Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Necessary Reason for Christ’s Cross and Resurrection

The question we should ask regarding Jesus’ dereliction by God is “How did Jesus react in response?”  Did he “curse God and die”?  Or did he continue in faithfulness obediently to the finish line?  Because OUR DESTINY WAS AT STAKE IN HIS MOMENTOUS CHOICE OF CONDUCT AT THAT POINT, AS AT ALL PREVIOUS POINTS IN HIS ENTIRE PRIVATE LIFE AND PUBLIC CAREER (AFTER HIS IMMERSION).  FOR NOT UNTIL AND UNLESS HE ENDURED IN BENIGNITYJUST TOWARD HUMANITY AND DEVOUT TOWARD DEITY–SINLESS TO THE BITTER END, COULD HE WIN, CONQUER, TRIUMPH!  THIS WAS JESUS’ “FINAL“–HIS FINAL EXAMINATION.  HIS FAILURE OF THIS LAST TEST WOULD HAVE SEALED OUR DOOM FOREVER! THIS WAS WITHOUT DOUBT HIS HARDEST TRIAL OF ALL.  COULD HE STILL TRUST THAT HIS GOD WOULD SAVE HIM EVEN AFTER GETTING HIMSELF HUNG ON A TREE, THUS ACTIVATING A CURSE AGAINST HIMSELF?  WHAT TERROR MIGHT THIS HAVE AROUSED IN HIS BREAST?  YET HE ENDURED…STEADFAST!  [8/03/06]

The repeated refrain, “that the Scriptures must be fulfilled,” provides the “necessary” clue to the “necessityof Messiah’s cross and resurrection.  For “the Scriptures” are the token of the covenants with Abraham, Israel, and David.  God had made promises, had bound Himself by oaths!  By these means He was necessarily, perforce drawn into the historical process as an actor WITH A SCRIPT THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED.

The deeper issue, of course, immediately asserts itself by the question, “Why did He voluntarily bind Himself to these particular promises?”  The answer to that will reveal agelong secrets concerning our salvation that must be kept hidden from Satan.  [8/03/06; 6/02/08]

If you choose to follow me in this premial teaching about the Atonement, you too may well have to bear the reproach of “having a bias toward the false” and “harboring secret sympathies with error” because you too boldly believe, confess, teach, and practice the unadulterated truth. Weigh the evidence, count the cost, and only then pick up your cross and follow. [8/03/06]

To attempt to correct the errors of incorrigible theologians is to run the risk of getting smeared with labels of their opposite extreme. We must be willing to run this risk in order to clarify the truth. It makes our task more difficult and sometimes grievous to the point of dismay or even despair. But we must slog on, using straight and calibrated tools, using moderate, if severe, language. We must become like Jesus did in trials—faithful, obedient, just, not returning reviling for reviling, but, rather, blessing. [8/03/06]

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under The Atonement

In Scripture, JUSTICE IS DONE BY MAKING AMENDS, or its equivalent

The following two paragraphs were suggested by Gerhard O. Forde’s comments on the theology of 19th century evangelical German theologian J. C. K. von Hofmann.

In the Mosaic Law, justice is virtually always done by making amends in some way, never by “punishment,” per se—a term scarcely found in the Old Testament except as a variant translation of terms better rendered by other English words. Even imprisonment is virtually unheard of as a punishment, as we know it, but only as a temporary restraining measure (see Gustav Friedrich Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, [Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, 1978; T. & T. Clark, 1873], 275-281). In this way, peace/shalom is restored, i.e., by “paying up” outstanding debts or infractions.

Thus also in the New Covenant, Jesus could not have “brought righteousness in” by suffering “punishment” from God for our sins, as a “substitute,” BUT ONLY BY MAKING AMENDS FOR THEM. THIS IS WHAT THE “CROSSURRECTION” ACCOMPLISHED—THE JUST ONE WAS HUMILIATED BY INJUSTICE SO THAT GOD WOULD BE JUSTIFIED IN EXALTING HIM, IN THE ENSUING GRACIOUSNESS OF GOD, JESUS WAS HONORED SO ABUNDANTLY WITH AUTHORITY OVER ALL HUMANITY THAT HIS JUST AWARD MORE THAN COMPENSATED OR MADE UP OR MADE AMENDS FOR HUMAN SIN. THE ACTIVE INGREDIENT WITHIN US IS THE PROMISED GIFT OF THE WHOLESOME SPIRIT OF GRACIOUSNESS AND LIFE, THE POWERFUL AGENT THAT WASHES, ERASES, CLEANSES, AND REPUDIATES SIN. IT IS HENCE THE ACTIVE INGREDIENT THAT EFFECTS FORGIVENESS OR PARDON OF SINS BY ITS ANTITHETICAL OPERATION AND ANTIDOTAL NATURE. THEREBY IT MAKES US WHOLESOME AND ALIVE IN SPIRIT, SHEDDING ABROAD GOD’S OWN LOVE IN OUR HEARTS. [8/03/06]

Leave a comment

Filed under The Atonement

“Stainless-steel-clad” REWARDING RIGHTEOUSNESS

The “iron-cladexterior necessity” of “substitutionary atonement” has rusted through already centuries ago, while the “stainless-steel-cladintegral necessity of God’s REWARDING RIGHTEOUSNESS perdures intact!  [8/03/06]

Leave a comment

Filed under The Atonement

Baptism depicts PARTICIPATION, not SUBSTITUTION

“Baptism” into Messiah signifies immersion into his death and burial, but this was not intended in a “substitutionary” sense, obviously, because we all still die. This means that Jesus did not die “instead of us” or “in our place” in order that we would not have to die. That’s not how it all works. Rather, the Master died for our sakes and on our behalf and for us so that in spite of the fact that we all still have to die (because of sin still dwelling in our mortal bodies, and as its consequence, as God warned Adam) YET WE WILL LIVE AGAIN by the vivifying power of the Wholesome Spirit that brought back our Master via resurrection! Thus the mechanism is participatory, not substitutionary. [8/01/06]

It should not be puzzling to us (although it continues to be for some theologians) why only Jesus was raised from the dead and not all the rest of us, too. (See, e.g., Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God, p. 184.) Part of Messiah’s just award for his unjust suffering of abuse is “seed.” God promised him a vast progeny, numerous descendants, fruitfulness! But it takes time and many trials to raise kids! Moreover, the task is impossible in the bland absence of evils in the environment, because our right response to them is what “builds character,” which, if it is to mean anything, must mean the character of God that Jesus displayed as our model and example in person! He made visible what we are to become like—his likeness. This is the goal of our adoption or sonship. Without sufficient…abundant opportunities to act in trust of what God revealed supremely in His only-born Son by his teaching and conduct, and in resistance to Satan’s alternative, contradictory suggestions, we would lack character, depth, strength, determination, consistency, worthy identity. [8/01/06]

“[T]he destruction of death (and thus the resurrection of the dead) is in fact what the reign of Christ is fundamentally all about. That and nothing else.” Martinus de Boer, The Defeat of Death: Apocalyptic Eschatology in 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5 (Sheffield Academic Press, 1988), p. 126. Quoted in Alexander LaBrecque, “The Resurrection Faith: Paul’s Somatic Soteriology Apart from the Circumcision Controversy” (University of Sheffield dissertation, 1995), p. 111, note 339. [8/02/06]

In the trial and crucifying of Jesus, the Messiah, the only-born Son of God, the Explanation by Whom the universe was created, the Owner of all things, every one of the ten commandments was broken! Not mere blasphemy therefore (à la Pannenberg), but a MANIFOLD CRIME OF STAGGERING MAGNITUDE WAS PERPETRATED. [8/02/06]

Leave a comment

Filed under The Atonement

Anselm: “Justice VERSUS Mercy”

Rejecting the idea of a ransom paid to the devil, Anselm was the first to oppose, within the Godhead, the attributes of justice and of mercy. He constructed in theology a theorem similar to that of the parallelogram of forces in mechanics, as Strauss ingeniously remarks: divine mercy inclining towards forgiveness and justice calling for inexorable punishment are two equal forces, and the resulting force lies in the diagonal of vicarious satisfaction. [Auguste Sabatier, The Doctrine of the Atonement And its Historical Evolution (London: Williams & Norgate; NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904), pp. 69-70. All emphases added except the last two words, italicized in original.]

Leave a comment

Filed under The Atonement

The Cross Was Not a Setback

The Cross by no means distanced Jesus from his ultimate goal of bringing the Kingdom of God he had been proclaiming and offering to the people of Israel. On that cross he was closer than ever to the envisioned goal! And on the third day it broke through with resounding force! Yet further, fifty days later, another “prolepsis” (anticipation) of our full inheritance broke into history at Pentecost—this was yet more of the same “firstfruit” phenomena as Jesus’ resurrection. These were aspects of God’s righteous repayment to Jesus for his suffering of abuse on our behalf, so this explains why they are, perforce, MAGNIFICATIONS OF THOSE ELEMENTS OF GOD’S KINGDOM ALREADY VISIBLE IN THE CAREER OF THE MESSIAH. For now the “overcompensation” principle of God’s justice kicks in, full force! [7/31/06]

BAD CREDIT? YOU’RE APPROVED!”

All have defaulted and are deficient in divine credit. (Rom. 3:23) That’s the bad news. The good news is that everyone is APPROVED for BUYING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

Here’s the deal. Jesus was under contract to teach and proclaim God’s impending Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and fullness of joy, as well as to perform certain actions to demonstrate a broad sampling of its celestial powers. But such superior giftings aroused intense envy among those already officially authorized to do the teaching in Israel. So they closed ranks to do him in royal. Little did they know what a DIVINE BACKLASH this would provoke! They made such a bloody mess of their Messiah that GOD WAS INCITED TO TAKE MATTERS INTO HIS OWN HANDS AND CLEAN UP THEIR WRECKAGE.

First of all, He brought their abused (covenantal!) victim back to life, making him immortal in the bargain.

Next, He enthroned him at His own right hand in glory and royal splendor while He Himself proceeded to subordinate all his enemies (he evidently had made a lot of them!) under his feet.

Then He gave Jesus some of his royal inheritance as a down payment on the New Creation that was his just due in cosmic overcompensation for the agony he was wickedly put through.

Following that, Jesus sent this Gift back to earth as a pledge or earnest of our own inheritance of an allotment in his Kingdom, just as he promised: the Spirit of wholesomeness. This way, when anyone trusts this Proclamation and gets immersed in this Spirit, they can experience the signs and miracles and powers of that Kingdom within this present age as proof of its reality in the coming age. And best of all, IT’S ALL FREE! WHOOPEE! [7/31/06-8/01/06]

Leave a comment

Filed under The Atonement

Jesus’ passion was not “penal” or “in place of man” but “suffering from and under man”

Some years before Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology was published and translated into English, Herbert Neie wrote a dissertation on his thought up to his own time, entitled, The Doctrine of the Atonement in the Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg (Berlin, New York:  Walter De Gruyter 1978; reprinted 2012).  There he makes the following thoughtful comment (emphasis added).

[I]f, on account of God’s self-definition as love through Jesus’ proclamation and resurrection, Jesus’ passion is no longer intelligible as penal or in place of man, then it must be interpreted so as to be compatible with this novel self-definition of God. That is, then it may, and must, be understood as the suffering of God who suffers because he loves man. Because he loves man, he shares1 man’s suffering from and under man. God bears and endures what man does to him and what man does to and endures from one another.2

1 Similarly Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, vol. ii: Existence and the Christ (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1957), p. 976. Substitutional suffering is “a rather unfortunate term and should not be used in theology. God participates in the suffering of existential estrangement, but his suffering is not a substitute for the suffering of the creature. Neither is the suffering of the Christ a substitute for the suffering of man. But the suffering of God, universally and in the Christ, is the power which overcomes creaturely self-destruction by participation and transformation. Not substitution, but free participation, is the character of the divine suffering.”—One would take issue with Tillich only on the “free.” For love necessarily participates in the suffering of the other.

2 For the history of this idea in theology and philosophy of religion, beginning with the Biblical prophets, cf. J. Moltmann, The Crucified God. The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology (NY, Evanston, San Francisco, London: Harper & Row, 1974), pp. 267-278, and the literature cited there. Especially important for the development and use of this idea is Jewish religious philosophy and theology and process theology. M. does not inform about the latter’s achievement.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Atonement