Monthly Archives: January 2013


What happened to Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was well deserved, in early Christian interpretation. God’s mercy for a people well acquainted, by that time, with His own completely non-violent part in the debacle of 30 A.D.—His own profoundly satisfying methods of peacemaking and conciliationhad run out, finally. Their cup of unrepentance and prolonged viciousness was full and running over! The time had come to trample the grapes of wrath and wipe them off the face of the map. “Israel” would be no more, as a national entity, her God had turned His attention and beneficence to all, from any nation, who would trust His proclamation of peace, pardon, and graciousness. The ethnic children of Israel would henceforth find their own salvation among the nationalities of the world, not in their ancient land. [4/22/06] The modern attempt to revive their ancient nationality is a counter-messianic move, and can only have evil consequences for their salvation. [10/20/07]  Not to mention the welfare of their neighbors who should happen to get in the way of their self-aggrandizing ways.

They’re my enemies, so I must bless them and pray for them (…not, however, ask God to call down coals of fire and brimstone on their heads!).  This all suddenly makes perfect sense in the illuminating glow of Messiah’s own behavior on the cross!  He nullified all his rightful prerogatives as “King of the Jews,” refusing to call his celestial troops (as God’s only-born Son), and instead modeled exemplary, in fact flawless, non-resistance to his future faithful followers.

But it was at his resurrection from the dead that the real action started!  That’s where positive, proactive graciousness landed on planet earth.  This is the “penal substitute” for the devastation that might have beenthat according to any lesser justice “should have” ensued.  You want a “penal substitute”?  There you have it!

God “shoulda” meted out death and desolation to Messiah’s foes; but to the contrary He dealt Messiah a LIFE SENTENCE!  How fair is that!  [4/22/06]

“…[T]the mystery is that God simultaneously was turned against the human race in wrath (Rom. 1:18) and turned towards it in love (Rom. 5:8).  The day we fathom that mystery will be the day we understand Paul’s atonement theology.” — N. T. Wright, “Redemption from the New Perspective?  Towards a Multi-Layered Pauline Theology of the Cross,” in The Redemption:  An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Christ As Redeemer, edited by Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, SJ, Gerald O’Collins, SJ (Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 92 (emphases added).

Of course, we must hasten to readjust matters ever so slightly.  As we have seen, God’s “turnings” in wrath and love were by no stretch of the imagination “simultaneous“!  Wright has concocted a “mystery” where there is none…no, nor a paradox either.  [4/22/06]


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IF God Smote Job, THEN God Smote Jesus; but IF NOT…?

The “trick” in redemption was to find a sacrificial victim so righteous…in fact perfectly sinless such that a capital crime against him could evoke Jehovah’s immediate reversal, including overcompensating damages (dikaioma) by way of justification. [4/22/06]

When the Father “exaltedJesus (“crossurrection”!), He drew all human beings to Himself. No person can come to the Father without this drawing that God Himselfset forth as a protective shield for us”! (Rom. 3:25, Heb. 2:19, 1 John 4:10, Luke 8:13) [4/22/06]

N. T. Wright actually appears to displace the proper “sign” role of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament and to substitute “faith” for it instead. This is a typically Calvinistic reflex, however, and is accompanied by a typically Calvinistic misappropriation of Philippians 1:6 as “proof.” (See Wrights article, “Redemption from the New Perspective,” in The Redemption, edited by Stephen T. Davis, et al [Oxford Univ. Press, 2004]. Ironically, this is all too appropriate a title since we may well need to be redeemed from” certain distinctive errors of that perspective in order to restore Paul’s authentic proclamation.) [4/22/06]

The mortification and sins Jesus bore from “many peoples”—Romans, Idumeans (Herod), Judeans, Galileans—were magnified through the lens of the cross and overcompensated sufficient for the sins of the whole world! [4/22/06]

God also overcompensates mere faith—a non-work!—with overwhelming SALVATION! [4/22/06] This is the purest graciousness! [10/20/07]

Whether God Himself is right in using violence is not at all the question at issue regarding the so-called “Atonement.” He most certainly does use, and not merely threaten, violence, for He is master of good and evil! (This is why Hans Boersma’s theology of atonement wobbles off-center. He allowed himself to be drawn into the magnetic field of post-modern thought, and it pulled him off track, out of orbit.) The real question is whether God Himself, by His own hand smote His own Son on the cross for our sins (“as a substitute”), or didn’t. For starters, let’s ponder this: IF GOD SMOTE JOB THEN GOD SMOTE JESUS. That’s the conundrum. What’s the solution? [4/22/06]

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Up from the Grave He AROSE!

God barely squeaked by in His promise to raise up His vanquished Son in “three days”! HE COULD BARELY WAIT! You must see what it meant for God to have to wait “so long” before DOING JUSTICE!How Long O Jehovah? Shall You be concealed permanently?(Psalm 89)

Then on the “eighth day” of that week, God answered from heaven and UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE, WITH A MIGHTY TRIUMPH O’ER HIS FOES! [4/21/06]

No force on earth or in heaven could have wrestled Jesus onto that cross or pinned his hands and feet with nails! He permitted it—graciously permitted it!—and at no loss of life…except his own, on that dreadful day. This means that he bore or carried that towering crime against his just soul instead of resisting it. He did “not resist the evil one,” but instead prayed for them. Thus he “absorbed” the evil in his own body of mortal flesh, “sin’s flesh.” So instead of avenging himself, he awaited God’s just avenging, and God came through with “A VENGEANCE”! God glorified him with immortality (which he evidently did not possess before this, or he could not have borne/carried our sins to their just deserts: death). Without his death—“to a finality” there could have been no reversal, exaltation, and enthronement “to a finality.” (Heb. 10:1,14) [4/21/06]

The cleansing of our consciences from dead works (Heb. 9:14) and sins was achieved by the Savior’s SELF-ABNEGATION since it was exactly and precisely his soul/self whom we offend whenever we sin, do a misdeed, do wrong, etc. the honor and rights we infringe are the honor and rights he gave up and NEGATED for our sakes, on our behalf, on our account, for us! That’s the essence—the concentrated essence—of what Jesus, Messiah, Son of God accomplished on the cross.

On the other hand, what God, the Father, did at the cross was…exactly nothing…but observe with a giant-sized…a divine-sized measure of “satisfaction” the faithful, reliant, dependent, expectant surrender of His Only-born to the ravages of the most sinister malevolence ever stirred up by man or demon, while in perfect subordination to the directions of his Father in heaven. (This can only have a good outcome…I can feel it!)

The Father deliberately, designedly, strategically passed by any and every opportunity to play His hand at the cross at all, period. He, as it were, allowed His liberating, rescuing, avenging, vindicating pressure to build up a head of steam till all heaven hissed with the barely contained fury of his impending release. And when God the Father unleashed the dynamo of his justice into a cold tomb, it transformed into the warm womb of a brand new, fresh, immortal creation! AND THE SON CAME FORTH INVINCIBLE! The terrestrial recoil was so mighty that even more graves opened to disgorge their surprisingly revivified contents! Laugh if you want; the fun has only BEGUN! [4/22/06]

The divine Son’s humble incarnation, displayed in a Jewish manger, found its culmination in his humiliating “incarnage,” displayed on a Roman cross. [4/22/06]

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Rachel Joy Scott as “Sacrificial Lamb”

Rachel Joy Scott sacrificed herself–an innocent, good (even when her five “good” friends were not, and so abandoned her), forgiving, kind, spotless virgin (decisively giving up her boyfriend and giving up the hope of marriage) lamb (“rachel” in Hebrew) to become a sin-offering (αμαρτια) as a protection, shelter, or shield (ιλαστηριον–“propitiatory shelter,” “mercy-seat“) concerning the sins or offenses of her high school!  Not only that, but also concerning the sins of her parents in divorcing.  Rachel’s willing, voluntary self-sacrifice in accordance with God’s desire, brought the overcompensation of God’s graciousness to her whole family, giving back to her father, Darrell, a vast ministry of salvation in high schools across the country, along with her mother, Beth (plus both of her parents’ new spouses), as well as her sisters and brothers.

Rachel Joy Scott also by her heroic self-sacrifice delivered Columbine High School from a manifold worse devastation than it did suffer in fact.  For the bombs in the cafeteria refused to detonate, thus saving hundreds of lives!  Only twelve students (“disciples”) and one teacher (“master”) died…although many were wounded.

And God was pleased, well-pleased, propitious, gracious, and thousands more have been saved across the nation and beyond, as a consequence!  [4/21/06–the 7th anniversary of the Columbine massacre]

God in the Old Covenant with Israel required that the sin-offering be a flawless lamb (a virgin animal), white (“without spot”).   Why?  Obviously, to depict sinlessness That being the case, the offering was sin against the creature–the harmless, amenable animal!  This ritual act, in effect, depicted wrong or injustice, per se In this precise way, the sin-offering (αμαρτια) truly depicted a sin (αμαρτια).

Thus did the sinless sacrificial victim bear the string of sins, in the words of Rachel Scott, Columbine High School martyr, leading up to its slaughter and death, by accepting all these injustices without complaint and without self-defense, vengeance, or retaliation.

Jesus had the right from his Father to not bear them–no one could have taken his life from his (John 10:17-18), for he could have called more than twelve legions of messengers to save himself if he had chosen to!  (Matt. 26:52-54)  Yet it was erroneously thought “Others he saves!  Himself he cannot save!  (Matt. 27:42)  Not!! Rather, he carries their “string of sins“–“strings of sin,” without reviling and without threat (1 Peter 2:23-25).  By his savage “welt” we are healed, precisely because God avenged it by healing it in him, and then going on to overcompensate him with superabundant healing for us, too, in the bargain!  (I love this Gospel, I do!)  Jesus’ only choices were to avenge himself or to bear the sins.  He gave up what our sins had deprived him of.  He chose to not avenge himself, to not vindicate his own honor, to not use his own authority, which he had direct from his Father.  He laid it all downsurrendering himself instead to his Father’s hands–“Him Who is judging justly(1 Peter 2:23).  And that meant, in the meantime, surrendering himself to his vicious enemies whom he loved, many of whom, by his subsequently demonstrated mercy and graciousness came to trust him after all and got saved.

The medieval notion that at the Cross God avenged His insulted honor is 180° wrongheaded!  Just exactly the opposite, Messiah bore, carried that dishonor instead of avenging himself (although the legitimate authority to do so had never been nor could it be violently taken from him) he waited for Jehovah’s righteous judgment to avenge the enormity!  It is from LOVE the Savior died instead of lashing out in revenge and decimating his enemies.  Because the supernal wisdom behind loving aims at “winning souls” back to amity and friendship.  God’s goal was conciliation, not incineration!  Not to incinerate the sinner but to conciliate the silly (from a word suggesting “deserving pity,” meaning feeble-minded, showing little sense, judgment, or sobriety; foolish, stupid, absurd, ludicrous, etc. [Colloq.]:  dazed, senseless, as from a blow.  [Dial.]:  helpless, weak.  [Archaic]:  feeble, infirm.  [Archaic]:  simple, plain, innocent.)

But to conclude, the ancient covenantal lamb appointed and well-pleasing to God, got consumed by fire, depicting wrath, anger, indignation, fury.  But were these “of God”?  The cross of the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world lights up the truth that gives us the right interpretation.  That fire actually depicts the furious hatred and wrath of Satan and the viciousness he inspires in the world.  Yet the smoke rises “into God’s nostrils” as a memorial of obedient submission depicted and figured by the unblemished, immature lamb.

The raising up of the serpent in the wilderness onto a pole also graphically depicts the coming crucifixion as a heinous sin.  [4/21/06]

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Was Jesus unrecognizable to the Emmaus road disciples (Luke 24:13-35) and, indeed, to the rest of his gathered disciples (Luke 24:36-53) because he was healed (although not yet glorified) beyond his “deformity” alluded to in the great Messianic passage of Isaiah 52:13-53:4? [4/19/06]

We could save ourselves a lot of trouble and grief by not trying to save ourselves from trouble and grief. [4/19/06]

If “God sacrificed His Son in order that the divine law should be upheld…despite mankind’s infinite offence,” as some theologians insist (Sydney E. Ahlstrom, in the Introduction to the 1975 reprint edition of Horace Bushnell’s The Vicarious Sacrifice, Grounded in Principles of Universal Obligation, 1865), then how can Paul be so cavalier about the Law in 1 Timothy 1, Galatians 2-3, Romans 3-8, as well as Jesus’ one-upmanship in the “Sermon on the Mount” and his controversies with the Jews? One would have to distinguish Jesus’ honoring another “divine Law” than the one Moses had given and which the Jewish teachers were custodians of. Yet if this distinction is conceded, then Jesus must himself have been the revealer of that more “divine” Law. But why would he have to sacrifice himself to “uphold” it or honor it (unless to “uphold” it against the lesser authority of Moses…and his hypocritical custodians)? [4/19/06]

Shalom is the state of affairs where all accounts have been squared—all outstanding debts paid up, all rightful obligations fulfilled, and ALL INJUSTICES OVERCOMPENSATED according to divine law and equity.

War is the diametric opposite of this, where wrongs are tragically overcompensated, instead, by devastation and desolation. War is hence an overreaction in the opposite direction from fruitfulness and joy. It is the incursion of wrath and correlative loss and destruction. [4/20/06]

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Why didn’t Horace Bushnell’s (1802-76) view of Messiah’s self-sacrifice really catch hold? Because it did not include the absolutely critical factor of proper justice. Bushnell correctly saw that the Anselmian version of God’s justice was very far off the mark. But he did not yet see the contours of God’s hyper-transcending justice in raising Jesus up from his submissively-obedient-but-viciously-malevolent crucifixion. It was on the cross that virtuous subordination and vicious insubordination met and clashed, accompanied by a mega-ton flash of Truth so gigantic that the gracious fallout is still coming down to this day!

This may not be fair to the later Bushnell (after the publication of his Forgiveness and Law Grounded in Principles Interpreted by Human Analogies in 1874, two years before he died). But it is still worth engaging the recurrent problem of his sentiment in his sermon, “The Power of God in Self-Sacrifice,” published in Sermons for the New Life, 7th ed. (NY: Charles Scribner & Co., 1868), pp. 346-63. There he writes,

Just here, then, we begin to open upon the true meaning of my text—Christ the power of God. There is no so great power even among men, as this of which I know speak. It conquers evil by enduring evil. It takes the rage of its enemy and lets him break his malignity across the enduring meekness of its violated love. Just here it is that evil becomes insupportable to itself. It can argue against every thing but suffering patience, this disarms it. Looking in the face of suffering patience it sinks exhausted. All its fire is spent. (p355)

Not by a long shot! For there is no justifying resurrection in sight within a country mile of this paragraph! And without God’s historically vigorous vindication of Messiah’s virtuous disposition this exposition falls limp, ineffectual, feckless!

Yet Bushnell somehow picks up and trudges dutifully onward:

In this view it is that Christ crucified is the power of God. It is because he shows God in self-sacrifice, because he brings out and makes historical in the world God’s passive virtue, which is, in fact, the culminating head of power in his character. By this it is that he opens our human feeling, bad and blind as it is, pouring himself into its deepest recesses and bathing it with his cleansing, new creating influence. There is even a kind of efficiency in it and that the highest, viz., moral efficiency; for it is moral power, not physical, not force. It is that kind of power which feeling has to impregnate feeling; that which one person has in good to melt himself into and assimilate another in evil. Hence it is that so much is said of Christ as a new-discovered power—the power of God unto salvation; the Son of God with power; the power of Christ[;] Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. The power spoken of here is conceived to be such that Christ is really our new creator. We are his workmanship created unto good works; new creatures therefore in him, transformed radically by our faith in him, passed from death unto life, born of God, renewed in the spirit of our mind, created after God in righteousness and true holiness. All the figures of cleansing, sprinkling, washing, healing, purging, terminate in the same thing, the new creating efficacy of Christ, the power of God. It is the power of character, feeling, a right passivity, a culminating grace of sacrifice in God (pp. 355-56; emphasis added).

Is that so? Is that all? The bathos of it all! Where’s the power for our weakness in this “power”? This salt lacks savor, flavor—it’s insipid! Here is moral influence without miraculous effluence! Messiah’s own moral influence could not have won the day—did not win the war—until the God of heaven answered the blood with the Spirit of resurrection power! [1/19/06]  In this passage, Bushnell eloquently extolled the power of God at work in the Lord Jesus, but did not apprehend the indispensable mechanism by which, alone, God was able (because justified) to transfer it to us in our desperate need.  So close…yet so far away.

The “power of the Cross (which is not, incidentally, a biblical phrase at all!) is precisely that it called forth by ineluctable divine justice the supervening power of the Resurrection (which is liberally and exuberantly taught all over the New Testament)! The compounding of divine and human elements in Jesus rendered him ultimately “unstable” in the presence of “normal” injustices of worldly equilibria. He was a volatile mixture whose crucifixion triggered a timing mechanism that, in three days, detonated a planetary explosion. And that released unearthly magnitudes of radiated energy of wholesomeness, which vivifies, in turn, what was dead. [4/19/06]

The death-dealing violence of the Cross is overmatched by the life-giving vigor, vibrancy, vivacity, vitality, victory, and vindication of the Resurrection! [4/19/06]

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When God, the “Knower of hearts” (Acts 15:8), sees the “the blood of His Own” (Acts 20:28) sprinkled on our hearts by faith, He “avenges” it in a similarly overcompensating manner that He did when it “cried out” to Him in sinless innocence from the cross of Jesus, for in his death he himself was savagely silenced. In the case of the Messiah, he was overcompensated with immortality, exaltation, and enthronement…for starters! In our case, we are overcompensated for our faith—perfectly empty of labor for which otherwise we might expect some meager compensation via divine indebtedness—by an overwhelming flood of pure divine graciousness—unearned, undeserved, absolutely unimagined! And all for Messiah’s sake and to his glorious credit!

Here we can behold how much more than being “just forgiven” (as the bumper sticker has it) has come bounding our way when God peered into our hearts and saw humble faith. FOR WHEN GOD SEES TRUST, HE DECLARES, “JUST!” and responds with the judicial awarding of Wholesome Spirit of resurrection power and agelong life, “poured out on us richly through Jesus Messiah, our Savior (Titus 3:6), yet even so, a mere earnest of our future full inheritance together with Messiah and our fellow believers.

It is right for God to do this for us because His only-born Son suffered abuse beyond measure, therefore he must legally get reparations—including Wholesome Spirit—without measure (John 3:33). ‘Even Steven’ doesn’t cut it in God’s courtroom. Furthermore, he gets to give away his wealth if he wants to! It’s his. Therefore his own loving heart is visible in how he bestows his beneficence to us, his enemies by vicious deeds and hateful thoughts…and unworthy theologies!

Yet he who is stubborn as to the Son shall not be seeing life, but the indignation of God is remaining on him (John 3:36b). Ouch! That abiding anger of God is not some residue of a merely partial unloading of it on the Cross, for Scripture gives no evidence of anger from Heaven against Messiah Jesus at any point in his career, not even excepting his cross! Rather, mediate revelations of God’s anger are displayed on an “as needed” basis throughout the uneven drama of disrupted human history. (A decisive, paradigmatic one took place in 70 A.D. to close out God’s long patience with the fleshly seed of Israel who had despised and viciously chased and oppressed any who had been receptive to God’s utterly unprecedented graciousness and, in their bitterly intolerant racism had forbidden even its communication to other nations and peoples.) But its final terrifying unveiling awaits the Lake of Fire for all who have never repented and turned back to God’s favor.

Clearly then, it is the repudiation of the Father’s and the Son’s steady, undeviating graciousness, offered in the Proclamation of the Kingdom, that accounts for any advent of their (for They are and ever have been absolutely and indivisibly ONE in this trait) indignation/anger/wrath upon sinful human beings. [4/19/06]

How had God conciliated us to Himself through Christ unless by extending us graciousness (), including the gracious gift () and gratuity () of Wholesome Spirit when, in His response to the offenses of the world, culminating in the crime of crucifying His own Son, the rightful King of Israel, instead of avenging the Cross by destroying his murderers on the spot, He in fact stupendously reversed the fatal crime itself by an unheard of act of justice to Jesus that transcends by far every created means of possible accomplishment, and thus also every sober expectation or imagination!

That kind of totally awesome justice, by way of avenging, heralded a reprieve of destruction for all Messiah’s enemies while simultaneously announcing in unmistakable terms the tandem fact that this resurrected Man must then undeniably be who he said he was…and then some! That could only mean that he had EVERY LEGITIMATE RIGHT TO WIPE THEM OUT, YET DID NOT! THIS, FURTHER, MEANS THAT HE WAS LEAVING THEM FREE IN THE MEANTIME TO BOW IN SUBMISSION TO HIS VINDICATED CLAIMS OR WAIT UNTIL HIS DREADFUL COUNTER-SENTENCE AGAINST REBELS WOULD BE HISTORICALLY EXECUTED AS PROMISED. THEIR MOVE.

WHAT AN UNHEARD-OF WAY TO TREAT MORTAL ENEMIES! YET THAT WAS GOD’S WAY OF PEACEMAKING. HE ACTUALLY LET THEM MURDER HIS OWN SON, THEIR KING, AND ‘GET AWAY WITH IT’! BUT ONLY THAT ONCE! FOR ONCE WAS ALL IT TOOK TO PROVE ONCE AND FOR ALL THAT JESUS WAS TRULY A MERCIFUL SAVIOR. Further rejection of His terms of peace and surrender would be met with terrifying consequences. It was this frightful fact that the “Abomination of Desolation” in 70 A.D. was intended to etch indelibly on the slate of human history and racial memory thenceforth. [4/19/06]

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