of places where I’ve presented it as being something categorically much more than any unfortunate incident. (As “the voluntary self-sacrifice of God, in and as Christ”, to give the very most recent example.)

I realize, of course, that you’ve written an answer to Gene’s question on this topic already. I’ll have more to say about the details of that answer along the way. But I will point out here, that in your answer to Gene (Auggy) you changed the target of who was “gutting” Christ’s sacrifice, away from theologians who say God did not need to be atoned to us (but rather we needed atoning to God), over to theologians who “want to atone God” and so require “a more active role by [sinners] in the atonement” thus “diminish[ing] Christ to an example”.

That’s a pretty big change in target. :wink: But for what it’s worth, I would agree that any theologians who actually agree with you that God was the one who needed atoning to us, but who want to be the ones to do the atoning of God instead of Christ atoning God, would thereby be “gutting Christ’s sacrifice”.

Possibly you think those of us theologians who think we were (and are) the ones who, as sinners, needed the atoning, not God Who in Christ atoned us rather, are also “gutting Christ’s sacrifice” with that theology. But I reiterate that you sure aren’t getting that gutting directly from anything I’ve ever said; and, strictly speaking, you didn’t answer how those theologians were doing the gutting. (Other theologians, yes; those theologians, no.)

A scriptural statement (Heb 9:22) which has nothing at all to do with a forensic demonstration of God’s character and justice on the cross, nor which has to do with resurrection per se. Thus my previous remark, to which you were replying, still stands: I don’t recall any scriptural testimony to the effect that God requires a forensic demonstration of his true character and justice on the cross in order to resurrect either the sheep or the goats. (Considering your low impression of the forensic demonstration theory, I would have thought you’d be agreeing with me on what I wrote there, if anything. :wink: )

Perhaps incidentally, neither does Heb 9:22 (or its surrounding contexts) have anything immediately to say about the general resurrection (per se) of the evil and the good in the Day of the Lord to come. So again, quoting that to me cannot even possibly be scriptural testimony that God does, after all, need a forensic demonstration on the cross in order to resurrect the evil and the good.

Meanwhile, and in relation to comments of this sort: I keep getting the impression (although I do also seem to recall you acknowledging otherwise) that you think only those who have been forgiven of their sins will be resurrected. But the impenitent wicked are slated for resurrection, too, and then for continuing punishment after their resurrection. And one way or another, those resurrected persons do not have forgiveness yet for their sins: “they shall not be forgiven, neither in this age nor in the age to come”.

Consequently, their resurrection indicates, one way or another, that something pretty damned important (so to speak :wink: ) hasn’t yet been accomplished with them. God may have (I would agree has certainly) done everything for them first; God may (I would say certainly will) keep on doing everything for them that He can; and I strenuously agree that God does not require them to do anything first in order for Him to act (and to keep on faithfully acting) to save them. Much less does God require them first to do anything before sacrificing Himself for their sake.

But they are also obviously required to act in some personally responsible fashion, for forgiveness of sin to be completed in them. God (including as Jesus) and the prophets and apostles, are just as routinely clear about the necessity of sinners repenting of their sins, as they are routinely clear that this isn’t going to happen without active help from God leading and empowering the person to do so. But the other person’s choice is still part of the account.

So again, while it may be true to say that God’s forgiveness of sinners is already completed in various ways, especially from His eternal perspective and intentions, it is also true to say that insofar as any sinner is still impenitent, our sin is not yet forgiven. Which is why practically everyone from God on down in the scriptures is exhorting sinners to repent, as well as exhorting sinners to be reconciled with God.

You may complain about me saying the same thing as they are; but I am saying the same thing as they are. I am not leaving God’s priority in forgiveness and atonement and reconciliation, nor even His priority in our repentance and propitiation, out of the account; but neither am I leaving our own personal respsonsbility, secondary though it is, dependent upon God though it is, out of the account. I affirm both, just like scriptural testimony routinely affirms the importance and necessity of both.

I don’t think mankind, or anything else in reality, can even exist without God’s own willing and voluntary self-sacrifice; consequently, I don’t think God can resurrect either the good or the evil without His own willing and voluntary self-sacrifice. It isn’t even a question of Him being able to do it without self-sacrifice while “remaining just”: I deny that He would be able to do it at all, or anything else in regard to a real not-God creation, without His own self-sacrifice, period.

It needn’t have been on a cross, per se, but His sacrifice there was emblematic of a fundamental necessity going far beyond the historical surface detail. Also going far beyond the cross being a forensic demonstration of His true character and justice, though it serves that purpose, too.

It needn’t have served that particular purpose (of being a forensic demonstration), though, in order for God to resurrect anyone, which is why I denied that God would need such a demonstration to do so. I denied the necessity of that purpose for the general resurrection, not because I was denying the necessity of the cross, but because I was affirming the necessity of something a whole lot more fundamental than any mere execution on a cross (much moreso any mere forensic demonstration by such an execution): the sacrifice of the Lamb not only from but as the foundation of the world.

Far from being a theologian who denies the importance of the cross, I’m one of those theologians who believes that in and for an unfallen world, God would still have Incarnated and would still have voluntarily suffered a Passion even unto death (even if God was the only one of reality ever to die) to rise again in triumphant glory, out of His sheer unmerited love for us. It would have been a very different kind of Passion, and maybe even a very different kind of death, in some ways, but I still expect it would have happened: because that whole cycle of Divine activity is (I believe, as a trinitarian theist) fundamental to what God essentially is–thus also is fundamental to the existence of all reality dependent upon God, whether the subordinate reality is unfallen or fallen. God must still continue to give Himself for our sakes, even once we are redeemed from sin. It is not as though the self-sacrifice of God will cease then, nor that it was ever less necessary for our existence before there was a Fall.

Put another way: it is not as though we or anything else ever existed independently of God as self-existent entities (like God), and neither are we or anything else ever going to exist indpendently of God as self-existent entities (like God). I totally deny the self-sufficient existence of anything other than God. I strenuously affirm that all things, fallen and unfallen, past present and future, continually depend upon the action of God for their existence. And I strenuously affirm that this action of God is self-sacrificial.

If I am wrong, it is not for being too dismissive of the importance of the sacrifice of God, but of having a far too high and fundamentally deep regard for the sacrifice of God, far beyond even the crucifixion: a regard rooted in conjunction with my belief, as a trinitarian theist, in God self-begetting and God self-begotten and God proceeding in a self-sacrificial interpersonal union of fair-togetherness and at-one-ment.

Just as God’s justice is neither necessitated by nor limited to the existence of sin, so God’s down-reaching atonement is not limited to the existence of sin; although admittedly, so far as I can tell the term translated ‘atonement’ or ‘re/conciliation’ is only used in that context in the NT. (See the thread on that word study for more details and discussion here.)

Still, just as God’s justice to sinners must be rooted in the justice of the righteousness of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in relation to one another, so God’s atonement with sinners must be rooted in the at-one-ment of the Persons with one another: and not accidentally, either, but because that active interpersonal union is the foundation of all reality. (If trinitarian theism is true, of course–non-trinitarian Christians aren’t going to be in any position to agree with what I’m talking about, because if any other theology is correct instead, then the truth of God’s existence must be something drastically different than this. I only mean that I wouldn’t blame them for not being able to accept what I’m saying here; they couldn’t do so, and still hold to what they believe to be theological truth.)

This gets us back to the topic of what atonement (reconciliation) means, though.

(And I’ll do a topical break here, continuing in the next comment.)

Continuing on from my previous comment…

First I’ll summarize the results of the word study, linked to above, as well as the results of the word-study on NT use of the term we translate ‘propitiation’ (which thread can be found here.)

(Note: this was written before your own comments in those threads, Ran. I’ll have to catch up with those next.)

While there is one place (in Romans) where the grammar is unclear about who is doing the action of propitiation and who is receiving the action, the other places (even 1 John, in its own way) clearly indicate that God Most High (as the Father and as the Son) is the one doing the action of propitiation toward us; with us (or secondarily our sins) as the object and receivers of the propitiation. Neither the Father nor the Son receive propitiation about anything; and even when the Son is standing with us as our propitiation (and not only propitiation about our sins but about everyone else’s, too) He is certainly not acting to change the Father’s mind regarding us. He doesn’t have to: the Father already loves all sinners as much as the Son does, and already seeks the salvation and restoration of all sinners, which is why God sends His only-begotton Son.

As for the use of the term ‘atonement/reconciliation’ (and cognates) in the NT: In most cases, God is the one in view as primarily doing the reconciliation. (Sometimes ‘Christ’, but usually God and usually through Christ.) God (and/or Christ) is always the one in view as primarily doing the reconciliation, when the topic is reconciliation of sinners with God. In at least one case, God is not in view when the topic is reconciliation of sinners with human victims of sin, but usually God is in view as the primary doer of the reconciliation between human opponents, too. Sometimes the scriptures recognize that sinners have a secondary but important responsibility in accepting the reconciliation, without which the reconciliation will in some way not be complete. The reconciliation is sometimes presented as having already been completed, sometime presented as still going on, and sometimes presented as a hope or certainty to happen in the future.

The object and receiver of the reconciliation (I will emphasize) is always the sinner. The object and receiver of the reconciliation is never God. God is never presented as being reconciled to us, by the action of Christ or anyone else. God is always presented as the doer of the reconciliation, with sinners being reconciled to God: never (I repeat) God being reconciled to sinners.

Well, you’re using the words “reconcile” “atone” and “propitiate” now, at least; but you aren’t yet discussing what the terms mean. Only that, as actions involving God somehow, they are only done by God (and maybe by Christ too?), and we are not involved in those actions–at least when they involve God personally. We can “reconcile ourselves” to the truth that God “was reconciled by that action of Christ and Him alone”, but the kind of mere intellectual assent (and repentance?) you’re allowing we’re capable of there, is obviously not the same thing as “reconciling God” Himself (whatever theat might mean) in any personal in any fashion.

Now: I introduced this thread lamenting that it was too common for even theologically educated people to have only a vague notion of what ‘atonement’ means. You in turn stated (when replying to Jeff) that “Without a clear understanding of the atonement of God, Christ will be seen as, at best, superfluous”, which at least implied that you yourself had such a clear understanding of the atonement of God. I agreed with that statement, but I suspected that we have rather different ideas of what atonement means. So I began discussing in some detail, and in various ways, my understanding, not only that God acts in atonement, and not only what God is doing in atonement, but what atonement even means: enacting and fulfilling a union of cooperation between persons. Thus I noted that “at-one-ment”, not “a-tone-ment”, was the original English use of the word when it was first applied as translation for the Greek {katalla-} and its cognates; also sometimes translated ‘conciliation’ since, in the NT, the context is always about repairing a broken union. (Though in English we’re far more familiar with the somewhat redundant usage of that term as ‘re-conciliation’.)

I have yet to see any similar discussion from you (in this thread, not counting yet your comments in the word-study threads) as to your understanding of the meaning of the term; so I can’t tell yet if we’re actually in some agreement about the meaning. We might be, based on the few things you’ve said in relation to the term, but maybe not. (You used the word ‘reconcile’ once in the derivative sense of only accepting and maybe sorting a factual proposition; but I’m entirely sure you weren’t meaning it that way when applying it elsewhere–those other uses did seem to have something to do with personal relationships per se, although I’m not entirely sure what yet.)

What I do notice so far, is this key difference in how we’re each applying the term: I usually use it in reference to something God is primarily doing with and for us, especially with and for us as sinners, and occasionally I use it in reference to something we as sinners do in secondary response with God thanks to God’s primary action for and with us. (Never “reconciling” or “atoning” God, but “reconciling with God”, for example.)

But you have so far pretty consistently used the term in a rather different way: God (and maybe His ‘justice’ too?) is primarily the receiver of the action of reconciliation. You affirm God as the doer of reconciliation, too, but mainly ‘Christ’ is who you present doing the action of reconciliation, with ‘God’ as the object of Christ’s reconciliation or atonement.

In my usage, we are the ones who need the atonement. Although God can in a secondary way receive our cooperation, thus completing our reconciliation with Him, I never once present God as needing atonement, reconciliation, etc. (Similarly, God can receive our love secondarily as a response from us to His primary action of love to and with us, but God does not need love from us; it is we who need the love of and from God.)

I doubt you mean God needs atonement or reconciliation in any such way as I present us needing atonement with and from and to God. I expect you mean that God needs atonement before He will agree to do something loving in regard to us (resurrecting the evil and the good, for example). Nevertheless, your thrust of the action is rather different from mine:

– This looks like it is God’s justice that must be “atoned” first (whatever “atonement” is supposed to mean), for our salvation to occur. I would mean something very much different if I wrote that phrase, though.

– It is God Who needs the atoning here, apparently meaning the same as propitiation. If He doesn’t get that atoning, He won’t agree to resurrect anyone; whereas, if He was “an old softie” instead He might agree to do something for us without atonement or propitiation. (Relatedly, later, “A just God could not resurrect us without that ‘forensic demonstration’”.)

– I’m unsure whether you’re talking here about the degree to which one believes that Satan has any basis for accusation against God (which is the kind of accusation I was talking about when you wrote this in reply), or the degree to which one believes that Satan has any basis for accusation against us. I can’t imagine (especially from all you’ve written) that you think Satan does have any basis for accusation against God, (although you might allow that someone who doesn’t know God very well yet, might think Satan has some basis for accusation against God); consequently you would, if you were talking about the impression of Satan having a valid accusation against God, have to be actually denying the propitiation of God as the sole (or any?) purpose of the cross. But I get the impression that you think the propitiation of God (as you understand the propitiation of God) is at least one purpose of the Cross; and that (even if this wasn’t what you were talking about here per se) this purpose is in direct proportion to how much of a case Satan does have in accusing us. But if you meant the latter, then (based on the other things you’ve written) I expect you once again mean that God is the one Who receives and maybe needs, if only in an instrumental way, the propitiation.

(Satan does both kinds of accusing in scripture, of course, so either topic is worth discussing.)

– This could mean God was doing the atonement (I would certainly agree with that) or that God was receiving the atonement; or maybe both.

– God might be the one doing the atonement here with Christ (the God/Man), but much more importantly God is the one receiving the reconciliation and atonement and propitiation; and not only that but was affected by it somehow. (You complain later about logicians who ‘logically’ figure that God could not be changed in His essential action toward us, implying that you think God can be changed in His essential action toward us instead. Changed by Christ, in this case.) At the most, God atones (reconciles) Himself, and only Himself. You may not have meant to imply that the reception as well as the action was “unilateral”, but I haven’t seen anything yet from you in this thread otherwise: it looks rather like only God is receiving (and only God is being affected by) the atonement and propitiation (as well as doing the atonement, too, maybe).

– Once again, you only present God as being the object of the action of reconcilation.

– It would be difficult for you to be more explicit than this, about the idea that God is the one who needs the atoning! {g}

– By context, your complaint here is that (you think) those who object to penal substitution (misrepresenting pen-sub along the way) want to “atone God” themselves, i.e. rather than letting Christ atone God on the cross. God is again the receiver and object of the atonement; Christ is the doer (or else the sinner attempts to “atone God” and fails because only Christ can “atone God”.)

So far, in this thread, the only two persons in your account of the action of atonement (and propitiation), are Christ and God. (Though you still haven’t yet discussed much of what you understand the term ‘atonement/reconciliation’ to mean.) You do mention Christ and God (as the God/Man) doing the action (or at least the event) of atonement, but in every case, only God, personally, is mentioned by you as receiving (even being affected by) reconciliation/atonement and propitiation. (It’s hard to say so far whether you’re presenting Christ as a receiver of the action of atonement, too; only the person of ‘God’ instead of Christ perhaps is needing and receiving atonement?) No other persons are involved in it, especially us.

So far in your uses of the term (in this thread anyway), if there is any interpersonal interaction going on at all, it is only between the Son and the Father. And whatever the Father (at least, if not the Son) is receiving from the atonement and propitiation enacted by the Son (and the Father), it would seem to be something He wasn’t receiving before the historical event of the crucifixion of the Son.

So, what was the Father receiving from the Son, or God receiving from Himself, that He wasn’t already receiving (or being given)? What is being accomplished between the Father and the Son that wasn’t being accomplished between them before? Or, if the Father was receiving atonement and propitiation from the Son before, which the crucifixion was emblematic of, what is it that He was receiving (and even enacting Himself): something exclusive to anything a human (except Christ) could possibly receive from God, much less do to affect God so that God is “reconciled”, “atoned”, “propitiated”?

Those are the things that will have to be addressed in order to clarify what you mean by atonement (aka conciliation/reconciliation) and propitiation.

After which, it might be helpful for you to explain why your usage of the terms goes exactly opposite to how the NT authors use them. :wink:

Like, I guess, that 1st century book, the Bible. {g} (It’s the best-selling book of all time, anyway.) Where, in the New Testament at least, man is (so far as I can find) constantly the object and receiver of atonement and propitiation (insofar as the authors use those terms), never once God. And somehow the authors manage to do that without ever once translating our need for atonement and propitiation from God, into the believer (much less the sinner) being the victorious object of worship.

This might be a good time to mention, that Christian theism isn’t in fact Aztec human sacrifice to placate God or (more in line with Aztec religion) to help the gods keep the universe from falling apart–something foreign to the New Testament. (Foreign to the Old Testament, too. When the Jews engage in human sacrifice to try to placate either God or the gods, they eventually get hugely punished for doing so, as do the cultures around them eventually.)

I’ll finish up my comment in the next… er… comment. :mrgreen:

Finishing up the commentary tome here! Whew! At last! FREE! FREE TO EAT LUNCH AND THEN NAP OR SOMETHING!!!

:laughing: :mrgreen:

Failed at what?–at appeasing God?! If He (or ‘he’ rather, if Jesus was only a man after all) had failed to appease God’s Aztekian nature, we would remain dead, forever held captive by… “it”?.. (it what? Sin? Satan? The Anti-God, equal and opposite to God?–who may somehow defeat and overpower our Aztekian God?) And we would remain dead and forever held captive because of our Aztekian God’s love??

Frankly, it sounds like we aren’t the ones who are the main “danger to the universe” here. :wink: That would be whatever is holding us captive which is too powerful for God to defeat. Or maybe our Aztekian God Himself.

I will point out in passing (though this is far from incidental), that such a concept absolutely couldn’t be trinitarian theism. If I reject this kind of soteriology, it’s because I reject the theology implicitly but necessarily behind it. (Which, however, I am not rejecting because I reject this kind of soteriology.)

Yep; sure enough, as a trinitarian theist, I have to deny that, too. Though I would deny it anyway based on actual contextual appliction of the cry from the cross (such as I discuss here), even if I wasn’t a trinitarian theist. And I would deny it anyway from the evidence of the resurrection itself, so long as I accept the resurrection happened and was done by God (as I discuss here), even if I wasn’t a trinitarian theist. Had God actually “forsaken” Christ, there would have been no resurrection, which is a big point of the appeal to the resurrection in the sermons of Acts: that Jesus was in fact (by God! :mrgreen: ) what He had claimed to be. Whereas, you seem to think instead that there would have been no resurrection if God had not forsaken Christ.

Moreover (and maybe even more importantly), theologians who promote penal substitution (of the sort that involves Christ “atoning” and/or “propitiating” God anyway), require that Christ can somehow change God’s mind about forsaking Christ and convince God come back to Christ anyway. But if God is supposed to be forsaking Christ as though Christ is a sinner (even though Christ isn’t), then Christ, now in the position of the sinner, has the same ability as a sinner, insofar as God actually treats him as (or like) a sinner, to “atone God”: which, as you continually point out (and which, ironically, I agree with), is NO ABILITY.

Either way, the fact is that your own theology and soteriology ultimately requires that God did not forsake Christ. Except that, as you quite directly point out, your soteriology also does require that God did foresake Christ, so that Christ can bear the full penalty for sin instead of any sinner: penal substitution. Typically the fullest penalty for sin would be annihilation or, at best (if it can be called best, and assuming this wouldn’t amount to annihilation anyway), being hopelessly and permanently forsaken by God. Or being hopelessly and permanently tormented by God in punishment.

If any one of those is what Christ is supposed to be saving us from, however, per penal substitution of himself for us (not even of Himself for us), then one of those is what Christ has to suffer instead of us.

Except, clearly Christ doesn’t suffer any of those at all! Christ is not permanently annihilated; Christ is not forsaken and abandoned by God forever (while somehow continuing to exist or otherwise); Christ is not hopelessly tortured forever by (what this type of theology considers to be) “an essentially Just” God. If we did think Christ suffered any of those, then at most we’d be hostile non-Christian Jews regarding Christ as a hopelessly condemned blasphemer, or anyway we’d be anything other than followers of Jesus Christ.

So either your idea of what the “full penalty” that any sinner would suffer is wrong and should be adjusted to what Christ actually suffers for the sinner instead of the sinner (God doesn’t forsake the sinner after all, for example); or else the concept of penal substitution per se is wrong; or Christianity (and the resurrection of Christ by God, as a witness of Christ’s Lordship among other things) is false.

I will reiterate that I would give the same overall rebuttal to penal substitution theory (of the kind you appear to be promoting anyway), even if I wasn’t a trinitarian theist. But, speaking as a trinitarian theist, I also have that much more reason (if trin-theism is true) to deny a substantial schism of the unity of the Persons (which is what any actual forsaking of the Son by the Father would entail.)

Any ortho-trin theist ought to be either rejecting that, too, or else rejecting ortho-trin. Theologically, the two concepts are mutually exclusive.


Jason, thanks, your extensive response corresponds to my reading of the New Testament’s themes, and also is in line with my interactions toward Ran’s reactions in the thread on my “Penal Subsitution” paper. Thus, having done all I know to seek clarification from him, I will leave it to Ran to answer the points you have made. Blessings, Bobx1

Oh my, Jason :open_mouth:

it seems we like the idea of grace, as long as the successful operation of grace is attributable to us earning a bit of it.

I guess. I got as far as that which I quote above before I lost interest but then again you weren’t addressing me. :mrgreen:


It was important that Christ was sinless to explain his resurrection and the hope of our own. The NT writers spent a lot of ink making sure we understood that he was sinless - the spotless Lamb. He was a man after all - not an appearance of a man. And he was God after all - very man and very God. He could have failed or he wasn’t really a man and his temptations a sham.

If he had sinned, Christ could not have been a substitute for our sins, he would have been bearing his own.

If he had failed, the rightness of God’s judgment to leave us all dead disembodied souls would have been wrong? You seem to be arguing that we deserve resurrection and immortality on the grounds that God loves us because of some inherent self-redeeming quality he found. If not, then what do we deserve?

Just a thought to maybe add to the conversation, or if not, let it be for the benefit of any looking in.

God is a loving Father and our redeeming quality is, we are His children. Surely, He has found something of Himself within us :wink:

Peace to you,


Obviously, we’re capable of being changed. Going from death to the immortality of the resurrection is indicative of that - we will be changed. Likewise, God has changed - Christ has always been a man, but he didn’t always have a body.

To say that we are redeemable admits that us or God or both are capable of change. But ‘capability’ is not salvation. It’s about **actual **change - we see that first in God - the resurrected God.

Strictly speaking, our ‘redeemable quality’ is death.

I like that :mrgreen:

He is redeemer of all !
What a God we have in Christ !


That is a great mystery. How does, He that has no variation or alteration enter into the realm of change.

The philosophers have worked that one to death. :mrgreen:

What Christ ‘received’ was being forsaken by his father. It’s something Christ (the sinless one) had not experienced before bearing our sins. Those were not mere words of a pain riddled man but of Christ being cut off and about to be taken by death. What the Father received was a completely finished victory by and through his only son’s blood - the redemption of mankind.

Both these things happened with real blood at a real point in time and effected the universe. These were events not ‘principles’ and they speak for themselves, just as the resurrection will speak for itself in due time.