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Friday, June 28, 2013

Did Jesus drink the Cup of God's Wrath in our place? (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

This article is going to be a quickie. We all know the account of Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-46), where Jesus prays, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." In order to support their erroneous doctrine of Penal Substitution, many Protestants have incorrectly assumed that this "cup" must be the 'cup of God's wrath' spoken about a few times in the Old Testament, particularly in Isaiah and Jeremiah (e.g. Jer 25:15). But this is easily disproved. 

The key text to look to is Mark 10:38-39, 
37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
This is the time when James and John request to be honored by sitting at the Lord's right and left in the Kingdom. Jesus responds by saying that this is no small honor, and in fact it comes at a hefty price. Jesus asks them if they will be able to drink the same cup and undergo the same baptism He is about to undergo. This is undoubtedly the same "cup" of Gethsemane. But what Jesus says completely undermines the Penal Substitution reading, since Jesus isn't drinking it in their place, but rather inviting them to drink it as well! The only acceptable reading is that this "cup" is physical persecutions that God's servants must endure, which explains why the Apostles were martyred. Thus, the 'cup of God's wrath in our place' thesis is instantly and elegantly disproved.

There's no way this "cup" could be the Eucharistic cup, and there's no way to read this as Jesus draining the wrath from the cup so that it can be drunk like sweet wine, since both of these require no heroic or challenge about them. (I've actually had Protestants make these kinds of claims.) This is further supported by the fact Jesus speaks of a "baptism" He will endure, which cannot be a water baptism since that already happened. Only the most desperate folks will deny the "cup" and "baptism" here refer to the same thing, physical persecutions.

And even with all that said, the "cup of God's wrath" in the Old Testament was that of physical persecutions as well, and Jeremiah 49:12 gives an interesting insight on the matter: "If those who did not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, will you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, but you must drink." This text shows that surrounding nations who were not deserving of the conquering armies had to suffer at their hands, and this corresponds to the fact sometimes God sends sweeping judgments across areas that sometimes include innocent people. The point isn't that these innocent people were taking wrath in place of the guilty, but rather along with. So in this sense, we could also say that Jesus suffered along with us in virtue of His humanity, without suggesting it was in place of us. And the Bible is very clear that Christians suffer for the kingdom, they're not exempt! 
 
I've never been sure how Protestantism can address the fact that if Jesus suffered and died for us that we still have to suffer and die. That apparently disproves PSub in itself.

54 comments:

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

Nope. I'm not here going to weigh in one way or the other as to whether the "cup" was God's wrath, though it could be. Rather I'm going to focus just one thing: The way you frame the issue:

You frame this is as an either/or. Either the Jesus drinks the cup of wrath in place of James and John, or it's not a cup of wrath. But that's a non-sequitur. It could be a cup of wrath that he invites them to share in, in the same way all Christians are expected to share in Christ's sufferings. (Colossians 1:24, anyone?)

On this reading, we could conclude that Jesus drinks the cup of wrath in our place, but that we also *participate* in it to a much lesser degree. So this means we can read this as a both-and, rather than an either/or.

On the positive side, everything you said about enduring persecution can be affirmed within a PSA framework, because PSA is not the claim that Christ's death is *only* a penal substitution. Rather it is the claim that PSA is one important facet of it.


James Jordan said...

If you do disprove Penal Substitution, what will you replace it with? Rome teaches penal substitution too. I think you've mistaken the Pope for Socinus. You might want to read Socinus' tract Jesus the Savior. I'll bet you'd agree with 99% of it.

James Jordan said...

By the way, the easiest disproof of Penal Substitution, and one which Socinus dares use is that its not necessary. God is willing to forgive FREELY and even says he will. Remember the parable of Matthew 18 where the king FRANKLY forgives the debt. Payment is the opposite of forgiveness. Both cannot happen. If the debt is paid, it is not forgiven. If the debt is forgiven, it is not paid. God has the same right as any other creditor to simply forgive the debt without ANY payment. He asserts as much in the Old Testament when he says he will forgive on the basis of repentance without any sacrifice (Ezekiel 18, Psalm 32).

When David sins in boinking Bathsheba and killing her husband, Nathan comes and tells a parable to David. "You are the man!" David confesses "I have sinned." Nathan says "The Lord has ALREADY forgiven you!" As a Jewish counter-missionary Rabbi Tovia Singer says, David was told "The Lord has ALREADY forgiven you!--No sacrifices, no Jesus, not nothing." Socinus loves to point out that God can do that. But if that's the case, what is the point of Jesus' death? It becomes unnecessary.

ALG Bass said...

Nick, can you read and address this article when you can get to it? http://www.tdaviddemarest.com/2013/06/08/the-church-fathers-interpretation-of-the-rock-of-matthew-1618-an-historical-refutation-of-the-claims-of-roman-catholicism/

cwdlaw223 said...

ALG -

You'll often find that when Jesus speaks people don't take him at his word or claim he was speaking speaking metaphorically. Much easier to create a new form of Christianity if you can twist/ignore/explain away Jesus' own words or try to use one other part of scripture to trump Jesus. People do NOT want to be bound by a physical Church on this earth created by Christ and still existing today. Man wants no one having authority over him and man wants to be his own church.

Scripture was never intended to be a cook book separate from Christ's Church. Most people can agree with that concept but when they search for such church they're faced with Rome or coming up with some new definition of the word church.

I believe scripture should be interpreted from the original Greek if one wants to really grasp scripture. The translation of Jesus' words from Greek to English often leave out critical details. One word in Greek can communicate more knowledge/ideas/concepts than one word in English but including all of the subtly in Greek into English can create a complicated or somewhat disjointed translation.

Nick said...

Michael,

It cannot be "both/and," the only option is either/or. That's the whole point of the "substitution". You said, "It could be a cup of wrath that he invites them to share in," but this is impossible because Jesus was taking the wrath so they don't have to.


James,

I'm shocked that you (apparently) believe in the heresy of Penal Substitution, despite being a Judaizer. The Torah never taught PSub, nor does any other text; it's a Protestant invention, not even derived from the Gospels, but rather from twisting the words of the very guy you hate, St Paul.

Nick said...

Hello ALG,

That article is by William Webster, a guy that I've found does not do adequate research before he says things. He unfortunately has such an anti-Catholic bias that he isn't open to any correction or dialogue.

Consider the final line of his essay:
"It is clear from the history of the Church, in the attitudes and actions of the general Councils and with individual fathers in their dealings with the bishops of Rome, that in the patristic age, the Church never operated on the basis of a universal Roman primacy or in the belief in papal infallibility."

He speaks of the "attitudes and actions of the general Councils," and yet when I glossed over this Essay I didn't see him quote a single Ecumenical Council! Now check out this article that quotes EVERY early Ecumenical Council and shows each Ecumenical Council taught the Papacy!

http://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/history/historical-apologetics/79-history/98-papal-primacy-in-the-first-councils.html

If Protestants were going to be truly consistent with their view of Christianity, they must admit that every early Ecumenical Council taught the terrible heresy of Papism, and thus these "Councils" were more tools of the devil than anything.

James Jordan said...

"I'm shocked that you (apparently) believe in the heresy of Penal Substitution, despite being a Judaizer."

I never said I believe in Penal Substitution--just that I see no difference whatsoever between it and what the Catholic church teaches. Whatever the distinction is that you are making between the two is nonexistent. That's why Catholics were as up in the air over Socinus and his teachings as Calvinists were.

What I outlined above from Socinus' is perfectly acceptable to me: Jesus death was not necessary for our forgiveness. God has the ability to forgive and has forgiven without any sacrifice. David was forgiven without having sacrificed, and he wrote a Psalm saying "Sacrifice and burnt offerings you did not desire--else I would have given them! But the sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit." So was Jesus' death then necessary for our forgiveness? No. So if it was necessary, it was necessary for something else. Go comb though Socinus to find what that was.

Nick said...

How do you view Sacrifice and Atonement?

James Jordan said...

That's a rather open ended question. Do you mean with respect to Jesus or to sacrifice in general?

The sacrifices of the Law were offered for unintentional sins and serve as an expensive teaching aide. You wake up on Sabbath and start a fire, you realize that your forgot it was Sabbath, you now have to go to Jerusalem and offer an animal. After that ordeal and the amount of money you lose from it, you'll make sure from now on to remember what day it is before you start cooking your breakfast.

But with respect to Jesus' sacrifice, One obvious question is why Jesus would teach the parable of Matthew 18 about the king frankly forgiving the debt if he wanted us to believe any sacrifice was necessary for forgiveness, and I've never seen anyone attempt to answer that.

Socinus seems to think that the purpose of Jesus' sacrifice was to purify heaven, because Socinus' theology really rather literally follows the book of Hebrews. There's that passage, of course, that says "it was necessary that the heavens be purified with greater things than these" (Heb 9:23) but for the life of me I can't figure out why the heavens would need purifying! And as for Hebrews 9:22 and the maxim "without shedding of blood is no remission" this maxim is entirely made up by the author of Hebrews since it doesn't exist in the Old Testament and is contradictory to the story of David and to several Psalms. Anyway, following the logic of this chapter, Socinus believes the point of Jesus' sacrifice was not Penal Atonement but was to purify the heavenly temple. Its a bit too mystical for me. I kind of think that if this is the best alternative that can be come up with for those who reject Penal Substitution, then clearly the whole concept that Jesus' death was a sacrifice at all rather than just a martyrdom must clearly be false.

James Jordan said...

Socinus, by the way, also takes Hebrews seriously when it says "while he was on earth Jesus could not be a priest, for it is evident he was of the tribe of Judah." So, when Jesus died on the cross, Socinus says, it was a martyrdom only and not a sacrifice, because sacrifices are made by priests. Further, sacrifices are not complete until sprinkled on the alter, and the alter (per Hebrews) is in heaven (its not the cross). However (and this is weird) once Jesus got to heaven and became a priest, he turned his martyrdom into a sacrifice and used it to purify heaven! Now, this literally follows Hebrews, as I said. But does it save the concept of Jesus' sacrifice as necessary for our salvation? Certainly not. Once you realize that Penal Substitution is false, there is no way to save the false notion that Jesus' sacrifice was necessary for our salvation.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

You don't really have a clue what PSA refers to, do you?

By framing it as an either/or, you effectively attribute to us the view that PSA is the *only* was of understanding the atonement. That's where you're setting up a strawman. But *no one* defends that view, and if you disagree, then show me even one prominent Protestant thinker who defines PSA as you do. Just one.

Substitution does not exhaust all facets of the atonement. Jesus can die in your place. But that doesn't mean you won't have to suffer in this life. No one has ever understood PSA to mean that Jesus suffered, ergo, you never will. If that were the case, one wonders how we could ever account for the fact that Christians are still persecuted, get sick, and die.

And yet generations of Christians (even those whom you would claim as fellow Roman Catholics) have seen in the death of Christ a penal substitutionary notion--that Christ atoned for the punishment that we deserved.

So how do those two ideas go together? Can Christ die in our place while at the same time permitting us to suffer in solidarity with him? The Reformed tradition says yes to both. You're driving a wedge between those two ideas, and then making the dishonest, and disingenuous claim to be accurately representing the Reformed tradition.

It would better for you to argue that you don't see how both ideas can go together and that we can't coherently hold both together. But don't deny that we at least try.

cwdlaw223 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You don't really have a clue what PSA refers to, do you?

For every Calvinist in that world, there exists a Calvinism. For example, Calvin believed in a form of Unlimited Atonement; there are many Calvinists who belive in Unlimited/Limited Atonement; there are such a sort of flavors of 'lapsarian' beliefs, and they are mutually exclusive;

The same way we can create so many versions of PSA for every Calvinist in the world.

By framing it as an either/or, you effectively attribute to us the view that PSA is the *only* was of understanding the atonement.

If there is another way to understand the Atonement, it just contradicts PSA. There are a plethora of facets in the Atonement, but there is no one about 'Jesus being punished in our place'.

That's where you're setting up a strawman. But *no one* defends that view, and if you disagree, then show me even one prominent Protestant thinker who defines PSA as you do. Just one.

John Owen, in your very silly defense of Limited Atonement, uses an essentially Pelagian, commercial-penal notion of Atonement. The Owen's Trilemma and the Double Jeopardy arguments are a very simple proof of Calvinism's 'penal substitution' in action.

Substitution does not exhaust all facets of the atonement.

Substitution represents no conceivable facet of Atonement.

Jesus can die in your place. But that doesn't mean you won't have to suffer in this life.

It isn't in the question.

1 - Jesus can die in our place? According to Calvinism, Jesus has no choice but He is forced to die in our place (or the glorious plan to save the elect only would fail).

2 - If Jesus is to take the anger of the Father, so why we need to take the same anger? God will make a double punishment? It is the Double Jeopardy argument, again? Or maybe they are essentially distinct cups of anger?


And yet generations of Christians (even those whom you would claim as fellow Roman Catholics)

Are you trying to make bad quotations of Church Fathers? Bad...

Credulo

Verbum Journal said...

Rome also teaches penal substitution.

De Maria said...

Michael Taylor said...
Nick,

Nope. I'm not here going to weigh in one way or the other as to whether the "cup" was God's wrath,


It is God's wrath. Which He, God, drank voluntarily giving us an example to follow.
1 Peter 2:21
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

though it could be. Rather I'm going to focus just one thing: The way you frame the issue:

You frame this is as an either/or.


Either the Protestant doctrine of Penal Substitution or the Catholic doctrine of Satisfaction of atonement.

Either the Jesus drinks the cup of wrath in place of James and John, or it's not a cup of wrath.

The Satsifaction doctrine teaches that Jesus, drank the cup of wrath in place of humanity. Jesus, thus, satisfied our debt.

But that's a non-sequitur. It could be a cup of wrath that he invites them to share in, in the same way all Christians are expected to share in Christ's sufferings. (Colossians 1:24, anyone?)

He does invite us to share in it. That is the Catholic Doctrine. That is why we have the doctrine of suffering for the expiation of sins. Scripture says:
1 Peter 4:1
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

On this reading, we could conclude that Jesus drinks the cup of wrath in our place, but that we also *participate* in it to a much lesser degree. So this means we can read this as a both-and, rather than an either/or.

But that is the Catholic Doctrine. That is not P-Sub.

On the positive side, everything you said about enduring persecution can be affirmed within a PSA framework, because PSA is not the claim that Christ's death is *only* a penal substitution. Rather it is the claim that PSA is one important facet of it.

Then why do you have a separate doctrine.

The Catholic Doctrine of Atonement says that Jesus accepted our punishment in our place. He sacrificed Himself in our place.

P-Sub says that jesus was punished by the Father in our place. Further, as it has been explained to me by Protestants, it means that the Father despised the Son and even condemned Him to hell.

P-sub is a perversion of the Truth. It resembles the truth but falls far short of it. There is no both/and with the Protestant Doctrine of PSub.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Nick said...

Michael,

It is an either/or when the situation involves doing contradictory things. You cannot say that Jesus both (a) takes the punishment we deserve, and (b) makes atonement such that nobody is punished. It cannot be both. Similarly, you cannot say Jesus drank the cup of God's wrath in our place and that the Apostles also drank the cup of God's wrath. It's a contradiction plain and simple. The only option is either-or.

And as I said, Protestantism is forced into a conundrum here even if you don't realize it. As Credulo noted, Calvinists are adamant that there cannot be a Double Jeopardy.

This is why the Cup passage of Mark 10:38-39 is so key here, because it shows that whatever Jesus endured by drinking of the Cup, it couldn't have involved a punishment resulting from an imputation of guilt.






Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>It is an either/or when the situation involves doing contradictory things. You cannot say that Jesus both (a) takes the punishment we deserve, and (b) makes atonement such that nobody is punished. It cannot be both.<<

Why not? Where exactly is the contradiction between a and b?


Nick>>Similarly, you cannot say Jesus drank the cup of God's wrath in our place and that the Apostles also drank the cup of God's wrath. It's a contradiction plain and simple. The only option is either-or.<<

You're wrong. You're forcing an either/or onto the text. But the Bible says that Jesus can suffer in our place and that we can participate in that suffering. Colossians 1:24 proves precisely this, as do many other texts (2 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Peter 4:13; Romans 8:17).

You're overlooking the OT background for the word "for" (Hebrew: min). For example, when the Servant (of Isaiah 53) suffers "for" us, it is not only *in place of* the people, but also *along side* and even *because of* the people. In other words, Psub is not in competition with suffering in solidarity with someone else or on account of someone else. That means it's *both-and* not either/or.

Nick>>And as I said, Protestantism is forced into a conundrum here even if you don't realize it.<<

The only conundrum here is the fictitious one in your mind. Protestantism has never said if if Christ suffers in your place, that the believer therefore will not. In fact the penal substitutionary nature of Christ's sufferings apply not only to the cross, but also to his life. He walks the road that we do, not only suffering along side us, but also in our place. Please read Hebrews 2, especially verses 10-17.

Note well the solidarity therein. Jesus suffers in the same way we do. He is tempted in the same way we are. But the text also so says, "he tasted death for everyone" (cf, 2:9). In context, "everyone" refers back to the "many sons" to whom he will bring to glory (i.e., particular redemption, not universal atonement as Rome teaches).

He idea here is substitutionary atonement. He "tastes death for" those whom he will bring to glory. This is something he does on behalf of them. But it is also something he does in solidarity with them, because, as Hebrews will go on to state, it is "appointed" to us to "die once" (9:27).

So Jesus not only dies in our place (taking on the punishment that was due to us for our sins, namely death and eternal condemnation), but he also dies in solidarity with us by tasting death, though he himself did not deserve to die.

So, contrary to your assertion, dying in place of someone and along side someone is not contradictory in the least.

Is not the "good thief" the very picture of both concepts? Jesus literally dies "along side" him (a notion of solidarity). And yet he also dies in his place--not so that the thief won't have to experience physical death--but rather so that he can go to paradise rather than hell.

>>As Credulo noted, Calvinists are adamant that there cannot be a Double Jeopardy.<<

There is none. But there is in your system. You hold to the fiction that Jesus paid the price for every human being without exception, including those who are now in hell or will be going there. That's the very definition of double jeopardy. For you must necessarily believe that the same sins are going to be atoned for twice.

Nick>>This is why the Cup passage of Mark 10:38-39 is so key here, because it shows that whatever Jesus endured by drinking of the Cup, it couldn't have involved a punishment resulting from an imputation of guilt.<<

Mere assertion on your part. How exactly does it show the non-imputation of guilt? Walk us through your exegesis/reasoning process.

Michael Taylor said...

This is for De Maria.

I was thinking about responding to your post, but it I don't think I will until you tell me what you think "Psub" means. For it sounds to me like your definition of it and mine are as different as night is from day. Therefore there would be no point responding to you for we would just be talking past one another. So the ball is in your court. Walk me through what you think Psub means, and then I'll tell you what I think it means and then we can compare notes. What say you?

Nick said...

Michael,

You asked: "Why not? Where exactly is the contradiction between a and b?"

This is the fundamental issue you're not recognizing. The contradiction is basically in that option-A says Jesus paid $100 to the judge to pay-off our $100 fine, while option-B says Jesus convinced the judge to drop/cancel the $100 fine.

PSub basically rejects the notion of forgiveness. In that view, God cannot say "I forgive you," instead God can only say "You no longer owe me since someone else paid what you owed."

The syllogism is pretty air-tight:

P1 - Physical Death is a punishment for sin.

P2 - Christ took the punishments we deserved, including Physical Death.

C - Therefore for a Christian to endure the punishment of physical death is double jeopardy and thus cannot be.


You said: "Mere assertion on your part. How exactly does it show the non-imputation of guilt? Walk us through your exegesis/reasoning process."

Let's say you're on death row, sentenced to the electric chair for your crimes. But a substitute is willing to have this guilt imputed to them so that they will 'drink this cup' (endure the chair) in your place. What *YOU* are saying is that Jesus endures the electric chair while Christians *ALSO* get into an electric chair right alongside Jesus. So the question is, where is the logic/justice in Jesus taking your guilt so that the Judge will have Jesus endure the electric chair IN YOUR PLACE and yet you end up enduring the electric chair right alongside Jesus. Do you see the irrationality here?

Nick said...

Let's say you owed $10,000 in taxes and a close relative paid the IRS that $10,000 for you. What you are saying is that in order to show solidarity, the IRS must ALSO have you pay $10,000 in taxes. You'd surely be furious.

So what's wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with the picture that shows your guilt is imputed off of you onto Jesus who endures the electric chair and yet the Judge can still sentence you to the electric chair? That's not solidarity but a perversion of justice.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>This is the fundamental issue you're not recognizing. The contradiction is basically in that option-A says Jesus paid $100 to the judge to pay-off our $100 fine, while option-B says Jesus convinced the judge to drop/cancel the $100 fine. <<

Poor analogy. Jesus didn't just pay a fine. That's only one facet of the multi-faceted reality and so no single analogy can make sense of the whole. Now consider the "money" he paid. The money he paid was his own life in exchange for that of his people. So the "fine" is at the same time a self-sacrifice that *had the effect* of turning away God's wrath toward a sinful people. The "canceling" the fine analogy doesn't work at all because justice demanded a sacrifice. "Without the shedding of blood..." Nick.

Nick>>PSub basically rejects the notion of forgiveness.<<

Do you know how I know you know nothing of Psub? It's because of this statement right here. Psub is the means, forgiveness is the end. Jesus gets the chastisement, we get the forgiveness.

Nick>>In that view, God cannot say "I forgive you," instead God can only say "You no longer owe me since someone else paid what you owed."<<

Again, the debt analogy is only one *facet* of the whole cannot account for all the facts. A lender can forgive a debt (Jesus' parable of the unforgiving servant says as much), but sin cannot be reduced to debt. Forgiveness, moreover is tied to the shedding of blood, which itself evokes the world of OT animal sacrifice and the purposes for those sacrifices. The problem with your analogy is that it cannot account for the need for the shedding of blood, much less the death of the one who gives it.

You're argument is actually an argument against Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. For we could simply press the same question against you. Why couldn't God just "forgive and forget," "let bygones be bygones" etc? The answer is because a holy God is also a just God. If "forgiveness" (as you seem to be defining the term) ends up denying God's justice, then what you're preaching is cheap grace.

But we "P-subbers" say grace was costly. Grace and mercy from the cross also satisfy Divine justice.


Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>P1 - Physical Death is a punishment for sin.
P2 - Christ took the punishments we deserved, including Physical Death.
C - Therefore for a Christian to endure the punishment of physical death is double jeopardy and thus cannot be.<<

Which would be the case if Resurrection were not true. Therefore we do not experience death as a punishment for our own sins anymore than Jesus did as a punishment for his own. Hebrews says he died to destroy death, including ours. But here the "death" in mind is primarily spiritual (the "second death"). Eventually even physical death will be abolished.

Nick>>Let's say you're on death row, sentenced to the electric chair for your crimes. But a substitute is willing to have this guilt imputed to them so that they will 'drink this cup' (endure the chair) in your place. What *YOU* are saying is that Jesus endures the electric chair while Christians *ALSO* get into an electric chair right alongside Jesus. So the question is, where is the logic/justice in Jesus taking your guilt so that the Judge will have Jesus endure the electric chair IN YOUR PLACE and yet you end up enduring the electric chair right alongside Jesus. Do you see the irrationality here?<<

What's irrational is your bogus analogy. You're making huge category mistakes. The "cup" that Jesus drinks is like the ocean. The "cup" that say, James and John want to drink, is like a drop in the ocean. It is a mere participation in Jesus' suffering to identify with him. So this kind of suffering is yet another *facet* of the whole. Psub does not deny that Christians suffer in solidarity with Christ.

There is no contradiction between this statement: "I have been crucified with Christ" (i.e., suffering in union with Christ) and this one: "Jesus gave himself for me." Both can be found in Galatians 2:20, side by side. This means suffering with Christ and Christ suffering in your stead are complimentary, not contradictory. You need to find an analogy that fits with the text, not one that undermines it.

So think of Jesus' "cup" as his passion that takes away the sin of the world. Now think of Jesus allowing his followers to have a little "taste" of that cup. That's what he did for James and John. That's what Paul tasted when he said he is crucified with Christ. You can read about the content of those sufferings when he describes things like persecutions, beatings, being nearly stoned to death, whipped, imprisoned, etc.

But note well: This is not Paul "atoning" for the "temporal punishment due to sin." This is Paul joining his own sufferings to that of Christ in union with him. Paul isn't suffering for the guilt of his own sin. He is suffering for the sake of the Gospel. This, however, does not negate the fact that Christ died in Paul's place.

Nick said...

Michael,

You cannot keep saying the atonement is multi-faceted to include PSub when PSub is yet to be proven. It's a fallacious argument to make. I cannot just make up a facet of the atonement and freely append it whenever I feel like it. Neither can you do so with PSub.

I feel like I'm repeating myself at times on this (and you probably feel the same way). I try to approach things from a logically-sound manner, so common fallacies are not my thing.

Turning away God's wrath in the sense of appeasing it is one thing, but turning God's wrath so that it's now vented upon Jesus is another. The former is true and Biblical while the latter is false and heretical. There isn't a multi-facet going on here.

You didn't really address my PSub-excludes-forgiveness argument since your multi-facet response doesn't solve the dilemma. If someone pays your debt, the debt isn't forgiven. If someone must receive the punished you deserve in order to forgive you, then it's not forgiveness but vengeance.

You concluded by saying:
"This means suffering with Christ and Christ suffering in your stead are complimentary, not contradictory."

This is true, but not in a PSub context. You cannot suffer with Christ if Christ is receiving the Father's wrath, because then you're also receiving the Father's wrath. It doesn't matter if it's just a "taste" of the Father's wrath, it's still enduring specifically what Jesus was supposed to endure so you wouldn't have to. So called "tasting" God's wrath isn't some challenge to eat the hottest buffalo wing you can, it's an unimaginable spiritual torment.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>You cannot keep saying the atonement is multi-faceted to include PSub when PSub is yet to be proven.<<

In my view, it has been proven. So what I've been attempting to do is to show how your objections fit into a Psub framework, given that it is true.

Nick>>Turning away God's wrath in the sense of appeasing it is one thing, but turning God's wrath so that it's now vented upon Jesus is another.<<

Unless the latter is the *means* to the former. We Psubbers say that the reason why God's wrath is turned away *from us* is because it was *laid upon* Jesus. The end result: we don't get the wrath. The means to that end: Jesus does get the wrath. So that's why I keep telling you that we do not accept your objection that it's either/or.

Nick>>You didn't really address my PSub-excludes-forgiveness argument since your multi-facet response doesn't solve the dilemma.<<

Again, forgiveness is the end result of the atonement, and penal substitution is the means by which forgiveness is obtained. This is the reverse of your position which says the end result is atonement and forgiveness is the means by which atonement is made. But your position is refuted by Hebrews 9:22 (among many passages). For the shedding of blood is what leads to the forgiveness, not the other way around.

Nick>>If someone pays your debt, the debt isn't forgiven. If someone must receive the punished you deserve in order to forgive you, then it's not forgiveness but vengeance.<<

No, it's justice. There's a huge difference between vengeance and justice. Your error is in thinking that God's justice is *not* retributive. It is. So the basis upon which God can forgive us our debts is because Jesus has satisfied that debt and the demands of justice. The "payment" he made was in taking our punishment that the Father was pleased to lay upon him and crush him with. That's the language of Isaiah that you may find distasteful. But you wouldn't be the first to find the preaching of "Christ crucified" ( 1 Cor. 1:23) to be scandal and folly.

Nick>>This [the idea that suffering with Christ compliments his suffering for us] is true, but not in a PSub context. You cannot suffer with Christ if Christ is receiving the Father's wrath, because then you're also receiving the Father's wrath.<<

As I keep pointing out, that's a non-sequitur, because it assumes that our suffering is in every way like his, but on a smaller scale. And yet consider the language of verses like Colossians 1:24 and Galatians 2:20. Paul can say he/we is crucified with Christ *and* that Christ gave himself for him. I take the "for him" to be at least consistent with Psub, if not demanded by the terms themselves, but that's another debate.


Nick said...

Michael,

You said: "We Psubbers say that the reason why God's wrath is turned away *from us* is because it was *laid upon* Jesus."

I know this is what you're saying; what I'm saying is that to appease means the wrath is subdued.

Proverbs 16:14 says, "14 A king's wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it."

The term "appease" here is the word "atonement." The king's wrath being appeased means the king's emotions have changed so he is no longer angry, it does not mean the king turned and vented his wrath on another. The "wise man" who appeases the king in this example is not taking the kings wrath on himself.

This is why I keep going back to the examples of Moses, Aaron, and Phinehas, since they turned away God's wrath in the sense of 'muffling' it. The wrath wasn't dumped on a substitute. It is in THESE examples in which the Catholic notion of Atonement/Appeasement/Satisfaction/Propitiation is understood.

This is a FUNDAMENTAL definition.


You also said:
"the basis upon which God can forgive us our debts is because Jesus has satisfied that debt and the demands of justice."

This is too imprecise to be acceptable. The notion of "satisfaction" has a traditional philosophical meaning, which is different from the Protestant meaning. Protestantism plays fast and loose with philosophical concepts, which makes the Catholic's job a lot harder.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>I know this is what you're saying; what I'm saying is that to appease means the wrath is subdued. <<

Sorry, Nick, but that doesn't speak to the distinction between the *end* and the *means to the end* which is clearly stated and/or presupposed throughout scripture. The fact is that God is "appeased" precisely because Christ has accepted his wrath in our place, and this is why it is propitiated for us. You really can't read Isaiah 53 and draw any other plausible conclusion as I've demonstrated in my article on the subject. I've even documented that Bible scholars who **reject** PSA nevertheless believe that Isaiah taught it. They just disagree with Isaiah. So like I said, you have to work real hard not to see it.

But as I've said before, this isn't a topic that many people can stomach. Paul noticed this when he wrote to the Corinthians. He noted that to Greeks the cross is "folly." He also noted that to Jews it was a "stumbling block."

According to the wisdom of the word, the idea of transferring guilt/punishment by means of a penal substitute is "folly." According to Jewish sensibilities a crucified Messiah is scandalous. "But we preach Christ crucified," Nick, including the doctrine of PSA that goes along with it. So it hardly surprises me that you would have a problem with it.

But it is akin to understanding the Gospel itself. Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. On the cross divine justice and mercy are perfectly expressed and realized. But you don't really believe this. As a Romanist you believe the following:

1. Jesus, because he was perfect, provided a perfect sacrifice of infinite atoning value. God was thereby mollified/appeased and so he no longer harbors wrath toward sinful humanity. This made the entire human race "save-able." But it [the crucifixion] did not in fact save *anyone* in and of itself.

2. It is the death alone that mollifies God, not the sin and guilt and punishment that he bore in our place. So in your view, death is the means by which blood is obtained. (Would it not have been easier to blood-let if all that was needed was blood?). Blood, in turn, is what purifies the people. This is what propitiates God's wrath. But in no way is God mollified because Jesus willingly accepted the punishment that was do to other people.

3. Jesus' death made satisfaction in that there was debt that was owed to God. God was pleased to accept Jesus' death (but not his bearing of sin in our place) as payment (monetary satisfaction) of that death. Because of who it was that died (Jesus, the Son of God), the debt that was paid was **more than enough** (in fact, it was of infinite value) to "cover" (make satisfaction for) the debt sinful humanity owes to God.

continued next post...

Michael Taylor said...

continued from previous...

Now virtually everything I've said about your view can be affirmed within a Psub framework except for the **scope** of the atonement (since we do not believe Jesus offered his death in place of the reprobate in the first place), and except for the idea that satisfaction **excludes** substitutionary place-taking.

This really is the crux of the issue. We think the satisfaction was made precisely **because** substitutionary place-taking took place on the cross.
So in our view, it's not simply that Jesus' death has infinite atoning value (we can affirm that it does); rather the **reason** that it has infinite atoning value is precisely **because** it actually atoned for the sins of the elect by suffering the punishment due to those sins. Now here is where we differ just slightly. You say it is because of the nature of the person who died that the sacrifice was of infinite **value.** But we say that **only** a perfect person (such as Jesus) **could** function as an adequate penal substitute by which atonement is made. So the **value** of the sacrifice is not tied **solely** to the sinlessness/innocence of the victim; rather it **also** includes the **nature** of the sacrifice itself. In this case we know that "upon him" was laid the iniquity of us all. Put another way, only a perfect victim could willingly accept and bear the iniquity of us all. And thus it is not only his perfection, but also his suffering in our place, which provides an atonement of infinite value.

It seems to me that the only "suffering" that Jesus did in your scheme was the physical (and possibly emotional) pain of the crucifixion itself. It seems there is no way, in your system, to say that any sins were laid upon him. It seems that in your system there is no way to say that he was "crushed" for our sins. And if that is the case, then there is no way to say that "by his wounds we are healed."

In other words, your entire theory of the atonement reduces to a monetary transaction and that the only thing that was "costly," was the three hours he endured on the cross, in which case we could say that the thieves crucified next to him endured even more pain than he did since they were alive longer.

Nick said...

Michael,

You said: "Sorry, Nick, but that doesn't speak to the distinction between the *end* and the *means to the end*. The fact is that God is "appeased" precisely because Christ has accepted his wrath in our place"

This is a logical fallacy though because you're equivocating with the term "appease". The term appease means to quiet anger, it does not mean to transfer anger on a substitute. What you're saying is that God's anger was quieted by not quieting it at all because it was poured out in full fury still, on a substitute. In other words, there isn't any appeasing going on at all in your argument.

That's why I keep hammering the need to be faithful to Scripture, because Scripture doesn't define atonement in terms of transferring punishment, exemplified by Moses, Aaron, and Phinehas. They appeased God's wrath by intercession, whereby God's wrath 'died down'.


You said: "You really can't read Isaiah 53 and draw any other plausible conclusion as I've demonstrated in my article on the subject."

Have I see this article? I've written about Isaiah 53 a lot, and I show plainly how Jesus and the Apostles never interpreted it as PSub. Luke's Gospel (and Acts) is decisive in this regard.


You said: "This really is the crux of the issue. We think the satisfaction was made precisely **because** substitutionary place-taking took place on the cross."

Correct, that's the crux. I would reaffirm that the Catholic definition of Satisfaction is the only philosophical definition there is. The Protestants basically made up their own. What Protestants call "Satisfaction" is an ill-defined and deficient concept. What you in particular are doing is trying to have the Catholic definition of Satisfaction but also tack on PSub with it, but that doesn't work. It's like Catholic saying a "car" is a vehicle with 4 wheels and you coming along and saying yes a "car" is a vehicle with 4 wheels, but it includes a trailer attached to the back. See the definition of "car" stands on it's own, the addition of a trailer to the definition of "car" is superfluous and made up. It's basically making up the rules as you go.

Nick said...

You also said: "You say it is because of the nature of the person who died that the sacrifice was of infinite **value.** But we say that **only** a perfect person (such as Jesus) **could** function as an adequate penal substitute by which atonement is made."

This comes off as suggesting that Jesus didn't need to be divine in your view; He only needed to be sinless and legally righteous. But that directly undermines the need for the Incarnation of the Son of God, for even a good angel could have become incarnate. This is why Catholics say a single drop of Christ's blood was sufficient to make infinite atonement, since it's a Divine Person's blood. It's His divinity that infinitely 'magnifies' the value of Christ's human actions.


You said: "It seems to me that the only "suffering" that Jesus did in your scheme was the physical (and possibly emotional) pain of the crucifixion itself."

Correct, since only the human nature can suffer, and the only suffering the Scriptures indicate Jesus endured was the physical pains of the crucifixion. There was no 'more important' invisible spiritual pain Jesus endured in the background at the hands of His angry Father. That's just plainly unbiblical and trivializes the Crucifixion accounts.

You said: "It seems there is no way, in your system, to say that any sins were laid upon him."

That's because you have a wrong understanding of what that means. It's a Hebraic way of saying the 'burden' of making atonement is assigned to Him, just as it's the job of the priest to take the blood of the slaughtered animal and then proceed to make atonement for the sinner.


You said: "In other words, your entire theory of the atonement reduces to a monetary transaction and that the only thing that was "costly," was the three hours he endured on the cross, in which case we could say that the thieves crucified next to him endured even more pain than he did since they were alive longer."

I'm glad you said this, because it shows that you're missing the point of the Catholic view. First off, seeing the atonement as closely aligned to a monetary transaction is a good comparison, especially because the only noteworthy time Jesus describes the nature of the atonement is when He speaks of it as "Giving his life as a Ransom." Second, what you just described envisions that Jesus' divinity is irrelevant to the equation, which is a huge mistake. Because of His Divinity united to His humanity, Jesus suffering for a single second is a greater suffering than everyone's suffering in history in terms of 'painfulness', as well as an infinitely meritorious act.

This is why Protestants frequently laugh off the Catholic understanding of Crucifixion as something not very painful and say others have suffered more painful deaths, because they completely see Christ's suffering on the natural realm rather than the super-natural realm. Protestants don't see Christ's humanity as divinized; they see it as regular old humanity. That's Pelagian anthropology.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>This is a logical fallacy though because you're equivocating with the term "appease".<<

Equivocation takes place when a term is used in more than one way without acknowledging the chance in meaning. I'm not doing that. But if you disagree, kindly show me where.

>>The term appease means to quiet anger, it does not mean to transfer anger on a substitute.<<

There you go with the either/or thinking again Nick. Yes, appeasement has this meaning. And substitution has the other. But it is not the claim that appeasement *is* substitution itself. So what you're really saying there is that *either* appeasement took place *or* substitution, but *not* both. We say both took place.

Nick>>What you're saying is that God's anger was quieted by not quieting it at all because it was poured out in full fury still, on a substitute.<<

Sort of. What we're saying is that God's anger **toward us** was appeased, because it was placed upon an innocent substitute. "But he was pierced for our transgressions;he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

Nick>>In other words, there isn't any appeasing going on at all in your argument.<<

Appeasement is going on precisely because substitution is being made.

Look at it this way Nick. It may seem contradictory to say that Jesus destroyed death by dying. But he did. If you or I made that claim, it would be like saying we blocked all the punches with our faces. But in Christ, his death destroys our death, as even your own Memorial Acclamations says. (See also Hebrew 2).

>>Correct, that's the crux. I would reaffirm that the Catholic definition of Satisfaction is the only philosophical definition there is. The Protestants basically made up their own.<<

Perhaps the problem is that your view is overly philosophical and insufficiently scriptural.

And by the way, when you say "your view," you're really speaking of only one medieval view--in fact just one strand of a complex of ideas that were refined and honed during the medieval period. Aquinas held to PSA and joined it to Satisfaction, seeing the matter very much as we Reformed did.

And this idea that "Protestants basically made by there own" is simply a joke. In fact we pretty much picked up the same ball Aquinas did after his refinement of Anselm, which as itself development of the older Ransom-theory. What you seem to be overlooking (in your ignorance of church history) is that "Satisfaction" as used in the medieval synthesis was a technical term that included the notion of substitution (at least it did in Aquinas). We took that further by focusing on the *penal* nature of the substitution and its application to *individuals.*


Michael Taylor said...

You quoted me as saying: >>You also said: "You say it is because of the nature of the person who died that the sacrifice was of infinite **value.** But we say that **only** a perfect person (such as Jesus) **could** function as an adequate penal substitute by which atonement is made."<<

And then somehow you came up with this as a reply:

Nick>>This comes off as suggesting that Jesus didn't need to be divine in your view; He only needed to be sinless and legally righteous.<<

Huh? What exactly did I say that would lead you to this silly conclusion that we're saying Jesus didn't need to be divine? You're barking up the wrong tree here Nick, for it is his divinity that makes the *value* of his death *infinite.* It is precisely because Jesus was God that he could make an infinite atonement. Only God can save and so Jesus had to be God. But only a human being can suffer and die, so Jesus had to be human. Thus we say the God-man died on the cross, making an infinite atonement, by which he saves his elect. Clear?

Since all the rest of your commentary is based on your misrepresentation of our view, response to it would be pointless.

I said: "It seems to me that the only "suffering" that Jesus did in your scheme was the physical (and possibly emotional) pain of the crucifixion itself."

You replied>>Correct, since only the human nature can suffer, and the only suffering the Scriptures indicate Jesus endured was the physical pains of the crucifixion.<<

This is Nestorianism, Nick. Natures don't suffer, people do. The person who suffered was human and divine. Way to undo the Hypostatic Union there, bro.

continued...

Michael Taylor said...

continued from before...

Nick>>There was no 'more important' invisible spiritual pain Jesus endured in the background at the hands of His angry Father. That's just plainly unbiblical and trivializes the Crucifixion accounts.<<

As I've already told you, the exact nature of Jesus' sufferings is speculative to me. I can only imagine what it must have been like and that's not something I like to contemplate. But no, it was not confined to the physical/emotional sphere, because in addition to these, he also experienced the *wrath* that was due to those in whose place he died. What exactly that *wrath* was, I have no idea. That's why I balk a bit in saying it was hell. But as you suggested, perhaps it was something "equivalent to" hell. I'm still working out my own understanding of this part of PSA, and for now I'm staying agnostic as to the *intensity* of his sufferings.

I said: "It seems there is no way, in your system, to say that any sins were laid upon him."

Nick>>That's because you have a wrong understanding of what that means. It's a Hebraic way of saying the 'burden' of making atonement is assigned to Him, just as it's the job of the priest to take the blood of the slaughtered animal and then proceed to make atonement for the sinner.<<

You keep repeating this as if it were established fact, which it is not. I already showed you that you're simply confused about the range of meanings of *nasha avon*. I showed in my articles that it can mean bearing guilt as a punishment for sin. I showed you that when the high priest lays his hand on the Second goat, he confesses all the sins, transgressions and iniquities of Israel and then he "puts them" on the goat. (That's the guilt-transfer, Nick and there's no way you can deny this.) So yes, while *nasha avon* can have a range of meanings, including simple forgiveness, it can also refer to bearing guilt and punishment.

Nick>> First off, seeing the atonement as closely aligned to a monetary transaction is a good comparison, especially because the only noteworthy time Jesus describes the nature of the atonement is when He speaks of it as "Giving his life as a Ransom."<<

But here you're missing the point that the "money" that was used in this transaction was his own precious blood, which in turn was obtained by his death. As I've said before, you don't have to die to give blood. But there was something absolutely essential in the death of Christ on our behalf, just as the first goat had to die on the Day of Atonement and just as the Passover Lamb had to die. So what you need to see is that Christ's death is redemptive precisely because it is substitutionary. His life in exchange for ours. This is why we keep reminding you that redemption is one facet of the whole. It does not exhaust every aspect of the atonement and certainly does not exclude the need for an innocent, blameless substitute, but rather clearly depends upon it.

continued...

Michael Taylor said...

continued from previous...

Nick>>Second, what you just described envisions that Jesus' divinity is irrelevant to the equation<<

You've been corrected on this matter above...but something else you say here below needs addressing:

Nick>> Because of His Divinity united to His humanity, Jesus suffering for a single second is a greater suffering than everyone's suffering in history in terms of 'painfulness', as well as an infinitely meritorious act.<<

This is Docetism, plain and simple. You are now making his humanity irrelevant. It's as if you're borrowing his humanity so that you can explain how it is possible for Jesus to die, but than suppressing the humanity so that you can use his divinity to magnify his suffering. That's tantamount to God play-acting in a human body.

Now, as for the intensity of Jesus' suffering ("greater suffering than everyone's suffering in history"), you have no way of explaining that apart from your Nestorian/Docetic Christology. I, on the other hand, can say this: It isn't necessary to believe that Jesus' physical suffering was greater than anyone else's. I'm sure we can trudge up examples of people who have endured even more physical/psychological torture than even someone dying by crucifixion.

That said, it is because Jesus is both a divine person, and because he is bearing sin, that his suffering was without measure. Sin is an infinite offense against a holy God and therefore requires an infinite (as well as sinless) being to make atonement for it.

Nick>>This is why Protestants frequently laugh off the Catholic understanding of Crucifixion as something not very painful and say others have suffered more painful deaths, because they completely see Christ's suffering on the natural realm rather than the super-natural realm.<<

No, Nick. This is what you're saying. If you think Jesus only died **without** our sins having been laid upon him, then you're left with a mere physical death. That's what you just admitted to above: Let me quote you on that again: "Correct, since only the human nature can suffer, and the only suffering the Scriptures indicate Jesus endured was the physical pains of the crucifixion." So that's your position you're criticizing, not ours. We're just holding the mirror up so that you can see your own view clearly.

And clearly you have a deficient view of the atonement. But know this. I don't think you speak for all Roman Catholics on this matter. In fact, I don't think you have the first clue as to the the richness of your own tradition on this matter and that you would do well to focus on that rather than constantly training your guns against Protestant positions that you are more prone to misrepresent.

Nick said...

Michael,

There cannot be an appeasement of wrath by substitutionary (retributive) receiving of that wrath. That's the crux of this debate.

The very term "chastisement" in Isaiah 53:5 undermines the PSA reading, which is why the Pierced for Our Transgressions authors went with the NIV's mistranslation of "punishment".

Aquinas did not hold to PSA, and when folks like Spoul say that they just make themselves look bad. Aquinas was at least as smart as you, meaning if he held to PSA he would have held to Eternal Security, Limited Atonement, no Mass, etc, but he didn't. Aquinas was systematically consistent. He didn't see justification in terms to imputation. Aquinas said in the Summa that the Incarnation was enough to merit salvation and that God could have forgiven us without the Cross. That's not something a Protestant would ever affirm.

You said: "Thus we say the God-man died on the cross, making an infinite atonement, by which he saves his elect. Clear?"

It's not clear, that's why I said your last response "comes off as suggesting" divinity was unnecessary. The efficacy of the Sacrifice is what Christ as a Divine Person performed in offering up His love and obedience, not the wrath He endured. The problem is with your definition of "making atonement," since the Bible is clear atonement is effected when the blood is sprinkled by the Priest, not when the sinner slaughters the animal.

The Heidelberg Catechism says:
Question 14. Can there be found anywhere, one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us?
Answer: None; for, first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man has committed; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God's eternal wrath against sin, so as to deliver others from it.


In this context, the term "satisfy" is understood to mean bear the punishment of, specifically "God's eternal wrath." In that view, Jesus had to be divine because no mere creature could endure such spiritual torment, but the fact is all the lost souls will endure hellfire without needing to be divine. And I don't see any room for Satisfaction in the Scholastic sense, much less it being added on to PSA.

You said: "This is Nestorianism, Nick. Natures don't suffer, people do. The person who suffered was human and divine."

While you are right that the person is the one doing the suffering, and I should have worded that differently, my point was that only the human nature is passible, meaning susceptible to pain and death. The Son would not be capable of suffering without a human nature. My claim is that the only suffering the Son endured was physical pains and death at the hands of men, nothing spiritual at the hands of God.

Nick said...

You said: "As I've already told you, the exact nature of Jesus' sufferings is speculative to me."

Well, it wasn't to Calvin and other Reformed theologians. I cannot really respond to what is speculation, but I can respond to actual claims made. This is a good example where philosophy and systematic theology is crucial and where exegesis alone doesn't cut it. One cannot willy-nilly say Jesus endured the Father's Wrath and not have some idea of what that means. But regardless, it seems like a clear vindication of the Catholic side by the simple fact nowhere do the Crucifixion accounts allude to any invisible wrath taking place alongside the physical tortures.

As for the "bearing sins," Leviticus 10:17 says the priests "bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them," and it clearly does not mean the priests vicariously suffers for the people. And I've never conceded your view of the Scapegoat, which you’ve practically forced PSub onto it.

You said: "But here you're missing the point that the "money" that was used in this transaction was his own precious blood, which in turn was obtained by his death."

I've kept that point front and center. It's the 'preciousness' of the blood, not the death itself, that carries the atoning weight. In 1 Pt 1:18-19, Peter shows the redemption happens in monetary framework, saying it wasn't precious stones or gold, but the precious blood. In the OT, it’s the sprinkling of the blood that effects atonement, not before. A death without sprinkling amounts to nothing.

You said: "This is Docetism, plain and simple. “

No, this charge is false. All human actions done by Jesus were in a real sense divinized by His Divinity. To deny that His divinity 'magnified' His human actions is Nestorianism. The dignity of the person certainly bestows a greater offense, which is why a rape of a virgin and a murder of a king are far worse in gravity than the rape of a prostitute and the murder of a commoner.

You said: "If you think Jesus only died **without** our sins having been laid upon him, then you're left with a mere physical death."

I affirm Jesus bore our sins, just not the way you understand "bearing sin". The heresy here is to think there could have been something more than a physical death. The Bible says there are only two deaths, a physical and a spiritual, with the latter being the worse of the two. If there was 'more than a physical death,' then you're forced to affirm Jesus endured spiritual death, and many Reformed have no problem affirming things to that effect.

You said: "I don't think you speak for all Roman Catholics on this matter. In fact, I don't think you have the first clue …”

That's quite the thing to say when you're still undecided as to what exactly happened to Jesus. I have the quotes from Reformed theologians. I've read Aquinas on this matter, I've studied the theology systematically. I see how the dots connect. I see how Eternal Security is directly linked to affirming PSA, and I see how no noteworthy orthodox Christian before Calvin affirmed Eternal Security.

And ultimately I have the Gospels on my side, since the plain reading of them shows Our Lord suffering physical pains and a physical death and nothing more.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>There cannot be an appeasement of wrath by substitutionary (retributive) receiving of that wrath.<<

Now you're just being stubborn. I've corrected you before on this several times and every time you respond you leave out the crucial part about the wrath that would have gone toward us being appeased by the sacrifice that substituted in our place. By your logic (or lack thereof), Nick, there Passover lamb could not have functioned as a penal substitute for Israel. But that's precisely what it was.

It died so that Israel's firstborn did not have to. And when you consider that the firstborn were simply representative of Israel as a whole, you can see that in fact that Passover lambs died in place of the nation itself. So what happened? The wrath that would have gone to Israel just as easily as it came upon Egypt, was turned away, not simply because of the blood of the lamb, but also because the lamb died giving that blood. So the death was penal--not for its own sins (how could a lamb sin?) but rather for those of Israel, who was equally guilty of participating in Egypt's idolatry (so says Ezekiel 20:5-10). And of course it was also a substitutionary death.

So again, you have to keep in mind that what was appeased was the wrath **toward us** by means of placing the wrath **upon him.** In this way mercy and justice are held together. If you have simple appeasement you only have mercy, but justice is not satisfied. Only in the cross do we see a perfect picture of both justice and mercy in one substitutionary sacrifice.

Nick>>The very term "chastisement" in Isaiah 53:5 undermines the PSA reading, which is why the Pierced for Our Transgressions authors went with the NIV's mistranslation of "punishment". <<

I don't understand the distinction you're making unless in your mind punishment is only retribution and not also remedial. But no one who holds to PSA believes this about PSA. We're all perfectly fine with "chastisement" as a translation. That's what the KJV has. That's what the ESV has. It doesn't change a thing about the doctrine because it's not all based on one word from Isaiah 53:5.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>Aquinas did not hold to PSA, and when folks like Spoul say that they just make themselves look bad. Aquinas was at least as smart as you, meaning if he held to PSA he would have held to Eternal Security, Limited Atonement, no Mass, etc, but he didn't.<<

Nick, all kinds of people hold to PSA who don't hold to limited atonement or eternal security. They're called "Amrinians." In other words, all kinds of people can hold to doctrines that might not be fully compatible with their system.

Thomas' version of it presupposed the distinction between predestination to grace only and predestination to grace and glory. If you buy that distinction (which Thomas had to buy because he held to baptismal regeneration), then you can still hold to PSA for those predestined to grace and glory.

It would look like this: Christ's death provides sufficient grace for all (so that they can attain to grace) but only efficient grace for the elect. And so for them alone his his death a penal substitution since those predestined to grace only will inevitably fall from the state of grace and die in mortal sin. For them Christ's death is not *ultimately( a substitutionary atonement at the *subjective* level, even if it *objectively* provided the merit by which they were able to enter into grace at one time in their life. So yes, given Thomas' system, PSA fits just fine.

NIck>>Aquinas was systematically consistent. He didn't see justification in terms to imputation. Aquinas said in the Summa that the Incarnation was enough to merit salvation and that God could have forgiven us without the Cross. That's not something a Protestant would ever affirm.<<

But we can and do affirm that. Protestants would agree with Aquinas that God **could have** done it (provided redemption) another way. We Augustinians (and Thomas is one of us) give ultimate say to God in salvation and therefore champion his freedom to save in any manner he sees fit. So, hypothetically, he could have chosen to save us any number of ways. But what concerns us is what he did say and we think that he provided a substitutionary atonement on our behalf.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>It's not clear, that's why I said your last response "comes off as suggesting" divinity was unnecessary.<<

And I also asked you what in that response "comes off" that way. This is not an answer to that question.

Nick>>The efficacy of the Sacrifice is what Christ as a Divine Person performed in offering up His love and obedience, not the wrath He endured.<<

This is more Docetism on your part. Just listen to yourself Nick. His humanity is just "along for the ride" in your scheme of things. He is a human-and-divine person, and you cannot separate his obedience from his suffering. They are mutually interpreting. (Right here may be the reason for your rather heretical Christology. Again, Nick, study your own tradition. Rome actually has it right with respect to Christology. Just be a good RC on this and you'll be fine.)

Nick>>While you are right that the person is the one doing the suffering, and I should have worded that differently, my point was that only the human nature is passible, meaning susceptible to pain and death.<<

Here you're splitting what you need to keep together. Once you have the Incarnation, then you can say things like "God died on the cross," so long as you say so in view of the Hypostatic Union.

Nick>>The Son would not be capable of suffering without a human nature. My claim is that the only suffering the Son endured was physical pains and death at the hands of men, nothing spiritual at the hands of God.<<

I don't know what you mean by "spiritual at the hands of God." It seems to me that the smoking gun here is your sense that if God were to punish an innocent (even one willing to accept the punishment due to others in order to spare them), that this would be an injustice. Call this a variation of the "cosmic child abuser" objection.

If that's your position, then what do you make of God's command to Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice? While God obviously didn't "go through with it," the mere command itself, when viewed from Abraham (and Isaac's!) point of view, has to come across as unjust. If I point a gun at you and say "dance," you'll not soon forgive me if I explain that it was full of blanks or unloaded. The mere threat is itself problematic. So out of curiosity, how do you get God off that hook?

I think I have a satisfying answer to that question. Do you?

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>As for the "bearing sins," Leviticus 10:17 says the priests "bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them," and it clearly does not mean the priests vicariously suffers for the people.<<

So what? Explain to me how this is an objection against PSA. I've seen you make it before; I guess I just don't understand why you think it overturns PSA. Walk me through your reasoning. But for now let me simply say this.

In Christ the priest and the sacrifice are the same thing. You're not going to have an analogue for that in the OT since the priest and the sacrifices were not the same thing. So in Christ you can have a priest "bear the sins of many" because he's doing so, not just as a priest, but also as a victim.

>>And I've never conceded your view of the Scapegoat, which you’ve practically forced PSub onto it.<<

Let me walk you through this:

1. The high priest confessed Israel's sins, iniquities and transgressions over the goat.
2. Then he "placed them" on the goat. To what what does the word "them" refer? Check your context. It refers to the sins, iniquities and transgressions of Israel.
3. Right there we have the transfer of guilt to the second goat. There is no way to deny it, try as you may.

But if you think so, give us a more plausible alternative. And please spare us the "garbage dump" analogy. No one lays hands on their Hefty bags and confesses their "trash" over it before throwing them in the can. Real guilt is being transferred to the goat, and if so, PSA is alive and well and your garbage dump theory is dead and buried.

Nick>>I've kept that point front and center. It's the 'preciousness' of the blood, not the death itself, that carries the atoning weight.<<

There's the either/or fallacy rearing it's ugly head again, Nick. It's both. You can get the precious blood by pricking a finger with a pin. So both the blood and his death are needed. You make his death **incidental** (read: irrelevant) to the blood. Hold them together, Nick, because they go together.

Nick>>I affirm Jesus bore our sins, just not the way you understand "bearing sin". The heresy here is to think there could have been something more than a physical death. The Bible says there are only two deaths, a physical and a spiritual, with the latter being the worse of the two. If there was 'more than a physical death,' then you're forced to affirm Jesus endured spiritual death, and many Reformed have no problem affirming things to that effect.<<

Huh? I don't understand this response. Is it possible in your world that Jesus may have suffered physical death PLUS something other than damnation (spiritual death)? Suggestions: Physical death + shame ("despising it's shame" [Hebrews 12:2]); physical death + sorrows ("a man of sorrows and acquainted with ga-rreef" [My Handel imitation]). Why is it a choice between *either* physical death *or* physical death + damnation in your book?


Christie said...

Nick,

Couldn't the cup be the Eucharistic cup, the 4th cup that Scott Hahn talks about often? The sour wine?

--Christie

Nick said...

Michael,

Even though a lot hinges on the proper definition of "appease," we've obviously both said what we could as far as that goes.

As far as "chastisement" goes, this is not a retributive punishment by a judge, but fraternal correction from a father to son, which is why God ordains that Christians undergo chastisement (Heb 12). John Calvin and others (rightly) made the proper distinction between judicial punishment and fatherly correction, saying they weren't the same. Chastisement, by definition, excludes the notion of God pouring out His Wrath since that's not akin to the punishment the damned will have to endure.

As for Aquinas endorsing PSA, I don't want to repeat myself, so I'll just say that this is completely false. And the idea that your tradition is Augustinian and Thomist is likewise way off the mark. Their entire philosophy was at odds with the pseudo-philosophy of the first Protestants. The very notion of salvation is radically different from the Augustininan/Thomist version than the historic Protestant version. This attempt to co-opt these Doctors of the Church for the Protestant cause is ridiculous. These men believed in solidly Catholic doctrines, things that Protestants consider anathema and false Gospel. It's disingenuous to suggest Augustine or especially Aquinas were proto-Protestants.

As for the Docetism charge, I don't see how that charge sticks at all. Christ's humanity was not "just along for the ride," it was properly subordinate to His Divinity. His human will was infinitely inferior and subordinate to His Divine will. That's basic Christology. And yet by the Incarnation, humanity was truly deified, elevated and operating on a super-natural level.

When I said the Son endured only the physical pains at the hands of men, nothing spiritual at the hands of God, I mean by this that there was no invisible torment of Christ's soul that The Father was inflicting on Jesus during the Passion.

The Sacrifice of Isaac wasn't a PSub situation, and if it were there would be serious theological problems (e.g. Isaac wasn't sinless). The Sacrifice of Isaac was a test of obedience and the offering was a Burnt Offering, which is principally a worship offering.

You asked me to explain why "bearing sins" as described in Leviticus 10:17 goes against PSub. The reason is because the Priest isn't 'bearing sin' in the sense of having their guilt imputed to him and becoming guilty in God's sight (which he then would have to impute off of himself onto the animal). That's the key. He didn't bear the sin as a substitute, but rather solely as an intermediary. Unless you see the distinction, the very notion of a priest (especially High Priest) will not make any sense. The priesthood is precisely concerned about the office of intermediary. The PSub theology really cannot explain the role and significance Christ's Priesthood. In PSub, it's almost as if the Father is the Priest and Christ is only the Sacrifice.

Onto the Scapegoat. The placing of sin on the goat need not be understood as imputing guilt. That's assuming too much. The very point being made in Leviticus 16 is that the goat is now 'contaminated' and must be removed from the camp. A contaminated animal is unfit for sacrifice; it's no longer capable of a fragrant aroma.

Nick said...


Lastly, the physical sufferings of Jesus would include the emotional sufferings of shame, humiliation, etc. Those are not uniquely or even principally Divine Punishments that the lost souls endure. Jesus said "Do not fear those who can kill the body and do no more, but rather fear Him who can cast body and soul in Hell." The eternal punishment due to sin is very disproportionate in intensity and essence from the temporal punishments due to sin.

What a lot of this hinges upon is your 'agnosticism' about what exactly Jesus endured beyond physical death. Without this, then exegesis is impossible as well as a coherent and systematic Atonement theory. There's a reason why the great Reformed minds were clear about this issue, that Jesus endured spiritual death in some way. Popular Reformed pastor Thabiti famously said "the ancient fellowship [between Father and Son] was broken," at least temporarily, at the Cross.

A Reformed pastor named Jospeh Randall recently said:

""Damned" doesn't even come close to truly expressing what Jesus endured on the cross. He was more than damned. It was worse than damnation! ... Piper is not radical enough in his language of what Jesus endured! Jesus was more than damned! It was the scream of the more than damned by infinity!

Oh Brothers! Let's learn how to the preach the cross rightly and not dishonor our great King Jesus by saying He was merely damned in our place!!

PS Spurgeon himself did teach what I'm saying, by the way: What Jesus endured on the cross was worse than being damned to hell forever:

"Can we at all imagine the state of mind in which our Lord was when He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” No, that is not possible, yet I will try to help you to understand it. Can you imagine the misery of a lost
soul in Hell—one who is forsaken of God and who cries, in bitterest agony, “God will never look upon me in mercy, or
delight, or favor”—can you picture that sad state? Well, if you can, you will not, even then, have got anywhere near the
position of Christ—because that soul in Hell does not want God’s favor and does not seek it, or ask for it. ...
"

NOW THAT'S Christological heresy if I've ever seen it, and this kind of stuff is trumpeted from Reformed pulpits and blogs as *THE HEART* of the Cross and thus the heart of Gospel.

The only thing you're doing by remaining on the sidelines on this matter is an unnecessary delay of game.

Nick said...

Christie,

The reason why I would not think it was the Eucharistic cup is because Jesus is saying that drinking of this cup isn't going to be easy. Drinking the cup at the Last Supper was very easy, and even Judas could have partaken.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>As far as "chastisement" goes, this is not a retributive punishment by a judge, but fraternal correction from a father to son, which is why God ordains that Christians undergo chastisement (Heb 12). John Calvin and others (rightly) made the proper distinction between judicial punishment and fatherly correction, saying they weren't the same.<<

Of course. And if you re-read what I said, you'll not find me saying otherwise. What I am saying is that chastisement (= loving correction) and retribution can both be present. I believe I had said that punishment could be both retributive and remedial, that we need not choose between the two. So just because Isaiah is rightly translated "chastisement" (so the ESV and KJV), that does not mean *only* chastisement is in view. One has to look at all the relevant texts. We who hold to Psub would say that chastisement (as in remedial punishment) is but one facet of the whole. We would not say it's either chastisement or retribution, but rather both. If you think it through, a parent can often punish a child with both motives working simultaneously. Why, then, would this not be possible with God?

Nick>>Chastisement, by definition, excludes the notion of God pouring out His Wrath since that's not akin to the punishment the damned will have to endure.<<

I disagree. As I said before, the punishment that God inflicts can both chastise and satisfy justice at the same time. I'm not sure why this is so difficult for you to imagine.

Nick>>As for Aquinas endorsing PSA, I don't want to repeat myself, so I'll just say that this is completely false. And the idea that your tradition is Augustinian and Thomist is likewise way off the mark. Their entire philosophy was at odds with the pseudo-philosophy of the first Protestants.<<

Let's agree to disagree on this one since debating whether or not Calvinists are Augustinians and whether or not Thomas' doctrine of the atonement is in any sense compatible with PSA gets us a little far afield.

Nick>>The very notion of salvation is radically different from the Augustininan/Thomist version than the historic Protestant version. This attempt to co-opt these Doctors of the Church for the Protestant cause is ridiculous.<<

Nick. I think you're just plain ignorant of the facts. Many Roman Catholic scholars frankly acknowledge that Calvin's reading of Augustine was a fair one for the most part. And no one is claiming at the outset that there aren't important differences. Obviously there are. Thomas, for example, held to baptismal regeneration. Calvin did not. So that's one huge difference right there.

Thomas distinguished between predestination to grace (but not glory) and predestination to glory. Calvin rejected this subtlety of Thomas on the grounds that predestination to glory entails predestination to grace. I think Calvin was right on this score and Thomas was wrong.

Thomas thought of grace as a substance that when infused into the soul can restore and elevate nature. I would have some disagreements with this, because it leaves out the idea of "new creation" by re-interpreting it as "renewed creation." But scripture tells us God actually makes something new--not that he simply restores and rehabilitates the old creation.

So no one is saying that Thomas and Augustine were in every respect Calvinists. But you might be surprised to see how much in their systems are more in line with Reformed theology than much of what the Council of Trent committed the Roman church to. But you see, we're already miles of topic...

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>These men [Augustine and Aquinas] believed in solidly Catholic doctrines, things that Protestants consider anathema and false Gospel. It's disingenuous to suggest Augustine or especially Aquinas were proto-Protestants.<<

This is a meaningless claim. You overgeneralize when you say "proto-Protestants." What do you mean by that? What do you even mean by the word "Protestant?" I ask because you have the habit of speaking of Protestantism as a monolith, as if it were a Bizarro form of Roman Catholicism. That's not a fair or accurate way of comparing Protestantism to your version of the catholic tradition.

For example: Thomas and Calvin taught unconditional election. The both located the reason for election and reprobation in the divine will. They both argued, following Augustine, that the reason why one is damned and another is saved is because of God's predilection for the elect and his rejection of the reprobate. In other words, Augustine, Thomas, and Calvin had far more in common on this score than Roman Catholics such as Luis de Molina, with whom your own views on election seem to differ very little.

So does that make Aquinas a "proto-Portestant" or Calvin a "residual Catholic?"


Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>As for the Docetism charge, I don't see how that charge sticks at all. Christ's humanity was not "just along for the ride," it was properly subordinate to His Divinity. His human will was infinitely inferior and subordinate to His Divine will. That's basic Christology.<<

This still sounds like heresy to me. Your definition of "subordinate" amounts to saying that his humanity was just along for the ride. True and biblical Christology, however, takes seriously the notion that Christ emptied himself of his divinity, so that we can truly say that what Jesus did he did as a human being, albeit with a human will hypotatically united to his Divine nature. In other words, Jesus did not cease being God when he became human. But he did become human. This divine condescension has to be taken seriously in order to avoid Docetism. So far, nothing you've said seems to take his humanity very seriously.

Nick>>When I said the Son endured only the physical pains at the hands of men, nothing spiritual at the hands of God, I mean by this that there was no invisible torment of Christ's soul that The Father was inflicting on Jesus during the Passion.<<

Then you cannot say that God placed upon him the iniquity of us all, which means you cannot affirm essential biblical truth.

Nick>>The Sacrifice of Isaac wasn't a PSub situation, and if it were there would be serious theological problems (e.g. Isaac wasn't sinless). The Sacrifice of Isaac was a test of obedience and the offering was a Burnt Offering, which is principally a worship offering. <<

All red herrings. You're avoiding the point of my raising this question, namely, the justice issue of God ordering Abraham to offer his son by killing him. You seem to rule out of court at the outset that God would ever do such a thing with respect to Jesus and his redeemed. And yet we already have biblical precedent for God doing precisely this in the Abraham-Isaac affair.

Generations of commentators have seen in this a typological foreshadowing of what the Father would do with the Son. And generations of commentators have seen in the ram caught in the thicket the "penal substitute" for Isaac. The ram (the sacrifice) died (the penalty) in place of Isaac (the substitution).

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>You asked me to explain why "bearing sins" as described in Leviticus 10:17 goes against PSub. The reason is because the Priest isn't 'bearing sin' in the sense of having their guilt imputed to him and becoming guilty in God's sight (which he then would have to impute off of himself onto the animal). <<

Thank you for this. Now I remember how I responded to it the first time I saw it. First, you continue to overlook some essential differences between the OT priest and Christ. I'm sure you'll agree that the OT priest was not himself a sacrifice, right? Accordingly, no Psubber has ever made the claim that the OT priest was the recipient of imputed guilt; rather it is the animal (not the priest) to whom guilt was imputed.

But in Christ both animal and priest are joined. He is both our high priest and our sacrifice. So guilt can be imputed to him (insofar as he is the sacrifice) and he can atone for our sins (insofar as he is also the priest). So your objection fails at this point because it ignores the distinction between Christ-as-priest and Christ-as-victim.

Nick>>That's the key. He didn't bear the sin as a substitute, but rather solely as an intermediary. Unless you see the distinction, the very notion of a priest (especially High Priest) will not make any sense. The priesthood is precisely concerned about the office of intermediary. The PSub theology really cannot explain the role and significance Christ's Priesthood. In PSub, it's almost as if the Father is the Priest and Christ is only the Sacrifice.<<

Again, this only shows how superficial your understanding of PSA is. On the contrary, we affirm with the author to the Hebrews that Jesus offers "the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26).

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>Onto the Scapegoat. The placing of sin on the goat need not be understood as imputing guilt.<<

it sounds to me like you're saying it doesn't have to imply the imputation of guilt, but that it can, but that you're opting for the non-imputational reading.
I suppose I should be encouraged that you're at least conceding this much.

But in fact if you look closely at the passage, I think the only plausible reading is one that entails imputation. At least I have yet to read anything that makes better sense of this language. Let me cite Leviticus 16 again:

"And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness."

Comment: To me it's inescapable that the gesture of laying hands on the goat is symbolic of real guilt being imputed or transferred to it. Not only does the priest confess all the sins of Israel over it, but also the text says he "puts them" (i.e., the iniquities, sins and transgressions) on the goat. That's a pretty clear picture of imputation if there ever was one. The language of "bear all their iniquities" is also echoed in Isaiah 53:12 "he bore the sins of many," which strengthens the association between the Day of Atonement rituals and Christ's death on the cross, which is to be expected given the way the NT generally interprets the death of Christ in light of OT "atonement" passages.

When all is said and done, the imputation of guilt to the second goat is the best interpretation of Leviticus 16 and seems to beendorsed by other biblical authors who saw the same thing.

Nick>>That's assuming too much. The very point being made in Leviticus 16 is that the goat is now 'contaminated' and must be removed from the camp.<<

I think this is you reading this idea into the text. But even if you're right about "contamination," this only begs the question as to how it has become contaminated in the first place. Surely it is contaminated precisely because the guilt of a nation has been imputed/transferred to it. So even here there is no reason to give us an either/or as you are doing (yet again).

Nick said...

Michael,

You said: "We would not say it's either chastisement or retribution, but rather both."

But there you are again inserting "both" when only one element is explicitly present. You cannot just smuggle in concepts. Isaiah uses the term "chastisement" and that's all.

You said: "Many Roman Catholic scholars frankly acknowledge that Calvin's reading of Augustine was a fair one for the most part."

That's a ridiculous assertion because Calvin radically selectively cited Augustine. Despite what little things Calvin read correctly of Augustine's, in the big picture Calvin ignored Augustine or flat out disagreed with him. The only thing Calvinists really are comfortable with Augustine about is the subject of Predestination, but even their view isn't the same as his. As for his views on the Sacraments, Soteriology, Anthropology, Authority, and Ecclesiology, Lutherans and Calvinists would consider him a Papist heretic if they were honest.

You're making the same mistake many Calvinists do, which is collapsing Augustine/Aquinas essentially into only what they said about Predestination, when there is so much more to the Christian Faith.

You said: "Your definition of "subordinate" amounts to saying that his humanity was just along for the ride."

No because the term "subordinate" doesn't mean what is subordinate is therefore worthless. That's fallacious. A wife is supposed to be subordinate to her husband, yet a wife holds the same human dignity as a husband. The term 'subordinate' is a neutral term that simply refers to right ordering and right ranking. True orthodox Christology rightly recognizes that Jesus' humanity is infinitely inferior and subject to His Divinity.

Nick said...


You said: "Then you cannot say that God placed upon him the iniquity of us all"

That's a non-sequitor fallacy. I said Jesus endured only physical pains, not invisible torments on His soul by the Father. That doesn't mean I deny "God placed upon him our iniquity," and nothing of that phrase suggests spiritual torments. That's just bad logic and bad exegesis.

You said: "You're avoiding the point of my raising this question, namely, the justice issue of God ordering Abraham to offer his son by killing him."

There was no "justice" or "substitution" going on with Issac. Issac wasn't about to be killed as the death penalty for his own sins, nor was he about to be killed as the death penalty for another's (e.g. Abraham's imputed guilt). Again, that's bad exegesis that's being projected onto the text. The text says nothing about what you're assuming. The texts says God was testing Abraham and the test concludes with God saying "Now I know that you do love me." The point wasn't that Issac was in the electric chair and at the last minute God provided a goat substitute in the electric chair. The WHOLE POINT was that through Issac the Messiah would come, and Abraham had everything riding on Issac, and so losing him would be a major tragedy like no other.

You said: "But in Christ both animal and priest are joined. He is both our high priest and our sacrifice."

In my recent post I comment on how the PSub view makes nonsense of Christ's High Priesthood, because it was the HP that "imputes sin" to the animal and "punishes" the animal. Yet Protestants say it was God the Father (who is not HP) that did the imputing and punishing.

You said: "That's a pretty clear picture of imputation if there ever was one."

You're missing the key distinction I made. I'm not saying 'imputing' is the issue, I'm saying there is a distinction between "sin" and "guilt". I'm saying the High Priest "placed sin" upon the scapegoat, but he did not "place guilt" upon the scapegoat. In other words, "sin" would be seen as the filth/death/effects/stain, while "guilt" would be seen as the culpability and deserving of punishment. As a crude analogy, when Simon of Cyrene was forced to help Jesus carry the cross, it was not that Simon was now bearing guilt, but he was bearing the burden of the pain upon Jesus.

Michael Taylor said...

I said: "We would not say it's either chastisement or retribution, but rather both."

Nick>>But there you are again inserting "both" when only one element is explicitly present.<<

Nick, I think you need to reread what I said. We don't make the entire issue depend on this one text in Isaiah. So while Isaiah says "chastisement," that doesn't mean Isaiah exhausts all dimensions of his suffering. Moreover, chastisement and retribution are not mutually exclusive concepts. This is where you err. Observe:

Nick>>You cannot just smuggle in concepts. Isaiah uses the term "chastisement" and that's all.<<

But again, just because Isaiah says X does not mean Y is thereby excluded. X is not equal to -Y. Simple logic, Nick.

I gave you an analogy to visualize why this is the case. A parent can punish the same child with more than one motive. A parent can punish with the view to chastise (rehabilitate) and with a view to satisfy the demands of justice (retribution). If you have kids, then you'd know this intuitively. Kids sometimes *deserve* punishment as simple retributive justice. But we temper this with love so that the punishment also can be a means to correcting bad behavior. Thus it chastises. So to posit a rigid distinction between the two and to argue that Isaiah can *only* have one concept in mind, but not another is bad logic, defies common sense, and explicitly contradicts other Isaianic texts which depict God as also exacting retributive justice.


You said: "Many Roman Catholic scholars frankly acknowledge that Calvin's reading of Augustine was a fair one for the most part."

Nick>> The only thing Calvinists really are comfortable with Augustine about is the subject of Predestination, but even their view isn't the same as his. As for his views on the Sacraments, Soteriology, Anthropology, Authority, and Ecclesiology, Lutherans and Calvinists would consider him a Papist heretic if they were honest.<<

Ignorance is bliss, Nick. But this is so far removed from the topic, I propose we move on from here.

I said: "Your definition of "subordinate" amounts to saying that his humanity was just along for the ride."

Nick>>True orthodox Christology rightly recognizes that Jesus' humanity is infinitely inferior and subject to His Divinity.<<

This is heretical Christology, Nick. Orthodox Christology affirms the hypostatic union so that whatever the incarnate Son of God does, he does as the God-Man. One nature is not dominated by the other, but both are operating in perfect union. If you subordinate his human nature to his divine nature, you get Docetism.

The issue of subordination concerns not nature, but person. The Son (both before and after the Incarnation) is subordinate to the Father. This is a functional subordination, not an ontological one.

Michael Taylor said...

I said: "Then you cannot say that God placed upon him the iniquity of us all"

>>That's a non-sequitor fallacy. I said Jesus endured only physical pains, not invisible torments on His soul by the Father. That doesn't mean I deny "God placed upon him our iniquity," and nothing of that phrase suggests spiritual torments. That's just bad logic and bad exegesis.<<

Sorry Nick, but you're in error. First of all, when God places our "iniquity" on the Son he is placing our guilt upon him, for that is what the word means, as you've been shown numerous time before. So right there Jesus is suffering more than the physical torments of crucifixion.

I said: "You're avoiding the point of my raising this question, namely, the justice issue of God ordering Abraham to offer his son by killing him."

Nick>>There was no "justice" or "substitution" going on with Issac....<<

You're obfuscating the point at hand. Please go back and pick up the thread of the conversation so that you'll see how my counter-example fits into the flow of our conversation.

One of your implicit objections to PSA is the idea that, if true, it would amount to a miscarriage of justice on the part of God the Father. In response to that objection, I raised the example of Abraham and Isaac, and specifically the problematic part about whether or not God could even command such an act in the first place, even if he never intended to go through with it. I asked you to show why this would not also be a miscarriage of justice. I can tell you why it's not if you'd like. But you seem to have no answer for this, given your antecedent presuppositions. In other words, you have no way of accounting for why it is not a miscarriage of justice, and once you see this, you'l be well on your way to seeing why PSA isn't a miscarriage of justice either. But first things first.


Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

As for your post on Protestants turning God the Father into the High Priest, I don't think it merits a reply. It's simply silly to make such a suggestion when everything we say on the issue of PSA keeps Jesus' high priesthood front and center. You seem to be unable and/or unwilling to grasp the fact that in Jesus we have both our priest and victim, which is why only in him can we have both imputation and offering, since he is the high priest who makes "the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26).

Honestly, this argument is a non-starter and a dead end. We hold that Jesus is our high priest, not the Father, so your point is moot anyway. But it is also dishonest, because it grossly misrepresents our position.