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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Substitutionary Atonement.. why was Christ crucified?
Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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Oh, I just thought of something else.

I too, like JJ find the thought of God being constrained by the law wrong.
IMO God is only constrained by it in the sense that the law revealed his perfect character in the first place. It is only his own perfect holiness that he is "constrained" by, although I don't really see that as a constraint, I'm rather glad for one that God is in reality like that and always acts that way!
It wasn't that God thought "I've got to obey the rules" but rather acting in line with the rules was merely acting in line with his own character shown when he laid down the rules in the first place.
So in a sense God could have ignored the law, he was powerful enough to do it, but it would have been out of step with his character, revealed in the law to do so.

My head is about to explode.

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He hath loved us, He hath loved us, because he would love

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AB
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Ok, diversion.

What about that pesky verse that talks about our forgiveness being reliant on the resurrection.

quote:
1 Corinthians 15:17
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

How does that match up with PSA and Abelard - it seems to be fairly decent pointer to CV.

(BTW, I'm much more Abelard, myself!)

AB

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"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Jolly Jape
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Lep, you wrote:

quote:
In saying that, a lot of the objections to PSA on this thread have been on the basis that "I can't understand and therefore don't accept how God can be essentially forgiving and yet angry with sin".
Well, not really. More that "I can't understand and therefore don't accept how God can be essentially forgiving and yet be constrained (by his character or whatever) to punish sin." And if not constrained, then He must desire to punish sin, which is even less like the character of God as displayed in Jesus.

I don't accept that the one follows from the other. If God were true constrained by justice, as PSA claims, then Jesus death would have been in vain, for in what sense is it just to condemn and punish one man for sins in which he had no part. Whatever PSA is, it isn't just. To try to pass it off as such seems more like legalistic sophistry. Thank goodness that God is not, in that sense, just. We need mercy, not justice. But Jesus teaches that there is an even higher way than that of mercy (ie I don't get what I deserve). It is that of grace (ie, I get what I don't deserve).

I think that from the basis of an abstact philosophical discussion, we would all really agree that a God who behaved in the way that I have described (perfectly loving, perfectly forgiveing, perfectly restoring) would be more worthy of worship than one who must exact vengeance from (or on behalf of) transgressors. After all, we value those characteristics more highly in humans. But of course, this is not abstract discussion. If PSA were true, then it would not matter, in a sense, what we think of it. It would be true, full stop. I sense that this is the attitude of many of the proponents of PSA. Who are we to argue. Whenever I feel like that, I look at Jesus. If he truely is, as I believe, the image of the Father, then I would argue, this means that the Father is far more transcendant, far more "other", far more powerful than our theology typically allows for. God is let out of the "box" of our understanding, in which we have confined him. The outrageousness of His love is released. I think it was Karl Barth who once responded to the question "What do you think of the love of God?" with the words, "It's a scandal!"

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:


And if not constrained, then He must desire to punish sin, which is even less like the character of God as displayed in Jesus.

If I comment on this I am just saying what I have said before, but here it is - I don't think the character of Jesus is inconsistent with the character of God of OT, Jesus reveals perfectly both a God who longs to forgive and will offer forgiveness to those who seek it, and yet is rightly angry with those who are rebellious against him.
quote:

I don't accept that the one follows from the other. If God were true constrained by justice, as PSA claims, then Jesus death would have been in vain, for in what sense is it just to condemn and punish one man for sins in which he had no part.

I don't know what "PSA" claims but I think I would say to this that God is not constrained by some higher value of "justice" but is constrained by his own character (which is just). Thus, in Romans three it is his justice that is satisfied by the cross. I don't entirely understand this, as I said, but if God is satisfied to "look on him and pardon me" as the hymn says, well..fine.
quote:
I think that from the basis of an abstact philosophical discussion, we would all really agree that a God who behaved in the way that I have described (perfectly loving, perfectly forgiveing, perfectly restoring) would be more worthy of worship than one who must exact vengeance from (or on behalf of) transgressors. After all, we value those characteristics more highly in humans.
I am so not agreeing with this. At all. I do not value people who allow terrible miscarriages of justice to go bypassed more than those who insist that justice be served. The Christian is to be forgiving because we believe that God eventually will avenge, Theophilus dealt with this excellently IMO in a previous post.

However, your post really clarified the issues for me - you are right. There are 2 issues here, a logical issue and a textual issue. I think we won't agree on the textual issue because we have different views of the text - I think that the OT, and its NT interpretation lead us inexorably to a PSA view - you do not, because of the different relative weights we are affording to different parts of the text.
On the logical issue, you again seem to be saying that PSA is inconsistent with the outrageous and scandalous love of God. I don't think it is. Er...so there.

So while I am very much enjoying the discussion, and the friendly tone in which it is taking place, I'm not really sure about how to take it forward.
I'll think about AB's point and maybe post something later.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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But if the person we forgive is another Christian, then God will not avenge, will He?

So in that case, do we have to take revenge ourselves?

Perhaps there's an impasse here - I do value forgiveness (regardless of an expectation of God's vengeance) over justice, every time. That from a legal viewpoint punishment is necessary both for prevention and deterrance of crime, I find desire to see vengeance and the hatred that seems to accompany it completely anathematic to my understand of Jesus.

Moreover, where do Jesus' words concerning His crucifiers fit in here - He asks His Father to forgive them - He is clearly asking that there be no punishment for this sin from anyone upon anyone - if He is our model, I can't see how "I forgive you because God'll get you later" fits in at all.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I am so not agreeing with this. At all. I do not value people who allow terrible miscarriages of justice to go bypassed more than those who insist that justice be served. The Christian is to be forgiving because we believe that God eventually will avenge

That's not my hope. If one of my kids decides to give me a black eye while they're playing Toy Story games, I don't forgive them because I'm looking forward to God paying them back for it.

When I see a murderer get sentenced to death over in the US, I don't think "Good, the bastard deserves death. Oh, and I'm glad he'll roast in hell for eternity," I think, "Good, the bastard won't be able to do it again." On my better days, I hope that the bastard can be cured. No offence to any bastards out there, I don't mean it in the literal sense.

But this may be just a character defect. If you value the payback more than me, I can see why you don't have a problem with PSA.

And the true point of contact is this - neither (in fact, bring in Abelard here - none) of the theories give you a get-out-of-jail-free card. Without repentance we're still in the ultimate trouble, but I prefer to believe that that's so because of God's love - eternity without repentance would be hell - rather than because he wants to punish us. I can believe that within CV, Abelard, SA but not very easily within PSA.

I'm aware of what I just said. I believe... etc. I could be wrong. But so could you.

[Edited for quote UBB.]

[ 10. February 2004, 12:21: Message edited by: Tortuf ]

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Anselm
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quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Ok, diversion.

I think we can all agree on this [Biased]

quote:
What about that pesky verse that talks about our forgiveness being reliant on the resurrection.

quote:
1 Corinthians 15:17
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

How does that match up with PSA and Abelard - it seems to be fairly decent pointer to CV.

Hmm, what about that pesky verse from Isaiah 53:6?

No one is actually denying CV as a legitimate description of the work of Christ.
Further, I don't see how this 'refutes' PSA. The resurrection functions in the PSA metaphor as a vindication of the complete satisfaction of 'the debt' being paid. It is the fountain gushing out of the BBQ as vindication that the fire has been quenched. It is the change handed back at the end of a payment...

...it is, it is ... a bad day for metaphors [Disappointed]

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carpe diem domini
...seize the day to play dominoes?

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AB
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I don't think the character of Jesus is inconsistent with the character of God of OT, Jesus reveals perfectly both a God who longs to forgive and will offer forgiveness to those who seek it, and yet is rightly angry with those who are rebellious against him.

Erm, I think if we have a look where Jesus' righteous anger lies, it is in the direction of the religious few corrupting the redemptive work of God. The hypocritical, the false teachers, those who weigh down the new converts with rules and regulations (those who corrupt the 'image' of God?)

But let us consider how he dealt with sinners - and I would indeed consider it a scandal - he treats them with compassion and pronounces their sins forgiven. With the samaritan woman by the well, he doesn't even tell her to "go sin no more". I would suggest that God's "righteous wrath" towards sinners is strikingly missing from Jesus' approach.

AB

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"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Grey Face:
I believe... etc. I could be wrong. But so could you.

Oh I am quite sure I am wrong on many things, that's why I participate in discussions like this!

Eg, my throwaway comment about justice in my last post if not wrong was certainly misleading, and may have sent us all down a wild goose chase.

I think the issue here comes back to some of the trinitarian stuff that was discussed earlier in the thread.
So, as I understand it, people's non-accpetance of PSA has something to do with the fact that they believe it takes away from God's "scandalous" mercy and forgiveness if his justice is seen to be served on Jesus.
Now I agree, if God's justice being served was of cost to US, so that in some sense we had to pay so that he could be more forgiving, then of course it would mean he is not as gracious as Jesus seems to reveal him to be.
But the amazing thing is about the mechanism he used to demonstrate his just anger at sin was that it was of great cost to himself.
(Necessary)Proof text alert...
"God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself..." God's justice is satisfied (and again I say I think this is partly mystery) and we are welcomed and forgiven entirely at God's expense, not ours.
So, far from undermining, or being in contrast to God's grace, PSA underlines and highlights it - it was of such importance to Him that his holiness and our sin didn't stop us relating to each other that he dealt with it in himself.

Scandalous love indeed.

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Jolly Jape
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Lep, you wrote:
quote:
I do not value people who allow terrible miscarriages of justice to go bypassed more than those who insist that justice be served. The Christian is to be forgiving because we believe that God eventually will avenge
Actually, IIRC, a christian is to be forgiving because he is forgiven. Surely that is the point of the parable of the unforgiving servant.

With respect to the question of miscarriages of justice, we commonly regard this as a shorthand for someone being wrongly convicted of an offence. In those circumstances, of course we should devote every effort to ensuring the vindication of the one so wronged. This is not at all the same as someone who has been "sinned against" choosing freely to renounce their just clam on the perpetrator. For example, if someone were to steal from me, I would like to think that I would not respond by desiring that they be punished. I might well want them to restore the property, I would certainly want them to reform. If the offence were sufficiently heinous, I might well want them locked away such that they would not be a menace to others, but I should not want them punished per se. What other attitude could I hold, in view of Jesus teaching in the sermon on the mount about turning cheeks and giving cloaks.

Now, I readily accept that I would probably fall short of this ideal (literally, sin), but the point is that Jesus did not. He really did all this stuff. Did he believe it? I like to think he did. And if he did believe it, and if he really did say, "I and the Father are one" then, surely, we should take teaching like this very seriously, and reasses the implications of the concept of justice. Despite all that you say about Jesus knowing that he was going to pay the penalty for sin, I cannot reconcile The Jesus of the Gospels with the, as I believe, construct of PSA, which seems to me to make the Father so utterly unlike the Son.

I agree that, whilst I am finding this discussion fascinating and enjoyable, we are probably only reissuing well worn arguments, and I guess in the end we all have to bow before the mystery of God.

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Erm, I think if we have a look where Jesus' righteous anger lies, it is in the direction of the religious few corrupting the redemptive work of God. The hypocritical, the false teachers, those who weigh down the new converts with rules and regulations (those who corrupt the 'image' of God?)

But let us consider how he dealt with sinners - and I would indeed consider it a scandal - he treats them with compassion and pronounces their sins forgiven. With the samaritan woman by the well, he doesn't even tell her to "go sin no more". I would suggest that God's "righteous wrath" towards sinners is strikingly missing from Jesus' approach.
AB

So Jesus forgives those who repent but is angry with those who are arrogant and will not accept God's grace. (In fact it is far more than with a religious few, so on occasion Jesus calls down the judgement that befell Sodom onto whole towns.) This is exactly the character of the God of the OT (which is the point I was making), and perfectly consistent with PSA. No one is denying that God/Jesus are/is compassionate, I am merely offering PSA as an explanation of how a Holy God CAN ALSO behave in a compassionate way towards sinners.

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He hath loved us, He hath loved us, because he would love

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
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Gosh. Cross-post city.

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He hath loved us, He hath loved us, because he would love

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Jolly Jape
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Lep, I hope you don't think that I was in any way suggesting that God's action in reconciling us to him was not costly to him, nor was I suggesting that it is not a work which was perfectly accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus. I think we are both at one about this.

Part of the problem my be our understanding of reconciliation. You might argue, "If God can forgive us anyway, why did Jesus have to die?" (I hope I'm not putting words into your mouth) My reply would be that reconciliation is more than the forgiveness of sins. We can be forgiven, but still not be reconciled. If we are still bound by our sins, we are crippled in our relationship with God, not because he wants to be disassociated from us, but because we cannot receive what He wants us to have.

In this understanding, Jesus dies to break the power of sin in our lives, to liberate us from our disease, if you like. God, indeed was reconciling the world to himself on the cross, but I don't see that as necessarily bound up with the idea of sastisfaction a la Anselm (not the shipmate)

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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Excellent post, Jape. Agree 100%. Salvation isn't just about forgiveness, it's also about becoming like God, which wasn't possible until Jesus broke the power of sin and death, and united the divine and human natures in himself.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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Leprechaun

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# 5408

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JJ, we are agreed on that. I think you were saying however,(please correct me if I am wrong) that the stress on God's justice being satisfied in PSA means that forgiveness is not an act of mercy on God's part if PSA is true. It was that I was disagreeing with.
quote:

Part of the problem my be our understanding of reconciliation. You might argue, "If God can forgive us anyway, why did Jesus have to die?" (I hope I'm not putting words into your mouth) My reply would be that reconciliation is more than the forgiveness of sins. We can be forgiven, but still not be reconciled.

Thus far I agree in principle, although I would want to say that in fact both happen at the same time. I am not saying that reconciliation is just forgiveness, but that forgiveness is necessary for reconciliation. PSA allows the former so that the latter can happen.
quote:

If we are still bound by our sins, we are crippled in our relationship with God, not because he wants to be disassociated from us, but because we cannot receive what He wants us to have.

This is where I disagree. In the same way that you see God constrained by the law (and I would say this is only the constraint of his own character) your view means he is constrained by us. PSA says Jesus death completely solves our problem because God satisifes himself. Your view says God was stuck for a way to influence us and so sent Jesus. I cannot accept that. That's what I meant in an earlier post when I said that I think taking PSA out of our understanding of the cross makes God less than he is.

quote:

In this understanding, Jesus dies to break the power of sin in our lives, to liberate us from our disease, if you like. God, indeed was reconciling the world to himself on the cross, but I don't see that as necessarily bound up with the idea of sastisfaction a la Anselm (not the shipmate)

I agree with all of this except the last sentence. I think the results for us that you mention can be achieved without PSA (although I think they depend on SA being true) but the PSA comes in to solve the Godward end of the problem, which needs solving if we are even to get to the effects of the atonement on us.
You see, I think sin is more than a problem that messes up our lives, it is an offence to God. It seems to me (and again correct me if I am wrong) that you don't accept God by hs nature has any problem forgiving our sin, and the cross is therefore something that had only subjective effects for us.
I think without his justice being satisfied, he does have this problem forgiving sin - because it would compromise his character.
This does not make him less gracious, because what PSA does is to explain how God the just arranged everything so that he could forgive, and his justice would be demonstrated, at great cost to himself. This is grace.
Its that same old character of God issue I mentioned before.
So I agree with all you said about the effects of the atonement for our reconciliation and healing, but think that God's anger being dealt with, and justice being demonstrated precluded his coming to help and heal us. The cross does achieve IMHO all you said it achieved, but dealing with the relational problem between God and us was the central thing that happened, and it is from this that the other benefits flow.

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He hath loved us, He hath loved us, because he would love

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Jolly Jape
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Lep

Ah.. Now I think I understand where you are coming from, and why you don't think the ideas that I have propounded meet with the objections that you have raise (at least in part.)

I think you have misunderstood me in part, the blame for which lies soley with the poor quality of my explanation.

I don't believe that PSA lessens the mercy of God. Whether Jesus died in or place of us, or for our sakes doesn't make much odds, from that POV. What I do believe is that PSA makes God seem less than He is.

Of course, when you say that I believe God is constrained by us, in some senses, that is true, and in some senses I expect that you would agree. Certainly, the proponents of PSA commonly stress the need for a response if we are to appropriate the benefits of the salvation which we are all agreed he desires for us to experience, so in that sense we have common ground. However, I think you have misunderstood me. You wrote
quote:
Your view says God was stuck for a way to influence us and so sent Jesus.
This is absolutely not what I believe. The cross (and resurrection) was, I believe, an objective, cosmic, salvific act. It remains that no matter what our attitude to it is, something fundamental happened to the make up of the world that first Easter weekend. God was not influencing us, he was recreating us, or at least he was initiating the process and making it possible. I do indeed believe that God has no problem whatsoever in forgiving sin. It does not follow from this belief that the cross is purely subjective. On the contrary, because we were bonded to our sinful nature, no matter how many times over God would willingly forgive us, that in and of itself would not liberate us to receive His love. The cross was necessary to break that bondage.

You wrote
quote:
dealing with the relational problem between God and us was the central thing that happened
I would, to a point, agree with this, though I think there was a cosmic significance as well, but the relational problem, I believe, was, and is, all on our side.

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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JJ,
You are very gracious, I'm sure the fault lies in my befuddled mind, mixing this discussion as I am with funding appraisals.

I'm still not sure I get it, so again correct me if I'm wrong.

The "cosmic" thing that happens IYO, is that God separates/heals us from our sinful nature. A couple of issues with this
1) This is still subjective - ie it still means the cross is essentially about us (which you may be happy with, I am not)
and 2) (linked) What is it about the cross that "allows" God to come to us and heal us and change us in a way he did or could not before?
Something before the cross limited or stopped God simply dealing with or healing sin? In my view, it was his immense holiness, and justice - the only "constraint" was his own awesome character.
In your view, God is somehow so limited by our sin that his only option is to send Jesus to die.
I still find that it is this view, rather than PSA that makes God less than he is.

But again, I'm still not sure I've got you completely! If I'm arguing with a straw man, then please illuminate...

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AB
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Leprechaun,

Perhaps it is not our sin that is the barrier between us and God, but perhaps our nature. Perhaps it is not our past, but rather our now that stops us from being reconciled to God. The cross may well be an objective method of dealing with that.

or

Perhaps the cross was about God experiencing the death and suffering of his creation, first hand, to understand and draw closer to us.

Can the cross only be objective if described by PSA?

Just some random thoughts, you may now continue with the regularly scheduled debating... [Smile]

AB

--------------------
"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Jolly Jape
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Lep:
How I hate appraisals!!!! [Mad]

No, the cosmic thing that happens is that God breaks the power of evil in the universe on the cross. My understanding is that evil pre-exists the fall of man. That certainly seems to be the view of the Genisis author. Whether or not you want to call that evil "Satan", and how you understand that evil will depend on your view of the OT. As a matter of fact, I haven't any problem with the traditional language, but others might like to think of these things in terms of chaos, or even entropy. The healing of our sinful nature is a consequence of that cosmic, salvific act. Paul seems to tie these two strands together in his teaching in Colossians 1
quote:
16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[6] your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation

Thus I see the atonement as dealing with issues beyond that of our salvation (that is, the salvation of humankind). I accept that saying that "PSA is not the whole story" which you could infer from the above, is not the same as saying "PSA is not true". However, I think that CV does account for both the personal (rather than subjective - it's not really about our perception, but an objective change which He brings about) and the cosmic.

As to what actually happened on th cross, it is, of course, a mystery (in both CV and PSA). But I believe that Jesus did battle with evil, however you want to define that, and he did it in the context of a human life, a part of the created order. That He won is evidenced by the resurrection. A very imperfect analogy, again from healing, is that of a victim of, say, smallpox. If they survive, they carry in their blood antibodies which can be extracted, and used to bolster the immunity of others. They have conquered the disease. Of course, I'm not saying that's what happened literally, but I think it brings some insight.

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Jolly Jape
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Sorry AB, cross posted with you.

Just like to say how much I agree with this!!

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Jolly Jape
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Ooops wrong button!

That post should have read:

AB, just wanted to say how much I agree with this:
quote:
Perhaps it is not our sin that is the barrier between us and God, but perhaps our nature. Perhaps it is not our past, but rather our now that stops us from being reconciled to God. The cross may well be an objective method of dealing with that.

[Overused] [Overused]

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Leprechaun

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I am beginning to get this a little more now. But not fully I think.

And to be honest, I agree with all the positive points you are making - that Christ died to defeat evil, it was a cosmic spiritual event doing that, and as such it accomplishes more than our salvation. Don't fully understand the smallpox thing, but am happy to run with it.

My problem with it just being about that is that it really is exceedingly dualistic. God and evil having a battle over the centuries and God winning.
Any view like this one, sees the cross as only a victory over death, or evil, rather than God's expression of his own character makes God smaller than he is. The only thing that could stop God achieving what he wants is ...God. Not evil, not death. In fact God introduces death in Genesis, so why not just take it away again?
No, the problem must be one to do with God himself, rather than just a fault in the universe he is sovereign over, or else he could have just fixed it. The cross on a PSA model shows how he did fix it in a way that is consistent with his character.


Its not that I disagree with you per se, merely that I cannot see how any of the outcomes of the cross you talk about can have happened without subistitution, and that it leaves the character of God as Holy out of the equation, which brings about the need for PSA. I agree it achieves all you say it does, but cannot see why it had to be the cross as a solution unless PSA is at the heart.

AB, I didn't really get the first comment you made - I agree our nature needs changing, and that the cross brings about that change - an expiation of our sin. My question remains for any other model how a Holy God CAN come and live in and change our nature, when the effect of someone knowing God in that way in the OT was instant death. Answer - anger dealt with at cross.

Your second point - I agree with, it is an amazing truth that God identifies with us in Jesus death, Hebrews makes a big deal of that, but it is just so much more than that. That way of thinking alone brings us to the "Something was lacking in God's experience so that he couldn't reach us" that really does make God less than he is. The results become merely to do with our attitude to God (which our of course effected by the the cross) rather than any objective achievement for or by God.
I realise you are probably happy with this. For the reasons above I am not.

I didn't say any of that very clearly, but I might try again later. [Ultra confused]

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AB
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Leprechaun,

quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
My question remains for any other model how a Holy God CAN come and live in and change our nature, when the effect of someone knowing God in that way in the OT was instant death. Answer - anger dealt with at cross.

I can see that that's where your thinking is leading at the moment - but I would suggest that you are interpretting the OT in light of PSA. There are plenty of imperfect sinners who had a very intimate relationship with Yawheh in the OT. Not least David & Solomon, who were held in high esteem by God, inspite of their sin.

And maybe that's the key. Perhaps it is not their weaknesses in sin that defined their relationship with God, but rather their hearts.

Ok, second diversion for you. Is "diminshed responsibility" a just plea in a court of law? Or should the full force of the law always come down on one who knows no better?

AB

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"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by AB:


I can see that that's where your thinking is leading at the moment - but I would suggest that you are interpretting the OT in light of PSA.

I do try to interpret the OT in light of the new, you are quite right. [Razz]

quote:
There are plenty of imperfect sinners who had a very intimate relationship with Yawheh in the OT. Not least David & Solomon, who were held in high esteem by God, inspite of their sin.

Well, we are about to get into deep theological waters here, but I would suggest that their faith in the OT covenant was tantamount to faith in the cross so it was ultimately PSA that allowed their relationship as it was.
In saying this, their whole system of religion emphasised God's distance from them rather than his closeness, no matter what the reality of their relationship. The whole OT points to a solution to this problem. Something that will allow God to come close, right into their hearts and change them. I think PSA is this solution.

2) Diminished responsibility means that you are regarded as guilty of a lesser offence but still guilty (as it only operates in commuting murder to manslaughter) I would think off the top of my head that with God it operates a similar way - people who know are more guilty, but we are all essentially guilty.

I am glad you can see where my thinking is going.
[Ultra confused]

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He hath loved us, He hath loved us, because he would love

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AB
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I do try to interpret the OT in light of the new, you are quite right. [Razz]

Interpretting the OT to fit PSA is not reading the OT in light of the new. It's reading it in light of a model that's been prevalent for some 400 years. It assumes that PSA is true, and reads the OT to keep that system intact. It's fairly circular reasoning. Isn't it a more honest method to try and figure out what the OT was trying to say, and interpret the atonement in light of that?

For example, there are many verses in the OT that suggest that the OT sacrificial Law wasn't necessarily what God desired - but rather repentance, love, mercy and to walk humbly with Him. However, with PSA, we see a model of the cross in the model of sacrificial atonement and allow that to support our existing assumptions, rather than to challenge them.

AB

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"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Interpretting the OT to fit PSA is not reading the OT in light of the new. It's reading it in light of a model that's been prevalent for some 400 years.
I myself would say the PSA model has been around a lot longer than 400 years. Even if you agree with your interpretation of the OT and the Gospels (and I don't, so I will come to that in a second) Romans was written nearly 2000 years ago.
quote:
For example, there are many verses in the OT that suggest that the OT sacrificial Law wasn't necessarily what God desired - but rather repentance, love, mercy and to walk humbly with Him. However, with PSA, we see a model of the cross in the model of sacrificial atonement and allow that to support our existing assumptions, rather than to challenge them.

AB, I think, again, that this is exactly the point. If God was really interested in knowing us, walking with us, us repenting and knowing him, why was the sacrifical system there at all. Why were sacrifices required?
Its not the sacrifice that God wants from us, he wants to relate to us, but the sacrificial system emphasises the problem of our sin in this relationship, and the need of a solution.

Of course God's ultimate aim for us is that we repent, turn to him and walk humbly, PSA is about the means for that route to be open.
To be honest I think it is Abelard's view that supports our existing humnaistic assumptions, that all that is really wrong with us is that we need to be emotionally moved to love God.
The problem is much more serious than that, according to both the old and New Testaments, and the reason I think Abelard is so popular is that it makes us look better than we are.
I think that's also the reason that CV appeals -because we are removed from the equation as the problem, and it is death or the devil instead.
Easier to accept, but, I am afraid, not true.

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AB
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Leprechaun,

Let me just say, once again, how pleasing it is to have someone on the thread who is passionately supportive of PSA. It really is a breath of fresh air, and I always find your posts gracious and informative! [Smile]

Back to business though [Devil]

Well, PSA may well have it's roots in Romans (again, we are in danger that we only read Romans in the light of PSA) and possibly in the writings of Augustine too, but it was only really a recognised model of the church in feudal form with Anselm in the 12th century, and in its forensic form with the reformers. Before that CV and variants were the model de facto for the church. Romans too is not straightforwardly advocating PSA. Romans 3:25 still contains a great deal of controversy surrounding propitiation/expiation - but it's really not that important!

I'm glad you mentioned Abelard, as I think it's been under represented in this discussion recently, and I do think it's a much richer model than a quick scratch of the surface reveals. For example, where it scores over PSA, in my opinion is that it focusses more on goodness, than solving the conundrum of salvation.

In PSA goodness is said to flow from salvation, but combine PSA with justification by faith alone and it's easy to see why modern "christendom" is awash was luke-warm christians, secure in their salvation but unmoved to perform 'good works'. (I know this isn't PSA's fault alone, but I do think other models are better at encouraging 'good works').

With Abelard though, love is put firmly on the agenda. The incarnation is the ultimate expression of love, the cross the result of a hostile world rejecting its creator and the ultimate act of submissive love, the resurrection a validation of God's love for His children who love in this crucifying world.

Christ can be said to be bearing our sins, by triumphing where we are weak. In rebelling against the heirarchies of sin, he breaks the power that our pride has over us and clears a path back to our Lord. He bears our sins away from us, in the way that he bore sickness away from those who he healed.

It's all good.

[Smile]

AB

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"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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The Revolutionist
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Hello! I've been trying to keep up with this discussion, all very interesting, no doubt I've misunderstood, forgotten or skimmed over lots of stuff I'd be better off remembering, but I'll take the chance to dive in anyway...

The way I see it, it's very artificial to seperate the forgiveness of sins and defeat of death. Death is the result of sin - sin seperates us from God, spiritual death, and then we die physically. So in forgiving sin, death was also defeated, and the defeat of death was also the defeat of sin.

quote:
Well, we are about to get into deep theological waters here, but I would suggest that their faith in the OT covenant was tantamount to faith in the cross so it was ultimately PSA that allowed their relationship as it was.
In saying this, their whole system of religion emphasised God's distance from them rather than his closeness, no matter what the reality of their relationship. The whole OT points to a solution to this problem. Something that will allow God to come close, right into their hearts and change them. I think PSA is this solution.

This is also my understanding... the Old Testament covenant was to point forward to Christ until it was time for him to come into the world. In repentance and faith expressed through the sacrifical system, which points forward to Jesus, and in trusting in the promises of the coming messiah, Jesus again, the Old Testament believers were trusting in Jesus, his death and resurrection, without knowing the full details.

Ok, a very interesting thread... will hopefully come back to it soon!

The Cake Detective

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egg
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I have come rather late into this thread. I agree with Jolly Jape's general approach:
quote:
I do believe the Bible to be God inspired, but I don't believe it of be inerrant in the way in which that phrase is commonly used. I do believe the claims that the Bible makes for itself, namely that its purpose is the revelation of God to those who would seek Him. I also believe that it is God-breathed (note the present tense). Belief in those two truths in no way precludes the view that the God of the Old Testament is progressively revealed from someone barely different from a tribal war-god, to someone recognisibly the Father of out Lord, Jesus Christ. It isn't that God has changed, but, if you like, that His people got to know him better, and therefore could better hear what He was saying. But of course, it isn't until Jesus that we can really see what He is like. Of course, if you take the view that every word of the scriptures is literally true, then we are faced with the conundrum of a God who is both wholly loving, and who also directs us to stone adulterers, or for that matter to eliminate a whole race of people. It's worth noting that Jesus didn't seem to hold to the literalist position, and was delightfully free with his use of Scripture.
I have for a long time wondered whether the concentration on the 1st century theories of atonement isn't somewhat misplaced. One has to remember that the idea of the efficacy of sacrifice was deeply embedded in the thinking of 1st century Jews (and indeed those of other religions). One example, which doesn't appear in the Bible, was the development from at least the 2nd century BC of the rabbinical thinking about the sacrifice of Isaac. In Gen.22 the usual view is that Isaac was a boy of perhaps 12 or thereabouts; but by the 1st century AD the rabbis had developed a theory that Isaac was a fully grown adult, and that he voluntarily offered to submit to the sacrifice demanded by God. In centuries following the events of Gen.22, when God was displeased with the Jews they would plead "Lord, remember the sacrifice of Isaac"; i.e. the sacrifice voluntarily offered by Isaac was held to be a satisfaction to God for subsequent failings of His people, and was effective to avert God's anger.

One can readily see that Jesus himself may have had this in mind when he voluntarily submitted to arrest and execution; and that Paul may have drawn on it for his theories of the efficacy of the sacrifice of Jesus. Together with this, the daily sacrifices offered in the Temple were regarded by many as ensuring the good favour of God for the Jewish people, and averting his wrath at their shortcomings; and the idea of the scapegoat bearing the sins of the people into the desert carries something of the same thinking.

Against this background, what Paul is saying is that you don't need repeated sacrifices in the Temple. The sacrifice of Jesus, the willing victim (like Isaac in the rabbinical version), is a once for all act that does not need to be repeated. It secures the goodwill of God, averts the possibility of His anger, and reconciles Him to our sinful state for all generations to come.

One can see how this fits in with 1st century thinking. I am less clear that it fits with the way in which 21st century Christians think (or should think), let alone 21st century non-Christians who are seeking for an explanation of what Christianity stands for. One can carry Jolly Jape's point further: just as people got to know God better as time progressed, so they can continue to get to know Him better to-day. OT ideas of sacrifice are no longer in vogue, and I seriously question whether they are attractive to non-Christians. The best guide to God's nature, as Jolly Jape says, is the character and teaching of Jesus. His central message, for me, is in Mt.6.33: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness ..." ("kingdom" here meaning, of course, the sovereignty of God, i.e. make the love of God central to your life, in accordance with the first and greatest commandment, from which all the others flow). And his conduct in persevering in his chosen way, when he knew that it was likely to lead to his death and when he could have escaped this fate even as late as from the Garden of Gethsemane, is a pattern for us all to follow. It was, of course, vindicated by the Resurrection, which was central to Paul's teaching, but which has not figured nearly as largely in the Western church as the Crucifixion (mistakenly, in my view - the Orthodox Church's emphasis on the Resurrection and on the risen Christ, Christus Pantocrator, is more attractive and more true to the NT).

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egg

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Leprechaun

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AB,

Thanks you for your affable comments. Avatars are funny aren't they - I'd always imagined you as being a Jesus lookalike, and now I've just been very disturbed by viewing your profile. [Eek!]

I am aware of the Romans controversy - expiation, propitiation, and all of that. I think even if you do go for expiation as a translation (sic), that in itself certainly requires SA, if not PSA to be true.

I still find Abelard thoroughly unconvincing, as it takes no account of
1) The character of God, neither his holiness nor his immense power. Abelard's view completely fails to take our sin and are sinful coniditon seriously, and makes the cross a bit of a pathetic wave for help from God's point of view. As such, I think the reason it appeals, as I said in my last post, is because it makes us seem nicer and more important than we actually are. While your explanation of it makes sense, and I don't disagree with any of it as a secondary effect of the cross in moving us to repentance, it means nothing if the objective problem of our sin and God's holiness is not solved.
2) That, as I have said before, PSA does not require love to be removed from the equation, as in sending Jesus to die in our place God perfectly expresses his love for us in a just way. Anslem (theologian not shipmate) was, I agree far to clinical and feudal in his description, but PSA not only allows for the love of God but perfectly encapsulates it.

Luke warmness in the church is not because of PSA, but rather, I think because its effects are inadequately explained.
I am most uncomfortable with the (admittedly inaccurate) mutation of Abelard that floats around today that says "Jesus did this for you, what will you do for Him - do you love Him as much as he loved you...?" While this may evoke a response, it is not a Gospel response, just a works based one.
This is just emotional blackmail, and is rightly counter acted by an stress on the objective achievement of the cross, that justifies us, and makes us God's children. Only possible, as I have said before, because Jesus death deals with our sin and God's holy wrath at it.
Once we grasp that, we really will change, not by having our arms twisted, or emotionally balckmailed, which is commonly how the Abelard model is used to "move us to good works." but by becoming what we are, what God has made us.

Soz. Much as your explanation was deeply moving, I don't think its "all good". All bad, in fact, as it makes God less than he is, feeds my pride by telling me I'm better than I am, and seeks to emotionally manipulate me into obedience.

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AB
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Lep,

I do think we are rapidly reaching an empass where we will simply become to tired to thrash it out anymore! Nevertheless I will try and point out what I think are the key issues here.

#1 God's character
PSA "bigs up" God's character by stressing that he is wholy other than us. He cannot go soft on sin, his wrath is just, PSA is the only way he can solve the condundrum of sin.

I would, however, look at the incarnation as a model to a). God's character and also b). The importance God places on it. In the incarnation God becomes weak to save us, becomes poor, becomes frail, becomes mocked, tortured, killed.

This is consistent with the parables that show God as a shepherd willing to leave the flock, to the running father, willing to shame himself to great his returning son, to the merciful king who forgives his slave's debt.

I wonder whether our understanding, and thus protection, of God's character is really at the forefront of God's salvation plan.

#2 Sin
PSA sees it as a barrier between us and God. A list of wrongdoings that God cannot let off, unless their debt has been paid.

I would, however, see it as a symptom of our sickness. We sin because we are sinful. It is our desire to sin that keeps the distance between us and God, and at any time we can return like the son, to the running father, waiting for us to come back.

#3 Justice
PSA would see it as enforcement of God's character. I would see it as serving redemption. In the story of the prodigal son, the father does not ask for repayment, for he is back, and that is all that matters.

I think these key differences are why you find PSA to be the best model for you, and why I find Abelard to be the best for me. But since they both help us understand the atonement in methods useful for us - doesn't that make them both equally valid as models?

AB

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"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by AB:

I do think we are rapidly reaching an empass where we will simply become to tired to thrash it out anymore!

Indeed. Also, I'm not sure I want to get into a protracted discussion with someone who has such psychotic eyes. [Help]
quote:

#1 God's character
PSA "bigs up" God's character by stressing that he is wholy other than us. He cannot go soft on sin, his wrath is just, PSA is the only way he can solve the condundrum of sin.

I would, however, look at the incarnation as a model to a). God's character and also b). The importance God places on it. In the incarnation God becomes weak to save us, becomes poor, becomes frail, becomes mocked, tortured, killed.

This is consistent with the parables that show God as a shepherd willing to leave the flock, to the running father, willing to shame himself to great his returning son, to the merciful king who forgives his slave's debt.

You say this as if I will disagree with it. You also say it as if this aspect of God's character and his ultimate holiness and glory are incompatible.The whole point of PSA is that it shows God as both. God's glory is revealed judgement and mercy, not just the latter.

quote:

#2 Sin
PSA sees it as a barrier between us and God. A list of wrongdoings that God cannot let off, unless their debt has been paid.

I would, however, see it as a symptom of our sickness. We sin because we are sinful. It is our desire to sin that keeps the distance between us and God, and at any time we can return like the son, to the running father, waiting for us to come back.

Again, in essence I do not disagree, but want to say that this is a one-dimensional us-centric view of things. What you say is true for usbut pays no attention to the effect sin has on God or our relationship with Him. This seems to me to be the Bible's main emphasis on sin throughout.
quote:

#3 Justice
PSA would see it as enforcement of God's character. I would see it as serving redemption. In the story of the prodigal son, the father does not ask for repayment, for he is back, and that is all that matters.

AB, one could take any parable and impose it as a framework on the rest of the Bible, suffice to say, as I have already said several times, it does not make the Father less merciful or eager to bring his children home that he chooses this method which also vindicates his character at great cost to himself. There's also some discussion about whether the substitution motif is there in the Prodigal Son - it certainly can be seen that way if one want to view it in the context of the whole NT (rather than viewing the whole rest of the NT in the context of that parable)
quote:

I think these key differences are why you find PSA to be the best model for you, and why I find Abelard to be the best for me. But since they both help us understand the atonement in methods useful for us - doesn't that make them both equally valid as models?

Well, in one sense. I believe that if you are trusting Jesus to get you to heaven you will get there, no matter which model of the atonement you hold to be central. However, ultimately I believe that it is only because PSA is true and the central model of the atonement that any of us will get there.

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He hath loved us, He hath loved us, because he would love

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Talitha
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Can I just say how good it is to have both sides of this argued so coherently, so that undecided people (e.g. me) can work out what we think. [Smile]

My conclusions so far:

1. I disagree with the claim that CV diminishes the character of God. He is necessarily constrained by something: either by Justice (PSA) or by us (CV). I think it's actually better for God's dignity, and more compatible with other Christian theology, to say he is constrained not by some greater abstraction outside himself, but by us. It doesn't preclude his omnipotence, because he has chosen all along to delegate some of his power to us.

Firstly in the general matter of free will and never forcing anyone to come to him, even if he suffers thereby.

"He cannot ravish, he can only woo." Screwtape.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" Luke 13:34, italics mine. It doesn't say "but I didn't want to because you were too sinful and I couldn't stand the sight of you."

And secondly in the matter of achieving the purposes of his kingdom largely through human agents. He has chosen, in his power, to be subject to us in some things. I think that makes him look greater, not less.

2. I also disagree with the idea that CV makes us look better than we are (sorry, Leprechaun!) With PSA, the problem is all on God's side, and as soon as he gets over his grudge against our sin, we gleefully come running back into his arms. Unfortunately, we're worse than that. Not only do we sin, but we're reluctant to be reconciled, even after we're forgiven. God has to change something in us, as well as (or perhaps instead of) something in himself - because we're the ones with the problem. CV gives more credit to God and less to us.

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Leprechaun

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(Sighs wearily)
Much as I am enjoying this debate, I do feel now that I am simply repeating the same things over and over again, as I am about to do with Talitha's post. So I am going to answer her, and then not post again on this issue unless I really really have anything different/more interesting to say.

quote:

1. I disagree with the claim that CV diminishes the character of God. He is necessarily constrained by something: either by Justice (PSA) or by us (CV). I think it's actually better for God's dignity, and more compatible with other Christian theology, to say he is constrained not by some greater abstraction outside himself, but by us. It doesn't preclude his omnipotence, because he has chosen all along to delegate some of his power to us.

As I said in an earlier post, in reply to JJ, PSA does not require God to be constrained by an abstract notion of justice. It is his own character of compassion for the sinner, and just wrath at sin that "constrains" him. Something "constrained" God to send Jesus to die. If it was us, fine, but then God is at our mercy. If it was death, fine, but then God and death are equals or near enough, rather than, as the Bible sees it, death being something that God introduces and controls. PSA does not, repeat does not require God to be pulled up to an external standard of justice,(contra Anselm) rather it is God's self expression, merciful and just. He only needs to satisfy the law inasmuch as it was an expression of his own character anyway.
This, I think magnifies the immense mercy of God, he was not constrained to send Jesus for us because it was his last option to correct the universe going awry, he could have solved the whole problem by justly getting rid of us all. But he chose for his just character to be expressed in a way that also brings us to Him.
quote:

2. I also disagree with the idea that CV makes us look better than we are (sorry, Leprechaun!) With PSA, the problem is all on God's side, and as soon as he gets over his grudge against our sin, we gleefully come running back into his arms. Unfortunately, we're worse than that. Not only do we sin, but we're reluctant to be reconciled, even after we're forgiven. God has to change something in us, as well as (or perhaps instead of) something in himself - because we're the ones with the problem. CV gives more credit to God and less to us.

This comment rests on the assumption that I think that ONLY PSA is a true model of the atonement, which I have emphatically stated I do not. PSA asserts that the main or central thing that needed satisfaction was God, SO THAT God could come and know us change us where we could not change ourselves, without us being burned up by his immense holiness. PSA does not assert that it is only God who has the problem, but rather that God's holiness is the main problem that needs solving to allow the others to be solved. Thus I do believe that both CV and Abelard are true, but they depend on PSA having happened.
I agree absolutely wholeheartedly that God has to change something in us too, but he is only able to do that in a way that is consistent with his character because of PSA.
It is the other models, CV and Abelard if viewed without PSA that make the cross ALL about God merely doing something to us or for us, and hence shift the focus from God's character to our benefit. In fact both, especially Abelard, rest on the cross being about God enabling us to do something, rather than God objectively dealing with a problem. This goes back to my first point, was God constrained to send Jesus to die merely to move something in us, or by his own great character? PSA says the only thing that can constrain God to act is God himself.

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AB
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Lep,

I share your weariness, I do. Often it seems that although we communicate our ideas well, we are simply speaking different languages. Thus all I can do is repeat my assertions, and you yours.

I have been, however, interested by your recent assertions that CV and Abelard alone suffer because they are about God doing something to or for us - whereas PSA is about something objective. I'm just intrigued, why is a subjective result of the cross a bad thing? If one doesn't see the condundrum of sin something to be solved (as I don't) - then a subjective effect of the cross is sufficient, no?

I'm just trying to get to the crux of our differences...

AB

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"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by AB:
I'm just intrigued, why is a subjective result of the cross a bad thing? If one doesn't see the condundrum of sin something to be solved (as I don't) - then a subjective effect of the cross is sufficient, no?

AB,
I think you hit the nail on the head. IF, there is no problem with sin between us and God, then a subjective effect is enough. This is almost anathema to me though!
This is sort of what I was trying to get at what now feels like eons ago, when I said I thought the real issue was a disagreement about the character of God (and his attitude to sin) than models of the atonement.

I do think, as with so many of these things, the difference boils down to a different understanding of the nature of the Bible. I'm not trying to sound self righteous here, honestly I'm not, but this character of God issue, has on this thread seemed at an even lower level to be an authority/understanding of the OT issue and how that reflects in our understanding of the NT material.

While I hope I will still remain on internet friendly terms, with you and JJ and other protagonists this is a point on which I am not going to compromise! Soz.

[ 13. February 2004, 13:13: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]

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fatprophet
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So, lets see then. We have one person saying that forgiveness is unconditional, no doubt because we are used to thinking divine love is unconditional love; and another person saying that forgiveness is not unconditional, but depends on justice being satisfied whatever that means.

Lets just consider the question of whether forgiveness is conditional or unconditional. In our culture the word forgiveness means unconditional. If we forgive we don't need to punish, its an alternative to justice being satisfied (e.g forgiving a debt) not dependant on it. So it seem the unconditional forgiveness lobby win hands down, therefore the atonement is not about 'something' happening to allow God to forgive us as this is a contradiction in terms.

Seems simple. But, my reading of the bible suggests that forgiveness was not considered unconditional in certain instances. The good old PSA proof text, whatever else it means, shows that forgiveness is conditional: Somewhere in the epistle to the Hebrews it says "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins". Whatever "shedding of blood" is about then clearly to me forgiveness depends on something.
Even in the Lord's Prayer forgiveness seems conditional : "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive the trespasses of others". I know some people think that what is implied is that we don't get forgiven ourselves unless we forgive others.
My impression is that sometimes in the bible 'forgiveness' is conditional, but the modern meaning of forgiveness is unconditional. Though even moderns might stretch the point to say forgiveness is conditional upon repentance and turning away from sin, or that we have to be 'open' or willing to receive it.
Indeed why does God not simply just say "everyone is forgiven" if forgiveness is unconditional whether we are willing or not? . Perhaps he does, in which case the atonement is not about forgiveness of sin because thats guaranteed anyway.

I don't like the PSA talk about God's anger and punishing either, but I do believe that 'forgivenss' costs something, is conditional and requires some effort on our part (or perhaps on our behalf) but no one word in english covers what the condition for forgiveness is: human reorientation, a making of a covenant or agreement,dedication, amends making, restitution, repentance, submission, obedience, committment (and similar type words) to God. Certainly this is what OT worshippers sometimes thought they were doing when they sacrificed to obtain 'Gods forgiveness'. I really do think they thought 'No sacrifice then no forgiveness'or at least no 'covenant' with God.

Jump into Pauline thought in the New Testament and Jesus' death is at least partly seen as a sacrifice that makes us acceptable/righteous to God which in turn sounds like forgiveness. Again then Jesus's death, viewed as a sacrifice appears to be necessary, a condition, for forgiveness.

What we don't have is any 'mechanics' or full explanation in the bible as to how Jesus' dying, sacrifice and forgiveness are causally connected. Hence we get all these theories like PSA to fill the 'gap'. My best guess is that the bible does not have a coherent or consistent theory of the atonement, and the connection between forgivenss, Jesus and Old Testament sacrifice is not made by logical analysis but basically by analogical and above all, mythological thinking.

Ultimately the proponents of PSA and apparently some of the biblical writers were motivated by that strong human instinct that says we can't be 'forgiven' in the crudest sense of being let off a crime or sin until we do something to at least make amends, restitution or indeed otherwise accept that punishment was deserved.

Justice must be done or the law is not upheld the PSA lobby say. Is this instinct from God or an atavistic urge? Certainly there is a conflict between letting someone off for a crime and the aim to preserve law and order. If law was never enforced in human society then it would be ignored, so on that basis no one can be forgiven (human justice systems don't provide for forgiveness)
We are loath to ascribe earthy, political and legalistic concerns to God. However it is difficult to see how even for God he can logically demand law and at the same time let everyone off who breaks the divine law. However those who don't subscribe to the PSA view probably don't see God as cosmic cop 'law giver' at all so don't understand the need for 'justice to be done' in the punitive sense.

In conclusion -
Contrasting Basic Assumptions aka why we can't agree on PSA.

PSA - Forgiveness is conditional, we need to make amends for wrongdoing, evil 'deserves' punishment, God is law giver and is concerned about maintaing cosmic law & order (cosmic cop) which requires crimes be punished. Justice is about what one deserves. PSA delivers punishment and forgiveness at the same time.


Non PSA - forgiveness is unconditional, God is not concerned with law and rules but with our having a good relationship with him and removing obstacles to that relationship. Justice is about equality and not about what one 'deserves'. The atonement then is about something else, e.g. matyrdom, triumph over ego, and death, God entering into our human nature including our pain etc.

See how the philosophical basic assumptions are quite different for PSA and non PSA people? There is no possibility of these two people agreeing. They probably have really quite different religious worldviews that 'appear' to be the same religion! Not surprisingly the non-psa types tend to be religious and/or political liberals. Certainly I find political conservatives are drawn to the PSA position as they value law and order and PSA theology is about the moral government of the universe.

Other predictions - PSA believers are likely to be law enforcement officers, accountants, auditors, physical scientists, corporate lawyers, directors of multinational companies, and vote Republican, Conservative; they support the death penalty.

Non PSA believers are social workers, teachers, clinicians, artists, marketing managers, human rights lawyers, public officials, vote for liberal parties, and were opposed to the death penalty.

The bible was written by people who could not agree, read by people who would not agree and argued about by people who eventually realised they would never agree.

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FAT PROPHET

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by fatprophet:
Not surprisingly the non-psa types tend to be religious and/or political liberals.

I was with you until this point. Orthodox are non-psa types but you can hardly say we're religious liberals, and most of the Orthodox in the US seem to be political conservatives as well (alas).

We believe in the usefulness of law and order in preserving human society, even if it doesn't apply to our relationship with God. To paraphrase Josephine, "justice" is a stopgap until we learn the real underlying principle which is love. Where love is perfect, justice has no raison d'etre. Or to put it another way around, "God's justice" is an incomplete way of looking at God's love. Human justice is an attempt to make things "fair" but ultimately what matters is not what's fair but what is godly and what is loving.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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AB
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fatprophet,

[Overused]

Yup, I'd say that's the crux of the issue for me. I think forgiveness is and should be unconditional, but I think I'll start another thread for that one!

[Smile]

AB

--------------------
"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Jolly Jape
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FWIW I'm an electronics engineer, so I have a science background, I'm well to the libertarian left politically, would be anti death penalty if it were an issue in the UK. I'm not an inerrantist, but would regard myself as moderately conservative theologically, (ie, quite happy with miracles, physical resurrection, virgin birth etc.)

Having said that, although it's not a 100% match, I think I agree with the thrust of Fatprophet's post.

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Leprechaun

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quote:

In conclusion -
Contrasting Basic Assumptions aka why we can't agree on PSA.

PSA - Forgiveness is conditional, we need to make amends for wrongdoing, evil 'deserves' punishment, God is law giver and is concerned about maintaing cosmic law & order (cosmic cop) which requires crimes be punished. Justice is about what one deserves. PSA delivers punishment and forgiveness at the same time.


Non PSA - forgiveness is unconditional, God is not concerned with law and rules but with our having a good relationship with him and removing obstacles to that relationship. Justice is about equality and not about what one 'deserves'. The atonement then is about something else, e.g. matyrdom, triumph over ego, and death, God entering into our human nature including our pain etc.


Thank you so much for your two descriptions of the two positions which obviously aren't biased at all by your own point of view. Hmm, I wonder which one you think is morally superior. [Disappointed]

I have to say I have had just about enough of the way my view and has been portrayed in this discussion despite my continued attempts to calmly and rationally explain it when, to be honest, most people who hold my view would have written the whole thing off as an authority of the Bible issue long ago.

So (once again) it is true to say that PSA says that forgiveness is conditional on something. To say that it rests on us "offering something to God" is, as I have said many times, a misrepresentation. The whole point of the model is that God in Himself meets "the condition" In that sense while forgiveness remains philosophically conditional, it is in no sense conditional from our point of view. Forgiveness is an unconditional gift to us, because God himself meets the condition. This is the essence of the "scandalous love of God" as JJ rightly called it in an earlier post.
quote:

Other predictions - PSA believers are likely to be law enforcement officers, accountants, auditors, physical scientists, corporate lawyers, directors of multinational companies, and vote Republican, Conservative; they support the death penalty.

Non PSA believers are social workers, teachers, clinicians, artists, marketing managers, human rights lawyers, public officials, vote for liberal parties, and were opposed to the death penalty.

Ah yes, this discussion has nothing to do with wanting to find the truth and submit to it at all, but is merely a reflection of the lifestyle choices I have already made. [Projectile]
Thanks so much for your charitable and intelligent view of this whole debate.
It gives me great pleasure to inform you that out of all the people I know who believe in PSA hardly any of them fit your prejudiced stereotyping ignorant models.
quote:

The bible was written by people who could not agree, read by people who would not agree and argued about by people who eventually realised they would never agree.

Oh rubbish.

I tried to back out of this discussion, but the crass ignorance of FP's last post moved me to contribute again. But now I really do want out of it, if it just boils down to the same old "all you are doing is imposing yourself on the text" dogma that no one on this site ever seems to want to question. [Snore]

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Talitha
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Leprechaun, I for one am impressed by your calm and rational explanations. I love this thread for its balanced and cogent presentation of both sides, which is really helpful.

Fatprophet, your generalisations were pretty extreme and biased. Isn't it against the rules to make generalisations like that, not about the theologies themselves, but the kind of people who believe them?
Slight tangent: Imagine how much flak you would have got if you'd written (for example) "evangelical" and "liberal" instead of "PSA" and "non-PSA".

I'm leaning more to the non-PSA side, but even I can see that the God of PSA is also highly concerned with "our having a good relationship with him and removing obstacles to that relationship."

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Jolly Jape
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Lep:

I would be sorry if you left this thread thinking that you have been patronised or your vews traduced. I, for one, am very grateful that you have been willing, in a polite, erudite manner, to dicuss these matters. Though we are probably no nearer agreement than when we started, I do feel that I have refined my views during the course of the discussion. Indeed, I have had to, in the light of your penetrative questioning. It is obvious from the things that you have written, that you have a lively, passionate faith, and you won't get any criticism about that from this direction. I really don't think that FatProphet's post was intended as patronising, though I suppose it could be thought of as something of a generalisation. Anyway, you have nothing but respect from this poster;

Pax

Jeremy [Smile]

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AB
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Ok, just had another thought about this.

When we sin, do we sin against God? As in, does he feel it a wrong done to him, or does he consider it a wrong done to others or even self. Is the Law there for our benefit, or for God's?

And if it isn't a wrong done to God, is it right that justice be served when we are in effect serving a consequence of our actions already?

Hmmm, maybe one for another thread...

AB

--------------------
"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Anselm
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When King David slept with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed, he seemed to have thought he'd sinned against God.

Psalm 51:1-4

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carpe diem domini
...seize the day to play dominoes?

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