Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pierced for our Transgressions

I have recently debated someone who denies the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. This is the idea that Jesus was penalized in our place, satisfying the demands of God's justice for those who have faith in Him. It is sad. If Jesus did not take the punishment for our sins on Himself, then we are left in our sins, and then the question becomes what did Jesus die for? Did Jesus accomplish anything on the cross? Was He just being a "good example?"

PLEASE!

Sadly, this person is aware of all the passages in the Bible that speak of Jesus' death as being a substitutionary atonement. Of course, his presupposition forces him to redefine and explain away certain passages; which he does instead of submitting to the Word of God. 

Here are a few of those verse:
  • And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6)
  • Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10)
  • Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.(Isaiah 53:12)
  • whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed (Romans 3:25)
  • For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13)
  • 1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)

Interestingly enough, one of the strongest opponents of penal substitution historically was Socinius. If that name rings a bell, it should. He was an anti-trinitatian "theologian" whose name is now used to describe the heresy he promoted--Socinianism. I wonder if those who oppose the clear Biblical teaching of substitutionary atonement are comfortable in this company?

This person I debated also, I assume, holds what the patristic fathers wrote in high esteem, seeing as where this person comes from theologically (although I have found most like him enjoy picking and choosing what they like). So, I would be interested to see what he would think of what Athanasius (c.293 - 373) said:
It would, of course, have been unthinkable that God should go back upon His word and that man, having transgressed, should not die; but it was equally monstrous that beings which once had shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption. It was unworthy of the goodness of God that creatures made by him should be brought to nothing through the deceit wrought upon man by the devil… Yet, true though this is…it was unthinkable that God, the Father of Truth, should go back upon his word regarding death in order to ensure our continued existence. He could not falsify himself; what then was God to do? …

The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the World, being immortal and the Father’s Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. It was by surrendering to death the body which he had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He forthwith abolished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent. For naturally, since the Word of God was above all, when He offered His own temple and bodily instrument as a substitute for the life of all, He fulfilled in death all that was required.
This is what happens when the Bible is not your authority. The Bible is so clear on why Jesus died for us (for more on that go here). It is possibly one of the most important things to understand. Jesus died for our sins so we don't have to!

9 comments:

Jonathan said...

Don't we all approach life with presuppositions? I'm not saying I disagree. You are absolutely right. But I've seen my own growth over this last year.

bossmanham said...

Yes. But some presuppositions may hinder one from fully understanding the truth. We must be willing to alter our presuppositions if they conflict with the Bible.

Nick said...

I don't this is a fair representation of what took place. It wasn't a "debate" by any means, and more importantly, you didn't appear to grasp what I was saying.

The biggest problem is that you have not distinguished between Psub as one method and other forms of atonement. This can be proven very simply, when you asked:
"Did Jesus accomplish anything on the cross?"

The tone of your post makes it appear as if I don't believe Jesus accomplished anything more than a 'good example', but that is unfair distortion. I believe Jesus died for our sins, laid down His life for us, made intercession, that He made a ransom/redemption and propitiation of God's wrath...I just DENY that it required Psub to do so, and I assure you I'm not playing with words here.

Also, it's false to give off the impression I'm just throwing out Scripture and ignoring it, when I told you plainly I just debated the Psub issue and went over those texts. The debate is freely available, and if you arent going to look into it then you should hold off jumping to conclusions.

Brennon: Here are a few of those verse: And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6)

Nick: He laid on Him the burden of atoning for sin. Nothing denied here.

Brennon: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10)

Nick: Yes, in the sense that God predestined the Passion as the means of saving man. God was also pleased to have Joseph suffer hardships (Gen 50:20) as well people like Job, because He would bring a greater good from it. Read Acts 2:23f. This doesn't mean God was out to dump His wrath on someone.

Brennon: Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.(Isaiah 53:12)

Nick: Pouring out His soul unto death is nothing short of "obedience unto death" (Phil 2:5-8). And look what this passage says "made INTERCESSION for" the sinners. (this word for "intercession" is the same Hebrew word used in 53:6 "laid on", by the way) The term "intercession" means to step in and help someone, it's not a term of Psub. When you make intercession you stop something from happening, stop a punishment from taking place, just as Phinehas (Num 25:1-13) and Moses (Deut 9:16-20) did.

Brennon: whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed (Romans 3:25)

Nick: The key term here is "propitiation" which means TURN AWAY wrath, it doesn't mean 're-direct' onto a substitute. The very term itself contradicts Psub.

Brennon: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Nick: The term "made sin" is understood as coming in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering (Rom 8:3; 2 Cor 8:9). It doesn't mean God poured out His wrath on Him.

Brennon: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13)

Nick: Yes, and looking up the passage this quotes it is in reference to the most humiliating way to die, with your corpse exposed in mid air (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Joshua 8:28f; 10:26f).

Brennon: For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things...4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)

Nick: Nothing here states Psub took place. In fact, if you want to really look into the OT system, you will see Psub was not taking place. For example:
(1) The Passover Lamb was never an object of God's wrath, nor was God's wrath on the Israelites for the Passover (Ex 11:4-7)
(2) If someone was too poor to afford a lamb for their sin offering, they could use a sack of flour instead (Lev 5:7,11). That would be totally illogical if P-Sub was the system in place.
(3) The Scapegoat was never actually killed, which is the last thing one would expect if P-Sub was the system.
(4) In places like Lev 3 it talks about sacrifices NOT dealing with sin but instead peace/fellowship sacrifices. However, the animal is still killed in a manner very similar to the sin offering. This is likewise illogical if P-Sub was in place, because all we would expect for a sin offering occurs yet the offering is not on account of sins.

On top of that, reading the rest of the chapter, Hebrews 10:26-29 says: "26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment"

This is impossible if Psub were being discussed. Look "if we keep sinning...NO SACRIFICE for sins remains." This is one of the strongest proofs against Psub, for Christ could not have taken your punishment and you still end up getting that punishment (cf 1 Cor 8:11)

Brennon: Interestingly enough, one of the strongest opponents of penal substitution historically was Socinius.

Nick: False association. I'm not anti-Trinitarian and if anything Psub makes you anti-Trinitarian for believing Jesus was damned in your place (the true punishment your sins deserved).

Brennon: This person I debated also, I assume, holds what the patristic fathers wrote in high esteem, seeing as where this person comes from theologically (although I have found most like him enjoy picking and choosing what they like).

Nick: Spare the cheap shots dude. If you want to take me head to head in a formal debate, I'm game. Don't pretend like you've "debated" and "showed me" when you've made all kinds of mistakes, presumptions, and misrepresentations of me. Let's see if you can engage in MY exegesis of the above passages instead of tossing them out presuming they prove Psub and I'm just ignoring stuff. If you can't engage my exegesis then don't go accusing ME of not studying the Bible on this issue.

Brennon: So, I would be interested to see what he would think of what Athanasius (c.293 - 373) said:
It would, of course, have been unthinkable that God should go back upon His word and that man, having transgressed, should not die; but it was equally monstrous that beings which once had shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption. It was unworthy of the goodness of God that creatures made by him should be brought to nothing through the deceit wrought upon man by the devil… Yet, true though this is…it was unthinkable that God, the Father of Truth, should go back upon his word regarding death in order to ensure our continued existence. He could not falsify himself; what then was God to do? …

Nick: Have you even read this quote in context, or did you cut and paste? The context isn't about Penal Substitution! It's about God's goodness in not wanting man who was once immortal to corrupt into oblivion. I can't believe the butchering and gross misrepresentation of St Athanasius with these carefully timed '...' in your quote. Look at just one of the key bits of info left out of the context:
"Had it been a case of a trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough; but when once transgression had Begun men came under the power of the corruption proper to their nature and were bereft of the grace which belonged to them as creatures in the Image of God"The context is about Jesus healing the corruption that ensued, not taking the punishment in the sense of swapping places in the electric chair. St Ath said the unthinkable to Psub ears here: "Had it been a case of a trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough"


Brennon: The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the World, being immortal and the Father’s Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. It was by surrendering to death the body which he had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He forthwith abolished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent. For naturally, since the Word of God was above all, when He offered His own temple and bodily instrument as a substitute for the life of all, He fulfilled in death all that was required.

Nick: The context is of healing human nature, that's what "corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death" means (if you're reading this in context). It's not about legally transferring a punishment from a criminal record. Note the very next sentence which was conveniently left off:
"Naturally also, through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all men were clothed with incorruption in the promise of the resurrection. For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all."So not only was the context not about Psub, it actually pointed away from it and was getting at an point Psub doesn't get to: The union of the Word to Human Nature touches all men, so that all men will be resurrected. (though not all saved). That's what the Incarnation was fundamentally about to St Athanasius.

Brennon: This is what happens when the Bible is not your authority.

Nick: Sorry, but what you've put forward so far is pure slander. You're free to make that charge once you've INTERACTED with what I've written and showed clear distortion on my part, but not before.

Brennon: The Bible is so clear on why Jesus died for us (for more on that go here). It is possibly one of the most important things to understand. Jesus died for our sins so we don't have to!

Nick: You'd better rethink your oversimplification of things. "Jesus died so we don't have to?" Then why have Christians been dying since day one? Or do you mean Jesus died the eternal death of hell so we don't have to? Where does Scripture say Jesus was damned like that? And why do people still get damned if Jesus was damned for them? This is what happens when things like Psub are presumed and then read into the text.

bossmanham said...

Nick,

I never said I beat you in some debate. I did debate briefly with you. I did not associate the "good example" with you, however. I didn't even say who you were and I was being as ambiguous as possible, but you're free to reveal yourself.

You have a flawed view of what penal substitution is; plain and simple, and I'm not the only person who has informed you of this.

The context you added from Athanasius adds nothing and takes away nothing from what he said and my point about what he said. We have been corrupted by sin. No protestant denies that there was an inward corruption and that the Holy Spirit heals us of that corruption. There is more than one aspect of the atonement.

You are picking and choosing what you like. You are ignoring clear Biblical teaching. I'm not going to address everything you have written, I think the Bible speaks for itself. However I will point out your twisting of the verses is akin to what many Calvinists do to prove their TULIP.

From what I see, you are pretty obsessed with disproving PSA. I honestly can't think of a more wonderful doctrine than Jesus paying for our sins for us. The cross was the punishment needed, and the punishment fulfilled.

Brennon: Here are a few of those verse: And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6)

Nick: He laid on Him the burden of atoning for sin. Nothing denied here.

-You're kidding, right? He laid our iniquities on Jesus. Our sins were put on Jesus on the cross. Jesus was charged with those sins and paid the punishment for those sins there.

I don't have time to go through everything, but if the payment for our sins was not made by Jesus on that day, then all the intercession in the world can't make that payment. "God is a just judge,And God is angry with the wicked every day" (Psalm 7:11).

The justice of God was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. His righteousness was displayed. (Romans 1:17).

Nick said...

Brennon: I never said I beat you in some debate. I did debate briefly with you. I did not associate the "good example" with you, however. I didn't even say who you were and I was being as ambiguous as possible, but you're free to reveal yourself.

Nick: I'm not "revealing" anything I havn't stated previously.

Brennon: You have a flawed view of what penal substitution is; plain and simple, and I'm not the only person who has informed you of this.

Nick: I guess we will have to disagree here, because I understand that classical definition of Sola Fide as the original Reformers intended. It's no accident or "flawed view" that the Calvinist side gives the option of Limited Atonement or Universalism. What you've repeatedly advocated was a double punishment scenario where Jesus was legally charged with your sin, took the death penalty for it, and yet you or any other could end up rejecting Christ and be legally charged with that very same sin and be punished for it as well.

Brennon: The context you added from Athanasius adds nothing and takes away nothing from what he said and my point about what he said. We have been corrupted by sin. No protestant denies that there was an inward corruption and that the Holy Spirit heals us of that corruption. There is more than one aspect of the atonement.

Nick: Your quote is cut up in such a way as to give off one impression when the actual context is dealing with something else. This context was cut out without warrant: "Had it been a case of a trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough; but when once transgression had Begun men came under the power of the corruption proper to their nature and were bereft of the grace which belonged to them as creatures in the Image of God"THIS is St Athanasius' theme, that Christ's Incarnation was to reverse the corruption of our nature, not to step in the electric chair in place of us.

Brennon: You are picking and choosing what you like. You are ignoring clear Biblical teaching. I'm not going to address everything you have written, I think the Bible speaks for itself. However I will point out your twisting of the verses is akin to what many Calvinists do to prove their TULIP.

Nick: This response means nothing. If you're not going to interact with my exegesis, then you have no right to say I'm twisting Scripture.

Brennon: From what I see, you are pretty obsessed with disproving PSA. I honestly can't think of a more wonderful doctrine than Jesus paying for our sins for us. The cross was the punishment needed, and the punishment fulfilled.

Nick: Obsessed with disproving a false doctrine is nothing to be ashamed of. The only thing that has caught me off guard is that you don't see the theological ramifications of PSA the way the traditional Protestants (eg Calvinists) see it.

Brennon: Here are a few of those verse: And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6)
[Nick: He laid on Him the burden of atoning for sin. Nothing denied here.]
-You're kidding, right? He laid our iniquities on Jesus. Our sins were put on Jesus on the cross. Jesus was charged with those sins and paid the punishment for those sins there.

Nick: Not so fast. You're jumping to conclusions on "Jesus was charged with our sins," as if there was a legal sentence pronounced, no such thing is stated in Scripture. The burden of atoning was put him in a similar sense to Moses took the burden on himself to atone for the golden calf:

"Ex 32:30 The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin."
"Ps 106: 19 At Horeb they made a calf
and worshiped an idol cast from metal. They forgot the God who saved them...So he said he would destroy them—had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them."

Moses didn't have to, but he took on the burden of making atonement for their sin, and this is recorded in Deut 9:16-20 as fasting and laying on the ground for 40 days. When you look in Hebrews Christ is said to be the Priest and Sacrifice, neither of which have a Psub precedent in the OT (as I noted earlier).

Brennon: I don't have time to go through everything, but if the payment for our sins was not made by Jesus on that day, then all the intercession in the world can't make that payment. "God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day" (Psalm 7:11).

Nick: Then you shouldn't go making such accusations in the first place. If you won't give my side a fair hearing and instead issue charges like that, then I'm certainly not the one avoiding a Bible study on this topic.

Brennon: The justice of God was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. His righteousness was displayed. (Romans 1:17).

Nick: That passage has nothing specifically to do with "justice being served." The text is about "the righteous will live by faith" meaning the "righteousness" in question here is one of faithfulness and steadfastness to promises.

bossmanham said...

No, Nick. The righteousness of God is displayed in the Gospel. That is what the verse says. God would not be righteous if He neglected His own justice. We are made just before God when we live by faith. You simply slipped a faulty interpretation into the verse because of your a priori assumption.

The gospel is the good news that we can be forgiven of our sins because of the payment made by Christ. That is why His righteousness is displayed. He did not let people simply go scott free. He would not be a just judge, that would be unjust. God's justice was satisfied in the cross of Christ.

Moses seeing if he could "perhaps" make atonement for their sin. The fasting and laying on the ground was a payment, but an imperfect one. This isn't about eternal salvation anyway, it's about the immediate sparing of the Israelite's lives.

All of the payments made to God in the OT were imperfect, but they were all TYPES of Jesus. They were symbols of what He would ultimately do.

Christ's sacrifice is eternal. God has always looked on the faith of His people and has seen the blood of Christ instead of their sin. If they are not covered by the blood of Christ, then God sees their sins. This is analogous to the blood of the lamb that was put on the door posts. God saw the blood and passed over the people in the houses.

All of these are not perfect representations of what Christ did, otherwise the payment would have been made by the livestock's blood. Christ is the perfectly innocent God-man who fulfilled the law perfectly during his life AND he, in his death on the cross, bore the eternal punishment that all men deserved for their breaking the law.

As I said before, there is no double payment problem for Arminians. Christ is willing to pay for your sins. The sacrifice has been made. In order to receive that payment, we must accept it through repentance and faith.

What do you think Jesus did on that cross? Why did He have to die if it wasn't to pay for our sins?

Nick said...

Brennon:No, Nick. The righteousness of God is displayed in the Gospel. That is what the verse says. God would not be righteous if He neglected His own justice. We are made just before God when we live by faith. You simply slipped a faulty interpretation into the verse because of your a priori assumption.

Nick: You are reading too narrow of a definition of righteousness there. You're cutting of 1:17b, which is problematic right there. The passage cannot be focused on "justice being served" in 17a and then "as it is written, the righteous will live by faith" in 17b.

Brennon: The gospel is the good news that we can be forgiven of our sins because of the payment made by Christ. That is why His righteousness is displayed. He did not let people simply go scott free. He would not be a just judge, that would be unjust. God's justice was satisfied in the cross of Christ.

Nick: I don't deny this, I'm just saying you're reading too narrow of a definition there. As for Jesus making a "payment" (ie ransom), that's totally true, but nothing Psub about it.

Brennon: Moses seeing if he could "perhaps" make atonement for their sin. The fasting and laying on the ground was a payment, but an imperfect one. This isn't about eternal salvation anyway, it's about the immediate sparing of the Israelite's lives.

Nick: Totally irrelevant because I in no way equated Moses' merits with the infinite merits of Christ. My sole point was to show that atonement/propitiation can and was made without the need of Psub.

Brennon: All of the payments made to God in the OT were imperfect, but they were all TYPES of Jesus. They were symbols of what He would ultimately do.

Nick: I never denied this. What I have pointed out though was that there is no indication of Psub taking place in the OT.

Brennon: Christ's sacrifice is eternal. God has always looked on the faith of His people and has seen the blood of Christ instead of their sin. If they are not covered by the blood of Christ, then God sees their sins. This is analogous to the blood of the lamb that was put on the door posts. God saw the blood and passed over the people in the houses.

Nick: Christ's sacrifice is eternal, true. But nowhere does Scripture talk about being "covered by His blood" that is a wide spread Protestant invented concept. The NT is clear that the Blood of Christ cleanses us from sin, that's not the same as "covered" like a blanket so that God sees the blood instead of sin. The sins are WIPED OUT, God looks and sees a soul purified of all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:7-9; 3:7). As for the Passover Lamb blood, the fact is God's wrath was never on the Israelites (Ex 11:4ff).

Brennon: All of these are not perfect representations of what Christ did, otherwise the payment would have been made by the livestock's blood.

Nick: I never denied this.

Brennon: Christ is the perfectly innocent God-man who fulfilled the law perfectly during his life AND he, in his death on the cross, bore the eternal punishment that all men deserved for their breaking the law.

Nick: Really? Christ bore the eternal punishment we deserved? While it's true that Psub requires this, didn't you earlier deny Jesus was damned in your place?

Brennon: As I said before, there is no double payment problem for Arminians. Christ is willing to pay for your sins. The sacrifice has been made. In order to receive that payment, we must accept it through repentance and faith.

Nick: You're still confusing categories. It's not a payment "willing to be made" if it was a punishment that was inflicted in the past tense. I'm really surprised you don't see it. If Jesus was punished 2000 years ago with what you deserved, then the transaction has been made, even before you were born.

Brennon: What do you think Jesus did on that cross? Why did He have to die if it wasn't to pay for our sins?

Nick: This conversation is pretty lop sided, you keep speaking as if you havn't read a single thing I've said (or repeated).

bossmanham said...

Nick,

There's a reason for that. You're ignoring clear verses. You're saying "no that's not what it means" with no real support. It's really getting silly. You're also stuck on this rigid, hyper-Calvinistic definition of penal substitutionary atonement, which many others have already told you you were mistaken on. We have reached an impasse.

Lvka said...

That God does not go back on His own word means that He is neither stupid, nor makes false prophecies.

That corruption cannot be escaped save through death is true, since, as our funeral hymns tell us, God allowed death, so that wickedness might not be immortal.

But what has any of these have to do with the Penal or Legal Substitution model of the Atonement?