Archive for July 30th, 2008

Arf!In a recent Submissions thread, Rick F asked:

Chris L. – This post puzzles me.

Especially this statement:

“Any Emergents that deny the Penal Substitutionary Atonement (aka the True Biblical Gospel) will have to try to save themselves based solely on their good works, best of luck to them.”

I am no expert of the different views of the atonement, but do they really “try and save themselves SOLEY based on their good works”? Isn’t that a gross misrepresentation?

Here, Rick has hit the nail on the head with what is wrong with the armchair “discernment” “ministries” – as opposed to professional discernment ministries (like Reasons to Believe, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, The Christian Research Institute, Stand to Reason, etc.) – the dividing line between “discernment” and “gross misrepresentation” is sometimes hard to navigate, and when it is bungled it does great damage to the bride of Christ, as in the example cited.

With the post in question, not only is their conclusion wrong, but their initial definition of PENAL Substitutionary Atonement is wrong, as well:

penal substitutionary atonement, the teaching that Jesus Christ is our substitute and that through His death on the cross our sins and wickedness were atoned for and through faith we are given Christ’s righteousness.

Incorrect (definitionally) – What they have described is simply Substitutionary Atonement, leaving out the Penal aspect of PSA – the belief that God HAD TO punish someone for sin, so He chose Jesus instead of every other individual on earth. It is this particular clause within this systematic view, which has been existent for about 500 years, that many Christians disagree with.

A couple months ago, we published an article which lays out all of the major BIBLICAL views of atonement, including PSA. Each view of atonement holds that Jesus was a substitute – though where they differ is who Jesus was a substitute for and how this substitution fits narratively. PSA says that God HAD TO punish Jesus for the sins of each individual who He predetermined to be ‘elect’. Other views of atonement differ as to whether the atonement was for mankind or for individuals and whether it was a holistic victory over Satan or only over sin. Additionally, each theory differs somewhat on the mechanism of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement – was it a substitution for punishment? Was it a substitution for the dishonor done to God by man, satisfying the need to glorify God? Was it a substitute for the necessity for punishment?

So, when the writer of the quoted article says:

“Any Emergents that deny the Penal Substitutionary Atonement (aka the True Biblical Gospel) will have to try to save themselves based solely on their good works, best of luck to them.”

They are committing multiple logical fallacies for the purpose of creating division within the Body of Christ. First off, they haven’t even correctly identified PENAL Substitutionary Atonement. Secondly, by calling it the “‘True’ Biblical Gospel”, they are expressing a great deal of anti-Biblical arrogance, ignoring parts of scripture and placing their faith in systematic theology rather than God. Additionally, they are willfully blinding themselves to the possibility of their own man-made explanation of PSA being deficient as a holistic word-picture to describe atonement.

Finally, by somehow bringing in the notion that all non-PSA theories are based on faith in works, they are committing a fallacy of false dichotomy. All of the major atonement theories (Ransom Theory, Satisfaction Theory, PSA, Governmental Theory, Moral Influence Theory and Christus Victor) support that salvation is based on God’s grace, not good works.

So, to Rick’s question:

Isn’t that a gross misrepresentation?

The simple answer is “yes”, and it is an unbiblical one, as well…

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It appears that Mrs Schlueter is on vacation (again!). I have only a short thought on her post announcing that she is on vacation: I agree with what she said!!!

Much has happened/is happening, and we just need to remember that truth divides. We aren’t going to be loved for speaking biblical truth. In fact, Christ told us we would be hated. So when people mock at you, sneer and throw your past in your face, ridicule and stir up discord, realize that it’s all been done to God’s people before. We’re just the latest in the long train of believers down through history to face this stuff. As we serve the Lord, God is doing things in our own hearts and lives, as well. That should give us hope that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

The only real problem is that I don’t think any of us ever expected that such mocking, sneering, ridiculing, discord, and hatred would come from inside the church now did we? But, to answer your question, yes, Mrs Schlueter, we are the latest in the long train of believers down through history to face this stuff.

Soli Deo Gloria!

PS–I pray for Mr & Mrs Schlueter’s safety and that they have a great vacation!

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It has become very apparent over these last few days that there are deeply entrenched camps within the Christian world. If you didn’t already know this it should have been obvious with the reaction over recent issues. Not looking to rehash any of that. But I am going to pose a few questions and thoughts that I hope would help all of us.

In the dialog of debate it is very common for both sides to get passionate. Religion strikes to the core of what most of us hold dear. So obviously when topics involving our strongest convictions get discussed we rally to our cause. Which is a good thing! I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m always leery of someone who waffles. In certain areas of my life I waffle for fear of upsetting the apple cart. It is the part of me that I most detest but not for the reason many would think. I wish in certain areas I would choose a hill to die on.

During the dialog of recent debate everything from “you’re unregenerate” to “repent and get saved” got thrown around with impunity. These are phrases that really, again, strike at many of our deepest held convictions. Both sides were guilty. I was guilty, maybe not in word, but certainly in thought. It was often in the flurry of comments when I most desperately wanted my way. And that’s where the spiritual battle was lost. It’s never about “my way” and the only “hill to die” on is Golgotha.

Recently I had a conversation with my daughters about us adopting a child. Wanting to gauge where my kids were at I asked them both “What would you think?”. My youngest (6) looked up from lunch and said “I would love someone else to play with”. My oldest (9) looked over at her sister with a grimaced look and then back to me and said “I don’t want to hear anybody else call you Daddy or tell you that they love you”. Isn’t this the way we are in our relationship with God. We sometimes get very selfish with who we allow to interact with our Father. We stubbornly close the door and say “You don’t know how to love him like I do. You’re not allowed in. I don’t want to share him.” I wonder how much we miss out on by not allowing others to show us the richness of their relationship.

In my life I’ve learned things in the most unlikely of situations. With people I absolutely despised I learned to give grace. With people who frustrated me beyond pale I learned patience. With people who made me fearful I learned trust. I suspect that if we all evaluated what God used to craft us we would have similar stories. So in the dialog of debate let’s not assume that the person on the other side of the internet connection is not being used by God to form us.

What if…

We committed to trusting that God was really in control of all of this? Even the stuff we don’t like.

We committed to learning before teaching? Even with the stuff we think is wrong.

We committed to praying before preaching? Even when someone slams our opinion.

We committed to unity before critique? Even when we think their is no common ground between us.

Some may say this is another slick way of saying “Can’t we all just get along?”. To which I respond “Yep”. In scripture disunity was one of things that characterized being far from God and was proof that the enemy was winning. I suspect the world is the watching.

Grace and Peace.

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