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Source: (consider it) Thread: One Atonement
mr cheesy
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I don't think one has to be particularly hyper-Calvinist to believe that PSA is the only valid explanation of the atonement. And I don't think they are particularly rare.

More importantly, the steadfastness that some have about PSA has a wider influence - so that it influences other Evangelicals who maybe haven't thought very hard about the theories of the atonement or might be inclined to agree with Mudfrog that there are various ways to understand the atonement which may be helpful in different ways.

The strange thing to me, to return to the OP, is why this view has such wide influence given it seems to have an impact even on those that this group may not regard as truly Christian, never mind Evangelical.

I can only assume that PSA is repeated so often and so loudly by this group of Evangelicals that it drowns out those who say anything different.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:

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.

I still can't get my head around the idea that one can be Reformed but not Evangelical. In my experience the most conservative Evangelicals like to call themselves Reformed - but then maybe that just shows that I've not been around Reformed-but-not-Evangelicals, whoever they are.

Again, part of the problem is understanding exactly what is an Evangelical and what people mean when they use (or don't use) the term.

Interesting regarding Anglo-Catholics - I suppose the difficulty there is that it would appear to contradict various other teachings in particular the notion of baptism as a sacrament. I wonder how they get around that.

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Mr Cheesy:
quote:

Interesting regarding Anglo-Catholics - I suppose the difficulty there is that it would appear to contradict various other teachings in particular the notion of baptism as a sacrament. I wonder how they get around that.

I think it would be an issue if you were to confine the concept within a larger systematic frame, but it doesn't have to be that way. It is, at its most simplistic, a means to explain the atonement, not a fifty volume treatise on Church dogmatics.

As for a definition of Evangelical. Well, I would consider myself to be evangelical with a small e, as I suspect most (if not all) Christians are. The Evangelical with a big E is perhaps a little bit more difficult these days because its splintering so significantly; especially over the last decade. Which again, might be another reason for some wanting to pin down atonement as a litmus test within Evangelicalism, but as I've already stated (hopefully with reasonable clarity) it's not always only in these circles.

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Gamaliel
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Plenty of Reformed people aren't Evangelical.

But then, plenty of Reformed Evangelicals would say that not all Reformed are Reformed ...

It gets even more complicated when you get Reformed types who say that to be a Reformed Baptist is a contradiction in terms as you can't be Reformed and a Baptist at one and the same time ... (because Calvin was a paedobaptist and paedobaptism is a sign of the Covenant etc etc).

It all depends on what we mean by Evangelical and also what we mean by Reformed.

Meanwhile, thanks for clarifying Fletcher Christian.

I might be wrong, but I take from your explanation that people seem to be using PSA-type concepts in a fairly loose way ...

Mind you, I read about an interesting piece of research that was done in Greece - not by a Christian agency I don't think. They sent people a set of questions about belief, some of which were framed and worded in a particularly evangelical or 'Protestant' sounding way. A majority of respondents agreed with them and identified with them - and yes, they had language like 'born again' and similar evangelical sounding terms in there ...

They then surveyed the same group but this time pointed out that particular terms had a more evangelical or Protestant provenance.

The results were then very different ... 'I'm Orthodox, I don't think of these things in those terms ...'

Whatever else it shows, it indicates that people respond/self-identify according to how things are worded and presented to them.

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Gam:
quote:

I might be wrong, but I take from your explanation that people seem to be using PSA-type concepts in a fairly loose way ...

Not always. Some, perhaps.

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Gamaliel
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Ok - fair enough ...

As an aside, on the Reformed thing ...

Jengie Jon would be the Shipmate to ask, but AFAIK the Reformed tend to see the Evangelicals as cousins rather than 'mum and dad' or siblings as it were ...

I once met Tom Smail, the late veteran charismatic renewalist.

He was Church of Scotland, of course.

He told me that as far as he was concerned the Evangelicals (or evangelicals) were 'aunts and uncles and cousins' rather than 'Mum and Dad'.

His 'spiritual parents' if you like were what he saw as the old, classic Reformed tradition and its more modern exponents such as Karl Barth.

So yes, there are distinctions to be made. Between Reformed and reformed, between Evangelical and evangelical ...

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mr cheesy
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Headache. So is PSA a central thing for the Reformed - presumably we're talking mostly about Presbyterians? - or just for some of them?

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I still can't get my head around the idea that one can be Reformed but not Evangelical. In my experience the most conservative Evangelicals like to call themselves Reformed - but then maybe that just shows that I've not been around Reformed-but-not-Evangelicals, whoever they are.

The Reformed churches go back to Zwingli and Calvin. The Evangelical movement goes back to the eighteenth century. So there's a difference.

The main distinctive of Evangelicalism as opposed to Reformed would I suppose be activism. That is, largely a belief in mission but also a rejection of the idea that the church is a gathered community. (AIUI seventeenth century Calvinists didn't engage much in mission on the understanding that if God wanted to save someone God would take care of it.)
It's not an official Evangelical distinctive but I think an emphasis on emotional reaction to God and Jesus' work also differentiates from non-Evangelical Reformed thought. In addition, Evangelicalism takes a much less scrupulous approach to assurance of salvation. Traditional religious and cultural history has it that seventeenth century Calvinists spent a lot of time recording their thoughts and emotions in order to reassure themselves they were actually elect. (The modern novel was traditionally seen as a development from Calvinist self-scrutiny.) Evangelicals don't go in for that.

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mr cheesy
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Thanks, but can you explain how that differs from Reformed, Dafyd?

I've seen lots of claims about the origins of the novel. I rather like the idea that it developed from Don Quixote.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I still can't get my head around the idea that one can be Reformed but not Evangelical. In my experience the most conservative Evangelicals like to call themselves Reformed - but then maybe that just shows that I've not been around Reformed-but-not-Evangelicals, whoever they are.

Would you call the United Reformed Church, the Church of Scotland, or mainline American denominations like the Presbyterian Church (USA) or the United Church of Christ Evangelical? All undoubtedly have Evangelicals in them, but I don't think any identify as Evangelical. The PC(USA) and the UCC certainly don't. But all are Reformed and identify as Reformed.

Broadly speaking, "Reformed" refers to those churches that have their roots in Calvin and other figures of the Swiss, French and non-Lutheran Reformation.

quote:
Again, part of the problem is understanding exactly what is an Evangelical and what people mean when they use (or don't use) the term.
This. Very much this. And as part of this challenge, it strikes me that there is a real pond difference in what is meant by the term.

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Robert Armin

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Leprechaun - I've tried to send you a Private Message about the tangent of women being able to lead UCCF CUs, but your box is full. I would be grateful if you could give me more information about this, either here, or through private messages. Many thanks, RA

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Gamaliel
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Dafyd, 'God and Jesus ...'?

Don't you mean 'God the Father and Jesus'?

Also, where's the Holy Spirit in there?

Here we see another feature of the Reformed tradition as it attenuated over time ... a tendency to Binitarianism and Arianism ...

[Biased] [Razz]

Seriously, it's not accident that many Reformed became Unitarian ...

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Gamaliel
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I wouldn't over-emphasise the Pond Difference, Nick.

Your post makes absolute sense to me and I've always lived on this side of the Pond.

No disrespect to mr cheesy, but I suspect he's mostly been exposed to the Reformed tradition in its Evangelical form rather than in its broader guises ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
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.

This is nothing like what I think, and haven't made any comments about "real Christians." The OP asked a question and I tried to answer it.

Robert Armin, I have emptied my PM box, sorry about that.

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mr cheesy
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My impression is that "Evangelical" in the USA is more-or-less what we'd describe in the UK as FIEC style Evangelicals here. In the UK we have a messy middle space - which I'd still describe as Evangelical - which cuts across various denominations. I don't think that exists in quite the same way in the USA, perhaps because other denominations have retained distinctiveness and because there are other options available eg Mennonites.

But then I've always been confused by terms - the conservative Evangelicals I know seem to have very good relations with at least some who are described as Reformed (is the Free Church of Scotland Evangelical?).

And I assumed that less conservative British Presbyterians might associate with other Evangelicals in various parachurch organisations such as University Christian Unions, the Evangelical Alliance, Spring Harvest and so on. I must be wrong about that.

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Gamaliel
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I'm not sure it's as clear cut as that, mr cheesy.

I'd suggest that there's a sliding scale or spectrum on all sides of these apparent 'divides' - and they are often more a question of emphasis than actual 'substance' ...

So, some of the 'classic' Reformed people - Presbyterians and such - would get on very well with evangelicals and they'd find more in common than they would with people from non-Reformed or reformed backgrounds.

I cited Smail because he was perfectly comfortable among evangelicals - even though he saw himself as Reformed rather than evangelical - but, by the same token, he was very comfortable with RCs too - despite obvious differences in emphasis and theology.

There are areas where all these groups/traditions overlap and begin to merge into one another.

So a Wee Free and an FIEC type would have a lot more in common than they would with a liberal Presbyterian, or a liberal Baptist, say ...

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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My objections, and hostility, to the PSA legalistic formula include that when the individual is the converted, and the logical consequences, the social gospel is simply absent. Varpourised. And PSAers can justify screwing others over in business, relentless competion, wars, and falsehoods. It allows the separation of individual behaviour (works) from Jesus' saving action. The consequences are staggering.

Caring little about making the world right, because the only way is one person at a time. The darkness of the world, for entire countries and continents isn't of interest. Except exportex profit. Christ defeated but not seen as so. It feeds into the individualistic focus, allowing exploitation of a country so long as there are volunteer holiday mission trips. And no abortions, God forbid.

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Gamaliel
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Now that's where I DO think there are Pond Differences, No Prophet ...

The 'social' element isn't missing from UK evangelicalism in my experience. It may be more muted in some sections of UK evangelicalism than others but it certainly isn't entirely absent.

The Salvation Army have that focus in spades. So do many 'mainstream' evangelical Baptists and evangelical Anglicans. Social concern isn't solely the preserve of the more theologically liberal. Thank goodness.

The only places where it's hardly discernible would be in various 'hyper' groups - and no Christian tradition is entirely free of those.

Meanwhile, coming back to a point mr cheesy raised ...

Thinking about it, I'm not sure you'd find many Free Church of Scotland or more full-on Calvinists at Spring Harvest these days. And some might find the UCCF and university CU's a bit too 'liberal' for their liking.

In fact, anyone who is in a different setting to themselves would be regarded as compromised to some degree or other ...

But my earlier point still stands with that caveat - there is a sliding scale or spectrum in all of these groups/traditions.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

Thinking about it, I'm not sure you'd find many Free Church of Scotland or more full-on Calvinists at Spring Harvest these days. And some might find the UCCF and university CU's a bit too 'liberal' for their liking.

In fact, anyone who is in a different setting to themselves would be regarded as compromised to some degree or other ...


That wasn't really the point I was making. I know that the more conservative groups associate across this divide, I was wondering whether the less conservative also meet at things like Spring Harvest (I'm very aware that these things are not good enough for many of these Conservatives).

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Gamaliel
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Well, Shippies who have attended Spring Harvest more recently than I have would be better placed to answer that. I last went in 1982 ... and at that time some of the more full-on conservative evangelicals from Ulster and Glasgow and so on were finding it hard to handle and thinking of making it their last visit ...

I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was hardly any representatives from more hard-line Calvinist groups at Spring Harvest these days.

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Gamaliel
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As for the less conservative from that end of the spectrum ... possibly ... but I suspect they are more likely to attend specialist or more thematic events than the big rallies and jamborees.

But then, I'm not that closely involved with any of those events these days so I'm simply guessing ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
My impression is that "Evangelical" in the USA is more-or-less what we'd describe in the UK as FIEC style Evangelicals here. In the UK we have a messy middle space - which I'd still describe as Evangelical - which cuts across various denominations. I don't think that exists in quite the same way in the USA, perhaps because other denominations have retained distinctiveness and because there are other options available eg Mennonites.

But then I've always been confused by terms - the conservative Evangelicals I know seem to have very good relations with at least some who are described as Reformed (is the Free Church of Scotland Evangelical?).

And I assumed that less conservative British Presbyterians might associate with other Evangelicals in various parachurch organisations such as University Christian Unions, the Evangelical Alliance, Spring Harvest and so on. I must be wrong about that.

I have to admit to having only a vague idea, or no real idea at all, as to what the FIEC, University Christian Unions, Evangelical Alliance or Spring Harvest are.

While I would say that there are Evangelicals in the US who view agreement with the Bebbington Quadrilateral as sufficient to encompass what it means to be Evangelical, I would also say that on this side of the pond, the tag "Evangelical" more often that not (probably much more often than not) indicates conservatism on Dead Horse issues, conservatism in politics—to the point that many believe one cannot be liberal politically and still be Christian—and concern for growing secularism. At least that's the case when it comes to denominations, congregations and parachurch organizations. Mileage for individual Evangelicals may vary.

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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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Gamaliel
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Sure, I get that, Nick and it accords with what I see posted by Americans on social media - although I get that mileage varies between individuals.

FWIW ...

FIEC - Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches - a UK network of ... well, independent evangelical churches. Largely Calvinist in tone (but with some independent Methodist members) and cessationist in terms of their approach to 'spiritual gifts'. They tend to vary to some extent within the kind of parameters they operate with and there'd be no single 'take' on politics and so on.

University Christian Unions - largely affiliated to UCCF (Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship) these are the main evangelical student societies on most UK campuses. They tend to attract a broad range of evangelical students - and individual CU's vary in tone and emphasis. Pretty much 'mainstream' evangelicalism in UK terms on the whole.

The Evangelical Alliance - founded in the 1840s an umbrella-group for UK evangelical churches and parachurch organissations. To join you have to sign a declaration of faith to demonstrate your evangelical credentials. Some hard-liners - both Calvinists and charismatics - have refused to join as they think it's too broad - but generally it's regarded as representing mainstream UK evangelical interests.

Spring Harvest - popular evangelical convention that has been running since around 1979/80 I think, originally headed up by British Youth for Christ. Again, it largely draws on the mainstream middle-ground of UK evangelicalism with most of the full-on charismatics probably favouring New Wine these days - an Anglican initiative with some Vineyard influences in the early days.

I'm sure there will be parallels in the US and Canada with most if not all of these.

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mr cheesy
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UCCF is a British version of Inter-varsity fellowship.

I'm not sure what the equivalents of the other things are, sorry.

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Jamat
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
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.

Oh really?
Would you call God a cosmic child abuser too since he sent his son to die for the sin of the world?

Oh, but perhaps Jesus did not REALLY say this in Matt 20:28

" just as the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many."

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Gamaliel
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Well, that could suit the Ransom Theory as well as PSA ...

FWIW, my 'take' is that Steve Chalke was being deliberately provocative and, as Mudfrog has observed when this issue has come up in the past, not particularly original either. He pinched the quote from somewhere else ...

Chalke's probably come in for more stick on this one as he was challenging PSA from within the evangelical constituency itself.

Had he been pontificating elsewhere - in one or t'other of the other Christian traditions - he wouldn't have attracted anywhere near so much attention or flak.

However we cut it, there is more than one way to understand the atonement.

The OP isn't about whether PSA is right or wrong but asks why certain Christians seem to make it the single-most important way of approaching the issue - not as one available model among half a dozen or so - most of which are complementary - but as THE model ... as a litmus-test, almost as to who is or isn't 'saved'.

I also suspect Chalke was over-reacting to that kind of view. Whether he did it as wisely or tactfully as he might have done is a moot point of course.

As I've said, Chalke isn't a great intellectual or high-calibre theologian. He's a popular and quite populist preacher with a good track record - through the Oasis Trust - in youth work and social action. That doesn't mean he's going to get everything right, neither does it mean he's going to get everything wrong.

He could have expressed his views without recourse to the 'cosmic child-abuse' schtick but for whatever reason, he chose not to.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
Oh, but perhaps Jesus did not REALLY say this in Matt 20:28

" just as the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many."

quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Well, that could suit the Ransom Theory as well as PSA ...

Actually, I would say it suits the Ransom model much, much better than it suits PSA. I don't see it as support for PSA at all. Where's the penal aspect in it?

Which raises another issue: Just as there can be some fuzziness in exactly what is meant by "Evangelical," I sometimes think there is a lack of precision in the use of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. There is more than one model of Substitutionary Atonement; Indeed, most atonement models, with the exception of the moral influence model, are substitutionary in some respect. PSA specifically involves an understanding that punishment is necessary to satisfy divine justice, hence the need for the qualifier "Penal." Yet it sometimes seems as though PSA is being used to mean any substitutionary model.

Meanwhile, thanks mr cheesy for the comparison between UCCF to Inter-Varsity. That gives me some reference point.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
Yet it sometimes seems as though PSA is being used to mean any substitutionary model.

Sorry for quoting myself, but by the time I realized I wanted to add something, the edit window had closed.

The lack of precision in the use of PSA makes me wonder if sometimes it just might be the case that the reason some have such a strong reaction to anyone questioning PSA is because questioning PSA is interpreted as questioning the atonement as substitutionary in any way.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Thanks, but can you explain how that differs from Reformed, Dafyd?

I've seen lots of claims about the origins of the novel. I rather like the idea that it developed from Don Quixote.

Didn't I say where I thought the marks that distinguish evangelicalism from other varieties of Reformed Christianity lay? Activism, emotionalism, assurance? It is a branch of Reformed thought (though Wesley at least had Moravian influence).

The idea that the novel developed from Don Quixote is I think also true.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Didn't I say where I thought the marks that distinguish evangelicalism from other varieties of Reformed Christianity lay? Activism, emotionalism, assurance? It is a branch of Reformed thought (though Wesley at least had Moravian influence).


Sorry my bad. I read your post as saying these were things that were distinctive about Evangelicalism, I didn't read it as implying that the Reformed didn't do them.

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Gamaliel
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Good insights, Nick Tamen.

I think you're onto something.

On the Reformed thing and the novel ...

Well yes, to an extent. But diaries and autobiographies - although not the sole preserve of Protestantism - were certainly given a boost back then. Think Bunyan's 'Grace Abounding To The Chief Of Sinners.'

I've read plenty of 18th century Methodist conversion narratives too.

They can be colourful but quite formulaic at the same time.

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Jay-Emm
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

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!'


To be fair on the first part, I did miswrite as much as any misreading. I still think it's a poor choice of song to use as an example, to show what it was expected to say (it's a lovely song).

"Tell out my soul", "Jesus is Lord", "At the name of Jesus", "Crown him with many Crowns" would be better (as examples, not as good friday songs) in terms of content. Having a completely different, biblical, focus and sticking to it for the whole song. But not sure ever experienced in relevant circles.

I was going to suggest "In Christ Alone" and "Before the Throne" along with "Light of the World". Which I associate with UCCF esque environments. (Un)fortunately I remembered/checked the lyrics and none of them work as examples. They do, do other stuff (Lotw, almost entirely, but the bridge captures the focus from the incarnation).
From my perspective (which ideally isn't actually that far from Mudfrog's ideal position) they're still ok songs, but it does argue the opposite way to the way to the way I'd intended.

"Amazing Grace" perhaps, it's a less seasonal song (definitely used at the extremes in their home turf), still a bit classicy. Would, in my opinion, need a shoehorn (whereas in WIS, you've a natural place to add subliminally any theory of atonement after 'glory died'. I'd expect there is a better example, but with that I'd happily agree to the original point made.


--------------------------------

Anyhow was actually going to post on Spring Harvest. When I was went there was a separate "Word Alive" week, that was becoming more and more the (self proclaimed) "Evangelical" week (I'm not sure what the rest thought, there was another week that was more charismatic and another that was family, at least that is how I heard it, I'm not sure what the official intent was)
Anyhow, around the last time I went Word Alive split off (thinking about it I went once since). Which kind of shows how you've got a lot of groups inside groups.

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Good insights, Nick Tamen.

I think you're onto something. ...

So do I.

I also think that the 'cosmic child abuse' accusation smacks of Arianism. I'm less sure whether it's those who make the accusation who are the unwitting Arians, or whether it's the language that some people use to describe their understanding of what happened at the cross that suggests a less than full appreciation of the Trinity.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
So do I.

I also think that the 'cosmic child abuse' accusation smacks of Arianism. I'm less sure whether it's those who make the accusation who are the unwitting Arians, or whether it's the language that some people use to describe their understanding of what happened at the cross that suggests a less than full appreciation of the Trinity.

This sort of response "smacks of Arianism" means, doesn't it, that you wish to label, truncate and dismiss from the discussion something you don't agree with and can name-call about?

"Less that full appreciation of the Trinity" certainly seems to confirm.

The conundrum of this is that God either sacrificed his son, or he sacrificed himself, if we do the binary. The trinity allows a complex way through, but mostly, except for theologians, no one cares about it. They think that God arranged for the killing of his son, like Abraham was prepared to do for the same God.

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Jamat
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
Oh, but perhaps Jesus did not REALLY say this in Matt 20:28

" just as the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many."

quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Well, that could suit the Ransom Theory as well as PSA ...

Actually, I would say it suits the Ransom model much, much better than it suits PSA. I don't see it as support for PSA at all. Where's the penal aspect in it?

Which raises another issue: Just as there can be some fuzziness in exactly what is meant by "Evangelical," I sometimes think there is a lack of precision in the use of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. There is more than one model of Substitutionary Atonement; Indeed, most atonement models, with the exception of the moral influence model, are substitutionary in some respect. PSA specifically involves an understanding that punishment is necessary to satisfy divine justice, hence the need for the qualifier "Penal." Yet it sometimes seems as though PSA is being used to mean any substitutionary model.


There is very little difference between ransom and PSA. PSA includes ransom and CV as well in that while I would see PSA as the underpinning red line, The others are correlative to it and what they say is perfectly in line with scripture viz Jesus is a ransom and a victor over evil. He is also a penal figure in that scripture tells us his crucifixion was a punishment of the sin which he took on himself. It seems to be a favourite pastime on SOF threads to deny this. But anyone who denies it consciously must carry their own sin burden.
The reason I got involved in this discussion is because of the comment by Kaplan Corday regarding why PSA is so disagreeable to most posters here.

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Gamaliel
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It seems to me we have two possible equal and opposite over-reactions here from two different directions.

Firstly, No Prophet accuses Enoch of playing the Trinitarian card in order to stifle dissent, debate and argument - when in fact I'd suggest that a fully-orbed Trinitarian understanding is essential to the whole debate.

For one thing, it takes us through the murky waters of a binary Good Cop, Bad Cop approach which is how PSA is sometimes presented - God the Son assuaging the wrath of an angry God the Father with God the Holy Spirit somehow disengaged from the entire process.

'God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.'

In some mysterious way the entire Godhead, if we can put it that way, was involved - and let's not forget the Resurrection. The 'cosmic child abuse' slur takes the focus off that and focuses purely on the means of death - the Cross.

Central - literally 'crucial' - though the Cross is, it has to be accompanied by the Resurrection.

Both/and.

With some penal models the Resurrection appears almost as an afterthought.

From the other direction we have Jamat who seems to impute an ulterior motive to anyone who doesn't see the atonement in juridical or penal terms.

I take his point that PSA can accommodate both CV and the Ransom Theory - and, at its best, its best proponents certainly treat it that way and see it more holistically - even if PSA is the central, underpinning model - the hub of the wheel if you like.

However, it's a bit of a step from that to assuming that if anyone doesn't see it that way they are still 'in' their sins' and that somehow​ their sins' remain unatoned for. It's as if our salvation is dependent upon intellectual assent to a set of propositions.

I can see the logic but I'm not sure it follows in such a brittle and wooden way.

I can see the attraction of PSA in the way John Stott expresses it - as God 'assuming' our guilt, sin and shame into himself and nullifying it. That is an attractive view and whilst it might be hair-splitting on my part, a preferable one to the very grotesque portrayals of PSA we find in much popular evangelism.

So yes, PSA does deal very neatly with the juridical aspect - but the issue for me is whether this is as central a biblical trope as its proponents maintain. Sure, we can see 'satisfaction for sin' and images of debt and payment. No question. But we see plenty of instances of apparently 'free' and unconditional forgiveness in the scriptures too.

I'm not saying those penal or juridical aspects aren't there, but if we isolate or highlight them as the main driver as it were then we end up creating as many problems as they resolve.

I know that retreating to an 'It's all a Mystery' position can be seen as ducking the issue but I'm quite prepared to accept that through his Incarnation, life, atoning death, his glorious resurrection, ascension and continual intercession, Christ has achieved - and continues to achieve - all things necessary for our salvation.

Precisely how that 'works' on all levels is beyond us.

Some things we can say with certainty. Others remain beyond us.

We see through a glass darkly, but we still see.

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Jamat
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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
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.
Well, thanks for that. You as well never wasted your anger on a nebulous internet argument and it did you credit. Incidentally, do you think Paul also was being unloving and provocatively judgemental when he expressed the wish that the Judaizers should emasculate themselves?

[ 26. April 2017, 04:55: Message edited by: Jamat ]

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I can see the attraction of PSA in the way John Stott expresses it - as God 'assuming' our guilt, sin and shame into himself and nullifying it. That is an attractive view and whilst it might be hair-splitting on my part, a preferable one to the very grotesque portrayals of PSA we find in much popular evangelism.

That's not how PSA is taught at Moore College and then from the pulpits of Sydney Anglicanism. The line there is that the Father was full of wrath with the sins of his creatures, and that he fixed that wrath on the Son - the P of PSA as it were. That teaching seems to me to run completely counter to the mutual love between the members of the Trinity.

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Gamaliel
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The trouble with that kind of argument, Jamat is that it presupposes the person making it is occupying the moral high-ground. They might not be.

The Puritans in New England justified the massacre of Pequod women and children on the grounds that Joshua massacred the Canaanites.

In this, less dramatic instance, it presupposes that anyone who disagrees with PSA is refusing to acknowledge the 'plain meaning of scripture' when in fact they might simply have a different understanding of scripture to the one prevalent in your own circles and tradition.

PSA doesn't​ tumble out of the Bible ready formed any more than any of the other atonement models do. It's not like one of those plastic clip-together toys we used to get in cornflake packets.

Thats not to denigrate the status of scripture. It's simply to acknowledge the process of interpretation and that people arrive at different viewpoints. Whether there is anything nefarious about their motives is another issue.

I'm avowedly Trinitarian. Cut me anywhere and you'll find Trinitarian formularies running through me like a stick of rock. Older British Shippies will know what I mean.

That doesn't mean I think Arians and Unitarians are deliberately being wicked or evil - I don't agree with their interpretation but I don't doubt their sincerity.

There is a kind of fundamentalist certainty that can make a virtue out of being obnoxious. And use some of the more strident biblical verses as an excuse or justification for doing so.

You see that right across the board and in all Christian traditions.

Sure, there's also an irritatingly mealy-mouthed 'Let's not offend anyone' tendency in some quarters too. Which is equally daft.

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Gamaliel
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On the Sydney Anglicans - sure, I don't doubt that they present PSA that way.

Stott's view was a more moderate and nuanced one. Yes, it was still very 'Western' and juridical but he avoided the grotesque court-room tropes and caricatures found at the more lurid end of evangelicalism.

I come from a tradition and position similar to Mudfrog's in its understanding of the atonement. I've been reviewing and reassessing that for some years now. I'm no great shakes when it comes to working these things out but in the interests of balance - when there is a lot of anti-PSA sentiment aboard Ship - I'd say that Stott gives the best presentation of PSA I've seen without it tumbling over into Bad Father, Good Jesus territory.

I'm sure the Moore College and Sydney hyper-Calvinist Anglicans would claim that their presentation doesn't fall into that category either - even though that's the impression they certainly give to everyone else.

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Jay-Emm
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(Regarding the stuff on songs)
Interestingly, while expecting to find a more interesting mix in the (62) Baptist Hymnal. It's actually quite hard to find songs with anything atonementy at all. Even the section explicitly on the Crucifixion is only about 20/80 (which way depending on what you count).

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Armin:
Leprechaun - I've tried to send you a Private Message about the tangent of women being able to lead UCCF CUs, but your box is full. I would be grateful if you could give me more information about this, either here, or through private messages. Many thanks, RA

I have tried to reply to your PM, but your box os now full.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
On the Sydney Anglicans - sure, I don't doubt that they present PSA that way.

I'm sure the Moore College and Sydney hyper-Calvinist Anglicans would claim that their presentation doesn't fall into that category either - even though that's the impression they certainly give to everyone else.

I don't think hyper-Calvinist is the right description; if anything is, they are hyper-Zwinglian, but even that's not quite right either.

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Kwesi
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All this is very instructive, but as I understand it the purpose of the thread is to answer the question as to what kinds of people are attracted to PSA and why it is supported with such intensity. Is that question being addressed?

What intrigues me about the discussion: the nuances of PSA and the positions of sects and individuals on the subject, is that it is very difficult for those, like myself, who are not absorbed in the debate to make much sense of it and to see why it might matter that i or anyone else ought to be concerned with the outcome. The nearest analogy I can think of are the debates between various Marxists sects, characterised by bitter division, personal animosity directed to participants whose analysis is incorrect, closed minds, and with little interest in the intellectual and social world outside the bubble. What I suspect most infuriates the critics of PSA is less their conclusion that the theory is unconvincing or have their own uncritical adherence to other approaches, but the dogmatic certainty with which its supporters express themselves and their unwillingness to engage with criticisms made of their position. It’s like arguing with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some people need the security and certainty of being right, a position that the PSA community offers. Others know, or think they know, that we see through a glass darkly.

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Gamaliel
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Sure, I think there's an element of that, Kwesi, but to staunch PSA advocates it's not simply a matter of differing and complementary views, it goes to the heart of how they understand the Gospel.

The argument would run that if it weren't for PSA then there'd still be some doubt as to whether we could actually be saved at all - because the 'problem of sin' would remain unaddressed ... it's the idea that 'without the shedding of blood' there is no forgiveness.

It's the idea that God's wrath needs to be appeased/propitiated in order for the atonement to a full and complete one.

Whether one agrees with that or not it does explain why it's such a big deal ... our eternal salvation depends on it ... there could be a Hell to pay if we ignore it ...

That's the way the argument runs and it's fuelled and propelled by its own interior logic.

Of course, there are shades and nuances along the spectrum and I'd suggest that Mudfrog represents the 'mainstream' evangelical view as it tends to be articulated among 'moderate' evangelicals of whatever stripe.

Of course, where we place particular evangelicals along that spectrum depends on where we ourselves stand. The Sydney Anglicans look 'out there' from the perspective of many evangelicals but from the perspective of others they wouldn't look like 'outliers' at all ...

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Kwesi
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I get all that Gamaliel, but the question ISTM is what are the characteristics of people who are attracted to PSA. What needs drive individuals into that position. I think it's got something to do with the possession of an authoritarian personality.
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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I think some people feel wrong needs to be punished in a way others don't. Those defending God's apparent inability to simply forgive will often ask you how you'd feel about Stalin or Hitler not being punished for their crimes, assuming you'd be horrified.

I'm not. It's important to me that wrongdoers understand the enormity of what they've done. It's important to me that victims are compensated and recognised. But I don't have any need to know that wrongdoers are suffering in some way, as if there's something wrong in the universe until they do; I just don't feel it. I want reconciliation; what appeals to me about Christianity is the idea that reconciliation, to each other, and to God, is possible. No-one has be lost, no-one has to render up their pound of flesh. Yes, the wrong that people do to each other will be exposed; victims will be vindicated, the truth will out - that's how I understand the concept of the Judgement, but punishment, for its own sake, just doesn't need to be part of it, for me. I would expect that a Hitler or a Stalin would feel the impact of their crimes and understand the wrong they did, but I'd say even they could, if they chose, be purified through that recognition and contrition. Perhaps that's Purgatory?

Perhaps this is why I don't "get" PSA - I see no reason why sin, all else being equal, needs punishment.

[ 26. April 2017, 10:20: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
... it's the idea that 'without the shedding of blood' there is no forgiveness.

It's the idea that God's wrath needs to be appeased/propitiated in order for the atonement to a full and complete one.

This is the biggest problem I have with PSA - the stance that says wickedness and sin must be harshly punished. It's the theology of an eye for an eye, of returning hurt for hurt, of "if someone wrongs you, fuck his shit up". It leaves no room whatsoever for forgiveness, charity, compromise or reconciliation, much less for turning the other cheek or loving your enemies.

It also turns God into some kind of petty despot with anger issues who can only ever solve things by using violence. That's not the God I see revealed in Jesus.

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Marvin the Martian

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Great minds crosspost!

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Jamat
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quote:
Gamaliel: That's the way the argument runs and it's fuelled and propelled by its own interior logic.

You are correct on your reasons as to why it is a non negotiable. The logic though is not the issue,scripture is the issue and I do not mean individual, random decontextualised texts. It is the entire basis of Paul's thinking in Romans. It is the reason he enjoins the Galatians to maintain the freedom that Christ has purchased for them as well as the great reason that Jewish believers are now released from the Mosaic law. It is the essential source of the power that ensures sin in us and Satan in the cosmos are defeated foes. It is the reason the Holy Spirit can indwell a believer and regenerate and reform their nature. It was all accomplished by the FACT of the God who in his love found a way to redeem the hopeless by subsuming the unredeemable aspects of our nature into himself and putting them to death without destroying us and yes, allowing a new nature to arise within us ( yes, really, Resurrection) and be out worked in our otherwise miserable and hopeless lives.
Posts: 2829 | From: New Zealand | Registered: Jul 2006  |  IP: Logged



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