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Source: (consider it) Thread: Moral Influence atonement theology
mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Well, after 2000 years of Bible study, do you not think the scholars - in fact, any one of us - would have found that Bible verse by now that nobody has seen before, that tells us of another way of describing what God has done?

Mr Cheesy, it's all there in the Bible to read.
People have gone through it with a fine toothed comb and the truth is all there.

At what point do you get off the idea that you know the bible better than me? I don't think PSA is in the bible and there is absolutely nothing you have said that has changed my mind.

This isn't anything to do with "reading the bible", plenty of people seriously read the bible and don't see PSA there.

Kindly stop implying anything otherwise.

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arse

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Mudfrog
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I think I'm going to give up now because you Sir are a very small minded person with no concept of appealing to the thinking and study of others.

I have quoted the Bible, I have quoted other thinkers, church fathers, doctrine books and theologians.

I have rationally explained my position which, like Mr Gamaliel, is happy to have a broad outlook, accepting other thinking whilst being true to my own; I've demonstrated (or tried to) that I don't narrow my view down to one tiny scrap of truth (as you evidently do) and what I do assert, I always try to give precedent and demonstrate that it comes from the ideas of others (which you never do).

But against all my efforts, all the authorities I cite - ALL of them - you have condensed your entire knowledge, thinking, attitude, faith and willingness to accept or even consider another point of view in one very self-descriptive word: bollocks.

As someone greater than both of us said, a man s wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.

So, take your bollocks and go and find another point of doctrine you are equally ignorant about.

--------------------
"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
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Gamaliel
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Gosh.

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mr cheesy
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Right, yeah, I'm obviously ignorant about something I disagree with and which you think is foundational.

I have given many reasons on this thread as to why I think PSA is wrong. You've not addressed a single one of them, you've just insisted in various ways that it must be true because you say so.

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arse

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mr cheesy
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OK Gamaliel, maybe you'd like to try to explain to me how the atonement can both be a substitutionary act for a required penal punishment at the same time as being a ransom to satan. Are those things not contradictory?

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arse

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Steve Langton
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Just a quick note on something that was mentioned in various posts above;

The Atonement is ultimately not about individual 'sins', it is about SIN.

SIN is the basic fact in human life that we are overall rebels against God - owing God everything, we nevertheless try to take control of our lives as if we were our own god. In effect, we steal ourselves from God.

This may result in grievous and obvious acts of sinfulness like murder and theft; or it may result in a superficially very 'good' life which nevertheless is marred in God's eyes by pride and in effect telling God "I'm so wonderful he's got to accept me".

Concentrating on the individual acts of sin rather the fundamental rebellion and the forgiveness of that is rather missing the point.

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
OK Gamaliel, maybe you'd like to try to explain to me how the atonement can both be a substitutionary act for a required penal punishment at the same time as being a ransom to satan. Are those things not contradictory?

Good question.

I can only punt out some possibilities.

We could say that it's like the proverbial elephant with the blind-men each grabbing a corner as it were - one an ear, another the trunk, another the tail, one a leg ...

Or we could say that something that 'looks' one way from a particular perspective, appears somewhat differently from another. So, in a sense we could say that the atonement achieves something different but complementary whether Godward, humanity-ward or Satan-ward ...

It's a while since I've read Stott's 'The Cross of Christ' and I suspect I'm not as well-read as you are when it comes to other readings-round the subject ... I claim no more than a reasonable level of familiarity with the scriptures, a smattering of Patristic quotes and bits and bobs from some of the Reformers and their heirs and successors ...

So, no, I'm not an expert and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I'm simply punting a few things out, asking questions and listening to the answers.

Those are my suggestions and they may be half-baked and I'm open to correction.

But bandying 'bollocks' around at people isn't the best way to convince them of 'a more excellent way' ...

--------------------
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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Good question.

I can only punt out some possibilities.

We could say that it's like the proverbial elephant with the blind-men each grabbing a corner as it were - one an ear, another the trunk, another the tail, one a leg ...

That's not really answering the question, though, is it. An elephant is a combination of the parts whereas these theories directly contradict each other.

quote:
Or we could say that something that 'looks' one way from a particular perspective, appears somewhat differently from another. So, in a sense we could say that the atonement achieves something different but complementary whether Godward, humanity-ward or Satan-ward ...
I see, so depending on where you are standing, it might look like that there is a penal punishment that is being paid and from another than it is being a ransom to Satan? Is that what you mean?

Are you suggesting that there is no truth to be gotten on this point and that the way you look at it is entirely dependent on your viewpoint (Orthodox, Evangelical or Anabaptist - let's say) and that moreover we just need to accept that we're never going to be able to see things from the other perspective?

quote:
It's a while since I've read Stott's 'The Cross of Christ' and I suspect I'm not as well-read as you are when it comes to other readings-round the subject ... I claim no more than a reasonable level of familiarity with the scriptures, a smattering of Patristic quotes and bits and bobs from some of the Reformers and their heirs and successors ...

So, no, I'm not an expert and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I'm simply punting a few things out, asking questions and listening to the answers.

I just can't see how this works. You seem to be suggesting that opposite things are in fact versions of the same thing and that they're all perfectly acceptable ideas.

What measure are you using for this? Surely by limiting yourself to these ideas rather than the other ones then you have by definition decided that some are right and some are wrong - it clearly isn't the case that you've said that any ideas about the atonement are right. So why not go further and say OK, this idea I believe and this I don't for x y and z reasons?

I just don't understand your fence-sitting. Not for the first time.

quote:
Those are my suggestions and they may be half-baked and I'm open to correction.

But bandying 'bollocks' around at people isn't the best way to convince them of 'a more excellent way' ...

I think some ideas are simply bollocks. Sorry if that offends you. Everyone is free to disagree and discuss, nobody is free to tell me that I'm therefore someone who hasn't read the bible when the ideas I have have been developed from many years of thinking about it.

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arse

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
OK Gamaliel, maybe you'd like to try to explain to me how the atonement can both be a substitutionary act for a required penal punishment at the same time as being a ransom to satan. Are those things not contradictory?

Good question.

I can only punt out some possibilities.

Gamaliel, how about this for a possibility.

I have already said that the Atonement is not one 'thing' that we try to define using different theories: I wrote that "in The Atonement there are elements of ransom, victory, PSA, sacrifice, recapitulation, moral influence, etc."

People say that you can't do that, but maybe, instead of 'The Atonement' being one thing with a single identity that we are trying to give different definitions, the Atonement like I said is the word we use to cover all the many different ways that God is reconciling us to himself.

Jesus describes himself as shepherd, son of Man, I AM, Lord, light, bread, etc. Ate these contradictory? No.
There is one Jesus to whom is ascribed different metaphorical descriptions. They are 'contradictory' in that bread cannot be described as light, a shepherd is not a vine.

So, just for a moment, think of the Atonement as a roof that covers many rooms. The structure is one building and that building is the house of reconciliation.

One of its rooms is the room of satisfaction, another room is of sacrifice, another room is loving example, another room is victory.
All of them speak of different ways that God can be pictured as reconciling the world to himself.
No room is the same as the others, but they are all under the roof that covers them, completing the building - the house of reconciliation.

Is a house not a house because the bathroom is not the same as the kitchen? Do we deny the usefulness of a living room/lounge because there is no bed in it? Do we say that a study is contradictory because it goes against what is supposed to happen in a bedroom?
These rooms have all different uses and yes, they are incompatible. One does not bathe in the hallway. But together they all make one house, ne dwelling place.

The Atonement is a house, a single edifice that speaks of reconciliation. Each room adds to the breath and depth of the truth of that atonement.

--------------------
"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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I like the house analogy, Mudfrog.

@Mr cheesy - I'm not sure that Mudfrog was accusing you of not reading or knowing the Bible - I felt your response was a tad over-sensitive there - and no, I'm not offended in any way by people calling 'bollocks' on things ... I do that myself quite often.

As for my fence-sitting - no, I don't understand that either and I've got a sore backside most of the time on a whole range of issues - but that's how I roll and I'm in the process of working things out.

Hence I'm not always going to have cut-and-dried or coherent positions on some things.

FWIW, I can see the objections to PSA and a lot of them are valid, from what I can see ...

However, for a whole variety of reasons I've not entirely ditched the idea - but I have modified my understanding of it considerably over the years.

I know that doesn't answer your question but that's where I'm at just now ...

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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 Gamaliel:
@Mr cheesy - I'm not sure that Mudfrog was accusing you of not reading or knowing the Bible - I felt your response was a tad over-sensitive there - and no, I'm not offended in any way by people calling 'bollocks' on things ... I do that myself quite often.

A huge post saying essentially "I presented all these proofs and arguments and scholars, and you still don't believe me" seems like just that. Cheesy wasn't being over-sensitive, he was just reading for content.

We piped for you, and you did not dance.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:

Ignore any of the theories/metaphors, then you ignore a glorious truth.

That sounds like quite a romantic idea but must be hard to live in practice. How do you know that all of the various metaphors have been discovered and that one hasn't somehow been omitted? How do you know that you're not missing a part of the glorious truth.

ISTM that this just isn't how truth works. If ideas are contradictory, they can't both be truth without first bending the very idea of truth.

Well, after 2000 years of Bible study, do you not think the scholars - in fact, any one of us - would have found that Bible verse by now that nobody has seen before, that tells us of another way of describing what God has done?

Mr Cheesy, it's all there in the Bible to read.
People have gone through it with a fine toothed comb and the truth is all there.

Where? What? How?

Is scientific truth there? Is ontological truth there?

--------------------
Love wins

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:

Ignore any of the theories/metaphors, then you ignore a glorious truth.

That sounds like quite a romantic idea but must be hard to live in practice. How do you know that all of the various metaphors have been discovered and that one hasn't somehow been omitted? How do you know that you're not missing a part of the glorious truth.

ISTM that this just isn't how truth works. If ideas are contradictory, they can't both be truth without first bending the very idea of truth.

Well, after 2000 years of Bible study, do you not think the scholars - in fact, any one of us - would have found that Bible verse by now that nobody has seen before, that tells us of another way of describing what God has done?

Mr Cheesy, it's all there in the Bible to read.
People have gone through it with a fine toothed comb and the truth is all there.

Where? What? How?

Is scientific truth there? Is ontological truth there?

No, about the atonement.

--------------------
"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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Martin60
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What, there is no ontological truth about the atonement?

Agreed.

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Love wins

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
OK Gamaliel, maybe you'd like to try to explain to me how the atonement can both be a substitutionary act for a required penal punishment at the same time as being a ransom to satan. Are those things not contradictory?

How can God be a humble shepherd and a mighty king? How can he be a mother hen and a rock or fortress? Are those things not contradictory?

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

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Not really very helpful at all. Can it be both satisfactory and ransom(y)?

I think they are hedging their bets and coming out with something that's effectively meaningless. Which is obviously the Anglican's staple answer to everything, stop copying [Biased]

Nobody is trying to claim that 'it' can be "both satisfactory and ransom(y)?".

What I have tried to say over this whole topic is that in The Atonement there are elements of ransom, victory, PSA, sacrifice, recapitulation, moral influence, etc.

Just remember this. Before the 16th century there was no word 'Atonement' so really, we need to stop defining the work of Christ as if it were one thing with one effect.
Yes, there was a three hour event on a little hill 'without a city wall' but that event, alongside the whole of the Incarnation revealed a while lot that was going on in the heart f God and potentially in the heart of those who believe.

The 'at-one-ment' (the artificial word made up by William Tyndale) really means reconciliation and covers all the different ways in which God has made reconciliation with the world.

There are many ways described in the Old Testament (the word atonement appears only once in the New) in which God has moved to be reconciled with his people.

Sometimes this work, this effort, is described in sacrificial terms, others in terms of loving gracious forgiveness, in other places in terms of ransom, in other places in terms of bearing our punishment.

All of these ways are gathered together and, together, form the overall story of 'Atonement'.

I really fail to grasp, despite all I've read here, why these images, pictures, descriptions (even with their finite and imperfect nature) are not equally valued and appreciated as windows into the great mystery of how God in Christ is reconciling the world to himself.

Because none of them work, can work, can be made to work on the trajectory of contemporary culture.

[ 15. February 2017, 14:43: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Love wins

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quetzalcoatl
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Martin - sounds interesting. Any more?

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everything must go.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
OK Gamaliel, maybe you'd like to try to explain to me how the atonement can both be a substitutionary act for a required penal punishment at the same time as being a ransom to satan. Are those things not contradictory?

How can God be a humble shepherd and a mighty king? How can he be a mother hen and a rock or fortress? Are those things not contradictory?
He can be like anything you like.

--------------------
Love wins

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
OK Gamaliel, maybe you'd like to try to explain to me how the atonement can both be a substitutionary act for a required penal punishment at the same time as being a ransom to satan. Are those things not contradictory?

Good question.

I can only punt out some possibilities.

Gamaliel, how about this for a possibility.

I have already said that the Atonement is not one 'thing' that we try to define using different theories: I wrote that "in The Atonement there are elements of ransom, victory, PSA, sacrifice, recapitulation, moral influence, etc."

People say that you can't do that, but maybe, instead of 'The Atonement' being one thing with a single identity that we are trying to give different definitions, the Atonement like I said is the word we use to cover all the many different ways that God is reconciling us to himself.

Jesus describes himself as shepherd, son of Man, I AM, Lord, light, bread, etc. Ate these contradictory? No.
There is one Jesus to whom is ascribed different metaphorical descriptions. They are 'contradictory' in that bread cannot be described as light, a shepherd is not a vine.

So, just for a moment, think of the Atonement as a roof that covers many rooms. The structure is one building and that building is the house of reconciliation.

One of its rooms is the room of satisfaction, another room is of sacrifice, another room is loving example, another room is victory.
All of them speak of different ways that God can be pictured as reconciling the world to himself.
No room is the same as the others, but they are all under the roof that covers them, completing the building - the house of reconciliation.

Is a house not a house because the bathroom is not the same as the kitchen? Do we deny the usefulness of a living room/lounge because there is no bed in it? Do we say that a study is contradictory because it goes against what is supposed to happen in a bedroom?
These rooms have all different uses and yes, they are incompatible. One does not bathe in the hallway. But together they all make one house, ne dwelling place.

The Atonement is a house, a single edifice that speaks of reconciliation. Each room adds to the breath and depth of the truth of that atonement.

In another room a child is tortured to death so a parent won't hurt anyone else apart from those that won't accepted that.

--------------------
Love wins

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
In another room a child is tortured to death so a parent won't hurt anyone else apart from those that won't accepted that.

*Sigh*
Which comment brings us full circle back to the very beginning of the discussion and reveals, yet again, that the opponents of PSA would rather stick to their cherished caricature of the doctrine than accept the Trinity-supporting truth of the doctrine as properly expressed in any evangelical doctrine book of worth that you'd like to read.

Have I really wasted all that reading and typing?
I've just been pissing in the wind as far as you're concerned haven't I?

--------------------
"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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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Martin - sounds interesting. Any more?

'strewth q! You've called my bluff! I tried to avoid postmodern culture, but there it is. Average westerners don't buy Bronze Age metaphors as being true any more. They don't buy polar opposites which are invariably false dichotomies like crime and punishment any more. None of the atonement theories work. The shock sacrifice of Christ does. The deed does. It's meaning is timelessly obvious. Give me a minute and I'll make some up.

--------------------
Love wins

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
How can God be a humble shepherd and a mighty king? How can he be a mother hen and a rock or fortress? Are those things not contradictory?

Not in the same way, no. Those descriptions of the deity are each saying something about his character. He cares about us like a hen gathering chicks. That doesn't mean he actually is a chicken. His steadfastness is like a rock, but he is not literally made of rock.

But in the atonement theories we are saying something quite contradictory, it seems to me.

If the atonement is like paying a fine, it can't also be like paying a ransom. The thing can't change with perspective because, unless God and Satan are the same, those are opposites.

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arse

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Martin - sounds interesting. Any more?

'strewth q! You've called my bluff! I tried to avoid postmodern culture, but there it is. Average westerners don't buy Bronze Age metaphors as being true any more. They don't buy polar opposites which are invariably false dichotomies like crime and punishment any more. None of the atonement theories work. The shock sacrifice of Christ does. The deed does. It's meaning is timelessly obvious. Give me a minute and I'll make some up.
I thought they are Iron Age? Anyway, I agree that atonement doesn't really appeal today, although outside Christianity the idea of at-one-ment is quite fertile stuff. This takes you to non-dualism, that is, the collapse of the duality of God/human, which could be described in Christlike terms. It still can't compete with Netflix and Twitter, ah well.

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everything must go.

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Kwesi
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Cliffdweller
quote:
How can God be a humble shepherd and a mighty king? How can he be a mother hen and a rock or fortress? Are those things not contradictory?
These are metaphors as to how individuals in a variety of contexts experience God. They are not theories about God. The only convincing statement about what God is is the assertion that "God is Love", pure and simple, nothing added, nothing taken away. Working out what those three words mean, however, is to see through a glass darkly.
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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
In another room a child is tortured to death so a parent won't hurt anyone else apart from those that won't accepted that.

*Sigh*
Which comment brings us full circle back to the very beginning of the discussion and reveals, yet again, that the opponents of PSA would rather stick to their cherished caricature of the doctrine than accept the Trinity-supporting truth of the doctrine as properly expressed in any evangelical doctrine book of worth that you'd like to read.

Have I really wasted all that reading and typing?
I've just been pissing in the wind as far as you're concerned haven't I?

[Smile] of course mate! That's a genuine smile. You DO have my sympathy. None of the ancient similes can possibly work. None of them are ontological. The more helpless conservatives try to make them work (been there) the more I move in a post-conservative direction. As on gay marriage, the ordination of women, creationism, claims. But you KNOW I do have sympathy. Like you and Kaplan and Gamaliel and Jamat I can't not see PSA in Jesus. It just isn't in Him now.

Come up with better stories. Relevant, contemporary, satisfying ones.

Coating rat turds with chocolate doesn't make them raisins.

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
@Mr cheesy - I'm not sure that Mudfrog was accusing you of not reading or knowing the Bible - I felt your response was a tad over-sensitive there - and no, I'm not offended in any way by people calling 'bollocks' on things ... I do that myself quite often.

A huge post saying essentially "I presented all these proofs and arguments and scholars, and you still don't believe me" seems like just that. Cheesy wasn't being over-sensitive, he was just reading for content.

We piped for you, and you did not dance.

It seems to me that we are all whistling tunes but somehow not quite following one another's ...

I 'get' that the Orthodox don't go in for PSA.

I get that various scholars and what-not that mr cheesy has read don't either.

But some folk do, and evangelical theologians - some of worth, some of little or no worth - certainly do.

I've heard the Orthodox side of the argument and made out the tune - or tone - but I'm not as well-read as mr cheesy evidently is, so I'm not familiar with the material he may be citing.

Heck, Mudfrog's read Moltmann, I haven't ...

So I need to listen out and learn some more tunes.

Meanwhile, the one I've got in my head and off by heart, the evangelical one - has been the dominant ditty in my head and heart for years ...

I can't suddenly ditch one tune and pick up another just like that - I don't read music, I don't play by ear ... but I can hum and I'm told I can hold a tune.

So it takes time ...

If mr cheesy and your good self find that frustrating, then Mudfrog seems equally to find it frustrating when he puts forward a PSA view only to be hit over the head with the same old canards about 'cosmic child-abuse' or God the Father going 'mwa ha ha ha ha ...' as he tortures Christ on our behalf ...

I'm not saying that Stott and other more 'reflective' evangelicals cover all the ground, dot all the i's and cross all the t's - but they do present a version of PSA that goes some way towards rescuing it from the caricatures.

If mr cheesy has heard them out and chosen to dance to a different tune, then that's fine.

I've not quite learned the steps and I've got several tunes in my head at the same time ...

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
In another room a child is tortured to death so a parent won't hurt anyone else apart from those that won't accepted that.

*Sigh*
Which comment brings us full circle back to the very beginning of the discussion and reveals, yet again, that the opponents of PSA would rather stick to their cherished caricature of the doctrine than accept the Trinity-supporting truth of the doctrine as properly expressed in any evangelical doctrine book of worth that you'd like to read.

Have I really wasted all that reading and typing?
I've just been pissing in the wind as far as you're concerned haven't I?

Sure-- but you're not listening either. The thing is, like so many of the beliefs/imagery/language we evangelicals cling to, it isn't heard by the culture at large the way we hear it. Which is fine if we want Christianity to be a cozy club of insiders who "get" what we mean by the imagery. But particularly for evangelicals who take evangelism as one of our four cornerstones, that's a problem. Whether or not we are tired of defending PSA, the fact remains that Martin is correctly (and even clearly! well done!) reflecting the way the doctrine is heard. And there's good reason for that-- it is the obvious, most readily accessible interpretation of the image. Perhaps in another era it wasn't heard that way, but it certainly is now.

I harken back to the earlier discussion of metaphor vs model. If it is a model we've got a real problem because we somehow have to find a way to communicate that this model is something other than what it most obviously seems to say. That's a huge problem (perhaps Kellyanne Conway can give us lessons in double speak).

But if it's a metaphor, much less one of several metaphors, we have no such problem. We can conclude that, for this day and time, it's not as helpful an image as some others. We can retain it as one of five, but don't have to make it the primary way that we speak about God.

Let me try an analogy: for us today the "shepherd" analogy for God is a bit unfamiliar, but has a positive, caretaking connotation. In the ancient era it would have been much more familiar obviously, and would retain certain connotations that were helpful in reinforcing what the church wanted to communicate about God.

But let's say next week there arises a band of murderous rogue shepherds. They carry large hooks that they use to beat unsuspecting little old ladies into submission, steal their pension checks and use them to buy more sheep, which they then torture & slaughter in a particularly brutal and cruel way before engaging in a particularly gruesome gorging on raw mutton with blood dripping down their cheeks.

If we cling to the shepherd image of God while the nightly news is full of the news of this murderous clan of shepherds, very soon the image is going to convey something quite different than what we intend. Sure, we can try for awhile to teach to that-- "unlike the murderous shepherds plaguing our cities, God is this kind of shepherd..." But it's going to be a constant losing battle. As much as the image was once good and helpful and fruitful and has a long and rich heritage, at a certain point we will acknowledge defeat and give it up. But fortunately, there are many other images/metaphors we can use. So we'll start talking about God as mother hen or forgiving father.

Same thing here with PSA. As much as you may want to defend it's long and rich heritage, the world is going to keep coming back with Martin's response-- there is a rageaholic Father torturing his son-- because that's the way it sounds, the plain meaning of the metaphor. This is a huge problem evangelistically, but it is also a problem pedagogically. All of us pastors have had parishioners-- well-educated, biblically literate parishioners-- who have, for one reason or another, had this image of the punishing, angry God burned into their brains. No matter how many times you teach the story of the Prodigal Son or explain all those nice things about the Trinity that you think offset the image of abusive Dad-- the angry vengeful God who hates not sin but sinners-- that's what is deeply embedded in their hearts, because from an early age that's the unintended implication of the metaphor.

Those are some seriously nasty fruit, that seriously mess up every level of our interaction and relationship with God. We need to take that seriously.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
To continue from your last post, Gamaliel:

As far as I can, see for Mudfrog's catholicity to be sustained he has either to see all the images as metaphors, or to regard one of them as a model/theory and the others as (mere) metaphors.

For example, were one to plump for PSA a one's preferred model/metaphor i.e. the real thing, then one could accommodate Christus Victor as a metaphor of Christ's victory over sin and death, and the believer could experience his/her relationship to the cross as being like one released from the thrall of Satan (Ransom), and so on. Thus, whereas to treat these metaphors as theories would be incompatible with a belief in PSA, or, indeed, with one another, they are acceptable as non-theories or non-models, metaphors that are subordinate to or point to the underlying reality of PSA.

From what I'm hearing, Kwesi is on the money here as far as Mudfrog is concerned. And, when it boils down to it, I suspect most evangelicals would describe PSA when asked about the atonement even if they used the other theories as supporting metaphors.

This is why it is such a threat to deny PSA has any biblical or moral basis. If it was just a theory, there would be shrugs and an encouragement to find another one that was more to one's liking. Meh, its just a theory.

The reality is in fact that evangelicalism is incredibly muddled and is not even aware that it is so often saying contradictory things at the same time. One can wheel out theologians who try to make sense of PSA but I'd wager that the vast majority of evangelicals are not even aware that there are about 10 theories of the atonement - except when someone angrily denounces the latest "heretic" for attacking their pet rhetorical device.

On most Sundays they'll just continue singing songs that say many different things about the atonement without even noticing.

The difference, when it comes down to it, is that the Orthodox, the Anabaptists, Steve Chalke, Rob Bell, Walter Wick and others have spent time thinking about it and have at least tried to formulate a theology that makes sense rather than one which is self contradictory and held together with mud and spit.

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I find Mudfrog's quotation from the doctrinal position of the Salvation Army helpful and open-minded, when it says:

"There is no single comprehensive way to interpret the Atonement through the sacrifice of Christ. But in the New Testament, helpful analogies and images, when taken together, provide insight into its meaning."...................

"The meaning of the Atonement has been reinterpreted through successive periods of Church history. As followers of Christ have reflected on their experience, they have discovered its relevance within their own cultural and historical contexts and have used various metaphors to explain its significance. The terms used to describe them are highlighted below: (big explanatory paragraph follows talking about Origen, Athanasious, Anselm, Abelard, etc, etc, down to the modern day)"...................

"No explanation of the saving work of God in Christ is adequate that does not include the full scope of redemption."

It seems to me capable of encompassing most of the positions taken in this thread, perhaps even Mudfrog's!

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mr cheesy
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There is surely quite some distance between saying officially that no one theory is adequate about the atonement whilst also saying that belief in one (along with the others) is essential - as Mudfrog has above.

If none are adequate, it doesn't really matter if I don't accept PSA. If PSA is essential, it clearly does.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
I find Mudfrog's quotation from the doctrinal position of the Salvation Army helpful and open-minded, when it says:

"There is no single comprehensive way to interpret the Atonement through the sacrifice of Christ. But in the New Testament, helpful analogies and images, when taken together, provide insight into its meaning."...................

"The meaning of the Atonement has been reinterpreted through successive periods of Church history. As followers of Christ have reflected on their experience, they have discovered its relevance within their own cultural and historical contexts and have used various metaphors to explain its significance. The terms used to describe them are highlighted below: (big explanatory paragraph follows talking about Origen, Athanasious, Anselm, Abelard, etc, etc, down to the modern day)"...................

"No explanation of the saving work of God in Christ is adequate that does not include the full scope of redemption."

It seems to me capable of encompassing most of the positions taken in this thread, perhaps even Mudfrog's!

Well exactly!!
At long bloody last


[brick wall]

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Mudfrog
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But, in reading your quote of my post, I see you missed something out.

After the bit about 'when taken together...' you, missed out those bits that are, in fact, meant to be taken together:

quote:
... in the New Testament, helpful analogies and images, when taken together, provide insight into its meaning.

1. Ransom.... (big explanatory paragraph follows)
2. The law courts (PSA - another big explanatory paragraph follows)
3. Redemptive sacrifice (big explanatory paragraph follows)
4. Victory over sin (big explanatory paragraph follows)
5. Self-giving love (big explanatory paragraph follows)

So, we take them all together.
They are rooms in the house called atonement.
One of them, two of them, even three of them on their own do not construct the House of reconciliation.

One needs all of them.

[ 15. February 2017, 15:57: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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Gamaliel
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Of course it does, which is why Mudfrog likes it ...

[Biased]

More seriously, I don't find the Salvation Army statements at all surprising. They fit with everything else I know about the Salvation Army and, forgive the intentional military metaphor, would pass muster in almost any broadly evangelical church I can think of.

I suspect most evangelical Baptists and evangelical Anglicans wouldn't have an issue with it at all.

That said, I do agree with mr cheesy that evangelicalism per se is pretty muddled. Exactly how muddled wasn't apparent to me until I broadened out in my thinking and encountered other Christian traditions ...

But the evangelicals don't have a monopoly on muddle. Lots of Christians are muddled, irrespective of the official party-line of their particular churches.

The difference with evangelicalism, as I am beginning to think - is that, rather like the charismatic thing it's a spirituality in search of a theology - or an ecclesiology more accurately ...

That said, I remain convinced that at its heart, evangelicalism does conserve and maintain something 'prophetic' that, for all its faults, it can convey on behalf of the Christian faith more widely - and that's the nub and essence of 'repent and believe the Gospel ...'

Now, that's not to say that this is the sole preserve or evangelicals, of course not - our nearest Orthodox parish - like others I've seen - carries that quote about Orthodoxy being 'orthodox but not Jewish, evangelical but not Protestant ...' on its website.

Sure, it's a bit trite, but I 'get' what they are driving at.

I know you don't go in for fluffy 'personal relationship with Jesus' talk, mr cheesy, but in essence, it seems to me, that if the Holy and Undivided Trinity is relational then God the Holy Trinity must be 'relational' in terms of His relationship with us ...

As Kaplan wrote earlier in the thread, ours is not some kind of cold, distant, somewhat Eastern Religion mystic kind of faith - we believe in One God in Three Persons - in the 'Personhood' of God. Sure, 'person' in that sense is to be understood differently to how we understand ourselves as human beings, as human personalities - but it seems to me that relationship is at the heart of it all ... 'that you might know the One True God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent ...'

We can certainly argue that evangelicals are reductionist - almost obsessive about issues of personal, individual salvation ...

We could, if we wished, argue that the Salvation Army is also - it aims to do what it says on the tin - save souls ... Yet in my experience it is very holistic in its approach to that. It walks the talk.

Now, I might take issue with the Sally Army on some aspects of praxis but I'm not going to knock 'em for proclaiming and living out the Gospel as they see it ...

But that's getting tangential ...

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Kwesi
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OK, Mudfrog! But could I point out to you, however, that the reference to historical and cultural contexts might be taken to mean that PSA along with a number of others might be considered to have past their sell-by date?

I note also the cautious nature of the sentence: "But in the New Testament, helpful analogies and images, when taken together, provide insight into its meaning." "Helpful" and "insight" signal that biblical references are partial and need to be handled with care.

I don't think SA official doctrine endorses your position that all the theories/metaphors are acceptable.

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Mudfrog
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Just a point of historical interest regarding Salvation Army doctrine.

They are stolen, or should I say 'kidnapped' from Methodism, when the Rev Wm Booth resigned from the New Connexion having been denied the role of evangelist by the Conference in 1861. They tried to sweeten their denial by making him a Circuit Superintendent but he wasn't best pleased...

Anyway, after 4 years he started his own Mission that morphed into the SA and he founded it upon the same Methodist doctrines but with a difference. He adapted them on the basis that they were not simply creedal or confessional, but missional; nothing was included that could not be a basis for mission/evangelism/outreach.

The same went for the sacraments. At the time there was controversy amongst the churches and sticking with the Methodist style or taking on a more Anglican belief regarding Baptism and Eucharist would have hampered the fledgling Mission.

In short, if it didn't strengthen mission, out it went.
Add to that Booth's proclamation that the Army was not, and had no intention of becoming, a church, then we can see that our doctrines are not merely the sum of belief for a settled ecclesiastical community but literally the "Articles of War" for an evangelistic Army that proclaimed the Atonement as the only way of salvation.

It doesn't say so in the particular article of faith relevant to the atonement, but PSA and all the other theories are needed in order to witness to the full range of 'measures' used by God to reconcile the world.

In other words, hen it comes to the 'weapons' of the Gospel used to et people saved, we are using every bit of equipment in the arsenal.

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Gamaliel
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Other than the sacraments ...

[Big Grin] [Biased] [Razz]

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Gamaliel
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I am teasing, but there is, of course, the well-known Wesley quote about communion being a 'converting ordinance' ...

The Salvation Army's approach makes sense on its own terms - that of getting a particular message and form of Christianity out to a largely 'unreached' 19th century working-class audience in as direct and unfussy a way as possible.

There's something very sleeves-rolled up and pragmatic about it, and something also very romantic and rough and ready too ...

The Salvation Army hasn't been as 'reductionist' as the Quakers, of course, who were themselves fairly evangelistic in the early days.

But part of me baulks at the whole 'what's the minimum we need to wage a jungle campaign' approach ...

But then, I'm not a Salvationist ...

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Kwesi
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Mudfrog
quote:
It [SA Doctrinal Statement] doesn't say so in the particular article of faith relevant to the atonement, but PSA and all the other theories are needed in order to witness to the full range of 'measures' used by God to reconcile the world.

I'm not so sure that is unambiguously the case. I was intrigued by the words":
"The meaning of the Atonement has been reinterpreted through successive periods of Church history. As followers of Christ have reflected on their experience, they have discovered its relevance within their own cultural and historical contexts and have used various metaphors to explain its significance." (SA Doctrinal Statement).

To my mind there is a heavy element of theological relativism in this paragraph, because it refers to "reinterpretation" in the light of "experience, and "cultural and historical contexts." If that is the case then the theology of the atonement would be expected to change over time and across cultures.

If the argument is that the various theories thrown up at specific times in various culture contexts can be retained as the times and contexts which produced them change, then are we not suggesting that we have a better understanding of the atonement than the apostles because we have more theories and metaphors: a bigger armoury than they?

Or do we look to theologians in our historical and social contexts to provide an understanding of the atonement which speaks to us, as did those of the past to their generations? The need, surely, is not for lots of redundant weapons but one which has coherence and conviction for contemporary humanity, ain't it? It's time to put Christus Victor, PSA, and a number of others in the theological museum.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I am teasing, but there is, of course, the well-known Wesley quote about communion being a 'converting ordinance' ...

The Salvation Army's approach makes sense on its own terms - that of getting a particular message and form of Christianity out to a largely 'unreached' 19th century working-class audience in as direct and unfussy a way as possible.

There's something very sleeves-rolled up and pragmatic about it, and something also very romantic and rough and ready too ...

The Salvation Army hasn't been as 'reductionist' as the Quakers, of course, who were themselves fairly evangelistic in the early days.

But part of me baulks at the whole 'what's the minimum we need to wage a jungle campaign' approach ...

But then, I'm not a Salvationist ...

On the 'converting ordinance' thing, I wonder actually whether the high church theology of Wesley would believe that converting in this context was in the context of justification. I rather think that the converting he is talking about would be sanctifying grace rather than saving or even prevenient grace. Though who can tell?

As far as our 11 Doctrinal Statements are concerned We do recognise that the nineteenth century language is evidently of its time and we do actively seek to interpret the doctrine in contemporary terms.

One part of the Handbook of Doctrine I didn't quote said this:
quote:

2. The law courts - Another concept was borrowed from the law courts: anyone who breaks the law, which is given for our good, deserves punishment. In God’s morally ordered world sin has consequences. Jesus paid the penalty and bore the cost of sin on our behalf: ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities’ (Isaiah 53:5). Christ voluntarily accepted punishment as a substitute for us (John 10:11-18; 15:13).
3. Redemptive sacrifice - Another New Testament picture of the Atonement emphasises that Christ became the once-for-all sacrifice which buys our salvation (Hebrews 10:10-14). He gave himself for our sin and so fulfilled the purpose of the great sacrifices of the Hebrew faith, to restore the fellowship between God and human beings (Matthew 26:28). The death of Christ provides a way by which all people can be reconciled
129
to God (Ephesians 1:7). His was a vicarious sacrifice, that is to say a sacrifice made on behalf of others. It was not made for his own sin, for he was sinless: it was made for us – on behalf of humanity (Romans 3:25, 26; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Handbook later comments
quote:
l. Since the 18th century, there has been a shift in the meaning of the term ‘sacrifice’, so that the commonly understood meaning is no longer associated with a specifically religious ritual slaughter, but with a heroic or costly action by an individual, especially the giving up of life, but not necessarily in a religious context.
m Western thinking at the close of the 20th century and in the early years of the 21st century has developed a culture of suspicion that questions the motives of those in authority, seeking to discover the dominating power that underlies them. This has led to some loss of confidence in the institutions of society, including the Church, and to some loss of hope. Theologian Anthony Thiselton suggests an interpretation of the work of Christ that answers these accusations and restores hope. Describing the grace of God demonstrated by the Cross as ‘love without strings’, he argues that a love which gives itself for another, in the interests of the other, cannot be an attempt to manipulate or gain power over them.9 The self-giving of Jesus therefore offers new hope as the individual is loved, accepted and reconciled with God without manipulation or conditions. It gives new meaning to a life in which the image of God is being restored.

And finally, a quote from Catherine Booth, the wife of General Booth; herself a preacher and theologian who championed the rights of women to preach as far back as 1860:
quote:
Christ's sacrifice I never represented in the Bible as having purchased or begotten the love of the father, but only as having opened a channel through which that love could flow out to his rebellious and prodigal children.

Read that quote carefully. It does not say that the sacrifice did not 'purchase' our redemption; only that it didn't purchase God's love.
Even in PSA the Father still loves the condemned world as much as he loves his only Begotten Son..

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Mudfrog
quote:
It [SA Doctrinal Statement] doesn't say so in the particular article of faith relevant to the atonement, but PSA and all the other theories are needed in order to witness to the full range of 'measures' used by God to reconcile the world.

I'm not so sure that is unambiguously the case. I was intrigued by the words":
"The meaning of the Atonement has been reinterpreted through successive periods of Church history. As followers of Christ have reflected on their experience, they have discovered its relevance within their own cultural and historical contexts and have used various metaphors to explain its significance." (SA Doctrinal Statement).

To my mind there is a heavy element of theological relativism in this paragraph, because it refers to "reinterpretation" in the light of "experience, and "cultural and historical contexts." If that is the case then the theology of the atonement would be expected to change over time and across cultures.

If the argument is that the various theories thrown up at specific times in various culture contexts can be retained as the times and contexts which produced them change, then are we not suggesting that we have a better understanding of the atonement than the apostles because we have more theories and metaphors: a bigger armoury than they?

Or do we look to theologians in our historical and social contexts to provide an understanding of the atonement which speaks to us, as did those of the past to their generations? The need, surely, is not for lots of redundant weapons but one which has coherence and conviction for contemporary humanity, ain't it? It's time to put Christus Victor, PSA, and a number of others in the theological museum.

fwiw, I would say the latter and not the former. I would suggest that even in the 1st c, the various images for the atonement were intended to speak to different audiences/cultural contexts-- satisfaction speaking obviously to Jews, substitution to Romans, ransom to the poor and oppressed, etc.

That being said, I wouldn't necessarily place CV among those that need moth-balling. Arguably, CV is often considered to be the image that resonates most with our current cultural context. PSA is, as can be seen here, the most problematic in our context, so while I wouldn't go so far as say it belongs in a museum, I would say it's probably time for it to take a back seat and let ransom and CV take the lead.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
The need, surely, is not for lots of redundant weapons but one which has coherence and conviction for contemporary humanity, ain't it? It's time to put Christus Victor, PSA, and a number of others in the theological museum.

I can see that - see also my more recent quote - and I fully recognise that the theories are couched in the language of the theologian who proposed them but I don't think they are just 'out of thin air' theorising because each of them to be acceptable must be grounded in the Bible, the words of Christ and in Apostolic teaching.

So, again, we can't get away from 'the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,'
we can't get away from 'the Son of Man came to give his life a ransom for many',
we can't get away from 'Christ our Passover has been sacrificed',
we can't get away from the awed words of the Centurion as he gazed upon the dead Jesus, 'surely this was the Son of God'
and we can't get away from the bulk of the letter to the Hebrews that speaks of Jesus being the once and for all fulfilment of the Mosaic sacrificial system.

The theologians and fathers may have written theses about these verses, but even if we discarded them all we are still left with Scripture.

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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

Posts: 8134 | From: North Yorkshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Martin60
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Which is not ontological.

And Gamaliel, Sir, much as I admire your openness and embracing of your whole journey, God does not have personhood. He is NOT a metaperson, a person of persons. He is a substance of persons. Assuming the ontological Trinity is revealed in the economic.

And as Mousethief said responding to your saying Jesus is 100% human and 100% God, it's not mathematical. It's linguistic, metaphysical. He was not 100% a human and 100% a God.

He was a person of two substances. A full, normal, complete human nature - that which reacts, desires? - with its accompanying will - that which acts according to desire? And sufficient divine nature to act in perfect love.

I invite Dafyd to stoop to conquer.

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Love wins

Posts: 16872 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mudfrog
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# 8116

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Other than the sacraments ...

[Big Grin] [Biased] [Razz]

If we're not a church, do we need sacraments?

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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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@Martin - ok, fair cop. No, I don't see the Incarnation as a mathematical formula. I didn't express myself very clearly.

I was simply trying, and failing, to present the Incarnation as a paradox .
..

@Mudfrog - on the Wesleyan thing - well, Wesley's theology was gloriously muddled and inconsistent. He contradicts himself again and again. His was an unsystematic theology and soteriology within a systematic framework ...

So all your stuff about sanctifying grace as opposed to justification and prevenient grace as opposed to this, that or the other ... are simply rationalisations after the event and only come into the equation if you wear a particular set of lenses based on prescriptions derived from developments and variations of Wesleyan thought ...

Whatever else we might say about him, his was a theology of tension and struggle - how to reconcile an emerging conversionist soteriology with baptismal regeneration, how to balance views of 'sinless perfection' with observations about human frailty and so on ...

None of that was fully systematised in Wesley's lifetime and it makes little sense at all if you are Orthodox or RC - other than in some areas of overlap.

It all depends upon the prescription and the lens.

It seems to me that Wesley believed that baptism and the eucharist did what they said on the tin, but also that there was a lot else to go at besides ... Which is fair enough, unless we are expecting some kind of systematic approach which covers all bases - and we don't get that with Wesley - which is why he appeals to high church and low church people, evangelicals and non-evangelicals and other categories besides ...

Meanwhile, if the Salvation Army isn't a church but simply a mission agency, then why doesn't it pass on its converts to those Christian bodies which make a bigger deal about 'being church' and of having some kind of ecclesiology ...?

Tangent alert ... But it's a fair question. An RC priest once asked me what our then Baptist church plant was 'about' and what exactly it was we thought we were doing. Why did we exist? What were we trying to achieve?

It was a fair question. I didn't really have an answer.

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 15438 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Meanwhile, if the Salvation Army isn't a church but simply a mission agency, then why doesn't it pass on its converts to those Christian bodies which make a bigger deal about 'being church' and of having some kind of ecclesiology ...?

Tangent alert ... But it's a fair question. An RC priest once asked me what our then Baptist church plant was 'about' and what exactly it was we thought we were doing. Why did we exist? What were we trying to achieve?

It was a fair question. I didn't really have an answer.

That was his original intention but the churches didn't want them and the converts didn't want to go anyway.

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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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Sure, but that was then and this is now ...

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 15438 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Sure, but that was then and this is now ...

Ah, but now we say we are a church - ignoring Mr Calvin's assertion that one of the marks of a church is the sacraments.

We have all the hallmarks of a church but it's still a bit confused. We've never really had an ecclesiology until recently.

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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

Posts: 8134 | From: North Yorkshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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Arguably, evangelicalism as a whole doesn't have much of an ecclesiology, so you are by no means unique in that sense ...

But these are tangents - and yes, I know, I started them ...

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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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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Ah, but now we say we are a church - ignoring Mr Calvin's assertion that one of the marks of a church is the sacraments.

We have all the hallmarks of a church ...

No you don't. You don't have sacraments.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

Posts: 63079 | From: Ecotopia | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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If we aren't careful this could turn into a Life of Brian echo chamber ...

'The Salvation Army has all the hall-marks of a church. What is there to stop it being one?'
'Sacraments? They don't have sacraments ...'
'Alright, apart from sacraments, what prevents the Salvation Army from being a church ...'
'The three-fold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons?' [or other criteria of choice]
'Ok ... apart from a lack of sacraments and the historic three-fold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons ...'

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 15438 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged



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