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Untangling “Predestination” — Part 5

Those who have been following this blog site will already be aware of the fuller context concerning God’s premial justice and, in turn, the premial Atonement, into which this treatment of “predestination” is getting unceremoniously dropped. When I started this analysis back in 2008, I had not yet read the brief but trenchantly argued treatise from 1741, An Essay on Redemption: Being the Second Part of Divine Rectitude (104 pages), by John Balguy, who first coined the term “premial” (please see my “About” page at the top of this site, along with the first couple of blogs, where I quote at length the passage containing the only two instances of the new word). I first read the book in late January of 2011, so never used ‘premial’ in this exploration of predestination. Nevertheless, the contents were fully in accord with Balguy’s use of the word, so his label nicely covered the contents regardless.

Therefore, it will not be inappropriate to poise my results more precisely within the context of the premial Atonement perspective which I have already elaborated in this blog site. Readers will know that the apostolic take on the Atonement that I simply label “premial” is free of those several “penal” elements now so commonly assumed by conservative evangelical Protestants and gathered under the rubric “penal substitution” or “penal satisfaction.” This latter position was most fully developed within Calvinism, and is in fact its most characteristic doctrine, although other Protestant traditions share significant elements as well. However the so-called “Five Points of Calvinism” have amplified them at greatest length. And among these, “the doctrine of predestination” was simply embedded within “Unconditional Election.”

I have tried to show on this blog site that Penal Substitution logic is stretched entirely on an economic framework of logic that is qualified penally. This is decidedly not the framework of the New Testament explanation of the Atonement, nor, for that matter, of Justification or Reconciliation either, which do, however, likewise draw upon legal language, and thus are jeopardized no less by penal pretensions and impositions.

The fact that every one of the Five Points bears the marks of abuse by stretching on this punitive ‘rack’ will raise the presumptive expectation that what Calvinists do with “predestination” will bear the same marks of torture. Sure enough. “Predestination” is said to be necessary because a “sovereign” God’s plan to pay/satisfy for the debt of sins incurred by a limited number of chosen/elect—for to pay for the sins of all mankind would be uneconomical, hence unfitting for a prudent Sovereign—can only seem plausible on the premise that sins/debts must be paid for by someone, in any case, without fail, in other words: by a Penal Substitute. Such “prudential” logic may be worthy of a for-profit, self-aggrandizing, client-deceiving insurance behemoth; it is unworthy of a God who is Our Rock, who indemnified the whole population without exception, for the sake of His own grand reputation and Brand Name!

We have shown throughout this site that this particular construal of economic metaphors and concepts is not to be found in the Bible. Sin (even as “debt”) is never said to be “paid [for]at all. Indeed, it is exclusively the saints or believers that are said to be bought and paid for. However, their faith itself is their own willful contribution to salvation, turning as it does on their natural (and not “fallen” as such!) human response to the necessary but not sufficient testimony of Holy Writ, which requires getting “blended together with faith in those who hear” (Hebrews 4:2) in order to achieve its intended beneficial outcome. To be sure, this evidence does powerfully evoke or induce faith, but does not “guarantee” faith. This process happily accords with God’s graciousness (Romans 4:16), which, in fact, enhances and fosters human sovereignty, authority, judgment/decision-making, and choice, even if it should happen to result in a rebuff of His gentle advances. God is all about “inviting” folks to the Party of the Kingdom.

Nevertheless, as we know, comparatively few are chosen—only those who exert their own self-authorized faculty of faith—which even as Calvin so validly declared, is simply the outstretched hand (not the laboring hand, mind you!), ready to receive the Gift God is handing out.  That Gift is most emphatically not faith; that Gift is the Holy Spirit itself, which could not consequently show up early (“preveniently”) in order to create the very faith by which itself is thereupon received. The logical incoherence of such a contention should be perfectly clear. My refutation does not exclude, however (as was the burden of my above paper), that a Book inspired by the Holy Spirit may precede faith and perform the honors, without any incoherence or contradiction. (That, in particular, was the burden of my preceding “Appendix.”)

The premial justice of God is directed upon the blameless Defendant to exonerate and then repay him due restitution for his painful labors of love on behalf of the whole blamed (!) world of sinful humanity. However, no quid pro quo equivalence of “pain for pay” characterized the transaction. It was purely gratuitous, which is not to say “wasted,” but simply rationally appropriate to the intended outcome, without overreach or shortfall. It hit its mark precisely: “Now if anyone is loving God, this one gets known by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:3).

This premial rationale relieves theology of any burden to “limit” the divine outlay of beneficence or graciousness to one that accords with alleged economic rationality, much less to economic penury! After all, what the Lord Jesus Christ procured was a prize, booty, spoils, winnings, judicial damages, just deserts, not an “equivalent payment” or “commercial exchange” of any sort, as I have been at great pains to establish in this blog site from the very beginning.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.                   —Annie J. Flint

This was in full satisfaction, if you will, of “the righteousness/justice of God,” as Paul was at even greater pains to establish in his epistle to the Roman believers, but which the Protestant Reformation, at yet more (and needless) pains accidently—let’s be charitable here—sabotaged in favor of a convoluted pretzel of a doctrine: Paul meant rewarding (premial) justice dispensed directly to Christ (who deserved it), thence graciously distributed for free to us (who did not deserve it) by our faith and baptism (i.e., by inclusion in Christ); Luther, et al, meant punitive (penal) justice distributed to us (who deserved it) indirectly through Christ (who did not deserve it) by his substitution. The difference between these alternatives for Christian behavior and mental stability is immense.

Perhaps we need to ponder more deeply the fact that a reward can be distributed at the good pleasure if its legitimate recipient, irrespective of particular “merits” possessed by any subsequent recipients chosen. A penalty/punishment, however, cannot be thus “freely” distributed; that would be immoral and illegal. Yet penal substitution doctrine is based squarely on this latter indefensible premise, and usually even glories in it!

The premial position, we can see, comports with a faith that is exocentric (focused on an outside object) and authentically voluntary, not an “act/work” at all, but simply proper reliance on credible evidence and testimony (so not coerced), and which ultimately comports with an election that is conditional on such faith and, by reflex, with a destiny that is potentially alienable. However, the divine ambience suffusing this perspective is as different from the effluvium of penal substitution as a loaf of bread is from a stone, or a fish is from a serpent, or an egg is from a scorpion, or a REWARD is from a PUNISHMENT.  That is, as opposite as might well be imagined.

The premial framework allows the weaving of a startlingly contrasting systematic pattern of salvation across the board. This, naturally, affects all the familiar “points” of Calvinism: all alike collapse in the absence of the mortar of penal economic necessity. The premial universe is one in which an inheritance in the Kingdom of God is free…but must be claimed with steady expectation as a right of believing children of God answering to God’s promises in His own Words, contracted by Covenant—the Bible.

The premial world is one in which sin is not passed along generationally (needing to be washed away in baptism, even from infants), nor so pervasive or perverse as to make faith impossible without the prosthetic of adventitious “regeneration” to trigger it.

The premial universe is one in which Atonement is universal and plenty powerful for its appointed objective of nurturing lovers of God, but without arm-twisting others. Élégance!

In a premial cosmos, graciousness, appealing and fetching as it may be, does not act so unseemly as to make its drawing influence irresistible as a magic spell. No spellbinding here, only the spell of unforced love. “Prevenient grace” is an encumbering artifice that ought to be perceived as an insult to the grace of Christ’s resurrection, the plain bold Report of which turned that ancient civilization upside down within decades!

A premial reality is one in which believers press on toward God’s impending Kingdom impelled by the covenantal promises and warnings of God’s living Explanation, producing rich fruits of Christ’s personality to encourage others in faith and, reflexively, secure one’s own confidence and delight in the faith once for all drop-shipped to the saints of planet earth.

In a premial creation, the dark oppressive clouds of graphically visualized punishment, wrath, and condemnation poured out on a perfectly innocent, though willing (as if he “needed” to be!) victim so as to satisfy the demanding justice of God (thereby impugning justice wholesale as exclusively penally retributive), is lifted and dispelled, permitting the cheering rays of divine benignity to burst forth and bless earth’s shores.

In a premial civilization, the repugnant spectacle of Christians playing in the dung heap of sordid pleasures, toying with the profane, venal options our culture places on the bottom shelf of easy accessibility with the click of a wayward mouse—all these pleasures of Egypt would lose their glamor under their deceptive marketing as “harmless diversions for the unconditionally elect” and be discerned for the mortal perils they are.

In a premial galaxy, the affecting sight of many a seasoned churchgoer manifesting pathological anxiety concerning their destiny as a child of God, presenting the watching world with an oddly ambiguous, if not highly unsettling testimony to the comforting certitudes of the Gospel as advertised, should be as rare as jellyfish fossils.

In short, the premial justice of God manifested supremely in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from among the mouldering dead to proliferating immortality, agrees to perfection with the heralding of an endless sparkling destiny as children of God, privileged to inherit a whole New Creation, starting with Christ’s resurrected body and proceeding to incorporate all others who believe and get immersed in him by his Holy Spirit. The fundamental heart of the New Testament Proclamation is not, therefore, “penal substitution” but “premial inclusion,” in an inconceivably marvelous destiny as “priests and kings” on the New Earth a comin’! Having announced such a future with abundant corroboration, God leaves the choice up to us whether we wish to join the Party or keep our unsafe distance and sadly perish.

June 2, 6, 8-9, 2017

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From “Prevenient” to “Irresistible”: Two Falls from Grace

The proper role and priority of the Gospel about God’s graciousness to Christ Jesus was displaced in both Roman Catholic theology (Council of Trent—the decree on justification, 1547) and Protestant (even as far as John Wesley), by a teaching about “prevenient grace coming unmerited in order to move and stir the will to believe, yet is resistible. But this well-meant innovation leads to confusion and to the overreaction of Calvinism into a dogma of “irresistible grace,” which then loses its very character as graciousness altogether. We already have a word for coercive graciousnessmanipulation.” [8/13/09]

If John Calvin was so radically wrong at so fundamental a point as to argue for a penal satisfaction, it seems hardly credible that he can be correct in those many other doctrines that are dependent on the view of God dictated by a penal atonement.  [8/13/09]

So lemme make sure I have this right.  The elect don’t have the power to resist the grace of God, but the reprobate do have the power to resist the grace of God.  Do I have that right?  Okay.  Then that means the reprobate have more power than the elect do.  Am I missing something?  Moreover, they have more power without the power of the Holy Spirit than the elect have even with the power of the Holy Spirit.  My head is spinning.  [8/13/09; 8/24/09; 5/05/17]

If God honestly does not “intend that any should perish, but all to make room for repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), then why doesn’t He use some of that “irresistible grace” on them, pray tell? Here is something seriously amiss in Calvinism. The bottom line is, on the grounds of penal satisfaction, there simply is not enough grace to spare! Now Arminians don’t seem to get this. But Calvinists are generally smarter here. They see that if penal substitution is correct, salvation must be limited! Yet, sadly, Calvinists are not smart enough to notice that their atonement premise is drastically wrong. And Arminius died prematurely under harassment by his bitter, vicious enemies, or he might have come to the solution himself. Indeed, Hugo Grotius, his young contemporary supporter, caught the drift of his thought and actually attempted the first basic alteration of the doctrine of the Atonement proper since Calvin originally spelled out penal satisfaction. However, Grotius was not successful in his bid because he had no adequate alternative to an atoning necessity of a penal sort. His “governmental” or “rectoral” theory more appealed to prevailing cultural metaphors. [8/13/09]

Within the system of Calvinism, the full role of the Holy Spirit has become sidelined, marginalized as more of an “add-on” than as a fully integral component of New Covenant salvation. This may not have happened (regardless of traditional Roman Catholic suppression of the Holy Spirit by cessationism, a hold-over of Augustinianism) but for the development of forensic justification, (and particularly the doctrines of forensic imputation), incipiently by Luther and Melanchthon, more full blown by Johannes Piscator and William Ames. For these doctrines cut an alternative furrow for part of salvation to affect believers apart from the Holy Spirit. [8/14/09]

For sure, the world of unbelievers and “reprobates” can and will respond positively to this mighty Gospel. The question remains, “will Calvinists”? I need not remind my Reformed sisters and brothers that the “elect” Jews of Jesus’ day largely reprobated this Gospel as “too inclusive.” A word to the wise is sufficient. [8/14/09]

Yes, I dare to entreat my Reformed sisters and brothers to change their minds regarding the Atonement and let its truth effervesce through every other received doctrine at its own pace. I have taken many years to come around, and I’m not finished yet. But I am a fellow traveler in this restoration. Can the full Reformation be far behind? [8/14/09]

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Penal Justice Cannot Substitute for Premial Justice

Sin per se is not nearly as aggravated and intractable and total as Calvinistic theologians have imagined, yet their own sins of misrepresenting its nature and endorsing inhumanly severe, unearthly, even ungodly penalties and brutal, savage vindictiveness are much worse than they imagine or would ever admit.  Jesus reserved his most unrestrained denunciations not for the average sinner—the adulteress, the prodigal, even the persecutor and murderer Saul of Tarsus, but for theologians!  [7/29/09]

Post-Reformation supralapsarian Calvinists, having cross-wired the respective wills of God, of humans, and of Satan, became disqualified from being able to speak with apostolic authority about the Cross and Resurrection.  They in fact muffed the catch, dropped the ball, and muffled the liberating peal of GOSPEL JUBILEE.  There resulted an “indistinct sound” regarding WHO WILLED WHAT AT THE ‘CROSSURRECTION’ EVENTS.  [7/29/09]

The expression “penal substitution” is an evasive euphemism for “penal satisfaction”; the hard core of this theory is the demand for punitive measures, however inflicted, as an absolute, non-relaxable requirement of justice.  Its deflection onto an innocent victim therefore only heightens the presumed “necessity” and stringency of its “rightful” exaltation EVEN THOUGH WE NEVER ACTUALLY, EMPIRICALLY BEHOLD THE CONSISTENT, REMORSELESS EXHIBITION OF SUCH “JUSTICE” (AT LEAST NOT BY GOD) IN OUR DAILY EXPERIENCE UNDER THE SUN!  No matter; it is “justifiable” for human civil, domestic, and ecclesiastical governments to employ it “whenever needful” on the imagined grounds that “this is what divine justice looks like” and even though it doesn’t really look like Jesus Christ suffered “quite that much” on the Cross, yet we are didactically informed that “those are the facts,” and after all Jesus was divine, so his sufferings were of infinite measure.  We may also suspect the veiled threat that if we don’t believe it, we ourselves may need to come in for a touch of that corrective discipline in order that we mend our way of thinking.

Hereby God’s PREMIAL JUSTICE throughout Scripture, BUT ESPECIALLY AT THE RESURRECTION AND ENTHRONEMENT is all but expunged from our consciousness and exchanged for a substitute “justicethat horrendously reinforces the very worst of fallen, sinful, “reprobate” impulses toward taking vengeance against our enemies rather than leaving it in God’s hands.

One of the most horrifying consequences of this penal undercurrent induced by Penal Satisfaction is its exaggeration (again, with thinly veiled threats to dissenters!) OF SIN ITSELF.  This exaggeration is not a side-effect that is comfortable to talk about.  It risks the reproach-by-reflex that the dissenter is “soft on sin,” which trait, naturally, might be taken as a sure sign that they might (oh dread!) be “SOFT ON PUNISHMENT”!  Next thing you know, they’ll be “SOFT ON WAR”!  They’d let our enemies walk all over us!  You can bet your shotgun they’re “SOFT ON CRIME,”  and will vote to take away our guns and empty our prisons!  Yeah!  It’s a slippery slope once you start letting up on good ol’ penal substitution!  If it was good enough for Luther and Zwingli and Calvin and Knox and Beza and Cromwell and Winthrop, and Paisley….  You get the point.  For on those grounds crusades and inquisitions and witch hunts and pogroms and blood feuds and “holy” wars and jihads shall never cease—bloodshed without end, amen.  “If God wills,” of course…which He most certainly does not!  God save us!  [8/01/09]

 

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God’s Gracious Redemption of US Is the Model for OUR Gracious Ethic toward Others

The ransoming procedure by which God saved a stricken and captive humanity is an absolute marvel to behold—a wonder of inter-divine troth and graciousness. Jesus, the Son of God, gave/paid himself in surrender to the ‘tender mercies’ of Satan, in obedience to the suicide mission in God’s redemptive strategy. Satan cheerfully obliged by paying his strangely compliant Victim with a diabolical range of unjust torments and finally, death itself. God, not to be outdone reciprocated by repaying his devout Son by means of His own ransoming payment that rescued His ransoming Son! YES! GOD RANSOMED THE SAVIOR OUT OF DEATH’S FATAL GRIP…AFTER THE FACT! And with what? BY GOD, WITH NOTHING OTHER THAN HOLY SPIRIT RAISING HIM TO FRESH, GREATLY ENLARGED LIFE!

Speak of “role switching”! Every member of Deity got in on the Act and functioned from the IDENTICAL MOTIVE AS REVEALED FORTHWITH BY PUBLIC DEMONSTRATION ON THE ROUGH-AND-TUMBLE STAGE OF HISTORY. Accordingly, a remarkable amplifying circuit of graciousness and troth was closed and a MAGNIFIED POWER WAS GENERATED AND TRANSMITTED FROM HEAVEN FOR THE UTTERLY FREE SALVATION OF ALL HUMANITY.

The sequence is elemental (and wouldn’t be difficult to diagram):

  1. The Son descends downward in weakness

  2. and rises upward in the justice of the Father

  3. in the power of the Holy Spirit that freely overflows downward to all the Son’s adopted siblings.

This revealed procedure of divine ransoming now is likewise our own model for imitating, in full assurance of God’s FULL BACKING! This is THE NEW “ETHIC” FOR THE NEW HUMANITY.

This means there is yet a further element to the sequence (diagram)—that’s where we come in:  to become the next wave redounding to the greater glory of God! A multitude of mature sons emulating Jesus—“a vast host that no one can number lift up praise and glory and blessing and honor and on and on and on…. [7/27/09]

I have learned over the past three years, sadly, that strict Calvinists won’t give my explanations the time of day. No matter, I know what time it is—it’s the ELEVENTH HOUR and repentance for propagating penal satisfaction is long overdue! I therefore exhort all who teach and proclaim that doctrine and all its subsidiary ramifications to please switch their attention to God’s AWARDING JUSTICE and experience the supposed “necessity” for God’s penal justice (as an element of the Atonement) melt away and evaporate in the sunshine of God’s “unseasonable” GRACIOUSNESS! [7/27/09]

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FAITH IS MERITORIOUS…IN GOD’S SIGHT

From the standpoint of the Resurrectionary Atonement, both uprightness and holiness are “infused” into us (to be worked out throughout our lives) in the Holy Spirit that empowers within us all that Jesus Christ procured by the worthiness of his obedient faithfulness throughout his life-and-dying. [7/09/09]

For Paul to declare that “faith is imputed for righteousness” is precisely (with apologies) to say that faith is imputed as MERIT”! It is to regard faith AS MERITORIOUS in GOD’S SIGHT! And who else’s sight matters a whingding? The Holy Spirit penned a whole, and very long, chapter to glorify exactly this fact—Hebrews 11! Let all slander be silenced against this humble simpleminded, unpretentious, even “idle” virtue: FAITH! It is accepted by God in place of righteousness! So say Calvin and Baxter as well! And so in place of “MERIT” as well! [7/09/09]

One of the many good fruits of a Resurrectionary Atonement is that since it dismantles (unmasks!) the triple-imputation theory of justification and restores the proper explanatory place of the Holy Spirit as conveying to us the full contents of salvation, including righteousness, there is no distorting pressure to force some ethical payoff out of the erroneously supposed imputation of Christ’s own moral rectitude to us (his so-called “active” righteousness). For in actuality, where this is held it tends toward antinomianism anyway! [7/10/09]

Another beneficial result of a Resurrectionary Atonement is that one need not be concerned whether a “works-righteousness” is being smuggled into the camp, because in fact every virtue and every soteric benefit is understood to be an outflow of the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, as it was in Christ Jesus. We can truly, heartily mimic our Master, knowing that the graciousness of the Holy Spirit is both “desiring and operating” his delight. We are properly, validly “cooperating” with the Spirit as we trust Christ and obey his Spirit’s leading. [7/10/09]

Yes, Christ fulfilled the Law in every respect and every Scripture pertaining to him came to pass ineluctably. But where does Scripture or the Law of Moses ever require the Messiah to be punished by God under His wrath, in the place of others, as their “penal substitute”? Moreover, his actual fulfillment of the Law’s demand for righteousness he more than fulfilled by his unequalled love, yet that was not “as our Substitute,” or “in our place,” and certainly not “imputed to us” or transferred in any way (i.e., has “active righteousness”). Rather, it won him a reward from God that he could give away with God’s fullest approval, namely, the Holy Spirit to make us holy and empower our righteousness in the doing of abundant good works. This is how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit become “Jehovah our righteousness,” and by this path alone. [7/10/09]

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“Defending one’s honor” is not the way of a just Atonement

EVANGELICAL NECROPHILIA

Penal substitution has led Christianity into an ironic love of death—necrophilia! The denial that the blood of sacrifice atoned precisely because it signified life out of death and the insistent harping that, no, it means death—“the Christian emphasis under the great symbol is not on life, but on death” (C. Ryder Smith) and that “what makes his risen life significant and a saving power for sinners is neither more nor less than this, that his death is in it” (James Denney; emphases mine)—are clear evidence of what must qualify as the strangest, not to say most ominous and ironic turnabouts in the history of theological declensions.  (Quotes from Leon Morris, Apostolic Preaching of the Cross [London: Tyndale, 1955], 123-24. Quoting, in turn, from C. Ryder Smith, The Bible Doctrine of Salvation [London, 1941] commenting on Hebrews 10:19; and from James Denney, The Death of Christ [London, 1950], 149f.) [7/01/09]

Worthy are You, O Jehovah, our Lord and God,  To get credit and honor and power, for you create the universe, and because of your desire they were, and are created!”  (Revelation 4:11)

This is the ultimate ground for our praising God that He has created us with the faculty of faith/believing and with sovereignty, authority, and control over the works of His hands, including over our own in-created faculty of, judging/deciding. Hence to assert that we possess the power of “free-choice,” “free will” or (better) “self-authoriztion” (αυτεξουσι-) to believe and accept the Gospel or to reject and distrust it, does not derogate in the least from God’s glory as Creator![First] the soulish [deriving from creation] thereupon the spiritual”—1 Corinthians 15:16-17. [7/03/09]

A THIRD WAVE OF GRACIOUSNESS!

The true apostolic Proclamation of the Father’s extreme graciousness reciprocated to the Son in exchange for willingly sacrificing his mortal existence to gain an indefectible and much magnified immortality as a life-making Spirit such that he can GIVE IT AWAY IN A YET FURTHER, “THIRD WAVE OF GRACIOUSNESS TO SINNERS AND EVEN ENEMIES is a standing affront to penal substitution. Therefore we can expect it to be hated ferociously and reprobated by them in bitter, death-dealing words and actions. “Beware of men!” Jesus warned us ahead of time….

Indeed this magnitude of divine graciousness is far, far too much for self-styled “sovereign grace” and “free grace” champions to tolerate. For this divine graciousness in exchange for graciousness is death to all warlikeness, vengefulness, bitterness, rivalry, gratuitous violence, and vindictiveness. So it simply won’t comport with evangelical “Christianity” as we know it. Yet our Master’s mandate remains clear, we must learn the ticklish art of “how to lose friends and influence people! [7/03/09]

In the aftermath of the Civil War bloodbath, shall we conclude that “defending one’s honor,” too, like expenditure of wrath on an innocent victim, is a prerogative of God alone? Anselm surely did not believe that, for the flow of his logic went the other direction entirely. He beheld the constitution of feudal society and facilely transposed that upon the constitution of heavenly society. We have a problem of inner consistency here, and the moral, ethical (and need we add?) military, legislative, and criminal justice ramifications are writ large before us on the slate of grim history. [7/06/09]

Unless we do some serious housecleaning and get rid of obsolete, broken, and decaying elements of our doctrinal constructions, there simply is not room enough for fresh truths to break in upon us from God’s wholesome Word. Specifically and straightforwardly, we need to dump the tragic misrepresentation known as “penal substitution,” which has defamed especially the Father’s reputation, notwithstanding every well-meaning attempt to soften and oil it down. It is high time to make living room for “premial intervention.” [7/06/09]

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Only a Premial Atonement Can Fully Embrace the Exemplary Factor

If God was in Christ, conciliating the world to Himself, how could He simultaneously be pouring out His wrath on that one whom he was inside of?! The absurdity of this is palpable, but seems lost on party-line theologians. Why does this strange apposition never seem to surface in the mainline theological consciousness? To the diametric contrary, the Father and the Son could ONLY BE SUFFERING ABUSE FROM AN ENEMY’S WRATH AND FURY! SATAN WAS THE INFERNAL AGENT OF THE AGONY OF GOD—BOTH SON AND FATHER. Yet They conquered! [6/19/09]

The representative character of Christ’s atoning work, from the premial perspective fully includes and incorporates an exemplary element that supplies powerful impulses to Christian ethics. From the penal substitutionary perspective this is handily disallowed because it would compromise the exclusivity of Christ’s unique achievement. For Christ alone is alleged to suffer God’s wrath. But this means that Christ’s crucial sufferings have little exemplary force upon the lifestyle of Christians who foster that doctrine! Tragic loss! [6/20/09]

Satan’s shedding of the Savior’s blood in an initially grim but ultimately delightful irony caused its widespread coverage over the whole earth!  The Great Dragon himself had unleashed a hydra-headed opponent quite the equal of his own insidious proliferation!  The further bloodshed of every little-Christ (“Christian”) raised up (εγειρ) a multitude more by the further spread of his cleansing, saving, liberating lifeblood!  The blood of these witnesses is the seed of the church—“30, 60, 100-fold”!  [6/22/09]

Romans chapter five teaches that as many as suffer death because of what only one man did—Adam—can enjoy life because of what only one Man did—Jesus Christ!  This means that “the extent of the Atonement” is exactly as great as the extent of the Sin it provides indemnity or coverage for!  That is because this overcompensating Life of Resurrection has a right to be deployed just as far as Death has spread!  [6/22/09]

The whole debate between Arminius and the high Calvinists was based on one small point and turned on it:  How many sins did Christ pay for?  They both agreed on a penal payment theory of substitutionary atonement, a variation of Anselm’s vicarious satisfaction theory.  This fateful alliance was the source of virtually all the inevitable historic wrangling, because it set up the conditions for the debate, and both sides were resolutely faithful to these erroneous terms.  Each side regarded that theory of penal substitution to be NON-NEGOTIABLE!  [6/22/09]

The explanation, reason, or rationale of the cross of Christ is his resurrection.  Christ’s crucifixion was the immediate cause of his resurrection, historically speaking, and precipitated this divine response of due justice.  The blood of Christ handily signifies the whole process, including the underlying actuation of divine, covenantal avenging (εκδικjustice (-δικ), BUT IN A WHOLE NEW KEY!  [6/22/09]

If we believe God’s Proclamation about Jesus, His holy and just One, whom He justified by raising him from the dead, thereby making him both Lord and Messiah, it pleases Him both to impute that belief as uprightness and not impute our offenses to us, and simultaneously to impart His Holy Spirit to make us instantly holy and cleansed from our sins.  So we see a pair of operations, each with dual aspects, but both operations (justifying and sanctifying) as functioning in strict lockstep, both actuated by our faith, acquiescing in God’s explanation of power for our salvation (i.e., the word for the whole shot!).  [6/23/09]

To think of Christ on the cross as suffering uniquely the wrath of God (unlike us; in fact, “for the sake of” us) along with the usual wrath of Satan is DRASTICALLY INCOHERENT FROM AN EXEMPLARY STANDPOINT!  For in this confused construction they flow into each other indistinguishably and can only lead those who seek to follow Christ’s example into an emotional and ethical morass!  Then we are compelled to hesitate between two opinions regarding our own suffering of abuses:  “Is this thing from the Lord or the Devil?”  Doubts arise about our own integrity.  “Is this persecution from the Monster or punishment from the Master?”  It saps our devotion of stalwartness.  What sense does it make, then, to say that, “God was in Christ” there on the cross, strengthening him in his paramount extremity of Satan’s tempting him to “Show those bastards the sting of Your [Christ’s] wrath! when, allegedly, it was God outside of Christ Who was simultaneously targeting His Own wrath on this, His legitimate Son?!  So is the Father modeling (for He surely is modeling something!SADO-MASOCHISM?  How abysmally derogatory, not to say shockingly scandalous!  Not to add existentially incoherent!  [6/24/09; 3/08/17]

Avenging (εκδικ) is an outbreak of justice.  Therefore, even though we habitually associate this most firmly with penal justice, it is by no means exclusively an avenging of wrongdoing; it may equally be a requital for rightdoing; that is, it may express premial justice.  And insofar as it is an outburst intended to set things right, nobody should be too surprised when, in order to set right the wrongdoing done so egregiously in wicked “requital” for the astonishing rightdoing of Jesus, God avenged this Victim by astoundingly rebounding him back to life with fresh proliferating force!  Now that’s real justice!  Such a blessed vengeance!  [6/25/09]

The Lord Jesus was in and under the graciousness of God while hanging on that cross PRECISELY BECAUSE HE SUBMITTED UNDER THE WRATH OF SATAN ON OUR BEHALF TO RANSOM US FROM THE REIGN OF TYRANNY THAT DEATH INAUGURATED.  And that is the reason he could never have tasted the wrath of God properly speaking!  The radical incoherence of penal substitution theory all comes crashing down to this little pile of flimsy gossamer under the slightest breeze of God’s super-compensating graciousness!  [6/28/09]

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