Monthly Archives: December 2014

DIVINE COUNTER-EXPLOITATION

Sinners exploited Jesus Christ, taking massive advantage of his abundant graciousness; God, for His part, exploited his crucifixion to swing a RESURRECTION, and thereby returned graciousness in superabundance!  Fair enough? [7/23/08; 8/11/16]

The Day of Atonement depicts not guilt “transfer” but guilt itself for slaying the innocent, i.e., not “sin in general” or “all [their] sins,” etc., but…THIS PARTICULAR SIN! For it is primarily, if not exclusively the cross of God’s Son that is being focused on here, and all that pertains to it and puts it in context. [8/04/08]

Is there any other way of “satisfying justice” than penally! It makes sense that this would indeed be the exclusive method if justice is exclusively penal. BUT IT IS NOT! For a righteous God MUST WITHOUT FAIL RESTORE THE RIGHTEOUS WHO HAVE FALLEN. HE MUST RAISE UP THE UPRIGHT WHO WERE KNOCKED DOWN AND TRAMPLED. HE MUST NECESSARILY REWARD THEM FOR THEIR SUFFERING ABUSE WITHOUT RESORTING TO RETALIATION OR REVILING. And all this BECAUSE HE IS JUST AND UPRIGHT HIMSELF! [8/06/08]

The Cross of Christ was not a public demonstration of God’s punishment of sin, but, quite the contrary, a shameful demonstration of human punishment of righteousness! [8/06/08]

“Penal Substitution” advocates have at least some consistency on their side; they back up their penal doctrine with punitive language toward all who differ with them! They know how to give a tongue lashing, but though they do so with the tongues of men and angels, they generally lack the love that they claim is still integral with their message. Said better, the “love” they claim is no more than we should expect from someone who teaches that God “EXPRESSED WRATH AGAINST THE SINLESSLY INNOCENT ‘OUT OF LOVE’ FOR THE SINNER.” Thus they can express sincerely the sort of “love” that comports with an exclusively penal construal of God’s justice and righteousness. Hence arises the shrunken caricature of it that all their critics accuse them of. [8/08/08]

If a penal substitutionary atonement couldn’t actually “satisfy” God, WHY SHOULD IT SATISFY US?! [8/10/08]

For it is obvious that ONLY A RESURRECTION of His abused Son could satisfy God, or He could have gotten by with a simple massacre of His Loved One’s assailants. [8/10/08]

Even penal substitution advocates do not scruple to call Christ’s death a “payment.” Why, then, do they demur to confess and assert then Christ’s death was God’s payment to Satan to ransom us from his control and death’s dominion? Yet, to be sure, on closer examination it was Christ’s death as reversed by his resurrection that packed the whallop to trounce Satan at his own game. The old Adversary himself was being led down the garden path to his own disempowerment by his successes at destroying the righteous who preceded Jesus (think of the prophets and even the Maccabees who suffered appalling atrocities steadfastly). But they were all still sinners, only relatively faithful and obedient to the covenantal directives. Messiah Jesus went way beyond them and therefore deserved a just award, both much sooner and much larger…in repayment for his abuse. [8/11/08]

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The Parable of the Vineyard vs. Penal Substitution

From my reading of the illustration Jesus gave about the vineyard, it looks like the owner took a great deal of care to establish and protect it (Matthew 21:33-46).  But things went wrong.  Those to whom the owner leased it were treacherous and vicious, even to murdering the owner’s son in their efforts to stay in control of what never belonged to them in the first place!  Jesus then asked the chief priests, elders, and Pharisees, whom he was addressing in this illustration, what the master of the vineyard would do to those farmers.  It was they who replied that he would destroy the usurpers and lease the vineyard to others who would render the fruit to him in their seasons.

But, of course, “as we all know,” this is not how the parable played out historically.  At least according to penal substitution’s scenario, the lord of the vineyard actually was behind the murder and it was really an expression of His wrath against sin-in-general poured out on His innocent Son as a “substitute” for sinners like those farmers.  (So, really, shouldn’t they have been off the hook, scot-free?  Weren’t they only executing the Lord’s “secret will” or “hidden counsel”?  Shouldn’t they have been applauded and held guiltless…and never punished?)  That’s one interpretation (with hesitations) of what “really” happened at the Cross.  Problem is, Jesus not only doesn’t ever hint at such a strangely roundabout interpretation, he reinforces the judgment pronounced by the leaders of the Jews and turns it back on them!

However, there’s another explanation of what was about to happen historically in light of this “dark” illustration.  The Lord was indeed angry and wrathful toward those savage criminals, but He had the power to actually reverse the criminal bloodshed on account of the innocence of His Son’s blood, REGARDLESS OF THE CULPABILITY OF HIS KILLERS.  THEREFORE HE COULD JUSTLY REPRIEVE THE MURDERERS, PROVIDED THEY WERE SORRY FOR THEIR ACTIONS AND STARTED LIVING RIGHT.  BUT IF NOT, HE WOULD COME BACK AGAIN IN UNRELIEVED FURY TO WIPE THEM OUT!  (Think:  70 A.D.)

This, I submit, is “the rest of the story.”  [7/14/08]  God interposed a 40-year reprieve based on His own restorative justice to Jesus, demonstrated by the Resurrection.  To choose faith in the lordship of this Jesus was therefore to preempt suffering penal justice for the crime of crucifying him.  [9/20/08]

When the uprightness of Jesus the Son—his trustful obedience-to-the-Truth (i.e., the true Spirit of the Old Covenant Law of Moses)—ascended to Heaven in the sweet-smelling smoke of his well-pleasing self-sacrifice and blended with the uprightness of Jehovah the Father—his trustworthy Promises-pledged-in-troth (i.e., the Divine obligations he bound Himself to in the Old Covenant)—THE RESULTING “CRITICAL MASS” OF SHEER RIGHTEOUSNESS DETONATED AN INCOMPREHENSIBLE EXPLOSION OF NEW LIFE—A VERITABLE “NUCLEAR SPRING”! A VAST VERNAL OASIS SPREADING THROUGHOUT THE COSMOS FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT! [7/15/08]

You still insist on a “substitutionary atonement”? I’ll show you a substitutionary atonement: GOD HIMSELF SUBSTITUTED CHRIST’S RESURRECTION FOR THE DUE EXECUTION OF HIS MURDERERS! SUCH A SUBSTITUTION IS THE EPITOME OF GRACIOUSNESS! IN FACT, IT FAR TRANSCENDS MERELY SPARING LIFE, FOR IT GIVES LIFE AFRESH AND ANEW! THAT RESURRECTION ATONED FOR THAT MURDER AND SOME! FOR THAT SUPERCOMPENSATION ENGULFED THE WHOLE WORLD OF SINFUL HUMAN BEINGS. ONE SUCH MURDER GOES A LONG. LONG WAY IN HEAVEN’S ACCOUNTING! AND IT GIVES GALACTIC GLORY TO GOD’S JUSTICE!

Yes, with God, all things are possible…AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HAS “GUARANTEED THIRD DAY ARRIVAL.” [7/15/08]

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Penal Substitution: the Counterfeit Atonement

Jesus “condemns sin” (Romans 8:3) by having “conquered the world” (John 16:33, 1 John 5:4-5) and having “conquered the Vicious One” (1 John 2:14), “annulling the acts of the Adversary” (1 John 3:8). He accomplished all this by remaining faithful to keep his Father’s directions even on the cross, his most severe trial and temptation (1 John 5:5, Romans 14:23). Thereby he won and received the “just award” (Romans 5:16, 18, 8:4) of his own faithfulness (Romans 1:17, 3:22, 25, 26, 27, 31, Galatians 2:16, 16, 20, 3:2, 5, 6, 22, 23, 25, 26, Philippians 3:9, Hebrews 12:2) and obedience (Hebrews 5:7-9, 7:23-28) so that he could share it with all sinners who have faith in him…GRATUITOUSLY/FOR FREE (Romans 3:24, 5:15-17, 2 Corinthians 9:15, Ephesians 3:7, 4:7-8, Hebrews 6:4, John 4:10, Acts 2:38, 8:20, 10:45, 11:17), namely, the Holy Spirit from the Father! [7/06/08]

Is Satan the “agent” of God’s wrath? In the case of Job, he was certainly not the agent of God’s wrath. But how about other cases affecting not the righteous, but the vicious? In the cases of the Flood of Noah and the incineration of Sodom, was God “letting Satan loose” on human beings? How about Belshazzar’s Babylon? The falling Tower of Siloam (Luke 13:4)? The Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.? [7/07/08]

The blood of the sacrifices in Scripture is a COMPOUND…SYMBOL signifying super-potent, death-reversing, life-giving, disease-healing, sin-washing divinely just super-compensation for a public, unjust, violent death of an absolutely sinless human being. [7/12/08]

PENAL SUBSTITUTION: THE COUNTERFEIT ATONEMENT

To call the Cross an act of “justice” upon our sins “vicariously” borne by Jesus as “our substitute” but then turn right around and call his resurrection an act of justice that vindicated and acquitted and exonerated him is to indulge in logical, or at least legal incoherence, and not of a trivial sort. If God could “impute” enough sin to Christ to warrant a torrential outburst of divine wrath to manifest His “justice” and “holiness,” [showing how “seriously” He takes sin [9/20/08]], then how could He turn right around and display His justice and holiness by raising him from the dead? The obvious and correct answer (which all will admit, as we shall see) is that He cannot. We simply can’t have it both ways. AND THIS IS WHY PENAL SUBSTITUTION ADVOCATES FIND IT SO VERY DIFFICULT TO SERVE AS ADVOCATES FOR RESURRECTIONARY JUSTICE! Indeed, the very idea would implicitly sabotage penal substitution as a way of atonement, and they feel it! It unsettles their logic. The lame affirmation dribbles down their beards and collects in an embarrassing puddle. They make lousy advocates of the true Gospel, because they have been compromised by a false and counterfeit one. WE MUST ATTEMPT TO RESCUE THEM FROM THEIR TAR PIT IF WE TRULY LOVE THEM DESPITE THEIR SLIPPERY, STICKY, TREACHEROUS DOCTRINE. It is easy to see how anyone might get entangled in such a fateful trap after losing sight (like Anselm did, with all Protestants stumbling along after him) of THE LODESTAR OF MESSIAH’S RESURRECTION AS THE PARAMOUNT HISTORIC DISPLAY OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS. But once this vital forgotten truth is brought back into center view, and our hearts get riveted back on God’s glory in Christ’s resurrection, all penal payment theories melt away like slugs in the bright cheerful sunshine!

It is in such moments of joyous recognition of a long-lost truth (and they come all too seldom) that we feel energized and courageous enough to jettison comfortable—and even, to a degree, comforting—illusions and embrace the genuine and solid article. All this tooting about a “substitute” is but bugling an uncertain sound,” for we have “ears but hear not” the distant trumpet voice calling out, JESUS! COME FORTH!” This clear crystalline utterance sounds the death knell to all injustice. It is the FATHER’S VOICE CALLING BACK THE LORD OF ALL RIGHTEOUS VICTIMS FROM HIS DOOM, AND IN HIS TRAIN UNTOLD MILLIONS MORE TO COME, THEN “THE LAST TRUMP”…IS PLAYED AND “GAME OVER” IS CALLED. “These are those who…rinse their robes and whiten them in the blood of the Lamb.” “And they conquer [Satan] through the blood of the Lamb, and through the explanation of their testimony, and they love not their existence until death.” (Revelation 7:14, 12:11) [7/12/08]

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God’s Justice Supplies Protective Coverage from Death by Avenging Christ’s Bloodshed with Overflowing Life to All the Sinful Who Believe

By diverting the locus of the Atonement from the blood (i.e., resurrection from the dead to new, immortal life) to the cross, “penal substitution” advocates necessarily pervert the significance of hilasterionprotective shelter! They glue their eyes to the cross to eke out some conjectured protection from God’s wrath (hence the language of “averting,” “deflecting,” “quenching,” “absorbing,” etc.) instead of observing, like proper practitioners of theological science, that the actual locus of the Atonement is wherever the blood is applied, since that is the active ingredient of this protective function. Hence the blood is accorded this property for the simple reason that it represents the power of Messiah’s resurrection-from-among-the-dead applied to whatever it gets “literally” spattered on, and Leviticus goes into much detail about that. The most prominent of these places are the altar itself (“horns,” “sides,” “base”), the priests (certain body parts) and, supremely, the ark of the Covenant and parts of the tabernacle/temple on the Day of Atonement. (The laws concerning leprosy also required blood contact for the “patient” and their dwelling place in order to cleanse them both.) [7/03/08]

Observing closely, we note that the main object that received such treatment was THE ALTAR ITSELF. And we need not look far for the reason: it was there that the SIN[-OFFERING] and TRESPASS[-OFFERING] were “committed”! This means that THE ALTAR WAS THE MAIN THING TO “BE ATONED FOR” OR RECEIVE THE PROTECTIVE SHIELD because that is where the “SIN” symbolically, ritually, metaphorically HAPPENED—THE SUPREME CRIME SCENE WHERE THE “FLAWLESS” SOUL, “WITHOUT BLEMISH,” WAS SLAIN OR SLAUGHTERED. This all, of course, pointed forward to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Lord, the LAMB OF GOD, who TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.” His CROSS, similarly, was drenched in his blood TO ATONE FIRST OF ALL FOR THE SIN OR CRIME OF HIS GRATUITOUS SLAUGHTER. But how do you atone for a capital crime? Under the Old Covenant, YOU DON’T…CAN’T! The execution of the capital offender is demanded instead. Except in the case of accidental manslaughter, in which case the innocent agent must flee to and dwell in a city of refuge awaiting the death of the high priest, foreshadowing that only his death could bring a sufficient protective covering for such cases. BUT IF IT WERE POSSIBLE TO REVERSE AND REPAY SUCH A CRIME, THAT SURELY WOULD HAVE BEEN THE PREFERRED JURIDICAL STIPULATION, FOR THAT CAPTURES THE TRUE, AUTHENTIC SENSE OF THE MOSAIC LAW. AND THAT IS PRECISELY AND AMAZINGLY WHAT DID TRANSPIRE IN THE SINGLE CASE OF JESUS OF NAZARETH “WHO IS CALLED THE MESSIAH.” SURELY HIS SLAYERS COULD HAVE DONE NO SUCH THING, EVEN IF THEY HAD REPENTED AND REALIZED THEIR CAPITAL SIN OF EXECUTING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT UPON THE SINLESS SON OF THE MOST HIGH GOD OF ISRAEL! WHICH THEY DIDN’T! THIS MOST EGREGIOUS AND HEINOUS ABOMINATION OF THE NATION FORCED THE INVISIBLE GOD TO INTERVENE IN A MOST MIRACULOUS WAY AND RAISE HIS ABUSED SON FROM THE DEAD!

[INTERMISSION FOR CLAPPING, CHEERING, PRAISING, ACCLAIMING, EXULTING, AND GENERALLY GOING ABSOLUTELY NUTS WITH AMAZEMENT, ASTONISHMENT AND THANKSGIVING!]

TRUE JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED! AND IT SHOWED ONCE-AND-FOR-ALL HOW RIGHT AND JUST AND ESPECIALLY GRACIOUS THE OTHERWISE TOTALLY INVISIBLE GOD REALLY IS! GOD WANTED TO DISPLAY HIS RECTITUDE IN AN UNMISTAKABLY PUBLIC, OFFICIAL, ATTESTED, TANGIBLE WAY THAT SHOWED HIS BEST SIDE, HIS MOST FLATTERING TRAITS. AND IT WAS A

SHOW STOPPER!

But in addition to the protective covering around the altar (Cross) itself as the locus of the guilty deed “par excellence,” the perpetrators of the deed, i.e., the priests, also needed to be protected from an outbreak of God’s anger for slaying the innocent, blameless victim. Hence Moses prescribed rituals for them which prophetically portrayed what the priests of Israel, on behalf of the whole population, did to Jesus, the Lamb of God, and how what they did actually protected all of them if they repented and believed.

Finally, and in most ritual detail, the once-per-year Day of Atonement/Protection rituals expounded in shadowy fashion (still!) more of the same, making an even CLEARER SEPARATION BETWEEN THE BODY AND THE BLOOD OF THE SACRIFICIAL SUBJECT AS WELL AS THE RESPECTIVE ASPECTS OF THE PROTECTIVE FUNCTIONING THAT COULD ACTUALLY BE INTEGRAL AND UNIFIED ONLY IN THE PERSON OF THE SAVIOR HIMSELF.

The “goat of release” (“scapegoat”) signified RELEASE OF SINS, so it must symbolically be released ALIVE AND FREE into the wilderness of oblivion, far outside the camp of Israel. The goat that was killed expounded the MEANS by which that RELEASE was actually to be effected, namely, by the DEATH of the prophetically ritual victim that was FLAWLESS (symbolizing SINLESS), so whose INNOCENT BLOOD needed to be JUSTLY AVENGED. But in this annual ritual, instead of applying the BLOOD to the ALTAR OR PRIEST (which signified GIVING LIFE TO ALL THE SINNERS WHO KILLED THE JUST SOUL AS WELL AS SUPPLYING NEW LIFE TO THE SINLESS VICTIM VIA RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD), the BLOOD was transported into the Holy (wholesome) Place and applied to the horns of the altar of incense to symbolically make the prayers of sinful Israel WHOLESOME, then sprinkled before the veil, on which symbols of Edenic, pristine life and wholesomeness were embroidered in order to reinforce their native meaning, and finally taken into the “Holy of Holies” (most wholesome place) and splattered on the PROTECTIVE COVER, PROPER, OF THE ARK OF THE COVENANT, containing THREE SYMBOLS OF MIRACULOUS LIFE-GIVING, namely 1) AARON’S ROD THAT CAME TO LIFE AND THAT BUDDED WHEN IT WAS DEAD AND THEREAFTER WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN ACTS OF MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE AND PROTECTION; 2) A JAR OF MANNA, WHICH MIRACULOUSLY CAME FROM HEAVEN DAILY TO SUSTAIN ISRAEL ALIVE FOR FORTY YEARS; and 3) THE LAW OF MOSES ETCHED MIRACULOUSLY BY THE FINGER OF GOD ON DUPLICATE TABLETS OF STONE WHICH, IF ISRAEL WOULD KEEP, THEY WOULD LIVE. All three of these applications prophetically, ritually represented FACES OF THE FUTURE VIVIFYING POWER OF MESSIAH’S RESURRECTION FROM AMONG THE DEAD. Thus the “Day of Atonement” was the most graphic depiction of Messiah’s resurrection AS SALVATION-FOR-HUMAN-SINFUL-BEINGS that is to be found in the Old Testament.

Whence we may conclude that the purveyors of “penal substitution” have veered very wide of the true mark concerning the locus and resurrectionary dynamic actuating the protective covering (“atonement”). What actually shields us, then, from the dangers, perils, hazards, evils, curses, wrath, damage, harm, injury, and, ultimately, death, is nothing other than RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD ITSELF, BY THE HALLOWING, CLEANSING POWER OF THE LIFEMAKING, VIVIFYING SPIRIT THAT ANOINTED JESUS AND WAS RETURNED TO HIM IN SUPERABUNDANCE BY THE SUPER-COMPENSATING JUSTICE OF GOD IN JUDICIAL RESPONSE TO THE ENORMITY OF INJUSTICE HE SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF WICKED SINNERS, PRECISELY SO THAT THE INVISIBLE CREATOR COULD MAKE VISIBLE IN A DEFINITIVE MANNER THE MAGNITUDE OF HIS OWN UNDESERVED GRACIOUSNESS TO ALL US DESPERATELY NEEDY MORTALS, AND THEREBY INSPIRE US TO BELIEVE THIS STARTLINGLY ASTONISHING PROCLAMATION, AND THEN START EMULATING JESUS BY THE POWER OF HIS OWN NOW ABUNDANTLY AVAILABLE SPIRIT TO DO EVEN GREATER WORKS THAN HE DID, IN ORDER TO TESTIFY BY SUCH SIGNS AND MIRACLES THAT HIS KINGDOM IS COMING AND TO OFFER A FORETASTE OF WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE AS A PREVIEW TO DRAW SINNERS TOWARD THE LIGHT OF GOD AND OUT OF THE DARKNESS OF SATAN’S KINGDOM AND ALL ITS VICIOUS ACTIVITIES.

So, to dust off the old skeptical question, “Is healing in the Atonement?” Well, is life? Just peek into the ark! Not like Moses, who placed a covering over his face so that the children of Israel could not peek at the final decline of glory of the dispensation of condemnation and death, namely, the Old Covenant, which was “getting nullified” (2 Corinthians 3:7-12) but, using much boldness, in the freedom of the Spirit, without any covering over our faces, daring to gaze at the very face of Jesus, whose glory gives us transformative wholesomeness and revitalizing life and enlightenment to grasp our promised future firmly and so live accordingly, stripping off sinful, death-dealing ways of thinking, talking, and acting and instead putting on the image and character of the invisible God now made magnificently, regally, nobly, graciously known in the HISTORIC PERSONA OF JESUS OF NAZARETH, CRUCIFIED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE BUT BACK ALIVE AGAIN WITH GRACIOUSNESS FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE HIM AND AFFIRM HIS TRUE IDENTITY. [7/04/08]

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What about divine wrath during our lifetime?

In view of this historic pattern, this behavioral paradigm of heaven, this divine modus operandi, where we see divine wrath revealed from heaven during our lifetime (see Steven J. Keillor, God’s Judgments: Interpreting History and the Christian Faith, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007), we must remind ourselves, “It’s O.K.  It’s not the end of the world.  But I would announce if I were you (because Jehovah is still a man of war and He’s on the march!), ‘Now is your day of salvation, when you see these things coming on the earth’…yet again, while you have been spared! Don’t pass up this golden opportunity!” [7/03/08]

Those of us with theological educations find it harder to repent of our errors than others, especially when we start deriving incomes from it as pastors, youth workers, Bible school teachers, radio preachers, seminary professors, missionaries, etc. By then we’re getting paid to be dogmatic and correct. It’s a lose-lose proposition both for the theologue with the “logue” in his own eye and the unwary, “unschooled” listener or learner who is liable to get battered and ramrodded by that “logue.”  God’s “rod and staff” are comforting to his children, but “paid staff” can easily get abusive of them. It’s easier to avoid growing hard if our livelihood is not on the line when we teach, and when no antique creed is peering over our shoulder. [7/03/08]

Getting forgiven by God from our sins on a regular basis can/will pre-empt many a corrective stroke from God, even premature death in some cases! Forgiveness provides the “room to stretch” for God’s children to fail “as necessary” and still get up again, brush themselves off, tend the abrasions, ponder their ways, and get back on track, following the Father’s restorative directions.

However, forgiveness, no matter how thorough, cannot keep us from dying, for that is the penalty for, or “price” of, Adam (our other father!) choosing the path of “good and bad.” Oh well. So we each and every one of us must pay for our own sins by our deaths.

But it gets worse. No amount of forgiveness can reverse death either. And that’s our ultimate plight. That’s why God (who loves us too much to leave us agonizing in our death throes) had to send His Son Jesus, who never “deserved” any of this misery that Adam unleashed on the planet, yet joined us in solidarity despite that little detail, out of mad, passionate love! He jumped right in like a lifeguard on duty and gave us mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after we were done thrashing around and vomiting!…something I could not bring myself do (so thank you Kayleen Robison!). [7/03/08]

The idea that the protective shield (hilasterion) that God provided through His Son operates by “averting,” “quenching” or “absorbingthe blows of divine wrath rather than by cleaning off, releasing, and erasing the blemishes of human wrong, is comparable to some engineer claiming that a crash helmet works by “averting accidents,” “sobering drunk drivers,” or “keeping reckless drivers off the road.” They’d pull his license pronto!

Another example. Do we “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11) in order to tranquilize Satan, “appeasehis wrath, or change his attitude toward us? “Laughable!” you reply? Then what are we to make of those theologians who insist on similar “OBJECTIVE” MECHANICS when it comes to the protective shielding supplied by God through the blood of Jesus (symbolizing his resurrected life)? In the light of the above illustrations, this kind of “objectivity” suddenly looks like CRANK SCIENCE, even QUACKERY, especially because it’s dispensed like SNAKE OIL by theological practitioners who make their livelihoods from cooking up batches to sell the saints! [7/03/08]

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The Altar itself needed to be atoned for.

The sacrifice is most emphatically not itself the Atonement; it was only the occasion for the Atonement…or more straightforwardly, the sacrifice occasioned its atonement! This is easy to grasp if we remember that flawless animals represented the sinless Lamb of God, therefore the slaughter of the one depicted the murder of the Other. So the avenging of such a crime would be its atonement. But the surprise avenging of the Lamb of God for his slaughter by crucifixion was his resurrection! Ergo: THE FINAL HISTORIC ATONEMENT WAS ACHIEVED BY… RESURRECTION! Retrospectively, the true interpretation of the ritual blood extracted from the animal sacrifices is resurrection life from the dead, PURE AND SIMPLE. To spatter blood was to scatter life. CONSEQUENTLY, THE FIRST AND MAIN THING TO BE ATONED FOR WAS THE “SIN” OF SLAYING THE FLAWLESS ANIMAL ITSELF! AND THAT’S WHY THE ALTAR WAS TO BE DELIBERATELY SPLASHED, SATURATED, AND ALL BUT DRENCHED IN THE BLOOD OF THE VERY ANIMAL SLAIN AND BURNED ON IT. YET ITS BLOOD HAD MUCH WIDER COVERAGE THAN MERELY THE ALTAR, FOR BY THE “UNJUST” DEATH ITS LIFE-GIVING AND CLEANSING COVERAGE WAS MAGNIFIED MANY FOLD. FOR WHAT WAS SIMULTANEOUSLY BEING PORTRAYED WAS GOD’S OWN SUPER-COMPENSATING JUSTICE!

At the end of the day, that’s what the whole sacrificial system of rituals was all about. That’s what it all comes down to: THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD made ritually available for all who sinned…for all who needed it. [7/02/08]

The most prominent reason why people won’t believe and act on the truth is not because they don’t see the truth but because THEY DO SEE THE TRUTH YET THEY HATE ITS ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS! (see Romans 1-2 and John 3-10!)

The resurrectionary justice of God possesses utterly unequaled ethical dimensions that will “dangerously” eclipse and therefore challenge and threaten all other versions of the so-called Atonement, whether Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Anabaptist, or what have you. This poses a temporal danger to all its courageous advocates. Some vicious people, including theologians and pastors (wolves in shepherd’s clothing, to be sure), have been hiding under the cloak of counterfeit “Gospels” and will predictably come out of the closet to sink their teeth in the flesh of any challenger of their delusive “peace and safety.” Be preprayered! [7/02/08]

We are indebted to God and hence enslaved to Him, now that we believe Him, for the elementary reason that HE HAS GIVEN US SOMETHING OF INCOMPARABLE WORTH AND VALUE—HIS VERY OWN INDESCRIBABLE SPIRIT AT MESSIAH’S EXPENSE! WE ARE GETTING HIS DESERTS, i.e., WHAT HE LABORED AND STROVE AND SUFFERED ABUSE AND SATANIC AFFLICTION FOR! WE ARE ENJOYING “FOR FREE” GOD’S SUPER-COMPENSATORY AWARD BESTOWED ON HIM FOR HIS INCOMPARABLE WORTHINESS! WE’RE GETTING INTO GOD’S KINGDOM ON HIS COATTAILS, GRATISSO ARE WE IN DEBT? YOU BET! UP TO OUR SCALP! [7/02/08]

withoutThe two snide insinuations that the apostle Paul has to parry, “We should be doing evil that good may be coming” (Rom. 3:8) and “We may be persisting in sin that graciousness should be increasing” (Rom. 6:1), are both embedded angularly, sidelong, in the marvel of the surprising, unexpected, serendipitous TRUTH OF THE PROCLAMATION IN WHICH GOD’S RESURRECTING RIGHTEOUSNESS IS UNVEILED! Such barbed innuendos are almost inevitable stowaways and thorns in the side wherever this Proclamation travels, so long as the audience are sinners! And it’s a shoe-in to account for: IF THE EVIL OF MESSIAH’S CROSS PROMPTED, EVOKED AND “COMMENDED” THE SUPER-EXCEEDING GOOD OF HIS RESURRECTION (and it most certainly and undeniably did) THEN WON’T THIS PROCLAMATION PROMOTE COPYCAT EVILS AND SINS, SO SHOULDN’T WE DENOUNCE IT?

Obviously the apostle Paul was plagued with such insinuations because of the authentic element of profound truth that was being slyly twisted to his nettling discredit. YET THE AROUSING OF PRECISELY SUCH QUESTIONS REMAINS (ALMOST) THE INFALLIBLE LITMUS TEST OF THE GOSPEL TRUTH.  THIS IS WHY WE SO SELDOM HEAR SUCH WAYWARD COMMENTS WHEN THE TRADITIONAL “EVANGELICAL” “GOSPEL” IS AIRED. IT SIMPLY DOES NOT HAVE ALL THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS, THE RIGHT STUFF. IT IS PARTLY PHONY, COUNTERFEIT, FECKLESS, INERT, AND THUS ONLY MARGINALLY EFFECTIVE.  Sad to say, salt sans savor.

Oh God, restore Your truth!  Send Your Spirit! Refresh us again from on high!  [7/02/08]

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THE LIGHT DAWNS

The really big problem with the penalty for human sin is that after you’ve paid it you’re still dead! Arguably it may be a fair consequence for sinning, but it renders absurd the existence of the kind of beings humans actually are—“vanity, vanity, all is vanity!” If sin has any usefulness, for Heaven’s sake, it surely ought not to bring the whole grand scheme of things to a grinding halt! If there truly is a Creator of the whole cosmic undertaking, s/he surely could not derive any ultimate satisfaction from a closing scene like that, at least not if s/he’s anything like us!  Here you’ve paid for your crime but Deity refuses to take you back…alive! Why, even human society is fair, compassionate, kind, humane enough to take you back and give you another try, at least for most crimes, once you’ve “paid your debt to society” (although in some American states you won’t be able to vote ever again…). But God?

This is a logic that requires a comeback of some sort—a comeback from death would do nicely!  We are talking justice here, not sentimentality but a just mentality. And a little—even a teardrop—of hope that such an event is possible would be so…cheering to the human condition, both individually and societally. Yes, what we all essentially need is the hope of a resurrection.  That would turn the tide of despair and any sense of futility under the sun!

But what if, instead of that, we are told that our sins “need to be paid for” in order for us to be saved from our grim fate? We may object, “But we already pay for our sins by paying the penalty of death, and what good has that done anyone?” Tsk, tsk, our theologians chuckle. You evidently haven’s been properly catechized. “Sin is a much more serious matter than that! It’s so bad that there must be an infinite payment made or you’re doomed.” We blanch and venture the question why that small detail wasn’t made clear from the outset. But we’re not lawyers and aren’t about to wade through the fine print, so we ask in modest desperation instead, “Good masters, what must we do to be saved?!” And are told: “Someone has to bear all your guilt as your substitute and suffer the infinite wrath of God in your place in order for you to be saved.”

“Oh. So it wasn’t good (!) enough that we pay the penalty for our own sins by dying; someone else has to lay down another wad on top of it, and then we’re outa’ here, is that it?”

Our theologian sighs and rolls his eyes. “You have to understand,” he adds, ever so patiently, “that this substitute must be sinless—absolutely innocent—for this to work.”

“Oh,” we nod our head slowly…then faster, as we start to catch on. ”You mean this ‘substitute’, since he is completely innocent, didn’t deserve to die at all, so somehow gets to make a grand comeback from the dead and…and…then what?”

Our respondent suddenly gets a blank look on his face, then catches himself. “No, no! The point is that he pays the price of our debt of sin and guilt so that we don’t have to!”

We screw up our face in puzzlement. “But we do pay the price—the penalty—all of us do. So what if he pays some more because sin was more serious than we thought (or were told anyway, at the beginning of history), how can that actually give us our lives back? Seems to me like an anticlimax instead of an antidote. And, by the way, where’s the justice in all this? If this substitute you’re talking about is so innocent, it seems like he should be getting some justice somewhere along the line also, just to be fair, and then maybe that could help us somehow, too?

“Well,” our theologue creases his brow and pinches his bottom lip—the first signs of inner doubt—“he does get raised from the dead….”

“Oh! Well there you have it then,” we interject. “If he gets to come back to life, then those who took his life in the first place don’t need to pay the penalty of committing that wrong because God made it all right again! It would be pointless!”

“Wher’d you go to law school?” our learned respondent probes, mockingly.

But we’re on a roll, so barge ahead. “Don’t you see?” (The light is dawning brighter.) “If he died wrongfully, having never sinned, so didn’t deserve to die at all, then God would be (or at least feel) obligated to compensate him, don’t you think?”  That, indeed, was the question now in our theologian’s mind, and he was finally beginning to doubt if he had ever seriously thought….  “In fact, it seems to me (but who am I?) that if he did not merely die (which would be wrong enough for such a person to suffer, and would still need to be reversed in order to give him due justice), but ALSO SUFFERED OTHER HARMS FROM ANYONE, THEN IT PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN ‘GOOD ENOUGH’ TO BRING HIM BACK MERELY ALIVE AGAIN; GOD WOULD HAVE TO REWARD HIM WITH SOMETHING MORE IN ADDITION, TO MAKE UP FOR THE SUPERFLUOUS STUFF HE WENT THROUGH.”

”Hadn’t thought of that…”

SO THAT JUST MIGHT MEAN HE WOULD THEN POSSESS A LITTLE BIT EXTRA TO…UH …GIVE AWAY…LIKE TO US WHO WERE STILL STUCK IN OUR DEAD END! WOW!”

“Wow. Yeah, that does, uh, throw a different light on his resurrection. I guess I’d come to regard it as a sort of incidental, even accidental event since the ‘real’ work of redemption was his ‘paying for other people’s sins on the cross’…”

Which didn’t need to happen!

“Hmm?  What do you mean?”

“Well…like I was saying earlier, it doesn’t make sense that he should have to ‘pay the penalty’, that is, death, on top of our own paying (which would seem to be justice enough, at least in terms of what Adam was initially threatened), but if he was paying his lifeblood wrongfully (that is, because people were not giving him what he really deserved, which presumably should have been something very good, instead) THEN REAL JUSTICE SHOULD REQUIRE THAT HE HIMSELF GET REPAID LIFE IN GREATER QUANTITY THAN BEFORE. Comprende?”

Comprendo!  Hold on, what am I saying?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if what you’re gushing over is correct, that means that GOD’S ENTRIES MUST BE ON THE SUPPLY SIDE OF THE ACCOUNT BOOKS, NOT THE DEBTOR’S SIDE, LIKE ANSELM AND CALVIN THOUGHT!

“Yes, and…?”

“Don’t you see, THAT PUTS GOD IN THE PECULIAR ROLE OF PAYING THE DEBT THAT THIS PERSON’S KILLERS PROPERLY OWED HIM!”

”So?”

“Well, God is traditionally cast in the role of A CREDITOR DEMANDING PAYMENT FROM ALL HIS DEBTORS, DOWN TO THE VERY LAST SHEKEL!

“Whoa!”

Right! I mean wrong.”

“I get your point!”

“Great! Now we’re trackin’!”

“I’ll say!  We’re talkin’ a whole new ball game…er, I mean drama, I guess.”

Right!  So, now that we’re on that subject…it seems obviously wrong to picture God as the Simon Legree, mercilessly (‘cause that’s how it now looks!) calling in all the chips before he can play the Mr. Nice Guy, and right to see him as adding a gigantic payment of his own on top of the ‘Substitute’s’ payment (if that’s even how he can be characterized!).”

Right!  And that makes a mockery of your original theology.”

“I agree! I admit! I confess! I repent! It’s all becoming stunningly clear. Where have I been all my life? What was I thinking? What this all implies is that, in fact, Christ was not a ‘substitute’ in the traditional sense at all, for that sense required him to suffer God’s wrath in order to exhaust and quench it so that there’s none left for venting on the truly guilty, so he ‘takes our deserved place under it instead of us.’ But that’s not the modus operandi at all.”

“Huh?”

“Sorry. I mean that God’s real method of giving life back to us who were all marching to our graves in just recompense for our sins WAS NOT TO TAKE OUT HIS WRATH ON AN INNOCENT ‘SUBSTITUTE’ INSTEAD OF US (since we suffer regardless!) BUT TO DISH OUT REPARATIVE JUSTICE TO HIM IN ORDER TO HONOR HIS OWN PROPER INNOCENCE, AND IN SUCH ABUNDANCE THAT THERE WAS PLENTY TO SHARE GRACIOUSLY FOR HIS REPUTATION’S SAKE WITH ALL US OFFENDERS, on some appropriate condition that would give him the credit for getting what he deserved. And in this modus…I mean by this remarkable method God can be both just and the Justifier of the guilty, even though the Just One was suffering for the unjust, while they were still sinful, infirm, irreverent enemies! ALL (!) HE HAD TO DO WAS STAY SINLESS (not reviling, not threatening—guileless!) TO THE VERY END IN ORDER TO WIN THE BONUS!  THE PREMIUM!

“Hear, hear! Three cheers! Woo hoo!! Now you’re talkin’ like a real theologian!”

“Uh…I’m thinkin’ about changing careers since talkin’ with you. Besides, if I keep talkin’ like this, I’m out of a job anyway! But that doesn’t matter much any more. You’ve forced me to think this through and to see something else too.”

“What’s that?”

“Just this: even though Jesus (because that’s who we’ve been talking about) is evidently not our ‘substitute’, yet what he accomplished was for our sake and on our behalf and for our benefit every single bit as much as if he had ‘suffered abuse under God’s wrath instead of us’, in fact, even more powerfully, APPEALINGLY, CAPTIVATINGLY, CONCILIATORILY, GOD’S SON SUFFERED ABUSE UNDER SATAN’S RAGE ALONG WITH US, BECAUSE HE WAS IN LOVE—MAD, PASSIONATE LOVE!WITH US, AND COULDN’T IMAGINE BEING ANYWHERE ELSE BUT ON THAT CROSS, SINCE THAT WAY HE COULD WIN SUFFICIENT JUST COMPENSATION FROM HIS HOLY FATHER TO…are you ready for this?: BUY US FOR GOD VIA THE PRICELESS VALUE OF THE FAITHFULNESS IN HIS BLOOD, SHED VICIOUSLY BY THE VERY ONES HE CAME TO SAVE, YET SIMULTANEOUSLY OUT OF LOVE FOR THE WHOLE WORLD OF HUMANITY AND FOR HIS FATHER, INTO WHOSE COVENANTALLY FAITHFUL HANDS HE OBEDIENTLY SURRENDERED HIS RIGHTEOUS EXISTENCE BY A WELL-PLEASING SELF-SACRIFICE. He must have thought we were worth it all. Imagine that! IMAGINE THAT! Yes…IMAGINE THAT! FOR THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD IS…

WORTH    IT    ALL!

 [6/30/08]

“Awesome!  That takes my breath away!”

“You can say that again…this time for me!  It took all my breath just to get all the words out!”

“So, if I’m hearing you right, God thought the sacrifice of Jesus was worth all his…super-compensation…”

“Yeah!  Good word, keep goin’!”

Not because he had suffered enough to somehow ‘pay off the debt of sin’, but because it was so wrong for anyone to cause him so much wrongful suffering.  Is that it?”

“I think so.  That must be more the way it all works.  It’s all so new to me too!  So Jesus loved us all enough to join us in our misery—which we desered and brought on ourselves!—although he deserved much better treatment.  And the fact that we die, then, is only to be expected.  But the fact that he suffered abuse and bore sins patiently meant that he should have won a prize for goodness!

“Hey!  I think you’re on to something again!”

“Again?”

“For sure!  Look, if Jesus had behaved with such love, patience, and kindness to everyone in spite of whatever they did to him (and I’ll bet all the bullies picked on him!), then he should have won a halo, maybe even a wreath for all that!”

“Or a crown!”

“Say on.”

“Well he was, after all, anointed by God to be the Messiah of Israel—their king.”

“Oh, yeah!  So you’re saying he had been working up to kingship all along…”

“Then had it abruptly torn from him by envious leadership under Satan’s inspiration who perceived him as a threat.”

“So they trumped up some charges by twisting his words…”

“And they strung him up on a gallows!”

“Slam dunk.”

“And God wasn’t about to put up with that sort of reception…”

“So he reversed the sentence after the fact…

“And AWARDED HIM THE PRIZE ANYWAY!  Thereby simultaneously dispossessing Satan of his ill-got gain and usurped authority!”

GOD TRUMPED THE TRUMPED-UP CHARGES!!!  Haha!  I think we’ve got it!”

“We’ve got it!”

“Happalujah!  What an incredible Story!”

“It makes such good sense that I simply can not imagine why I never saw it before.  All I can figure is that I was taught theology by folks who ardently believed there was no such alternative—had never so much as imagined it—and therefore we were taught to be suspicious of anyone who dared to differ with or even doubt the company line.  Ill have to think back and try to remember how it all happened.  Seminary is ages ago for me by now.  But I’m sure glad the Lord didn’t give up on me before now!”  [7/01/08]

[Dialogue idea inspired by reading Ivan and Adolph, on Marie’s suggestion.  Finished reading 9/19/08.]

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