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Source: (consider it) Thread: Moral Influence atonement theology
Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
If those are my only choices, then Satan-ward is the one that fits best, I think.

I think that the payment of ransom has as little to do with paying anything personally to the Devil as going to jail and being 'detained at her majesty's pleasure' has anything to do with her majesty, pleasurable or otherwise.

Ransom and satisfaction and even the penal aspect of PSA is basically saying that Christ took on the consequences. We might say that someone falling off a cliff will 'pay the price' of his foolishness, but he didn't have to pay anything to anyone for the privilege of dashing his brains out at the bottom!

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
I think that the payment of ransom has as little to do with paying anything personally to the Devil as going to jail and being 'detained at her majesty's pleasure' has anything to do with her majesty, pleasurable or otherwise.

Ransom and satisfaction and even the penal aspect of PSA is basically saying that Christ took on the consequences. We might say that someone falling off a cliff will 'pay the price' of his foolishness, but he didn't have to pay anything to anyone for the privilege of dashing his brains out at the bottom!

OK, but surely can say the same about "paying the price" to God as well. What you're saying here seems to apply to the idea of Jesus' death paying a price in any direction.

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Pass me a book I've read
Pass me a fresh cut flower
And ask me what I dread
That the good in me is dead

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Mudfrog
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Yes, I'd agree.
In the modern hymn, 'the wrath of God was satisfied' means that the requirements of wrath, the consequences of wrath, were satisfied. Jesus didn't satisfy the Father.

God himself, as trinity of FS&HS were satisfied only in the sense that justice was done and seen to be done.
I don't think the Father got any personal satisfaction at seeing his only begotten die - in fact he suffered the loss just as much. What satisfied God was the same thing that satisfied Jesus in the moment just before his death, when he breathed out 'It is finished.'

The satisfaction of God was the knowledge that justice was fulrfilled and the sinner can go free.

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
If those are my only choices, then Satan-ward is the one that fits best, I think.

I think that the payment of ransom has as little to do with paying anything personally to the Devil as going to jail and being 'detained at her majesty's pleasure' has anything to do with her majesty, pleasurable or otherwise.

Ransom and satisfaction and even the penal aspect of PSA is basically saying that Christ took on the consequences. We might say that someone falling off a cliff will 'pay the price' of his foolishness, but he didn't have to pay anything to anyone for the privilege of dashing his brains out at the bottom!

Yeah, but there's a huge difference between picturing that "God-ward"-- i.e. Christ takes the penalty to appease God's wrath-- and picturing that "Satan-ward"-- Christ rescues us from our captor. It says a lot about the way we view God and even more so the way we think God views us.

But, again-- metaphors.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
Those are all concerns of the "God-ward" images that are based in defining the "sin problem" as "God's wrath/justice/holiness against human sinfulness"-- you don't find those problems in the other metaphors. IMHO the problem with the God-ward metaphors is a faulty view of God. But again, I think that's a limitation of metaphor, and why we need more than just the two God-ward explanations.

Well, yes I do think other metaphors are better - but evangelicals in particular seem to lack a sense of consistency.

I don't mean to say that things perfectly line up together (I don't believe they do), but too often evangelicals seem to push PSA to the exclusion of all other metaphors and seem blinded to the biblical text which does not seem to back up the narrow view.

For example, I've heard many times (too many to count, probably) that sinful man cannot approach the perfect deity. Therefore, this trope goes, sacrifice is necessary.

However, a cursary glance at OT stories and characters shows that this isn't backed up by the text. Almost nobody is pictured as having a sacrifice to purify themselves before meeting with God, and indeed in the vast majority of cases God is pictured meeting with man and not the other way around.

The idea that God is contaminated by man's sinfulness seems to be the opposite of the truth (in my view supported by stories and metaphors in the NT as well), namely that God is a "disinfectant" and reaches out to those who are contaminated.

Of course I appreciate that this is an oversimplification and not every Evangelical thinks like this, but I think this way of explaining the atonement is very widely used.

Very much agree.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Kwesi
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Mudfrog
quote:
In the modern hymn, 'the wrath of God was satisfied' means that the requirements of wrath, the consequences of wrath, were satisfied. Jesus didn't satisfy the Father.
Come off it, Mudfrog! I've never read such sophistry in ages.

What does it mean to say "Jesus didn't satisfy the Father" but satisfied the Father's wrath?
(What, by the way, are "the consequences of wrath").

You talk about "the Father's wrath" and "justice" as if they entities independent of God.

Surely, "wrath" is an attribute of God, ditto his sense of "justice"

If the Father's wrath is satisfied does it not mean the Father is satisfied?


Haven't you got yourself into this mess because you realise that PSA tests Trinitarianism to distraction?

Mudfrog .
quote:
The satisfaction of God was the knowledge that justice was fulrfilled and the sinner can go free.

Why couldn't he just let the prisoner go free? Or let him go free provided he repented? Why it required the death of his innocent son is not obvious. Nor, incidentally, is it obviously just that a sinner should suffer eternal torment for being subject to original sin i.e. a condition for which he/she is not responsible.

Incidentally, you place a construction on "It is finished" that is not at all obvious. It could simply mean "my life is over".

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Mudfrog
quote:
In the modern hymn, 'the wrath of God was satisfied' means that the requirements of wrath, the consequences of wrath, were satisfied. Jesus didn't satisfy the Father.
Come off it, Mudfrog! I've never read such sophistry in ages.

What does it mean to say "Jesus didn't satisfy the Father" but satisfied the Father's wrath?
(What, by the way, are "the consequences of wrath").

You talk about "the Father's wrath" and "justice" as if they entities independent of God.

Surely, "wrath" is an attribute of God, ditto his sense of "justice"

If the Father's wrath is satisfied does it not mean the Father is satisfied?


Haven't you got yourself into this mess because you realise that PSA tests Trinitarianism to distraction?

Mudfrog .
quote:
The satisfaction of God was the knowledge that justice was fulrfilled and the sinner can go free.

Why couldn't he just let the prisoner go free? Or let him go free provided he repented? Why it required the death of his innocent son is not obvious. Nor, incidentally, is it obviously just that a sinner should suffer eternal torment for being subject to original sin i.e. a condition for which he/she is not responsible.

Incidentally, you place a construction on "It is finished" that is not at all obvious. It could simply mean "my life is over".

Wrath is not an emotion, nor is it an attribute of God's personality: he is not 'wrathful'. Wrath is his just attitude to sin.

Just as I said that a prison sentence is at her majesty's pleasure without any pleasure being involved, so I believe that wrath, God's permanent antipathy and aversion to sin, is not a personal emotion felt by God.

You said yourself: "Surely, "wrath" is an attribute of God, ditto his sense of "justice".
Well indeed! But justice is not an emotion, so neither is wrath.

PSA is no way tests the Trinity. It would if, as the womanist theologian (whose name escapes me) theorised, it was a case of 'cosmic child abuse'. (A charge ridiculously parotted by Chalke). For then, the charge of God the Father punishing his innocent Son would divide the Trinity and be shown to be adoptionism - i.e. God chooses an innocent man to be his victim.

But that cannot be (and is not) true, because the father, Son and Spirit were at one, literally, in the atonement: God (the Father) was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
Jesus was not the innocent victim used by God he was the willing divine victim, God himself as victim.

Finally, 'It is finished.' does not mean your very weak, limp, defeated, 'My life is over' in the slightest. It's a triumphant cry of satisfaction: 'Consummatum est!'

See


Here

and

Here

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Gamaliel
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The thing is, whatever stress or emphasis we place on 'It is finished' it isn't at all immediately obvious in the context of the text itself.

Whether we take it in the rather 'loaded' way that Mudfrog does or the 'lame' way that Kwesi appears to, then we are equally taking a hermeneutic leap as to what it actually means.

I'm happy to go along with it not as a cry of dereliction so much as an indication of 'mission accomplished' - but then, given the circumstances, it could be both of course ...

Or is that too predictable a Gamalian response?

[Hot and Hormonal]

I'd suggest that aspects like this aren't implicit in the text so much as conditioned by our particular traditions yet again.

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I'm aware there are no corrolating or explicitly parallel texts which 'explain' what the author had in mind in recording this detail.

FWIW, though, I don't find Mudfrog's angle on this issue any more prone to sophistry than any other viewpoint - whether RC, Protestant or Orthodox.

I think there are problems with the PSA model which are not quite so easily resolved, but for my money Mudfrog makes a better case for it than many evangelicals I've heard preaching and teaching down the years.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Gamaliel
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One could, of course, argue that the curtain in the Temple being torn in two from top to bottom was a physical 'endorsement' of Christ's statement - 'It is fulfilled' - because it demonstrates that the requirements of the Jewish Law had been met and 'satisfied' at Calvary.

All sorts of stuff to get our teeth stuck into there ...

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
If those are my only choices, then Satan-ward is the one that fits best, I think.

I think that the payment of ransom has as little to do with paying anything personally to the Devil as going to jail and being 'detained at her majesty's pleasure' has anything to do with her majesty, pleasurable or otherwise.

Ransom and satisfaction and even the penal aspect of PSA is basically saying that Christ took on the consequences. We might say that someone falling off a cliff will 'pay the price' of his foolishness, but he didn't have to pay anything to anyone for the privilege of dashing his brains out at the bottom!

I don't see how your response has owt to do with my post that you quoted. I wasn't talking about ransom theory or satisfaction.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Steve Langton
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I'll probably have some lengthier things to say later, but for now

Mudfrog's discussion of God's wrath seems akin to something I often say - that the word for God's love, which we in turn are meant to emulate, doesn't mean sloppy slushy sentiment but deep caring. If you really care for the good, you will have something like 'wrath' for evil; not a petty spat kind of anger, but a deep opposition to something which itself is opposite to everything true and good.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I'll probably have some lengthier things to say later, but for now

Mudfrog's discussion of God's wrath seems akin to something I often say - that the word for God's love, which we in turn are meant to emulate, doesn't mean sloppy slushy sentiment but deep caring. If you really care for the good, you will have something like 'wrath' for evil; not a petty spat kind of anger, but a deep opposition to something which itself is opposite to everything true and good.

Yes, that's where the substitutionary metaphor gets it right.

Where it gets it wrong is framing that "wrath" as something that distances us from God (how many have seen the lazy evangelist diagram of a cliff with God on one side and us on the other, with a cross-shaped bridge?). Substitutionary atonement gets it wrong when it pictures God as pushing our sinful selves away until Jesus covers it over. The "Satan-ward" theories get it right by picturing God (like the Father in the parable of the 2 sons) as running toward our sinful selves to rescue us, rather than turning away from our disgusting sin.

Again, that's true of all metaphors-- they get some things right, they get some things wrong. That's why, in addition to all sorts of metaphors and images for God, we have the incarnation-- God himself. Seeing the way Jesus responds to sinners helps shape not only our view of God, but also our understanding of how God views us.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Kwesi
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Steve Langton
quote:
f you really care for the good, you will have something like 'wrath' for evil; not a petty spat kind of anger, but a deep opposition to something which itself is . opposite to everything true and good.
I'm OK with that so long as you maintain a distinction between evil and the fate of the sinner.
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Lyda*Rose

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quote:
Seeing the way Jesus responds to sinners helps shape not only our view of God, but also our understanding of how God views us.
And how we should aspire to see each other, with the caveat that we probably shouldn't accept abuse because we also need to love ourselves.

[ 09. January 2017, 18:04: Message edited by: Lyda*Rose ]

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"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life." ~from Joe Vs the Volcano

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ThunderBunk

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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I'll probably have some lengthier things to say later, but for now

Mudfrog's discussion of God's wrath seems akin to something I often say - that the word for God's love, which we in turn are meant to emulate, doesn't mean sloppy slushy sentiment but deep caring. If you really care for the good, you will have something like 'wrath' for evil; not a petty spat kind of anger, but a deep opposition to something which itself is opposite to everything true and good.

How does this square with the crucified Christ, who was crucified alongside the repentant and the unrepentant sinner, and by his crucifixion showed equal love for both? His reported words can be said to demonstrate some favour to the repentant thief, but he is still nailed to the cross between them.

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Currently mostly furious, and occasionally foolish. Normal service may resume eventually. Or it may not. And remember children, "feiern ist wichtig".

Foolish, potentially deranged witterings

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyda*Rose:
quote:
Seeing the way Jesus responds to sinners helps shape not only our view of God, but also our understanding of how God views us.
And how we should aspire to see each other, with the caveat that we probably shouldn't accept abuse because we also need to love ourselves.
Yes, good point.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
PSA tests Trinitarianism to distraction?

Trinitarianism tests Trinitarianism to distraction.
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Kwesi
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Touche, Kaplan!
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Mudfrog
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The context to the triumphant 'Consummatum est!' words of Jesus who believed his mission was not fulfilled and complete is verse 28, te verse that introduces the reader to the two final sayings of Jesus. Here is the entire passage:

Later, know that all was completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.

A couple of observations:

It could mean of course that he had simply finished the drink. But this is john we're talking about - everything has a meaning. There's no way that John would have bothered to record something that wasn't a significant word at such a significant time.

Tie that in with the 'complete' of verse 28, and you get a case for the cry to be 'It is complete, it is accomplished.'

I don't think it's wrong to tie this is in with the loud cry of the synoptics.

It is that detail - the loudness - that suggests it wasn't resignation, but rather a triumphant, or simply emphatic, cry.

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G.K. Chesterton

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Gamaliel
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Emphatic, certainly. I'm not sure we can speculate whether it was triumph, dereliction or whatever else - but it's all academic anyway as we've got a lot more than one particular utterance on the cross to go on - the Resurrection for a kick-off ...

'He arose, he arose, with a shout of triumph o'er his foes.
He arose victorious o'er the dark domain,
Now he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose, he arose' (altogether now) 'Hallelujah Christ arose!'

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I'll probably have some lengthier things to say later, but for now

Mudfrog's discussion of God's wrath seems akin to something I often say - that the word for God's love, which we in turn are meant to emulate, doesn't mean sloppy slushy sentiment but deep caring. If you really care for the good, you will have something like 'wrath' for evil; not a petty spat kind of anger, but a deep opposition to something which itself is opposite to everything true and good.

A wrath for evil, or a wrath for people who do evil, or a wrath for evil people? One of the chief teachings of the Orthodox Church, which we repeat several times during the Divine Liturgy, is that God loves mankind. I think John 3:16 echoes the same sentiment. One might also mention a number of Psalms that say his lovingkindness endures forever. I have always had a hard time squaring that view of God with the one with the eternal, undying, forever-and-ever wrath towards mankind. Maybe somebody can unsquare this circle for me.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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mousethief

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Lamb Chopped, I really am interested in your answer here.

quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
You seem to be creating a theory of Christian karma. How is your consequence theory any different from karma?



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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Lamb Chopped
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Sheesh, Mousethief. I was at work. Can't go composing long screeds when I'm supposed to be composing them for somebody else!

Okay, karma. I can't say I know all the ins and outs of what this means past the popular definition, as I've not studied it in any depth. What I do think is that our actions produce consequences, not all of which may be visible, and some of which may be spiritual.

Jesus spoke often of reaping what you sow (and Paul after him, etc.) This suggests to me that there is some principle in the universe which I think of as balance, for want of a better term. Plant weed seeds and you'll get weeds; yell at a coworker and you'll get into a fight; live by the sword and you're likely to die by the sword. These things are observable, and plenty of people have observed them--both in Christianity and outside it. Which is possibly where the idea of karma came from.

Now I don't think there is some sort of spiritual bookkeeper up there keeping track of my bads and goods and making sure I get a precisely calculated payback in this life or another. But I do think that when God undertakes to clean up our spiritual toxic dump, he has to deal with more than just what our eyes can see on the surface.

Let's take that biblical image of sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind. All of the times I "sowed the wind" through my evil actions? Well, the whirlwinds that result are still out there, spinning like mad, waiting to pounce on me sooner or later. What goes around, comes around. Except that now God has stepped in to save me from my own folly, and I am forgiven, and the whole process has gotten short circuited.

Anyway, what happens to those pre-existing twisters that have been sniffing around the edges of my life, waiting to pounce? Do they just suddenly go "poof!" and tidy themselves away into oblivion on their own? I don't think so, no. Someone's got to shut them down.* That someone is God.

Let's take a different image. If I deliberately create a toxic chemical dump on my property, there are two issues to deal with. One is my personal evil choice which led to the disaster; the second is the clean-up.

If I do the spiritual equivalent by falling into evil, God can forgive me for my evil choice. But somebody's still got to clean up the dump. It can't just be left there. It won't go away on its own. I believe that God does that, too--cleans up our spiritual toxic chemical dumps, restores the site, recreates what was ruined. I don't think it happens by itself. I think God actively gets out there and deals with it. And it costs him something--just as it would cost me in ordinary human life if I had to do Superfund clean up.

I hope this makes some sense, as I really ought to be in bed. Good night.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Gamaliel
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Mousethief, I know the Orthodox view on these issues and I think I may have already cited the repeated line from the Liturgy about God being good and loving mankind ...

I don't think Western Christians in general, or evangelical Christians in particular, are disputing that.

I'll concede that in the outer reaches of ultra-TULIP TULIP-dom one does get the impression that God rubs his hands with glee every time someone sins as it gives him yet another opportunity to turn up the temperature in Eternal Hell Fire ...

Heck, you've only got to read Jonathan Edwards's 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' for one's eyes to boggle at the analogies he uses, God being like a vicious schoolboy torturing a spider over a flame before dropping it into the fire ...

I mean, steady on ... we don't have to be wishy-washy liberals to baulk at that kind of portrayal of the Almighty.

I can see the issue you're raising and I can see the dilemma, but from my reading of what they've written here, I don't see how Lamb Chopped, Steve Langton or Mudfrog have gone 'overboard' on the wrath of God thing - nor have any of htem suggested, as far as I can see, that wrath is somehow part of God's nature in an intrinsic sense - ie. he is ontologically petulant, moody or some kind of cosmic Mr Angry.

Ok, I know I share a background in Western Christianity with all these posters and I'll have inevitably been shaped by that. Consequently, for all the flaws I can see in it, I have been very reluctant to abandon a PSA-ish approach to these issues.

Perhaps it's because I have some kind of inveterate and deeply entrenched belief that if we remove that we somehow leave 'the problem of sin' unresolved and also create some kind of latitude towards sin and the effects of sin.

Orthodox clergy have tried to convince me that this isn't the case. I'm not saying that the Orthodox are any more lackadaisical about the seriousness of sin than anyone else, but from a Western perspective - which may or may not be flawed, I don't know - it can appear as this is one of the bases they don't cover as 'well' or as comprehensively if you like, as the Western tradition.

Again, I might be completely barking and completely wrong on that ... but I do have some sympathy with Lamb Chopped's assertion that these things can't simply be 'left' but that God, in some way, and at some cost to Himself (not in a Patripassian way) actively deals with them ...

As the Wesleyan hymn puts it, 'He breaks the power of cancelled sin, he sets the captives free ...'

I dunno, maybe I'm looking for greater levels of certainty than are actually available ... but I can see some comfort in both the Calvinist and Wesleyan schemas as they provide some kind of indication that God is on our case in order to sort us out ...

Sure, I appreciate the Orthodox tradition offers that too, in terms of theosis and our synergistic collaboration with the divine energies and so forth ... but due to my background, I'm obviously conditioned to see these things more from a Western perspective rather than an Eastern one - although obviously aspects of the latter do appeal to me and resonate with me at a very deep level.

Of course there are dangers with an overly Augustinian 'take' on things - and not only in hyper-Calvinism either. I can think of Arminian traditions which incline to the puritanical and the nit-picking ... my wife's paternal ancestors had strong Wesleyan roots and there are all sorts of family horror stories (undoubtedly exaggerated in the telling I suspect) of whacky Holiness practices, of a doll being tossed onto the fire because a toddler was playing with it on the Sabbath ... of brothers not speaking to one another for years and years because of minor differences of opinion over this, that or the other tangential teaching ...

But let's put everything on the table in the cool light of day.

I don't see how a righteous anger against sin somehow makes God out to be a monster, any more than the Orthodox understanding of these things makes him out to be some kind of cosmic Santa Claus.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I'll probably have some lengthier things to say later, but for now

Mudfrog's discussion of God's wrath seems akin to something I often say - that the word for God's love, which we in turn are meant to emulate, doesn't mean sloppy slushy sentiment but deep caring. If you really care for the good, you will have something like 'wrath' for evil; not a petty spat kind of anger, but a deep opposition to something which itself is opposite to everything true and good.

A wrath for evil, or a wrath for people who do evil, or a wrath for evil people? One of the chief teachings of the Orthodox Church, which we repeat several times during the Divine Liturgy, is that God loves mankind. I think John 3:16 echoes the same sentiment. One might also mention a number of Psalms that say his lovingkindness endures forever. I have always had a hard time squaring that view of God with the one with the eternal, undying, forever-and-ever wrath towards mankind. Maybe somebody can unsquare this circle for me.
The way some people put this, it's as if because of love for one of my children, when child 2 nicks their book and upsets them I beat that child into a bloody pulp, because I'm so angry with them because of my love for child 1. And then do it the other way round when child 1 offends.

Except that through PSA they somehow allow me to beat myself into a bloody pulp instead and somehow that makes everything all right.

No, I don't get it either.

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Gamaliel
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All these things are metaphors and analogies, and like all analogies you can only stretch them so far.

In fairness to the proponents of PSA, whatever else may be laid to its charge, I do think that proponents like John Stott in his book, 'The Cross of Christ' do steer well clear of the cruder and more grotesque analogies that are sometimes used - particularly in evangelistic presentations.

Some of the court-room illustrations or depictions of Christ willingly taking the rap in some kind of whipping-boy sense are crude and grotesque in the extreme.

To be fair, not all PSA proponents descend into such crudity but they have to try pretty hard to distance themselves from it.

They aren't alone in that. There are crude and populist presentations of things within other traditions too, of course - I can't speak for the Orthodox but I wouldn't be surprised if they have their equivalents.

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mr cheesy
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I was struggling with how to put this into words yesterday, but I'm very unconfortable with the idea that we can somehow share in God's redhot burning wrath.

For one thing, I don't know that this is a very healthy idea, and tends to thought processes that project our values onto the deity of our imagining - which we then use to castigate people who don't meet our standards. God is better than that.

For another, I'm not really convinced that God burns with redhot anger at the silly, dumb and stupid things we do in our individual lives. It isn't that they're unimportant (they often are) but I think they're more often a symptom of wider malaise.

Most of the time I think God is burning with anger at injustice and systematic human weaknesses in the world and doesn't care a whole lot (in a burning-anger sense at least) about individual weakness and pettiness - particularly self-defeating actions by wealthy individuals who should know better.

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Mudfrog
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I am worried that there seems to be developing an idea that God can only be loving if he has no wrath, or that he cannot be loving if there is any wrath at all.

The wrath of God is seen in action in the cleansing of the temple - I see no contradiction in the life and character of Jesus between that and when he wrote in the sand refusing to condemn the adulteress for her sin.

(For what it's worth, there is a hint of the wrath of God in that episode in the very thinly veiled warning to her to 'go and sin no more.' I can't help but feel there is an unspoken 'or else...'
If Jesus were displaying the kind of God who merely reprieves for no other reason than he is a loving and slightly indulgent grandfather, then why would he admonish her in such a way?

I've never been into Rob Bell but I have heard some of his live stuff and I was offended by his rant, sorry 'sermon' given on his 'The gods are not angry' tour where he appeared to rubbish the allegedly Biblical doctrine that sacrifices in the OT and The Sacrifice in the NT were basically designed to appease an angry God.
So many people nowadays take this view and ascribe it to PSA - Jesus was the innocent victim of an angry Father. "How bloody unfair is that? It's nothing short of Cosmic Child Abuse!!"

Well apart from that charge only sticking - like I've aid a couple of times recently - if we are adoptionists, and Jesus is the innocent man dragged out from the crowd and chosen to be the newly-deified sacrifice to save the souls of all the others people - it is not what PSA is about anyway.

Justice demands a consequence and when people ask 'where is the love'? The simple answer is that the love is shown in the giving of the Son by the Father, combined with the self-giving of the Son in total unity.

God SO loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

- as has been quoted almost as if only the Orthodox have that verse in the Bible.

But let's not forget the next bit:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

So, even while God is loving the world 'so much that he gave', the wrath of God has already condemned the world (that's why it's not the task of Jesus to condemn - it's there already) The love of God is shown entirely in the gift of his Son (in incarnation and atoning work) so that the condemned (by the wrath of God) might believe instead and so be saved from perishing.

Rob Bell moves from his falsehood of 'the gods are not angry' to 'Love Wins'.
Oh yes, it's a lovely idea, but to me the idea that love (always) wins actually reveals a petulance and selfishness that would be even more unattractive than a god who gets angry in a fit of pique. In fact, 'love wins' actually requires us to believe in a god that stamps his feet, demands that people are loved and love him back and insists on having his own way to the detriment of personal choice.

That's a god who stalk his creation, not loves it.


If you watch The Big Bang Theory you'll know it's a sitcom about a group of nerdy scientists with severely impaired social-skills.
One lf them, Sheldon Cooper, is the most 'impaired'. I'm not sure what his diagnosis is (even though his mother had him tested LOL)
Anyway, in one episode, he has a near meltdown because a bluejay (we don't have these in the UK) has settled on his windowsill and, because he is petrified of it, he tries all manner of ways to get rid of it.

Eventually, however, through the help of his friends, he comes to accept, appreciate and even love his new pet - that has now come into the living rom.

None of the above is an analogy for God; but the next bit shows, I think, Rob Bells' 'Love Wins' petulant god.
After Sheldon has spent time petting his new pet, ordering 20 pounds of bird seed and planning his future with his lovely new pet, the bird suddenly flies out of the window to freedom. Sheldon thinks the bird has consciously and deliberately rejected his love and RUSHES TO THE OPEN WINDOW

Does God's love really insist on winning, on forcing us to love him n return?
Is he so possessive that, regardless of our desires, opinions, will and even our deliberate sin, he will, on no other basis that he wants to satisfy his love, will sweep us into his arms never to escape?

To my mind, the most heartbreakingly loving thing to do is to provide the way for love to be received and returned, but without the demand that it be so.

One of the most telling episodes in the life of Jesus - one that will be repeated again and again at the Judgment Seat is this:

quote:
Mark 10:17-22
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
18 ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone.
19 You know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.”’
20 ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him.
‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus loved him, gave him the answer to allow him to find life, but allowed him to go away rejecting him.

That's love.
It wins for those who accept it, but doesn't always get its own way and allows us to carry on to face the consequences.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
I am worried that there seems to be developing an idea that God can only be loving if he has no wrath, or that he cannot be loving if there is any wrath at all.

The wrath of God is seen in action in the cleansing of the temple - I see no contradiction in the life and character of Jesus between that and when he wrote in the sand refusing to condemn the adulteress for her sin.

(For what it's worth, there is a hint of the wrath of God in that episode in the very thinly veiled warning to her to 'go and sin no more.' I can't help but feel there is an unspoken 'or else...'
If Jesus were displaying the kind of God who merely reprieves for no other reason than he is a loving and slightly indulgent grandfather, then why would he admonish her in such a way?

I think most parents can tell you the answer to this. You stop them doing something stupid and they're expecting anger in return. Instead you take away the spoon and say quietly don't do it again.

quote:
I've never been into Rob Bell but I have heard some of his live stuff and I was offended by his rant, sorry 'sermon' given on his 'The gods are not angry' tour where he appeared to rubbish the allegedly Biblical doctrine that sacrifices in the OT and The Sacrifice in the NT were basically designed to appease an angry God.
So many people nowadays take this view and ascribe it to PSA - Jesus was the innocent victim of an angry Father. "How bloody unfair is that? It's nothing short of Cosmic Child Abuse!!"

I've been "into" Rob Bell for a long time, and he makes far more sense than you do on this to me. If you're offended then maybe stop telling other people what they should be thinking on this topic and stop watching things that make you offended.

quote:
Well apart from that charge only sticking - like I've aid a couple of times recently - if we are adoptionists, and Jesus is the innocent man dragged out from the crowd and chosen to be the newly-deified sacrifice to save the souls of all the others people - it is not what PSA is about anyway.
It certainly reflects the PSA that I've experienced throughout my years in Evangelical church. If it isn't your belief, well, meh.

quote:
Justice demands a consequence and when people ask 'where is the love'? The simple answer is that the love is shown in the giving of the Son by the Father, combined with the self-giving of the Son in total unity.
Justice doesn't demand anything when there is nothing to be gained from it. It is not an inevitable transaction whereby you do something and there is a cost tied to it.

That's the fundamental flaw in your thinking.

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That the good in me is dead

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
All these things are metaphors and analogies, and like all analogies you can only stretch them so far.

But the problem is all the analogies seem to me to be very fragile and brittle - you can't stretch them at all. Indeed, they seem to break as soon as you look at them, like a rubber band that's been left on top of a radiator for weeks. Not much bloody use.

Or am I stretching the stretching analogies analogy too far?
[Razz]

I refer the reader to my sig.

[ 10. January 2017, 11:22: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
I am worried that there seems to be developing an idea that God can only be loving if he has no wrath, or that he cannot be loving if there is any wrath at all.

The wrath of God is seen in action in the cleansing of the temple - I see no contradiction in the life and character of Jesus between that and when he wrote in the sand refusing to condemn the adulteress for her sin.

(For what it's worth, there is a hint of the wrath of God in that episode in the very thinly veiled warning to her to 'go and sin no more.' I can't help but feel there is an unspoken 'or else...'
If Jesus were displaying the kind of God who merely reprieves for no other reason than he is a loving and slightly indulgent grandfather, then why would he admonish her in such a way?

I think most parents can tell you the answer to this. You stop them doing something stupid and they're expecting anger in return. Instead you take away the spoon and say quietly don't do it again.

quote:
I've never been into Rob Bell but I have heard some of his live stuff and I was offended by his rant, sorry 'sermon' given on his 'The gods are not angry' tour where he appeared to rubbish the allegedly Biblical doctrine that sacrifices in the OT and The Sacrifice in the NT were basically designed to appease an angry God.
So many people nowadays take this view and ascribe it to PSA - Jesus was the innocent victim of an angry Father. "How bloody unfair is that? It's nothing short of Cosmic Child Abuse!!"

I've been "into" Rob Bell for a long time, and he makes far more sense than you do on this to me. If you're offended then maybe stop telling other people what they should be thinking on this topic and stop watching things that make you offended.

quote:
Well apart from that charge only sticking - like I've aid a couple of times recently - if we are adoptionists, and Jesus is the innocent man dragged out from the crowd and chosen to be the newly-deified sacrifice to save the souls of all the others people - it is not what PSA is about anyway.
It certainly reflects the PSA that I've experienced throughout my years in Evangelical church. If it isn't your belief, well, meh.

quote:
Justice demands a consequence and when people ask 'where is the love'? The simple answer is that the love is shown in the giving of the Son by the Father, combined with the self-giving of the Son in total unity.
Justice doesn't demand anything when there is nothing to be gained from it. It is not an inevitable transaction whereby you do something and there is a cost tied to it.

That's the fundamental flaw in your thinking.

No, it's just a different opinion and those two words 'Rob Bell' are the fundamental flaw in your thinking.

I'd rather read Moltmann than him.

--------------------
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G.K. Chesterton

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
No, it's just a different opinion and those two words 'Rob Bell' are the fundamental flaw in your thinking.

I'd rather read Moltmann than him.

OK so you're entitled to get huffy about Rob Bell and call him names but you don't actually want to engage in a discussion about it.

Personally I think Kierkegaard was a better theologian than anyone else I've ever read. What's that got to do with PSA and judgement? Nothing. We can all pass off our favourite bible verses and castigate or praise theologians.

So?

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Mudfrog
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You said,
quote:
I've been "into" Rob Bell for a long time, and he makes far more sense than you do on this to me. If you're offended then maybe stop telling other people what they should be thinking on this topic and stop watching things that make you offended.

Well, you can say that he makes a lot more sense than me but that's all you say - and it's basically just an insult.
I, however, give my reasoning why I don't like his belief. What I am offended by is his setting up a straw man and then using his buy-a-ticket-only book-launching tour, to knock it down.

He might be popular (at one time) but he's hardly a mainstream theologian.

When I state some of my position on the PSA thing, trying to open up dialogue and express it in a way that lays to rest some inaccurate, though sincerely held misconceptions, all you can do is basically react with 'meh'.

So, no real discussion from the Rob Bell fanclub then.

--------------------
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G.K. Chesterton

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Well, you can say that he makes a lot more sense than me but that's all you say - and it's basically just an insult.
I, however, give my reasoning why I don't like his belief. What I am offended by is his setting up a straw man and then using his buy-a-ticket-only book-launching tour, to knock it down.

I don't think it is a strawman. And I reject this characterisation of someone who wrote a book that you don't like.

quote:
He might be popular (at one time) but he's hardly a mainstream theologian.
And yet he sells books and people pay to go to his tour. Even people who disagree are moaning about what he wrote, therefore by most definitions he has influence.

quote:
When I state some of my position on the PSA thing, trying to open up dialogue and express it in a way that lays to rest some inaccurate, though sincerely held misconceptions, all you can do is basically react with 'meh'.

So, no real discussion from the Rob Bell fanclub then.

No, Mudfrog, stop. I am prepared to have a discussion with you, but I'm not prepared to allow you to paint someone as being a fraud because you don't happen to like their writing. Steve Chalke and Rob Bell are honest, even if you don't like them.

If you can't accept that basic premise, then I'm not interested in fueling your rant about them.

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That the good in me is dead

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Mudfrog
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And yet, and yet.... for the last few days I have had to read caricature after unfair libel after snide comments about PSA the doctrine and those who propose it.

Bell may have had influence - I wonder how much longer.
He's hardly talked about now since the Mars Hill thing and his association with Oprah.
And as for Chalke, I believe he's no longer in the EA, so he might be hold an honest, in the sense of well-publicised' viewpoint but theologically it is indeed a straw man.

Cosmic Child Abuse comes from womanist theology and has at its basis the total rejection of all violence, especially male violence. That, without question is a laudable and honourable view. But to project male violence and its rejection onto the motive of God in the death of his Son Jesus is not appropriate.

And Chalke, to my recollection, does not credit the foundation of the Cosmic Child Abuse scenario but passes it off as his own.
There are books that have refuted his assertions about CCA and, to my mind, the arguments against his writings are far more biblically and theologically literate than his own in proposing it.

I simply believe that both Bell and Chalke, and a whole bunch of other anti-PSA writers have misunderstood and indeed misrepresented what evangelicals actually believe about PSA.

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G.K. Chesterton

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mr cheesy
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You are entitled to that belief - and I am entitled, as someone who has been in Evangelical churches a long time to say that their characterisation is accurate.

I'm not defending either of them, but to say that they've somehow lost influence because you've not heard about them recently is a pretty poor way to measure it.

Anyway, if you'd like to talk about these points, then I'm willing to engage. But if you want to continue ranting about Bell and Chalke, then I'm not playing.

[ 10. January 2017, 12:37: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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That the good in me is dead

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Gamaliel
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An Orthodox priest once observed to me that he thought part of the problem was that there's never been an opportunity for an Ecumenical Council to 'settle' the issues around our understandings of the atonement.

The chances of that happening any time over the next 500 years are pretty remote, if you ask me ...

I have some sympathy with Mudfrog's view that some anti-PSA types have misrepresented what evangelicals actually believe on the issue - but I'm afraid I'd lay a great deal of the blame for that squarely within the evangelical camp, given the rather reductionist and often crudely grotesque way the whole thing has been framed in many evangelical circles.

In many ways, I'd suggest that it's as crude and grotesque as some late RC/Counter Reformation treatments of the sufferings of Christ.

As with anything else, people tend to drift into extremes.

And yes, some of the Patristic analogies about what has come to be known as the 'Classic' or Ransom Theory are equally as crude - Christ being set like bait on a hook to trick the Devil and such like ...

I don't take as dim view of the analogies as Karl Liberal Backslider does but I can see why he'd consider them to be somewhat worn and lacking in elasticity.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
An Orthodox priest once observed to me that he thought part of the problem was that there's never been an opportunity for an Ecumenical Council to 'settle' the issues around our understandings of the atonement.

Which shows how important the early church thought it was. Which says something.

quote:
originally quoted by Gamaliel
I can see the issue you're raising and I can see the dilemma, but from my reading of what they've written here, I don't see how Lamb Chopped, Steve Langton or Mudfrog have gone 'overboard' on the wrath of God thing - nor have any of htem suggested, as far as I can see, that wrath is somehow part of God's nature in an intrinsic sense - ie. he is ontologically petulant, moody or some kind of cosmic Mr Angry.

Everything about God is intrinsic. He has no accidental characteristics. That's part of what it means to be God. Everything he is, he is by nature. If he is wrathful, he's wrathful to the bone.

quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
All these things are metaphors and analogies, and like all analogies you can only stretch them so far.

In fairness to the proponents of PSA, whatever else may be laid to its charge, I do think that proponents like John Stott in his book, 'The Cross of Christ' do steer well clear of the cruder and more grotesque analogies that are sometimes used - particularly in evangelistic presentations.

One might say he is careful not to notice all of the conclusions that follow from his position. Sometimes it's not a matter of stretching analogies, but seeing where the logic leads. If you believe A, and B follows from A, then you're stuck with B.

quote:
To be fair, not all PSA proponents descend into such crudity but they have to try pretty hard to distance themselves from it.
Because it's right there staring them in the face.

quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
I am worried that there seems to be developing an idea that God can only be loving if he has no wrath, or that he cannot be loving if there is any wrath at all.

As I said above, it depends on the object of that wrath. If God is mad at sin, that makes sense. If God is wrathful at humans, then it doesn't make sense. You would have a God who would send to Hell some middle-class punter for the sorts of milquetoast sins that some basically well-meaning middle-class punter can get up to. All the while saying "I'm angry at you because I really love you!" as the punter falls into the flames. The punter says, "If this is your love, I'd hate to see your hate."

quote:
The wrath of God is seen in action in the cleansing of the temple - I see no contradiction in the life and character of Jesus between that and when he wrote in the sand refusing to condemn the adulteress for her sin.
Okay, you don't see any contradiction.

quote:
(For what it's worth, there is a hint of the wrath of God in that episode in the very thinly veiled warning to her to 'go and sin no more.' I can't help but feel there is an unspoken 'or else...'
This is called eisigesis. Reading your pre-existing theology into a passage where it cannot be seen to exist.

quote:
If Jesus were displaying the kind of God who merely reprieves for no other reason than he is a loving and slightly indulgent grandfather, then why would he admonish her in such a way?
Because sin damages people and he doesn't want her to be further damaged.

quote:
So, even while God is loving the world 'so much that he gave', the wrath of God has already condemned the world (that's why it's not the task of Jesus to condemn - it's there already)
Aren't we told somewhere that God doesn't condemn us, but we condemn ourselves?

(I am leaving out all the stuff about Sheldon Cooper and the Rich Young Ruler, as it appears to be about Rob Bell or if not it's a huge straw man.)

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mr cheesy
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Wrath seems to me to go beyond righteous anger when we talk about the divine and eternity. However bad something is in the temporal realm, an eternal punishment cannot be anything other than an overreaction, and therefore hardly just.

If we add this picture to that from a good number of evangelicals, then we get the idea that God's primary reaction to human individuals is red-hot anger - and therefore he is angry with most people most of the time.

It isn't then a stretch to see this deity who is primarily exhibiting anger, to the extent that even small infractions (and some say human existence itself as per original sin) is enough to set him off on perpetual and never-ending punishment. It has no purpose, those who suffer never learn the lesson, never have an opportunity to reform, never can change their situation for something that increasingly (in the context of eternity) becomes something that happened in a microscopic pinprick of an instant.

If we somehow add into the mix the atonement, using the common evangelical formulations, we don't get a loving God, we get one who is so red-hot angry that he is forced to punish someone, even if it is himself. The who idea has nothing to do with justice never mind sense.

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Kwesi
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Thanks mousethief and mr cheesly you've said it form me. ISTM that PSA does not draw a distinction of any importance between the sinner and the sin respecting God's wrath because the former incurs the penalty for his/her sins.

As I understand PSA, having incurred the wrath of God for our sinful ways justice demands that we be condemned to hell, or extinction, or whatever as an eternal punishment; and because that sentence has to be satisfied, there is no way round it, the severity of that punishment is borne by Christ on our behalf. In that way the wrath of God is satisfied and he can now be generous towards those who believe.

A problem I wish to raise is to question God’s sense of justice in this theory. Is it just that a human being whose bias towards sinfulness is inevitably inherited through original sin, however understood, should face such an extreme sentence? Why do his/her actions incur God’s wrath on him/her rather than his sympathetic understanding?

ISTM that the God of PSA is not a God of Justice, so that the theory rests on at least one false premise.

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Gamaliel
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Ok, I get all that, both mr cheesy and Mousethief ...

Although ...

@Mousethief, are you using middle-class in a US sense or a UK sense?

[Biased] [Razz]

Seriously, though, I'm not always sure what the Orthodox are getting at when they talk about the essences/energies thing when it comes to the nature of God.

Sure, God is all-loving, I don't see how it should follow that if he's angry about something that means that he's all-wrathful.

I don't wish to anthropomorphise, but if thee or me were angry with a friend or partner for some reason, that doesn't mean that our over-riding characteristic is one of anger.

We are told that God's 'anger is but for a moment, his favour is for a lifetime.'

I do sometimes think that the Orthodox can be overly squeamish about attributing any 'angry' qualities to God - in an equal and opposite way to how certain kinds of uber-Puritanical Protestant seem to derive some kind of sick satisfaction from the idea ...

It's like the old story of the Baptist deacon at a chapel where there's an interregnum between ministers and two candidates are invited to 'preach with a view' ...

A few days after the Sunday when the first candidate came to preach, he bumps into an old friend from another Baptist chapel across town. The friend asks him how it went and what the candidate preached on.

'Oh, he preached that sinners will suffer a lost eternity and be shut out from the presence of the Lord,' the deacon told him.

The following week, after the subsequent Sunday, he again bumps into his friend in town. Again, he's asked how it went and what the candidate preached on.

'Oh, he preached that sinners will suffer a lost eternity and be shut out from the presence of the Lord,' the deacon replied.
'So which one did you choose?' asked his friend.
'The first.'
'The first? Why was that, when he preached on exactly the same topic as the second?'
'The second seemed rather pleased about it ...'

Now, I know that we aren't 'cast out from the presence of the Lord' in a literal sense - 'where can I go from your presence?' and all that ... and yes, I do like the Orthodox idea that the presence of God is eternal bliss to the redeemed but a source of horror and torment to those who do not love God ...

But you get my point.

I also take your point that the Early Church must have been happy enough with some form of the 'Classic Theory' or 'Ransom Theory' as not to see the need to debate it at Nicea or Chalcedon ...

And yes, I do think that Mudfrog is over-egging the pudding to some extent - although I'm not sure I'd accuse him of full-on eisegesis so much as making the kind of hermeneutical leaps that we all make from time to time over all manner of issues.

You can't tell me the Orthodox don't do that as well.

Or perhaps you can? [Help]

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Kwesi
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Gamaliel
quote:
I'm not sure I'd accuse him of full-on eisegesis so much as making the kind of hermeneutical leaps that we all make from time to time over all manner of issues.

Mais oui! [Big Grin]
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Mudfrog
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And what you'll find is that I am trying to reflect Biblically and theologically; using Scripture and my own thoughts. Yes, there may be some eisegesis - but that's what all theologians do when they ask 'what does this mean?

Sadly, what I am not seeing is Biblical reflection from the other direction from some people; merely a restatement of the rather tired 'We hate PSA because all evangelicals we've met see God as a petulant, angry God.'

I'd like to see some Scripture (not the prodigal son) brought into this. I would also like to see a moratorium on words like 'red hot burning wrath'.

They are not helpful - and indeed, are part of the straw man. I do not believe in God who has red hot burning wrath.

I do believe that the wrath of God is an attitude, that is consistent, constant, held rationally and entirely compatible with God's holiness.
His love provides the perfect and infallible redemption from wrath that is based on justice and righteousness.

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mr cheesy
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I think my definition is entirely consistent with the way some evangelicals use the term wrath. J I Packer, for example:

quote:
Wrath’ is an old English word defined in my dictionary as ‘deep, intense anger and indignation’. ‘Anger’ is defined as ‘stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism, by a sense of injury or insult’; ‘indignation’ as ‘righteous anger aroused by injustice and baseness’. Such is wrath. And wrath, the Bible tells us, is an attribute of God.


[ 10. January 2017, 16:07: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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That the good in me is dead

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Mudfrog
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I wrote above:
quote:
I do believe that the wrath of God is an attitude, that is consistent, constant, held rationally and entirely compatible with God's holiness.

This is what the IVP Bible dictionary says (an extract):
quote:
WRATH.
The permanent attitude of the holy and just God when confronted by sin and evil is designated his 'wrath'. It is inadequate to regard this term merely as a description of 'the inevitable process of cause and effect in a moral universe' or as another way of speaking of the results of sin. It is rather a personal quality, without which God would cease to be fully righteous and his love would degenerate into sentimentality. His wrath, however, even though like his love, has to be described in human language, is not wayward, fitful, or spasmodic, as human anger always is. It is as permanent an element to his nature as is his love.

The writer goes on to say that manifestations of the divine wrath must follow 'the injustice and impiety of men', that in this life wrath is tempered with mercy, and that Jesus delivers from the wrath to come.

He also says that unredeemed man is in a state of persistent rebellion against God and that they are inevitably the objects of his wrath.

The love for sinners is the dominant theme of the NT and that by grace all can cease to be the objects of wrath.


My objection to the objectors to PSA is that they caricaturise this wrath into a fitful and bad-tempered personality trait. That is not true.

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Kwesi
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My problem is not whether God is wrathful or loving or whatever, but whether he has the grounds to condemn all humans to eternal torment. It's just not fair given the inevitability of human sinning. It's like condemning the lion for being a carnivore.
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Gamaliel
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As I'm sure you're aware, Kwesi, Calvin tries to address that point in his Institutes. I'm not sure how successfully ...

Without looking up chapter and verse, he says something to the effect that Original Sin and so forth in no way removes individual culpability ... so it's not like criticising a fox for eating a chicken or a rabbit for eating your lettuces.

On the anti-PSA thing, yes, I'm sure that many anti-PSA people, including some on these boards, can caricature the position that evangelicals take on this one ...

But I return to an earlier observation that I'm afraid I would have to concede that those from within a broadly evangelical camp who have begun to question PSA - the likes of R*b B*ll and Steve Chalke seem to be doing so not simply under the influence of 'womanist' theology but partly because they've been exposed to the wider Christian traditions and also because so many evangelicals DO present a very crude version of PSA.

I mean, even given the exaggerations that have undoubtedly developed in the family history of my in-laws, there's no smoke without fire.

Snatching a doll from a toddler's hands and flinging it on the fire has to come from somewhere.

One could argue that it comes from a somewhat paranoid vein within Western Christianity that fixates on sin and judgement and takes it to a pernickety level ...

I'm sure we could find examples of daft things in Eastern Christianity too, so I'm not singling my own Western tradition out for special censure.

There has to be a way of acknowledging God's justifiable and righteous anger against sin whilst holding it in balance with his justice, mercy and inherent goodness.

'In your anger do not sin ...'

If we, as fallen humanity, can be exhorted not to sin when we are angry then surely it's possible for the Almighty and immutable God to show wrath without being flawed or sinful in some way ...

Besides, if we want to challenge PSA there are other grounds for doing so - and again, I'm not throwing it out entirely - simply suggesting that like other atonement models it can only be stretched so far ...

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Kwesi
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Gamaliel
quote:
Without looking up chapter and verse, he says something to the effect that Original Sin and so forth in no way removes individual culpability ... so it's not like criticising a fox for eating a chicken or a rabbit for eating your lettuces.
I don't think this answers my point, does it? You merely assert that somewhere Calvin deals with the objection without saying how he does it. I'm sticking to my objection.
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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
As I'm sure you're aware, Kwesi, Calvin tries to address that point in his Institutes. I'm not sure how successfully ...

Without looking up chapter and verse, he says something to the effect that Original Sin and so forth in no way removes individual culpability ... so it's not like criticising a fox for eating a chicken or a rabbit for eating your lettuces.

Not successfully at all, IMHO. The example there seems to only make the point-- we DON'T blame the fox in any moral way for eating the chickens. We EXPECT foxes to eat chickens, and therefore take necessary precautions to prevent their access. This goes to the "natural consequences" (karma) point made above.


quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

On the anti-PSA thing, yes, I'm sure that many anti-PSA people, including some on these boards, can caricature the position that evangelicals take on this one ...

But I return to an earlier observation that I'm afraid I would have to concede that those from within a broadly evangelical camp who have begun to question PSA - the likes of R*b B*ll and Steve Chalke seem to be doing so not simply under the influence of 'womanist' theology but partly because they've been exposed to the wider Christian traditions and also because so many evangelicals DO present a very crude version of PSA.

I mean, even given the exaggerations that have undoubtedly developed in the family history of my in-laws, there's no smoke without fire.

Absolutely. In fact, in my circles I'm hearing far more arguments from simply acknowledging the shortcomings of PSA and being exposed to the rich history of other imagery than I'm hearing coming from a womanist pov. (Not really sure why you're blocking out Rob Bell's name-- is he somehow He Who Shall Not be Named?).


quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
There has to be a way of acknowledging God's justifiable and righteous anger against sin whilst holding it in balance with his justice, mercy and inherent goodness.

I'm not sure "anger" is the best word for it. I think "grief" fits the bill much better-- something along the lines, again, of the natural consequences thing. I think of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. God knows how much our sin costs us-- whether small scale broken relationships or large scale horrible violence-- and his heart is broken. Of course, you might redefine "anger" somewhat along those lines but I think we run into problems communicating the gospel when we do too much of that. Using "grief" fits better I think the biblical picture of God's response to sin-- but fits much better with the "Satan-ward" metaphors than the "God-ward" metaphors.


quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

Besides, if we want to challenge PSA there are other grounds for doing so - and again, I'm not throwing it out entirely - simply suggesting that like other atonement models it can only be stretched so far ...

That would be my position. I think the real problem comes when we stress any one model over the others. The fact is, all five (or six?) are biblical-- and there's a reason for that. The "Satan-ward" metaphors balance the problems of the "God-ward" metaphors, and vice-versa. They are all giving us glimpses of the fuller reality.

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cliffdweller
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Lamb Chopped's post here fits well with what I'm talking about above:

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:


Okay, karma. I can't say I know all the ins and outs of what this means past the popular definition, as I've not studied it in any depth. What I do think is that our actions produce consequences, not all of which may be visible, and some of which may be spiritual.

Jesus spoke often of reaping what you sow (and Paul after him, etc.) This suggests to me that there is some principle in the universe which I think of as balance, for want of a better term. Plant weed seeds and you'll get weeds; yell at a coworker and you'll get into a fight; live by the sword and you're likely to die by the sword. These things are observable, and plenty of people have observed them--both in Christianity and outside it. Which is possibly where the idea of karma came from.

Now I don't think there is some sort of spiritual bookkeeper up there keeping track of my bads and goods and making sure I get a precisely calculated payback in this life or another. But I do think that when God undertakes to clean up our spiritual toxic dump, he has to deal with more than just what our eyes can see on the surface.

Let's take that biblical image of sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind. All of the times I "sowed the wind" through my evil actions? Well, the whirlwinds that result are still out there, spinning like mad, waiting to pounce on me sooner or later. What goes around, comes around. Except that now God has stepped in to save me from my own folly, and I am forgiven, and the whole process has gotten short circuited.

Anyway, what happens to those pre-existing twisters that have been sniffing around the edges of my life, waiting to pounce? Do they just suddenly go "poof!" and tidy themselves away into oblivion on their own? I don't think so, no. Someone's got to shut them down.* That someone is God.

Let's take a different image. If I deliberately create a toxic chemical dump on my property, there are two issues to deal with. One is my personal evil choice which led to the disaster; the second is the clean-up.

If I do the spiritual equivalent by falling into evil, God can forgive me for my evil choice. But somebody's still got to clean up the dump. It can't just be left there. It won't go away on its own. I believe that God does that, too--cleans up our spiritual toxic chemical dumps, restores the site, recreates what was ruined. I don't think it happens by itself. I think God actively gets out there and deals with it. And it costs him something--just as it would cost me in ordinary human life if I had to do Superfund clean up.

I hope this makes some sense, as I really ought to be in bed. Good night.

This would be my view as well-- and one that I think fits well with the "Satan-ward" metaphors.

The reason sin is a problem is not that it's "breaking rules" or it's "being naughty" or whatever. The reason sin is a problem is that it has horrible consequences. Some of those consequences are experienced by the sinner him/herself, e.g. if I lie/cheat, people will stop trusting me, which will have relational consequences. Other consequences are experienced of course, by the victims of our sin or by society or even creation as a whole. I suspect Lamb is correct that we often do not recognize the full extent of the natural consequences of our sin, both for ourselves or for others.

This is why I think the best way to picture God's response is grief, rather than anger. God hates sin not because he is boiling mad at us for being such nasty, disobedient, disgusting creatures. God hates sin because his heart is broken as he sees the utter destruction caused by it.

Again, the God-ward theories picture God as repelled by sin. Whether you frame that in terms of "wrath" or more softly in terms of "justice" or "holiness", it still comes down to God being made distant from us by our sin. But the Satan-ward theories picture God as heartbroken by our sin, moved by compassion, and therefore rushing TO us rather than away from us-- running to us to rescue us from sin. It is the picture of the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son, not filled with anger for his profligate ways, not even waiting for him to say "sorry", but running to meet him and welcome him home.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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