A Comedy of Errors, a Tragedy of Mistaken Identities (“concluded”)
What if the greatest impediment to achieving the noblest goals of the Protestant Reformation is the “orthodox” doctrine of the Atonement itself: Penal Satisfaction/Substitution—having evoked immense opposition, spawned wearisome irresolvable theological difficulties that waste the precious time of God’s people, provoked divisive debates that have decimated the ranks, created ethical dilemmas, fostered scandalous behaviors and monstrous practices, brought on needless reproaches from unbelievers, aroused alienating misunderstandings that promote sectarianism, destroyed faith in the Bible, unsettled young believers, fostered arrogance, compromised intellectual integrity, etc.—but otherwise, no harm done?
What if penal substitution is like putting the emphásis on the wrong sylláble, only, uh…worse?
What if hymn writers have all too often been as guilty of obscuring the New Testament message as so many preachers and theologians have (see my paper, “’Penal Satisfaction / Substitution’ in English Hymns”)?
What if 500 years is a disgracefully long time for God to be misrepresented by His loved ones, who have defamed his reputation by laboring vigorously to defend the indefensible instead of thinking through opponents’ conscientious objections with fairness—thinking outside the box?
However, what if even the defamation of God’s character and justice that penal substitution has spread far, deep, and wide has been kindly indemnified by God’s authentically apostolic premial Atonement—yet will its mighty men admit confusion, repent of misrepresentations, jettison their toxic substitute, switch loyalties, and humbly avail themselves of the genuine article?
What if the premial atonement turns out to contain no imponderable mystery, no existential dilemma, no dialectical tension, no economic duplicity, no financial cooking of books, no legal double-talk, no moral compromise, no ethical conundrum, no “cosmic child abuse”?
What if the premial explanation, unlike the penal, is not a theory at all but simply a rediscovery of the New Testament doctrine of salvation?
What if, after all, the Bible’s own explanatory system does make more rational sense than all our cherished theological systems put together (all the King’s horses—you can lead ‘em to water but can’t make ‘em think—and all the King’s men couldn’t do it)?
What if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the paramount theodicy of Biblical Christianity?
What if neglecting to integrate Christ’s resurrection into the atonement disintegrates the Gospel?
What if, as Martin Luther protested, “I am neither so rash as to wish that my sole opinion should be preferred to that of all other men, nor so senseless as to be willing that the Word of God should be made to give place to fables, devised by human reason”?
What if God doesn’t expect us to hold our nose and swallow fables—fur, fins, feathers and all?
What if the wax nose of penal substitution is finally suffering meltdown from over-tweaking—shall we finally pull down our sagging substitute or keep on keeping up appearances?
What if it’s time to jettison the dead weight of penal substitution terms and get back to the Bible?
What if, after reading through these challenges to penal substitution assumptions and implications, you agree we’ve been colossally snookered for roughly 500 years…and the future looks even rougher if we don’t switch courses soon—then who’re you gonna believe?
What if this is the season for judgment to begin from the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17-18; 1 Cor. 5:12-6:7, 11:29-34; Heb. 10:30)?
What if it’s time for a resolute new Protest and a fresh resounding Reform? What now?
What if you choose to accept this inconvenient truth, this impossible mission? What then?
Indeed, what if this changes EVERYTHING?
Then again, I may be wrong.
~~ The End ~~
or, just maybe…
A NEW BEGINNING!
And yet the earth does move. “Neither my thoughts nor the thoughts of all the doctors and priests that live now or ever have lived can the least alter facts. You have no right, I have no right, to determine what is. All our determinations must fall before the truth when that is discovered to us.” — Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
“The truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind.” — Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
“Love The Light Forever” — Marie Roper
August 24-25, 27-31, September 1-2, 5-30, October 1-21, 24, 26-27, 29-31, November 4-5, 7, 9-10, 12, 14-15, 17, 19-20,23-25,27,28-29, Dec. 2, 2017