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Source: (consider it) Thread: One Atonement
fletcher christian

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Posted by Lep:
quote:

Well, that PSA is true and the central, not only, way of understanding the atonement.

This is what I hear from quite a number of sources but I'm not sure I can follow the reasoning. If, for instance, someone chose not to see PSA as central then would they be considered 'true' in the sense of belonging, or would their belief be considered 'true'? If not, then surely saying PSA is 'true' and 'central' is really just code for 'the only acceptable and true theory of atonement'. To hold PSA as central and true would also mean firmly shutting the door to most other understandings of atonement.

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mr cheesy
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Personally, I think this is part of the problem: everyone (almost everyone!) is talking in coded language.

I wonder how many Evangelicals would accept someone that said PSA wasn't true and wasn't a central way to understand the atonement.

And how that compares to what would happen if someone was to deny one of the other theories.

ISTM that the first would cause problems and the second wouldn't.

[ 24. April 2017, 09:10: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Robert Armin

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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:


For example several decades ago UCCF, the British University umbrella group for evangelicals, had a policy of refusing to allow presidents who were female and IIRC having some policy about women speakers.

You do not RC. No such policy on either female presidents or speakers ever existed. This is simply utter rubbish.
Are you sure about this? Back in the late 70s, when I was part of a CU, it was taken for granted that the President would be male and the VP female. Maybe it wasn't written down anywhere, but it was the pattern I saw everywhere, including when we went on training events with other CUs. I'd be interested to know when and where the first female President of a CU was appointed.

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Jolly Jape
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Personally, I think this is part of the problem: everyone (almost everyone!) is talking in coded language.

I wonder how many Evangelicals would accept someone that said PSA wasn't true and wasn't a central way to understand the atonement.

And how that compares to what would happen if someone was to deny one of the other theories.

ISTM that the first would cause problems and the second wouldn't.

No need to wonder. Just Google Steve Chalke.

[ 24. April 2017, 10:52: Message edited by: Jolly Jape ]

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

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
It's not a litmus test per se, but an evangelical would ask, how can Jesus take my sins away if they are not transferred to him? How can he take my guilt away if he doesn't take it on himself?

By forgiving it, perhaps?

Of course, I'm from the school of thought that says the Resurrection is the important part of Easter, not the Cross.

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Jolly Jape
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Thanks, MtM, it's not often I say this, but I wholeheartedly agree with you.

Going back to the OP, I think the key to understanding all this is to define the nature of the problem which the atonement is meant to solve. If you think humanity's greatest problem is moral or juridical guilt before a holy God, then you will look for a juridical solution, such as PSA. Not surprisingly, those who hold to the teaching of the lawyer John Calvin tend, overall, to espouse this. If, on the other hand, you regard the problem as ontologically, that is, if, as per Marvin, you believe God can forgive the sins of whosoever he chooses, but that the atonement, including the resurrection, is necessary to destroy the ontology of sin and death, and to enable the already forgiven human to share the risen life of Christ, it is highly likely that you would see PSA as, at best, irrelevant, and possibly objectively mistaken, and give the greatest weight to Christus Victor, or even Ransom theory.

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

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Gamaliel
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Irritatingly, perhaps, I'm from the both/and not either or school.

No Cross no Resurrection.

You can't have one without the other. It is a nonsense to separate the two. They are both equally part of God's salvific action in Christ - along with the Incarnation, Christ's moral teachings and example and much else besides.

We shouldn't fillet this stuff up but treat it as a seamless whole.

Yes, these days I do incline more towards a less juridical approach, but I can understand and sympathise with those who emphasise that - but it depends to what extent.

Listening to some Reformed Evangelicals one could get the impression that Christ should have been crucified the moment he emerged from his mother's womb.

It's all a question of emphasis.

I can understand the reluctance of so many evangelicals to abandon or modify PSA - because they find it hard to conceive of any Gospel without it.

The reasoning runs as Mudfrog outlines. If Christ has not borne our guilt then somehow that guilt remains. It's the propitiation rather than expiation thing.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, simply noting, in response to the OP, why PSA is seen as so central to the evangelical soteriological schema.

PSA is the Gospel as far as many evangelicals are concerned.

Hence, for Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones, C S Lewis's squeamishness about PSA probably meant that Lewis wasn't really 'saved'.

There is a kind of inexorable logic about it. 'That guy doesn't accept PSA therefore he must be trusting in his own righteousness and good works ... He can't possibly be saved ...'

It is a very reductionist view of the world. It's by no means the only one. But it boils down to a very black-and-white set of propositions based on its own internal logic.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
No Cross no Resurrection.

No death no resurrection I'll grant you - after all, Christ could hardly be resurrected from the dead without being dead first!

But the way I see it, death is death - and it could have been defeated just as well had Christ died of old age after a long and productive life. The specific means of death wasn't necessary, and was down to a bunch of stupid humans acting out of good old-fashioned fear and self-interest. Humanity fucking sucks, to the extent that when God Himself came to earth to show us how to live our lives and defeat the power of death we freaked out and fucking murdered Him. And yet, even as we were murdering Him in one of the most painful ways imaginable, He still forgave us. And He still defeated death by rising again, thus opening the way for all of us to do the same through Him.

I find that far more inspiring and worthy of praise than a theory of the atonement that makes God Himself no more than a scapegoat onto whom we pin our sin so that we can be made clean.

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Gamaliel
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In fairness, there is more to PSA than that, although I'd accept that it sometimes sounds that way when exposited or explained by some of its less eloquent proponents.

I hasten to add that I don't include any Shippies in that category.

Would the Incarnation / Atonement have 'worked' had Christ simply died of old age or natural causes?

That has to lie purely in the realms of speculation.

The fact is, Christ did suffer and die on the cross. In some mysterious way, we are told in Peter's Pentecost sermon that this was by, 'God's set purpose and foreknowledge ...'

There was an intentionality about it, if you like.

It was 'by the hands of wicked men' but also by God's 'set purpose and foreknowledge.'

However we cut it, we aren't allowed the option of a Jesus who died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 93 ...

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
No Cross no Resurrection.

No death no resurrection I'll grant you - after all, Christ could hardly be resurrected from the dead without being dead first!

But the way I see it, death is death - and it could have been defeated just as well had Christ died of old age after a long and productive life. The specific means of death wasn't necessary, and was down to a bunch of stupid humans acting out of good old-fashioned fear and self-interest.

I can see that to a point. But I don't think death from old age works. I think it's vitally important that the death was, in some sense, sacrificial, that Jesus voluntarily accepted his death for a bigger purpose. I think Jesus clearly alludes to that at various times—"Greater love has no one," etc.

To me, it's not really "no cross, no resurrection," as though the cross was a necessary predicate to the resurrection. It's more that the cross and the resurrection are parts of one salvific event.
quote:
And yet, even as we were murdering Him in one of the most painful ways imaginable, He still forgave us.
Agreed on the power of that.

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Gamaliel
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Well yes, of course the Cross and Resurrection were part of a single salvific event - I thought I'd made that clear.

I also included the Incarnation itself as well as Christ's moral teachings and sinless life (if I didn't mention it then, I will now) and lots of other things besides.

We are saved by Christ. We are saved by the entire 'Christ event'.

It doesn't do to chop it all up into bite-size chunks.

That's why St Patrick's Breastplate and some of the older prayers and liturgical material work so well, I think - because they cover the whole ground ... they don't just focus on this that or the other aspect.

I'd certainly accept Mudfrog's point that evangelical hymnody and preaching/teaching is a lot broader in scope than its critics tend to make out.

But that's not the issue here. The issue is why certain types of evangelical appear to focus on PSA to the virtual exclusion of everything else.

I attended a Baptist Christmas service once where the minister said, 'Enough of cribs and the stable at Bethlehem ... let me take you 33 years later to a hill outside Jerusalem ...'

Well, yes, eventually ... but to do so you don't half have to skip over a whole load of other important stuff. The Beatitudes any one? The Parables? The Presentation in the Temple? The Temptation in the Wilderness? The Miracles?

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
I can see that to a point. But I don't think death from old age works. I think it's vitally important that the death was, in some sense, sacrificial, that Jesus voluntarily accepted his death for a bigger purpose. I think Jesus clearly alludes to that at various times—"Greater love has no one," etc.

The entire incarnation was sacrificial. God the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, became a human being. That's big. That's sacrificial. And of course, by becoming human He also accepted the inevitability of His own death - an experience that, being God, He would not otherwise have had to know.

The wages of sin is death, and we all receive those wages sooner or later. And death is the one place God couldn't go, because God cannot die. In order to lead us out from death God had to die, and in order to die He had to debase Himself and become as we are. If you don't think that's sacrificial then I'm not sure you've really thought about it!

I think the whole point was that only by joining us in death could He save us therefrom, but I still maintain that the means of death could have been anything else and it would still have "worked". I will, however, freely accept that suffering a very public death meant people were less likely to argue that He'd never actually died in the first place. But that's important for evangelism and preaching, not for Salvation itself.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Posted by Lep:
quote:

Well, that PSA is true and the central, not only, way of understanding the atonement.

This is what I hear from quite a number of sources but I'm not sure I can follow the reasoning. If, for instance, someone chose not to see PSA as central then would they be considered 'true' in the sense of belonging, or would their belief be considered 'true'? If not, then surely saying PSA is 'true' and 'central' is really just code for 'the only acceptable and true theory of atonement'. To hold PSA as central and true would also mean firmly shutting the door to most other understandings of atonement.
This is precisely where I don't agree. I'm not sure whose job it is to decide "belonging" (and there seems to be a context here you're in that I'm not fully aware of.) But the classic evangelical view, as I understand it, in its modern form put forward by John Stott in the Cross of Christ is that Jesus' death does pay the price for sin, defeat sin death and the devil, and move us to repentance. But it can only do this because PSA has happened. You may not agree with this, but it's not the same as saying PSA is the only possible way to explain the cross, just that it lies beneath the other achievements of the cross.

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

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Armin:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:


For example several decades ago UCCF, the British University umbrella group for evangelicals, had a policy of refusing to allow presidents who were female and IIRC having some policy about women speakers.

You do not RC. No such policy on either female presidents or speakers ever existed. This is simply utter rubbish.
Are you sure about this?
Yes.

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

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
If you don't think that's sacrificial then I'm not sure you've really thought about it!

I do think the Incarnation was sacrificial. Never said otherwise.

I also thank it matters that Jesus's death was, in and of itself, sacrificial, though—not just that Jesus died, but that he voluntarily gave up his life. I think there's just too much in Scripture that points to that for me, at least, not to see it that way.

You see it differently, however. That's fine.

[ 24. April 2017, 16:11: Message edited by: Nick Tamen ]

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
But the classic evangelical view, as I understand it, in its modern form put forward by John Stott in the Cross of Christ is that Jesus' death does pay the price for sin, defeat sin death and the devil, and move us to repentance. But it can only do this because PSA has happened. You may not agree with this, but it's not the same as saying PSA is the only possible way to explain the cross, just that it lies beneath the other achievements of the cross.

I'm sorry I don't understand the distinction you are making here. If you are saying that PSA is essential - because it lies beneath the other accomplishments of the cross - how exactly are you saying it isn't the only possible way to explain the cross?

It seems to me you're saying that you can have other explanations as long as PSA is there underlying them. Which seems another way to say that (a) it is essential and (b) it is more important, more complete than any of the other explanations.

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Gamaliel
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I like John Stott's book, 'The Cross of Christ' and to my mind it goes some considerable way towards lifting PSA out of the caricatures and grotesqueries that can so easily dog it ... both from its proponents and its opponents.

But yes, when all is said and done, it would seem that rather than being one of several complementary and interlocking theories, PSA is seen as the main, under-pinning one.

Whether that is good, bad or indifferent does rather depend on what our views of PSA are in the first place.

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Jamat
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quote:
Kaplan Corday: The really interesting thing about PSA, at least as far as the Ship is concerned, is why its opponents are so obsessed with it.
Indeed.. my thought is that it concerns definitions. The defining quality of the Christian faith is concerned with the nature of the action of the saviour on the cross. What he achieved is essentially determined by who he was. If you reject either, then you reject both. What you define as his identity and his action defines your own position. If you are honest, that places you within or outside the definition of true believer. The reaction is caused by the desperation to be within. But being within is dependant upon precisely what one's faith is in. If my faith is in a Christ who is not God, I am not saved. If my faith is in a God who became my sin and died for me, I am. (1 Cor 15:3,4. 1 Pet 3:18.) If I define what Christ achieved on the cross to be short of a full substitution for my sin, I cannot avoid responsibility for that sin. Consequently, If I baulk at either his person or his action and redefine either to suit my proclivities and politics, but still call myself a Christian, I have dissonance. It is then I need to find like minded people with whom I can begin huddling together for warmth in a snowstorm.

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with Earth and ocean meets, the setting sun slowly descended, and with right aspect
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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
But the classic evangelical view, as I understand it, in its modern form put forward by John Stott in the Cross of Christ is that Jesus' death does pay the price for sin, defeat sin death and the devil, and move us to repentance. But it can only do this because PSA has happened. You may not agree with this, but it's not the same as saying PSA is the only possible way to explain the cross, just that it lies beneath the other achievements of the cross.

It seems to me you're saying that you can have other explanations as long as PSA is there underlying them. Which seems another way to say that (a) it is essential and (b) it is more important, more complete than any of the other explanations.
Yes. But that doesn't mean only PSA is true, which seems to be the view that fletcher christian is coming across.

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mr cheesy
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I suggest that the explanations given above by Lep and Jamat together answer the question asked in the OP. Whilst Evangelicals might be prepared to go as far as to say that Other Atonement Theories Are Available, they often qualify that by saying that actually PSA is the only important one - and if you don't believe it then you're not a real Christian.

There's not really a very subtle difference between PSA-only and "yeah, ok, other theories exist but only PSA is absolutely necessary".

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Lep:
quote:

Yes. But that doesn't mean only PSA is true, which seems to be the view that fletcher christian is coming across.

If I'm reading and understanding what you are saying then I'm still running up against the same issue; namely that PSA is indispensable for some Christians (I've come across it in lots of traditions not just 'evangelical'). Being the only way to explain the cross surely means that there is an overall impetus to solidifying the doctrine of the atonement on one particular mode of understanding (namely PSA) and my question concerned why that would be.

So far I think it's probably safe to say that - for 'evangelicals' at least (I'm putting that in quotes because I know so many evangelicals who do not hold to this theory in any shape or form, so the classification doesn't hold true for me or for them presumably) hymnology has had a large part to play, most definedly from the period of the great Victorian missions and their sects, and the theology of John Stott (or is it Scott?). I kind of understand this, yet it seems quite a narrow realm of influence for what seems to be a broadly held concept among some, but I guess the hymnology aspect could be fairly influential.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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Gamaliel
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Thing is, Jamat, your argument falls down at several points, most notably that there are plenty of Christian traditions that hold to the Divinity of Christ but who don't necessarily espouse PSA.

But then, you seem to prefer your theology as reductionist as possible.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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How many times have you told half the Ship that they (not to mention most of the world's Christians) are going to go to Hell now, Jamat?

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
How many times have you told half the Ship that they (not to mention most of the world's Christians) are going to go to Hell now, Jamat?

I think this may indeed be a big part of the attraction of PSA - it's simple shorthand to use to assess the soundness of others. To sort the sheep from the goats, as it were.

Theological pun intended.

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Kwesi
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The question I ask myself is why supporters of PSA cling to it so insistently. I think it’s something to do with the psychology or temperament of its adherents: the generally conservative mind-set of its supporters, which likes to have matters wrapped up rather than left unresolved. PSA offers a coherent and easily understood model of how salvation works, which other approaches do not.

Additionally, Conservative Evangelicals tend to place emphasis on faith as belief rather than trust, so that salvation by faith is closely equated with the need to believe the right thing. Consequently, belief in PSA becomes essential to the attainment of personal salvation. Other soteriological approaches are not simply alternative approaches to be considered but heretical threats to one’s eternal soul, and former supporters like Steve Chalke are regarded as apostates who have rejected the light.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
If my faith is in a Christ who is not God, I am not saved. If my faith is in a God who became my sin and died for me, I am.

Those are not the only options.

quote:
If I define what Christ achieved on the cross
...then you don't really need the resurrection at all. It's all about Christ dying as a sacrifice - as a scapegoat, like I said before.

quote:
to be short of a full substitution for my sin, I cannot avoid responsibility for that sin.
Why would you want to? I don't know how you can even be truly repentant without accepting such responsibility, and repentance is what leads to forgiveness.

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Gamaliel
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Was it Iranaeus who wrote, 'That which cannot be assumed, cannot be healed'?

Something like that ...

The idea being that Christ took our humanity and shared our death ...

He 'assumed' it into himself.

So, if Christ 'became sin for us' then he will have 'assumed' that too in some mysterious way ... and there are various possible ways of interpreting that - of which PSA is one.

There are others.

I have some sympathy with the view that some Shippies seem obsessed with PSA and want to debunk it ... But I put that down to a variety of reasons ... they find it repugnant, they aren't convinced that scripture teaches it ...It's not an emphasis found in their particular tradition - and a whole host of other reasons.

But no, that's not good enough for Jamat. It must be because they are not true Christians like he is.

Yeah, right. Blessed be Jamat. Blessed be his holy name. Verily he hath the keys to the Kingdom ...

Meanwhile​, I was intrigued by Fletcher Christian's comment that he comes across PSA in circles other than evangelical ones.

Which circles are those, Fletcher?

Surely not the RCs?

Darhn ... Darhn ...Dunnnn!!

What's Rome's view on this one? I have an idea they see the atonement in juridical and propitiatory terms ...

And what was Calvin's view? Nick Tamen has suggested it wasn't PSA.

I'm intrigued by that too.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
And what was Calvin's view? Nick Tamen has suggested it wasn't PSA.

Not quite. It was Enoch who said that if sola-PSA is a mark of a true Calvinist, then Calvin was no true Calvinist. I agreed. The key word is sola.

There's no question that Calvin, building on Anselm's satisfaction model, articulated what would become known as PSA. It was the model that made most sense to him. As happened with a number of Calvin's writings, others after him would both refine/elaborate on Calvin and attach a centrality to PSA that Calvin himself didn't necessarily attach. It was but part of a bigger picture for him and has to be understood in a broader context.

That was my point—as I understand it, while Calvin articulated the PSA model, it wasn't so central to him that he considered anyone who differed from him on that point not to be a "true" anything.

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Jamat
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quote:
Mr Cheesy: Whilst Evangelicals might be prepared to go as far as to say that Other Atonement Theories Are Available, they often qualify that by saying that actually PSA is the only important one - and if you don't believe it then you're not a real Christian
In terms of theological analysis, it is only exegesis versus eisigesis. However, Christ is accessible to the simplest person who is incapable of formulating atonement theories if they can say "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief," which in the end, I think, is all anyone does.
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
quote:
Mr Cheesy: Whilst Evangelicals might be prepared to go as far as to say that Other Atonement Theories Are Available, they often qualify that by saying that actually PSA is the only important one - and if you don't believe it then you're not a real Christian
In terms of theological analysis, it is only exegesis versus eisigesis. However, Christ is accessible to the simplest person who is incapable of formulating atonement theories if they can say "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief," which in the end, I think, is all anyone does.
No, no, this won't do. You were insisting on theological correctness in your previous post. We don't have proverbial goldfish memories.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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I thought PSA was a legalistic model, beloved of those who see individual as the focus with community as a distant second, and only insofar as it is a collection of individuals who have gotten their salvation all by their selves via personal drama of conversion. The passion of Christ re-enacted via the personal passion of the individual in the crisis of being saved.

Best response to the question "are you a Christian?" may be "it is unlikely that I believe like you", because it is mainly a particular group who'd ask such a thing. Though I'd like to respond "everyone is" to such a meaningless/meaningful question.

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Gamaliel
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Of course we all ultimately say, 'Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief,' Jamat.

Which makes a nonsense of your apparent claim that if people don't share your particular view of the atonement then they aren't saved.

Whichever particular atonement models we use or mix and match it is apparent to all of us that 'Christ died for our sons according to the scriptures' and that yes, he was raised to life too, 'according to the scriptures.'

That's the base level.

Trying to work out the 'mechanics' of that is the business of the theologian. Working out the implications in our daily lives the business of the saint.

I don't understand how the internal combustion engine works, but I can drive a car.

Meanwhile, thanks for the heads-up on the Calvin thing, Nick Tamen. I'm still slowly working my way through the Institutes. A cure for insomnia. I've not come across much on the atonement yet, but I'll look out for it.

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Gamaliel
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On No Prophet's point about an individualistic understanding of salvation and Jamat's jibe about pseudo-Christians here (ie.those who understand things differently to him) wanting to club together and 'belong' ...

My experience has been that some of those with a highly individualised take on these things and a very 'low' ecclesiology tend to be the ones who huddle together in very close-knit and sometimes very claustrophobic communities.

Their individualism doesn't drive them into the desert, as it were, rather, it ties them into a very narrow bubble or echo-chamber of the like-minded.

This isn't purely a 'faith' phenomenon. I spoke to a woman yesterday who told me how she'd spent a decade of her life immersed in hard-left politics, agitating on every conceivable left-wing issue.

She's still a lefty but regrets that period as she feels it cut her off from broader issues and from exploring the less intense arty and community-focused things she's engaged with now.

Equally, her husband, less lefty and a Lib Dem spent 10 years of his life campaigning every non-working hour for that particular party. He has now returned to the party after resigning during the Coalition. He wants to deliver leaflets but no more.

Ok, I know those are issues of levels of engagement rather than belief but intense levels of belief do tend to lead to intense levels of fellowship and community - which is fair enough but may not suit everyone and certainly not at particular times of life.

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mr cheesy
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I think this point about individualism as expressed in Evangelicalism is a good one. PSA is about Jesus' atonement paying the price for your (singular) sin. It seems to me that most of the other theories are expressed in a form which isn't necessarily about "me" singular; and so an attack on PSA is an attack on the idea that the whole point of Christianity is the fabled "relationship with Jesus", which is an attack on the idea that there is a single moment of conversion.

And maybe that's another reason why PSA has become so widespread as the only - or at least the main - way to understand the atonement. It speaks into the increasingly polarised individualistic western culture and says that you have a basic choice to either accept or reject this message and gift in this moment.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Gamaliel
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Sure - although in the interests of balance, I'd also point out that plenty of people with a 'high' ecclesiology are also highly individualistic ...

There are counter-currents in both directions.

But yes, if you were to trace a 'history' of evangelical conversion then you'd pretty much date it to around the late 1500s/early 1600s in the first instance - as the second and third generations of post-Reformation Christians were born ...

That triggered a desire to pin-point moments of conversion as a way of identifying/reassuring oneself that one's offspring were among the Elect.

This tendency was first discernible in Scotland and New England according to some historians ...

NB I'm not saying that people didn't undergo conversions prior to that - simply that it wouldn't have been framed/understood in terms that would evolve into later evangelical understandings of how these things work.

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Gamaliel
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And before anyone starts, no, I don't believe that God has 'grandchildren' so I'm not denying 'the new birth' or regeneration or anything of that kind.

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Jamat
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quote:
Gamaliel: Of course we all ultimately say, 'Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief,' Jamat.

Which makes a nonsense of your apparent claim that if people don't share your particular view of the atonement then they aren't saved.

My distinction was between the experience and the intellectualisation or exegetical explanation. Lots of us can know we are saved but few can tease out the theology. My beef, if I have one, is with the clever ones, say Chalke and co, who deliberately contradict what the scriptures teach because they find it unacceptable politically. Or alternatively, they are false teachers who are sent by Satan to cause Christians to stumble..the ones Paul warns Timothy about.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
My distinction was between the experience and the intellectualisation or exegetical explanation. Lots of us can know we are saved but few can tease out the theology. My beef, if I have one, is with the clever ones, say Chalke and co, who deliberately contradict what the scriptures teach because they find it unacceptable politically. Or alternatively, they are false teachers who are sent by Satan to cause Christians to stumble..the ones Paul warns Timothy about.

[Roll Eyes]

Yeah, or maybe it could be that your understanding of the bible is complete bollocks and Chalke has more Christian maturity than you'll ever aspire to.

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Martin60
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For Jamat and most people, a metaphor in the flesh, theatre, especially a life and death one, is ontological, is legalistic, is the Law from the Court of Heaven on down.

And therefore misses the point, the pivot, the example of incarnationality in the greatest story ever told, ever lived.

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Love wins

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Jolly Jape
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Jamat, I like you. I found you personally gracious in our marathon exchanges on the infamous CV thread of blessed memory. But really, you should know by now that those who don't share your views here have come to that position because they think you are wrong about what the Bible says, and that, conversely, they are convinced that their own views are more in alignment with what the scriptures actually say. To accuse people such as Chalkie in these terms:

quote:
deliberately contradict what the scriptures teach because they find it unacceptable politically. Or alternatively, they are false teachers who are sent by Satan to cause Christians to stumble..the ones Paul warns Timothy about.
is to break the ninth commandment, that is, to bear false witness. I respectfully suggest that this brings no honour to your cause, and, furthermore, that pretending an opponent holds views or motivations that they do not is disrespectful of them, and likely to get you branded as a loony.

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

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Gamaliel
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There's also a vein of anti-intellectualism going on there too ...

Steve Chalke isn't particularly 'intellectual'. He's a good communicator and good at what he does with the Oasis Trust, but he's certainly not a heavy-weight theologian, academic or intellectual.

Neither would he claim to be.

Besides, if scripture was so 'plain' on the issue, how come vast swathes of Christendom didn't come up with an evangelical understanding of PSA from the outset?

The fact is that PSA is an interpretation/attempt to understand the atonement just like all the other models are.

It was given particularly piquancy in a subset of Western Christianity as part of an evolutionary process that stretches from Augustine to Anselm to Aquinas to Calvin to Dort and to the 18th and 19th century evangelicals ... ultimately being enshrined by some/most evangelicals as THE definitive way of understanding the atonement during the 20th century ...

That isn't to say it's right, wrong, good bad or indifferent. But it is to acknowledge that there is a tradition at work here and that it doesn't simply tumble out of the pages of the NT ready-baked.

But Jamat - likeable and gracious as he undoubtedly is and can be - appears to favour a highly reductionist approach to these matters.

Steve Chalke disagrees with the 'plain meaning of scripture' - therefore Steve Chalke is a servant of Satan ...

Sure, it's possible to find RC and Orthodox people using similar rhetoric in relation to their particular emphases.

I seem to recall that an organisation called ISIS is currently going around causing mayhem by applying a similar logic to their own 'plain meaning' or their own particular scriptures ...

[Help]

Of course, Jamat isn't going to go around beheading any body or hunting Steve Chalke down ...

But the fundamentalist impulse is similar - even if it doesn't lead to such nefarious results.

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Enoch
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I haven't been contributing much to this thread, because Gamaliel, as he so often does, is putting all much better than I could. But two comments of my own.

First, the atonement is independent of us. We are saved because of what Jesus has done, not because we have the right belief about what he has done. That turns faith into a work.

What we are asked to do is to say, 'thank you'.

Second, I can see what you dislike, Mr Cheesy, about over personalising the message.
quote:
Jesus' atonement paying the price for your (singular) sin. It seems to me that most of the other theories are expressed in a form which isn't necessarily about "me" singular;
Even if there are things here you may be right to dislike, there is something else we must all accept - even if it we find it threatening or uncomfortable.

It is a fundamental glory of the Christian message that even though there are millions of us, Jesus does indeed call each of us by name. The gospel is not addressed to the important people, Pope Francis, bishops, rulers, leaders of megachurches etc. Nor is it addressed to society, societies or nations. It is addressed to each one of us, where we are now, individually and personally. This matters. It must not be sneered at.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:

It is a fundamental glory of the Christian message that even though there are millions of us, Jesus does indeed call each of us by name. The gospel is not addressed to the important people, Pope Francis, bishops, rulers, leaders of megachurches etc. Nor is it addressed to society, societies or nations. It is addressed to each one of us, where we are now, individually and personally. This matters. It must not be sneered at.

It is hard to respond when you've written something which appears to ascribe to me things I don't believe.

The best I can do is to sum it up like this:

Christus Victor says that the atonement has defeated the powers of darkness and that you can be a part of this ongoing victory over evil.

PSA says that Christ hung on the cross because he was paying the price for you, singular.

I'm not mocking or sneering at anything when I'm simply saying that this is a difference in emphasis.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

I'd certainly accept Mudfrog's point that evangelical hymnody and preaching/teaching is a lot broader in scope than its critics tend to make out.

But that's not the issue here.

This.

And Gamaliel, it really is the point here.
The OP is asking why do evangelicals like PSA so much and my response would be 'because we're evangelicals' - we're conversionists - we want individual people to accept Jesus is their Saviour and repent, believe and be born again.
Substitutionary atonement is part of the message.

As well as that we are usually conservative; if the Bible talks about our sins laid on him and the chastisement that brought us peace was laid on him, well that's what we believe.

To deny PSA, in the eyes of an evangelical, is to deny the interpretation of the Scriptures that we hold. You might have a different interpretation and that's fine; but you cannot tell a conservative that your interpretation is right and his is wrong. That's the basic position

But all that aside, this is the frustrating thing here:
As Gamaliel has pointed out, the critics do not allow for evangelicals to have a broader outlook on the atonement. They (the critics) have decided that they don't like PSA - for whatever reason, and some are honourable hermeneutic reasons, I grant) - and therefore evangelicals are also 'wrong'. And so intent on proving that evangelicals are wrong, they cannot allow any evangelical to have a 'correct' view on the atonement.

So much so, that when an evangelical comes online and says, 'but I believe in other theories as well as PSA' the retort is 'Ah, but you might describe yourself as 'evangelical' but you evidently can't be an Evangelical because by definition (in your eyes) a true Evangelical ONLY believes in PSA.'

And then, when I use a hymn like When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, the response is 'Oh but Isaac Watts wasn't Evangelical either, and in any case, when a true PSA-believing sings 'See from his head...' and 'love so amazing...demands my soul...' he's actually secretly crossing his fingers and shoehorning PSA into those words even though they have nothing to do with PSA!'

And then, to add insult to injury, the final salvo is 'yes, you might call yourself an evangelical, but a true PSA-placard-waving Evangelical would never recognise you as one, and some might say you're not even saved.'

All speaks of desperation to me.
You don't like PSA.
You don't like Evangelicals.
You can't separate the two things and therefore anyone who doesn't think like your stereotype of an Evangelical (or an evangelical) evidently can't be an evangelical.

[ 25. April 2017, 11:02: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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Martin60
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Oh, and is The One Atonement for the myriad civilizations in this galaxy alone too? Let alone the practically infinite ones in this one universe in the middle of infinity halfway between the eternities?

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Love wins

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Oh, and is The One Atonement for the myriad civilizations in this galaxy alone too? Let alone the practically infinite ones in this one universe in the middle of infinity halfway between the eternities?

Surely that depends if their non-human life forms experienced a Fall.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:

As well as that we are usually conservative; if the Bible talks about our sins laid on him and the chastisement that brought us peace was laid on him, well that's what we believe.

To deny PSA, in the eyes of an evangelical, is to deny the interpretation of the Scriptures that we hold. You might have a different interpretation and that's fine; but you cannot tell a conservative that your interpretation is right and his is wrong. That's the basic position

But all that aside, this is the frustrating thing here:
As Gamaliel has pointed out, the critics do not allow for evangelicals to have a broader outlook on the atonement. They (the critics) have decided that they don't like PSA - for whatever reason, and some are honourable hermeneutic reasons, I grant) - and therefore evangelicals are also 'wrong'. And so intent on proving that evangelicals are wrong, they cannot allow any evangelical to have a 'correct' view on the atonement.

You seem to contradict yourself in the above. First you're saying PSA is necessary, then you're complaining that critics who don't believe in PSA therefore think that Evangelicals (who you say by necessity believe in PSA) are wrong. I put it to you that those who strongly believe that PSA is wrong are therefore saying Evangelicals are wrong - not because they're evangelicals (because, self evidently, some evangelicals don't believe in PSA) but because they believe in a wrong idea - PSA.

quote:
So much so, that when an evangelical comes online and says, 'but I believe in other theories as well as PSA' the retort is 'Ah, but you might describe yourself as 'evangelical' but you evidently can't be an Evangelical because by definition (in your eyes) a true Evangelical ONLY believes in PSA.'
Nobody has said that, Mudfrog. Everyone has admitted that there are a range of Evangelical beliefs and a range of people who describe themselves as Evangelical.

All that was said above is that there are a vocal group of calvinist Evangelicals who often seem to have a disproportionate level of noise above other evangelicals.

quote:
And then, when I use a hymn like When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, the response is 'Oh but Isaac Watts wasn't Evangelical either, and in any case, when a true PSA-believing sings 'See from his head...' and 'love so amazing...demands my soul...' he's actually secretly crossing his fingers and shoehorning PSA into those words even though they have nothing to do with PSA!'

And then, to add insult to injury, the final salvo is 'yes, you might call yourself an evangelical, but a true PSA-placard-waving Evangelical would never recognise you as one, and some might say you're not even saved.'

Again, nobody said the last paragraph in the slightest. All that was said if you read carefully is that there are some Calvinist Evangelicals who say that only PSA is correct and that they might doubt the salvation of anyone who said anything different.

quote:
All speaks of desperation to me.
You don't like PSA.
You don't like Evangelicals.
You can't separate the two things and therefore anyone who doesn't think like your stereotype of an Evangelical (or an evangelical) evidently can't be an evangelical.

I'm sorry, all that has happened here is that you've proven you can't read.

[ 25. April 2017, 11:12: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Oh, and is The One Atonement for the myriad civilizations in this galaxy alone too? Let alone the practically infinite ones in this one universe in the middle of infinity halfway between the eternities?

Surely that depends if their non-human life forms experienced a Fall.
What's that?

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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Well, thanks for the acknowledgement, Mudfrog but I'm afraid you are still overlooking some of the points I was making.

Yes, I well understand why evangelicals stress PSA. I've spent the greater part of my life within evangelicalism. I know it backwards. I know it inside out.

I certainly wasn't suggesting you weren't a 'proper' evangelical - FWIW I think you most definitely are.

All I was saying was that to SOME ... I will spell that out S.O.M.E. Big E, Big R, Big Pains In The Neck Reformed Evangelicals wouldn't consider you to be a proper Evangelical (Big E) like they are.

Why not?

Because you are Arminian for a kick-off and for that particular brand of evangelical, Arminians aren't true Evangelicals like they are. They might be small e evangelical, they are certainly Christians (although not in the view of some hyper-hyper extreme Calvinists), but they are not Big E Evangelicals.

That's all.

That.is.all.

I wasn't making a value-judgement on your evangelicalism. I wasn't making a value judgement on evangelicalism per se.

I was simply making the point that to certain - admittedly fairly rare - Hyper-Calvinists you wouldn't qualify as an Evangelical. You'd certainly qualify as an evangelical but not an Evangelical.

Notice what I did there? Do you have capital letters on your keyboard?

[Biased]

The point I was making about Isaac Watts was a different one. Yes, evangelicals (and Evangelicals) do draw on hymnody from the broader Christian tradition - of course they do.

But in practice - and I'm not pointing a finger at you here necessarily - they tend to interpret any reference to the atonement in PSA terms.

I'm being very broad-brush there ...

But I've known evangelicals (and Evangelicals) read their own favoured doctrines into the writings of the Fathers, for instance - ignoring whatever comments those same Fathers might make that don't fit their neat evangelical schema.

As was said further up thread, by Jolly Jape I think (I've not checked), there were verses cited on the earlier PSA thread that were given an evangelical/PSA interpretation when they didn't necessarily carry such connotations at all - or could be interpreted differently without doing violence to the text.

I'm not commenting here on the rights/wrongs, good, bad and indifferent qualities of a PSA interpretation but I am making the point that most evangelicals are highly reluctant to question or abandon PSA because they feel their entire salvation and soteriological schema is threatened if they let go of it ...

They assume that their sins can't possibly be forgiven without it.

So it's a big deal.

I get that.

The issue is whether it's a valid concern or not.

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 15320 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
fletcher christian

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Posted by Gam:
quote:

Meanwhile​, I was intrigued by Fletcher Christian's comment that he comes across PSA in circles other than evangelical ones.

Which circles are those, Fletcher?

Surely not the RCs?

Well first off - and this isn;t aimed at Gam - I'm amazed at what people think they read in an opening post that isn't actually there. More than one person has made the claim that I mentioned evangelicals specifically in my opening post. I didn't. Just wanted to make that clear.

Now to answer the quoted questions. I have heard many RC's espouse it, believe it or not. It strikes me as a very Protestant doctrine, but I guess the influence on this island is such that there may be a certain inevitability about that. I've come across it in many of the Reformed churches (with a capital R) which would not be 'evangelical' in the traditional sense, in many conservative and traditional denominations (which again, wouldn't necessarily be 'evangelical'), in episcopalian anglo-catholic circles (this might seem unusual, but if you have a concept of God as wholly other and an emphasis on holiness it is perhaps not that surprising) and I've heard a somewhat convoluted form of it among some Orthodox but with a high degree of nuance and looseness that isn't present in the forms we would find in the west. Now, not all of those mentioned above hold fast to it as the litmus test for Christian belonging and orthodoxy (or 'necessary for salvation' or whatever way you wish to phrase it), but nevertheless that is my experience in what I've heard preached and through engaged discussion. It is of course possible to say they are wrongly set within their own tradition, but there it is.

--------------------
'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

Posts: 5147 | From: a prefecture | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged



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