Thursday, November 10, 2005

Reply to Paul Owen

Before I get too swamped with writing my grad thesis, I want to take the time to reply to Paul Owen's clarififcation on his stance on the Atonement, and thank him for taking the time to read this obscure blog of mine.

He says...
I do not believe (propitiation) to be consistent with eternal election and limited atonement. God’s election of sinners indicates an already present love for them, and a willingness to forgive them. The death of Jesus therefore cannot be understood as causing or effecting God’s benevolent disposition towards them by appeasing his wrath. Christ’s death does not cause God to be willing to forgive those whom he has already determined in his decree to forgive. That makes no sense. It is those who hold to universal atonement who consistently believe that the purpose of Christ’s death was simply to secure a willingness on the part of God to forgive (if they accept the benefits of that atonement).

As far as my own understanding of the theology of the atonement is concerned, the propitiation of Christ did not *create* the love of God for the sinner - it was the *result* of that love. The eternally determined love of God for His people motivated the Son to sacrifice Himself for their sins, so that the justice of God could be satisfied. It was God's justice that required punishment - it was His love that determined that His Son should suffer it on our behalf.

The expiation model which I hold to does agree that Christ’s death delivers us from destruction. But the logic is different. Christ’s death is not designed to satisfy the offended honor of God, nor his punitive justice. The eternal punishment of the unrepentant will do that.

For the sins of those unrepentant, yes. But what about *my* sins? As I understand the nature of sin and judgment, it is not an abstract notion, but the requirement of *every man and woman* that they answer to God for what they have done. How can God be satisfied that *my* sins have been punished, simply because John Doe is in hell?

The penal substitution model sees the wrath of God being poured out on Jesus so as to satisfy the demand for a just punishment of the pardoned sinner. Inevitably, in effect, this takes the emphasis off of the physical death of Jesus, and places it upon some supposed outpouring of God’s anger upon Christ on the cross as the unfortunate substitute.

I don't know who Paul has been reading on this, but again, for myself I see no separation possible between the physical death of Jesus and His suffering on my behalf. It was an integral part of His penal substitution. Simply suffering on the Cross wasn'e enough - He had to *die*. For Death is the ultimate punishment for sin.

The expiation model sees God as willing to pardon our sin (Rom. 5:8); but our stain must be removed for us to be pardoned.

I think this is a key point of contention. I see no separation between sin and "stain". The act of sin is a stain. Our corrupt nature is a stain. God cannot ignore either.

Now, sadly, back to that miserable thesis...


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