ABOUT THIS BLOGSITE:
Two of the most controversial and persevering theological debates of recent decades concern the classic doctrines of “Atonement” and “Justification.” Coincidentally, both happen to share a few metaphors in common. It won’t be surprising, therefore, to suggest that some problems encountered in their formulation might be amenable to common solutions. For starters, I’ll be urging that a resurgence of the positive, rectifying, restorative, rewarding, or “premial” facet of God’s justice to theological consciousness can prepare the way for doctrinal reconciliation and peace. The word “premial” (from the Latin word for the opposite of “penal”) was coined by an Anglican pastor and scholar of the early 18th century, John Balguy, in Essay on Redemption: Being the Second Part of Divine Rectitude (London, 1741; second edition, 1785, with a Note to the Reader by his son, Thomas Balguy). In a nutshell, “The present question is, whether the accomplishment of our Redemption is to be considered as penal, or premial; whether as resulting from a vicarious Punishment, or a personal Reward” (p. 70). On this elegantly simple question, it seems to me, the twin themes of Atonement and Justification especially pivot, and in that order of priority. But since this question never came up for consideration during the Protestant founding era, the proper reformation of these teachings scarcely got out of the starting block. The explorations published on this blog site are intended to ease us further onto the appropriate field of discourse and to propose satisfactory solutions. This process will entail adjustments of exegetical and lexical preferences–rarely a comfortable process.
The resource links I have selected for inclusion on the side have been especially helpful to me along the way, each one contributing something uniquely valuable to the restoration of the New Testament explanation of salvation. None of those authors should be held responsible for my synthesis (nor I for theirs!), any more than my kind blogging partners should be. Happily, our joint progress is bound to be more likely via open discussion and mutual persuasion than in isolation. I welcome you to join the process in transparency, honesty, self-criticism, gentleness (and severity when needed), humor, and as much rigor as we can tolerate, all in a generous spirit of authentic learning and mutual edification. Perhaps we might even be privileged to help in the ongoing re-engineering of Christian teaching to apostolic specifications so as to retool the church to produce what God desires for our own and future generations.
I’m a graduate of Bethel College (B.A.) and Bethel Theological Seminary (M.A. in Theological Studies), St. Paul, MN. My personal biblical perspective was early rooted in extensive concordant analysis of the New Testament, building on the translations and linguistic tools pioneered by A[dolph]. E[rnst]. Knoch (1874-1965). His Concordant Literal New Testament (with Keyword Concord-ance) (CLNT) and Concordant Version of the Old Testament (CVOT) will be the default version for Bible quotations in this blog, although often only as the underlying matrix for my own variations, resulting from decades of study since the Memorial Edition of the CLNT appeared in 1966. Despite my disagreements with Knoch’s own theology at many points, I have benefited incomparably from his extraordinary passion for semantic accuracy and methodical consistency in translation, even where he may not have been comfortable with the full theological ramifications of his conscientious lexical choices. He definitely set the pace, way ahead of the wave now advocated so ardently by Leland Ryken, yet earlier and perhaps most eloquently by Frank Neil Pohorlak in Proponents for a Literal Translation of the New Testament.
My interest in the topic of atonement was kicked off in the early 1980’s by the semi-scholarly journalistic ministries of Robert D. Brinsmead (The Christian Verdict) and Alexander LaBrecque (Evangelica: A Journal of Christian Renewal), whose discerning citations introduced me to a treasury of valuable scholarship. About the same time, I became acquainted with the atonement theology of Paul Peter Waldenström (1838-1917). A final “statement of faith” project at seminary, which I prolonged for a year, helped me formulate key elements of my developing position. Just before Easter 1996, a fresh burst of understanding enabled me to integrate steadily accumulating insights into a more comprehensive framework, but I virtually sat on those insights for another ten years. Finally, around Easter of 2006, further clarification of remaining questions drove me into a second major phase of writing and research that consolidated my outlook. Continuing studies have occasioned minor adjustments and major confirmations. But lest I become hardened in my faulty ways, I believe the Lord would now have me share these studies with a wider audience and invite further participation in the crucible of dialogue by way of blogging. Will you join me?
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