First off we are not journalists so ‘journalistic integrity’ is not really a charge that we need to hold to. Christian integrity, however, is.

Recently I’ve begun to notice a trend with ODM’s, they don’t actually do ‘research’. They claim to do research, some even have it in their URL’s. Actually I’ve known this for a while but lately it appears that the ‘chicken littles’ of the Christian family are more apt to take so and so’s word for it. They link to themselves, they link to each other, they proof text, and they rip quotes out of context. Sometimes, dare I say, they make stuff up.

For instance:

“The more I follow grace, the more I’m drawn to him [God], the more I’m willing to stand up for people being persecuted,” says Jay today. “This sounds so churchy, but I felt like God spoke to my heart and said ‘[homosexuality] is not a sin.’ ”

This quote comes from Jay Bakker (allegedly) via Apprising.org but it’s not the exact quote and I couldn’t find the direct link to this quote, nor could I find any reputable website who has the quote. What I did find was a lot of heresy hunters self linking and cross linking each other. I’m not saying that Jay didn’t say it I would just like an accurate, in context, direct link to prove he said it. But all I have is this link from Ken at Apprising.org. So much for research and integrity*.

If you have a few minutes to waste, google the quote, and visit some of the sites that purport it. I found (1) Link to Radar Online but no article, anywhere on their site about the quote, (1) Link to a portion of the full article with the incorrect quote, and (9) Links to Kens articles about Jay Bakker. I did find the cached article but it’s not exactly how Ken reports it. According to the date stamps on the comments and photos it appears the article was first published in 2006. The cached article is cobbled together with what appears to be several articles and the word ‘Homosexuality’ was inserted into a seemingly non-sequiter paragraph about growing up PTL.

I do have an email into the writer, Martin Edlund, about the interview and also an email into Radar Online. Hopefully I can find the full transcript of the article.

Don’t take my word for it though. Go and do the research.

*Yet another case of those so offended by the worldliness of the church getting their info from the world to build a case of hypocrisy against those who they claim are in the world. Integrity?????

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227 Comments(+Add)

1   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 16th, 2009 at 9:34 am

It kind of reminds me when politicians say things along the lines of, “we’re not looking into this because of the strength of the evidence, but the seriousness of the charge”.

Seriously, the way the ODMs present their cases make these guys look like Alan Dershowitz in comparison…

2   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 16th, 2009 at 9:41 am

Recently I’ve begun to notice a trend with ODM’s, they don’t actually do ‘research’.

Recently, I’ve begun to notice a trend. Each morning, the sun seems to come up on the eastern horizon behind my house…

Interestingly enough, the grass is often damp in the morning as well…

3   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 10:18 am

Recently, I’ve begun to notice a trend. Each morning, the sun seems to come up on the eastern horizon behind my house…

Interestingly enough, the grass is often damp in the morning as well…

Sometimes the obvious are the hardest things to notice. :)

4   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 16th, 2009 at 11:17 am

Two years ago I actually heard Jay Bakker say that exact quote on television.

But I am willing to be merciful unto a kid whose upbringing was so distorted and even abusive. He did, however, say that quote.

5   Neil    
June 16th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Two years ago I actually heard Jay Bakker say that exact quote on television.

But I am willing to be merciful unto a kid whose upbringing was so distorted and even abusive. He did, however, say that quote.

Seems to me I remember hearing something very similar on the show “One Punk Under God.

Speaking for myself, if I were going to writes blog about it, and make claims about what he said… I would watch the episodes and make sure i was quoting him correctly and in context. Then, if his words need addressing I’d go for it.

The resent post I linked to regarding Eugene Peterson demonstrates that Silva does not feel the need bear the burden of accuracy.

6   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 16th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

This interview on the second page records that exact quote. It is an ABC news blog.

Ken Silva’s quote was accurate.

7   Neil    
June 16th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Reading Silva’s missive on Jay Bakker I am inclined to agree with him (Silva) – except for his tone and need to go all GBA to everything emerging.

8   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 16th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

And we also need to show compassion for the man while rejecting his views. His upbringing was child abuse.

9   nc    
June 16th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

This is a clear case of how Christians can make the truth a lie in the ears of people if they act like jerks in the name of Jesus…and then excuse themselves by saying “the Gospel is offensive”.

Why would Jay Bakker want to identify with any kind of position on any issue if it’s found in the mouths of people like that?

Even if the position is “right”?

I can totally understand where he is coming from…

10   nc    
June 16th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

ya know, another thing…

is Bakker really “influential” in the emerging church?

I mean, he’s gotten some attention in the media, but I’ve never really seen him connected to the emerging church…

his name isn’t uttered in the same breath with Jones, Pagitt, McLaren (who’s been kind of quiet of late), or any of the list of names that people usually rattle off…

so strange, that Mr. Silva…so strange….

11   Aaron    
June 16th, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Sometimes I really have to wonder the validity of Mr. Silva’s faith. Demonstrate faith by works and all that stuff. And all of 1st John and stuff.

I figure he’ll be surprised by who’s in Heaven or others will be surprised when he’s in Hell.

Either way, someone’s getting a surprise.

12   Neil    
June 16th, 2009 at 2:32 pm

nc, I’m not sure I understand your point.

Aaron, giving someone the benefit of the doubt regarding their faith is our SOP… therefore we do not question the validity of anyone’s salvation.

I concur that I think brother Silva will be surprised (as will I), when the new heaven and the new earth appear, who he will be sharing it with.

13   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 16th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I think we can safely add “pleasantly” in front of “surprised,” for when that day comes, we will be stripped of all judgment.

14   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 16th, 2009 at 2:51 pm

The whole who’s in and who’s out thing has to be wearying.

15   John Hughes    
June 16th, 2009 at 3:42 pm

The whole who’s in and who’s out thing has to be wearying.

Not really. Just send me $19.95* and give me a name and address and I’ll let you know right way.

16   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
June 16th, 2009 at 3:58 pm

#13 – Amen Nathanael – well said.

I just finished watching a video here – an interview with Ted Haggard that took place in a church.

May we be reminded – all of us – of how far we all fall short of His glory.

17   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Rick,

Thanks for the link. The article is still over 2 years old. Kens was dated June 14th, 2009. Does he mention that? No. Why? Perhaps to keep the Apprising fire glowing.

With that said the quote is still out of context and could mean all kinds of things.

God told me being gay isn’t a sin. God told me that having homosexual feelings isn’t a sin. God told me that not being heterosexual wasn’t a sin. And so on…

The point of the OP was Ken can do better and should do better in backing up his charges. Additionally all the other “heresy” blogs that linked to him didn’t even bother to research in the slightest his claims. They took it hook, line, and sinker. And perpetuated it. Which in my book is gossip. But nobody would ever write a blog post about that. It’s not good for fundraising business ministry

18   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 16th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I am familiar with Jay and he does not believe homosexual behavior is a sin. However, he is extremely small potatoes and an easy target and represents no one. His only claim to fame is his last name which still draws interest and attacks.

I say leave him alone.

19   Eugene    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I say leave him alone.

Where’s the fun in that?

20   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 4:48 pm

I agree with the OP. There is no cause for a researcher as gifted and talented and ordained as Kenny Silva to use links in his research that are dead-ends.

One as skillful as he should use more care. It was terribly disappointing for me personally to not see the essay he was referring to.

21   nc    
June 16th, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Neil,

my point is that Jay Bakker is probably taking up positions that are shaped by his growing up experiences with people not too different than the ODM’s…

Rick rightly points out that he’s been abused and hurt. I wouldn’t want to believe in much of anything that seemed important to my abusers–even if they’re “right”.

some kinds of hurt and abuse go so deep that they shape a person in a deeper way than just can be healed by “getting over it”, etc. etc.

22   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 16th, 2009 at 5:27 pm

some kinds of hurt and abuse go so deep that they shape a person in a deeper way than just can be healed by “getting over it”, etc. etc.

And that’s the ironic thing about people who, ahem, “minister” in the way that Ken Silva and his buddies do. By disregarding the truth and feeling justified in their belief that the ends truly justifies the means, they really just end entrenching the people they are supposedly trying to enlighten further into positions that are opposed to them. That’s why people get so defensive at “jerks for Jesus” style evangelistic outreaches. A person who might actually be somewhat open to the gospel will actually be repelled by abrasive presentations.

But, hey, we’re Christians, so somehow we’re not responsible for our own idiotic actions… “I swear, the Holy Spirit made me do it!”

23   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 16th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Jay Bakker was 11 years old when the PTL empire crumbled, his father went to jail, and the next year his parents divorced and his mother married someone who was a family friend.

He spiraled into depression, drugs, and alcohol for years. We should have some compassion, and we should understand his aberrant beliefs. He is not some theologian, he’s just some guy trying to get through the day.

24   nc    
June 16th, 2009 at 5:58 pm

it also makes one wonder what kind of hurt was experienced by ODM’s that they need to go around kicking people in the shins all the time…

many times the abused become abusers…there’s probably a list of “pastors” that the ODM’s should really be upset with…their own, most likely.

Can you say Helsinki Syndrome?

25   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

#23
Do we serve a God so small that a young man who has gone through these impossible odds from a human perspective be radically born again and changed by God, and allow God’s Word to form his opinions and his theology?

Jay Bakker may not be a theologian, but he can be a transformed person by the power of God if he will let God form his opinions.

26   nc    
June 16th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Nobody is denying God’s power…

27   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Jay Bakker is clearly doing so because he is forming his own opinions especially in this area.

28   Joe    
June 16th, 2009 at 9:50 pm

many times the abused become abusers

Small aside point. That’s a myth that current (or for that matter any) research does not support. It’s backwards. Almost all abusers were abused but the vast majority of the abused do not abuse. Sorry, the counselor in me always cringes when I hear people say that.

29   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Jay Bakker may not be a theologian, but he can be a transformed person by the power of God if he will let God form his opinions.

Or just pray more, or believe more strongly, or get anointed with oil, or, or, or…

Sometimes God transforming people is a journey and not a miraculous instantaneous event.

30   nc    
June 16th, 2009 at 10:41 pm

‘Almost all abusers were abused’

and

‘many times the abused become abusers’

don’t really see the difference…but like you said…small point.

31   nc    
June 16th, 2009 at 10:42 pm

re: Jay Bakker can be changed.

Yep, and he could also not be….like many many many people who believe in Jesus and still don’t change/get healed, etc.

God can but God doesn’t…for a lot of people.

32   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

#31

so….what you are saying is…that God cannot convert people? That the old does not pass away? that the new does not come?

or…

that we can call ourself a Christian and pick and choose what we believe in regards to what the Bible says.

At least ya’ll are consistent. I mean, you support the rank heresies of Phyllis Tickle and Peter Rollins and Rob Bell allowing them to preach at his church. I mean, who cares! It does not matter what people believe they can still be Christians?

p-shaw

33   Neil    
June 16th, 2009 at 10:57 pm

God can but God doesn’t…for a lot of people.

so….what you are saying is…that God cannot convert people?

Hmmm…. p-shaw indeed!

34   Neil    
June 16th, 2009 at 11:01 pm

At least ya’ll are consistent. I mean, you support the rank heresies of Phyllis Tickle and Peter Rollins and Rob Bell allowing them to preach at his church.

One commenter laments that we have not taken a stand on Rollins and another says we have supported his heresies… p-shaw indeed!

35   M.G.    
June 16th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Re: #32

So Martin Luther’s anti-semitism… did the old not pass away? Did God not convert him?

Or did Mr. Luther get to pick the parts of the Bible he believed in?

36   Neil    
June 16th, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I mean, who cares! It does not matter what people believe they can still be Christians?

Pastorboy, such silly hyperbole serves no purpose. You know it is not true, so why do you continue so?

37   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
June 16th, 2009 at 11:05 pm

like many many many people who believe in Jesus

But Jesus said this….in John 8..

30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, c “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

So…people believed in Jesus…but Jesus said if they were truly His disciples…they would abide in His word…that is they would continue in it…trust in it…follow it…Then John went on in his 1st epistle:

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Not that we argue with God’s commands or try to water them down or justify our sin or others’ sin because we are trying to be sensitive…

38   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 16th, 2009 at 11:07 pm

so….what you are saying is…that God cannot convert people? That the old does not pass away? that the new does not come?

Certainly God could completely change everything about a person in a flash, but it doesn’t seem that is His modus operandi. Sanctification is a progressive process, and we are expected to be involved in working out our salvation.

or…

that we can call ourself a Christian and pick and choose what we believe in regards to what the Bible says.

Hmmm… it seems everyone does this to some extent. Some people just refuse to admit it. Perhaps the question shouldn’t be what we believe about the Bible but rather whether we are willing to submit ourselves to be changed by Scripture. The one thing I notice about the people who scream the loudest about others not taking Scripture seriously or whatnot is that they are the ones who seem to think they need to change the least.

At least ya’ll are consistent. I mean, you support the rank heresies of Phyllis Tickle and Peter Rollins and Rob Bell allowing them to preach at his church. I mean, who cares! It does not matter what people believe they can still be Christians?

Yeah, how dare these folks not jump through my religious hoops! Anyone who doesn’t see things exactly the way I do has to be a heretic!

39   Joe    
June 16th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

#30.
To someone working with a highly abused population it seems like a huge difference. The difference is focus. Many people who were abused never abuse anyone. The original statement seems to imply something different. For a time, if you had the audacity to be abused and admit you couldn’t get a job in the helper field because of this myth. Does that better explain my position?

40   Joe    
June 16th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Q. When has Peter Rollins preached at Mars Hill?

A. Never.

41   Joe    
June 16th, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Less than 3% of those abused will become abusers according to a friend of mine in the field who does not have stats to back it up at this time.

42   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 16th, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Q. When has Peter Rollins preached at Mars Hill?

A. Never.

Shhhh… let’s not those pesky facts get in the way of a good tantrum.

43   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 12:10 am

Q. When has Peter Rollins preached at Mars Hill?

A. Never.

Q. Has he been invited to preach at Mars Hill in July?

A. Yes.

44   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 12:26 am

Q. Has he been invited to preach at Mars Hill in July?

A. Yes.

I’m not familiar with podcast technology that broadcasts sermons given in the future, so that one can dissect them for orthodoxy.

Also, he’s not preaching at Mars Hill – he’s speaking at a conference there during the week. Specifically, he’s talking about performance art and about parables (not PSA or Christus Victor…)

45   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 12:30 am

“Also, he’s not preaching at Mars Hill – he’s speaking at a conference there during the week.”

Not only is that stretching a point, it also indicates a reluctance to admit any such invitation. Point of order – Rollins was invited by Rob Bell to preach at Bell’s/Mars Hill’s conference. The label of the event is irrelevant.

46   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 12:41 am

Not only is that stretching a point, it also indicates a reluctance to admit any such invitation.

No reluctance, just trying to stick to the facts, rather than hop on your Chicken-Little-a-thon. Rollins was invited to speak on two topics – performance art (flash-mobs, twittering, etc.) and examining the literary form of parable. And the audience is NOT the MHBC membership – it is a group of pastors.

Point of order – Rollins was invited by Rob Bell to preach at Bell’s/Mars Hill’s conference. The label of the event is irrelevant.

Looking at the topic list, I do not see that he is “preaching” on anything (see above). (I see that Shane Hipps is on the list, as well, but somehow I doubt he will be proselytizing for the Mennonites.)

This is just basically gradeschool crap now. Psst! Marcy was talking to Billy at recess – I think they must be in love.

47   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 5:49 am

Gradeschool crap? I believe it is much closer to “what the definition of is, is” genre. I love the defensive, reductionist explanations that in the end, when you cannot complete the circle, you are left with tossing out “gradeschool crap” and see if it sticks.

And if Rollins at the conference states that the divinity of Christ was debatable you would contend that Rollins wasn’t actually preaching and that he was just asked to comment on preaching and poems so that quip doesn’t count.

You win, all this stuff doesn’t matter, but let Ken or Ingrid cough the wrong way and it’s post worthy. Certain men are insulated from any substantive evaluation in any area. I have understood this for some time now. I know, gradschool crap – so erudite and engaging. :cool:

48   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 17th, 2009 at 6:24 am

Not only is that stretching a point, it also indicates a reluctance to admit any such invitation. Point of order – Rollins was invited by Rob Bell to preach at Bell’s/Mars Hill’s conference.

I believe your incessant rant about Rollins is stretching.

And if Rollins at the conference states that the divinity of Christ was debatable you would contend that Rollins wasn’t actually preaching and that he was just asked to comment on preaching and poems so that quip doesn’t count.

To my knowledge he has never said this. But if he happens to mention the divinity of Christ and utters one statement that even remotely smells like J.D. Crossan I’ll be all over it. I promise :)

You win, all this stuff doesn’t matter, but let Ken or Ingrid cough the wrong way and it’s post worthy.

Not so much. The volume of stuff that is available on either of there sites is overwhelming and we could post everyday for a year on all of it and still not scratch the service of the lunacy. And a cursory search of this site would bear out that we don’t respond to everything that they ‘cough’ out.

Finally this Peter Rollins (is it bad that I always want to say Henry) stuff is just getting silly. It kinda reminds me of when someone asked a certain pastor to tweet the gospel. “Oh he didn’t use this word or that word. HERETIC”. It’s just silly.

Reminds of when Jesus told the pharisees that they were making converts twice the sons of hell that they were. If you don’t look like me, act like me, and do everything the way I do it then you obviously aren’t following God.

49   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 6:37 am

What then does it mean to be a Christian?

Peter Rollins: It means entering into a journey of becoming one. It does not mean accepting a worldview but rather entering into a healing journey of life.. To be a Christian also means that one is committed to exploring this life through the Judeo-Christian tradition, wrestling with it, learning from it, and being transformed by it. Being a Christian means learning how to be the opening of life into the world.

50   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 6:38 am

Why do you call Jesus a subversive prophet who signaled the end to all religious movements?

Peter Rollins: One of the most interesting things about Christianity is that Christ both founded a religion and yet signaled the end of all religions. Jesus said there will come a time when we worship in spirit and in truth rather than on one mountain or another….Christ thus can be seen as founding an irreligious religion, i.e., a religion that critiques the idea of religion, a religion without religion. This is one way of understanding deconstruction.

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/peter-rollins-on-orthodoxy-doxology-and-the-end-of-religion

51   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 6:39 am

Peter Rollins on irony and Christianity: “Revelation became this idea of almost God saying something to you, whispering in your ear, and you could hear the message of the Gospel without heeding it. You could know the truth of the faith without it actually transforming your radical subjectivity. … I’m trying to de-center the idea that we can somehow have the answers without it transforming us radically.”

http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/peter-rollins-on-the-ironic-stance-of-christianity

52   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 6:49 am

Peter Rollins:

“For the mystic, God was neither an unspeakable secret to be passed over in silence, nor a dissipated secret that had been laid bare in revelation. Rather, the mystic approached God as a secret which one was compelled to share, yet which retained its secrecy. The union can be articulated like this: That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking.”

http://pomomusings.com/2008/08/13/how-not-to-speak-of-god-2/

53   M.G.    
June 17th, 2009 at 7:53 am

RE#47

The fact that you don’t respond to the substance of Chris’s point, and then actually have to object to it by relying on a counterfactual says more about your position than anything else.

Counterfactuals as a basis of objection is pretty lame.

54   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 17th, 2009 at 7:58 am

Counterfactuals as a basis of objection is pretty lame.

Just because you have a Masters degree in philosophy and a law degree doesn’t mean that you are allowed to hold us to a standard of actual debate. :)

55   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 17th, 2009 at 8:05 am

And if Rollins at the conference states that the divinity of Christ was debatable you would contend that Rollins wasn’t actually preaching and that he was just asked to comment on preaching and poems so that quip doesn’t count.

So now we’re being judged on what we would hypothetically do? We’ve entered the Minority Report zone of the blogosphere – we know what sins you’ll commit before you commit them…

56   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 8:18 am

I don’t bel;ieve Chris actually had a “point” except to say he rejected my points about Rollins. As to addressing the actual point, my numerous and verbose previous comments speak for themselves.

BTY MG – You did not address the point either but attempted to deconstruct the format of my comment by suggesting a counterfactual diversions which in itself is…well…counterfactual. :cool:

57   Neil    
June 17th, 2009 at 9:27 am

I think there is a difference between preaching the word and lecturing on methodology and/or genre.

I will reserve judgment on his commetn theat the jury is still out until I know what he meant by it.

I think in petty of Pastorboy to respond to “God can but God doesn’t…for a lot of people” with “so….what you are saying is…that God cannot convert people?

It is even smaller of him to ask “It does not matter what people believe they can still be Christians?

58   Neil    
June 17th, 2009 at 9:29 am

This does raise the questions though; is it every acceptable for a group of pastors to hear from an alleged pagan? Does the venue matter given the fact that there is nothing sacred about the building in which the church actually meets?

59   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 9:36 am

Not that it makes a huge difference, but for sake of clarity, the conference will not be held at Mars Hill Bible Church. It will be held in the DeVos Performance Hall. They will also be hosting the Wiggles in August.

60   M.G.    
June 17th, 2009 at 9:43 am

The differences between comments 43 and 59 are stark.

I don’t know what to believe.

Not that it’s hard for me to confirm for myself, but still, it’s a shame that the casualty in a lot of these types of disputes is the truth.

61   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 17th, 2009 at 9:45 am

They will also be hosting the Wiggles in August.

I’d be much more concerned if it were proven Rob Bell had ties to The Wiggles than knowing he has ties with Peter Rollins or Phyllis Tickle…those guys creep me out!

62   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 9:47 am

I stand corrected. The venue is not the church building, the sponsor is Rob Bell. I am not sure that factoid was material to the issue.

63   nc    
June 17th, 2009 at 9:47 am

PB,

No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. And you know it.

Do you have areas in your life that are not pleasing to God?

Oh, yeah…I know you do if your “chief of sinners” shtick isn’t really, well, shtick.

There are parts of your life PB that may NEVER get converted/healed/transformed until you stand before Jesus in heaven.

You’ll note that the Bible verse you’re quoting doesn’t give a time frame…

we’ll be set free…it just might not be in this life…

that’s my point.

Some people struggle with their addictions all their lives…that doesn’t mean they aren’t people who belong to Jesus.

that’s the point…and, again, you know it.

64   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 17th, 2009 at 9:54 am

I stand corrected. The venue is not the church building, the sponsor is Rob Bell. I am not sure that factoid was material to the issue.

Come on, Rick… I mean you seem like a reasonable enough guy most of the time, but for some reason you’ve seem to have let this Rollins thing gotten your goat. There is a huge difference between having someone speak at a conference that people pay to attend than having them speak in front of an entire congregation.

Heck, I spent a good number of years paying to hear pagans talk to me – it was called college. And I’m not even agreeing with the premise that we can call Rollins a heretic. But even if he were shown to have some heretical views (again, no one has shown me anything to prove that yet), the fact that Bell is having him at this conference is really a weak GBA attack.

65   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 9:56 am

I must again identify the cavalier attitude about an issue which I find important. If it doesn’t concern you, not only will it not be addressed, it will be mocked by various literary devices.

I guess that unveils the shallowness of sincere brotherhood which seems to be suggested is otherwise. For the record, I have never called Rollins or Bell a demeaning name; I have never made light of their views; I have never attempted to leverage minor facts as diversion; I have never introduced things like the Wiggles to elicit condescention;, and I will genuinely attempt not to do so in the future.

BTW – I agree wholeheartedly with your comment, nc, #63.

66   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 10:00 am

Phil – You as well seem like a reasonable guy. Rollins is not advertsed as a “pagan”, quite the contrary. So if Rob Bell is hosting the event, and if he has invited Rollins to be the main speaker, and if Rollins is invited as a avante guard Christian thinker, it stands to reason Bell endorses him.

In fact, I am sure Bell would have no problem in agreeing with my assessment of his relationship with Rollins. He would be open and transparent about it.

The pagan speaking template is incongruous with the upcoming conference. Of course, that is not the issue.

67   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 10:08 am

The “Wiggles” comment was meant to be funny, and nothing else.

No condescension was intended.
The fact that it elicited such indicates it was anticipated.
We are not against you, Rick.

68   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 17th, 2009 at 10:11 am

Phil – You as well seem like a reasonable guy. Rollins is not advertsed as a “pagan”, quite the contrary. So if Rob Bell is hosting the event, and if he has invited Rollins to be the main speaker, and if Rollins is invited as a avante guard Christian thinker, it stands to reason Bell endorses him.

In fact, I am sure Bell would have no problem in agreeing with my assessment of his relationship with Rollins. He would be open and transparent about it.

That’s probably true. Although I don’t take inviting someone to speak at a conference or even to speak at a church service as the host saying, “I endorse everything this person has ever said or believes”. I take more as, “this person has some good thoughts and ideas that I think may be helpful to us”.

I guess if conference hosts were forced to issue disclaimers about every speaker they invited, the disclaimers would end up being longer than the summaries of the talks in order to make everyone happy.

69   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 10:15 am

I understand, however the venue has never been the issue. The teachings of Peter Rollins is the issue. I am impartial in the discussion, and I can say before God, that if my own son had said the jury was still out on the substitutionary atonement for sinners on the cross I would confront him as well.

70   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 10:20 am

I was not trying to make venue the issue. In fact, I stated that I knew it would not make a huge difference on the conversation. But I wanted to bring clarity to the situation. You seemed abnormally sensitive lately, Rick.

71   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 17th, 2009 at 10:25 am

I understand, however the venue has never been the issue. The teachings of Peter Rollins is the issue. I am impartial in the discussion, and I can say before God, that if my own son had said the jury was still out on the substitutionary atonement for sinners on the cross I would confront him as well.

Well, if he said something like the jury was still out on whether Jesus actually rose from the dead or whether or not Jesus is the Son of God, then that would be worth getting concerned over. Saying the jury is still out over the meaning and purposes of the cross seems like a pretty reasonable statement to me.

I think there were thing accomplished on the cross that we probably won’t even know until we’re in the New Creation.

72   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 10:29 am

Nathanael – I agressively confront hatred for gays and even attempt to define a wider view of grace; I take a back seat to no one when it comes to rebuking those who attach the lost; I hate the doctrine of self righteous judgment; I have confronted Ken on his name calling of Bell and others; etc, etc..

But the definition of redemption is the third rail that makes me seem “abnormally sensitive” when in reality it reveals a doctrine about which I am passionate and will not compromise in the least. And when I find that others do not show much interest, to say nothing of mild concern, it disturbs me greatly and the more we go down that path the more I seem to have taken a detour from the rest.

73   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 10:35 am

Fair enough…just realize that, when you say the definition of redemption, it seemingly puts your definition as the definition to which we all must adhere.

74   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 10:40 am

I admit certain parameters and not a monolithic wording. However there are wordings that are outside even the most expansive linguistic parameters.

We are heading away from the words “substitution” and “atonement”. When you suggest people must live out their salvation you are on solid ground. When you suggest that feeding the poor will lead you to redemption, you have staryed significantly. When the cross and the resurrection have become “asides” in the context of Christian “thinking”, you are no longer teaching Biblical Christianity.

75   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
June 17th, 2009 at 10:42 am

Abnormally sensitive?

Nah, I’d say Rick is Abnormally right when it comes to the commenters on this site regarding the heresies of Rollins and Tickle.

And the fact that Chris simply mocks that concern with his post demonstrates that the commenters and the OP authors are prideful liars which cannot take Biblical correction.

Rick is an elder, and the Bible tells us that we should address him and treat him with respect and regard like a Father.

76   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 17th, 2009 at 10:44 am

Nah, I’d say Rick is Abnormally right when it comes to the commenters on this site regarding the heresies of Rollins and Tickle.

“heresies”

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. …”

77   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 10:46 am

First of all, PB, please don’t call me a prideful liar without proof.
Thanks.

And secondly, Rick is not my elder. However, I have only ever treated him with respect.

Why does someone’s age garner respect? Doesn’t the fact that they are a soul, loved by God, regardless of age, demand my respect?

78   Joe    
June 17th, 2009 at 10:49 am

Q. When has Peter Rollins preached at Mars Hill?

A. Never.

Q. Has he been invited to preach at Mars Hill in July?

A. Yes.

No, he hasn’t. He and Rob are doing something somewhere else.

79   chris    
June 17th, 2009 at 10:51 am

And the fact that Chris simply mocks that concern with his post demonstrates that the commenters and the OP authors are prideful liars which cannot take Biblical correction.

Mock? Not mocking John.

Prideful? Not really anything to be proud of.

Liar? I’m many things but not that.

Biblical Correction? Biblical show me where I was wrong and I’ll gladly take the correction.

80   Joe C    
June 17th, 2009 at 10:52 am

First of all, seriously guys, I see no mocking going on. Please. Why bother throwing that in there? Does anyone seriously feel mocked or are they just saying that to get “you offended me so I win” points? More often than not, I think that’s why we even mention ‘mocking’ or ‘offense’.

Secondly, I see no heresy being spouted by Rollins anywhere in the information I’ve seen from him.

Thirdly, you can have plenty of people speak at a conference and what does it mean other than you had them speak because they had something important to say?

Joe

81   Joe    
June 17th, 2009 at 10:53 am

Rick,
I should have waded through the rest of the comments. You are wrong. You are incorrect. You’re facts are not accurate. You are not stating the truth. As of this morning, Rollins is not preaching at MHBC at all. Not at a gathering, and not even to a bunch of preachers. The conference he is speaking at is downtown and is OFF CAMPUS. I’m not sure how much clearer I can state it than that.

82   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 17th, 2009 at 10:54 am

Rick is an elder, and the Bible tells us that we should address him and treat him with respect and regard like a Father.

If we’re simply going by age, Brian McLaren is an elder to me as well. Heck, he’s probably older than a lot of the people who criticize him. I don’t see him getting near as much respect from you, PB, as he deserves as an elder.

83   chris    
June 17th, 2009 at 11:00 am

So if I’m clearly understanding the rules:

As a pastor you can’t speak anywhere that isn’t Christian. (dalai lama)

You can’t have anyone at your church who might not be Christian.

You can’t invite people to speak at conference that you are hosting.

I should respect Rick as an Elder.

Rob Bell deserves no respect.

Truth trumps all etiquette. Even if it’s subjective truth.

Did I miss anything?

84   Joe C    
June 17th, 2009 at 11:06 am

Good summary Chris. I am inclined to agree with you if those points are what is to be learned from the conversations in this thread.

85   nc    
June 17th, 2009 at 11:06 am

Seriously, ya’ll need to push pause on Rollins and do some communal learning together like I suggested a couple threads ago.

That being said…Rollins opinion about the atonement is actually irrelevant to the topics that he would be purportedly addressing at this shindig–wherever it’s going to be held.

It’s cool to take issue with people on an issue–a la’ Rick with Rollins. (Sounds like a band name: Rick with Rollins)

Let’s put it this way…I wouldn’t condemn a group if they had Ingrid come to speak about her favorite hymns and sacred classical music. She actually has some nice opinions/experience related to it.

I wouldn’t condemn them for listening to her talk about the benefits of home schooling…even though I’m not a home schooler.

It’s kinda the same for Rollins to me. I’m not going to assume that every appearance by the man is about some agenda to deny PSA or the divinity of Jesus or whatever.

Having some clarity on that is NOT some kind of rebellion against “biblical truth” or a disregard for doctrine, PB.

86   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 11:07 am

Love is hate

War is peace.

87   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 11:09 am

That being said…Rollins opinion about the atonement is actually irrelevant to the topics that he would be purportedly addressing at this shindig–wherever it’s going to be held.

I think that was the point I was trying to make up in #44….

88   nc    
June 17th, 2009 at 11:10 am

re: #87

just trying to support your point…I read it, but I think it might have gotten lost…

and it’s really important to the discussion about how naughty Rob Bell is for inviting him to speak somewhere.

:)

89   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 17th, 2009 at 11:15 am

Did I miss anything?

Don’t talk about fight club…

90   Neil    
June 17th, 2009 at 11:23 am

OP authors are prideful liars which cannot take Biblical correction.

Seriously Pastorboy, this Coupled with your ridiculous comments and over the top judgmental ism yesterday – have you no shame? have you no ability to interact without hyperbole and useless pettiness?

91   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 11:30 am

Joe – reread comment #62

92   Neil    
June 17th, 2009 at 11:31 am

Rick,

I have been poking around trying to find some primary source stuff on what Rollins believes and what he means by the jury being out on the substitutionary atonement.

Do you have any links to primary sources?

93   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 11:33 am

Neil,
You forgot this part:

the commenters and the OP authors are prideful liars which cannot take Biblical correction.

94   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 11:35 am

Here and here for some.

Google can provide the rest. Rumor has it Bell wrote the prologue for Rollins’ latest book, can anyone authenticate that?

95   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 11:40 am

I cannot identify with the prideful liars description. I have no doubt of your sincerity, butI still cannot understand your refusal to seriously entertain some uncomfortable issues. Have I engendered no credibility over the years that would even make you slightly curious as to why I am so vehement about this subject?

I guess not.

96   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 11:43 am

…butI still cannot understand your refusal to seriously entertain some uncomfortable issues.

Rick,
Your voice has been heard. We’ve entertained these things with you and are continuing to dig deeper.

97   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 11:47 am

People are engaging your concerns and answering them.
No one is ignoring you or writing you off.

This is the sensitivity I spoke of earlier.
It seems that you are edgy and easily provoked, when all that is happening is everyone is not agreeing with you.

98   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 17th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I have no doubt of your sincerity, butI still cannot understand your refusal to seriously entertain some uncomfortable issues.

To echo Nathanael, I would say that it is not a lack of “seriously entertaining” issues (which I would disagree are “uncomfortable” as I read more about Rollins, like his iMonk interview). Rather, it is a lack of agreement with you on the issues themselves:

1) PSA – The issue with atonement that you keep coming back to. I see nowhere in Scripture that having the “right” view of atonement is salvific or related to pure orthodoxy. If it were, and if PSA was the “right” view, then the first 1500+ years of Christianity were heretics and/or damned to hell. And that just doesn’t fly. This is a topic we covered in great depth last year, and reposted just a few months ago. Additionally, I wrote an article on atonement as a direct response to a question you submitted – one in which you were taking quite a different tone on the subject.
2) GBA – In the view of most of the writers, I believe, inviting someone to speak at a conference does not grant carte blanche endorsement of everything an invitee believes.
3) We’re not card-carrying members of the ODM famiglia nostra. We’ve got very little interest in heresy hunting, or trying to figure out who’s saved and who’s not saved. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there that we obliquely acknowledge as such (Bently, Olsteen, Crossan, etc.), but they’re not our gig. Brian MacLaren says a lot of strange things I disagree with, and you won’t find much of a defense of him here, and when you do, it’s often about specific unfair characterizations that have been made, not a holistic defense.
4) Peter Rollins, himself. The guy’s a PhD philosophy major, and I’d say that, reading him, he seems to overphilosophize a rather large number of topics, probably much in the same way that I can tend to over-intellectualize other issues. I don’t know that I care for his style all that much, but stylistic preferences do not a heretic make.

Have I engendered no credibility over the years that would even make you slightly curious as to why I am so vehement about this subject?

Yes, and we’re still curious, because you seem to be crying “fire” in front of an empty lot. And when we point out there’s nothing built on the lot, you complain about the diction and grammar our observations, or that our socks don’t match (if we’re wearing any at all).

99   Ron Henzel    http://www.midwestoutreach.org/blogs/
June 18th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Chris L. wrote:

P[enal] S[ubstitutionary] A[tonement] – The issue with atonement that you keep coming back to. I see nowhere in Scripture that having the “right” view of atonement is salvific or related to pure orthodoxy. If it were, and if PSA was the “right” view, then the first 1500+ years of Christianity were heretics and/or damned to hell.

I understand the desire to not unnecessarily or unwarrantedly exclude anyone from the Kingdom. I am not among those who believe that a faulty doctrine of the atonement is an automatic ticket to Hell. But personally, I do believe that Scripture does indicate PSA as the central truth of the atonement, and I do not think the “1500+ years” figure is anywhere close to reality, for reasons I have begun to spell out in the following two blog articles: “The Lamb That Was Slain,” and “Losing Sight of the Lamb.” I hope to follow these two up with more in the very near future.

100   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 18th, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Ron,

No offense intended, but it seems like you are mixing a number of the atonement theories together. PSA is a doctrine that came out of the Reformation, which deals with SA as being applied to the individual (a necessary brick in Calvin’s systematic theological wall) rather than to mankind.

Much of what you’ve linked to would be more accurately described, I believe, as a part of Ransom Theory (with some Satisfaction theory, as well), and not really PSA. The component I believe that you’re missing is the use of “penal” – which is not only punishment, but a legal form of punishment (i.e. God had to punish Jesus as part of a legal transaction (i.e. the punishment was a response to Law – particularly as we understand it in a Western court of law).

Ransom Theory sees Jesus’ punishment as the ransom paid to Satan (the accuser) in order to nullify his claim on humanity.

Satisfaction Theory (the early competitor with Ransom Theory) saw Jesus’ punishment as satisfying the dishonor done to God via sin (and became a precursor of, but not analogous to, PSA).

PSA, as it is formally defined, came out of the Reformation tradition, and sees Jesus’ punishment as a legal penalty doled out by God as punishment for the sins of those who are the elect. (We’ve tried to lay out these competing theories here.)

Additionally, we have Christus Victor, a further spin-off of Ransom Theory, which sees Jesus’ punishment as his means of victory over Satan. Not only did Jesus’ punishment pay a ransom for mankind, but it also was a defeat of Satan that would come to set the whole world (not just mankind) aright.

I would say that each of these theories has Scriptural support, and all may contain part of the truth. If I had to pick one, I would likely choose CV, with Ransom Theory as a close second.

From what I can gather, the discussion Rollins was in, where he made the (to some) controversial statement about substitutionary atonement, identified PSA as something he ought to support, and he said he wasn’t sure he believed it – using language that suggested he fell in line with CV.

101   Ron Henzel    http://www.midwestoutreach.org/blogs/
June 19th, 2009 at 5:46 am

Chris L.,

You wrote:

No offense intended, [...]

None taken. And I trust you will find no offense in my response, as I will endeavor to avoid it all possible cost.

You continued:

[...] but it seems like you are mixing a number of the atonement theories together.

This is an interesting and unexpected comment. Could you specify which ones you believe I am mixing together, and the points in my articles where I refer to them?

PSA is a doctrine that came out of the Reformation, which deals with SA as being applied to the individual (a necessary brick in Calvin’s systematic theological wall) rather than to mankind.

I agree that the systematic form of PSA came out of the Reformation, although my articles thus far also contend that the essential elements of PSA were present in the New Testament and the church fathers. What you describe as PSA here, however, sounds to me more like the Reformed doctrine of limited atonement (i.e., the third letter in the “TULIP” acronym) than the penal substitutionary atonement theory.

You wrote:

Much of what you’ve linked to would be more accurately described, I believe, as a part of Ransom Theory (with some Satisfaction theory, as well), and not really PSA.

Of course you are referring here, as I have mentioned, to my own two articles. Again, I’m more than a bit surprised that you think I’m describing a “a part of the Ransom Theory” in them. This is especially surprising since I agree with you that the ransom theory is a view which “sees Jesus’ punishment as the ransom paid to Satan (the accuser) in order to nullify his claim on humanity.” I just do not see where I have advocated for that view. Could you point out to me where I’ve done that so I can make the necessary corrections and disclaimers? (Although given the fact that you later identify the ransom theory as your “second pick,” perhaps I should take your remark as a compliment!)

You wrote:

The component I believe that you’re missing is the use of “penal”[...]

Actually, I think I’ve been quite clear on that point. If you go to my articles and run searches on the word “penal” you’ll find I used it a total of 63 times (48 times in “The Lamb That Was Slain,” and 15 times in “Losing the Lamb”). If you run searches on the word “penalty” you’ll find it a total of 15 times (8 times in the first article and 7 times in the second). I also tried to make the point that the penalty was due to the breaking of God’s law. If there’s a way I could have made it clearer, I’m definitely open to suggestions!

You wrote:

“[...] – which is not only punishment, but a legal form of punishment (i.e. God had to punish Jesus as part of a legal transaction (i.e. the punishment was a response to Law – particularly as we understand it in a Western court of law).

This sounds to me more like what someone has inferred from penal substitution rather than what the term actually designates. As I understand all the classical definitions, penal substitution has been consistently presented in Mosaic rather than Western European legal categories.

But perhaps this would be a good point to refer to the definition of penal substitution with which I have been working. A handy one is as follows:

The view that speaks of sin as the breaking of God’s law, for which the penalty is death. Hence on the cross Christ suffered the death penalty for the sinner’s place and so appeased the wrath of God.

[Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 90.]

As a basic, working definition, I suppose this is about as clear and concise as any you can find. A somewhat expanded version, providing a bit more historical background, was given by Leon Morris when he wrote:

The Reformers agreed with Anselm that sin is a serious matter, but they saw it as breaking God’s law rather than as insulting his honor. The moral law, they held, is not to be taken lightly. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and it is this that is the problem for sinful humankind. they took seriously the scriptural teachings about the wrath of God and those that referred to the curse under which sinners lay. It seemed clear to them that the essense of Christ’s saving work consisted in his taking the sinner’s place. In our stead Christ endured the death that is the wages of sin. He bore the curse that we sinners should have borne (Gal. 3:13). The Reformers did not hesitate to speak of Christ as having borne our punishment or as having appeased the wrath of God in our place.

[Leon Morris, "Atonement, Theories of," in Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed., (Grand Rapids, MI, USA and Carlisle, UK: Baker Books and Paternoster Press, 2001), 118.]

I am not aware of any standard definition of penal substitution that includes anything like your subordinate clause, “particularly as we understand it in a Western court of law.” Penal substitution has been accused of a lot of things, and while I do believe that being culturally conditioned by Western jurisprudence has been one of them, that is neither part of its actual definition, nor do I think it’s possible to make such an accusation stick in light of the biblical evidence. Furthermore, I’ve noticed that many of the objections to PSA are themselves culturally conditioned by Western legal concepts (e.g., the objection that it is impossible to transfer capital penalties from one person to another).

You wrote:

Satisfaction Theory (the early competitor with Ransom Theory) saw Jesus’ punishment as satisfying the dishonor done to God via sin (and became a precursor of, but not analogous to, PSA).

Of course, this agrees with the Morris’s description that I just quoted of Anslem’s view, which was the satisfaction theory. But instead of “analogous,” could you have perhaps meant “identical?” I believe the common consensus of scholars is that there are clear points of comparison between the satisfaction and penal substitution views (hence making them analogous at points), while the clear difference is the one you have indicated.

PSA, as it is formally defined, came out of the Reformation tradition, and sees Jesus’ punishment as a legal penalty doled out by God as punishment for the sins of those who are the elect. (We’ve tried to lay out these competing theories here.)

Again, if I’m not mistaken myself, it seems to me that you are mistaking limited atonement for penal substitution here. The locus classicus for the Reformed doctrine of penal substitution is found in Calvin’s Institutes 2.16, (Ford Lewis Battles, trans., Vol. 1, [Philadelphia, PA, USA: The Westminster Press, 1960], 503-534), but Calvin does not address the question of the atonement’s extent (as in limiting it to the elect) in that passage. You have to look elsewhere in his writings, to occasional remarks in his commentaries and treatises, to find him addressing that aspect of the atonement. In fact, the question of whether or not Calvin actually taught limited atonement has been contested since at least the 17th century—although I would not be among those who contest it today. In any case, it was not part of his actual definition of penal substitution, nor has it been part of anyone else’s.

You wrote:

Additionally, we have Christus Victor, a further spin-off of Ransom Theory, which sees Jesus’ punishment as his means of victory over Satan. Not only did Jesus’ punishment pay a ransom for mankind, but it also was a defeat of Satan that would come to set the whole world (not just mankind) aright.

I think it’s a bit more precise to say that Gustaf Aulén sought to rehabilitate what he saw as the essential core of the ransom theory by subtracting from it its transactional element and leaving it with its rescue motif. A major problem I have with his book, Christus Victor, is its focus on Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 200) as the exemplar for the ransom theory, even though we only find an early, rudimentary form of it in his writings. For the fully developed version we must look to such people as Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 345-411). Aulén is correct in complaining that we should not read Irenaeus through “Latin eyes” (translate: through Anselm’s critique of the ransom theory), but who said Anselm was only responding to Irenaeus?

But my more fundamental issue with the book is its methodology. On page 71 Aulén deliberately and explictly conflates the categories of salvation and the atonement, even going so far as to say that salvation and the atonement are “one and the same thing.” Thus anything that can be said about salvation can be taken as part of the definition of the atonement. So if we find that Christ’s victory over Satan is the predominant theme of salvation in Christian theology, then this is by definition what the atonement is. He’s quite clear about this, and I believe this is a fatal flaw in his thinking. In my view, only if we see the atonement in the place it has always occupied in biblical, systematic, and historical theology—viz., as the foundational component of soteriology, to which it gives definition rather than from which it derives its definition—can we hope to properly understand it properly.

You wrote:

I would say that each of these theories has Scriptural support, and all may contain part of the truth.

Including PSA?

You wrote:

If I had to pick one, I would likely choose CV, with Ransom Theory as a close second.

I do not deny that Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement was also the occasion of a great victory over Satan, and constituted our rescue from sin and death. I do not see it, however, as a payment made to Satan; I think Anselm was correct in opposing that view.

You wrote:

From what I can gather, the discussion Rollins was in, where he made the (to some) controversial statement about substitutionary atonement, identified PSA as something he ought to support, and he said he wasn’t sure he believed it – using language that suggested he fell in line with CV.

I have not been part of that discussion, and it was not my intent to comment on it, although it would be nice to get the opportunity to do so at some point.

102   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 7:05 am

The substitutionary essence of the cross is undeniable regardless of what “theory” you espouse. The ransom element seems to be inherrat within the penal view as well as the element of eternal victory.

We should not care what Calvin or the reformers or anyone else thought; what do the Scriptures reveal to you aoart from any man’s “theories”. My own view is the penal view since there are statements in the Scriptures that cannot be manipulated to mean anything else.

When people recoil at the suggestion of God punishing His own Son they reveal their limited view of God’s character and redemptive love. To deny the penal element purely based on the “child abuse” element is to deny God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son, or that God even murdered children in the Old Testament.

In short, we cannot humanize God in order to alleviate the tension between our comprehension and the open revelation of Scripture. If you follow these kinds of humanistic thinkings then Jesus coming to earth, knowing He would lay down His life, was suicide. Believe God’s Word and take by faith the hard parts.

103   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 19th, 2009 at 8:21 am

But my more fundamental issue with the book is its methodology. On page 71 Aulén deliberately and explictly conflates the categories of salvation and the atonement, even going so far as to say that salvation and the atonement are “one and the same thing.” Thus anything that can be said about salvation can be taken as part of the definition of the atonement. So if we find that Christ’s victory over Satan is the predominant theme of salvation in Christian theology, then this is by definition what the atonement is. He’s quite clear about this, and I believe this is a fatal flaw in his thinking. In my view, only if we see the atonement in the place it has always occupied in biblical, systematic, and historical theology—viz., as the foundational component of soteriology, to which it gives definition rather than from which it derives its definition—can we hope to properly understand it properly.

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by this. It’s been a few years since I’ve read Aulen’s book, and unfortunately I don’t have a copy of my own. If you are saying that the atonement is somehow the mechanism of salvation, I guess you would have a point, but I also think the atonement needs to account for all aspects of salvation. This is actually a big problem I have with the more Reformed presentations of the Atonement – they make salvation entirely about sin and punishment without looking at other aspects of salvation. I think our problem was deeper than our sin. Our problem was we were separated from God, and so the cross needed not only to deal with sin but the underlying issues that cause us to sin.

104   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 8:25 am

“I think our problem was deeper than our sin.”

There is no problem deeper than sin and there is no problem that has not emanated from sin. All our “problems” can be traced back to Adam’s sin and our complicit replications of the same.

105   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 19th, 2009 at 8:39 am

When people recoil at the suggestion of God punishing His own Son they reveal their limited view of God’s character and redemptive love. To deny the penal element purely based on the “child abuse” element is to deny God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son, or that God even murdered children in the Old Testament.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but I’ll continue to say it. Neither Brian McLaren or Steve Chalke have actually said that the cross was “cosmic child abuse”. They’re point was that it can be made to seem that way given some of the current descriptions of it. Frankly, the fact that this is an issue really speaks to either a lack of reading comprehension on behalf of some, or simply the desire to prove one’s own point at any cost. N.T. Wright actually talks about it here (and guess what? He defends the “indefensible” Steve Chalke…)

I’ve also said this again and again, but I’ll keep on saying it because I think it’s important. Conceptions of God the Father that present Him as the angry judge with Jesus somehow holding Him back don’t do anyone any good. I heard John Piper tell a huge group of college students that Jesus was holding God back from killing you. How does that not bring up the picture of a drunken father going after a child with the kid’s mother trying to jump in between? If God wants to kill me so much, it certainly doesn’t make me want draw close to Him. So I believe that way we present these things matters very much. You can accuse me of being too politically correct or whatever, but I’ll continue to oppose presentations that present God the Father as some tyrant.

106   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 8:49 am

There is an element of a benevolent dictator in the Biblical revelation of God. If we accept the literal narratives in the Old Testament, God executed some mass killings for a variety of reasons.

Why didn’t God enter into a covenant with all of mankind, why just Abram and his decendents? It doesn’t matter what we think or what doesn’t fit our emotions, God is Who He is according to Scripture.

107   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 19th, 2009 at 8:53 am

Why didn’t God enter into a covenant with all of mankind, why just Abram and his decendents? It doesn’t matter what we think or what doesn’t fit our emotions, God is Who He is according to Scripture.

Or maybe more but certainly not less.

108   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 19th, 2009 at 8:55 am

There is an element of a benevolent dictator in the Biblical revelation of God. If we accept the literal narratives in the Old Testament, God executed some mass killings for a variety of reasons.

Yes, He did, but the way God revealed Himself in the OT isn’t the way he chose to in the NT. I think there are various things that can be said about Israel’s military conquests, but the one thing that’s pretty obvious is that God seemed to have the Jewish people rely less and less on military might as the OT narrative progressed. Eventually, they became the ones who were being conquered.

Why didn’t God enter into a covenant with all of mankind, why just Abram and his decendents? It doesn’t matter what we think or what doesn’t fit our emotions, God is Who He is according to Scripture.

Actually, even in the calling of Abram, God promised to bless all nations through Abram’s descendants.

Genesis 12:2,3
2 “I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

Israel’s calling was never to be set apart simply so they could know they were God’s favorite. Their calling was to be a light on a hill so others would see and know God. It was a calling they rarely lived up to, though.

109   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 8:57 am

It is a great mistake to remove the fear of the Lord. Even the Apostle John who hae laid his head on the chest of Christ fell at His feet as dead when He saw the glory of His Risen Person.

II Thesselonians gives us a glimpse of a “tyrant” returning to take vengeance on anyone outside Christ. That justice was poured out upon Christ in our stead, and it is through His mercies that we are not consumed.

110   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 9:01 am

#108 – That still does not negate the fact that God chose Abram and his decendents to make covenant with. That certainly meant something, but it also reveals the fact that God is sovereign and answers to no one, or, a dictator.

111   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 19th, 2009 at 9:05 am

#108 – That still does not negate the fact that God chose Abram and his decendents to make covenant with. That certainly meant something, but it also reveals the fact that God is sovereign and answers to no one, or, a dictator.

I’ve never said God answers to anyone. All I’m saying is that I don’t see the picture that some presentations of the cross paint of God as being Biblical. I’ve said nothing along the lines that the fear of the Lord isn’t important (although I don’t think fear is how He wants to approach Him, primarily…).

112   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 9:07 am

“(although I don’t think fear is how He wants to approach Him, primarily…).”

I agree, to those who are His children.

113   Neil    
June 19th, 2009 at 10:11 am

I wonder if the competing theories of what actually happened on the cross and in the resurrection are not splitting hairs God never intended us to split.

In talking of sin and righteousness Paul uses three metaphors/illustration/terms (not sure which word is best) to describe what happened at the cross and resurrection.

Romans 3:23 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Justification has legal and penal implications. Redemption has commercial and purchase implications. Propitiation has cultic and satisfaction implications.

Regarding the event it also shows various relationships: in relationship to man – we were justified, in relation to sin – it was paid for, in relation to God – he was satisfied.

I just winder if the events of the cross and resurrection are not beyond our pail to describe them fully in competing theories – OK, maybe this is a cop-out… in in this one sentence of Paul’s I see various aspects of them all (except the moral example theory which is the weakest in my estimation).

114   Brett S    
June 19th, 2009 at 10:55 am

I just winder if the events of the cross and resurrection are not beyond our pail to describe them fully in competing theories

Amen, that’s why they call it the paschal mystery. Which was very hard for someone like me to accept, who grew up watching Scooby Doo where anything could be unraveled in a 30 minute episode. And we are Americans right! if we can put a man on the moon we can figure anything out.

115   Neil    
June 19th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Frankly, the fact that this is an issue really speaks to either a lack of reading comprehension on behalf of some, or simply the desire to prove one’s own point at any cost. N.T. Wright actually talks about it here (and guess what? He defends the “indefensible” Steve Chalke…)

Phil linked to a great essay by N. T. Wright that may be easily missed since it is part of a longer paragraph.

So I will call attention to it again -THIS is a great essay not only on the issue of Penal Substitution, but also in how we discuss the issue.

116   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

I read it.

Much learning has made everyone mad. What a trudgery; what a thicket infested journey; what a spiral web of theories and supposeds and facets and perspectives.

I realize Wright is more “caritable” toward all theories of the cross. Some would say charitable while others would say compromise. I might say a little of both.

117   Neil    
June 19th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I thought it was great. He clearly espoused substitutionary atonement, even penal substitutionary atonement – while addressing the various caricatures that have morphed from it.

I saw caution, I did not see compromise.
I saw a detailed analysis but no thicket.

It helps to read N. T. Wright after reading or listening to Rollins – the latter makes the former mush more straightforward.

118   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Neil – I would 1 million times over sit under Wright before I ever sat under Rollins. The contrast is striking.

119   Neil    
June 19th, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Neil – I would 1 million times over sit under Wright before I ever sat under Rollins. The contrast is striking.

No doubt… say what you will about Wright, he’s thoroughly biblical and takes a stand. he may do so in a very verbose way… but his verbosity is clarifying. In Rollins I see more of a verbosity that is cloudifying… to create a word.

120   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

From NTW:

We must of course grant that many Christians have spoken, in effect, of the angry God upstairs and the suffering Jesus placating him. Spoken? They’ve painted it: many a mediaeval altarpiece, many a devotional artwork, have sketched exactly that. And of course for some late mediaeval theologians this was the point of the Mass: God was angry, but by performing this propitiatory sacrifice once more, the priest could make it all right. And it was at least in part in reaction against this understanding of the Eucharist that the Reformers rightly insisted that what happened on the cross happened once for all. They did not invent, they merely adapted and relocated, the idea of the propitiation of God’s wrath through the death of Jesus. We must of course acknowledge that many, alas, have since then offered more caricatures of the biblical doctrine. It is all too possible to take elements from the biblical witness and present them within a controlling narrative gleaned from somewhere else, like a child doing a follow-the-dots puzzle without paying attention to the numbers and producing a dog instead of a rabbit.

This is what happens when people present over-simple stories with an angry God and a loving Jesus, with a God who demands blood and doesn’t much mind whose it is as long as it’s innocent. You’d have thought people would notice that this flies in the face of John’s and Paul’s deep-rooted theology of the love of the triune God: not ‘God was so angry with the world that he gave us his son’ but ‘God so loved the world that he gave us his son’. That’s why, when I sing that interesting recent song ‘In Christ alone my hope is found’, and we come to the line, ‘And on the cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied’, I believe it’s more deeply true to sing ‘the love of God was satisfied’. I commend that alteration to those who sing that song, which is in other respects one of the very few really solid recent additions to our repertoire. So we must readily acknowledge that of course there are caricatures of the biblical doctrine all around, within easy reach – just as there are of other doctrines, of course, such as that of God’s grace.

Wright sums up very well my own misgivings with using PSA as a dominant explanation of atonement (aside from its odd historical moorings) – the caricature is far more easy to pick up and “understand” than a fully nuanced explanation. CV and Ransom, even w/ their alleged short-fallings (the primary one being that they’re not PSA…) as far more applicable and accessible in trying to give explanations to unbelievers/young believers for something not explicitly given in Scripture.

121   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 19th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

“cloudifying”

Great!!! How about Rollins is the “Foginator”!!!

122   Ron Henzel    http://www.midwestoutreach.org/blogs/
June 19th, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Rick,

Regarding comments 102, 104, 106, 109, 110, 112, 116, 1nd 121: amen and amen! Regarding comment 118: let’s hope we’re never reduced to only those two choices, but I essentially agree with you.

Phil,

Regarding comment 103, you wrote:

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by this. It’s been a few years since I’ve read Aulen’s book, and unfortunately I don’t have a copy of my own. If you are saying that the atonement is somehow the mechanism of salvation, I guess you would have a point, [...]“

I am saying that because penal substitution is the mechanism of the atonement, it also tells us what it means to be saved: it means that we have been saved from the penalty of our sins, viz., the wrath of God, by Christ’s substitutionary death, and God is both the “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). Our method should be to first find out what Scripture says about the atonement, and then proceed to answer the question of what it means to be saved, although we should also expect the Scriptures themselves to tell us that as well. Yes, salvation includes a whole lot more than the payment of our penalty, but if it’s the payment of that penalty that makes all those other things possible, then we minimize it at our own peril.

Christus Victor (CV) has a different procedure altogether. It looks for a common theme for salvation (I would actually call it a “lowest common denominator” theme) beginning not with Scripture but with historical theology. It then proceeds to the church fathers, and finally to the New Testament, and then concludes that whatever it has decided that salvation essentially is must also be the essence of the atonement. Since CV finds that salvation is essentially rescue from the power of Satan, then that’s what the atonement must also essentially be. In this way it thinks it succeeds in minimizing that distasteful doctrine of penal substitution.

[...] but I also think the atonement needs to account for all aspects of salvation. This is actually a big problem I have with the more Reformed presentations of the Atonement – they make salvation entirely about sin and punishment without looking at other aspects of salvation.

I don’t know which “Reformed presentations of the Atonement” you’re referring to here, but I will say this: if they did not explain how it relates to the other aspects of salvation—regeneration, union with Christ, sanctification, etc.—it is not very Reformed. You can find true Reformed presentations in the confessions (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dordt, Westminster Standards), as well as in Calvin, Turretin, Bavinck, Berkhof, and other standard works.

I think our problem was deeper than our sin. Our problem was we were separated from God, and so the cross needed not only to deal with sin but the underlying issues that cause us to sin.

But according to Scripture, separation from God is a problem that was caused by sin, and not the other way around. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2, NIV). And the underlying issue that causes us to sin is our sinful nature. According to Reformed theology, all the blessings of salvation emanate from our union with Christ, which is made possible by Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement. Once the moral and legal obstacles to union with Christ are removed through the cross, the Holy Spirit regenerates us, we are justified by faith, and His sanctifying work deals with the root causes of sin in our lives.

Phil,

Regarding comment 105, you wrote:

I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but I’ll continue to say it. Neither Brian McLaren or Steve Chalke have actually said that the cross was “cosmic child abuse”. They’re point was that it can be made to seem that way given some of the current descriptions of it.

Although I believe McLaren has made questionable statements about the atonement, I’ve never heard or read him use the “cosmic child abuse” epithet. But here’s what Steve Chalke (and Alan Mann) actually wrote:

The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement “God is love.” If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and refuse to repay evil with evil.

[Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Zondervan Publishers, 2003), 182-183.]

So in a sense, you’re right. Chalke and Mann specifically denied that the cross is a form of “cosmic child abuse.” Instead they implied (very clearly) that the penal substitution view of the atonement (i.e., my view of the atonement, and that of a multitude of others) is “cosmic child abuse.” Apprently they found it easier to resort to sensationalistic epithets than to actually deal with the biblical teaching itself.

God is not a tyrant. We are the tyrants. We chose Satan’s option, to “be as gods” (Gen. 3), instead of submitting to Him. Since there can only be one God, and since apostasy from Him makes us inherently evil, we quickly became little tyrants who could not tolerate each other’s competing claims to godhood. Within a single generation it became clear that our tyrannical fallen natures are swift to shed blood (Gen. 4; cf. Rom. 3).

So what is the proper penalty for a tyrant? Should we mourn the outcome of the Nuremburg trials? Should we rail against the fates of Hitler, Göring, Goebbels, Mussolini, T?j?, Miloševi?, and Hussein? Should we have wished that some sympathetic mother had thrown herself between the bullets, nooses, and cyanide that killed those tyrants?

We are not innocent little children in need of defense from a “drunken father.” According to Paul, we are “children of wrath.” Those who have allowed their “inner tyrants” to take full rein over their lives, and who have practiced tyranny on a massive scale, are but more grandiose versions of our own selves. This is the biblical teaching.

Neil,

Regarding comment 113, I believe you are on to something when you wonder whether the atonement is ultimately beyond our ability to fully comprehend. Calvin spoke of the Bible as God’s “baby talk.” God “lisped” His word in terms we could understand, accomodating our limitations. Ultimately, however, His thoughts are as high above us as heaven is above the earth (Isa. 55:9).

But regarding comment 115, I’m afraid I cannot agree with your assessment of Wright’s “The Cross and the Caricatures” essay. After reading it I wondered (along with many others!) whether he had even read either The Lost Message of Jesus or Pierced for Our Transgressions. The article was a huge disappointment. Nevertheless, I agree with your comment 119.

Chris,

Regarding comment 120, again, I reiterate how disappointing Wright’s article was and is. He employs caricatures to supposedly attack caricatures. All he had to do was read Calvin’s Institutes 2.16.4 to realize that penal substitution is founded upon the love of God, and that no teaching that is true to the Reformation presents it at the expense of that love. As Battles’ translation of the Institutes summarizes that section in its heading: “The work of atonement derives from God’s love; therefore it has not established the latter.” God did not appease His own anger so He could love us; God first loved us, and so He appeased His own anger. But Wright could have also picked up any number of Reformed presentations, including John R.W. Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ, and read exactly the same thing!

Wright’s specialty is biblical theology. The minute he strays into either historical theology or systematics weaknesses immediately spring up in what he writes. In one sense this is only to be expected, given the over-specialization that has crept into the departments of biblical and theological studies over the past 200 years. But in this case his multiple gaffes are downright embarrassing for scholarship in general, and I think the only cogent explanation was that his article was simply a hatchet-job. He wrote out of anger. He believed that his friend, Steve Chalke, was being attacked, and so he over-reacted and wrote things that cannot be defended. At least that’s my opinion, but one which I share with many others.

123   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 12:40 am

Ron,

I found Wright’s article, as I find most of his commentary, far more even-handed and in line with the overall intent of Scripture than any Reformed writer – be it of our time, or Calvin. In this case, his approach in examining atonement theories is very sound. Even so, as one who tries to eschew systematic theology as much as possible, I would say each of the major theories contains an aspect of truth, but none are Truth, because none are explicit in Scripture.

PSA, just as is Calvinism, is about 500 years old even if it uses derivatives of earlier ’systems’ (such as from Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory), and as such are man-made, fallible explanations of God. I fully agree with Wright’s statement there are several forms of the doctrine of penal substitution, and some are more biblical than others. In this light, the most common explanations of PSA given in churches today is not a whole lot different than “cosmic child abuse”. Even while this is not what its adherents/teachers necessarily believe, their explanation seems to be a lot of esoteric gymnastics that sound a bit too much like they’re authored by Orwell.

While I find CV (which is really just an expanded/contextualized version of Ransom Theory) to be, for me at least, the most helpful explanation – particularly when communicating atonement – that does not mean that I consider it to be Truth, because it, too, is not explicit in Scripture. However, I find that those most uncomfortable with it tend to be Calvinists, and the root of their discomfort lies in the same root of their discomfort with God’s granting of free will to man – they cannot see God as sovereign if he has delegated functions/choices to entities other than Himself (a concept I do believe is well contained within Scripture).

In the case of Ransom/CV, Satan has no sovereignty over God. God, though, has given Satan a role – a role signified by his name – an accuser. In Christ being the ransom payment, it is Christ’s death paying the penalty for the true accusation made by the accuser, that does away with death (the penalty to mankind as a result of sin).

In any case, all systematic theology is man explaining God, and fraught with error, with some theologies (Calvinism, Seventh-Day Adventism, pure Arminianism, etc.) more error-prone than others… It is in this vein that I think that anyone getting wrapped around the axle about the salvific import of holding to the “right” systematic viewpoint of atonement (or free will, etc.) is barking up a nonexistent tree…

124   Ron Henzel    http://www.midwestoutreach.org/blogs/
June 20th, 2009 at 2:52 am

Chris,

You wrote:

I found Wright’s article, as I find most of his commentary, far more even-handed and in line with the overall intent of Scripture than any Reformed writer – be it of our time, or Calvin. In this case, his approach in examining atonement theories is very sound.

And, of course, when it comes to many (perhaps most) of his soteriological pronouncements, my view on Wright is just about diametrically opposite of yours. A plethora of books and critiques of him have been produced in the last five years which I heartily recommend, if you care to know about them (not that they’re hard to find).

Even so, as one who tries to eschew systematic theology as much as possible, [...]

Which I see as one of the more baleful legacies of the Enlightenment…

[...] I would say each of the major theories contains an aspect of truth, but none are Truth, because none are explicit in Scripture.

And, of course, I am proceeding to make the opposite case on the web site to which I have previously linked.

PSA, just as is Calvinism, is about 500 years old even if it uses derivatives of earlier ’systems’ (such as from Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory), and as such are man-made, fallible explanations of God.

Again, I basically disagree. If you’re talking about PSA as a developed system that accounts for the place of penal substitution within a consistent theological framework, that’s one thing. You’ll have no argument from me on that point. But the essence of penal substitution—the proposition that Christ’s died as our substitute to pay the penalty for transgressions of God’s law and thus appease His wrath—has been stated clearly, simply, and repeatedly from the New Testament onward. I amply demonstrate this in my articles.

I fully agree with Wright’s statement there are several forms of the doctrine of penal substitution, and some are more biblical than others.

This observation is relatively innocuous, but generally irrelevant. The fact is that despite what he implies and what many readers will take away from his article, the caricature he presents, whether he wants us to think of it as one of the “less biblical” alternatives or not, (a ) has not been nearly as present in Reformed or evangelical theology has he insinuates, and (b) is nowhere to be found in Pierced for Our Transgressions as he more-or-less explictly charges.

In this light, the most common explanations of PSA given in churches today is not a whole lot different than “cosmic child abuse”.

I hear a lot of anti-PSA people talk a great deal about “the most common explanations” of it “given in churches today” with absolutely no data to back up such sweeping claims. I know of no study that even seeks to answer the question of how PSA is presented by its proponents in churches, or even in the extant literature on the subject, which is obviously a great deal more accessible and easy to compile than information from Sunday morning sermons preached in countless churches. I hear tons of anecdotal “data,” however, but nearly always when I ask the person where they heard such an explanation of PSA it comes from a sources hostile to PSA. In fact, the only time I myself have ever heard anything that sounds remotely like “cosmic child abuse” in connection with PSA is when it is coming from its opponents. It seems to me that no matter how clearly PSA is presented by its proponents with the intent of dispelling these false caricatures, those who do not like it will continue reading the caricatures into it, and I suppose there’s nothing anyone can do to stop that.

Even while this is not what its adherents/teachers necessarily believe, their explanation seems to be a lot of esoteric gymnastics that sound a bit too much like they’re authored by Orwell.

I think you’ve just demonstrated what I just stated. Frankly, it sounds to me as though you’re determined to make the “cosmic child abuse” slur stick no matter what evidence is presented against it.

While I find CV (which is really just an expanded/contextualized version of Ransom Theory) to be, for me at least, the most helpful explanation – particularly when communicating atonement – that does not mean that I consider it to be Truth, because it, too, is not explicit in Scripture.

Do you really mean to say that nowhere in Scripture is it explicitly indicated that Christ’s death was a victory over the power of Satan, and over sin and death?

However, I find that those most uncomfortable with it tend to be Calvinists, and the root of their discomfort lies in the same root of their discomfort with God’s granting of free will to man – they cannot see God as sovereign if he has delegated functions/choices to entities other than Himself (a concept I do believe is well contained within Scripture).

For someone who supposedly eschews systematic theology, you carry around a ton of systemtic theological positions! And you clearly allow them to filter your interpretation of Scripture.

As for me, I find that those who are most uncomfortable with penal substitution and God’s sovereignty are those who bring a particular set of presuppositions to Scripture without first testing them by Scripture—something of which we have all been guilty, and I’m sure no matter how well we overcome it we all fall back into it from time to time.

In the case of Ransom/CV, Satan has no sovereignty over God. God, though, has given Satan a role – a role signified by his name – an accuser. In Christ being the ransom payment, it is Christ’s death paying the penalty for the true accusation made by the accuser, that does away with death (the penalty to mankind as a result of sin).

I suppose that’s one interpretation of the ransom and CV theories, albeit one that comes off as customized for a rationalist Arminian point of view.

You wrote:

In any case, all systematic theology is man explaining God, and fraught with error, with some theologies (Calvinism, Seventh-Day Adventism, pure Arminianism, etc.) more error-prone than others…

It’s quite unfair to single out systematic theology for this opprobrium. There is no type of theology of which this is not true.

It is in this vein that I think that anyone getting wrapped around the axle about the salvific import of holding to the “right” systematic viewpoint of atonement (or free will, etc.) is barking up a nonexistent tree…

It’s difficult for me to imagine how you and I could be further apart on these issues. Oh, well…

125   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 6:07 am

Thank you for your words, Ron. However I feel obligated to let you know what everyone here already knows – I abhor Calvinism in every form. I espouse the penal view, however I feel the substitution ingredient is essential.

I feel your perseption of me would quickly change if the thread was about election, depravity, or limited atonement. Until then – peace, brother. :)

126   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 20th, 2009 at 7:00 am

Not that I have a dog in the fight. I certainly appreciate your vigor Ron but I find it incongruous that you would challenge the PSA view of cosmic child abuse by stating

I hear a lot of anti-PSA people talk a great deal about “the most common explanations” of it “given in churches today” with absolutely no data to back up such sweeping claims. I know of no study that even seeks to answer the question of how PSA is presented by its proponents in churches, or even in the extant literature on the subject, which is obviously a great deal more accessible and easy to compile than information from Sunday morning sermons preached in countless churches. I hear tons of anecdotal “data,” however, but nearly always when I ask the person where they heard such an explanation of PSA it comes from a sources hostile to PSA. In fact, the only time I myself have ever heard anything that sounds remotely like “cosmic child abuse” in connection with PSA is when it is coming from its opponents. It seems to me that no matter how clearly PSA is presented by its proponents with the intent of dispelling these false caricatures, those who do not like it will continue reading the caricatures into it, and I suppose there’s nothing anyone can do to stop that.

But then go on to say about other THEORIES that:

As for me, I find that those who are most uncomfortable with penal substitution and God’s sovereignty are those who bring a particular set of presuppositions to Scripture without first testing them by Scripture

and

I suppose that’s one interpretation of the ransom and CV theories, albeit one that comes off as customized for a rationalist Arminian point of view.

So if I’m understanding correctly those who view PSA as “child abuse” are not fully understanding the view. And those who espouse CV/Ransom don’t have a full understanding of why those aren’t scripturally accurate.

Why not save all the fancy words and just you’re wrong?

Not being an atonement expert I hesitate to say that maybe no view is hard lined because scripture allows for multiple views and ultimately it doesn’t matter. In other words; it’s a stupid fight to be having. I’ve never once had to explain to anyone seeking salvation “Well, pierced for our transgressions is really PSA or CV or Ransom” I know what the defense is gonna be “But actual you are saying that but not in those words”. To which my response is; that’s why it doesn’t matter to nail it down to a neat theological box.

127   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 20th, 2009 at 7:05 am

And to add to my list of stupid fights to be having:

Eschatology
Gifts/Tongues, Prophecy, etc…
Creation
Worship

Anybody else have any? *Looks at Rick*

128   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 7:30 am

This is where the child abuse objection breaks down – the Trinity. God’s reference to Himself as the Son is for our benefit and does not indicate an offspring relationship. Since Jesus is eternal, and since He created everything, His moniker “the Son” is not to be understood in the same way we understand a human son. When the Word became the Son it probably is related to the incarnation.

It is a mystery to be sure, however it seems as God offers Himself as a sacrifice for sins, and the Father is complicit by His non-intervention. So God isn’t allowing His child to be murdered in the sense we would allow our child to be murdered, God allowed Himself to be a sacrifice. An over-humanization of the Trinity usually, as in this case, presents problems.

Jesus was God, He laid down His life, and it pleased the Father.

129   Ron Henzel    http://www.midwestoutreach.org/blogs/
June 20th, 2009 at 8:06 am

Rick,

You wrote:

[...] I feel your perseption of me would quickly change if the thread was about election, depravity, or limited atonement. [...]

I had the distinct feeling that I may be the only one here with Calvinistic theology. My perception of people is not totally based on the extent to which they agree with me, as I hope your perception of me does not begin and end with my Calvinism. But in the meantime, why not celebrate agreement where I can find it?

Chris,

One of the things I plan to examine in a future article, hopefully within the next couple of weeks, is the history of the term “theory of the atonement.” I don’t have time to go into detail about it here, nor do I have time to explain why I do not believe that putting the word “theories” into all capitals (with the attendant sarcasm) constitutes a cogent argument against my position. I’ll just have to get to it later.

In the meantime, the reason the term “cosmic child abuse” is such a blatant misrepresentation, in my view, is because it fails to grasp the deeply Trinitarian roots of penal substitution in the framework of the Reformed theology that produced it. It was God Himself Who bore the punishment, not some helpless victim, not some cowering child. Jesus said,

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

[John 10:17-18, ESV]

The Cross was an act of power. Crucifixion victims did not determine the moment of their own expiration the way Jesus did, which, in addition to the accompanying earthquakes, was why the soldier assigned to him exclaimed “Truly this man was the Son of God!” when “he saw the way he breathed his last” (Mark 15:39, ESV).

So yes, I suppose saying that they reject what they do not completely understand summarizes my reaction to the arguments I hear against PSA.

On the other hand, I would not go quite so far as to say that “those who espouse CV/Ransom [views] don’t have a full understanding of why those aren’t scripturally accurate.” I think it all depends on the individual. In your case, I think you’ve made it quite clear that you don’t believe there is sufficient evidence in Scripture to lead you to conclude in favor of any particular view. That is not the historic approach to the matter, but in these postmodern days it seems to be becoming more fashionable. But for whatever reason (since I do not want to imply that you are merely trying to be fashionable here), you have said that you do not believe the Scripture is explicit on the matter, while I, on the other hand, do not believe that to be the case. But if you still hold to that assessment after reading my articles or other works in defense of PSA, I suppose there’s little more to say.

To conclude, I thought that the reason I resorted to explanations rather than simply saying “You’re wrong!” would not require its own explanation. But since you asked, it’s because I believe it’s better to attempt irenic dialogue than to simply shout negatives from my side of the fence. I hope I’ve at least succeeded with the irenic aspect of my attempt, rather than dragging it down to the level of a “stupid fight.” That was far from my intention.

130   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 8:40 am

I enjoy the fellowship of agreeable Calvinists!

Militant Calvinists? Not so much. :cool:

*****************

I contend all Biblical views of the cross must have a substitution element.

131   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 20th, 2009 at 9:39 am

I had the distinct feeling that I may be the only one here with Calvinistic theology.

I am also a Calvinist. Although I shutter to say that; because I’m a Christ follower firs who believes that Calvinistic theology makes the most sense (some say Apollos others Paul but I…). For those that ardently oppose the theology of Calvinism I would say that they don’t fully understand all the Calvin taught. No different than your position on PSA. But I digress…

That is not the historic approach to the matter, but in these postmodern days it seems to be becoming more fashionable. But for whatever reason (since I do not want to imply that you are merely trying to be fashionable here),

No POMO approach here. Not sure how not espousing or ardently believing a theory of atonement is post modern? Suffice it to say, however, I’m not being POMO on this issue. I really don’t think scripture is clear.

To conclude, I thought that the reason I resorted to explanations rather than simply saying “You’re wrong!” would not require its own explanation. But since you asked, it’s because I believe it’s better to attempt irenic dialogue than to simply shout negatives from my side of the fence.

I recognized that when I typed it. It’s more a combination of “Does this issue matter”? In my mind it doesn’t so I don’t see the need to discuss it. It’s also my contention that arguments over (see my last of unimportants) don’t progress. Either because of unimportance or because deeply rooted belief. So I guess in a sense, I think, what’s the point.

I hope I’ve at least succeeded with the irenic aspect of my attempt, rather than dragging it down to the level of a “stupid fight.”

Poor wording on my part. It’s not a stupid fight. As I’ve said above I don’t see the point. So in a sense it’s “stupid” to me.

Finally on the issue of PSA I don’t see scriptural evidence that makes this the only option. Again, as has been said many times, I don’t think we can fully understand all that the cross entailed.

As I often ask seminary students (which in my denomination we have public exams) does it matter that Jesus died on the cross as a opposed to of natural causes. Most answer “yes”. But then I ask why not just sacrifice him at the age of 2 instead of 33? To which most say “I’m not sure” but I’ve got to believe that something occurred in those 33 years. I’m not certain of everything that needed to happen but I believe that God’s timing on the matter is perfect. Much of it will always be a mystery. So likewise, when it comes to the atonement I’m content to know enough to understand why but also content to live with the mystery of God’s ways.

132   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 9:45 am

Although I sometimes am turned off by systematic dissections of the atonement, I am significantly more disturbed by teachings and religious philosophies that hardly include the cross at all. Exalting human behavior many times circumvents the cross, and following Jesus is touted as redemption.

The cross, validated by the resurrection, changes eternity for those who believe it by faith.

133   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 9:50 am

Ron,

Just to stick w/ simplicity here – I believe that PSA, as you espouse it, is not “cosmic child abuse” – I just find that it is only one way of looking at the issue, just as CV/Ransom is another (and Satisfaction is another, etc.). All that we’ve touched on are substitutionary, both are rooted in Scripture and Truth, but none are Scripture or Truth.

Where I find preference in one over another is in communicating atonement to others, particularly unbelievers. Satisfaction Theory, for instance, rose into prominence at a time when “honor” was a prominent societal concept, and thus, for Christ’s sacrifice to restore proper honor to God. As the concept of “honor” shifted, other theories came to prominence

I find that PSA, particularly in its reliance on the concept of “wrath” as it applies to God, requires a good deal of ’suspension of disbelief’ when explaining it to young Christians or unbelievers, when compared to theories that are just as viable. Even the word most translate as “wrath” – orge – is literally translated as “indignation”, as is the Hebrew word zom, which is often translated in OT passages as “wrath”.

CV, which lays the blame for sin at the foot of Satan, places more of an emphasis on other characteristics of God, particularly his love, as the central theme without confounding it with what many today see as the opposite emotion/action to love.

Since I only see these theories as vehicles for conveying the basic truth – that Jesus’ sacrifice miraculously saved mankind from the natural consequences of sin and set the stage for the the restoration of God’s Creation – and not Truth, in and of themselves, I find it totally unhelpful to make pronouncements on the salvific import of one over the other.

To the larger question of systematic theologies – I come from a tradition that is neither Calvinist or Arminian (or Open Theist, Catholic, etc.), that deemphasizes systematic theologies and creeds – and the divisions they ultimately create, when they are nothing more than man’s incomplete explanations of God’s actions.

Can we completely avoid ST’s? No. But we can accept that each (or most) emphasize certain truths about God at the expense of others, and try to balance those.

134   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 9:55 am

Although I sometimes am turned off by systematic dissections of the atonement, I am significantly more disturbed by teachings and religious philosophies that hardly include the cross at all.

Rick,

For me it depends on what replaces the cross as the centerpoint of the discussion. If it is humanity, then yes, I agree with you. If it is the empty tomb that overshadows the cross, then I’m not as concerned…

135   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 9:59 am

Ron – FYI – since you’re new here, you might have missed that “Chris” and “Chris L” are two different folks (both of us being writers here). I didn’t want you to think you were arguing with a schizophrenic ;)

136   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 10:24 am

The cross and resurrection are eternally tethered. Inseparable. But the resurrection authenticates the cross, and Paul says you must believe in your that Christ has risen or your faith is in vain.

But the resurrection cannot be taught as a metaphor for a new way of thinking or living, although that is certainly a part of it. But it must be preached as the bodily resurrection of the One who died on the cross. It authenticates the atonement as having been provided by the God Lamb.

So the God who made the passover lambs in the Old Testament, became the Passover Lamb in the New Testament. The eternal difference is that The New Testament Passover Lamb came back to life forever!!

137   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 10:27 am

“I didn’t want you to think you were arguing with a schizophrenic”

No, you are arguing with two schizophrenics named Chris. :cool:

138   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 20th, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Although I sometimes am turned off by systematic dissections of the atonement, I am significantly more disturbed by teachings and religious philosophies that hardly include the cross at all. Exalting human behavior many times circumvents the cross, and following Jesus is touted as redemption.

The cross, validated by the resurrection, changes eternity for those who believe it by faith.

I for one would like to know what teachers that get talked about most often here aren’t talking about the cross. Rob Bell, who seems to be one of your favorite whipping boys these days, Rick, talks about the cross quite often from what I can tell. Even people like Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren and the left-leaning emergent-types talk a lot about the death and resurrection of Christ. In fact, from everything I’ve read, they affirm it as completely literal.

I’m sure there are more liberal folks in the mainline denominations that actually deny the resurrection, and say that it’s a metaphor or something, but I don’t see anyone who we regularly talk about here doing that. I don’t anyone here is going to defend people like Marcus Borg or John Dominic Crossan.

I guess the thing that really, really is starting to annoy is when we have these conversations and people start attacking Christians like N.T. Wright or Greg Boyd for viewing things a little bit differently, but meanwhile they should be thanking these people. I can only speak for myself, but I know these men have written books that have actually helped me quite a bit. I mean, Wright has almost single-handedly dismantled the Jesus Seminar. He’s not perfect, of course, but I do believe he loves Jesus and is doing a good job in being faithful to Scripture. The fact that he challenges some of out preconceived notions isn’t a bad thing.

139   nc    
June 20th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

In any other setting, and by any other name, a person who potently critiques the Jesus Seminar would be a hero and a demi-god to some.

140   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Phil – Since I did not mention Bell but had someone else in mind attached to the principle I suggested, here is a question and an answer from an interview with someone.

Q: How would you present this gospel on Twitter?

A: I would say that history is headed somewhere. The thousands of little ways in which you are tempted to believe that hope might actually be a legitimate response to the insanity of the world actually can be trusted. And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun that has been present in a sense all along in creation. And all those times when your cynicism was at odds with an impulse within you that said that this little thing might be about something bigger—those tiny little slivers may in fact be connected to something really, really big.

Come on now, that is mysticism at its height.

141   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 20th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Come on now, that is mysticism at its height.

I fail to see how that’s mysticism at all. The tomb is empty – that’s the heart of the Gospel. Without the resurrection, the cross doesn’t matter. Thousands of people have been killed for causes or for whatever, but only Jesus was resurrected.

That actually brings up another point of why I think the PSA understanding of the atonement is deficient. It makes the resurrection secondary to the death of Christ. If God just wanted to kill Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, it matters very little that Jesus rose again. So if anything, a view that focuses only on PSA leaves the door open for liberalism. And let’s not forget that 20th century liberalism was an offshoot of the modernistic thinking that tried to boil things down to a formula as well.

142   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 20th, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Paul preached “Christ and Him crucified”. Paul metions “enemies of the cross”. The cross and resurrection are eternally tethered and not subservient to one another.

The resurrection defines the cross, but the cross is where atonement took place. I have never heard the penal people downgrade the resurrection. I cannot imagine someone overpreaching the cross. The lamb slain before the foundations of the world is the heart of the gospel, and the resurrection pumps that heart.

I am confounded by the attitude that elevates the resurrection over the cross and is put off by exalting the cross.

143   Neil    
June 22nd, 2009 at 3:38 pm

A plethora of books and critiques of [N. T. Wright] have been produced in the last five years which I heartily recommend, if you care to know about them (not that they’re hard to find).

I’d rather, and with continue to, read what Wright has to say – not those dissecting him.

144   Neil    
June 22nd, 2009 at 3:41 pm

And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun…

Implicit here is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

145   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 22nd, 2009 at 4:42 pm

An extremely expansive definition of “implicit”. The apostles did not seem to employ such “implicit” wordings of the gospel. I do not wish to be contrary, but this explanation of the gospel seems a bit nebulous, especially in response to how to twitter the gospel.

It is possible to expand on that nebulous paragraph with genuine gospel particulars, however as it stands it is an uncertain sound at best, or, implicit. :cool:

Q: Rick, how would you twitter the gospel.

A: I would say something like this:

About two thousand years ago a Jew named Jesus, who claimed to be the God of the universe in human form, died by crucifixion. Some say it meant nothing, but hundreds of people saw Him risen from the dead. If that is true, than His claim of dying for the sins of the world is also dynamically true as well.

His second coming may be near, it would be well worth your time to consider the claims of this man named Jesus.

146   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 22nd, 2009 at 4:56 pm

I do not wish to be contrary

But yet you pull it off so well…

Really, Rick what does it matter anymore? You don’t like the way Bell and others talk about certain things. So what? Are you going to change anything they do? Probably not…

Frankly, I would think that as someone who has been involved in ministry throughout your life, you would be a little more hesitant to second-guess another pastor or do the old “well I would have done it like this” routine. When I’ve been in ministry positions, I’d rather have somewhat get mad at me and leave rather than someone simply stick around and take it upon himself to criticize everything I did (and I have had to deal with a few people like this). In the end, you really have to simply ignore people like this. I certainly wouldn’t care what random strangers on the internet had to say about my ministry.

It’s one thing to offer and receive criticism based in relationship. It’s quite another to launch the shots across the bow.

Do I sound angry? Well maybe I am a little. I just am tired of everyone thinking they know best…

147   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 22nd, 2009 at 5:24 pm

So, according to the OP, critcism of journalism is OK but criticism of wording is not.

“I certainly wouldn’t care what random strangers on the internet had to say about my ministry.”

I will pass that on to Ken, Ingrid, and the Dombrowski’s. There seems to be more and more constricted parameters of acceptable exchanges dealing with expressions and revelations of truth.

I agree – acceptable.

I disagree – unacceptable.

Ken – it’s correction.

Bell – it’s criticism.

There will be a test.

148   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 22nd, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I will pass that on to Ken, Ingrid, and the Dombrowski’s. There seems to be more and more constricted parameters of acceptable exchanges dealing with expressions and revelations of truth.

Well, if I see Ken, Ingrid, and the rest of their ilk actually doing something that resembles ministry I’ll will not criticize it. Right now, the bulk of their “ministry” consists of tearing other Christians down and falsely accusing their brothers and sisters. I see very little that looks like it is “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”. (By the way, I’ve always found it interesting that how Paul describes a pastor’s job here as teaching others how to serve one another).

someone calling their website a “ministry” doesn’t make it a ministry any more than calling my car a spaceship makes it fly.

149   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 22nd, 2009 at 5:40 pm

“Well, if I see…”

I am sorry, Phil, my subjective assessment is every bit as valid as yours. There will always be a subjective element to all exchanges of ideas and perspectives. Unless someone claims apostolic authority.

150   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 22nd, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Rick – FYI – your answer is 278-characters too long for Twitter…

(Bell’s is too long, as well)

So, neither would work for an “I could do this better” moment…

151   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 22nd, 2009 at 6:27 pm

My condenced version:

“Call me and I will explain.”

or

“Read the gospel of John and see if you believe Jesus.”

152   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
June 22nd, 2009 at 6:42 pm

sin=transgression of God’s law lying stealing hatred lustful looks all guilty need Savior Jesus died rose again his righteousness comes by repentance and faith.

I twied to twitter

153   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 8:49 am

I am sorry, Phil, my subjective assessment is every bit as valid as yours. There will always be a subjective element to all exchanges of ideas and perspectives. Unless someone claims apostolic authority.

How postmodern of you, Rick…

Of course all of us are limited by our perspective, but I do believe we all have the ability to discern when a person is attacking another person, and we can get a glimpse of the spirit behind it. Of course, we’re not omniscient or anything, and we can’t judge motives, but I do question the spirit behind many of the things I read on the ODM sites.

We can know a tree by its fruit, and I have to say that I’ve seen good fruit from Bell’s ministry even in my own small circle of friends. I’ve also, unfortunately, seen the fruit of the ODM sites. I’ve seen people threaten to split churches if the pastor showed a Nooma video. I’ve heard people repeat lies they’ve read online. So it seems to me, that yes, our perspective is limited, but if you’re going to go down the road that everything is relative to our perception of it, then we might as well give up trying to discern anything being right or wrong.

154   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 9:22 am

Rick,
In that same interview you quoted Bell on the Twitter question, he gives this statement which I’m sure you’ll appreciate:

I also happen to live in 2009, in a Western hyper-churched, over-churched culture, where the flag and the cross have held hands in such a way that you have a waning Christendom at the heart of the empire. We are in this very unusual convergence of power and church and religion and Jesus, where a Christian pastor is saying a prayer at the [President's] inauguration. I mean, what?

155   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 9:44 am

And Rick, it is also worth noting that after his inadequate Twitter answer, the interviewer told him he exceeded the 140 limit, to which Rob replied:

Well, you can’t really tweet the gospel. I’m convinced that I am not doing anything new. I am hoping that I’m in a long tradition.

156   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 9:59 am

Sometimes I see an enigma. As you know I strongly believe the church as a body cannot progress spiritually until we get completely untethered from nationalism, however we must clearly and unambiguously preach and live the gospel, even if we use modern methods and language.

It is worth noting that all of us use modern methods and modern language and modern examples, but those can never obscure the gospel message itself. I am still waiting for Rollins to present the gospel in terms of sin and redemption. I await the link to something unambiguous.

157   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:06 am

Well, as a philosopher, most of his statements seem ambiguous to us common folk.
But this blog entry of his addresses the tendency to place blame “original sin” rather than owning it as our own.
http://peterrollins.net/blog/?p=59

158   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:12 am

… until we get completely untethered from nationalism

Rick, Mike Ratliff put up a terrific piece from John Newton here: http://christianresearchnetwork.com/?p=11548

It reminded me of some points you’ve made in the past and I agree 100%. Fabulous article. I love the unambiguous message of real men of God.

Regarding Peter Rollins, is it even worth discussing? Does a philosopher really have any place in leading people to God?

159   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:15 am

Does a philosopher really have any place in leading people to God?

Um…a Christian philosopher just might.

160   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:25 am

Um…a Christian philosopher just might.

Right… I forgot

When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men.”…

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, some to be philosophers

161   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:28 am

…and some to be missionaries.

Oh wait, that word isn’t in the Bible either…call them all back from the field.

:)

162   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:31 am

And some to be goofballs, wherin lies my anointing!

163   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:34 am

I affirm your annointing…takes one to know one.

164   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:37 am

Rick,
What’s your response to Peter Rollins’ blog entry on “Original Sin”?

165   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:42 am

…and some to be missionaries.

Oh wait, that word isn’t in the Bible either…

Yes, the work of missionaries and philosophers are on the same footing Nathanael – of course. Actually, the work of missionaries is well represented in the bible.

Interestingly, can you find one instance in the Bible where the word philosophy is framed in a positive light? No. It is a waste of time.

166   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:48 am

No. It is a waste of time.

I’m sorry to hear you say that.
I, for one, and grateful for the great minds, like Ravi Zacharias, who can engage the intellectual in a way that I cannot.

To negate something because it is not my cup of tea belies my dependence on the modernist mindset.

167   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:50 am

“belies” should be “reveals”

I had two thought processes going.
:)

168   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:55 am

To negate something because it is not my cup of tea belies my dependence on the modernist mindset.

And herein lies your problem.

You reduce everything to ‘matters of opinion’ so that there can never be right or wrong. Your truth is just as valid as the next man’s truth even if they’re opposed. Wonderful.

BTW, I’m no Ravi fan (no a detractor), but from what I know to put him in the same boat as Rollins is folly.

169   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 10:59 am

BTW, I’m no Ravi fan (no a detractor), but from what I know to put him in the same boat as Rollins is folly.

WOW! Seriously? Ravi is thoroughly evangelical… he’s not at all in the Rollins boat.

170   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:00 am

Interestingly, can you find one instance in the Bible where the word philosophy is framed in a positive light?

Well, throughout Proverbs, wisdom is given pretty high marks – and wisdom is one’s philosophy put into action…

171   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:00 am

WOW! Seriously? Ravi is thoroughly evangelical… he’s not at all in the Rollins boat.

Yes, but he talks to Mormons sometimes, you know…

172   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:04 am

Philosophy like anything else is a neutral science, a neutral endeavor… it’s how it’s employed that matters.

Saying all philosophy is a waste of time, saying there is nothing good at all in it, is akin to saying its the beat that’s evil when it comes to music.

I am still dumbfounded by your comparison between Zacharas and Rollins. Seriously?!?

173   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:04 am

Ravi is thoroughly evangelical… he’s not at all in the Rollins boat.

Neil – isn’t that exactly what I said? Nathanael was trying to draw a parallel between him and Rollins.

Well, throughout Proverbs, wisdom is given pretty high marks – and wisdom is one’s philosophy put into action…

Wait a second…

Well, throughout Proverbs, GODLY wisdom is given pretty high marks – and GODLY wisdom is one’s philosophy GOD’S TRUTH AND PRINCIPLES put into action…

There… fixed.

174   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:06 am

I am still dumbfounded by your comparison between Zacharas and Rollins. Seriously?!?

Neil, you need to read more carefully. I said:

I’m no Ravi fan (no a detractor), but from what I know to put him in the same boat as Rollins is folly.

The word ‘folly’ means ‘lacking sense’.

To put Ravi and Rollins in the same boat = lacking sense (contrary to what Nathanael was advocating).

175   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:07 am

Nate – I agree in general with Rollins’ short treatise on original sin, however his reference to Kierkegaard just added to my apprehension conerning his other views.

176   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:08 am

The comparison, albeit a faulty one, was to show that the Lord uses intellectuals to further His kingdom.
It was in response to the “interesting” statement that philosopy is a waste of time.

I was not putting Ravi and Peter in the same boat, unless of course that boat is Christianity.

We should be getting out of the boat anyway.
But I’m no philosophizer.

177   M.G.    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:12 am

Wisdom is NOT “God’s truth and principles put into action.”

Putting God’s truth and principles into action is obedience.

Wisdom is the ability to judge rightly between virtuous and vicious actions.

Wisdom, sadly, is pretty much dead in our culture.

178   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:13 am

You reduce everything to ‘matters of opinion’ so that there can never be right or wrong. Your truth is just as valid as the next man’s truth even if they’re opposed. Wonderful.

That was not even remotely what I said.
Thanks for telling me what I meant.

You said philosophy is a waste of time.
That is your opinion that you have elevated to some sort of biblical mandate.

Neil is correct when his says:

Philosophy like anything else is a neutral science, a neutral endeavor… it’s how it’s employed that matters.

179   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:14 am

Got it, Rick.

180   M.G.    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:17 am

Philosophy is kind of like politics… we will never escape it, though some like to claim that it’s possible.

We interact with philosophy whether we like it or not, and the point is to recognize it for what it is, and to never ever become enamored with it.

181   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:19 am

All of us use some philosophical approaches sometimes. The “what ifs” make us think and explore, however our exploration must be moored to Scripture and not to parables and stories from many different religious traditions. And any Christian thought provoker (philosopher) must have Biblical truth at the core as well as the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Questions are useless rabbits if the answers cannot be discerned. My consternation with men like Rollins is that I desire to energetically endorse any and all challenges to the stagnant Christian church which acts like creeds are action and orthodoxy feeds the hungry. But when I have to search for, and unsuccessfully so far, the pure gospel of Jesus Christ then I am left with ambiguous philosophy that scores point, provokes thought, but whose bridge leads to nowhere.

182   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:19 am

Wow, the list of people who aren’t heretics seems to be getting shorter and shorter according to some people here…gotta love a circular firing squad.

Line ‘em up, shoot ‘em down!

183   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:20 am

…and to never ever become enamored with it.

Exactly. In my readings of Rollins so far, my sense is that he is not elevating philosophy for philosophy’s sake alone. He is using it as a tool to point to the kingdom of God and to reveal inconsistencies within our strongholds of religion.

184   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:21 am

Questions are useless rabbits if the answers cannot be discerned. My consternation with men like Rollins is that I desire to energetically endorse any and all challenges to the stagnant Christian church which acts like creeds are action and orthodoxy feeds the hungry. But when I have to search for, and unsuccessfully so far, the pure gospel of Jesus Christ then I am left with ambiguous philosophy that scores point, provokes thought, but whose bridge leads to nowhere.

Well creeds and orthodoxy are meaningless if we don’t act on them. If we say Jesus is Lord but don’t live it, then He’s not our Lord.

185   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:23 am

Rick,
Your caution is understandable.
I agree with your motives 100%.
I’m just not convinced that Peter Rollins is a heretic.

186   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:24 am

I believe that is what I sadi, Phil. However deeds without redemptive truth are works of the law which can never save. We need both.

187   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:30 am

I believe that is what I sadi, Phil. However deeds without redemptive truth are works of the law which can never save. We need both.

But I believe that it’s near impossible to consistently do the right thing without it causing a change in your heart. If a heathen for whatever reason does something that is showing love to his neighbor, eventually he will come to love his neighbor. Personally, I think the whole thing about worrying about whether people are doing good works for the wrong reason is a red herring.

If anyone does something that is ontologically good, it advances the Kingdom whether they know it or not. In the end, God is author of all that is good, and the world is still charged with goodness despite the wide-ranging and deep effects of the fall.

188   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:32 am

I offer you this, Nathanael. When you go to the conference, without ruining your spiritual pursuit, I would love to have you report back with incontrovertible statements that prove that Rollins believes in the gospel of atonement, even if his language is still curious.

Perhaps there would be a question and answer period? Here is a question I would ask him without attempting to dishonor him or embarrass him.

“Dr. Rollins, there are many in the so called “orthodox” community who are not militant haters, but who genuinely desire to hear something that they can identify as the message of redemption completely by faith. Is salvation completely by faith in Jesus Christ with corresponding works being the genuine effects of being born again?”

I would love to hear his answer and would publicly respond to any answer that would alleviate my fears about his soteriology.

189   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:32 am

Neil – isn’t that exactly what I said? Nathanael was trying to draw a parallel between him and Rollins.

Neil, you need to read more carefully.

I see. My bad. Sorry, seriously!

190   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:34 am

…there are many in the so called “orthodox” community who are not militant haters…

Are you including yourself in this number?
:0

191   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:34 am

Wisdom is NOT “God’s truth and principles put into action.”

Putting God’s truth and principles into action is obedience.

…which is, of course, wise – wisdom.

Wisdom, sadly, is pretty much dead in our culture.

Good to see hyperbole is not…

192   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:35 am

“If anyone does something that is ontologically good, it advances the Kingdom whether they know it or not.”

So when Mao fed the masses he was advancing God’s kingdom? I just do not understand that kind of moral redemption that is untethered, and sometimes at odds, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do Mormons and Moonies advance God’s kingdom since both do many humanitarian works?

193   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:35 am

8O

194   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:37 am

I would love to hear his answer and would publicly respond to any answer that would alleviate my fears about his soteriology.

I still don’t understand why you think Rollins owes you this? Did someone close to you leave the faith because of Rollins? Seriously, help me understand?

Why does a random author’s soteriology mean anything to you? I guess I’m just still scratching my head as to why Rollins is even being discussed as much as he is here, really…

Are we going to start “outing” all Christians who have ideas we think are weird or hard to follow? If that’s what we’re going to be about, count me out… I have better things to do with my time than be a part-time inquisitor.

195   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:37 am

So when Mao fed the masses he was advancing God’s kingdom? I just do not understand that kind of moral redemption that is untethered, and sometimes at odds, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do Mormons and Moonies advance God’s kingdom since both do many humanitarian works?

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

196   M.G.    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:40 am

Neil:

Putting aside smart-aleck comments, I think there is a fair argument to make that our culture has lost its ability to speak the language of virtues and vices. I’m thinking of MacIntyre’s book After Virtue here.

Unfortunately, Christians aren’t helping, especially when they reduce wisdom to something like “obeying the Bible,” which is what Paul has pretty much done here.

And for what it’s worth, the condescension is not appreciated.

197   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:40 am

So when Mao fed the masses he was advancing God’s kingdom? I just do not understand that kind of moral redemption that is untethered, and sometimes at odds, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do Mormons and Moonies advance God’s kingdom since both do many humanitarian works?

If a Mormon feeds a person who is starving to death, I’m sure the person who was starving doesn’t care if a meal comes from a Christian or not. My paycheck comes from a boss who’s not a believer, but ultimately I know it’s a blessing from God. The intermediary is just a conduit.

198   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:45 am

I offer you this, Nathanael. When you go to the conference, without ruining your spiritual pursuit, I would love to have you report back with incontrovertible statements that prove that Rollins believes in the gospel of atonement, even if his language is still curious.

Perhaps there would be a question and answer period? Here is a question I would ask him without attempting to dishonor him or embarrass him.

“Dr. Rollins, there are many in the so called “orthodox” community who are not militant haters, but who genuinely desire to hear something that they can identify as the message of redemption completely by faith. Is salvation completely by faith in Jesus Christ with corresponding works being the genuine effects of being born again?”

I would love to hear his answer and would publicly respond to any answer that would alleviate my fears about his soteriology.

He does have a blog, and from what I can tell, he answers questions posed of him (ex. – he replied to questions posed in the thread of the iMonk article about him).

Is there a particular reason you keep asking us folk who didn’t know him from Adam until you brought him up about his soteriology, when email is not a perk of the privileged few?

199   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:47 am

Rollins owes me nothing, if that makes you feel better. I am not sure why a discussion on his views makes you frustrated. You have often commented on random bloggers about which you know very little.

I am an American who has a God given right to free speech. :cool:

200   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:48 am

…Why does a random author’s soteriology mean anything to you?…Are we going to start “outing” all Christians who have ideas we think are weird or hard to follow?…

Phil,

When a person is presented as someone whose ideas we should follow or take to heart… when a person is held up as a leader for Christians to follow or take to heart… when a pastor and author endorses another author – I think it fair to question/confirm the belief of the latter.

Like “philosophy” – “Inquisition” is also a neutral term… it can be applied negatively or positively.

While I try not to judge people by association (either their guilt or innocence) it does help, when reading and evaluating an author if we know from where he is coming.

201   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:48 am

Chris L, that was just a philosoesque way of telling Rick to ask Peter the question himself.
Please refrain from being clever.

202   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:51 am

And for what it’s worth, the condescension is not appreciated.

You said wisdom was pretty much dead. I called that hyperbole. If you wanna make an argument that “the language of virtues and vices” has diminished – fine.

203   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:52 am

When a person is presented as someone whose ideas we should follow or take to heart… when a person is held up as a leader for Christians to follow or take to heart… when a pastor and author endorses another author – I think it fair to question/confirm the belief of the latter.

If it were a Mars Hill member asking these questions, I’d agree with that. Right now, it just seems like a good ol’ heretic hunt. I mean that in the sense of I don’t see what end goal of the questioning is.

204   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:53 am

Chris L. – The reason is very obvious. It is because he is a friend of Bell’s and will be speaking at Bell’s conference. I thought that was obvious.

I have “questioned” some theological views of Ken, Ingrid, Chris R., Mike R., Chris P., Pyro guys, VS guys, and many others who you would generally have the same observations.

So why such outrage when I investigate and question Rollins? I am not on a witch hunt at all, my questioning is not partisan.

205   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:53 am

Sorry, Nathanael – as a Six Sigma black-belt, I was just striving to create the most efficient process possible, and eliminating the non-value-added position of the middle-man…

:)

206   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:55 am

I have “questioned” some theological views of Ken, Ingrid, Chris R., Mike R., Chris P., Pyro guys, VS guys, and many others who you would generally have the same observations.

But, generally do you not ask them directly (or indirectly) in places where they would normally provide an answer, themselves?

(Out for a while here – bbl)

207   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:56 am

Wisdom is the ability to judge rightly between virtuous and vicious actions.

I assume then, that you think virtuous is wise and vicious is not? On what are you basing what is virtuous and what is vicious?

I contend that biblical wisdom IS the application of God’s truth – which is also obedience,

I say “biblical wisdom” since I beleive their is a wisdom not implicitely found in the Bible… “like buy, low sell high” for example – though that may be biblical now that I think about it…

208   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 11:58 am

If it were a Mars Hill member asking these questions, I’d agree with that. Right now, it just seems like a good ol’ heretic hunt. I mean that in the sense of I don’t see what end goal of the questioning is.

I can only speak for myself when I say… I’m just curious where he is coming from… if I am going to read someone, I like to know their starting point.

209   M.G.    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I didn’t say wisdom was dead.

I said it was pretty much dead in our culture. And I absolutely, one hundred percent stand by it.

What is wisdom? It’s judging actions, based on context, to either be vicious or virtuous. It requires a grasp of nuance, an appreciation of subtlety, and tremendous foresight. It means eschewing soundbites, platforms, and shallow thinking.

In an age of non-stop Fox News, rapid-fire twittering, endless partisanship, and the ever so enjoyable snarkiness, I would venture that our culture, by and large, has lost its appreciation for wisdom.

210   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:01 pm

My comment to Nate was in keeping with my desire to understand and not be closed to information which would circumvent my witch hunt. I invite a robust dialogue about Rollins’ views and would welcome writings (like the original sin article) that would give more clarity.

Rollins is an important figure in a certain genre of eccesiastical thought. There is a significant difference in strength and conviction when arguing about fringe issues and discussion what it means to be a believer and how a sinner becomes born again.

I do not believe anyone can be saved and be an egalitarian.

211   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:01 pm

I have “questioned” some theological views of Ken, Ingrid, Chris R., Mike R., Chris P., Pyro guys, VS guys, and many others who you would generally have the same observations.

I care much less about their theological views than I do about what they do. I’d much rather be in the company of a loving heretic than a saint who attacks his/her brothers and sisters.

212   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Phil, the difference between asking these questions and a good ol’ heretic hunt can be nuanced.

If someone is asking questions they should be willing to accept the answers – I hope Rick would.

Others do not care for answers, their mind is made up and as the ‘ol joke goes – fact only get in the way.

213   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:02 pm

#206 – Innaccurate.

214   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:04 pm

I didn’t say wisdom was dead.

I said it was pretty much dead in our culture.

“…pretty much dead..” is exactly what I said you said.

215   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:06 pm

What is wisdom? It’s judging actions, based on context, to either be vicious or virtuous.

I do not, at least to this point, agree that wisdom is defined by what is vicious or virtuous.

216   M.G.    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Neil:

Re:207

Virtuous is not wise, it is an action that is in conformity with the telos of human beings, qua human beings. Wisdom is itself a virtue, namely, the ability to (I hate to use this word) discern not only between good and evil (important as that is) but also between good, better, and best. (But why care about that when we should keep holding on to a doctrines of “sin management?)

As to what I consider the virtues to be? Well, I base them on the New Testament. There’s a really great list of them in Galatians.

And I would vigorously disagree with any attempt to conflate obedience and wisdom. They are not the same thing at all. (And you’re proving my point that our culture doesn’t appreciate wisdom anymore.)

217   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Wisdom – The interpreted vibrations that are projected into the atmosphere through the larynx of Rick Frueh.

218   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:11 pm

And I would vigorously disagree with any attempt to conflate obedience and wisdom. They are not the same thing at all. (And you’re proving my point that our culture doesn’t appreciate wisdom anymore.)

I see, disagreeing with you means I do not appreciate wisdom… that said, I believe obedience is wise.

219   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Wisdom is itself a virtue, namely, the ability to (I hate to use this word) discern not only between good and evil (important as that is) but also between good, better, and best.

OK, I agree… and of course, choosing good not evil, choosing the best not just the good is both wise and obedient.

220   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Phil, the difference between asking these questions and a good ol’ heretic hunt can be nuanced.

If someone is asking questions they should be willing to accept the answers – I hope Rick would.

Others do not care for answers, their mind is made up and as the ‘ol joke goes – fact only get in the way.

I would accept that to some extent. Although, I guess the thing that gets me is that I feel as if we’re approaching this from the perspective of “guilty until proven innocent”. Shouldn’t we give those who call themselves Christian the benefit of the doubt until we are presented with evidence to the contrary? So far I’ve not seen any evidence convincing me that Rollins is heretical, so I refuse to treat him as such.

I guess I just don’t like going down the path of demanding more and more evidence to prove a negative assertion – i.e., to prove that Rollins isn’t a heretic.

221   M.G.    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Re: 218

Ah. Sarcasm. Not very helpful.

I think I’ve made a fair point. Why need any concept of “wisdom” when obedience will do? Doesn’t that muddle things? Having two concepts that really mean the same thing?

I agree, by the way, that obedience is often wise. Of course it is!

Which leads me to say that I think that you’re mixing the virtue with its specific instantiations. Wisdom is an ability to see and discern. An action can reflect wisdom, just as it can reflect a host of other virtues (such as courage, justice, kindness, humility).

But just as we would say that there is a difference between a kind act, and the character trait of “kindness,” we should distinguish between a “wise” act, and the character trait of wisdom.

So, yes, obedience is itself often times an *instantiation* of wisdom. But it is not, in itself, the character trait of wisdom.

They are two separate things. But I think we’ve lost that because obedience is the perhaps the only virtue that Christians hold on to anymore. Which isn’t all that surprising, because Christians, by and large (I don’t want you accusing me of hyperbole!), don’t care about what we do (i.e. how we display the virtues) but instead by what we don’t do (namely, sin).

222   Neil    
June 23rd, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Phil,

I agree. Guilty until proven otherwise is the MO of the ADM… and too often “guilt” is equated with “Not like me.” Speaking for myself only, I started out ignorant of, and therefore neutral when it comes to Rollins. My recent post was designed to interact with some of his thoughts.

223   Ron Henzel    http://www.midwestoutreach.org/blogs/
June 25th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Everyone,

I have been a little too busy to comment here as I’ve been working on my latest installment on the atonement for the Crux blog. It’s called “The Lamb Before Its Shearers,” and I hope its OK to mention that it is now up at http://midwestoutreach.org/blogs/the-lamb-before-its-shearers.

Thanks!

224   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 25th, 2009 at 9:29 pm

It’s a good story, Ron, (even though I think you’re tilting windmills in trying to recast the Middle Ages, or the somewhat simplistic dualistic presentation of the Renaissance).

Still, I’d follow MacLuhen, Postman & Hipps’ observations (among many others) that it was more technology that drove the changes in the culture – primarily the improvement in printing technology and the advent of chronometer technology. Both of these fueled the systematization of multiple facets of life, including religion.

You’ve not demonstrated that PSA, particularly as an individual-based, systematic soteriology, is any more superior than the alternatives. There is still a perfectly valid (and much more sound) contention that atonement, as the multi-faceted, non-systematic, Eastern/Hebrew concept that it was in the first century is superior to any “improvements” made upon by PSA, etc. Nor have you really demonstrated that PSA, as it is taught today in Reformed theology, existed prior to the Reformation.

You’re just exercising in revisionist history and wishful thinking on this point.

225   Ron Henzel    http://www.midwestoutreach.org/blogs/
June 26th, 2009 at 4:38 am

Chris,

With all due respect, I have consistently found both your tone and your method with respect to me to be one of dismissal rather than dialogue. I have not seen you actually interact with any of the arguments, biblical texts, or patristic references that I have provided in my blog posts. Instead, I have seen you confuse my view with the ransom theory, and penal substitution with limited atonement. I hope this explains why it’s hard for me to take your conclusions about my views seriously at this point.

226   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 26th, 2009 at 11:31 am

Instead, I have seen you confuse my view with the ransom theory,

I didn’t confuse it with Ransom Theory – I just noted that several of the passages you cited in support of PSA were ones that are primarily at the basis of RT. I also noted that the concept of “wrath” you put forward, in some cases, is more in line with satisfaction theory – because the Hebrew and Greek both use words which are usually translated as “indignation” and not “anger”.

and penal substitution with limited atonement.

Because in Calvinism, they’re locked at the hip in the “system”. In the broadest of senses, all of the major views of atonement are penal substitution of some forth, aside from the “moral view” (the only one you effectively deal with) – but with your reaching back to Church Fathers who no more supported the modern/Calvinist version of PSA than they did the Tooth Fairy, you’ve ventured into the realm of revisionist history. For example, the Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus supports Ransom Theory just as easily as it does PSA – and the section you quote from Augustine of Hippo is describing Ransom Theory far more than he is a modernist PSA.

With all due respect, I have consistently found both your tone and your method with respect to me to be one of dismissal rather than dialogue.

My apologies – my time has been rather limited of late, and since we often have missionaries who come here to convert us from “unenlightened Christianity” to Calvinism, sometimes I’m more patient than other times, since it does get a bit old at some point.

To be short and direct – the metaphor used more frequently for Jesus’ atonement throughout the Christian Scriptures is borrowed from the Hebrew Scriptures – that of the sacrificial lamb, particularly that of the Passover Lamb. This is a substitution, but it is not a penal substitution, in the sense of the modernist/Calvinist doctrine of penal substitution. It is far better understood as part of the blood-path covenant ritual, familiar to the middle-east, than to legal consequences. Isaiah 53 certainly supports substitution, even penal (in a broad sense) substitution. It does not negate any of the fore-runners to PSA (Satisfaction or Governmental Theory) nor does it negate the Ransom view, either.

[And let's not even go into the arrogance of lines like "Sadly, there were long centuries when the Gospel was not clearly understood..."]

You speak of a “need” for systematic treatment of atonement being eclipsed by other needs of the time, which demonstrates the flaw in your hypothesis before you’ve really even begun. Why is there a need to systematically encapsulate the atonement, at all? Systematic treatment is very much a Western/Greek philosophy which primarily came out of the Renaissance you seem to abhor, not a first-century or (definitely) a Hebrew one. To the Hebrews, God has given His word, and He is so deep and complex (mysterious) that it should not be surprising that His ways defy single systems, but rather may be multi-faceted.

Additionally, you’ve definitely not demonstrated why having the “right” (quotes intentional) doctrine of atonement (i.e. PSA) is of any salvific import – my original point. You’ve also not demonstrated how the penal substitution is specific to individuals (which, yes, gets into limited atonement, but is part-and-parcel to the doctrine of PSA, as well) and not to mankind.

I do not deny PSA – I just acknowledge that it is not the only viable, biblical explanation for Jesus’ atonement (and probably not even the best one for the purposes of evangelism today). I’m also a bit more honest about where it came from and how it was developed, rather than trying to revise history to bolster its credibility as the “correct” view.

You concluded one article with –

In our place—”In my place, condemned he stood,” as I would later learn to sing. Suddenly I knew why Jesus had to die on the cross: He was my substitute. He took my punishment.

This can be said of pretty much any of the major theories of atonement…

227   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
June 26th, 2009 at 11:53 am

Just a couple more items (since I’m taking a little bit more time today) –

You wrote in one of your articles:

It might have actually proven helpful to us today had the apostles been forced to defend the doctrine of Christ’s work on the cross in their day, but in God’s wise providence, things happened differently.

I would agree, and perhaps this was never addressed in a ‘clear-cut formulation’ because it did not need to be, as its exact systematic nature is not of salvific import…

As Paul wrote -

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

This does not specify whether Jesus’ death was a matter of divine penal law, or a ransom, or satisfaction to the honor due Him, etc., etc. It just says that he died for our sins – with no expounding on the divine cogs and wheels under the hood to ‘make it work’. If you want to call Paul’s statement ‘penal substitutionary atonement’, then all of the major views (aside from the ‘moral view’) are PSA (which is not the case).

Interesting side note – you wrote:

Debate? Debate about what? Given all that had happened in the first fourteen chapters of Acts, we might be tempted to think that this question should have been a slam-dunk for these guys! Wouldn’t you like to know exactly what went down in that meeting? Wouldn’t you like to know exactly which of the leaders of the Jerusalem church were still a little fuzzy on the whole “faith alone” thing?

Not really.

As James demonstrates in his writing, to the Hebrew mindset, “faith” (what you believe) and “action” (how you act on that belief) are inseparable – separating the two as independent entities was a product of Hellenism. Moving the gospel from a Jewish culture to a Greek/Hellenistic culture required expressing the dividing point between something that, to a Jew, had no dividing point. It is something that churches like the Eastern Orthodox churches (for whatever faults they might have) have come much closer to understanding and putting to practice than our Evangelical/Restoration churches have.

To be very short – you’ve only proven the case that part of the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross was as a substitution. You’ve not come close to demonstrating it as a penal substitution in any way that really distinguishes it from the other viable views of atonement.