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Source: (consider it) Thread: Moral Influence atonement theology
mousethief

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Cliffdweller, that resonates very strongly with me, and with the Orthodox soteriology that I was taught. God is mad at sin because of the damage it does. That's reflected in the fact that the times we see Christ really go off on people, the reason he gives for his anger is the harm they are causing others. (You may find it interesting that I have written your name enough times that it is now offered up by my phone's predictive speller.)

Mudfrog, I'm not interested in your "discuss this using my rules or I'll take my ball and go home" offer. Your rules seem designed to prevent anyone pointing out your position is not internally self-consistent.

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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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Mudfrog
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I have acknowledged elsewhere that the atonement , like a diamond, has many facets.
I have also acknowledged, or proposed that different atonement metaphors seem to 'apply' to different definitions or metaphors of sin.

I would now after further reflection, like to suggest that the different metaphors may apply to differing situations, either devotional or missional. It might be better if you, my Shipmate friends, were the ones to suggest which metaphor might well fit within a communion service, within a covenant service, within a confirmation, within personal prayer for healing, forgiveness, sanctification, etc, etc, etc.

I would like to propose a reason why evangelicals seem to favour the penal substitutionary atonement model whilst non-evangelicals might favour the more 'spiritual/devotional' metaphors - though many of us in the evangelical churches are also very enamoured by the moral influence metaphor.

And the reason, I suggest, is in the very name, 'evangelical'. If the evangelical movement is a mission/conversion movement within the Church, then it stands to reason that they will favour a picture of the cross that focuses on sin and forgiveness and the need for decisive repentance, faith and conversion. I could go on and expand this, but I think you'll appreciate what I'm saying.

Evangelicals want to persuade, to convince, to show the need for forgiveness and the natural sinful state of mankind and its need of a Saviour; the PSA metaphor fits very well with passages such as Isaiah 53, and Father forgive them for they know not what they do, and hymns such as Man of Sorrows (in my place condemned he stood) and And Can It Be (Died he for me who causedhis pain), etc.

I am fully aware that not all churches are missionary/conversionist in nature and splace a low priority on what we would call 'Saving Faith', preferring a more sacrametal approach to the reception of grace; but for those of us who are heavily into calling people to conversion, the model shown in PSA is a powerful metaphor that may well have less significance in the more reflective, liturgical traditions.

And I think I can understand that; as long as my liturgical, sacramental friends can appreciate that some of the softer metaphors do not necessarily lend themselves to evangelical mission-type sermons and appeals for people to repent and follow Christ.

Just a thought.

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mr cheesy
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I don't think it can be fully explained by that though, Mudfrog. There are many evangelicals who think that PSA is the only acceptable theory of the atonement and get very cross and defensive when asked to consider other ideas.

Personally, I find PSA the worst of the many theories of the atonement and would never use it under any circumstances.

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mousethief

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Mudfrog, your explanation sounds rather circular. We like PSA because we're evangelists and have to present people with the Gospel, and after all, PSA is the Gospel. Also it fails to explain, since there are evangelists in other traditions who try to present the Gospel to people, but who don't believe in PSA. By your logic they should.

It's not that you like PSA because you use it in evangelizing. It's that you use it in evangelizing because you like it.

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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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Mudfrog
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Well, I can only speak for this particular evangelical whose church hymnal includes songs that cover just about every metaphor of atonement you can think of!

And to be frank, if you can make a list of well-known Good Friday hymns that the evangelicals will use, you will find that they will sing about moral influence, ransom, satisfaction, Christus victor and recapitulation as much as PSA.


Again, I have tried to make reasoned, reflective and balanced arguments that take others' ideas as well as affirm my own, that are inclusive of all kinds of ideas, without just accepting indiscriminately something that hasn't been argued cogently - (I have yet to see an exposition of Scripture that supports Bell or Chalke) - but yet again you have rejected my reasoned suggestion and, without expanding on why, have just intolerantly said I will not believe.

I have not said I disbelieve in any of the atonement theories - they all have merit in various settings and circumstances - even the ones favoured by Bell and Chalke have validity), but liberal intolerance again says 'I will not believe.' and implies that we who believe PSA as well as all the other metaphors are simply wrong for believing it too.

I think that's sad.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Mudfrog, your explanation sounds rather circular. We like PSA because we're evangelists and have to present people with the Gospel, and after all, PSA is the Gospel. Also it fails to explain, since there are evangelists in other traditions who try to present the Gospel to people, but who don't believe in PSA. By your logic they should.

It's not that you like PSA because you use it in evangelizing. It's that you use it in evangelizing because you like it.

I disagree.
I think you misunderstand what I say.

We who are evangelical will use the parts of the Gospel in evangelical mission that will be useful, specifically, in that context.

We will talk about the love of God
We will talk about the sin of man
We will talk about the cross as an example f the greatest love(See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down)
We will also talk about Jesus as substitute (in my place condemned he stood)
We will talk about redemption, being bought at a price.
We will talk about Christus Victor - (though probably more in terms of sanctification)
Bit we will also talk about healing.

There are a number of atonement metaphors there but we will use PSA in certain circumstances but not every time.
But we will use it because it's a powerful message to give someone who knows they are a sinner and want to know that Jesus can forgive them. To tell that person that Jesus has taken their sins is a wonderful thing for them.

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Gamaliel
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Strangely or not, I was only thinking along those lines when I first engaged with this thread, Mudfrog and can certainly identify with what you are saying - not only about evangelicalism in general but the Salvation Army in particular.

This doesn't necessarily mean the Salvation Army is reductionist - it's a lot more holistic I would say than many 'newer' revivalist movements - but as with any Protestant 'sect' (understood in socilogical terms) - it does do what it says on the tin. You know what you are going to get - an emphasis on individual conversion and personal piety.

On a personal level, whilst I increasingly incline towards a more contemplative or sacramental approach, I certainly don't want to ditch the clear call to conversion and to personal piety that evangelicalism embodies.

Which is probably why I haven't been prepared to throw PSA out entirely with the revivalist bath-water.

As ever, though, I am always inclined to try to combine apparent contradictions and find complementarity as it were.

My usual both/and mantra ...

That can be an awkward place to be as fences tend to have sharp pointy bits at the top ...

I s'pose my question would be whether it is possible to display evangelistic fervour and to preach for conversion etc, without so much emphasis on a PSA model?

In some parts of the world the RCs and Orthodox seem to do so to some extent - particularly in Africa.

I'm also reminded of something I read about some of the Anglo-Catholic 'slum priests' in London's East End. They thought nothing of shamelessly adopting techniques and strategies from the Salvation Army and other revivalist groups for their parish missions, but would switch back to bells and smells once they'd got converts through the door ...

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mousethief

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X-x-post! This is re Mudfrog's "liberal" slam.

I hope that was a cross post and you're not calling me liberal because that would be great folly.

Your argument at this point seems to be, "You're not being fair. I accept your favorite atonement theories, so you should accept mine. Otherwise you're just being a liberal meanyhead."

From where I sit, it looks like a handful of people on this thread find fault with PSA. And they have laid out pretty cogently why. Accusing them of not loving the Bible, or calling them Liberal, is not engaging in Purgatory-stye argument.

[ 10. January 2017, 21:57: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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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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Gamaliel
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@Cliffdweller, I am only rendering 'Rob Bell' as 'R*b B*ll' because he seems to be persona non grata as far as Mudfrog is concerned.

@Mudfrog, Bell and Chalke are popular and populist preachers and presenters, they are not top-drawer theologians - but there are serious theologias and serious and venerable Christian traditions, such as Mousethief's which don't buy into PSA and can make out a case for not doing so - and yes, using the scriptures to back that up.

You may not agree with them but that doesn't mean that they are somehow deficient in their approach to scripture compared with those who agree with you.

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:

From where I sit, it looks like a handful of people on this thread find fault with PSA. And they have laid out pretty cogently why.

I disagree.
I have found prejudice, straw men, and not much attempt to see the positive in those who do believe in PSA.

Gamaliel, as ever, is a paragon of thoughtful balance whilst not being afraid to challenge me; he does it rationally and thoughtfully and gives reasons.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
@Cliffdweller, I am only rendering 'Rob Bell' as 'R*b B*ll' because he seems to be persona non grata as far as Mudfrog is concerned.

@Mudfrog, Bell and Chalke are popular and populist preachers and presenters, they are not top-drawer theologians - but there are serious theologias and serious and venerable Christian traditions, such as Mousethief's which don't buy into PSA and can make out a case for not doing so - and yes, using the scriptures to back that up.

You may not agree with them but that doesn't mean that they are somehow deficient in their approach to scripture compared with those who agree with you.

My reason for saying that they are not as popular is simply because they don't seem to be making the same waves in the evangelical world as they were 5 years ago. That's not to say that they have fallen out of favour with the people who like their writings - though I reckon that Bell's leaving Mars Hill and Chalke's expulsion from the Evangelical Alliance will have dented their credibility with some - it's more that outside that circle people are not really talking about them; except here of course [Smile]

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Steve Langton
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Sorry I've been away for a bit - it took a while to put together the following;

Whatever the biblical words you may refer to, 'atonement' in English means basically “What it takes to reconcile two people when things have gone wrong between them”. In human terms part of the reconciliation may be that either

1) the wrongdoer 'atones for' his wrong by doing something to put it right; in a simple example, if he's damaged something, he pays for it. This is also known as 'justice'. OR

2) Especially where the wrongdoer can't do much to put things right, eg when he simply can't afford to pay, the person wronged decides to 'forgive', and in essence, HE pays for the damage in order to offer reconciliation to the other party.

Full reconciliation and restoration of relationships may require a lot of other stuff to go on around that either payment or forgiveness of debt. A lot of what we've been discussing here is this 'payment of debt' aspect – which is virtually absent in the 'moral influence' notion.

In dealing with the debt payment aspect the Bible uses all kinds of analogies. To my mind the 'debt payment' or as Lamb Chop has been saying (I think) sin creating 'consequences' - a mess that somebody has to take on the burden of cleaning up – is the major metaphor that gives a fairly straightforward account of what's going on. Other metaphors/images can also be helpful but should usually not be pushed to the limits or they can produce questionable results.

We should also bear in mind that older societies developing and changing tended not to be as sophisticated as we've become (partly precisely through the Christian understanding). For example many early societies wouldn't have a clear division between 'civil' and 'criminal' law.

In effect, the criminal law has various aspects which are necessary to deal with 'law and order' in human societies – for example, penalties for breaking traffic rules even though in the particular case nobody may have suffered harm – but which are not entirely appropriate to the God/Man relationship. Yet some aspects even of those parts of the law may provide a useful partial example for an aspect of the atonement; but as I say should not be pushed too far....


'Penal Substitution Atonement' is one of these. Older less individualistic legal systems had many situations where one person might, voluntarily or involuntarily, substitute for another in taking a criminal penalty and such basic situations offer a parallel to Jesus taking our place in dealing with those 'consequences' of sin. But treating those as the primary metaphor is unsatisfactory.

The Jehovah's Witnesses provide an interesting example. By denying the Trinity they have also rejected the idea of God himself forgiving by footing the bill/taking the consequences of sin. But as purported Biblical fundamentalists rather than the liberal theologians of 'Unitarianism' as such, they still need an explanation why a Jesus who is not divine had to die. And as far as I can understand it, they use a variant of PSA.

In their version they rather portray God as having set a law saying sinners must die. And then God is faced with lots of sinners who he wants to forgive, and doesn't want to kill them – but to satisfy the law, someone must die, and of course according to the Bible that 'someone' is Jesus. So in their explanation Jesus, some kind of archangel, offers his voluntary death in place of the sinners.... And the problem is that killing an innocent third party ain't exactly justice; and further it ain't exactly forgiveness either, because God isn't forgiving in a sense of footing the bill himself. In fact it makes God look much like a Shylock figure, determined to have his 'pound of flesh' but not caring very much whose flesh it is....

The JWs of course have the problem that unlike 'liberal' theologians they are committed to at least appearing biblical. The liberal Unitarian church and many liberals in the mainstream churches get over the problems by effectively ignoring the biblical atonement teaching and reducing the atonement to little more than a 'moral influence' based on a totally vague idea of what Jesus might actually achieve by dying.

So the basic point is that, among quite a few other things, Jesus' atoning death is God demonstrating, in a carefully prepared way in our world and our history that yes, he really will foot the bill/sort out the consequences of our sins at his own expense. Passages like Hebrews 9; 11 suggest that what was seen on earth/in history was but 'tip of an iceberg' of the whole payment for sin involved.

Problem is, the 'payment' is only part of what is needed for reconciliation between God and Man. There also needs to be practical reconciliation in which men change their hearts. Which is why John 3;16, the passage about how “God so loved the world”, is followed by v 17ff

quote:
17 For God did not send His Son to the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him; 18 he who is believing in him is not judged, but he who is not believing hath been judged already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 `And this is the judgment, that the light hath come to the world, and men did love the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil; 20 for every one who is doing wicked things hateth the light, and doth not come unto the light, that his works may not be detected; 21 but he who is doing the truth doth come to the light, that his works may be manifested, that in God they are having been wrought.'
John 3:17-21 (YLT)

Especially that bit in v19-20, that “And this is the judgment, that the light hath come to the world, and men did love the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil; 20 for every one who is doing wicked things hateth the light, and doth not come unto the light, that his works may not be detected”

Or in simple terms, it's not just a case of a nasty God throwing people into hell, it's also a case that they are so opposed to God, they throw themselves into the darkness. This appears to relate to the point made by Gamaliel that

[QUOTE]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 …[QUOTE]

Neither heaven nor hell are just 'places' equally pleasurable or equally distasteful to the redeemed and to the unrepentant. The unrepentant, through no fault of God, simply cannot live in the light of heaven; their choice to sin has so changed them that they can't enjoy heaven unless they repent and change. And note, BTW, that this is about the sinners' internal state of mind and will, and how out of tune with God that is, rather than about how massive external damage to other people and to the world they may have done....

And it is my experience that those who most object to the idea of hell are also the people who most object to the idea of God coercing anyone. But if people won't change, then what? And I can see a serious possibility that people can be so changed from what they should be by their sinful choice that both they can't change themselves, AND God changing them would be so drastic as to be meaningless – the changed person would have no real continuity with the sinner they were before....

Whence that the atonement is presented as it is – it is a challenge to change while that is still meaningfully possible.

This has got a bit long – I'll leave it for now....

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Kwesi
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Mudfrog
quote:
Evangelicals want to persuade, to convince, to show the need for forgiveness and the natural sinful state of mankind and its need of a Saviour; the PSA metaphor fits very hymns such as Man of Sorrows ..... And Can It Be (Died he for me who causedhis pain), etc.
Mudfrog, I must protest your interpretation of the quotation from "And can it be........." because you fail to complete the couplet:

"Died he for me who caused his pain,
For me, who him to death pursued."

In PSA the son is sent by the father to die on the cross in order that his wrath/ the demands of justice be satisfied. The immediate cause of the pain is the requirement for extreme punitive punishment by the father.

Charles Wesley, however, sees the death of Christ as demanded by sinners like himself, "me who him to death pursued." Wesley is with the Sanhedrin, the howling mob, the soldiers banging in the nails. For Wesley, the death of Christ is demanded by the wrath of men. In so doing he endorses the words of Peter at Pentecost: "Know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the one that God has made Lord and Messiah." In this strand the Father thwarts the wrath of men which caused his Son's death by raising him from death. The dreaded condemnation Wesley refers to in the final stanza reflects the fear of the hearers at Pentecost: "When the people heard this [that they had killed the Messiah} they were deeply troubled, and said to Peter and the apostles "What shall we do, brothers?" Peter said in reply "turn away from your sins and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, and you will receive the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2: 36-37).

Don't restrict the evangelical tradition to the Evangelistic pharisees, and don't claim Charles Wesley for PSA.

"And can it be....." is perhaps helpful to this thread's search for an understanding of the atonement when Wesley comments:

'Tis mystery all! The immortal dies:
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first-tborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more."

************************************************************************
On a different note, there been a lot of reference to 'metaphors' and 'theories' in this discussion. Are metaphors and theories inter-changeable or are they different? To my mind a theory is a logically developed explanation of how something works and to a large extent is different from other explanatory theories of the same phenomenon. Contending theories vie for supremacy leading to some being cast aside or the creation of a new theory which incorporates elements of the old ones in a new and more coherent theory. Metaphors, on the other hand, more poetic in character, presenting various likenesses of a phenomenon but are essentially subjective and do not claim to have a rational explanation for the matter being discussed. In discussing various approaches to the atonement I think we need to make it clear whether we are dealing with theories or metaphors.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Cliffdweller, that resonates very strongly with me, and with the Orthodox soteriology that I was taught. God is mad at sin because of the damage it does. That's reflected in the fact that the times we see Christ really go off on people, the reason he gives for his anger is the harm they are causing others. (You may find it interesting that I have written your name enough times that it is now offered up by my phone's predictive speller.)

Yes, that's why I'm more and more thinking you were right in saying the "Satan-ward" direction fits better with Orthodox soteriology. A good doctor is not repelled by disease, doesn't act like a germophobe afraid of being contaminated. No, a good doctor is moved by compassion for the sick and dying to enter straight into the disease-filled ebola ward. Similarly, God is not repelled by sin, but moving toward sinners (as we see Jesus do throughout the NT) to heal us.

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mr cheesy
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What cliffdweller said. There is no obligation to reward sin with punishment. See Jesus,who did not come to punish us but to save.

It's the two gospel thing again: if you are poor, wretched and broken, the good news is that God's going to love you and heal you.

The good news is slightly different if you are self-righteous, finger-pointing, rich and have it all together.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Mudfrog
quote:
Evangelicals want to persuade, to convince, to show the need for forgiveness and the natural sinful state of mankind and its need of a Saviour; the PSA metaphor fits very hymns such as Man of Sorrows ..... And Can It Be (Died he for me who causedhis pain), etc.
Mudfrog, I must protest your interpretation of the quotation from "And can it be........." because you fail to complete the couplet:

"Died he for me who caused his pain,
For me, who him to death pursued."

In PSA the son is sent by the father to die on the cross in order that his wrath/ the demands of justice be satisfied. The immediate cause of the pain is the requirement for extreme punitive punishment by the father.

Charles Wesley, however, sees the death of Christ as demanded by sinners like himself, "me who him to death pursued." Wesley is with the Sanhedrin, the howling mob, the soldiers banging in the nails. For Wesley, the death of Christ is demanded by the wrath of men. In so doing he endorses the words of Peter at Pentecost: "Know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the one that God has made Lord and Messiah." In this strand the Father thwarts the wrath of men which caused his Son's death by raising him from death. The dreaded condemnation Wesley refers to in the final stanza reflects the fear of the hearers at Pentecost: "When the people heard this [that they had killed the Messiah} they were deeply troubled, and said to Peter and the apostles "What shall we do, brothers?" Peter said in reply "turn away from your sins and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, and you will receive the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2: 36-37).

Don't restrict the evangelical tradition to the Evangelistic pharisees, and don't claim Charles Wesley for PSA.

"And can it be....." is perhaps helpful to this thread's search for an understanding of the atonement when Wesley comments:

'Tis mystery all! The immortal dies:
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first-tborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more."

************************************************************************
On a different note, there been a lot of reference to 'metaphors' and 'theories' in this discussion. Are metaphors and theories inter-changeable or are they different? To my mind a theory is a logically developed explanation of how something works and to a large extent is different from other explanatory theories of the same phenomenon. Contending theories vie for supremacy leading to some being cast aside or the creation of a new theory which incorporates elements of the old ones in a new and more coherent theory. Metaphors, on the other hand, more poetic in character, presenting various likenesses of a phenomenon but are essentially subjective and do not claim to have a rational explanation for the matter being discussed. In discussing various approaches to the atonement I think we need to make it clear whether we are dealing with theories or metaphors.

"That thou, my God, shouldst de for me."
"No condemnation now I dread."

The bit about "me who him to death pursued" is not so much about joining in with the crowd for his crucifixion, but about my sin that placed him on the cross - died he for me (i.e. for my sin).
I was the one who "caused his pain"
And we can go to Isaiah 53 for that one:

The chastisement of our peace was laid upon him.


As far as the question regarding theories and metaphors goes, when I was studying 5 years ago I came across a number of references that said that what were once called 'theories' of atonement are now called 'metaphors.'

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
What cliffdweller said. There is no obligation to reward sin with punishment. See Jesus,who did not come to punish us but to save.

Indeed, but that's because we are already under condemnation - read John 3 16 - 18
The condemnation is in force, to escape it and not 'perish' we must believe in the only Begotten Son

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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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Enoch
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Might I throw four stones into this bucket and see how the ripples spread - that is if anyone is going to do anything with them.

First, is there any difference between those who say PSA is the only model of the atonement, and those who are determined to reject it totally - largely because they personally don't like it? If someone else finds a model helpful, who are we to deny them that?

Second, I'm quite surprised nobody has quoted Sidney Carter,
quote:
"It’s God they ought to crucify instead of you and me
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree"

Part of the mystery of that refrain is that we know it is saying something very profound, but none of us are quite sure what.

Third, if scripture seems to speak of a lot of different metaphors and understandings, who are we to insist on explaining something on our terms - or for that matter rejecting the bits we don't like - rather than accepting scripture, gratefully and with our palms open, on its own terms?

Finally, if the sacrificial system of the old temple foreshadows the death of Jesus, what do the whole or burnt offering, the shared or peace offering and the mysterious red heifer say to us about the cross? We're used to hearing the sacrificial system interpreted to us in terms of either the sin offering or the Day of Atonement.

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Gamaliel
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There's nothing wrong with theories being metaphors. They can be both ...

[Big Grin]

And at the risk or irritating everyone, it strikes me that one can 'read' both Kwesi's interpretation into that Charles Wesley hymn as well as Mudfrog's. It's capable of being interpreted in both those ways at one and the same time - which is fine, that's how poetry works - and it is poetry - of a high standard.

It is also a hymn, something intended for use as an act of worship. It can function as poetry and as a hymn at one and the same time ...

So the same applies to theories and metaphors.

Just because something is a metaphor doesn't mean it's not true.

On the issue of Chalke and Bell not being as visible these days - I'm not so sure about that - although I think interest in them has peaked and people have moved on - both within evangelicalism itself and within what we might call post-evangelicalism or within those onlookers from within the liberal tradition who were peeking over the fence at the developing spat ...

I'd also, gently, caution Mudfrog about assuming that those who oppose PSA - or are at least wary about it to some extent - are necessarily liberal in their theology.

The Orthodox aren't noted for their liberal theology, although there is a more liberal wing within that Church as there is among all others - only it's expressed in a different terms.

Yet they tend to be wary at best of PSA or out-and-out opposed to it.

The position I now take on the issue is similar to Cliffdweller's. I'd also agree with Kwesi that it wasn't God who crucified Christ - wicked and sinful men did so - yet, as Peter's Pentecost sermon tells us, it was through 'God's set purpose and foreknowledge'.

Acts 2:23 http://biblehub.com/acts/2-23.htm

God allowed it to happen, indeed intended it to happen ... and, gloriously, raised Christ Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Now then - there are some interesting connections here with the Original Sin thread. I find it fascinating, for instance, that some who might baulk at the traditional Western view of Original Sin are more than happy to accept that Wesley or ourselves were somehow 'present' or tacitly involved in some way with the crucifixion of Christ ... an event that took place 1,700 years before Wesley and 1,900 or 2,000 years before our own time.

I don't have a difficulty with that. The Cross of Christ is effective past, present and future. As far as God is concerned - who is above and beyond time as it were - the whole thing is happening 'contemporaneously' as it were. Hence the emphasis in sacramental circles about the events of Christ's Passion being 're-presented' - RE-presented to us in the Eucharist.

There's a rich vein of theology and devotion there and I'm not going to get into the ins and outs and how literally or how Neo-Platonically we take it ...

But you get my drift.

However we understand the atonement, we are all agreed that it has to do with sin and the rectifying and reconstitution of our fallen humanity into a renewed and restored relationship with God - 'ransomed, healed, restored forgiven ...'

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Might I throw four stones into this bucket and see how the ripples spread - that is if anyone is going to do anything with them.

First, is there any difference between those who say PSA is the only model of the atonement, and those who are determined to reject it totally - largely because they personally don't like it? If someone else finds a model helpful, who are we to deny them that?

Second, I'm quite surprised nobody has quoted Sidney Carter,
quote:
"It’s God they ought to crucify instead of you and me
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree"

Part of the mystery of that refrain is that we know it is saying something very profound, but none of us are quite sure what.

Third, if scripture seems to speak of a lot of different metaphors and understandings, who are we to insist on explaining something on our terms - or for that matter rejecting the bits we don't like - rather than accepting scripture, gratefully and with our palms open, on its own terms?

Finally, if the sacrificial system of the old temple foreshadows the death of Jesus, what do the whole or burnt offering, the shared or peace offering and the mysterious red heifer say to us about the cross? We're used to hearing the sacrificial system interpreted to us in terms of either the sin offering or the Day of Atonement.

I'm not fond of the "because you don't like it" bit - like I dislike PSA in the same way that I dislike tuna or rap. It's more that I see that it leads to bad conclusions about God - that his justice is unjust, that he demands punishment for punishment's sake, that his punishments are utterly disproportionate, that he can be satisfied by a horrific execution method devised to maximise human suffering.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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mr cheesy
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For me the issue is that all the theories of the atonement are impositions on the text, and I can see no good reason why PSA should be used. Ever. The texts are not obvious, hence the resorting to hymns in the posts above - as if that's telling us anything about the theory in-and-of-itself. It isn't. Hymns reflect the theology within which they were written.

It is only possible to interpret the biblical texts about sacrifice and atonement with the aid of a metanarrative, and frankly I don't think the one which is proposed by PSA - in fact the package within which PSA is usually offered - is worth believing. If we're going to have a metanarrative, I think we should have one that makes a bit more sense and doesn't turn the deity into an ogre. Probably just me then.

With regard to the sacrifice, I think this is part of the problematic metanarrative so pervasive in Evangelical churches which is essentially residual impacts of Calvinism.

If we go back to first principles; first God doesn't actually need the sacrifice. Evidence: OT characters were accepted by God before they got around to doing any animal sacrifices, Amos etc.

Second, things (humans, animals) die all the time, and if God is beyond time then it is hard to see how an animal dying now is somehow good enough to pay for sin whereas an animal dying some time in the future of old age isn't.

Personally, I don't think sacrifice made any difference to God. I think he could (and did/does) choose to forgive sinners without the animal sacrifice.

So then the question is asking what the animal sacrifice was for if it wasn't to placate the justice/wrath of God and to open that bridge between man and God.

I think the sacrifice was for man not for God. It isn't a perfect analogue, but it runs along the lines of "something for nothing is worth nothing". Telling someone that they're forgiven without any corresponding cost to them is likely to lead to "taking it for granted", therefore something costly (a perfect animal) was required.

Now, we might then question what the atonement was about - why did God need Jesus' sacrifice if he could have just chosen to forgive the pentitent. Again, I think the incarnation and the atonement was for humanity rather than for God.

In this metanarrative formation, God is not an ogre and does not "require" a payment for sin. Forgiveness is freely offered to those with broken hearts and awareness of their unworthy status. BUT the flip side is that this "free" gift costs everything. We need to take up our cross and consider ourselves sacrificed with Christ.

Not because the alternative is an eternity of darkness - but because our calling is to be light in this world, to keep our heads and vision whilst others are losing theirs, to be temples of Christ.

"I'm condemning you because God hates Gays" is not the good news.

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my new book: Biblical But Bollocks. Available in all good bookshops.

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Gamaliel
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The thing is, of course, is that however we interpret the scriptures we are interpreting them according to one or other or several of the available metanarratives.

We all have metanarratives. We can't avoid that.

The issue, of course, is which of the metanarratives most closely accord with the scriptural data and/or - if we are honest with ourselves - tradition - either small t or Big T - plus whatever else we put into the mix according to where we are coming from ... be it Bishop Hooker's 'three-legged stool' of Scripture, Reason and Tradition or the famous Wesleyan Quadrilateral - Scripture, Reason, Tradition and Experience ...

Or whatever other model or framework we are working within.

I would suggest that judged in that way and according to the most elastic metanarratives we can avail ourselves of without bursting the bounds of the Christian tradition entirely - then all of the various atonement theories/metaphors are to be found 'wanting' in some way.

We can only stretch any of them so far.

The Moral Influence model will take us a fair way down some avenues, but not very far along others. The same applies to Christus Victor, or to PSA or to whatever other model we use.

Which is why I'm in broad agreement with Cliffdweller about weaving the various models together. I'd also agree with Mudfrog that groups like the Salvation Army and other evangelical churches do use a range of models ... not just PSA.

Where I might part company with Mudfrog is on the suggestion that we might wish to adapt or apply a selection of models for different circumstances/uses ... using a different one at a communion service, say, than we might in some other context ...

I can see what he's getting at but in the more sacramental traditions - in theory at least - the whole thing is meant to form an holistic corpus ... the thing that strikes me about the 'Higher' or more 'realised' forms of Eucharist is that whilst they are stand-alone to some extent they don't try to cover all the bases, but at the same time the key aspects, if you like, of salvation history or proclaimed and 're-presented' there ...

Sure, we might wish to highlight or focus on this, that or the other aspect in preaching or catechesis, but in terms of an holistic approach to worship then I'd suggest that some kind of liturgical framework, Church Calendar approach does help us to cover the ground.

We ain't ever going to pack everything there is into a single sermon, preaching series or anything else. We're only ever going to scratch the surface at best.

For some reason, any discussion about the atonement here tends to end up as a discussion about PSA. I can understand why that might be and can understand why some people are repulsed by the idea and others find it a source of great comfort.

The issue though, isn't our own subjective responses but whether it 'fits' the biblical narratives and the understanding of Christian people down the ages as they've sought to make sense of these things.

It clearly wasn't seen as a major issue in the early centuries, though, as it doesn't appear to have been discussed at the great Ecumenical Councils. As Mousethief says, whatever the reasons for that it must tell us something.

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

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venbede
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My problem with PSA, why I find it totally unconvincing is not that it makes God an ogre, but it makes him into an accountant.

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Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

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mousethief

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I would never have believed it until I saw it with my own eyes that people would do theology by proof-texting Protestant hymns.

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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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Gamaliel
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[Big Grin]

Or an ogre-accountant? Both/and ...?

Heh. I can see that as an objection too, venbede in the sense that Western theology per se, in its Augustinian sense, is highly juridical.

From what I can gather, Eastern theology is more 'mystical' and indeed relational ... (although I'm not for a moment suggesting that there is nothing of the Incarnational and relational in the Western tradition/s.

Of course, images of profit and loss, debt and payment are there in the scriptures - but there has been a tendency in the West to over-emphasise some of those aspects, I would suggest.

At the extreme it leads to the medieval Indulgence system (and some of the Orthodox toyed with versions of that for a time, I'm reliably informed by some Orthodoxen) or to the various forms of prosperity-gospel teachings found at the outer limits of Protestantism where all sorts of strange transactional models come into play ...

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

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gorpo
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It looks like the criteria for the choice of one´s prefered version of atonement is: what version makes God look better in the eyes of our 21st century progressist culture?

If Jesus´ death wasn´t really sacrificial or vicarious, then it was unnecessary. God could have done something to prevent it. Why he didn´t? God letting his son die an unnecessary death is even more cruel then God requiring his death because it was necessary for our salvation.

Jesus´ death merely as a moral example is ridiculous. Simply because good examples are only effective if we follow them. And since I´m not aware of any of us actually giving our lives in favour of others, that must mean Jesus´ salvation cannot reach anyone except real martyrs. Unless doing some charity and sharing cool social justice memes in facebook is our idea of "giving our lives for others".

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I would never have believed it until I saw it with my own eyes that people would do theology by proof-texting Protestant hymns.

Come on, Mousethief, you ought to know that we quote our own hymnody just as much as the Orthodox do.

Only with us they don't necessarily form part of a Big T Tradition ...

But they are certainly there as part of small t tradition and it wasn't uncommon at one time - less so these days - for preachers to conclude their sermons with some rousing quote or other from the hymnodic canon.

It could form an interesting Ecclesiantics thread to discuss the role of hymnody in shaping and forming various forms of Protestant theology. I suspect we'd find that Charles Wesley in particular has been among the most influential - at least within the English-speaking or English-influenced traditions.

Luther's hymns probably occupy a similar place in the Lutheran canon.

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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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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
It looks like the criteria for the choice of one´s prefered version of atonement is: what version makes God look better in the eyes of our 21st century progressist culture?

If Jesus´ death wasn´t really sacrificial or vicarious, then it was unnecessary. God could have done something to prevent it. Why he didn´t? God letting his son die an unnecessary death is even more cruel then God requiring his death because it was necessary for our salvation.

Jesus´ death merely as a moral example is ridiculous. Simply because good examples are only effective if we follow them. And since I´m not aware of any of us actually giving our lives in favour of others, that must mean Jesus´ salvation cannot reach anyone except real martyrs. Unless doing some charity and sharing cool social justice memes in facebook is our idea of "giving our lives for others".

That would only apply, Gorpo, if those who were wary about aspects of PSA solely came from 'progressivist' or liberal stables.

They don't.

The Orthodox don't hold to PSA and you can't accuse them of trying to appeal to a progressivist 21st century culture, whatever else they might be accused of ...

So no, I don't think that applies at all. There were people in the 18th and 19th centuries who didn't like the idea of PSA, for whatever reason.

C S Lewis was very chary about the whole idea of PSA, to the extent that Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones doubted that Lewis was actually 'saved'.

Whilst Mudfrog is right to remind us that evangelicals do deploy other models, it's certainly the case that many (most?) evangelicals see PSA as a non-negotiable to the extent that they will even doubt the salvation of those who don't hold to it in the same way as they do.

As per my example in the case of Lloyd Jones and Lewis.

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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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Mudfrog
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I think they are all non-negotiable.

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G.K. Chesterton

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
It looks like the criteria for the choice of one´s prefered version of atonement is: what version makes God look better in the eyes of our 21st century progressist culture?

Where some others consider themselves superior to those progressives because they can stomach the idea of God tormenting their nearest and dearest for eternity in the pits of Hell for not signing on the right doctrinal line.

If that's "21st Century Progressist culture" then it sounds damned good to me. Better than the alternative, anyway.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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gorpo
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
It looks like the criteria for the choice of one´s prefered version of atonement is: what version makes God look better in the eyes of our 21st century progressist culture?

If Jesus´ death wasn´t really sacrificial or vicarious, then it was unnecessary. God could have done something to prevent it. Why he didn´t? God letting his son die an unnecessary death is even more cruel then God requiring his death because it was necessary for our salvation.

Jesus´ death merely as a moral example is ridiculous. Simply because good examples are only effective if we follow them. And since I´m not aware of any of us actually giving our lives in favour of others, that must mean Jesus´ salvation cannot reach anyone except real martyrs. Unless doing some charity and sharing cool social justice memes in facebook is our idea of "giving our lives for others".

That would only apply, Gorpo, if those who were wary about aspects of PSA solely came from 'progressivist' or liberal stables.

They don't.

The Orthodox don't hold to PSA and you can't accuse them of trying to appeal to a progressivist 21st century culture, whatever else they might be accused of ...

So no, I don't think that applies at all. There were people in the 18th and 19th centuries who didn't like the idea of PSA, for whatever reason.

C S Lewis was very chary about the whole idea of PSA, to the extent that Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones doubted that Lewis was actually 'saved'.

Whilst Mudfrog is right to remind us that evangelicals do deploy other models, it's certainly the case that many (most?) evangelicals see PSA as a non-negotiable to the extent that they will even doubt the salvation of those who don't hold to it in the same way as they do.

As per my example in the case of Lloyd Jones and Lewis.

I didn´t mention Anselm´s PSA specifically, but any form of belief that Christ´s death was a vicarious and expiatory sacrifice. Of course, that can be explained in many different ways.

I´m not aware that evangelicals reject other metaphors of the atonement. They don´t. But none of these other metaphors exclude the fact it was a expiatory sacrifice.

On the other hand, I can´t remember any big tradition, except liberal protestantism, where Christ´s expiatory sacrifice is controversial. Denying this requires denying biblical authority, and the only tradition that can do it explicitly is liberal protestantism.

I admit I know nothing about orthodox theology, but I´ve found this intersting article: https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxyandheterodoxy/2014/02/24/the-death-of-jesus-as-sacrifice-an-orthodox-reading-of-isaia h-53-and-romans-325/

Just like with every eastern religious tradition, us westerners have to take care to make a difference between the authentic tradition and what western converts make it look like. Many times, a westerner will convert to a eastern tradition as a rejection against something he dislikes in his own family tradition. It´s natural that western evangelical converts to orthodoxy will emphasize the differences of their new faith compared to their old.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
It looks like the criteria for the choice of one´s prefered version of atonement is: what version makes God look better in the eyes of our 21st century progressist culture?

Where some others consider themselves superior to those progressives because they can stomach the idea of God tormenting their nearest and dearest for eternity in the pits of Hell for not signing on the right doctrinal line.

If that's "21st Century Progressist culture" then it sounds damned good to me. Better than the alternative, anyway.

That might be better than 21st Century Progressist(sic?) culture and I would wholeheartedly agree with you!
What your comment actually is, to put it kindly, is an outrageous, prejudicial, provocative and rather ill-informed caricature of what the judgment is, or the consequence of being unredeemed, having no basis in truth, in Scripture, in rational theology or doctrinal study. We do not believe God is like that.

Where do you get such an idea as God tormenting people from?
Where do you get the idea that people have to sign on the right doctrinal line?

Yes, it may well be true that there are certain truths to be received but it is quite a hostile accusation to make against evangelicals, who teach 'you must be born again', and to suggest that all we're interested in is mental assent to a correct set of doctrinal statements.

I think most evangelicals would turn quite swiftly and suggest to you that what you believe in your mind will never save your soul, even if you 'understand all mysteries.'

In fact, out of all along the spectrum of the Church, I think you'll find that it is the evangelicals who are among the many groups who will teach that if your heart is not moved by grace through faith, and if you do not love the Lord your God, etc, etc, no signing along any doctrinal line will ever save you.

Indeed, the demons assent to all those 'evangelical' and other doctrines too; but that won't save them in their trembling.

[ 11. January 2017, 13:51: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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G.K. Chesterton

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
It looks like the criteria for the choice of one´s prefered version of atonement is: what version makes God look better in the eyes of our 21st century progressist culture?

No. It's what version of the atonement is consistent with the character of God as revealed in Scripture, and particularly as evidenced in the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus is the clearest, best picture of God we have. Jesus tells us if you've seen him, you've seen God; if you know him, you know God. PSA presents a false picture of God-- one that is entirely at odds with what we know about God from observing Jesus. It's a picture of an angry God throwing down threats of lightening bolts and blood on a rebellious nation-- as opposed to the picture of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. We need to allow our picture of God to be shaped by Jesus.


quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
If Jesus´ death wasn´t really sacrificial or vicarious, then it was unnecessary. God could have done something to prevent it. Why he didn´t? God letting his son die an unnecessary death is even more cruel then God requiring his death because it was necessary for our salvation.

Jesus´ death merely as a moral example is ridiculous.

I agree that moral influence alone is inadequate to explain Jesus' death-- but then, I don't think anyone here is arguing for moral influence alone in the same way that many/most of my fellow evangelicals will argue for PSA alone.

But, as we've seen, it's not just PSA vs moral influence. There are several other biblical and historic metaphors for understanding the atonement. Jesus' death is just as necessary, just as redemptive, just as efficacious in the two Satan-ward metaphors (ransom and Christus victor) as it is in the two God-ward metaphors of satisfaction & substitution. We cannot save ourselves-- we cannot ransom ourselves, heal ourselves, defeat sin & death on our own. We need Jesus to do that.

But where the two paradigms differ is in the portrayal of God. In fact, I would say the portrayal of the Trinity is radically different. In substitution and satisfaction you have almost a biforcation within the members of the Trinity-- with Jesus the Son having to intervene out of love and grace to appease the Father's wrath/justice. No matter how many times you might call it "two sides of the same coin" the reality is those are two very different dispositions toward humanity which present two very different views of the heart and character of God.

Whereas in ransom and Christus victor you have a more consistent portrayal of God's character. Jesus' compassionate move TO and FOR us is not in opposition (or appeasement) of the Father's move away from us-- rather it is the ultimate expression of the Father's compassionate, heart-broken response to the utter devastation of sin. The Son moves to us to rescue us from sin precisely because he is God-- precisely because that is who God is-- the rescuing, redeeming, gracious, loving One.

Again, I and most other shippies here are are not wanting to throw out substitution (although penal substitution may be fatally flawed), but rather give it it's proper place alongside the other metaphors that balance out its errors. The problem is not substitution per se, which is one of several biblical ways to talk about the atonement. It's really the way PSA has come to be the exclusive way evangelicals talk about the atonement, and the way we tend to talk about it not as metaphor but as a transaction in almost consumerist terms (pay X to get Y) which has really exasperated and magnified the inevitable errors of a metaphor and created a very false picture of God.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Are you telling me you don't believe that non-Christians go to Hell?

Because that's what I was taught as one, and one of the reasons I no longer consider myself one.

No, they didn't say that adherence to a specific doctrinal line was necessary, but they did take the view that if you don't consciously commit yourself to Christ then you're toast, and whilst a proportion of them were annihilationist, a goodly proportion would have no truck with such things and insisted on eternal conscious torment.

But I know far too many people who can't, for various very good reasons, make such a commitment to Christ, but in no way deserve any such fate.

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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Ok, Gorpo, I can see more where you are coming from, now, but I think it is a bit simplistic to see Anselm as holding to PSA in the way contemporary evangelicalism does - although Anselm's views certainly laid much of the foundation for the way ideas about the atonement developed during the mediaeval period and into the Reformation and beyond.

I'll look up your link to the Ancient Faith article when I have more time.

I know a number of evangelical converts to Orthodoxy and yes, it does hold true that they tend to distance themselves to some extent from things they previously held, but I know cradle-Orthodox too who are genuinely puzzled by the way the Western mindset works on these things.

It took me a while to realise that they read Romans in a different way to how we tend to interpret it.

Which may be what your article link is about ...

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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(X-posted with Muddy)

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Oh, and Muddy, don't call me ill-informed. I was an evangelical for years. I do bloody well know what they believe. I just express it differently, but it's what MT alluded to earlier; just because you don't say Y, if X implies Y then saying you believe X doesn't leave you open to reject Y. I'd say my "caricature" is Y to conservative evangelicalism's X.

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Gamaliel
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I get all that, Karl, but I also get what Gorpo is getting at ...

However we cut it, it seems to me that we either have some kind of theology and soteriology that seeks to address the issue of sin or we don't ...

Mudfrog observed upthread that it is a tremendous thing to be able to say to someone, 'Your sins are forgiven ...'

Heck, whether that's done in a sacramental context, through sacramental confession, say, or in the context of a Protestant evangelist declaring that it's possible to 'know' one's sins are forgiven, it can smack of hubris ...

But to all intents and purposes, so much hinges on that. Otherwise we might as well be completely secular and have no concept of sin whatsover in the traditional sense.

Ok, I'm painting things with a very broad brush there, but as a former evangelical you'll see what I'm getting at.

FWIW, my experience of evangelicalism - mixed as it has been - is that other than those at the extremes, very few will declare that they definitely know of a certainty where this, that or the other person has ended up in eternity, as it were.

Sure, you'll get some characters like the bloke my brother knew who was convinced his own daughter wa reprobate and among those eternally predestined to Hell - and who seemed almost pleased about it ...

But by and large, most evangelicals I know don't indulge in speculation as to the eternal fate of everyone they come into contact with.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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No, but it's that MT thing again. If you believe that (a) humanity's default condition is Hellbound, because sin, and (b) the only escape is through faith in Christ, you can't escape the conclusion that people without faith in Christ go to Hell. Even if you can't bring yourself to claim you know about Bob, specifically; he may have had a deathbed conversion or whatever, the logical conclusion of your religious beliefs is that if Bob didn't come to faith, he is burning in Hell.

When it's people you're a bit distant from, you can live with that uncertainty for a bit. But when you're talking about people you know really well, and you know they think the whole idea of God in general and Christianity in particular is that it's a bit silly and not something they can believe in, you cannot escape the conclusions of the above-mentioned Evangelical theology. And you know damned well it's not fair, it's not just, and it's not deserved.

In a way of course, the scope of the Atonement and the manner in which it works are completely orthogonal and a limited scope as against universalism doesn't have to align with PSA as opposed to other models; it's just that in reality they do seem to line up. Perhaps it's because it's easier to believe a God who's well pissed off with humanity and needs his pound of flesh and pint of blood will condemn most of humanity to Hell.

[ 11. January 2017, 15:26: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Oh, and the bloke your brother knew is presumably a sociopath.

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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I suspect he was a sociopath, and there was probably a lot of other things wrong with him besides ...

On the atonement issues again, sure, I'm in the process of trying to sift, sort and assess my own position on these things.

I can certainly see what you are getting at, re evangelicalism but there does seem to be some wriggle-room there ... although I take your point that it's a lot easier to consider people being lost for eternity and so on until it comes to those nearest and dearest to you ...

However, I do think that some evangelicals entertain a more elastic position than hoping for some kind of last minute, death-bed conversion and so on.

My own view tended towards the whole thing being God's business and not mine - and yes, I did tend to interpret Romans 2 in a 'wider hope' kind of way - whilst not being a full-on universalist.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I long since gave up trying to work out whether this, that or the other person 'deserves' anything - be it either punishment or reward.

It strikes me that the rain falls on the just and the unjust ...

It ain't for me to determine what becomes of people after they die - I've got enough sins and shortcomings of my own to contend with.

I still find it hard to square passages like Ephesians 2:23 http://biblehub.com/ephesians/2-3.htm with the idea that our natural state is not a sinful one.

The passage doesn't say that our sins are objects of wrath, but that we ourselves are ...

Ok, that has to be balanced up with everything else we read about God in the scriptures and what we see in the example of Christ.

I no more want to get into proof-texting with that reference as I do hymn-texting (as much as I like the hymns) ... but I'd be interested to hear interpretations of verses like that which differ in some way from the standard evangelical line on these issues.

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Kwesi
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# 10274

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Mudfrog
quote:
As far as the question regarding theories and metaphors goes, when I was studying 5 years ago I came across a number of references that said that what were once called 'theories' of atonement are now called 'metaphors.'
I would suggest they are now called "metaphors" because they can no longer survive as "theories."

Gamaliel
quote:
Just because something is a metaphor doesn't mean it's not true.

But it does mean it's a metaphor and not a theory or model, and as such has weak explanatory power.

Is not the attraction of PSA that it is a theory. It seeks to explain how atonement works in a coherent, logical manner, which metaphors do not?

Gamaliel
quote:
I'm in broad agreement with Cliffdweller about weaving the various models together. I'd also agree with Mudfrog that groups like the Salvation Army and other evangelical churches do use a range of models ... not just PSA.

This looks like theology by negotiation and seems to me intellectually lazy. Models as theories are not "woven together", though several models may be used to construct a better model that supersedes them. I also find the notion of "using a range of models" to explain the atonement or anything as bizarre.

I think in the final analysis that metaphorical language is about as good as it gets as to how the atonement works because it is an unfathomable mystery. No wonder the historic creeds ducked the issue.

Mousethief
quote:
I would never have believed it until I saw it with my own eyes that people would do theology by proof-texting Protestant hymns.
If that is aimed at my remarks re Wesley's "And can it be..." I was not using the hymn as an argument for or against PSA, and would not use hymns in that way. Hymns are not theologically authoritative. I was merely commenting on what I saw as a misinterpretation of Wesley's theological position expressed in the hymn. My comment was a footnote rather than a contribution to the wider discussion.
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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I would never have believed it until I saw it with my own eyes that people would do theology by proof-texting Protestant hymns.

I've been watching this from afar, but your comment has considerably revived and fructified my day. And made me laaf.

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tessaB
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# 8533

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What do people think of the non-violent attonement theory? As I understand it this states that as human beings we are constantly caught up in cycles of violence and retaliation, often with a scapegoating element. Jesus refuses to be complicit in this, even to the point of death, being a scapegoat for the religious authorities. The resurrection is God's way of saying 'whatever you do, even the worst, even to me, is not enough to separate you from my love.' It's a variant of the moral influence theory in that an example of a human being who is able to absent themself from the cycle of violence gives us hope that we can do it as well, but I think that the main point is the supremacy of God's love over anything.

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Mudfrog
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# 8116

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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
PSA presents a false picture of God-- one that is entirely at odds with what we know about God from observing Jesus. It's a picture of an angry God throwing down threats of lightening bolts and blood on a rebellious nation

No it bloody well is not!

Before you offer up such a clichéd and predictable and highly inaccurate and offensive parody of an idea, why don't you first do your homework and read what the theologians actually say about it.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
]No it bloody well is not!

Before you offer up such a clichéd and predictable and highly inaccurate and offensive parody of an idea, why don't you first do your homework and read what the theologians actually say about it.

It fits what I've experienced. YMMV.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by tessaB:
What do people think of the non-violent attonement theory? As I understand it this states that as human beings we are constantly caught up in cycles of violence and retaliation, often with a scapegoating element. Jesus refuses to be complicit in this, even to the point of death, being a scapegoat for the religious authorities. The resurrection is God's way of saying 'whatever you do, even the worst, even to me, is not enough to separate you from my love.' It's a variant of the moral influence theory in that an example of a human being who is able to absent themself from the cycle of violence gives us hope that we can do it as well, but I think that the main point is the supremacy of God's love over anything.

So in what sense is that a "saving" atonement?

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Jay-Emm
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# 11411

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quote:
Originally posted by tessaB:
What do people think of the non-violent attonement theory? As I understand it this states that as human beings we are constantly caught up in cycles of violence and retaliation, often with a scapegoating element. Jesus refuses to be complicit in this, even to the point of death, being a scapegoat for the religious authorities. The resurrection is God's way of saying 'whatever you do, even the worst, even to me, is not enough to separate you from my love.' It's a variant of the moral influence theory in that an example of a human being who is able to absent themself from the cycle of violence gives us hope that we can do it as well, but I think that the main point is the supremacy of God's love over anything.

It has echoes. You have the parable with the vinyard (except for the ending! I guess you could have a variant where it's the last chance but it wouldn't be a great gospel). "God showed his love in this, while we were still sinners ...", "that to lay down his life for his friends".

As a complete metaphor it skirts along the same so called 'cosmic child/self abuse' problems as sola PSA risks*. For vaguely similar reasons, It's God impressing God, with a (in the metaphor**) pointless (self) sacrifice.

*where you can't say enough with the metaphor.
**PSA can kind of get away with it, but only if you put God under a higher authority (which isn't a great alternative).

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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Thing is, Kwesi, I've seen the Orthodox wield hymnody as authoritative, as it forms part of Holy Tradition alongside scripture, iconography and so on ...

I think MT was simply amused that some of us - and you weren't the only one -using hymnody to bolster our arguments.

On the systematic thing and intellectual laziness - well thanks ...

I agree that PSA as it is often applied does seek to provide a coherent and systematic theory, but I do feel sorry for some of the evangelicals here who maintain that they use it alongside other models only to be told by non-evangelicsls or former evangelicals that they darn well don't ...

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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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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I do feel sorry for some of the evangelicals here who maintain that they use it alongside other models only to be told by non-evangelicsls or former evangelicals that they darn well don't ...

I'm not exactly sure who you are talking about, but I'm damn sure that I've never said anything of the kind about people here. I fully respect that some say they use other models.

My point in many years of interactions with Evangelicals is that PSA is heavily pushed as being the only way to understand the atonement and I have a book on the shelf - from one conservative evangelical publisher - which boldly states this. It goes through all the other theories, says they're crap and that PSA is the only orthodox explanation.

I'm in no sense doubting Mudfrog - or others - when they say that they have a mix of understandings of the atonement, bully for him. I am saying that that is unusual and that the explanation I've given is by far the most common I've encountered around evangelicals.

As I said above, YMMV. There is no contradiction in saying that other evangelicals exist whilst at the same time saying that I've personally not encountered them.

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my new book: Biblical But Bollocks. Available in all good bookshops.

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