ADVANTAGES OF THE PREMIAL ATONEMENT: Psychologically, Logically, Economically, Judicially, Ethically

 

1. It is entirely non-violent on God’s part.

2.  Jesus’ teaching is integral to the reason for his crucifixion.

3.  Jesus’ entire life of righteous, obedient faithfulness weighs into the formula for atonement, as in the recapitulation approach of Irenaeus.

4. The exemplary quality  of his suffering goes beyond the penal satisfaction theory and incorporates the valid nucleus of “moral” influence (à la Peter Abelard, allegedly) without its limitations when regarded as a complete explanation.

5.  The joyful note of victory is prominent, as in the “Christus victor” approach of Gustaf Aulén.

6.  A key “payoff” of Christ’s agony was the outpouring of the Gift of the Holy Spirit in unprecedented superabundance, whose role is to cleanse the human heart from sin and empower for witness to God’s impending Kingdom.

7.  Christ’s historic crucifixion was the sacrifice to end  all  literal sacrifices, for it fulfilled and expounded the prophetic significance of the Passover and Levitical sacrifices.

8.  It stands on thehigh ground of God’s justice, as Anselm and Calvin would claim, but without their unintended ethical compromise of His righteous character by virtually overlooking His rewarding or restorative justice.

9.  It  incorporates Christ’s resurrection prominently and integrally in the atoning process.

10.  It precludes “substitution” of any penal sort whatever; Jesus is the “real McCoy,” the Truth in the flesh, who experienced God’s justice directly and properly  only by his resurrection, and thereby finally phased out all Levitical and merely symbolic  animal substitutes.

11.  Christ’s  ransoming was exclusively heroic, not in the least punitive, in God’s intention.

12.  Christ pays for us  by his ransom or “blessed exchange” (à la Luther), not for “sin’s debt.”

13.  Christ did not experience God’s condemnation, punishment, or wrath  at any time or in any degree whatever (thus there was never any “divine child abuse”).

14.  Christ’s incarnation assumes its proper role in salvation as the means for the Son of God to acquire somatic property and personal relationships, the wrongful deprivation of which would constitute an injury of such aggravated magnitude as to evoke God’s decisive intervention as Judge and Savior.

15.  Christ’s embodying the role of the (archetypal) scapegoat does not entail the indiscriminate (retroactive and prospective) exoneration of all other  historic “scapegoats” (à la René Girard) as if they all were ipso facto “innocent” like Jesus unquestionably was.

16.  Jesus’ crucifixion was not in any sense a “vicarious confession” (à la John McLeod Campbell, allegedly) or “vicarious repentance/penance” (à la Robert C. Moberly).

17.  Jesus was not made “sin” in any proper sense, but rather a “sin-offering”; in other words, he  was the one  slain—the one  sinned against  (for he was innocent to perfection)—the  crucifixion itself is the sin in view.

18.  The “laying on of hands” simply refers to the priestly hands laid criminally on Christ to slay him, i.e., the corporate sin of Israel, through her official sacred representatives.

19.  There was no “deal with the Devil” whatever; he was “tricked” fair and square. Due to the blindness induced by his career-long wickedness (see especially the Book of Proverbs), he was clueless concerning what his slaying of God’s Son would precipitate in terms of his own dethronement, humiliation, ultimate condemnation, and agelong conscious torment.

20.  Because Christ did not “pay for (the debt of) sins,” there is no economized quid pro quo between his quantified “sufferings” and the extent of redemption or atonement “purchased” for a discrete “sovereignly,” “graciously,” “mercifully” “pre”-destined limited  allowance of some “pre-elect” number.

21.  Faith is rehabilitated and restored as the authentic apostolic means of human access to the benefits of Christ’s achievement because, as a non-act—in fact a “Sabbath” of work stoppage—it alone comports with God’s genuine graciousness.  Accordingly, this teaching is neither synergistic (divine and human cooperation, “working together”) nor monergistic (God working or operating alone) regarding salvation or condemnation, because the issue does not turn on work at all—whether of human beings or of the Holy Spirit or both.  The relevant components are faith, from the human side, and the Gospel, from the divine side.

22.  Conciliation was not accomplished at  the Cross for all humanity (which would imply universalism) but  by the authentic apostolic Explanation of the Cross—namely, that God  raised up Jesus out of wrongful and certain death—for all who hear and will believe it.

23.  There is no residual “mystery” in the Gospel; it was only kept a secret for long ages to prevent its premature discovery and sabotage by Satan, who might have held his fire and thereby precluded the revelation of God’s premial justice to reverse the death of His Son.

24.  Jesus did not “identify with sin” in any sense; rather, we “identify” with  him by water baptism. He identified with sinful humans only by becoming truly human, even taking on a  mortal, corruptible  body like ours, yet remained without sin so he could rescue the sinful.

25.  Our union with Christ is effected by  our immersion in his wrongful death and rightful resurrection—whereby we obtain his Holy Spirit that makes us spiritually one with him and the Father—not via his incarnation, per se, or any other means.

26.  The doctrine of “original sin” originated by Augustine is not according to Scripture. Rather, Scripture teaches that  death is passed down through the generations of Adam’s descendants. There was no “imputation of Adam’s sin” to his descendants, although they did also suffer the evil consequences of his sin, being banned from the Tree of Life, and so likewise died. Thus death (not sin, guilt or punishment) was inherited by all. And since “original sin” does not exist, it does not need to be washed away by (e.g., infant) baptism.  The evils that result from sins do not constitute “divine punishments” on the innocent victims.  Christ’s resurrection showed how God’s super-compensating restorative power can ultimately bring good out of evil, for thus did the injustice of Christ’s cross commend the divine justice of his resurrection.

27.  There was no “imputation of sins” to Christ; he “bore” those sins instead. Hence God’s character is not impugned, for He did not ascribe guilt to the innocent as penal substitution insists He did. There was no transfer of guilt from sinners to the innocent Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross, since he was never guilty of any sin. He simply, in obedience to his Father, accepted the sin being done to him  in the confidence that God would repay him justly, in due time.  Hence Jesus did not “need” to suffer any wrath of God to “pay for” such postulated guilt.

28.  There was no “imputation of Christ’s own righteousness” to believing sinners; instead, their own faith is regarded by God as righteousness, accordingly winning the rightful award of life in the coming age, plus the Holy Spirit as its pledge in the meantime. By such means, God desires to establish and even glorify faith, which otherwise risks getting debased by well-meaning human teachers. The peril of antinomianism is hereby avoided.

29.  So-called “eternal conscious punishment” of human beings (as distinct from sinning angels) is not necessary to “repay infinite sin by infinite suffering.” God no more needs to cause “infinite suffering” to stubborn sinful human beings to repay them for their sins than He needed to cause “infinite suffering” to His beloved Son, as a substitute, in order to “pay for sin(s).” Much rather, God’s premial justice  repaid  Christ for his  obedient faithfulness  in restitution for the injustices sinners inflicted on him, hence God had no “need” to repay  them  for those wrongs. God’s warning to Adam that if he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “to die shall you be dying,” was sufficiently carried out by ordinary death. This obviates the  necessity  for any  further  sanction on account of  that  primal sin. Yet it still leaves open the contingency of further punishment after the General Resurrection and Final Judgment as just repayment for their own wrongdoings. The “Lake of Fire” is such a punishment—the  Second  Death culminating in final extermination for stubbornly unrepentant, unpersuadable human beings.

30.  Christ voluntarily “bore” sins instead of “repaying” them to his foes via retributive avenging. Because God Himself intervened with premial restitution by way of resurrection from the dead, stupendous glory, and authority over all nations—indeed, over the whole created universe—there was no judicial, ethical, or moral “need” whatever to repay those sins with a penalty, punishment, or suffering of any sort.  This premial solution thus dissolves the pseudo-problem of double jeopardy. However, it does not exclude the optional  use of  discretionary  punishment for correction, chastening, discipline, etc.; nor does it exclude final extermination of the incorrigible.

31.  God can be appropriately (even “infinitely”) merciful, patient, tolerant, and kind without any “skin off Christ’s back,” so to speak, because atonement was achieved by the premial or restorative justice of resurrection to superabundant agelong life for Christ himself, not by his suffering abuse as a substitute in our place. And because God  Himself  repaid Christ for the injustice against him, those who actually prosecuted the injustice are mercifully released from restoring the loss. Their sins are virtually forgiven;  nevertheless (!), if they persist in their stubborn distrust and unrepentance from wicked deeds after learning of such mercy, they deprive themselves of the generous promise of God’s Holy Spirit to actually wash away their sins. Therefore, they will be condemned along with their sins, sadly, despite the total abrogation of any  necessity  for them to repay their divine Victim.

August 21, 23, 25, 2012, March 10-11, April 1-3, 2015, January 18-19, March 27, April 3, July 11, 17, 2016

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