Sunday, January 03, 2010

Poor Baby

I had decided to visit some of the lefty blogs listed below in recent days. Since Dan visits here often, willing to stand firmly for what he believes, as wrong as that is, I hit a post or two over there. Only Alan, charmless as ever, had given me any crap. That's OK. I can take it and actually relish even that back and forth. I'll spar with anyone, literally or rhetorically.

Then I went to Geoffrey's place, "What's Left in the Church". Apparently poor Geoffie doesn't want to play anymore. He made a comment in one of his posts regarding whether or not anyone even reads his stuff anymore. Indeed, as I went through about half a dozen, there were no comments on any of them. Of course there are now, because I made some, and since then, he's made mostly childish responses, as has his "sis" and ER. Sad. Geoffies has never really been much in the debate department. He'll make noise about conservatism, pointing to specific people, like Newt Gingrich for example, while never explaining why he trashes them. I've always found this odd considering Geoffie seems to be well read. You'd think he'd be able to make some sort of supporting argument. But he's devolved into a bitchy little trash talker and doesn't support any of his charges at all. Actually he never really did, but he'd at least fake it momentarily before pretending it's all so tiring to spend time explaining himself. What a fraud.

That kinda takes the wind outta my sails as far as visiting the other blogs. I'll give them a try later and I hope I find a better quality of lib when I do. Geoffie-boy's giving them a bad name right now.

In the meantime, I continue to welcome all comers to THIS happy blog, where even the likes of a Feodor can come and engage in debate (if he thinks he can without the usual tiresome arrogance and condescension). Geoffie is also welcome if he feels all jerked out back at his circle. I maintain that I can be persuaded should anyone be persuasive. In religion and politics, it does matter what one thinks and believes.

378 comments:

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Edwin Drood said...

yeah I went to "Whats Left in the Church (after all the Christians leave)" and gave my two cents. I'm sure it will be dismissed as crazy right wing thinking.

It's always easier for them to simply call names and dismiss than it is to argue a point.

Marshall Art said...

Indeed, Ed. It is typical, and has really been SOP for Geoffrey for a long time. As I said in the post, one would think someone as "educated" as Geoffrey could offer a little something in the way of support for his positions and opinions. He never does anymore, if he ever did at all. As I recall, he might offer something weak, but then cave if his opponent pressed. He seems to be a fine example of education not equating to intelligence. However, as I said, he's welcome to come and prove me wrong. At his place, on the other hand, he seems content to be the very whiner he condemned in recent posts.

Dan Trabue said...

It's always easier for them to simply call names and dismiss than it is to argue a point.

I have to wonder if you all are earnest in saying things like this and wholly unaware that this is exactly how you all tend to come across to us? I rather expect you actually mean this and that you all think you offer substantive arguments and don't engage in petty name-calling.

The thing is, "we" (my compatriots and I) think we have offered tremendous numbers of good arguments when we make our points and see your comments mostly as name-calling, rumor-mongering, un-sourced emotion-based arguments and simple bad logic (ad homenim attacks, red herrings, etc).

Interesting how we see things differently, isn't it?

Marshall Art said...

That we see things differently is quite obvious, Dan. That isn't the point. The point is that you guys see things so terribly wrong and with the exception of yourself, certain of your compatriots no longer care to attempt to support their positions. I understand how difficult that can be since they are supporting the unsupportable.

In addition, few of us settle for name-calling. When we employ name-calling, we usually do so with an accompanying explanation. Geoffrey now says he'll only point and laugh, but he never really did a whole lot in the way of trying to support his opinions, quickly falling back on such cowardice as "I'm not here to convince, or persuade, blah, blah, blah..." At least YOU stay in the game, standing by your poorly interpreted understandings of Scripture and life in general, for which I give you kudos. Look how few lefties visit here anymore. Have I banned anyone? Even goofy ass people like Feodor don't get mocked without having his goofy assed comments exposed and critiqued.

So as ususal, there is a huge difference between what goes on here and what goes on elsewhere and at best, there is only superficial similarities if any exist at all.

Edwin Drood said...

Dan we only come across to you that way because you see no difference between someone disagreeing with you and calling you names.

I write this with no intent to call names but it is literally a maturity problem. Dan, Geoff, Alan, Fedor can't take an opposing point of view without lashing back with name calling. Then when confronted with their erratic behavior, they simply say "you started it".

This maturity problem shared by many on the left is not surprising. Look as the Obama administration. There are top ranking cabinet holding officers who resort to name calling on a daily basis in leu of actual debate. A liberal by definition is a follower. They are simply doing what their leadership does.

Dan Trabue said...

Edwin said...

Dan, Geoff, Alan, Fedor can't take an opposing point of view without lashing back with name calling.

That IS funny.

Marshall, people have quit responding because you and yours have too often seemed to be wholly unreasonable and not able to hold adult conversations. As Edwin notes, that's not name-calling. It's simply how we see it.

IF I have answered a question ten times and get met with repeated assertions that I have not answered the question and get ridiculed in the response, why WOULD people keep responding to such childishness. Indeed, you all seem to think that if we don't answer a question to your satisfaction, that means we haven't answered it.

That you don't understand, agree with or approve of our answers does not mean that we have not answered them.

Your lack of understanding does not automatically presume a lack of an answer or response on our part.

Dan Trabue said...

Take the whole "DID JESUS OR DID JESUS NOT DIE FOR OUR SINS?" example. I have, in fact, answered that question probably dozens of times, going into quite a good deal of detail.

To answer it yet again:

1. It's not a simple yes/no question, but one that requires expansion for me to answer it to my way of thinking.

2. That I am not inclined to give a yes/no answer is not an indication that I have not answered it, just that I have not given you an answer you want.

3. It is my position that we are saved by grace.

4. It is my position that Jesus came to pour out his life for ours in a redemptive act of grace and love.

5. Therefore, yes, in a sense Jesus died for our sins. In the sense that his whole life, his teachings, his Way of living, his death and his resurrection was a sacrificial pouring out of God's Self to, with and amongst us, and indeed, for us.

6. However, if you're asking me did Jesus "BUY" our salvation by paying a price of blood because God can only forgive sin when there is a blood sacrifice, then NO, I don't believe that. I believe that we are saved by GRACE, not a human sacrifice.

7. I believe that God forgives us BY God's great grace, because, as the Bible states, God is not willing that ANY should perish. It is my opinion that it is God's GRACE which saves us, though, not a human sacrifice. God came to live amongst us sacrificially, but that is not to suggest that it was a human sacrifice in the sense that a literal blood price had to be paid to "buy" forgiveness. If forgiveness requires a blood sacrifice, then it seems to me it is no longer grace which saves us, but a blood sacrifice. I disagree with that.

THAT is roughly my answer to that question. I have answered it repeatedly and in great detail and yet you all (I believe) STILL say that I've never answered it.

Instead, you badger and berate me and those like me for not answering it in a way that makes you feel good.

THAT is why people quit trying to speak reasonably with you all - because too often, you are not speaking on a rational adult level. Or at least that's how it seems to us.

Hence the irony that you all seem to think the same thing of us.

Human nature is weird, huh?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

You fail to support the notion that we, or I, have been unreasonable. What is unreasonable is your unwillingness to answer questions in a straightforward manner. Your restatement of the question to "DID JESUS OR DID JESUS NOT DIE FOR OUR SINS?" is a prime example. That, as I recall, is NOT how Bubba initially worded the question. A simple "yes" here does not satisfy what Bubba was seeking. He was speaking of causation. Can we access God's grace without Christ having died on the cross? I may not be restating his question adequately, but the point is that you choose instead to re-word the question in order to answer it to YOUR satisfaction and that still leaves the ACTUAL question unanswered.

At the same time, Bubba listed numerous verses that show that Christ's death WAS INDEED an actual blood payment, but your judgement of God's nature by human standards inhibits your ability to accept such plain and plainly described truths. In that manner, you have shown that it is you that suffers from an unreasonable stubbornness, an inability for understanding and a childish penchant for feeling badgered.

This habit of yours, willful or not only you and God can know for sure, of answering questions not asked in place of responding to actual queries provokes our frustration. Whether that is intentional or not I'll also put aside, but it is routine on your part. And provoke us it does as we are left feeling that you are indeed playing us rather than risk having your notions exposed for the folly they are. There are only two possibilities: you are deliberately being dishonest, as Bubba now suspects, or you are simply an incredibly misguided soul who lacks the ability to truly understand what is clear but refuses to be corrected for reasons we can only suspect. Keep in mind that this comes after a few years of trying to contend with your "style". We cannot reasonably be accused of having been UNreasonable after all this time. We have not been evasive (again, whether consciously or otherwise I put aside for now) in our answers to you, I don't think ever.

continued---

4simpsons said...

"yeah I went to "Whats Left in the Church (after all the Christians leave)""

Thanks for the laugh! That sums it up perfectly.

Marshall Art said...

I only wish to continue to further expound on what you are plainly doing that you cannot say is reciprocated by this side of the debates.

Your list shows the problems to which I refer.

1. It IS a simple yes/no question, even by the standard of your own poor interpretation of Scripture. As I said, you've changed the question initially asked but still a yes or no will answer it sufficiently. Indeed, it does so even more easily than the original question would allow.

2. To deny a yes/no response indeed fails to answer the question. That you feel an additional explanation is required is beside the point, though we wouldn't deny you that clarification.

3. This was not the question. Any answer needs to keep the actual question in mind, not change it to satisfy an answer you'd prefer to give.

4. What act specifically? And does this act equal Christ's death in terms of purpose and salvation?

5. This is not the same as saying that His death was the price paid for our sins, that it was a price that needed to be paid and that it His death was the purpose of His existence, of His being sent by the Father.

6. Then you are denying the teachings of Scripture, indeed the teachings of Christ Himself as Bubba has so clearly pointed out.

7. You cement your improper interpretation here. No one denies that God prefers that no one perish. That does not mean that Christ did not die in order for us to benefit of God's grace. Your position makes a liar out of Christ and Scripture in general. I point again to the many verses listed by Bubba that totally conflict with your interpretation and to continue to do this is not badgering in the least. The Scripture you claim to love and honor disputes you plainly and you've yet to offer anything that justifies your position.

Again, it is not from this side that unreasonableness flows. We have shown the error of your position time and time again, have shown patience in responding to whatever you think supports your position demonstrating why you interpret poorly. We've been consistent in our interpretations and you've been consistent in believing what isn't true. And your response is that "we seem" to be unreasonable or badgering or a host of other cop outs that allow you to believe what you want rather than what you likely should.

So the reasons why lefties no longer show up here are not what YOU think they are, and likely not what those like Geoffrey think they are. The reasons are as I've said: you can't support your positions so you bail out, call us names and question our character.

4simpsons said...

I think it is worth spending time with those who show even a hint of being teachable about their rank heresies. But there comes a point when it is pearl holding / dust shaking time. That occurred for me a long time ago.

Dan Trabue said...

And Brother Neil has explained exactly why Brothers ER, Geoffrey, Alan and others don't bother speaking with you any more. They've wiped the dust from their feet and written you off as unteachable.

That I have not done so is not so much because I am more gracious or more determined than they are. I just honestly enjoy (I'm not sure if that's the right word, but it'll do for now) the process.

I find it intriguing, interesting how people who come from such similar backgrounds and faith traditions can seem to be so diametrically and, in some cases, angrily opposed to one another. And so I don't mind to some degree continuing with some folk. I'd continue with Neil if he had not written me off. I don't mind to some degree continuing with you. I've about had it with Bubba - just because of his all bitter, all the time ugliness is just a bit painful to watch or imbibe in.

I'm not at all sure that we'll ever successfully communicate on a Christian and adult level and perhaps I would be wiser to emulate ER, Geoffrey, Alan, et al, but, as I said, I find it intriguing, so I will occasionally dip my toes in your swamp as long as you don't mind.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

2. To deny a yes/no response indeed fails to answer the question. That you feel an additional explanation is required is beside the point, though we wouldn't deny you that clarification.

I understand that this is your feeling about the matter. Your hunch, your presumption, your opinion.

But again, that you don't agree with my answer does not mean that it is not an answer or that it is not the best answer I can provide.

Marshall said...

3. This was not the question. Any answer needs to keep the actual question in mind, not change it to satisfy an answer you'd prefer to give.

Tell you what, I'll give it one more try. What specific question would you, Marshall, like me to answer?

Marshall Art said...

Well first I'd like you to answer Bubba's question, which I'll let him restate himself so there is no mistake. So far it seems your answer would be "no" and that would be contrary to Biblical teaching and the teachings of Christ Himself. But again, it'd be better if he restates it himself.

As far as that goes, I agree with Bubba that you've really been ignoring his questions all along. To take a cue from Geoffie and the boys would only lower yourself to their level. Not a good thing. The fact is that Geoffie in particular has never really done much that would could call "teaching" because, first of all, his ability to get the point of a story, article, theory or discussion isn't very good, in addition to his decided bad attitude regarding dealing with those who disagree with him. Furthermore, your inability to understand the source of what you perceive as Bubba's "ugliness" demonstrates again what we mean when we say you guys don't really deal with reality. In fact, if there's anything "swamplike" about MY blog, that would be it.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, no offense to you, but I'm tired of Bubba's belligerence. If you have a question, feel free to ask. If not, then I've already answered all of Bubba's questions.

Les said...

Y'all are still at it, I see. Boooooring.

Marshall Art said...

Why LES! Good to hear from you again, such as it was. I'm sure it DOES appear to be the same old, same old. But it'll only get so good when one's opponents can't provide better arguments. It would be a nice change for me, I assure you.

I know YOU find me stubborn as well for not rolling over and accepting other opinions as superior to mine. Please, don't give the line about "tolerating" other opinions, for I have never even hinted that any opinions be barred from expression here, have I? And I can't be expected to give equal respect to all opinions since such equality isn't warranted by any measure. It is only a respect for another's right to hold a differing opinion and I have never faltered in that, uh, respect.

But pray, where does a Les go for discussion that isn't "boring"? I'm sincerely interested to know.

Bubba said...

Dan, since I'm the one who has repeatedly asked you whether you believe Christ died for our sins, and since I continue to object to your answers as unclear, let me explain why your latest response is unsatisfactory -- why I believe it qualifies only as a response, and not as an actual answer.

The question has been asked a number of ways. Did Christ die for our sins, or for our forgiveness, or for our justification, or for our salvation? Is there a causal connection between His death and our salvation?

From what you write, it's obvious that you believe the answer is no...

"[I]f you're asking me did Jesus 'BUY' our salvation by paying a price of blood because God can only forgive sin when there is a blood sacrifice, then NO, I don't believe that. I believe that we are saved by GRACE, not a human sacrifice."

"If forgiveness requires a blood sacrifice, then it seems to me it is no longer grace which saves us, but a blood sacrifice. I disagree with that."

...but you refuse to provide that clear, simple, one-syllable, two-letter answer.

You claim that the question doesn't lend itself to a simple yes/no answer, but every reason you give to explain why is either a digression or an obfuscation.


The claim that we're saved by grace is a digression. It's absolutely true that we're saved by grace, and that doctrine is biblical, orthodox, and essential to Christianity. But it's irrelevant to this discussion BECAUSE THE BIBLE DOESN'T SET GRACE AND CHRIST'S DEATH AGAINST EACH OTHER.

Instead, in Romans 3:25-26, the Bible tells us that sinners are "justified by [God's] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith."

God's grace, Christ's atoning death, and our faith go together biblically: they're not opposing ideas -- as are grace and law, or justification by faith and justification by works.

We are saved by God's grace, but that fact is a digression from the question I asked.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

And, Dan, your references to Christ's redeeming and sacrificial death strike me as sheer obfuscation.

"4. It is my position that Jesus came to pour out his life for ours in a redemptive act of grace and love.

"5. Therefore, yes, in a sense Jesus died for our sins. In the sense that his whole life, his teachings, his Way of living, his death and his resurrection was a sacrificial pouring out of God's Self to, with and amongst us, and indeed, for us.
"

When Christians refer to Christ's death as "redemptive," we mean that it redeems us -- that it caused our forgiveness and salvation. If you mean something else, then using the word to refer to a totally different idea needlessly muddies the water.

When Christians call His death "sacrificial," we mean that His death was a sacrifice that resulted in our salvation. But if you mean that He laid down His life for something other than our forgiveness (or for nothing at all), then you further muddy the issue by using that word. Yes, Christ's death would still be a sacrifice, strictly speaking, in the sense that He gave up His life, but not one that caused our forgiveness. And so, your answer to my question still seems to be a clear and unambiguous no; you just seem extremely reluctant to say so.

You say, "in a sense Jesus died for our sins," but you have never explained, in what sense?

And, more to the point, I have reframed and refined my question, time and again, to eliminate this equivocating, asking for instance, is there a causal connection between Christ's death and our forgivness?

For any two events X and Y, either there is a causal connection or there isn't: you've never provided a second example where X and Y are causally connected only "in a sense."

Like a deceptive Mormon evangelist who wants to portray the deeply heretical religion as just another Protestant denomination, you refer to words and phrases that Christians use -- Christ's "redemptive" "sacrificial" death which was "for our sins" -- but you clearly do so in ways that are radically different from what we mean by them.


Beyond this, you continue to focus on specific imagery about the atonement -- that a certain amount of blood was required as payment to God -- rather than the literal point behind that imagery: that Christ died the death that is the just punishment for our sins, so that our sins could be justly forgiven.

None of my questions have **EVER** focused on blood payments, so I don't see any good reason for why you continue to bring the imagery back into the discussion.


Under no circumstances can I attribute any of this behavior to an honest effort at clear communication. And so I conclude that you're trying to do something else entirely.

Anonymous said...

Did Dan just call Jesus death, a human sacrifice? Jesus IS God! Does that mean nothing to Dan? Just wondering. mom2

Anonymous said...

I believe that we are saved by GRACE, not a human sacrifice.
This from Dan's post. I think this is part of Dan's problem. He seems to fail to recognize Who Jesus is. mom2

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, mom2. All those times I have repeated referred to Jesus as God, that's all been a lie and you've caught me. I surrender.

Perhaps you ought to lighten up a bit this year and remove that plank from your... well, whichever orifice it happens to be blocking...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you ought to lighten up a bit this year and remove that plank from your... well, whichever orifice it happens to be blocking...

January 4, 2010 9:25 AM

Dan, your above statement is part of what causes me to dislike you. Would you talk to your mother this way if she disagreed with you? mom2

Anonymous said...

I just read from some of Dan's above posts, how he does not stoop to certain things that he accuses us (his opponents) of doing, yet in all my reading I do not see the attitude of back slapping and denials as Dan himself makes. mom2

Dan Trabue said...

You ain't my mother, sister.

I have gone out of my way to be polite to you. You have gone out of your way to snipe and offer unsupported slander and gossip.

You may be my elder, but you have some growing up to do in Christ, sister. Consider yourself rebuked and consider repenting and starting the new year afresh.

God have mercy on us all.

Dan Trabue said...

To deal directly with your slander, you said...

Jesus IS God! Does that mean nothing to Dan? Just wondering. mom2

Yes, as I always note, Jesus IS God. AND, Jesus WAS human. Does that mean nothing to mom2? Just wondering.

The point is, you stepped in to make a little pointless snipe, suggesting that Jesus' Godhood was nothing to me, this IN SPITE of the evidence. No, it was an inconsequential snipe meant to slander and it was pointless, since it IS A FACT (at least one accepted by orthodox Christians) that Jesus was fully human, so there was nothing wrong in what I said in referring to those who think God demanded a human sacrifice in Jesus' death.

If you were merely joking, that would be okay. If you were trying to help me see something that I didn't see, that would be okay. If you were asking an honest clarifying question, that would be okay. But seeing as how it is just another small slander in a long line of small and small-minded slander, I rightly rebuked you.

I would have been better to correct you individually, but since you hide in your anonymous mom2 shell, I had no way of correcting you in person and so, I did so publicly. Perhaps I was wrong on that front (doing it publicly), but clearly I am not wrong to point out this small-minded and graceless harping done by some is not of God.

Wouldn't we all do better to try to engage in a bit more of the grace that has been so freely offered to us?

Anonymous said...

When a rebuke is in order, I will take it. That is part of what my Christian walk is all about. Self examination. Could I ask the same of you, if you are my brother? mom2

Anonymous said...

Dan, I will answer one of your last questions. Yes, Jesus was fully human and fully God, but when he died upon the cross, His death would not have been sufficient as only the human part of Him. It was the Perfect Sinless Son of God that was sufficient to cover my sins. mom2

Dan Trabue said...

Fair enough. When a rebuke is in order, we all would do well to be humble enough to consider it.

I'm suggesting that we (you, I, Marshall, Bubba - humans in general, but some of us more opinionated ones more than others) tend to be too abrasive and quick to make charges in dealing with those we disagree with.

I'm suggesting that if ALL the Other hears from us are words suggesting, "You don't love God, you don't love the Bible, you are rejecting Christ's Lordship, you're wrong, wrong, wrong!," then the Others will tend to tune us out or maybe even get defensive and stop hearing what we say for that reason.

I'm suggesting that if we can't see and hear the love of God in our conversations with Others, then perhaps it's time we re-evaluate how we're approaching them.

I too often do not see or hear the love of Christ coming from some of us towards the others. Much to my shame, I include myself in that group. You are certainly correct that my rebuke was an unkind one and I am sorry for that.

I would hope that I could disagree IN LOVE more effectively in this new year. I would hope to see that across the board, too. This world needs that sort of disagreement, but it can be hard for some of us to engage in respectful disagreements.

For my part, I'm working on it.

Bubba said...

Dan, I don't believe it's fair -- or in accord with Christian charity -- for you to suggest that I am among those who are "quick to make charges in dealing with those we disagree with."

The conclusions I've reached about your character weren't rash "spot judgments." They were the result of extremely lengthy conversations: tens if not hundreds of thousands of words exchanged over the course of literally years.

I would have preferred to conclude that our disagreements were the result of mere misunderstandings, either between each other or with what the Bible teaches. I would have loved to conclude that you're an honest man arguing in good faith about the Bible's teachings, and that you're genuinely open to correction. I've reached another conclusion -- a much worse conclusion -- not because I'm quick on the draw, but because your writing makes this the most likely conclusion.

You may not like my conclusion that you're a dishonest subversive radical whose beliefs deviate, sometimes significantly, from the clear teachings of the Bible: but to dismiss that conclusion as premature is an instance of the dishonest behavior I find so repellant.


It seems to me that you are not only less-than-honest about the speed to which I've reached the conclusions I've drawn about you, you are also less-than-honest about the content of those conclusions.

Though, this time, you do not directly attribute the charge to me, you once again invoke the accusation of "You don't love God."

In our most recent discussion, you attributed that accusation to me directly after supposedly skimming what I've written.

"It’s called 'skimming.' I look at your message and see you say, 'Dan thinks Jesus stinks… blah blah blah… Dan hates God… blah blah blah… Dan thinks THIS about Jesus [something I don’t think and isn’t true] blah blah blah…' etc. I see you making these off topic ad homenim attacks by skimming through your words, skipping down a bit further, skimming, skipping, etc.

"I find it hard to believe you’re unfamiliar with the concept.
[emphasis mine]"

I repeatedly described this summary as what it is: inexcusable, unjustifiable slander. You neither justified this charge -- because you can't; nothing I've written supports it -- nor have you apologized for it.

In the spirit of respectful disagreements where the love of Christ is visible for all to see, I urge you:

If you're going to reiterate the charge that people here have accused you of hating God, substantiate that charge.


That you refer to Christ's death as a "human sacrifice" doesn't imply that you deny His deity, but it's still clear what you're doing with that reference and the allusion to blood payments which I've never asked about: you're emphasizing that which you think makes the Bible's claims about Christ's death seem the least palatable and the most barbaric.

That's a strange thing to do for someone who thinks that Christ really did die for our sins "in a sense."

If you could explain what you mean by "in a sense," I'd appreciate it, because in lieu of a clear and credible explanation, the claim looks like a thin facade of Biblical Christianity built up to hide the radically unbiblical theology that hides behind it.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

I noticed that you immediately made assumptions about what Mom2 has in mind when asking questions of you. Where are those clarifying questions you insist we ask of you? Why is it OK for you to make these assumptions about her when you rail against the perception that we're making assumptions about you?

Also, you'll notice that Bubba has come through and asked the question yet again and that is the question I have for you as well. I've been interested in hearing your answer so as to move the discussion along and you've not been forthcoming. Bubba accurately describes the problems we have with what you loosely describe as answers to the question.

You speak of Christian love in these exchanges and I fully believe that if anyone joined in the fun at this point that they would indeed wonder where that love is. But that person were to go back and see the beginning of these exchanges that took place, lo, those many years ago, he could then see how and why it has digressed as it has. I feel confident he would now be wondering, "Jeez, Dan, why won't you just answer the freakin' question?"

It's not a matter of not liking your answer. It's a matter of you not answering at all. You say a lot, but no answer is amongst the words.

Let me qualify and clarify that a bit. We've divined the answer, but you haven't yet said it outright. So I guess my real question to you would be, "Why?" If you truly believe there is no causal connection between Christ's death and our salvation, why not just come out as say so? It would be nice to move on. And, it would be far more mature than that which you now are doing, which amounts to covering your ears and yelling, "LA LA LA, I CAN'T HEAR BUBBA!!"

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

you'll notice that Bubba has come through and asked the question yet again and that is the question I have for you as well.

Your question for me is the same as Bubba's? And that was, what, these?...

The question has been asked a number of ways. Did Christ die for our sins, or for our forgiveness, or for our justification, or for our salvation?

My answer has been provided. I believe we are saved by grace. Period.

Did Christ die for our sins, or for our forgiveness, or for our justification, or for our salvation?

Well, Christ lived and died and rose again because of God's grace, THAT is my answer to that question.

If someone asked me, WHY did Christ die? I might answer that Jesus lived and died and rose again all as part of God's abundant grace demonstrated to and for us.

THAT IS my answer to that question.

If someone asked me, Did Jesus die for our sins? I might answer, Jesus lived and died and rose again as a way of demonstrating God's grace to and for us, to show us that the way of sin is a way of death and destruction, but the way of God is the way of life. So, there might be a sense in which one can say that Jesus lived and died for our sins, inasmuch as Jesus lived and died and rose again as a way of offering an alternative to the life of sin and destruction. We need not live a life of sin and death, Jesus life and death tell us.

In THAT sense, yes, one could say that Jesus died for our sins.

We are forgiven by God's grace, but that grace is demonstrated by Jesus life, death and resurrection, so there is a sense in which one can say that Jesus' died for our forgiveness, in that Jesus' coming to live amongst us and his death were all a part of God's grace imparted to/lived out amongst us.

I've answered these questions in various ways to try to show what my belief is. Once again, just because you don't like my answer is not to say that it is not an answer to the question. It is MY answer to that question.

If you're wondering about this question...

Is there a causal connection between His death and our salvation?

I've answered this often before, too. Yes, there is a causal connection between Jesus death and our salvation, inasmuch as Jesus' life and death were all an acting out and demonstration of God's grace to us, which is what saves us. We are saved by grace and Jesus' life and death are a part of that grace so in that sense, yes there is a causal connection.

Answered and re-answered. And yet, will that be enough of an answer for you?

How about this: What WOULD satisfy you as an answer?

When Jesus was confronted by the pharisees, he refused to give a yes/no answer to at least one of their questions. We need not always give one word answers. And, if MY belief is not aptly answered with a one word answer, why MUST I answer with a one word answer?

Can I not have my own opinion and answer in the way that best reflects my actual belief?

I mean, I could say yes or no all day but that would not tell you as much about my beliefs as a detailed and full explanation, right?

Since I believe there is a sense in which the answer to the "causal connection" is Yes, if it makes you feel better, then my answer is Yes. How's that?

Dan Trabue said...

I noticed that you immediately made assumptions about what Mom2 has in mind when asking questions of you. Where are those clarifying questions you insist we ask of you?

Mom2 has a history of drive by sniping and slander, in which she famously ignores questions. I responded in what seemed like the most appropriate way to me at the time. Perhaps I was too harsh, but if she can't engage in adult-style conversations, perhaps she shouldn't say anything at all. OR, as my REAL Mom says, if she can't say something nice, perhaps she shouldn't say anything at all.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

Let me qualify and clarify that a bit. We've divined the answer, but you haven't yet said it outright. So I guess my real question to you would be, "Why?" If you truly believe there is no causal connection between Christ's death and our salvation, why not just come out as say so?

Because that is not what I believe. You have "divined" the wrong answer. In a sense, YES, there is a causal connection. But if you're asking are we saved by human (or, if you prefer God/Human) sacrifice, then no, we are not saved by that. We are saved by God's Grace, which is shown in Jesus' life and death.

THAT is my answer - yes AND/OR no, depending on what you mean by the question, which is why I give larger answers. I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are able to read an answer that is more than one word and make sense of it.

I think part of our problem is that some Christians are entirely capable of seeing shades of meaning and depths of answers and some seem less able to see beyond black/white.

Some of us can see that there is Truth in THIS statement AND in THAT statement, while some insist, "No! There is only truth in THIS statement, but none in THAT statement."

So, I am hesitant to say, "No, there is no causal connection between Jesus' death and our forgiveness," because I can fully understand that there is a sense in which there is. And I am hesitant to say, "Yes, there is a causal connection between Jesus' death and our forgiveness," because it can be a loaded question.

And so I clarify. Do you really think that people who clarify their answers are NOT giving answers? It sometimes comes across that way, which is part of why some on the left-ish side give up on communicating with some on the right-ish side of things.

An answer given with depth of content is not NOT an answer, merely because it's not yes or no.

Marshall Art said...

"Since I believe there is a sense in which the answer to the "causal connection" is Yes, if it makes you feel better, then my answer is Yes."

Fine. Perhaps you could now explain that connection for me. Frankly, what you've said thus far does not really conform with either Scripture or Christ's own words, but I'll put that aside if you can now explain that causal connection. What was the point of Christ's death and how is it connected to our salvation?

Bubba said...

Dan, it seems to me that everything you write points to a clear denial of the claim that Jesus died for our sins: what continues to perplex, unless I'm right that it's deliberate, is your unwillingness to be more forthright about it.

If torrential rains caused my garden to grow and your roof to leak, there's still no direct causal relationship between the two: my growing garden didn't cause your leaky roof, and your roof's leak didn't cause my garden's growth.

Likewise, what you seem to be saying is that there's no direct causal relationship between Christ's death and our salvation.

You believe that God's grace causes our salvation, that "we are saved by grace. Period."

And you believe that God's grace caused Christ's death, that "Jesus lived and died and rose again all as part of God's abundant grace demonstrated to and for us."

But what you deny is that Christ's death caused our salvation.

You could have made this absolutely clear long ago if your interest was in being clear. Instead, it seems like your chief concern isn't making your beliefs as clear as possible, but making them appear as orthodox as possible.


You write:

"If someone asked me, Did Jesus die for our sins? I might answer, Jesus lived and died and rose again as a way of demonstrating God's grace to and for us, to show us that the way of sin is a way of death and destruction, but the way of God is the way of life. So, there might be a sense in which one can say that Jesus lived and died for our sins, inasmuch as Jesus lived and died and rose again as a way of offering an alternative to the life of sin and destruction. We need not live a life of sin and death, Jesus life and death tell us.

"In THAT sense, yes, one could say that Jesus died for our sins.
"

But, if Jesus' death didn't cause our forgiveness, in what way is His death "a way of offering an alternative to the life of sin and destruction"? It offers no such thing if it's not responsible for the salvation from sin and destruction.

"We need not live a life of sin and death, Jesus life and death tell us."

That's not what the Bible teaches. The Bible doesn't merely teach that the Crucifixion communicates that salvation is available: it teaches that the Crucifixion is what makes it available.

Christ's death is what makes the offer of salvation possible, not merely what announces or accompanies the offer, much less that it's a mere demonstration of the divine love that motivated the offer.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

"We are forgiven by God's grace, but that grace is demonstrated by Jesus life, death and resurrection, so there is a sense in which one can say that Jesus' died for our forgiveness, in that Jesus' coming to live amongst us and his death were all a part of God's grace imparted to/lived out amongst us."

Dan, by that argument, ALL OF GOD'S BLESSINGS were for our forgiveness.

"We are forgiven by God's grace, but that grace is demonstrated by [pleasant weather], so there is a sense in which one can say that [God gave us good weather] for our forgiveness," etc.

That sort of use of the phrase that Christ died for our sins is a radical departure from what the Bible teaches and what Christians subsequently believe.

We don't believe that Christ's death is just one of many demonstrations of God's saving grace. It is instead that unique demonstration of grace that actually saves.

This is why -- contrary to your claim that, in the eucharist, we celebrate Christ's life and teachings and death -- the Bible is clear that when we partake we proclaim HIS DEATH.

It's why Paul claimed to preach CHRIST CRUCIFIED.

And it's why, when Jesus Himself instituted the one regular ordinance for members of the church He founded, it was focused on His death -- on His shed blood which was for the forgiveness of sins, according to His own teaching.


Suppose a man loved his daughter.

Because of his love for her, he bought her a piano and lessons.

Because of his love for her, he bought her a pony, saddle, and further lessons.

And, because of his love for her, he threw her a life line with a preserver on the end, after she fell overboard from their sailboat.

He saved her from drowning.

He did so because of his love -- or, to use a synonym, his GRACE.

His grace alone saved her, apart from any instructions or mercenary motives about avoiding police investigations into her drowning.

But it's also true that the lifeline saved her from drowning: it not only was a manifestation of his love -- which it was -- it was that precise manifestation that saved her.

It sure wasn't the piano or the pony that saved her from drowning.

It was the father's grace -- because that's what motivated him -- but it was also the lifeline, because that's what the father used to do the actual saving.

Consider the question, is there a causal connection between the lifeline and the daughter's being saved from drowning?

Of course there is -- there's a direct and obvious connection -- but if we were to apply your logic to this question, you would say that the answer is "yes" ONLY in the sense that there's the SAME connection between her salvation and the pony, or her salvation and the piano: the piano, the pony, and the lifeline are all demonstrations of the father's grace, and she saved by that grace -- "period" -- as if admitting the role of the lifeline were to diminish the role of grace.

That would be a bizarre way to answer that hypothetical question -- and certainly not evidence of a desire to clarify things -- and it's equally bizaree when applied to theology.

"An answer given with depth of content is not NOT an answer, merely because it's not yes or no."

But a lengthy answer isn't proof of a genuine desire to clarify, Dan.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

but I'll put that aside if you can now explain that causal connection. What was the point of Christ's death and how is it connected to our salvation?

I've answered it just today (and many times before, I believe). Here it is again, and I quote:

"In THAT sense, yes, one could say that Jesus died for our sins.

We are forgiven by God's grace, but that grace is demonstrated by Jesus life, death and resurrection, so there is a sense in which one can say that Jesus' died for our forgiveness, in that Jesus' coming to live amongst us and his death were all a part of God's grace imparted to/lived out amongst us."


In yet other words, we are saved by God's Grace, a point which we all agree upon.

God DEMONSTRATED that Grace - that Gift - by coming to live amongst us and teaching us and showing us a better Way. Our salvation is CAUSED by God's grace and God's Grace CAUSED God to come live amongst us, showing us the way and that self-same grace in our sinful midst eventually CAUSED his death, because we could not abide that message of love, grace and justice, so the powers that be killed him and even Jesus' own followers turned their backs on him in his hour of abandonment.

Our salvation is CAUSED by God's grace and God's grace CAUSED Jesus to come live amongst us which CAUSED Jesus' death. There is a causal connection between the grace by which we are saved and the death of Christ and our forgiveness. But the ultimate CAUSE is grace, the grace of God which starts the whole ball rolling.

Bubba said...

Of course, one big difference between an earthly father and God is God's omniscience. God can accomplish anything by literally fiat -- by "speaking it" into existence.

But it doesn't follow that, just because God could save us by fiat, He actually does, and it's certainly not the case that that's what the Bible teaches.

Salvation by fiat is possible with God's power, but it's not compatible with His holy character: it doesn't account for the death we all deserve as the just penalty for sin, and a fiat declaration that sinners are justified is a capricious act that we would neither want nor expect from the Creator.

Not only that, salvation by fiat -- where God "just does" forgive and justify us -- doesn't actually explain how Christ's death is a manifestation of God's grace.

Christ's death IS a result of God's love is that death was absolutely necessary for saving us without compromising God's character. But if it doesn't save us, if it doesn't actually result in our forgiveness, how is it a sign of God's love?

If a soldier jumps on a live grenade to save his friends' lives, that's a noble act of love. But if he jumps on the live grenade when no one's life is at stake, he may well do it out of love for his friends, but that love's psychotic: sacrifices great or small are genuine acts of love ONLY if they accomplish something.

Salvation by fiat also doesn't explain the anguish in Gethsemane or the cry of dereliction on the cross, two matters you've hardly acknowledged, much less addressed.

But again, most crucially, it doesn't explain what happens to the punishment we justly deserve because we are sinners.


The Bible is clear: God's grace sent Christ to the cross, and His death is directly responsible for our forgiveness, our justification, our salvation. This doctrine resolves all the problems listed above.

Where is God's love in the cross? It was the only just way to justify us, and the Father loved us so much that He freely sent His Son to the cross, and the Son loved us so much that He freely went. God loves us so much that He doesn't cut corners: He forgives us ONLY in a way that satisfies His own holy righteousness.

Wherefore the anguish? Christ experienced anguish, not merely because He faced even a torturous death (else He's a coward compared to many martyrs who've died in His name), but because His death was much, much more: it was an endurance of the punishment we deserved and which He didn't.

Wherefore the cry of dereliction? What is incomprehensible to us, actually happened. Christ the Son was actually separated from the Father, because the holy Father cannot look upon sin but Christ became sin for our sakes.

And what happened to the penalty of sin? It hasn't been forgotten or cast aside: Jesus Christ Himself paid that penalty.

You may find that claim unpalatable and even offensive, but it fits much better with what the Bible teaches and it doesn't leave any dangling threads the way your position does.

It is what the Bible teaches, in fact, and so if an honorable man rejects the claim that Christ's death directly caused our forgiveness, he would cease to claim to love and revere all that the Bible teaches.

He would probably stop calling himself a Christian, because the claim that Christ died for our sins is central, essential, and a bit of a deal-breaker: it's in what may be the oldest Christian creed (in I Cor 15), and it's ingrained in the ordination that Christ Himself instituted.

Dan Trabue said...

You also asked, What was the POINT of Jesus' death? Well, he came to pour out his life sacrificially, to live amongst the least of us and to call us to join in God's Realm. This sacrificially-given and lived life resulted in a political prisoner's execution.

One point of the death, as Jesus says, is that we might be expected to be treated in that same way, when we follow in His footsteps, but follow in those footsteps we ought to do, nonetheless.

Jesus' life was a life of example: HERE is the way to live. Jesus' life is one of invitation: You are invited to join in my realm.

As Jesus said...

"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?"

An invitation to a radical new kingdom. One which makes room for the least of these. One in which the first are last and the last are first. One in which, in order to save your life, you must be prepared to lose it - as Jesus himself showed us by his example. One in which you must enter like a child. One in which there is plenty for all.

A realm in which the "obvious" ones might not even be there (the rich, the powerful, the religious) and yet in which there is room for the worst sinners.

And, in preparing his followers for this realm, he lived this sacrificial life, leading to his death and warned his followers...

You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers.

His life and death were a moral example for us to show us the Way, as the Bible tells us repeatedly.

And yes, the Bible ALSO tells us that Jesus died to pay for our sins and I think there is some truth in that view of atonement, as well. Just not literally true (ie, he didn't LITERALLY pay his life or his blood to literally purchase our forgiveness. Our forgiveness comes by God's grace, not by some human/God sacrifice.)

Bubba said...

Dan, you show that I completely understand your position.

"Our salvation is CAUSED by God's grace and God's grace CAUSED Jesus to come live amongst us which CAUSED Jesus' death. There is a causal connection between the grace by which we are saved and the death of Christ and our forgiveness. But the ultimate CAUSE is grace, the grace of God which starts the whole ball rolling."

Look at that first sentence again:

"Our salvation is CAUSED by God's grace and God's grace CAUSED Jesus to come live amongst us which CAUSED Jesus' death."

There are two or three claims here.

1) Our salvation is caused by God's grace.

2) God's grace caused Jesus' Incarnation, which caused His death -- we can abbreviate this with, "God's grace caused Christ's death."

Let's convert that "is caused by" with the simpler "caused" to create a parallel order between the two staements, where "CAUSE caused EFFECT."

1) God's grace caused our salvation.

2) God's grace caused Christ's death.

So here we see that you really don't believe that there's a direct causal relationship between the two, between our salvation and Christ's death. The relationship is indirect.


It's as if you believe...

I) The rain caused my garden to grow.

II) The rain caused your roof to leak.

...and are now claiming a causal connection between my growing garden and your leaky roof. The connection is indirect.


Or, it's as if you believe...

One) The father's love caused him to give her a pony.

Two) The father's love caused him to save her from drowning.

...and are now saying that there's a causal relationship between that pony and the daughter's rescue from drowning. The relationship is ONLY indirect.


And, so, saying that "in a sense" Christ died for our sins is as sensible and forthright as saying the following:

III) In a sense, your leaky roof caused my garden to grow.

Three) In a sense, that pony saved the girl from drowning.

These are statements that are not true in any sense that would be used by reasonable people who are actually trying to make themselves clear.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

It's as if you believe...

I) The rain caused my garden to grow.

II) The rain caused your roof to leak.


Only if you choose to take it that way. It could also be like...

I) the rain caused the ground to be wet.

II) the wet ground caused the garden to grow.

Therefore, there is a causal relation between rain and growing gardens, which is true.

There is a direct causal relation between God's grace and Jesus' death and our salvation. Do you really disagree?

Dan Trabue said...

And, regardless if YOU think there is a causal relation between God's grace and our salvation, I do, and so it is part of my direct answer to the questions asked of me.

Once again, that you don't agree with or understand my answer is not in any way a suggestion that I have not truthfully offered my position on the question.

Bubba said...

Once again, the bait and switch.

"There is a direct causal relation between God's grace and Jesus' death and our salvation. Do you really disagree?"

Of course I don't, but that's not what's being discussed.

My position is that you deny the direct causal relationship between Christ's death and our salvation: that seems obvious, but here you re-introduce a third term -- God's grace -- to obscure that fact.

You clearly believe that there's a direct relation between God's grace and Christ's death, and between God's grace and our salvation, BUT NOT BETWEEN CHRIST'S DEATH AND OUR SALVATION.

"Our salvation is CAUSED by God's grace and God's grace CAUSED Jesus to come live amongst us which CAUSED Jesus' death."

And:

"My answer has been provided. I believe we are saved by grace. Period.

"Did Christ die for our sins, or for our forgiveness, or for our justification, or for our salvation?

"Well, Christ lived and died and rose again because of God's grace, THAT is my answer to that question.
"


You're NOT connecting the three into a simple chain, one after the other:

God's grace => Christ's death => our forgivness

THAT would be like saying, the rain caused the ground to be wet, and the wet ground caused the garden to grow.

Instead, your position appears to be:

God's grace => Christ's death

God's grace => our forgiveness

That DOES deny the direct causal relationship between Christ's death and our forgiveness, and you continue to obfuscate about that.


"And, regardless if YOU think there is a causal relation between God's grace and our salvation, I do, and so it is part of my direct answer to the questions asked of me."

1) I do, and I don't appreciate any insinuation to the contrary.

2) It's complete bullshit that that's why you keep introducing God's grace. Faith is just as important, and you have no problem affirming that we're saved by faith BUT NOT INCLUDING THE CONCEPT WHEN QUESTIONS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

I have even asked before, are we saved by God's grace AND Christ's death, or God's grace but NOT Christ's death -- a question that accounts for God's grace, because we both affirm that we're saved by grace -- and you didn't answer that question simply, either.

Let's try it again.

I absolutely agree that we are saved by God's grace.

Are we saved by God's grace AND Christ's death? Or are we saved by God's grace BUT NOT Christ's death?

"We are saved by God's grace and Christ's death."

"We are saved by God's grace but not Christ's death."

One of those you ought to be able to affirm clearly, unambiguously, and without any qualification.

Let's see what new reasons you come up with for continuing to avoid a straight answer.

Bubba said...

Dan, you write, "His life and death were a moral example for us to show us the Way, as the Bible tells us repeatedly."

Um, where?

In Mark 10:45, Jesus didn't teach that He came to give His life as an example for many, but as a ransom.

In Matthew 26:28, Jesus didn't teach that His blood was shed as an example for saints, but for the forgiveness of sins.

You didn't point to one passage that actually teaches that Christ's death was a "moral example" rather than a substitutionary death for our salvation.


You close with another statement that you really should clarify.

"And yes, the Bible ALSO tells us that Jesus died to pay for our sins and I think there is some truth in that view of atonement, as well. Just not literally true (ie, he didn't LITERALLY pay his life or his blood to literally purchase our forgiveness. Our forgiveness comes by God's grace, not by some human/God sacrifice.)"

(Again, you introduce payment imagery that makes the issue less clear.)

There is "some truth" in that view?

What truth? You deny -- clearly but not forthrightly -- that Christ's death caused our forgiveness, so what truth is in the view that it did just that? If that view isn't literally true, how is it even figuratively true?

If Christ's death is only indirectly related to our forgiveness, in that both are caused by God's grace, how is it even partially and figuratively true that Christ died for our sins?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Regarding your 3PM response to Bubba, your bit about wet ground does not equate to Bubba's analogy regarding your explanation. And once again, there's very little in the way of misinterpreting your meaning that isn't a result of your own words.

"...regardless if YOU think there is a causal relation between God's grace and our salvation..."

No one was arguing this, so once again you show YOUR inability to apprehend meaning by presenting words we never said or even implied. We spoke of the causal relationship between Christ's death and our salvation specifically. It was not posed to you whether or not "There is a direct causal relation between God's grace and Jesus' death and our salvation." It was plainly and clearly asked if you believe there is a causal relationship between Christ's death and our salvation.

As has been said time and time again, Jesus himself spoke of His death as being for the forgiveness of sins. We all agree that God can forgive on the least of His whims. What we're talking about is what He actually did as described in the Bible. And THAT is that Christ's death CAUSED our salvation, our being forgiven our sins, our ability to benefit of God's grace. YOUR OWN WORDS do not support this directly. YOUR OWN WORDS suggest that Christ's death was unnecessary and totally unrelated to our salvation and our being forgiven our sins.

Indeed, if we speak of Christ's purpose for His existence, what we can dispense with most is His life, but not His death. It can be said, in my opinion, that what Christ did during His life was simply what He did UNTIL He sacrificed Himself to save us from God's wrath. In other words, He wasn't sent to give us the Sermon on the Mount. He gave us the Sermon on the Mount on the way to doing what He was sent to do, which was to be the perfect atoning sacrifice that saves us from our sins.

Dan Trabue said...

Dan, you write, "His life and death were a moral example for us to show us the Way, as the Bible tells us repeatedly."

Um, where?


[The rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to be saved]

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Mark 10:20-21

"After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him"

Luke 5

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."

1 Peter 2:21

"You must follow me."

John 21:22

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."

1 Cor 11:1

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:9-10

"you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly."

1 Tim 4:6-7

For example. Do you really think that Jesus' life and death and teachings are not laid out as moral examples for us?

Bubba said...

Dan, I don't believe that Christ's death was MERELY an example for us: the Bible is clear that His death is the cause of our forgiveness, justification, and salvation.

I think you continue to misuse -- and completely miss the point of -- Jesus' encounter with the rich young ruler. The young man wasn't saved by his works, the disciples realized (correctly) that we're all in trouble ("who then can be saved?") and Christ taught salvation by God's grace rather than man's accomplishments: what is possible for man is possible for God.

I've pointed this all out before.

And, indeed, Christ commanded, "Follow me," but it doesn't imply A) that salvation comes from obedience, which would be works-based salvation; or B) that salvation DOESN'T come from Christ's death.

Even the IMMEDIATE context of some of what you quote asserts the saving power of Christ's death.

You quote I Peter 2:21, but look at verse 24, just three verses later.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."

(I've pointed THIS out before, too; it aggrevates me to no end that you repeat BAD arguments.)

You quote Ephesians 2:9-10, but the same letter teaches that we have redemption through the blood of Christ (1:7); that Gentiles have been made near by His blood (2:13); and that Jews and Gentiles have been reconciled in one body by the cross (2:16).

You quote I Timothy 4:6-7, but in the same letter we learn that there is one mediator, Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all (2:5-6).

You even quote I Corinthians 11:1, but in that same chapter, Paul taught that we partake of the bread and the cup to proclaim the Lord's death until His return (11:26). In the same letter, Paul claimed to preach Christ crucified (1:23), because Christ died for our sins (15:3).


Indeed, Christ commanded us to follow Him, but it doesn't follow that we're saved by our obedience.

Indeed, His life serves as an example, but it doesn't follow that His death doesn't secure our forgiveness.

You haven't pointed to a single passage that suggests that Christ didn't literally die for our sins -- that our salvation isn't caused by Christ's death. You can't do so, because none exists.

You're prooftexting, Dan, taking passages out of context to make them say the opposite of that context; and making them say more than what they say to make them contradict the Bible's clear teachings about Christ's death and our salvation.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said...

You quote I Peter 2:21, but look at verse 24, just three verses later.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."

(I've pointed THIS out before, too; it aggrevates me to no end that you repeat BAD arguments.)...


and...

Indeed, Christ commanded us to follow Him, but it doesn't follow that we're saved by our obedience.

Indeed, His life serves as an example, but it doesn't follow that His death doesn't secure our forgiveness.


And yet again, I fully understand that YOU DISAGREE with my interpretation and take on these passages. I fully understand that you disagree with my opinion.

But that does not change the fact that I hold my opinion and do so sincerely, not cynically, in my sincere effort to follow the Christ of the Bible. That you hold a different opinion does not mean I can't in good faith and good conscience hold MY opinion.

Yes, Christ calls us to follow him and that does not mean we're saved by our obedience. Instead, we are saved by God's grace. And being saved by God's grace frees us to follow in the steps of Jesus and that following in Jesus' steps is evidence of that same grace which saves us and by which we are being saved.

You are free to hold a different hunch, but that does not mean that I don't have my opinion and that I have not answered your question in a way that I find most biblical, Godly, moral and logical.

You are always free to disagree with my opinion, but you can't rationally say that I don't hold my opinion. That would be ridiculous. And to get all huffy about it and mean-spirited about it, calling my opinion bullshit and suggesting that I don't hold it at all or that I am merely holding that it for cynical reasons, not out of a sincere desire to follow God, well, that is simply not of Christ.

You're free to do so, but it is not in the Christian tradition as found in the Bible.

In my opinion.

4simpsons said...

Bubba, you are a saint for pointing out so many of Dan's deceptions. He works hard at masking them, but does tip his hand if you keep him writing long enough.

Marshall Art said...

"...but you can't rationally say that I don't hold my opinion."

That's good since we don't. The question is how could you hold those positions when shown repeatedly how poorly derived they are. And again, any huffiness perceived is that which is provoked by your manner of discussion.


This actually illustrates what happens on these here blogs between right and left. You are actually engaging in the very behavior that makes such engagement so frustrating. You have an opinion. No kidding. You are totally content with your opinion. No kidding. Indeed, that is just fine as far as it goes. But matched against another opinion there is immmediately a question of which is more accurate/true/factual/reasonable/sensible/etc. This is inescapable and to say that it is OK for two parties to cling to disparate opinions or views is not in itself wrong, but for one of the two it is unfortunate and possibly harmful to continue to do so.

Look at it this way: You ignore, as Bubba points out, verses that support what we're saying about Christ's death, and you have to in order to cling to your belief. We, on the other hand, cannot "convert" to your way of thinking with those verses looming over our heads. In a nutshell, you've formed your opinion by willfully choosing to ignore such verses or diminish their importance when the writer (or speaker if it's Christ's words) obviously thinks otherwise by the constant repetition of the dogma. Indeed, you put great stock in your belief regarding God's concern for the materially poor by virtue of number of verses you think justifies it. Yet, clearly the concept of our salvation and the forgiveness for our sins as a result of Christ's death is stated over and over again.

There truly is, then, only two possibilities for your resolve. 1) You don't give Scripture the respect and devotion you say or think you do, or 2) You are just really bad at understanding Scripture, both in your attempts to do so as well as the conclusions that result.

Both positions cannot be correct. On one level, whether one's salvation is at stake isn't even a concern. More immediate is why you'd want to continue to believe that which is wrong?

continued---

Marshall Art said...

continuing---

Side A and B have offered their opinions. Both sides have tried to justifty their position through the use of Scripture. One side has long ago run out of support. That would be you, Dan. This is supported by your last comments which you like to use at this point, that we THINK we know better but you simply don't agree. Again, this point is moot. It is not an issue. Neither is your right to believe what you want to believe.

But there is the issue of whether one Christian can call out another on the other's poor understanding. It seems a duty to me. Others think that duty only goes so far. I feel that if a bad opinion is continually put forth so that some might find it worthy of adoption, I just have to continue to point out just how bad it is so that others don't suffer. For my part, that would include calling a bad opinion a stupid opinion if I think it is so and I don't see that as a bad thing. It isn't done for the purpose of insulting the one who holds the opinion, but to wake him up to the truth that it is stupid.

Of course one feels insulted to have one's opinion labelled "stupid". "If they call my opinion 'stupid', then they must think I'M stupid!" Anyone can be fooled or mistaken. Stupid is clinging to the opinion which one is fooled or mistaken in adopting.

But the lefty will demonize the opponent rather than consider conversion because it's easier to do that than to make the change. OR, the lefty will plead for tolerance of differing opinions, as if all opinions are of equal worth. That's really kinda conceited.

I find it truly fascinating that people like Dan will so strongly cling to that which seems so obviously wrong in view of objective observation, and has so overwhelmingly been proven so without equal quantity of rebuttal evidence.

This is why conservatives see libs as dealing in something other than reality. They'll always throw that back and say it is conservatives who do that, but they won't hang around to try to prove it.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

No kidding. You are totally content with your opinion. No kidding. Indeed, that is just fine as far as it goes. But matched against another opinion there is immmediately a question of which is more accurate/true/factual/reasonable/sensible/etc.

Yes, that is true. YOU think your position is more reasonable and I think my opinion is more reasonable/biblical/sensible, etc.

It's called a difference of opinion. And that's okay as far as it goes.

But then you have brothers in Christ - co-members in the body of Christ - like Neil and Bubba who say NOT that they merely disagree with me but who indicate that I am deliberately being deceptive, that I don't ACTUALLY hold my position, but rather that I am trying to deceive people for some sinister reasons.

THAT is why people don't like talking to some conservatives, why some conservatives chase people away from the body of Christ because their Christianity is so ugly and mean-spirited and arrogant. If that's Christianity, who wants it?

Marshall said...

Look at it this way: You ignore, as Bubba points out, verses that support what we're saying about Christ's death, and you have to in order to cling to your belief.

No, I don't "ignore" them. I disagree with your interpretation of them. THAT's the difference. I fully recognize that you disagree with my interpretation (and in general, the anabaptist - or at least Mennonite - interpretation) of these passages. I'm not saying that you are being deceptive or that your position is bullshit. Merely mistaken, in my opinion.

As fellow humans, we can be mistaken. In fact, I can guarantee it. That happens and most people recognize it.

In fact, it is a key component of the Calvinist tradition you all seem to fit in to - the utter depravity of humanity. And yet, in spite of your own tradition which FULLY and actively supports the notion of the depravity of humanity, you all tend to think that means, "the utter depravity of humanity... EXCEPT for me and those who agree with me, we tend to be the only ones who are absolutely correct and you all really ought to heed what WE say, cuz, you know, you're depraved and all..."

People find that sort of arrogance ugly and off-putting as hell and just don't want to have much to do with you. It's why so many faith traditions are becoming increasingly irrelevant. If people won't even listen to you, what chance do you have of helping folk hear the good news? (or what passes as "good news" amongst you all - which tends to sound more like bad news)?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

This is why conservatives see libs as dealing in something other than reality. They'll always throw that back and say it is conservatives who do that, but they won't hang around to try to prove it.

Again, that is YOUR opinion. I think we have fully done a good job in general of hanging around and proving it.

For instance, the whole "babies are utterly depraved thing," you all have never supported such a position. We all agree that all of humanity has inherited a sinful nature - ie, the bent to sin, the tendency towards sinning.

However, most in the more calvinist camp like to insist that babies are sinners, guilty of something. But being "sinners" means something - that they have committed sins - by definition. Being "guilty" means something - that they have committed a wrong action.

This position flies in the face of obvious reality and when some in your camp keep clinging to such language, calling even babes utterly depraved and guilty and deserving of death, then you have removed yourselves from reality and real world language usage and when you insist that anyone who doesn't agree with that position is being deceptive or stupid, then you come across not only as wrong and mistaken, but arrogant and ugly in your error.

We've hung around long enough to see that you all tend to have nothing to respond to in this area and, being met only with what seems to be arrogance and rejection of reality and that, in an ugly, hostile way, well, no, people don't tend to hang around or want to engage in further conversation with you.

You find that surprising?

Bubba said...

Dan, it's clear what you believe, and I have no dout that what you believe, you believe sincerely.

But I don't think it's always true that you're forthright about what you believe, that you're honest about why you believe it, and that you're honest in dealing with the beliefs of those with whom you disagree.

I have no doubt that you sincerely believe that Christ's death does not directly cause our salvation, but since the Bible is clear that Christ taught precisely that -- that He came to give His life as a ransom (Mk 10:45), and that His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:28) -- I'm extremely skeptical about your claim that your position is evidence of a "sincere effort to follow the Christ of the Bible."

But all that's a digression in regards to my use of the word "bullshit."

What I called bull on, wasn't everything you've written, but one very specific thing in particular: your stated reason for why you keep re-introducing the concept of God's grace and thereby muddying the waters of what we're discussing and answering questions that aren't EXACTLY what I'm asking.

"And, regardless if YOU think there is a causal relation between God's grace and our salvation, I do, and so it is part of my direct answer to the questions asked of me." [emphasis mine]

I've repeatedly accounted for God's grace, agreeing that God's grace saves us and conceding that you believe in salvation by grace.

I'll do so again.

Dan:

1) "We are saved by God's grace AND Christ's death."

2) "We are saved by God's grace BUT NOT Christ's death."

Which of these two options best describes your beliefs?

If you believe that we are saved by Christ's death only "in a sense," explain in what possible sense Christ's death saves us if not that it is causally responsible for our forgiveness and justification.

And, explain how there could be a figurative causal relationship between Christ's death and our salvation, if there is no direct and literal relationship.


An event could be figuratively described -- "Lincoln kicked the bucket" instead of "Lincoln died" -- but the causal relationship between two events MUST be literal, if it exists at all. If there's a causal relationship between Booth's firing his gun and Lincoln's passing away, that relationship must be literal.

I can't think of any two events where a causal relationship holds, not literally but only figuratively, and here all I've been trying to discuss is whether a direct causal relationship exists between two events:

1) Jesus Christ's death on the cross.

2) Our salvation from sin.

If you don't think one literally caused the other, then your answer to all my questions should be no: No, Christ didn't die for our sins; no, there isn't a causal relationship between His death and our salvation; no, His death didn't cause our forgiveness.

What you've been doing is attaching figurative language about blood payments to Event #1 in order to avoid providing a clear answer: writing that you believe Christ died for our sins "in a sense" but that His blood wasn't used as a literal payment.

SINCE I'M NOT SUGGESTING THAT IT WAS, AN ANSWER LIKE THIS IS A DIGRESSION AND DISTRACTION. And if you can't explain what you mean by "in a sense," then I'm inclined to conclude that the phrase is being used to obscure what you really believe.

Dan Trabue said...

Dan:

1) "We are saved by God's grace AND Christ's death."

2) "We are saved by God's grace BUT NOT Christ's death."

Which of these two options best describes your beliefs?


What part of "Neither" are you failing to understand? NEITHER of those represent my position.

My position is that we are saved by God's grace alone and that grace is made evident in Christ's life and death. That IS my position, not one or the other.

Bubba...

And if you can't explain what you mean by "in a sense," then I'm inclined to conclude that the phrase is being used to obscure what you really believe.

How many times would it take for me to explain what I mean by that term in order to satisfy you? The first few seem not to have taken hold, yet, so why would explaining what I mean by it again make a difference?

In this thread, I've explained it here...

"Therefore, yes, in a sense Jesus died for our sins. In the sense that his whole life, his teachings, his Way of living, his death and his resurrection was a sacrificial pouring out of God's Self to, with and amongst us, and indeed, for us."

and here...

"In a sense, YES, there is a causal connection. But if you're asking are we saved by human (or, if you prefer God/Human) sacrifice, then no, we are not saved by that. We are saved by God's Grace, which is shown in Jesus' life and death."

When I say "in a sense," here, I mean it as in "in a sense, God died for our sins in that Jesus' WHOLE life and death and resurrection are all part and parcel of the grace by which we are saved."

So, there are at least two examples where I've answered that question in this very thread, not even bothering to go back and see how many times I may have answered that before.

Jesus came to earth by God's grace, to show us the Way, by God's grace, living with and amongst us, by God's grace, inviting us to follow in his steps, by God's grace, dying and inviting us to take up our cross, by God's grace, dying to self, in order to be saved now and forevermore by God's grace.

It's all one story and that story is one of God's great love and grace, by which we are saved. So, I don't see any sense in separating out Jesus' death as NOT being part of that story of grace by which we are saved.

Yes, Jesus lived AND died for us, for our sins, for our souls, for our sake, all as part of God's grace.

Is that answer an "answer" yet in your mind, or is it more obfuscation? How can it be obfuscation when I am merely stating my opinion? Obfuscation (as you claim more than once) and deception (which both you and Neil falsely charged me with) which implies a deliberate attempt to mislead.

In fact, in the real world, in God's own Truth, there is no attempt to mislead in my statements where I explain my position, just my answer.

Which leads us back to the point of Marshall's post: People don't like you all and don't care to have conversations with you all because they find you to be hypocritical, whiny, nitpicky, slanderous, arrogant pharisees (with apologies to all the decent pharisees out there). It is not enough for there to be a disagreement ("I don't think that's a reasonable explanation for that passage..."), rather, there must be petty, small-minded, nitpicky complaints and accusations ("deception," "obfuscation," "not a Christian," "false christian," etc, etc).

Get over yourselves, friends. We are saved by God's grace. Show some of that grace towards your brothers and sisters.

Marshall Art said...

I offer the following lengthy copy and paste from WikiAnswers to support the notion put forward of the causal relation between Christ's death and the forgiveness of sins:

The reason Jesus came to Earth was to give his life as a "ransom." - (Mat 20:28 "even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.") When Adam sinned, he condemned all his children (us) to sin and death. - (Rom 5:12 T"herefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed on all men inasmuch as all sinned") The sin we inherited includes a wage, or payment of 'death'. But Jesus life paid for our right to life. - (Rom 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.") This process was demonstrated when an animal's blood paid for daily sins in Israel's Temple. But those animal sacrifices didn't do the job completely. - (Heb 10:1-3 "For the Law which has a shadow of good things to come, not the very image of the things, appearing year by year with the same sacrifices, which they offer continually, they are never able to perfect those drawing near. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because the worshipers, when they had been once for all purged, would have had no more conscience of sin. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again of sins every year.") Each animal sacrifice forgave sins temporarily. Jesus sacrifice provided a permanent forgiveness of sins. - (Heb 10:14 "For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified." ) And, instead of a 'high priest' entering the temple with animal blood, Christ became his own 'high priest when he was resurrected. He went directly to God in heaven with the blood. (Heb 9:12 "nor by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered once for all into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us.")(Heb 9:24-26 "For Christ has not entered into the Holy of Holies made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. 25 Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, even as the high priest enters into the Holy of Holies every year with the blood of others 26 (for then He must have suffered often since the foundation of the world), but now once in the end of the world He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.")

Don't much see what is arrogant in doing so, where there is any hypocrisy in doing so or how it is small-minded, nitpicky or petty in doing so. Only one Christian hoping to correct and instruct another with evidence from Scripture.

If our sins are not forgiven, we are not saved. Christ died so that our sins will be forgiven. Thus, there is a direct causal relationship between His death and our forgiveness. His death had purpose. His birth and life was necessary to get Him to the death part for which He was born. But He was not born for the forgiveness of sins, nor did He live for the forgiveness of sins (though he did forgive during His ministry), but He died so that ALL would be forgiven and have eternal life. This is an important distinction, Dan, between what we're saying and what YOU'RE saying. There is no Scripture that I can think of that states any other means by which we are forgiven. To simply say that we are saved by Grace is incomplete. You have NOT shown otherwise because, as Bubba points out so well, your use of Scripture is always either incomplete or pathetically poorly understood.

Bubba said...

Dan, you have no room to berate any of us over charges of hypocrisy or slander.

You haven't shown God's grace in this thread when you suggested that we're quick to make accusations against you. The truth is, we've been very slow to reach the conclusions we have about you, patient and reluctant to conclude that you're a lying hypocrite and doing so ONLY because the evidence leads to no other reasonable conclusion.

You haven't shown us God's grace by making the ridiculous accusation that our confidence about what the Bible says flies in the face of the doctrine of total depravity -- a doctrine that depends on the authority and clarity (or perspicuity) of the Bible.

And you didn't demonstrate grace when you alluded to an earlier slander that I've accused you of hating God and hating Christ. You haven't substantiated that slander -- because you can't; nothing I've written justifies and I don't believe it -- and you haven't retracted it, either. Across now two threads, you haven't even acknowledged my objections to it.


It is clear that you believe that we are saved by God's grace BUT NOT Christ's death: you just cannot say so.

Explaining the nuance in your position, you write, "I don't see any sense in separating out Jesus' death as NOT being part of that story of grace by which we are saved."

Statements like that show what you try to hide, the deep gulf between your beliefs and biblical Christianity.

The Bible doesnt' merely teach, Christianity doesn't merely affirm, and biblical Christians do not merely believe that Christ's death is a "part of that story of grace by which we are saved."

Instead the Bible is clear that Christ's death is the mechanism by which grace saves: we are "justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith." (Rom 3:24-25)

No biblical Christian would merely affirm Christ's death as "a part" of "the story" that conveys God's saving grace.

We affirm that it's His death that is itself responsible for our salvation.


That difference is why I increasingly disbelieve
the possibility that we are "brothers in Christ - co-members in the body of Christ." The Bible is clear that what unites Christians is our partaking of the bread and the cup, proclaiming Christ's death until He returns, and appropriating the forgiveness that was made possible only through that death.

Again, Christ Himself taught in the upper room that His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins.

You don't proclaim Christ's death as the cause of our salvation, and you deny that Christ died for our sins. If you are a Christian, you're at best very confused. As unwilling to be corrected as you seem to be, and as dishonest as you seem to be in your the way you explain and defend your arguments, even that conclusion may be naive in its optimism.

Dan Trabue said...

I would like to return to something earlier, in yet another effort to expand and clarify my position and to do some good old fashioned Bible study. Bubba had quoted me...

"4. It is my position that Jesus came to pour out his life for ours in a redemptive act of grace and love.

"5. Therefore, yes, in a sense Jesus died for our sins. In the sense that his whole life, his teachings, his Way of living, his death and his resurrection was a sacrificial pouring out of God's Self to, with and amongst us, and indeed, for us."


and responded:

When Christians refer to Christ's death as "redemptive," we mean that it redeems us -- that it caused our forgiveness and salvation. If you mean something else, then using the word to refer to a totally different idea needlessly muddies the water.

When Christians refer to Christ's death as "redemptive," we mean that it redeems us. Yes, I agree. That's what THIS Christian means, too.

We ARE being redeemed.

As in the OT, where Isaiah says...

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine...

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you..."

For this is what the LORD says:
"You were sold for nothing,
and without money you will be redeemed..."

Burst into songs of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem...


Where Micah says...

I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery.

"I HAVE redeemed you," "God HAS redeemed Jerusalem," "I BROUGHT you... redeemed you."

God has always been in the redemption business, according to the Bible, it would seem.

As in the NT, where "redeem" or "redemption" does not appear very often - about ten times, where Paul (in Titus) says...

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

It is the GRACE of God that brings salvation. It always has been.

Dan Trabue said...

That grace led Christ to "give himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness." It is now and always HAS been the grace of God that redeems us, in which we find forgiveness. It was not the blood sacrifice of animals in the OT. That was a symbolic hoop that sometimes God asked folk to jump through, but the point was grace and mercy and justice, not the literal sacrifice.

Interestingly, the only time I believe that Jesus mentions redemption, it is a future event, associated with end times. In Luke 21, Jesus says, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

Does that mean that Jesus did not think that his soon to be spilled blood would redeem Israel? No, I don't think so. I think he was just using it to speak prophetically of the end of time. But neither does it suggest that Jesus DID believe that his blood would literally redeem Israel.

No, it is and always has been grace that has brought redemption.

As Paul notes in 1 Corinthians...

He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Our redemption has come from God. Jesus came and chose the "lowly things of the world," the weak, the poor, the despised, the marginalized - the lowly capital, disgraceful punishment given political prisoners and thugs! - and in so doing, demonstrated by example and by teaching they Way of redemption, righteousness and holiness. The way of God's grace, it seems to me.

And so, when in 1 Peter, we read that Jesus redeemed us "not with silver or gold," but with his "precious blood," what reason would we have for thinking that means literally that our forgiveness is somehow literally purchased or paid for by perfect precious blood? Why would we not consider that to be an allegory for Jesus' life and death and resurrection, sacrificially poured out for us?

That is what makes sense to me.

Dan Trabue said...

So, yes, I believe we are redeemed and are being redeemed by Jesus' life and death and resurrection. Just not that it's a literal payment for sin, not a business transaction kind of deal, but a moral authority, redemption through Way kind of redemption.

Consider this: In the movie "The Mission," Robert DeNiro plays a slave trader in South America who is by all accounts a horrible, sinful man. Eventually, his arrogance leads him to kill his own beloved brother. He is finally horrified by his own sins, convinced that he is worthy of death and that there can be no redemption for him.

A priest convinced DeNiro that there is a penance that can be paid. He convinces DeNiro to carry all his weapons of war and slavery up the treacherous mountain path to where the Indians live - the folk whom he had been killing and enslaving for years - and to ask their forgiveness.

DeNiro agrees to this and torturously struggles to carry a monstrous pack of weapons, guns and swords up a nearly vertical mountain path. He finally reaches the indian village at the top and one of the indians sees DeNiro, recognizes him as the slave trader, runs to him and puts a knife to his throat.

There is a tense moment while the Indian chief considers what to do. The chief was well aware of the notion of forgiveness, but he also was aware of the responsibilities of justice. Eventually, the chief speaks to the Indian with the knife to DeNiro's throat and, instead of giving him the capital punishment he may well have deserved, he cuts the pack off his shoulders and that heavy load of weaponry and oppression falls away down the mountain side.

He has been redeemed!

But it was not a sacrifice that redeemed him. It was the love and grace of God, lived out for us sacrificially in Jesus' life and death and emulated in this story by the oppressed Indians.

Yes, we are being redeemed through Jesus' life and death and resurrection. This is something I believe and I don't think my belief is muddy in the least sense, but is crystal clear.

I may not believe it the way you believe it, but that does not mean that I don't believe it.

Marshall Art said...

So, to further support my contention, you once again resort to demonizing when your argument takes you only so far. You can interpret words any way you like. You can read, "He sat in a chair" and interpret it as "She walked her dog" if you like, and firmly believe it if you like. But that your interpretation is plainly wrong is without a doubt. And you can speculate all you like about what God is capable of doing, and that's fun to do for most of us, but we can only deal with what the Bible says He DID do. The Bible says He required that sin be washed away lest it stand between us. It required, not that Christ lived among us, but that He died to wash away that sin and allow us to be in complete fellowship with God. We are not saved by grace without Christ's death. No anabaptist juggling can dismiss or alter that very plain fact. This is another reality that PEOPLE LIKE YOU choose to ignore for reasons unknown.

We show fully why we believe as we do using Scripture. You attempt to do the same but not without our pointing out how poorly you're using Scripture. Your response is then to say that we're being arrogant or nitpicky or that it's only our own "hunch". But it's not a hunch to say that Christ died for our sins and that His death was His ultimate purpose when we've shown where Scripture says these things. (and no, I'm not saying the Bible uses the words "ultimate purpose")

Conversely, you haven't shown how we've ever dismissed, ignored or diminished the importance of any verses in order to support OUR interpretations. You haven't shown when or how OUR interpretations have been faulty. You only say that it's our HUNCH or other such nonsense. And then you have the gall to say that we're being unChristian because we've called a spade a spade in our description of your arguments and your style of engagement. "Poor Baby" seems appropriate here.

Ya know, I would love for someone who never comments, or rarely does, to give their opinion of how these discussions go and describe what they see as far as who is being the most direct in their answers, who is being truly nasty, etc, but that would also require that such a visitor be aquainted with these discussions over the past several years. I suspect the opinion could fall along "party" lines, seeing negatives amongst those with whom they disagree and mostly positives with the other. But I'd be interested nonetheless.

I go out of my way to be fair. I go out of my way to be open to other points of view. I'm often called stubborn, but how is it stubborn to insist on what seems so apparent to me, especially if I've looked at the other opinion and found it wanting?

Les no longer comments (except to leave snark--that's fine as it doesn't get nasty) because he thinks no one will ever change (if I recall correctly), so what's the point? But that's only true if he comes he only expecting ME to change. I'm always willing to change if the reason to do so is profitable. I don't believe the same can be said for everyone who visits and engages here (or used to) and I definitely don't believe it's true of those of the left. They leave the quickest showing it is they who lack patience and tolerance for opposing views. Dan is a rare exception though he uses many of the same tactics in his style of engagement.

Bubba said...

Dan, as much as I adore Heat and Ronin, I can't seem to find any De Niro movies in the canon, and I cannot fathom why you apparently put more stock in one of his movies than in what the Apostle Paul tells us about how we are saved.

You quote that Christ "gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own" but you deny precisely what the passage states: that Christ GAVE HIMSELF -- i.e., gave Himself up to death -- FOR US TO REDEEM US.

"It is now and always HAS been the grace of God that redeems us, in which we find forgiveness. It was not the blood sacrifice of animals in the OT. That was a symbolic hoop that sometimes God asked folk to jump through, but the point was grace and mercy and justice, not the literal sacrifice."

That's simply not biblical, Dan. Hebrews teaches that the OT sacrifices were a shadow, not of redemption that doesn't involve sacrifice, but redemption THROUGH CHRIST'S SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS.

Once again you quote Isaiah but ignore chapter 53, which promises that the Suffering Servant will be wounded for our transgressions -- that we will be healed THROUGH HIS WOUNDS, or stripes.

You quote I Cor 1:27-30 but ignore the fact that, in the very same chapter, Paul talks about how he preaches the gospel with lowly words "lest the cross of Christ be made of no effect" (1:17) -- and that we "proclaim Christ crucified" (1:23).


"And so, when in 1 Peter, we read that Jesus redeemed us 'not with silver or gold,' but with his 'precious blood,' what reason would we have for thinking that means literally that our forgiveness is somehow literally purchased or paid for by perfect precious blood? Why would we not consider that to be an allegory for Jesus' life and death and resurrection, sacrificially poured out for us?"

What you ask doesn't lead to the position you take.

It's one thing to say that Peter's reference to Christ's blood is a figurative description of how Christ's death caused our forgiveness.

It's another thing entirely to deny the saving power of Christ's death, to say that we are saved by grace apart even from CHRIST'S SACRIFICIAL DEATH.

The Bible doesn't support that position, and instead the Bible strongly and clearly teaches that we are saved, not only by God's grace, but also by Christ's death.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

There is no Scripture that I can think of that states any other means by which we are forgiven.

Then consider...

When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live

1 Kings 8, in which people are forgiven when they pray and confess and turn from their sins

When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you and when they turn back and confess your name, praying and making supplication before you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel

2 Chronicles 6, in which people are forgiven when they pray and confess and turn from their sins.

...and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel—each one aware of his afflictions and pains, and spreading out his hands toward this temple- 30 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart

2 Chronicles 6, again, in which people are forgiven when they pray and confess and turn from their sins.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7, in which people are forgiven when they pray and confess and turn from their sins.

Help us, O God our Savior,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
for your name's sake.


Psalm 79, in which people pray for forgiveness based on God's own name's sake.

Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.


Micah 7, in which people are forgiven because it is the nature of God to show mercy...

[more to come...]

Dan Trabue said...

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

Matt 18, in which it is implied that God will forgive us when we are forgiving ourselves (as Jesus taught us in his Prayer in Matt 6)

And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 1, in which John the Baptist came preaching forgiveness based upon repentance.


He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12so that,
" 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'


Mark 4, in which Jesus implies that forgiveness is tied to turning and repenting.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God


Luke 1, in which people are forgiven because of the tender mercy of God.

So watch yourselves.
"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."


Luke 17, in which forgiveness is again tied to repentance.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1, in which we have redemption and forgiveness, through Jesus (and later in the chapter, it references "through Jesus' blood," but again, it would seem in context that it is the grace and mercy of God that the blood and cross are symbolically referencing, not the blood causing forgiveness itself.)

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3, in which we are to simply forgive, as the Lord has simply forgiven us. If we demanded some sacrifice, ("Well, I'll forgive him, but I want to cut his hand off first, to pay for that sin!"), then it is no longer a simple forgiveness of sin by grace, but rather, more of a vengeance-based bloody business transaction. The implication throughout the Bible I think is forgiveness by grace, not by sacrifice. Or, if you prefer, a sacrificial forgiveness, based on love and mercy, not based upon what one deserves.

And finally...

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1, in which forgiveness is, as is often the case in the Bible and which is just logical, tied to repentance.

How about those passages, for starters? There are plenty of places in the Bible that talks of forgiveness apart from the blood sacrifice of Jesus, generally tied to repentence and to God's mercy.

The thing is, it seems to me, that you all find a passage here or there and decide, "Well, it says 'forgiven by Jesus' death on the cross,' so that must be the one and only way of speaking of forgiveness and anyone who doesn't agree with me is a pagan and a stupidhead!" You all seem to do this regularly and with great arrogance. Find a passage in one place (or five places, if you prefer) and decide that is the one and only way to think of this issue, whatever the issue is.

In truth, the Bible is a book of great depth and breadth, and God is an infinite God, mysterious in many ways. A bit of humility in how we deal with one another seems appropriate, given our limited genius.

Dan Trabue said...

Oh, one more verse dealing with some of the themes we've been discussing...

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Romans 5

Bubba said...

The word for "redeem" doesn't appear much in the New Testament, but I will say what I've said before, even as early as two years ago. Echoing John Stott's summary, I believe redemption language uses mere imagery to convey the reality of the substitutionary atonement.

The atonement "is represented with various images: propitiation in the temple, redemption in the marketplace, justification in a court of law, and reconciliation within a family. In contrast to Dan, I believe these are images of the Atonement, not alternatives; the Atonement isn't just another image among many but the central concept that these images are trying to convey."

The word for forgiveness -- aphesis -- shows up a few more times in the Bible, 16 according to Strong's numbers, and forgiveness is quite frequently tied to Christ's death.

1) "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." - Christ, Mt 26:28

2) "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." - Christ, Lk 24:46-47

(Funny enough, the word is also used in Lk 4:18. Maybe Christ wasn't talking about the deliverance of physical captives, but the deliverance of those in bondage to sin.)

3) "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." - Peter, Acts 5:30-31; note the reference to hanging on a tree, and its theological significance

4) "In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." - Paul, Eph 1:7

5) "In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." - Paul, Col 1:14

6) "Where there is forgiveness of [sins and deeds of lawlessness], there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." - Heb 10:18-22

Almost half the time the word appears in the Bible, it is associated and even causally tied to Christ's death -- but never, it is worth noting the whole panoply of Christ's story, His life and teachings and so forth.

The Bible is clear. Christ died, AND SO we can be forgiven. Christ's death isn't merely a demonstration of grace that saves, it is itself the SAVING act of grace.

Bubba said...

Dan, you continue to take passages out of context -- and in some cases, you ignore what you quote.

In what you quoted from Romans 5, the Bible states that we were "reconciled to God through the death of His Son."

You quote Colossians 3 as says that it teaches that "we are to simply forgive, as the Lord has simply forgiven us."

But Col 3 DOES NOT teach that God has "simply" forgiven us. The context of the passage makes that clear: Col 1:14, which I just quoted, teaches that we have forgiveness through Christ's blood.

You even acknowledge this, but you dismiss it implausibly: "later in the [first] chapter, it references 'through Jesus' blood,' but again, it would seem in context that it is the grace and mercy of God that the blood and cross are symbolically referencing, not the blood causing forgiveness itself."

Why does it seem that way? You don't explain. The truth is, references to Christ's blood aren't merely allusions to God's saving grace and mercy, but are clear allusions to CHRIST'S SAVING DEATH.


The Old Testament passages you cite prove absolutely nothing, Dan.

I Kings does show that "people are forgiven when they pray and confess and turn from their sins," but that doesn't prove A) that their prayers are the means or ground for their forgiveness or B) that Christ's death WASN'T the means or ground for their forgiveness.

The assumption you make to undermine forgiveness by Christ's death, isn't even consistent with what you believe because it ALSO logically undermines forgiveness by God's grace.

Those passages don't attribute forgiveness to God's grace, and yet that presents no obstacle to the belief that forgiveness comes from God's grace. Likewise, they don't mention the cross, but that presents no obstacle to the doctrine that we are forgiven by Christ's death.

Dan Trabue said...

How about this, Bubba, humor me and tell me again how the substitutionary atonement views the blood sacrifice. I believe you have said it was not a literal payment (Jesus said, "here is my blood, I'm paying for Bubba's sin. Stamp it paid in full."), but almost a literal payment, right?

If I remember correctly, you have said that God's justice "demands" that sin be punished. It can't be merely forgiven, but a "price" must be paid, is that right? It can either be paid for by Bubba or Bubba can accept Jesus' having paid for Bubba's sins by his crucifixion on Bubba's behalf, is that it?

If so, then it is your position that God demands a literal death penalty (an eternity suffering in agonizing pain in a burning hell?) to pay for sin? But that death penalty that Bubba owes is "paid for" by Jesus' death?

That certainly would have been my understanding of substitutionary atonement back in the day, but I'm just clarifying what your position is.

Bubba said...

Dan, what you write regarding Colossians indicates your misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches and the moral flaw in your reasoning.

"Colossians 3, in which we are to simply forgive, as the Lord has simply forgiven us. If we demanded some sacrifice, ('Well, I'll forgive him, but I want to cut his hand off first, to pay for that sin!'), then it is no longer a simple forgiveness of sin by grace, but rather, more of a vengeance-based bloody business transaction. The implication throughout the Bible I think is forgiveness by grace, not by sacrifice. Or, if you prefer, a sacrificial forgiveness, based on love and mercy, not based upon what one deserves."

First, what you misunderstand is that God doesn't "demand" some sacrifice from us: HE PROVIDED THE SACRIFICE HIMSELF.

Your hypothetical monologue has things completely backwards.

"Well, I'll forgive him, but I want to cut his hand off first, to pay for that sin!"

He didn't demand any suffering FROM US in order to forgive us: HE HIMSELF SUFFERED FOR US in order to forgive us.

That sacrifices to God are FROM GOD is evident even in the Old Testament.

"'The life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement.'" - Lev 17:11

We aren't claiming that God forgives us because of some sacrifice we make, but because of the sacrifice HE HIMSELF MADE, sending His Son (God Incarnate, God Himself) to die the death we deserved.


Second, the moral failing is that a denial of the necessity of this sacrifice undermines God's holy righteousness.

What you call "simple" forgiveness makes God capricious and no longer just, because it doesn't account for the penalty of death that our sins deserve.

True forgiveness isn't ignoring that penalty: it's paying for that penalty yourself, on behalf of the transgressor.


I see your latest comment has a bit to do with this subject, so I'll turn to it now.

Bubba said...

Dan, I believe my position can be best explained -- or at least introduced -- by explaining why I believe that there's no such thing as what you refer to as "simple" forgiveness.

In a just world, any transgression or debt IS paid for; forgiveness is when the victim or lender pays for what is owed by the perpetratror or debtor.

FORGIVENESS ISN'T IGNORING THE DAMAGES OR DEBT OF SOMEONE ELSE, BUT PAYING FOR IT YOURSELF.


Let's take an example involving damages.

Suppose you're used to spending the evenings reading by your bed before you go to sleep. It's how you relax, unwind, and enjoy yourself; it's an integral part of your day that you wouldn't want to forgo.

Suppose a visiting friend broke your lamp, accidentally or not, and sincerely asked your forgiveness.

If you truly forgive him, you don't do so "simply" and then start reading in your darkened bedroom, or read in the stark light of the uncomfortable kitchen, or stop reading altogether.

You buy yourself a replacement lamp OUT OF YOUR OWN POCKET, because forgiveness isn't about ignoring what happened to disrupt things, but RESTORING things to how they were or should be, and doing so even if it costs you.


There's a similar example involving debt.

If you run a business and a friend borrows money from your business, you account that debt as an asset. The basic accounting formula is the following:

Assets = Liabilities + Owner's Equity

That loan isn't a liability because it's not YOUR liability: liabilities are what you owe the bank, not what others owe you.

Instead, that loan to a friend is an asset, you move X amount from the ledger of cash on hand, to the ledger of something like "accounts receivable".

(That loan agreement can be seen as an asset because you can sell it to a bank if you're tired of dealing with interest payments and bill processing.)

If the friend can't pay back the loan and you forgive him, you can't just forgive him "simply": you have to remove that loan from your ledger AND YOUR ASSETS ARE REDUCED BY THE SAME AMOUNT.

(You can see this by noting that the loan agreement is now worthless except as a historical artifact: nobody would buy it from you expecting to the debtor to pay HIM back, because the debt's already been forgiven because -- essentially -- you paid for what he didn't.)

When you forgive a debt, that loan IMMEDIATELY becomes, essentially, a gift. And all gifts come out of your pocket.

Forgiving a debt isn't about ignoring someone else's obligation to you, but fulfilling that obligation yourself, even if it costs you.


If you can understand all this, Dan, we can discuss the particulars of our forgiveness from God: what our sins deserve, and what Christ did to cover those costs.

We can do so later -- possibly tomorrow -- as I have other things to do, but I'll keep an eye on this thread.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

First, what you misunderstand is that God doesn't "demand" some sacrifice from us: HE PROVIDED THE SACRIFICE HIMSELF.

1. We all understand, don't we, that this is not MY position? I don't think God "demands" a sacrifice from us, but that God does expect repentance from us.

2. You are saying, then, that it is not your position that God demands a sacrifice? Or rather, you are saying it is your position that God demands a sacrifice and that God has always simultaneously provided a sacrifice?

3. Are you saying then that Abraham is walking along and decides to sin and is automatically cut off from God EXCEPT that God at the same time provides a living sacrifice (a goat or ram in the OT, Jesus' death in the NT and today)?

4. And that all Abraham has to do is accept that sacrifice and that if Abraham accepts that sacrifice, then that is somehow acknowledging the depth of hurt his sin caused that otherwise could not be accounted for? That Abraham in and of himself is not able to recognize his sin and feel contrition for that sin? He needed to see a Ram being sacrificially killed (or have heard about Jesus being sacrificially killed) in order to realize the depth of his sin?

I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say, is that it?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said...

In a just world, any transgression or debt IS paid for; forgiveness is when the victim or lender pays for what is owed by the perpetrator or debtor.

? I'm not sure that is a wholly comprehensive definition of forgiveness. If little Bobby is playing ball and breaks his neighbor's window, that neighbor may well forgive him then and there. He knows Bobby, saw him innocently playing ball, knows it was an accident. He simply forgives him. Who pays or doesn't pay for the window is not the end all and be all of forgiveness in that story.

Or, let's make it more complex. Little Bobby has a mean streak in him and he's been deliberately mean to his old neighbor, yelling insults at him. One day, while the neighbor is sitting on his front porch, Bobby willfully throws a rock through the neighbor's window.

The neighbor however, knows that Bobby is an angry child - perhaps his father has passed away and Bobby is angry and confused about it and taking it out on everyone. In knowing this, the neighbor is able and willing to forgive Bobby then and there, as soon as Bobby is willing to repent.

Bobby eventually comes around and apologizes. As a sign of repentance, Bobby asks the neighbor if he can do some work to pay for the window. The neighbor agrees to that arrangement, thinking it the best way to restore Bobby to right relationship.

It was not necessary for the neighbor to pay for the window to forgive Bobby. What WAS helpful was knowing Bobby and Bobby's situation.

In the "love chapter," in the Bible - 1 Corinthians - we are told...

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears... Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

It is my thinking that God is so able to have mercy towards us and show grace towards us because God fully knows us, knows our weaknesses and our trials and, in seeing us fully, is able to fully love us and forgive us.

So, I'm not sure I buy in to your thinking on forgiveness. You may have some points, but I'm not fully in agreement. May I disagree?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said...

We aren't claiming that God forgives us because of some sacrifice we make, but because of the sacrifice HE HIMSELF MADE, sending His Son (God Incarnate, God Himself) to die the death we deserved.

Second, the moral failing is that a denial of the necessity of this sacrifice undermines God's holy righteousness.

What you call "simple" forgiveness makes God capricious and no longer just, because it doesn't account for the penalty of death that our sins deserve.


Just to clarify, I fully understand that this is your position. I disagree with your position.

I understand that you think a "denial of the necessity of [a blood sacrifice - an actual living sacrifice of some sort] undermines God's holy righteousness." I get it. That is YOUR position and I understand it.

I simply disagree with the conclusion. How does it deny God's holy righteousness? Says who?

While I deeply held all these positions at one time (Evangelism Explosion, anyone?), it was based on a cultural understanding of what I had been taught about the Bible moreso than what the Bible has to say in full itself.

This Substitutionary theory of Atonement is not directly found in the Bible, but is a later (Anselm in 11th century?) explanation of what the Bible has to say, along with other explanations (Marshall seems to be implying a more Ransom Theory of atonement, at least sometimes). Which is why I had asked you all in earlier posts which view of atonement you are advocating.

Anyway, I understand this is your position. I simply don't think it is a sound position to hold, biblically, morally or logically. At least in full and to the bitter exclusion of any other possible thoughts on the matter.

So, while it is YOUR VIEW that not believing exactly as you do on the Substitutionary Theory of atonement means one is undermining God's holy righteousness, it is MY VIEW that it is not. I don't know of anyone who holds a higher view of God's holy righteousness than I or the folk at my church or the folk in the Mennonite church do.

Perhaps if you could offer WHY you think it minimizes God's righteousness?

Dan Trabue said...

Returning to problems I have with your problems with MY "simple" forgiveness (follow that?)... Bubba said...

Suppose you're used to spending the evenings reading by your bed before you go to sleep. It's how you relax, unwind, and enjoy yourself; it's an integral part of your day that you wouldn't want to forgo.

Suppose a visiting friend broke your lamp, accidentally or not, and sincerely asked your forgiveness.

If you truly forgive him, you don't do so "simply" and then start reading in your darkened bedroom, or read in the stark light of the uncomfortable kitchen, or stop reading altogether.


If a visiting friend broke the lamp - let's even assume he did so maliciously, in anger, for instance - and he sincerely apologized, then yes, forgiveness is, for me, simply forgiving. Demanding restitution might be justice, but it is separate from forgiveness. He is either forgiven or not and who replaces the broken lamp is rather an aside.

Again, as in my earlier example, if I have already forgiven him, then I would have done so and been prepared probably to replace the lamp. If he insisted on paying for it himself, since he broke it, I would let him as it would help in the process of restoring the relationship. But even if I paid for it, it's an aside from the issue of forgiveness.

If forgiveness depends upon working out who is paying for what, then, again, it's not so much forgiveness as a business transaction. In a relationship, we're not doing that - we're restoring a relationship and the payment is whatever works best to restore the relationship.

It may be that he needs to pay for it for his and our sake or it may be that he's not in a place to do so and I need to pay for it for our sake, but I'm not entirely sure that your thinking that forgiveness means I pay for something (whether we're talking about God or Dan) is sound.

Want to reconsider the analogy?

Bubba said...

Dan:

First things first. Yes, Anselm's theory isn't found in the Bible, but neither is your (apparent) theory that Christ died only as an example.

But what is found in the Bible is Peter's claim that Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross, and that we are healed by his wounds (I Pet 2:24).

And there is Paul's claim that Christ saved us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, that He who knew no sin became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God (Gal 3:13, II Cor 5:21).

And there is the claim of both John the Baptist and John the Apostle, that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, whose blood washes clean the robes of the saints (Jn 1:29, Rev 7:14).

Our belief -- biblical Christianity's belief -- that Christ died in our place, that His death caused our forgiveness accounts for all these biblical claims.

Your belief doesn't account for these claims: it is based on a dismissal of these claims as ultimately figurative, though you don't explain their figurative meaning: you not only recognize that figurative language is being used when the Bible talks about Christ's blood, but you dismiss the obvious and actual literal meaning behind that figurative language, that JESUS' DEATH ACTUALLY DOES SAVE US.


About forgiveness, I think I could summarize what I believe about forgiveness with three statements, the first two from Robert Jeffress' When Forgiveness Doesn't Make Sense -- a book I've read because, truthfully, forgiveness is something I've had to wrestle with.

1) True forgiveness acknowledges that a debt exists -- as wrongs DO create an obligation for restitution, be they fines, sentences, or simply replacing what was lost.

2) True forgiveness releases our offender of his or her obligation.

3) However, that obligation sometimes still needs to be paid: if the offender has been released from that obligation, it may fall to the one who has forgiven him.


Dan, you write, about a story involving a broken window, "Who pays or doesn't pay for the window is not the end all and be all of forgiveness in that story."

No, but it's something that cannot be ignored. The payment of the debt or obligation *IS* something that must always be accounted for; that obligation must even be paid in some, if not all, circumstances.

The homeowner is probably going to replace the window one way or another, probably out of his own pocket if the kid didn't offer to pay for it. If the window was NEVER replaced -- if the homeowner continued to live in the house for years, with a single shattered window -- then one could suspect that, whatever he said about forgiveness, he's still holding a grudge.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

In other circumstances, it becomes much more clear that the obligation must actually be paid, possibly by the person who does the forgiving.

Loan agreements are assets until the loan is completely paid off. If the balance of that loan is forgiven, then the person who gave the loan has to "pay" for it by writing off that asset: his list of assets has shrunk by X amount, as he can no longer sell the loan agreement to a bank or count on the loan agreement as a source of income.


You write:

"If forgiveness depends upon working out who is paying for what, then, again, it's not so much forgiveness as a business transaction. In a relationship, we're not doing that - we're restoring a relationship and the payment is whatever works best to restore the relationship."

Again, from above, true forgiveness is based on an acknowledgement that an obligation exists, not a denial of it.

Forgiveness is releasing the guilty party of that obligation: sometimes it entails the innocent party paying for that obligation himself, sometimes it doesn't.

We haven't gotten to whether the forgiveness of sin requires God to pay for our obligation to Him, or what that obligation is: we haven't even gotten to the point where I think we're ready to discuss the specific instance of sin and its forgiveness.

Are we on the same page that, in the general case, a wrong creates an obligation and forgiveness is releasing the transgressor of that obligation -- rather than denying it or ignoring it?

Dan Trabue said...

Not sure.

Let me try a stab at it.

I'd say that a sin has consequences and creates a debt. That "debt" might be a literal debt - stolen property, broken property, for instance. Or it may be a figurative one - an assault that "takes" a person's sense of security and trust in others, for instance. Or it may be both literal and figurative.

For the offender to repent/be set right, the offender needs to understand, recognize, acknowledge the debt, the harm done - it's hard to repent for what you don't know.

The offended knows the debt/consequences because it happened to them. They're well aware that their property was taken, their good name besmirched, whatever.

So, in that sense, yes, the process of forgiveness is the offender recognizing their sin - their debt, their obligation - and the offended saying, in spite of this offense, this debt, this obligation, I forgive you for your offense.

So, I think I mostly agree with you. I'm just not sure about the releasing the offender from paying for the offense. That may or may not be part of forgiveness, but the recognition of the obligation IS part.

I would suggest that forgiveness is about relation. It is the process of restoring a relationship. Sometimes, that may entail the offender paying a debt owed as a result of the offense, sometimes not. One could forgive the boy for breaking the window and still ask for repayment.

In that case, the relationship is restored by the neighbor's forgiving the child, but the obligation to pay for the damages may still exist apart from the forgiveness.

Are we agreeing?

Dan Trabue said...

I'm wondering if you are getting around to answering my question about what it is exactly that you believe regarding the atonement.

I asked earlier...

[could you] tell me again how the substitutionary atonement believers view the blood sacrifice? I believe you have said it was not a literal payment (Jesus said, "here is my blood, I'm paying for Bubba's sin. Stamp it paid in full."), but almost a literal payment, right?

If I remember correctly, you have said that God's justice "demands" that sin be punished. It can't be merely forgiven, but a "price" must be paid, is that right? It can either be paid for by Bubba or Bubba can accept Jesus' having paid for Bubba's sins by his crucifixion on Bubba's behalf, is that it?

If so, then it is your position that God demands a literal death penalty (an eternity suffering in agonizing pain in a burning hell?) to pay for sin? But that death penalty that Bubba owes is "paid for" by Jesus' death?


Is this your position or are you working up to an answer on this?

also, I had asked...

So, while it is YOUR VIEW that not believing exactly as you do on the Substitutionary Theory of atonement means one is undermining God's holy righteousness, it is MY VIEW that it is not. I don't know of anyone who holds a higher view of God's holy righteousness than I or the folk at my church or the folk in the Mennonite church do.

Perhaps if you could offer WHY you think it minimizes God's righteousness?


Getting around to that, too?

There are other questions I have asked and I'm sort of assuming that you're getting to them, is that correct?

Bubba said...

I WAS getting around to those questions, but I'll answer them now, below. I'll have to remember that you don't have the patience you require of others -- or should I remind you of the complete digression of a moral judgment pop quiz, which you introduced in a previous conversation?


Dan, you write that "forgiveness is about relation," when I believe that it is also about the actual transgression that damages a relationship.

Hence, though we see the word "forgive" used in reference to two people without a sin or transgression being explicitly mentioned...

"I forgive you."

...that sin is always implicit. And there are many times where it's explicit, either in a prepositional phrase...

"God forgave us of our sins."

...or as a direct object:

"God forgave your sins."


Your summary of what you think I believe ABOUT CHRIST'S DEATH is a close approximation, but I don't believe that I said that Christ's death was an "almost literal payment" for sin.

My sins -- all our sins -- deserve death as a punishment. Jesus endured that punishment even though He didn't deserve it. He was our substitute, and to those who put their trust in Him, God imputes His righteousness to us while imputing the penalty of our sinfulness to Him.


And you're completely wrong when you write my view is that "not believing exactly as [I] do on the Substitutionary Theory of atonement means one is undermining God's holy righteousness."

It's not as if our disagreement is in the details, where (for instance) some Christians believe Christ's death satisfies Satan, some believe it satisfies the law, some God's honor and justice, and some (myself included) God's self.

You're not in any of those groups, because you apparently don't believe that Christ's death caused our salvation AT ALL.

Your implication that I'm being nitpicky is off the mark.


At the same time, I don't find credible your claim, "I don't know of anyone who holds a higher view of God's holy righteousness than I."

We believe that God is so righteous -- that He is so antagonistic toward sin and evil -- that He could not forgive us unless His Son, God Incarnate, died the death that our sins deserve.

YOU DON'T BELIEVE THAT.

I don't know how you think the punishment and penalty of our sin is addressed except that you believe God forgives us simply: that the means through which He forgives us is that "He just does."

It's a great slogan that you uphold God's righteousness, but not a credible one.


You ask, why do I think your view minimizes God's righteousness?

It's simple: your view doesn't account for the punishment and penalty that our sins deserve; it's apparently enough for you that sinners "feel" that they've done wrong.

Dan Trabue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Trabue said...

I'm busy today and will get back to this when I can.

Bubba said...

By all means, take your time, Dan.

The fact is, I'm not sure there's much else to say. Barring a really significant change in how you communicate what you believe and why, I don't see myself changing my mind too much on my conclusions about your beliefs and, yes, your character.

For one thing, you have neither substantiated nor retracted your nasty slander from December 29th, in our previous conversation -- the false and despicable accusation that I've accused you of hating God and hating Christ.

You never even acknowledged my objection to that accusation, except to dismiss my objection as an ad hominem attack.

You've alluded to the very same slander here, and I believe this is the third time I'm mentioning the slander in this thread alone, and still I wait for you to support your charge -- which you cannot do, because nothing I've written supports it -- or to retract it.

That's simply unacceptible, and it's blatant hypocrisy in light of how much you write about how we're supposed to show Christian love to one another.

To make myself perfectly clear, I do not believe you hate God or Christ. I just believe that your conceptions of God and Christ deviate significantly from what the Bible teaches, possibly because -- despite your claims to love the Bible and deeply respect its teachings -- you let your own theories, including your politics, trump what is clearly taught in the written word of God.

That suggests contempt for parts of the Bible -- parts, not all -- and your lack of honesty about the love you supposedly have for Scripture suggests a less than mature love for your neighbor, but NONE OF THIS suggests outright hatred either of God Almighty or Jesus Christ. I have never suggested otherwise, and no amount of "skimming" in good faith would cause a reasonable adult to conclude otherwise about me.

Your false accusation infuriates, and rightly so. If you are so unwilling to substantiate or withdraw the accusation, you validate the worst conclusions I've reached about your character, and so I have very little left to say to you.

Bubba said...

Dan, while we're waiting for your response, I was reminded last night of a passage from Galatians, which I studied at length last year.

"We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.

"But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor.

"For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing."
- Gal 2:15-21

Look again at that last verse of the second chapter:

"I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing."

Notice that Paul here is repudiating the idea that we can be justified by works, i.e., obedience to the law.

But notice what that idea nullifies or renders meaningless: justification through the law not only nullifies God's grace, IT ALSO NULLIFIES CHRIST'S DEATH.

"...for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing."

The implication is clear. We are saved by God's grace, and we are saved by Christ's death.

We're not saved by Christ's life or teachings or the panarama of the story of God's grace, but by CHRIST'S DEATH specifically.

(Notice here, too, that there are no allusions to blood or payment: only the claim that Christ's death is causally responsible for our justification.)

It might be useful at some point to compile a comprehensive or even an exhaustive list of all the many New Testament passages that attribute to Christ's death our forgiveness, our justification, and our salvation.

But even without that list, I can say with confidence that the Bible is clear that Christ's death caused our salvation.

The conclusion that that claim is pure symbolism, that God was merely connecting with the first-century Jews "where they were," may be at least superficially reasonable.

But the one thing it's not is biblical, and so no one who truly seeks to conform his life and beliefs to the Bible, can reject its clear teaching that Jesus's death actually did secure our forgiveness.

Craig said...

Matt 26:27-29
Romans 3:25
Eph 1:7
Colossians 1:14
Hebrews 10:10
Revelation 1:5
Hebrews 9:22

Explain away.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig asked about Matt 26...

for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

And Romans 3...

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation [Greek
hilasmos ie, sin offering] in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed...

and Colossians 1...

For God rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

And other similar passages and Craig said, "Explain away..."

I explain by saying that we DO have forgiveness of sins through Jesus - by God's grace as the Bible says. Jesus' life, ministry, teachings, death and resurrection all being symbolic and representative of that grace ("being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus..." "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."). That is MY take on those sorts of passages as I seek to understand God's will.

I understand that the apparent understanding of most of the folk here is that these passages mean that God literally required a God/human sacrifice as a sin offering in order for us to think that sin was serious.

I disagree. Is that okay?

Bubba said earlier...

I'll have to remember that you don't have the patience you require of others

Actually, I asked the question if you were in the process of answering those questions because I was curious if that's where you were headed, not because I was demanding that you answer them right away.

Nothing so sinister, just a question meant to clarify. Which is why I said, "There are other questions I have asked and I'm sort of assuming that you're getting to them, is that correct?"

I was assuming you were getting to them and asked by way of clarification. Is that okay?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said...

For one thing, you have neither substantiated nor retracted your nasty slander from December 29th, in our previous conversation -- the false and despicable accusation that I've accused you of hating God and hating Christ.

I am sorry. I was not trying to indicate that you LITERALLY said those things, I was using hyperbole to make a point, which I thought was quite obvious. I am sorry if it wasn't obvious enough. No, clearly you have never said that I hate God or Christ.

You HAVE said that I don't respect the Bible (or words to that effect) and otherwise suggested I don't have love or respect for the teachings of Christianity (or words falsely alluding to that notion) and that was the stimulus for the hyperbolic statement I made.

Again, I am sorry if anyone mistook my hyperbole for actual quotes.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said...

My sins -- all our sins -- deserve death as a punishment. Jesus endured that punishment even though He didn't deserve it. He was our substitute, and to those who put their trust in Him, God imputes His righteousness to us while imputing the penalty of our sinfulness to Him.

I guess I may view this slightly differently. I would say that our sins lead to death. Sin (the missing of the mark of the ideal, the rejection of the laws of God, the deliberate turning away from God's Ways) leads away from God, goodness, light and life and towards evil, darkness and death.

As in James, for instance...

Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

Or as Jesus noted...

Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin."

Or, of course, Paul...

For the wages of sin is death

Sin leads to death.

But does the Bible really speak of sin in terms of being "deserving of death?"

Let me think on that and research it a bit more...

Dan Trabue said...

Still thinking, but I thought I'd point out this quickly... I noticed the one place where the phrase "deserving of death" shows up in the Bible is where the pharisees are trying to kill Jesus.

Still thinking...

Bubba said...

Dan, I urge you to look again at the comment you made in that earlier thread, on December 29th, at 11:17 pm.

After you summarized my position from supposed skimming ("I find it hard to believe you’re unfamiliar with the concept."), you objected to my first comment in the thread, in which I argued that you inconsistently apply the principle of human depravity, that we all have "a bent toward sin."

I wrote, "Funny how this principle is applied inconsistently -- to industrialists but not to environmentalists."

Your response?

"I have never said that environmentalists do not have a bent towards sin. I don’t think it so why would I say it?"

(For what it's worth, I never said that you did either say it or believe it. My point isn't that you believe environmentalists are without sin, but that you don't account for their sin be demanding watchdogs over them, the way you do industrialists.)

Here we see your usual tactic of insisting on being directly quoted -- your unreasonable position that no conclusions can be drawn beyond what you explicitly write.

The inconsistency is staggering.

On the one hand, you wrote that I've accused you of hating God -- YOU PUT WORDS IN MY MOUTH -- and you now justify that slanderous charge as acceptible hyperbole.

But, on the other hand, you forbid others from drawing reasonable but inconvenient conclusions from what you write; in response you say, "I never said that."

Even assuming that you're being honest about intended the comment as hyperbole from the very beginning, and believing that it was clear as hyperbole -- and that's a tough assumption to make, because you're only now defending the comment, ten days after my repeated and strenuous objections -- you seem to be hypocritical in allowing yourself the freedom to use hyperbole.

Dan Trabue said...

And once again, I apologize if my comments were misconstrued.

Bubba said...

Dan, I would not be honest if I didn't say I'm skeptical about your explanation. I do appreciate the apology, and I apologize if I wrongly concluded that your questions this week were an indication of undue impatience.

About what the Bible says about the punishment for sin, and about God's forgiveness, a few points need to be made in response to what you've already written, while you're still thinking.


Not for the first time, you suggest that we forbid disagreement with what believe.

"I disagree. Is that okay?"

None of us object to disagreement, per se, and all of us would affirm your right to disagree. We just don't believe that the Bible justifies disagreement on these subjects to this degree.

It's not the fact of the disagreement, but the quality of the arguments behind the disagreement.

Your arguments remain weak, when they're even present.


About the numerous passages that attribute our salvation to Christ's death, you write:

"I explain by saying that we DO have forgiveness of sins through Jesus - by God's grace as the Bible says. Jesus' life, ministry, teachings, death and resurrection all being symbolic and representative of that grace..."

The problem is, NOWHERE does the Bible justify the position that Christ's death -- and the passages we cite point to His death in particular, not His life, ministry, teachings, etc. -- is merely "symbolic and representative" of God's saving grace.

Instead, the Bible is quite clear that Christ's death isn't merely a symbol of saving grace. IT IS THE ACT OF GRACE THAT ACTUALLY SAVES, and the denial of this clear teaching is one major reason why I do not believe you revere everything that the Bible teaches.


You write, further, of death as a sort of natural consequence of sin rather than God's divine judgment against sin.

"I would say that our sins lead to death. Sin (the missing of the mark of the ideal, the rejection of the laws of God, the deliberate turning away from God's Ways) leads away from God, goodness, light and life and towards evil, darkness and death."

Of course, even if sin merely leads to death, it's because God in His sovereignty designed it so.

But what's striking in your comments is the complete lack, not only of God's active judgment against sin, but of God's activity in general.

If you want to know why I don't think you affirm the righteousness of God to its full extent, this is the principle part of it: you don't seem to believe in God's active judgment of sin.

This isn't some new thing for you, either. In your tendentious "retelling" of Jesus' teaching regarding the sheep and the goats, you scrubbed away any clear reference to eternal judgment.


Dan, the Bible clearly records, not simply the natural consequences of sin, but God's active judgment against sin.

And the Bible clearly records that we are saved, not only by God's grace, but by Christ's death.

You seem to deny both teachings, and in doing so, you undermine God's holy righteousness, and you break away definitively from what can be accurately described as biblical Christianity.

Dan Trabue said...

You are free to think so. I think my position is the most biblical, logical, godly position to hold or I would not hold it.

Disagree if you wish, these points remain my position. I get that you think my biblical argument is missing or weak. The feeling is mutual, otherwise, I would agree with you.

Marshall Art said...

BUT, Dan,

Your position is the most Biblical only if you continue to ignore the passages that you have thus far ignored. As Bubba has shown, verses you've used to support your belief were incomplete or out of context. Where you've left a verse at "grace", the author goes on to include and highlight "through Christ's death on the cross" or words to that effect. Paul constantly refers to the teaching of Christ crucified, going so far as to say in 1 Cor 2:2, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." He certainly seems to make it a key point here.

The point here is, once again, not that we feel your position is weak and unbiblical and your feeling is reciprocal, but that while we (usually Bubba) returns volley with real substance and evidence, you've again resorted to "Disagree if you wish". You obviously have closed your mind to that which disagrees with you, while we (again, mostly Bubba) have shown you why your position is unpersuasive and falls short. You need to take another look and realize that saying you revere Scripture is only lipservice after being shown where you really haven't taken the whole of Scripture into account like you think you have.

I fear what is really happening here is that you are in defensive mode due to feeling dumped on. Understandable after trying to defend poor interpretations for so long. Now you take it as a personal attack which it never was in the beginning and only appears so now after you've provoked frustration by your style of debate.

The only other alternative is to find somewhere or someone that can present your arguments in a different or more efficient manner. As it stands, it's plain to me that you ARE dismissing verses that you don't like, understand or that conflict with your "progressive" ideology. To explain it in terms you've ofte used toward right-wingers, "you can see how others might take it that way."

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

Your position is the most Biblical only if you continue to ignore the passages that you have thus far ignored.

You are free to think thusly, of course. For my part, I have ignored nothing. Don't forget, I grew up in your world. I've probably forgotten more about the Bible and your position than you've ever learned.

I do not ignore these passages that you all bring up. I simply don't take them literally in the same sense that you all do.

We all agree (in previous conversations) that the Bible uses metaphor, allegories, stories, parables, and imagery in a variety of ways. The trick then, is knowing when a passage is speaking of, for instance, Jesus' death LITERALLY offering his life as a ransom for our forgiveness (Mark 10:45, for instance) or if it's using imagery of some sort.

You all keep throwing the same passages out and saying, "See? It uses terms like Ransom and By His Death, so it must be so!" [NOTE: That is not a direct quote, just a hyperbolic paraphrase] while the truth is, no one is denying those phrases are in there. What I'm questioning is the wisdom of WHY you would take them fairly literally.

For instance, Craig threw out about six passages and said, "explain." As if the passages were obviously supportive of your position exclusively.

No one denies that such passages exist, least of all me. Obviously, Colossians 1 DOES say, "For God rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." That's not the question, obviously it uses the word "redemption."

The question is, does that mean Paul was speaking of a fairly literal redemption in the business sense, like redeeming food stamps in exchange for food? OR does it mean that our lives are being redeemed by Jesus' life, teachings, death and resurrection - by all of that manifestation of God's grace?

Dan Trabue said...

As Paul notes in Romans 16...

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Now to God that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith


God's grace has been made manifest amongst us by and in the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Or as John begins his gospel...

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

God was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

God came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'"

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.


And I could go on, but you get the idea. We receive Grace through Jesus. No mention of limiting it to his death alone, but through Jesus, period. THAT is what I believe.

As such, I don't fully disagree with the statement, "We are saved by Jesus' death," it's just that I don't stop there. We are saved by God's GRACE, which has been made manifest in Jesus. Jesus and his life, teachings, death and resurrection, these are ALL manifestations of God's grace. This is what I think the bible teaches and that makes sense to me.

So, yes, there ARE places where the Bible mentions "Jesus came as a ransom" or that "we are saved by his death," but in my opinion, that's not sufficient to limit to the strict literal reading. YES, we are saved by God's grace as revealed in Jesus' death. And as revealed in Jesus' life and in Jesus' teachings. We are saved by God's grace. That would be the point to me.

Do you suspect that St. John was wrong to say that we have received God's fullness through Jesus, without mentioning specifically Jesus' death? Or that God's grace was realized through Jesus, without a mention of Jesus' death?

Can we not acknowledge and agree that God's grace is spoken of in many ways in the Bible and that there is no need to limit it to just a few phrases found here and there, but accept the full teaching of all the Bible, in all its depth and breadth and elegant intricacies?

Dan Trabue said...

Or consider the big Council in Jerusalem in Acts 15, where the church was talking about the Gentile believers and what to do with them.

And Peter gets up and says, "But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are." Saved through Grace. No mention of "And the cross," or "AND Jesus' blood." We are saved by GRACE, a point which we all agree upon. In establishing what was important for the Gentile believers, the church mostly talked about practical matters like dietary rules and sexual practices, no mention of insisting that they acknowledge they were saved by grace AND Jesus' death.

Now, I happen to think it fair and clear that Jesus' death IS a part of God's manifestation of God's grace, but I don't see as it being a critical thing to insist upon viewing it as a separate notion. Yes, we are saved by God's grace. Yes, God's grace was demonstrated to us in Jesus' life, death and resurrection. It's all of one cloth.

OR, as Paul says in Romans 1 who wrote...

...concerning God's Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake...


The resurrection was a sign of the power of God in the life of Jesus "through whom we have received grace." No mention of, "...and are saved by that grace AND Jesus' death."

Bubba said...

Dan, about whether we can "accept the full teaching of all the Bible, in all its depth and breadth and elegant intricacies," we're not the ones who deny the Bible's clear teaching that Christ's death caused our salvation.

Indeed, the Bible doesn't mention Christ's death every time it mentions our salvation or our forgiveness.

But, for that matter, it also doesn't mention God's grace or our faith literally every time it mentions our salvation or forgiveness: funny how that doesn't affect your position that we really are saved by God's grace.

But it doesn't have to mention it every time. Accepting as true and factual its repeated and emphatic claim that we're forgiven because Christ died DOES NOT lessen the authority of any other teaching of the Bible.

It's a truth that can be accepted along with everything else, rather than something that contradicts everything else.

More, it's a truth that MUST be accepted along with everything else. For those who seek to submit to all that the Bible teaches, a teaching as clear and emphatic as the saving power of Christ's death is clearly non-negotiable.

And so, it is absurd to suggest that, in diminishing the saving power of Christ's death as mere imagery, you're somehow embracing the Bible's teachings "in all its depth and breadth and elegant intricacies."


You write, "I don't fully disagree with the statement, 'We are saved by Jesus' death,'" but it's clear that you do, EVEN in the rest of the paragraph.

"We are saved by God's GRACE, which has been made manifest in Jesus. Jesus and his life, teachings, death and resurrection, these are ALL manifestations of God's grace. This is what I think the bible teaches and that makes sense to me."

We believe -- and we do so because the Bible clearly teaches -- that we are saved by God's grace and Christ's death.

You diminish Christ's death by referring to it as a mere manifestation of grace with saves -- as a symbol or by-product of what saves rather than the means itself.

Your disagreement with the claim that we're saved by Christ's death is total, and I wish you would be more honest about that.

Dan Trabue said...

Along these lines, here's a Methodist fella writing on the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement that makes some sense to me and is fairly in line with the anabaptist view that I hold closer to...

My problem with penal substitution is not with the theory itself, which has proven its worth as a way into an understanding of the reconciliation which has been won by Jesus.

My problem is that it seems to me that what should be one theory among many (or at least several) has been raised up to a place that makes it the only acceptable way to understand Jesus and his Cross. Rather than being treated as a metaphor, the model of penal substitution has been given an objective reality which does not belong to it...

The penal substitution theory breaks down completely when it is pressed too far. If Jesus is a “ransom”, to whom is he paid? But seen as a metaphor rather than an entirely objective understanding there is no need to press it to those limits. It serves us as one of a range of ways into an understanding of the Cross.


Perhaps hearing this from a Methodist and someone other than myself and in words other than my feeble words might help. You might try reading the whole short essay.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

we're not the ones who deny the Bible's clear teaching that Christ's death caused our salvation.

You're begging the question. If the question is, "Does the Bible teach that Jesus' death specifically CAUSE our salvation?" one can't answer, "Well, obviously that's what the Bible says, so it must be so!"

I'm asking the question, "Why would I presume to take those passages literally rather than as imagery?" To say, "because they ought to be taken literally!" is begging the question.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

for that matter, it also doesn't mention God's grace or our faith literally every time it mentions our salvation or forgiveness: funny how that doesn't affect your position that we really are saved by God's grace.

No, it doesn't. And that IS my point. The bible speaks of salvation in many voices and looks at the matter from many different angles. I don't see a great need to call any of them the ONE TRUE way of looking at the matter.

There is, indeed, a sense in which we must "work out our salvation with fear and trembling," EVEN though, taken literally, that sounds an awful lot like a works-based salvation line. In a sense, nonetheless, I think it's true.

However, taking ALL of the language about salvation, the "confess Jesus is Lord" language, the "Sell all you have and follow me" language, the "Jesus' death redeems us" language, the "work out your salvation" language and the "for it is by Grace that you are saved" language and any other expressions about the salvation process... taking ALL of that, I come down to the conclusion that while there is a sense in which all are true, it comes down to God's grace alone, through faith in Jesus alone. That seems a reasonable position to land upon, to me (and fairly orthodox, to boot.)

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

You diminish Christ's death by referring to it as a mere manifestation of grace with saves...

Wow. I don't think one could ever diminish God's grace by speaking of "mere" manifestations of it. God's grace manifest in Jesus life and death and resurrection, that IS God's grace made flesh to us in person. What could be more powerful than a God that walks amongst the least of us in joy and mercy and grace?

Marty said...

"Perhaps hearing this from a Methodist"

That ain't gonna work Dan.

Several Southern Baptists have told me that Methodists don't believe the Bible.

I've heard it from a certain Methodist as well. He calls them "fakes".

Marty said...

"it comes down to God's grace alone, through faith in Jesus alone. That seems a reasonable position to land upon, to me (and fairly orthodox, to boot.)"

Yep, I agree.

Dan Trabue said...

No! Methodists? Fakes? Pish Posh!

(My word verification is, "Really?" - really)

Marty said...

"What could be more powerful than a God that walks amongst the least of us in joy and mercy and grace?"

Nothing.

Bubba said...

Dan:

"'You diminish Christ's death by referring to it as a mere manifestation of grace with saves...'

"Wow. I don't think one could ever diminish God's grace by speaking of 'mere' manifestations of it.
"

I don't think you're stupid, so look closely at what I wrote.

Look specifically at the direct object of the sentence you quote, compared your direct object.

I didn't say you're diminishing God's grace. I said you're diminishing CHRIST'S DEATH.

You are: whereas the Bible teaches that we're saved by Christ's death, you diminish it by concluding that it's a mere manifestation of God's saving grace.


You write, "The bible speaks of salvation in many voices and looks at the matter from many different angles. I don't see a great need to call any of them the ONE TRUE way of looking at the matter."

That's clearly not true.

You insist that we're actually saved by God's grace even though the Bible doesn't mention God's grace every time it mentions salvation.

And this statement's beside the point. Accepting that we're saved by Christ's death DOES NOT entail rejecting everything else the Bible teaches about salvation. You're presenting a false dilemma.

The Bible does teach many things about salvation: it comes from God's grace, through Christ's death, received by faith, for the purpose of obedience; it results in our justification, our regeneration, our sanctification, and our glorification; it results in forgiveness, new life, and even eternal life.

The panaramic view of Scripture requires us to accept ALL OF THESE claims, rather than diminish any of them, because these claims aren't remotely contradictory.


You might as well argue that we must reject the Incarnation: after all, some passages teach Christ's humanity and some His deity, but the Bible doesn't ALWAYS refer to both in discussing Christ.

That sort of logic is tendentious and absurd.

Marty said...

"(My word verification is, "Really?" - really)"

See...even word verification couldn't believe it!

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I didn't say you're diminishing God's grace. I said you're diminishing CHRIST'S DEATH.

My fault, I think I stated my statement a bit backwards. Sorry.

Let me try it again...

Wow. I don't think one could ever diminish Jesus' death by referring to as a "mere" manifestation of God's grace - referring to something as part of God's grace is about as high a praise as I could think of.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

The panaramic view of Scripture requires us to accept ALL OF THESE claims, rather than diminish any of them, because these claims aren't remotely contradictory.

Amen. Then we're in agreement. There IS a sense in which it's true that we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There IS a sense in which Jesus' death on the cross worked towards our salvation. There IS a sense (ultimately the best sense, I would say) in which we are saved by Grace through faith in Jesus. All of these points ARE true, rightly considered.

Anyone one of them, skewed as being the ONE AND ONLY way of viewing salvation can be misconstrued/misunderstood.

Marty said...

"I didn't say you're diminishing God's grace. I said you're diminishing CHRIST'S DEATH."

Does that mean that you think Dan is putting too much emphasis on Grace?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

"Don't forget, I grew up in your world. I've probably forgotten more about the Bible and your position than you've ever learned."

Forgotten? I've never seen anything that shows you were truly of the same mind as the average conservative Christian. Saying you opposed homos doesn't prove anything. I've always gotten the impression that you're disapproval was for interpretations equally as poor as your current enabling of them is. And in other areas conservative, you've shown a terrible understanding of the term and what it means. So it wasn't MY world in which you grew up.

Regarding passages you don't take literally, particularly those used in this current discussion, you have yet to explain why they shouldn't be taken literally. If Christ's death was NOT to be taken literally as a payment for our sins, as Christ Himself has said, then to say it at all is a lie. Plainly and simply. What other possible meaning could it have? I don't want to again hear about His life. I want to know what possible meaning could "Christ died for our sins" mean otherwise?

"God's grace has been made manifest amongst us by and in the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus."

Where do you get off reading this into the verses that preceded it in your comments? Your own interpretation which cannot be supported by those verses, so from where do you get it?

"Do you suspect that St. John was wrong to say that we have received God's fullness through Jesus, without mentioning specifically Jesus' death?"

No. But like Bubba says, this statement does not mean that John MUST mention Christ's death everytime he states that we receive grace through Him. Who are you to insist that he does in order for it to be true? The same goes for Peter and any time Paul neglects to put it in every sentence he speaks regarding grace or forgiveness. Again, like with homosexuality, you're counting and basing your opinion on numbers or quantity of verses that favor or disagree with your personal premise.
continued...

Marshall Art said...

Your Methodist fella asked,

"If Jesus is a “ransom”, to whom is he paid?"

To the Father of course. What a stupid question. And what fear should anyone have of pressing a notion to its limits?

"It serves us as one of a range of ways into an understanding of the Cross."

Are we to seek numerous ways of understanding or the proper understanding? The latter of course. "Numerous" ways are for those too lazy or too self-serving to seek the truth. It allows for believing on one's own terms rather than on His terms.

"Why would I presume to take those passages literally rather than as imagery?"

-Because there's no indication in the Bible that it wasn't meant literally
-Because you haven't presented any rational reason to do otherwise; you've simply chosen to do so for reasons not given
-Because you haven't given an explanation for what the imagery stands for; an alternative explanation that justifies "imagery" over literally.

"Anyone one of them, skewed as being the ONE AND ONLY way of viewing salvation can be misconstrued/misunderstood."

You're still not getting what Bubba said. Not surprising seeing as how you...never mind. When he said,

The Bible does teach many things about salvation: it comes from God's grace, through Christ's death, received by faith, for the purpose of obedience; it results in our justification, our regeneration, our sanctification, and our glorification; it results in forgiveness, new life, and even eternal life.

I don't think he meant that as a list from which one could choose what to believe or how, but that they are all necessary as one complete statement or truth claim regarding salvation.

More later. I've already missed tip-off.

Dan Trabue said...

To the Father of course. What a stupid question.

"Numerous" ways are for those too lazy or too self-serving to seek the truth.


You know what? Good bye. God bless you, may you find knowledge, contentment and some sort of peace of mind in Jesus.

I've had enough abuse here for at least this conversation, thank you very much.

Dan Trabue said...

(and I know you were addressing "stupid" to the Methodist Brother, but it's EXACTLY that sort of ignorant arrogance towards ALL who disagree with you that causes people not to want to talk with you - with you all, with the possible exception of Craig. Peace.)

Bubba said...

Marty:

It's not possible, for instance, merely to overemphasize Christ's deity, but it *IS* possible to emphasize His deity to the exclusion of His humanity, and doing so is clearly prohibited by Scripture (I Jn 4:2-3).

By the same token, it's not possible to overemphasize that we are saved by God's grace, but it is possible -- and contrary to the clear teachings of Scripture -- to emphasize salvation by grace to the exclusion of salvation by Christ's death. This is what Dan seems to be inclined to do, and he is wrong to do so.


Dan, I reiterate that you haven't shown the Christian charity that you've demanded from us, not when you accuse us of being rash in drawing our negative conclusions about you, and not when you imply that our confidence in our beliefs about the Bible fly in the face of the doctrine of depravity.

If you're checking out because Marshall called your question stupid, then you're showing a VERY CONVENIENT difference between your willingness to dish out insults and your ability to take insults in return.


I wouldn't mind this conversation drawing to a close, but I'll reply quickly to a few remaining comments.

Correcting yourself, you write:

"I don't think one could ever diminish Jesus' death by referring to as a 'mere' manifestation of God's grace - referring to something as part of God's grace is about as high a praise as I could think of."

I can think of still higher praise: Christ's death isn't just the result of God's grace (which it is), it is also the cause of our salvation, which explains why we proclaim His death SPECIFICALLY when we partake of the bread and cup, and why Paul emphasized his proclaiming Christ and Him crucified.

I'm reminded of your comment that you uphold God's righteousness more than anyone else you know, when you still haven't accounted for the penalty of sin, and you apparently don't actually believe in God's actual judgment against sin.


You write:

"There IS a sense in which it's true that we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There IS a sense in which Jesus' death on the cross worked towards our salvation. There IS a sense (ultimately the best sense, I would say) in which we are saved by Grace through faith in Jesus. All of these points ARE true, rightly considered.

"Anyone one of them, skewed as being the ONE AND ONLY way of viewing salvation can be misconstrued/misunderstood.
"

1) In the first place, you're taking Philippians 2:12 out of context:

"Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure." - Phil 2:12-13

2) There is a sense in which Christ died for our sins. He actually died for our sins. The sense in which the Bible intends that claim is clearly a literal sense, as no other "sense" makes sense.

3) Because there is no contradiction between salvation by Christ's death and salvation by God's grace, there's no need to find a "sense" in which each of them is true. One can -- and every biblical Christian MUST -- accept both claims at face value.

4) We're not emphasizing salvation by Christ's death to the exclusion of ANYTHING ELSE the Bible teaches about salvation or any other subject, so your point is moot...

5) ...except that it applies FAR MORE to yourself than to any of us, as evidenced by this very paragraph, where you refer to salvation by grace as being true in a sense, "ultimately the best sense, I would say."

You're doing EXACTLY what you're accusing us of doing: skewing the Bible's teachings of salvation to emphasize one thing to the exclusion of other teachings.

Bubba said...

In short, Dan, we affirm all that the Bible teaches, that we are saved not only by God's grace and our faith, but by Christ's death -- and that we are saved not simply from the inherent consequences of sin but from God's righteous judgment against sin.

These aren't minor points, and because you deny these clear teachings of Scripture and important doctrines of Christianity, I cannot in good faith accept your claim to love the Bible and your fellowship as a brother in Christ.

Craig said...

Obviously I've not been a big participant in this post, but a few things come to mind.

1. Dan, Calvinist is not a pejorative. What is your seemingly irrational antipathy toward Calvinists? By what intensive study of Calvinism have you come to your reasoned hunch?

2. I've been reading a bit about the top three atonement "models" and have noticed a couple of things. A. The Penal Sub. model has the most scripture that seems to clearly and plainly support that view. B. The Cristus Victor and Moral Example models rely on fewer clear passages and more inference than P.S. C. Based on my reading I'm not sure Dan is accurately understanding the M.E. model that he embraces.

3. I have marveled at Dan's ability to take a verse, a sentence, or a paragraph and parse it into literal and figurative sections.

4. Based on my secondhand hermeneutics class, last quarter, it seems as though the default position on any scripture is to assume that it is to be taken literally at first glance. Then other interpretations are attempted.

5. This seems to be one more instance that Dan's Anabaptist (he specifically clarifies as Mennonite) appear to conflict with Anabaptist (Mennonite) "theology". To quote Menno Simons,

"Through the merits of Thy blood we receive the remission of our sins according to the riches of Thy grace. Yea through this blood on the Cross He reconciled all upon earth and in heaven above. Therefore, dear Lord, I confess that I have or know no remedy for my sins, no works nor merits, neither baptism nor the Lord’s supper (although all sincere Christians use these as a sign of Thy Word and hold them in respect), but the precious blood of Thy beloved Son alone which is bestowed upon me by Thee and has graciously redeemed me, a poor sinner, through mere grace and love, from my former walk."

or Dirk Phillips.

"He has justified us out of grace without merit through the redemption that has taken place in him, Rom. 3:21-25. He has set before us the selfsame one as a mercy seat through faith in his blood, Eph. 1:5-8, and has included all those under sin in order that he alone may be justified and in turn justify all who have faith in Jesus Christ, Rom. 3:19-26.30"

Or Simons again.

"the preachers have to call us heaven-stormers and meritmen, saying that we want to be saved by our own merits even though we have always confessed, and by the grace of God ever will, that we cannot be saved by the means of anything in heaven or earth other than by the merits, intercession, death, and blood of Christ."

"The Anselmian “satisfaction” or substitutionary model of the atonement, emphatically articulated by the Magisterial Reformers, was not wrong in the Anabaptist’s view for they agreed with most of it." Frances Heibert.

Perhaps this elasticity of theology and doctrine is what is attractive to Dan.

Craig said...

Continued from above.

6. It is fairly obvious that Dan chooses to present a caricature of both S.A. and Calvinism claiming that his previous murky position as a conservative automatically confers expertise on him.

7. I would love (wouldn't we all) to get some insight as to how to decide when to interpret things literally and figuratively (as well as some sort of figurative interpretation of passages that appear to be fairly clear). It certainly seems as though the criteria is simply a hunch as to what seems to fit Dan's worldview. Maybe we could actually get some sort of objective criteria that would help us to understand how one comes up with a figurative interpretation (and what that interpretation is) of "for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. ". It purports to be a direct quote from Jesus, in the context of a) celebrating the (for Dan figurative non literal) passover, b) establishing the continued celebration of the Eucharist. If we are to interpret this one line figuratively does this mean that the whole institution of the Eucharist is also figurative? What about the passover? Why would Jesus slip in this one figurative line while instruction the 12 in something that was meant to be carried on in the future?

I am not confident that there will be answers to my questions, but I choose to retain hope that it might happen.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, at this point, I am still willing to converse with you on this topic, as you don't tend to engage in the sort of "Dan thinks X and is thus WRONG!" strawmanship, but rather, as you've done above, have presented "It seems as though Dan..." and asked for clarification. THAT is how adults have conversations and I am glad to do so with you.

And so, since Marshall does not appear to mind if we wander off topic, I'll get started with your first question...

1. Dan, Calvinist is not a pejorative. What is your seemingly irrational antipathy toward Calvinists? By what intensive study of Calvinism have you come to your reasoned hunch?

I am no expert in Calvinism. I was, however, raised in a Calvinist setting for roughly 25 years. Sometimes moreso and sometimes less so - depending upon the pastor/youth minister/Bible study leaders at any given time.

Southern Baptists seem to (at least when I was growing up) trend that way. And so, I have not studied Calvinism in an institution of higher learning, but I have heard folk speaking on behalf of Calvinism and I have read a bit on Calvinism.

Calvinism as I have heard it expressed is summed up in the acronym TULIP, standing for...

Total depravity of humanity
Unconditional election (God's Election)
Limited atonement (Particular Redemption)
Irresistible grace (Effectual Calling)
Perseverance of the Saints

I have troubles with at least three (and maybe five) of those five points, maybe more maybe less, depending on who's defining them.

My problems:

A. The total depravity of humanity. I think this is a misrepresentation of biblical teaching on the sinful nature of humanity. I think THAT is what the Bible teaches - that we have a sinful nature, a tendency towards sin.

"Utterly depraved?" That is not a biblical teaching. We are created in God's image with the expectation to follow in God's ways and the ability, by God's grace, to do so. I believe this to be a caricature of biblical teachings - AT LEAST, how I have seen it described (for instance, the notion that babies are guilty of something - this makes no logical or biblical sense).

B. Unconditional Election

My understanding of this is...

"Unconditional Election is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the predestination—or the election—of people for salvation."

I don't believe that God chose to Elect or Predestine some to be saved and others to perish. Rather, I think the Biblical teaching is that God is not willing OR desiring that any should perish, but that all be saved.

I simply don't think that is a biblical or logical teaching.

Continued...

Dan Trabue said...

C. Limited atonement (Particular Redemption)

My understanding of this teaching...

"Limited Atonement states that Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only, and actually secured salvation for them."

Christ lived and died for all. I think this is the final word on what the Bible has to say on this topic. There is no limit to God's grace. Again, I don't think this is a biblically sound teaching - as I understand it.

D. Irresistible grace (Effectual Calling)

My understanding...

"the doctrine of irresistible grace refers to the biblical truth that whatever God decrees to happen will inevitably come to pass, even in the salvation of individuals."

I believe the Bible is clear that we can choose to follow God or not and again, I don't think this is biblically sound.

E. Perseverance of the Saints

For those who define this as once saved/always saved, once again, I think the Bible does not teach that.

On all of these points, I fully understand that there are a range of beliefs within Calvinism so it largely depends upon who is defining the terms and how they're doing so as to how much I might tend to agree or disagree.

So, all of that to address your first questions to me. Am I mistaken in my fundamental understanding of the TULIPs of Calvinism? Would you like me to go into WHY biblically and logically I think these tend to be caricatures of biblical teachings and not biblically sound in themselves?

Dan Trabue said...

Should I let you deal with the Calvinism questions or proceed to your next set of questions?

I'll proceed with 2, 3 and 4, but just short responses and my own questions - that's all the time I have for now. I'll be glad to continue later on the others.

Craig asked...

I've been reading a bit about the top three atonement "models" and have noticed a couple of things. A. The Penal Sub. model has the most scripture that seems to clearly and plainly support that view. B. The Cristus Victor and Moral Example models rely on fewer clear passages and more inference than P.S. C. Based on my reading I'm not sure Dan is accurately understanding the M.E. model that he embraces.

I agree that the PS model has the most scripture supporting it IF you think that those scriptures that supporters use ought to be taken literally. If you think it is more figurative, then they tend to support the Moral Example theory.

Or, in other words, if you INFER that those passages quoted by PS supporters are best read fairly literally (not exactly literally, but sort of...), then you have more support for that theory. But then, you have reasoned your way to that conclusion.

I'd be interested in knowing what you think I am misunderstanding about the ME theory.

You go on to say...

3. I have marveled at Dan's ability to take a verse, a sentence, or a paragraph and parse it into literal and figurative sections.

and...

4. Based on my secondhand hermeneutics class, last quarter, it seems as though the default position on any scripture is to assume that it is to be taken literally at first glance.

My first question is: Why?

I'd be interested in knowing why one would draw that conclusion? It's not biblically suggested or commanded.

It is my belief that we ALL use our reasoning to parse out what to take literally and what not to take literally (and what to take fairly literally... etc).

For my part, I have gone into some good amount of detail explaining exactly how I go about exegeting the Bible, what my criteria are for understanding the Bible. So, I don't know why you'd "marvel" at how I do so, since I've explained how I do so.

In fact, I went through a good bit of effort to get everyone else here to take a stab at offering up THEIR hermeneutics/biblical understanding process and received very few answers beyond "I just know it, you know, in my gut." or "it's obvious!" (DISCLAIMER: those aren't exact quotes, just the gist of the responses as I understood them). The exception would be you, Craig, who offered (as I recall) that you also rely upon what others have written.

Of course, going with "it's obvious!" and "what others have written" is not exactly an objective way of biblical exegesis. Nor are my fairly orthodox and detailed methods, even though they're more rational, in my opinion. It is all subjective.

So, I'm not sure at what you're marveling. We all use our reason to discern literal and imagery in the Bible (hopefully prayerfully). Once again: What else is there?

Marshall Art said...

I don't mind digression at all in general, as long as it finds its way back to the original or earlier unresolved points. That would be nice.

From an initial look at Dan's latest I find the following:

I don't believe anyone stated that babies are guilty of having committed any crime or sin, but that they are not innocent, meaning they also have sin natures. I do believe this has been clarified, though I'm not up for finding the exact explanation. Consider what I've just now said to be more accurate.

"Christ lived and died for all."

This does NOT mean that all are saved. I also think the "elect" refers to believers. Logic alone would dictate that though God would prefer that all not perish, such a preference does not assume none will or even deserve to.

I think Craig's point 4 is clear. To take a verse literally upon first glance is a default position, meaning, if I'm understanding how Craig means it, that it's an automatic thing until closer inspection and study might lead elsewhere. Really an innocuous statement.

"For my part, I have gone into some good amount of detail explaining exactly how I go about exegeting the Bible, what my criteria are for understanding the Bible."

To be sure. However, you fail to show how you apply it to the points being discussed. Example being the current discussion of Christ crucified. For my part, anywhere where I've suggested a meaning is obvious, you haven't done more than say in effect, "Sez you." For example, its obvious "four corners of the earth" is a rhetorical flourish rather than a definitive description of the earth. You've never explained why anyone should take it otherwise, even though some might. Another is the notion that we are saved by grace through Christ's death on the cross. You've never explained why that should NOT be taken literally, only that you believe so. You've also never offered a reasonable explanation for what else it might mean.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

I don't believe anyone stated that babies are guilty of having committed any crime or sin, but that they are not innocent, meaning they also have sin natures.

Then you would need to explain what definition of "innocent" you are using for me to understand, since the standard English definition of "innocent" is...

free from guilt or sin especially through lack of knowledge of evil

Do you understand the dilemma? You appear to be saying...

I don't believe anyone stated that babies are guilty of having committed any crime or sin, but that they are not [free from guilt or sin] (substituting the definition for the word).

That statement collapses on itself.

Now, if you're ONLY saying that babies have a sin nature, then that is what I have been saying all along and we don't disagree, do we? Is that all you're saying?

And if so, you and I agree, Marshall, but I am not at all sure that everyone else is saying that (although, as I've noted in past conversations, getting a clear answer has been difficult).

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

"Christ lived and died for all."

This does NOT mean that all are saved. I also think the "elect" refers to believers. Logic alone would dictate that though God would prefer that all not perish, such a preference does not assume none will or even deserve to.


I did not say that everyone gets saved. Only that it is God's will that none should perish.

I could be mistaken, but I am relatively sure that at least some Calvinists don't believe this to be true. See here, for instance, where they say...

The doctrine of limited atonement affirms that the Bible teaches Christ’s atoning work on the cross was done with a definite purpose in mind—to redeem for God people from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 5:9). Jesus died, according Matthew 1:21, to “save His people from their sins.”

...In John 10:15 we see that He lays “down His life for the sheep.” Who are the sheep? They are the people chosen by God from before the foundation of the world..."


ie, God only chooses some, not all.

It states the same thing here, where they state...

The Scripture does not dabble in "possibilities." It does, however, state that the scope of His death is limited.

Jesus Christ, much like the lamb of the Old Testament sacrifice, died for some people, and secured the salvation of those people through His death which took away their sin and imputed (or accounted) His own righteousness to them.


I've heard some Calvinists say that if you think God desires to save everyone and yet everyone doesn't get saved, then that means that God's power is limited and that God is not very powerful, because people's wills can outweigh God. Some see this as a weakness, if it were true.

If you don't think God only chose some to be saved but not all, then we agree, again. But I don't know that you agree with the Calvinists (or at least some of them).

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

I think Craig's point 4 is clear. To take a verse literally upon first glance is a default position, meaning, if I'm understanding how Craig means it, that it's an automatic thing until closer inspection and study might lead elsewhere.

Okay, as far as that goes. But then, that's what I do.

I read Genesis 1 and read a mythological-sounding description of creation and take it as literal until, closer inspection and study lead elsewhere. Sometimes, it's obvious and quick (per your own suggestions). Clearly, "four corners" is a metaphor. Clearly, a six day creation is not an historical description.

Closer study reveals that much and, as you do with the "four corners," it need not always even be that close. Some things are just obvious.

Obviously, a God of perfect justice and perfect love would not command people to kill innocent children. How could that be just or loving?

So, yes, we tend to take things literally until we come upon some reason NOT to take them literally. But then, that's what is at question with many of our conversations.

We agree that it is obvious that "four corners" ought not be taken literally. Some of us agree that it is obvious that the creation story ought not be taken literally, others disagree. I think it obvious that we have reason NOT to take Godly commands to kill children literally and most of you all do.

That was my point with Craig: That we ALL are using our reasoning to sort out the "obvious" imagery from the literal. I am not doing anything that you all aren't doing other than I reach a different conclusion. I do so based upon what I think is obvious upon further reflection and study of the text.

Craig said...

Dan,

Not much time, but if you can muster some sound biblical arguments against Calvin go ahead. I feel like you misunderstand the concept of total depravity.

I think that you dismiss the teaching on homosexuality because of the limited number of verses, yet dismiss PS because (although) it has the most direct scriptural support of any of the three. Seems contradictory.

My problem with your isegesis is that the final court of arbitration is your feelings (or hunches if you prefer). Further, you don't offer a plausible reason for why you consider what seem to be clear declarative sentences as figurative. That's what would be interesting is something besides "because it doesn't make sense to Dan" as a rationale for your choices.

If you're going to beat the 4 corners dead horse don't bother. Let's deal with the scriptures actually on the topic of this post no one is arguing that 4 corners is anything but imagery. You on the other hand are arguing that certain things (as referenced above) should be interpreted figuratively with no foundation for doing so (beyond Dan doesn't think so).

If you want to rehash the past (which seems as though it is a way to divert the conversation) then let's not waste the time, if you want to address whats here then I'll respond as I am able.

I've asked this before with no response, but hope springs eternal.

What is your basis for assuming that God is bound by the "standard English definition" of the term innocent. Is your mind so narrow and set in it's ways that you can't comprehend that God might have a different standard than the English legal system?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

"Do you understand the dilemma?"

It's a false dilemma and always was. The concept is not new in the least and I question the integrity of supposing we mean something so blatantly silly. It's a fine time waster, but it's insulting to assume we could mean that babies have a knowledge of sin or are capable of committing sin. Few would even attempt such a ploy or suggest such a misinterpretation.

For the next bit, I'm not sure you're understanding the Calvinist take based on what you're presenting of it, but suffice to say that what constitutes God's people or His elect was not only altered as described by Peter's vision in Acts, but also foretold in OT prophesies. But to go on would be even further digression. It seems we agree that not all WILL be saved and that's enough for now.

"Obviously, a God of perfect justice and perfect love would not command people to kill innocent children."

It's NOT obvious that you understand fully what would constitute pefect justice and love on HIS terms, but only on what YOU think is perfect. We allow that our understanding might not account for every possibility regarding the extent of His nature. You assume. You seem to say, basically, "Well, over here He's a real nice guy so this part can't be true enough to take literally." Then, you back it up with beliefs about how ancient people wrote without showing why we should believe that THESE ancient people are employing that techique to write about the One True God. In other words, you're not really making the connection between how you say you interpret what's literal and what isn't to the verses and concepts we're actually discussing. (And by the way, I don't necessarily believe that God DIDN'T create the universe in six days, nor do I think it's obvious. All I can say with certainty is that by our limitations as humans, it appears it might have taken longer. I am not prepared to limit God's power in any way. Assuming it took Him more than six days to do anything seems a bit presumptuous to me.)

Bubba said...

Dan:

If you're back despite your objections to Marshall's calling your question stupid, you could have least come back without engaging in your derogatory language -- as you do when you bring up "strawmanship."

But if you're going to criticize strawman arguments, you should at least have the consistency not to use them yourself.

"Obviously, a God of perfect justice and perfect love would not command people to kill innocent children. How could that be just or loving?"

This is a strawman, Dan.

It's a strawman for at least two reasons.

1) The Bible doesn't record a divine command to wipe out groups of children. Instead, it attributes to God the command to wage wars of annihilation against entire groups that merely include children.

The Bible records that God commanded ancient Israel to wipe out an enemy, including children but not especially or exclusively children.

2) Nowhere does the Bible attribute innocence to any group which God selected for annihilation.

On the contrary, the Bible is clear that those groups were especially wicked. You presume the innocence of a subset within that group either from silence or even against what the Bible records.


On this subject, you've repeatedly gone out of your way to frame the question in the most skewed possible terms: I'm frankly surprised you had restraint enough not to use the word "slaughter" this time.

But there's another, more objective way of looking at the Bible's difficult commands to wage wars of annihilation, commands attributed to God and given to ancient Israel in very limited and specific circumstances.

It rests on the obvious observation that GOD MADE MAN.

God created human life, and so it is His prerogative to decide when that life ends, apart from *ANY* considerations of an individual life's moral standing: God isn't actually obligated to make a human life immortal, even so long as that life is truly and completely innocent.

His prerogative extends beyond the question of when to end the life THAT HE HIMSELF CREATED AND BROUGHT INTO EXISTENCE, to the question of how to end that life. It is His prerogative to end that life however He chooses, through the "natural" means of the physical universe running its course, through the supernatural means of the miraculous, or even (yes) human agency.

What you so glibly declare as "obvious" is an affront to God's sovereignty.

- God created human life and He is sovereign, and so He is morally justified in ending it whenever He pleases: in infancy, childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.

- God created human life and He is sovereign, and so He is morally justified in ending it HOWEVER He pleases, including through human agency.

- God created human life and He is sovereign, and so He is morally justified in ending it, with no consideration for that life's moral standing as innocent or guilty.

As is the case on God's judgment against sin and Christ's dying for our salvation, your position on God's sovereignty over human life simply isn't supported by all of what the Bible teaches.

Your position is clearly the result of your own speculation, and you can occasionally invoke a few passages of Scripture to support it -- though often out of context, as with Psalm 106, distorting vv. 37-38 in the face of vv. 34-36 -- but that's not very commendable.

You can occasionally appeal to Scripture to justify (poorly) your own beliefs, but there's no real evidence of your trying to make your beliefs conform to all that Scripture actually teaches.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said...

but if you can muster some sound biblical arguments against Calvin go ahead. I feel like you misunderstand the concept of total depravity.

So, you BELIEVE that the TULIP stuff is biblical and valid? All five points? Just trying to clarify.

What do you feel I misunderstand about total depravity?

I think that you dismiss the teaching on homosexuality because of the limited number of verses, yet dismiss PS because (although) it has the most direct scriptural support of any of the three. Seems contradictory.

Then you have misunderstood.

1. I don't "dismiss" PS. I just don't take it literally (nor do you), nor do I take it as almost literally as you appear to.

2. I don't think this BECAUSE it has more biblical support, I disagree with your take because I don't think the biblical support is there. It's there ONLY if you take it literally-ish and I don't see valid grounds for doing so.

So (and this is one of the problems with these rowdy free-for-alls - it's hard to systematically deal with every question that arises and chase every rabbit that sticks its head out), let me tackle the PS one a bit...

But first, Craig also said...

My problem with your isegesis is that the final court of arbitration is your feelings (or hunches if you prefer). Further, you don't offer a plausible reason for why you consider what seem to be clear declarative sentences as figurative. That's what would be interesting is something besides "because it doesn't make sense to Dan" as a rationale for your choices.

You all have already established that "It's obvious" is a good enough standard for considering a passage to be not literal. That is MARSHALL's and apparently all of your hermeneutic, not mine. That is what YOU ALL have established.

If a passage is "obviously" not to be taken literal, then it's okay to not take it literally. That is what I've heard you all say. Are you backing down from that position? If so, then on what grounds do you consider "four corners" imagery?

Dan Trabue said...

Oh, and bringing up "four corners" is only to strive to determine what hermeneutics you all use. It seems pretty subjective and whimsical and so I am striving to understand by using a verse that we all agree is not literal.

Does that not make sense? (Craig, and maybe others, you seem to take offense to my bringing it up and not get the point, so that's why I'm asking.)

I'll get to PS next, as soon as I have a chance.

But I feel I have to respond to this thing, too, so, Craig said...

What is your basis for assuming that God is bound by the "standard English definition" of the term innocent. Is your mind so narrow and set in it's ways that you can't comprehend that God might have a different standard than the English legal system?

1. God is not bound by our English. Never said God was. Never implied God was. Get past that, because it is NOT what I am saying and if that's what you're getting out of my definition question, you're not getting the point.

2. I ask about English definitions because WE SPEAK English. I am striving to understand YOUR (collective) point when you use a non-standard English definition, not saying what God does and doesn't believe.

Again, is it not just plain common sense in an English conversation if someone appears to be using non-standard English, to get them to define what they mean?

Bubba said...

Dan, at your own blog, you've used the phrase "sunset" over and over and over again.

If we were to play the same games about your writing as you do about the Bible you claim to revere oh-so-highly, we must conclude that you believe in a geocentric universe, since you insist that only a "whimsical" hermeneutic could lead to the belief that the Bible's reference to the "four corners" of the earth is anything other than a literal description of geography.

The sun doesn't revolve around the earth, and so the sun doesn't literally set. Instead, the earth rotates as it revolves around the sun, and so the sun only appears to set from our limited perspective.

Because it's so difficult to parse language, we simply cannot tell precisely what you mean by using the word "sunset," so we must conclude that you're clinging to a pre-Copernican worldview.


Now, do you remember how you got into such a huff ONLY LATE LAST WEEK, when Marshall referred to a question as stupid?

You accused him of "abuse" and wrote that his language is "EXACTLY that sort of ignorant arrogance towards ALL who disagree with [him] that causes people not to want to talk with [him]."

Are you any better when you dismiss our approach to Scripture as "whimsical"? Even though our approach conforms to the church's historical interpretation FAR BETTER than yours?


And on the subject of language, you are very inconsistent in insisting that we limit our word use to dictionary definitions.

In order to dismiss as ludicrous the obvious conclusion that Barack Obama is a statist and a collectivist, you argue that he is a capitalist by appealling to a minimalist definition of the term, but that definition has never stopped you, before or after, from approvingly quoting Mark Twain and others who denounce capitalists as tyrannical oppressors.


The pose you take in making these recent criticisms, is completely undermined by your own written record.

It would be more profitable if you would show us which verses of the Bible clearly teach that Christ's death was only symbolic of God's salvation, and that God is not sovereign in deciding when and how human life will end.

But since no such passages exist, and since you can make such arguments from Scripture only by taking passages out of context and doing severe damage to its clear teachings, I can understand why you would want to focus on other subjects.

Dan Trabue said...

sigh, I'll deal with ONE thing that Bubba has brought up and then return to Craig's questions and hope to hear some answers from any of you all to MY questions (you know, conversation).

Bubba said...

Are you any better when you dismiss our approach to Scripture as "whimsical"?

In reference to THIS comment from me...

bringing up "four corners" is only to strive to determine what hermeneutics you all use. It seems pretty subjective and whimsical and so I am striving to understand by using a verse that we all agree is not literal.

1. I stated quite clearly that this was an attempt to clarify what your criteria are for interpreting the Bible.

2. I stated quite clearly that IT SEEMS to me that your approach is fairly whimsical and subjective. It is a fact that this IS how your [you, collectively] approach SEEMS TO ME. That is a statement of reality.

3. IF IT SEEMS TO ME that your approach is too subjective and whimsical (based on gut feelings and what is "obvious" TO YOU), then it SEEMS TO ME an obvious question to ask: How do YOU interpret the Bible? How is your approach any less subjective than mine?

4. From where I sit, my approach seems at least a bit more objective, and yet it still is subjective. We have no definitive source for reading a book like the Bible so all of our interpretations WILL be subjective to some degree. You all SEEM to criticize me for what you think is subjective bible study and yet I can't see how what you do is any more objective than what I do.

And so I ask a question to clarify, not to dismiss, but to clarify.

Does that really seem unreasonable? What would you have a fella do when another appears to be using wholly subjective and undefined criteria for interpreting the Bible?

Dan Trabue said...

Before I attempt my own explanation, perhaps you'd be reading an Anabaptist explanation here...

In chapter 10, Chalke looks at the message and meaning of the cross and indirectly discusses penal substitution, or the idea that the purpose of Jesus' death was to placate a wrathful God who can only be satisfied by the sacrifice of his own son...

By focusing simply on God's wrath and appeasement through the cross we paint a distorted picture of God's character. We portray him as a someone bent on retribution rather than someone who loves us deeply but who is upset by our actions. Furthermore, Chalke said, penal substitution perpetuates the myth of redemptive violence.

“In the end, if you believe in penal substitution, the cross is not primarily about God's love, but about God's anger,” [Chalke] said.

...Murray Williams opened his statement with a review of the early history of the church, noting that the early Christians had no real theories of atonement and it was only when they became associated with Constantine that they began to create theories of atonement. Until then, the focus of Christianity was on Jesus as an example and a teacher, not as a sacrifice...

Or here...

For nearly 300 years, these Christians were uninterested in developing theories of the atonement. They knew Jesus had died to save them, they preached ‘Christ crucified’ and they celebrated his resurrection triumph over the spiritual and political powers that oppressed them. They drew on various images the New Testament uses, but they did not insist on one formula or explanation. Certainly not penal substitution, of which there is little trace in the early centuries...

...So the fourth-century Alpha course changed dramatically. Precisely defined doctrine became more important than faithful discipleship. The social, political and economic implications of the life and death of Jesus were abandoned. His message was ignored or domesticated to support the new status quo. The great fourth-century creeds ignored his life and message and moved straight from his birth to his death (the Nicene Creed, for example, moves from the statement ‘was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man’ to the statement ‘and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate’). No mention of the life and message of Jesus!


Williams' Six Problems with PSA:

1. Punishing an innocent man – even a willing victim – is fundamentally unjust.

2. Biblical justice is essentially about restoration of relationships rather than retribution.

3. Penal substitution is inherently violent and contravenes central aspects of the message of Jesus.

4. Penal substitution raises serious difficulties for our understanding of the Trinity.

5. Penal substitution fails to engage adequately with structural and systemic evil.

6. If penal substitution is correct, neither the life of Jesus nor his resurrection have much significance [a point which some of you all have sounded like you're making - that the purpose of Jesus' coming was not his life, but his death - dt].



...in light of what I said earlier about Christendom, about the centre and the margins, about the impact of where we stand on what we believe, I simply note that those who have objected most strongly to penal substitution are those who have felt marginalised by church and society – Black Christians, feminist Christians and Anabaptists...

Penal substitution – a relative newcomer among attempts to interpret the meaning of Jesus’ death – has captured the allegiance of most evangelicals. But it is rooted in the Christendom system, in imperial and coercive Christianity, in a church colluding with the powers rather than offering a prophetic challenge or an alternative vision of justice and peace...

Dan Trabue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Trabue said...

Or, an Orthodox critique...

Cons of the theory:

* It is not a biblical theory.
o ‘Satisfaction’ is a feudal concept.
o It is predicated on the assumption that God has human characteristics.
o It makes sin God’s problem not man’s.
o It makes salvation into something wholly external to man, leaving him essentially unchanged.

...Now if we affirm that God cannot change and that he is just he simply cannot let man ‘off the hook’. If this is the case then Divine Justice is greater than God. So Anselm’s God either:

* Changes his mind.
* Is constrained by external cosmic Justice.

A further problem with Satisfaction theories is that sin becomes God’s problem. He loves mankind and wants to forgive, but he cannot because He is Just. So the Atonement becomes a way for God to have a relationship with us and not us changing our relationship with Him. For the Orthodox, to be saved is to be restored to true spiritual health. It is not God’s attitude towards man that needs to be changed, but rather man’s state.

Bubba said...

Dan, what I would have is some consistency. If you're going to object to someone referring to a question as "stupid" -- even calling his action abusive and ignorant arrogance -- it seems inconsistent for you to dismiss another's hermeneutic as "whimsical."

If you think that qualifying your comment with "it seems" makes all the difference in the world, then it seems that you're splitting hairs. It seems that you're trying to find the thinnest fig leaf with which to cover your derogatory speech.


About the issue of interpretation, of sifting figurative language from literal language, I will reiterate that I believe the process is hard to describe, not because it's difficult, but because it's very easy.

Describing the mental process is like describing the mental process for breathing: breathing involves the use of several sets of muscles to create with our lungs a billows effect (much like an accordian), but the actual mental process for the activity is so very natural that it's often not even a conscious process.

Using figurative language is such a natural thing that I notice my own use of it, here, only in hindsight: references to hair-splitting and fig leaves are metaphors and even cliches, obviously not intended to be taken literally.

Even you can't help using figurative language.

You're addressing "ONE thing that Bubba has brought up," but I didn't literally lift any object with my hands.

You write that you "hope to hear some answers" to your questions, but unless you're using software to translate text to speech, you don't actually hear anything that we write.

And you write about how things seem "From where I sit," but surely the position and location of your chair has nothing to do with our disagreements.


You cannot possibly provide a clear hermeneutic for how we're supposed to interpret YOUR OWN WRITING, to the level of detail that you demand from us regarding our interpretation of Scripture.

You're welcome to prove me wrong, and I encourage you to do so by providing that hermeneutic for your own writing. Until you do, I believe that we should ignore your request, as it seems absurd, asinine, and beside the point.


Your point about the biblical references to the earth's four corners is... what, exactly? That the Bible contains errors, or that it's impossible to have any confidence in our understanding of the Bible?

(It seems to be the latter: "We have no definitive source for reading a book like the Bible so all of our interpretations WILL be subjective to some degree.")

Either way, if you think the Bible is either occasionally wrong or frequently inscrutable, what in the world are you doing telling everybody how much you love the Bible and respect its teachings?

How can you respect teachings that are erroneous? Or how can you respect teachings that you're not even sure you understand?

Dan Trabue said...

if you think the Bible is either occasionally wrong or frequently inscrutable, what in the world are you doing telling everybody how much you love the Bible and respect its teachings?

1. My point is not that the Bible is occasionally wrong.

2. My point is not that it's inscrutable. Indeed, I think it is mostly EXTREMELY clear.

3. My point is that I am not doing anything differently than you all, except that I DO at least have a bit of a system in place for going the extra mile in striving to discern God's will as found in the Bible.

Indeed, I think it is QUITE evident that a perfect God of Justice and Love would not command people to kill children. There is nothing hard at all to understanding that.

So, if YOUR point is that the Bible is fairly easy to understand, then we largely agree. We just disagree on the understanding.

Bubba said...

Dan:

"My point is that I am not doing anything differently than you all, except that I DO at least have a bit of a system in place for going the extra mile in striving to discern God's will as found in the Bible."

That doesn't seem entirely accurate, since you seem to allow "God's word written on your heart" to trump God's written revelation in the Bible.

I say that because, when you claim, for instance, that "it is QUITE evident that a perfect God of Justice and Love would not command people to kill children" (still a strawman formulation; see my earlier comment, which you haven't addressed), you rarely ground your conclusion in what the Bible teaches. And when you do appeal to Scripture, you frequently take passages out of even their immediate context, as you did with Psalm 106.


About the Bible's record of divine commands to wage wars of annihilation, you still haven't addressed my belief that your position undermines God's sovereignty to end the life HE CREATED, whenever He chooses, however He chooses, with no regard to the innocence or guilt of that life.


About our belief that Christ's death caused our forgiveness, you quote a couple authors whose claims are simply not credible.

One apparently writes that, until Constantine, "the focus of Christianity was on Jesus as an example and a teacher, not as a sacrifice."

He apparently never read Hebrews or even Christ's own claim that His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin.

In terms of the amount of text, the emphasis in each of the Gospels is clearly on Christ's death -- not His teachings, healings, or even His Resurrection.

Matthew records that the angel declared that Christ would be called Jesus because "He will save people from their sins" (Mt 1:21), and he records that Christ Himself connected that act of the forgiveness of sins, not to His teachings, but to His shed blood (Mt 26:28).

Mark taught that Christ claimed that He came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45).

And John repeatedly alludes to Jesus' "hour" (Jn 2:4, 7:30, 8:20) or "time" (Jn 7:8), and this allusion clearly points to the cross, as seen in Jn 12:23, 12:27, and 17:1.

Bubba said...

The most interesting thing is how frequently what you quote is political, not theological.

- The claim that "penal substitution perpetuates the myth of redemptive violence."

- "Penal substitution is inherently violent and contravenes central aspects of the message of Jesus." [That message includes serious warnings of judgment.]

- "Penal substitution fails to engage adequately with structural and systemic evil."

You quote a guy who notes...

"...that those who have objected most strongly to penal substitution are those who have felt marginalised by church and society – Black Christians, feminist Christians and Anabaptists...

"Penal substitution – a relative newcomer among attempts to interpret the meaning of Jesus’ death – has captured the allegiance of most evangelicals. But it is rooted in the Christendom system, in imperial and coercive Christianity, in a church colluding with the powers rather than offering a prophetic challenge or an alternative vision of justice and peace...
"

This is clearly a Marxist reading of history intended to advance a Marxist political program.

If you think these sort of statements are worthwhile in discerning "God's will as found in the Bible," then you're proving my biggest criticism about you, Dan.

Your position isn't based on the Bible's clear teachings; it's based on your political philosophy.

None of those complaints I list just now have much of anything to do with what is and isn't biblical. Their focus is on what is and isn't politically useful to their progressive cause.


The statements above basically argue for rejecting the idea that Christ's death caused our forgiveness, NOT BECAUSE OF WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES, but because the idea is either neutral or detrimental towards the progressive political goals of (Western) pacifism and so-called social justice.

That you think their arguments have any validity shows your true colors.

If my belief that Christ's death caused our forgiveness had ANYTHING to do with, say, the cause of advancing the free market, it would be completely obvious that politics were driving my religious beliefs.

Because you allude to pacifism and so-called social justice in a summary of arguments against that belief, your priorities become just as clear.

Dan Trabue said...

This is clearly a Marxist reading of history intended to advance a Marxist political program.

That's right. The anabaptists - Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, etc - are all a part of Karl Marx's plan to overthrow the ruling elite, or whatever.

Man, just because someone takes the teachings of our Lord and Savior fairly seriously and fairly literally and find that it has political and societal implications does not make them a Marxist. You all bark at anyone who sneezes, suspecting them of Marxist/Leninist communism. Relax, he's just a Christian.

The thing is, there are a good many of us Christians, saved by God's grace and striving to walk in Jesus' steps by God's grace and take the teachings of Jesus and the example of the early church fairly literally and, when we do so, you tend to accuse us of trying to fit the Bible to our supposed political agenda. It just ain't so, at least a good bit of the time.

I arrived at my positions BECAUSE of the Bible, rather than holding some political positions and trying to find support for them in the Bible. It just happens fairly regularly. It's that way for me and for a goodly number of progressive and anabaptist Christians whom I know personally and whom I've read.

I reckon I just need to go back to Craig's list of questions and have to go back to ignoring Bubba. He appears to have an agenda and is hellbent on sticking to it. Or at least that's how he comes across.

Bubba said...

Dan:

What you wrote and what I quoted was indeed a Marxist framing of the history of Christian theology. It's the depiction of a power struggle between the have's and have-not's -- specifically, the marginalized "Black Christians, feminist Christians and Anabaptists" against an "imperial and coercive Christianity" -- with the implication that the marginalized are right and virtuous because they're marginalized.

That you can't see or admit the Marxist mythology is your problem, not mine. That you respond to my observation by producing a strawman parody of it is further proof of both your hypocrisy and your frank cowardice in the face of inconvenient arguments.


On the subject of your character, it's complete bullshit that you're "someone [who] takes the teachings of our Lord and Savior fairly seriously and fairly literally."

Christ affirmed the authority of Scripture to the smallest penstroke, and He taught that God made us male and female so that a man would become one flesh with His wife.

More importantly, Christ warned of God's judgment against sin and He taught that His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin.

Your beliefs fly in the face of ALL OF THIS.


"I arrived at my positions BECAUSE of the Bible, rather than holding some political positions and trying to find support for them in the Bible."

That too is a lie, and a rather obvious one, as evidenced by your clumsy and transparent attempts to rip passages out of context in order to justify your unbiblical positions -- when, that is, you actually argue your position from the text.

Scripture gives no reason to dismiss the historicity of its account of the Passover, for instance, and plenty of reasons that it MUST be accepted as historical, including the fact that God commanded the Jews to celebrate the event every year, and the fact that Christ used the Passover meal to explain the meaning of His own death.

And yet, you insist that numerous historical passages must somehow be reinterpreted as figurative, not because the text demands it, because of "God's word written on your heart."


You're a flagrant and apparently unrepentant liar. You seem to have no trouble saying whatever you think you need to say to advance your agenda of promoting your political philosophy in the guise of Christian faith.

Your true faith is quite obviously your political progressivism of selective pacifism, false social justice, and radical collectivism.

Christianity is just the ill-fitting mask under which all of that resides. There's no real indication that you desire to conform your beliefs to all that Christ teaches, much less all of the teachings found in the Scripture that He Himself affirmed and ultimately inspired.

I know who and what you are, Dan, and if you want to ignore the inconvenient facts that show your Christian faith as the facade that it is, you do so at your own moral and spiritual peril.

Dan Trabue said...

Feel free to stop in town sometime, Bubba, and have lunch on me. I ain't no boogetyman, just a brother in Christ.

In the meantime, you'll have to understand if I go back to "ignore Bubba" mode.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

I, for one, certainly understand the "ignore Bubba" mode. But rather than explain just what I mean by that, I would once again point out that you do indeed dismiss those parts of the Bible that conflict with your conclusions.

It doesn't make any sense that you would take literally one aspect of God's character, which is based on what you read in the Bible, and then dismiss other aspects written in the same manner, that depicts other aspects of His nature. Whatever "process" you claim to use to decide which is to be taken literally and which isn't hasn't been explained insofar as how you've applied it to these other passages.

You THINK the writers are expressing some kind of revenge fantasy or some other possibility that isn't supportable, yet, we're to believe, based on your "process", that the writers have dispensed with their literary imagery when writing of His love. The whole "process" makes no sense and does NOT in any way seem to be applied in the same manner across the board.

You will likely respond, "It might make no sense to YOU." This is a dishonest response as we have taken great pains to explain our sides without the use of such cowardly tactics. There are many places in the OT where it speaks of God turning His face from Israel or and individual. Pleas go out that He won't do this, but statements from Him say He will or is ready to do so. Is this also imagery? If so, why? What do expect the ramifications of His turning His face would be? Clearly the Bible speaks of Israel losing wars and battles to inferior forces under such circumstances, while the opposite occurs when Israel defeats superior forces.

Why would Jesus warn us about hell if it were not someplace especially nasty? At least as a place far less preferred than heaven? It's not as if He proposes that it's like a two star hotel compared to heaven's five.

The whole idea of God's wrath is necessary to the understanding that we need salvation. If God isn't capable and willing to exact terrible consequences, from what, EXACTLY, are we to be saved? How does punishment, something that is part and parcel of any form of justice, contrary to a loving and just God?

And if you concede that we are all in need of salvation, by what means are we granted that salvation? "Grace" is not a means. Grace is only possible THROUGH Christ's death. The Bible could not be more clear on this point and the entire OT foreshadows Christ's sacrifice. You ignore the OT's "writing on the wall" regarding this in order to maintain your position which justifies your political ideology. What's worse, you maintain a totally closed mind rather open it to an alternative position with far, far fewer loose ends than is left by your own, and constantly pointed out here and elsewhere. You, like all libs do, cling to what you'd prefer rather than acknowledge what is. This is the crux of your belief system and it shows whether we're speaking religiously or politically.

Bubba said...

Dan, to address a (possibly deliberate?) misunderstanding, I don't have a problem with drawing political conclusions from the Bible's teachings.

I often disagree with the political conclusions you draw, but your comment from earlier wasn't about "someone tak[ing] the teachings of our Lord and Savior fairly seriously and fairly literally and find[ing] that it has political and societal implications."

What you quoted and/or summarized wasn't an effort to take the Bible's teachings and draw political principles. It was an effort to use political principles to dismiss the Bible's teachings.

It's an argument that the political agenda of supposed pacifism and social justice precludes Christ's substitutionary atonement.

What's presumed is the repudiation of "the myth of redemptive violence" and the need to address "structural and systemic evil." From those presumptions the writers dismiss -- essentially if not explicitly -- the Bible's clear teachings that Christ shed His blood for our forgiveness, that He became sin who knew no sin, that He became a curse for us so that we could appropriate His righteousness, and that He bore our sins on the cross. (Mt 26:28, II Cor 5:21, Gal 3:13, I Pet 2:24)


Dan, I've said a couple times that you'd probably be cordial company over lunch, but I'll pass on that offer, baring a genuine belief that you're open to biblical, Christian correction.

I can dine with honest atheists, non-believers, and Buddhists, but not someone who I believe has built and is maintaining a false faith that resembles Christianity but who really works toward advancing something else entirely.

I do not respect you and I cannot pretend to do so even over one brief meal.


I've wasted more than enough time talking with you like this, Dan. I will seek to find other ways to defend Christian truth as I understand it, ways that are more productive and much less time-consuming.

From this particular ground, I think I will now withdraw, very grudgingly, and cede a victory, not REMOTELY on the substance, but only to a tenacious effort at deception that can increasingly be described as literally sociopathic.

Since I have other responsibilities to which I must attend, my effort to defend the truth can no longer compete with your effort to promote what is, at rock bottom, one giant lie.


I might see you around, I might not. With any luck, we'll never cross paths again, and I hope to have the discipline not to look for trouble.

I close by observing that you repeatedly argued that William Ayers was guilty only of "blowing up stuff," and that you denied, "forgot" and dismissed all evidence to the contrary -- including his own admission to targeting a military dance with a nail bomb that would have maimed and murdered soldiers and even their loved ones.

I point that out because the contrast is glaring, between your whitewashing of the record of an unrepentant domestic terrorist and your continued efforts to smear Jehovah, as He is described in Scripture.

What would be objectively described as the divine command to wage wars of annihilation, you distort into a divine command to kill children specifically, to kill innocent children, and even to "slaughter" children.

You carry water for a radical domestic terrorist while you tear down the Bible's depiction of God Almighty.

That's probably the clearest example of where your loyalties really lie.


Everyone else, I'll see you around. My theologically conservative friends here can contact Neil or Marshall for my email address if you're interested.

Dan Trabue said...

Just so you all know, I am working on a longer, more complete response to why I don't think PSA taken literally is the best biblical view of atonement.

In the meantime, Marshall asked...

Why would Jesus warn us about hell if it were not someplace especially nasty?

I'm not sure of your point. I think of hell as a place especially nasty - not literally a fire and brimstone but someplace much worse - separation from God.

It is because I view God so highly that I would think that separation from God is far worse than any literal fire.

Marshall...

The whole idea of God's wrath is necessary to the understanding that we need salvation. If God isn't capable and willing to exact terrible consequences, from what, EXACTLY, are we to be saved?

We are being saved from sin from being lost, not from God, which is what it sounds like you're saying. We are being saved BY and TO God.

And that is one of my problems in the more calvinistic views of God - God is something to be saved FROM, a horrible, vengeful entity capable of inflicting eternal suffering. That does not sound like the God of Justice and Love described in the Bible, but rather, a rather monstrous entity that inspires fear, not adoration.

But, to answer your question: We are being saved FROM SIN and saved from separation from God, from being lost and in sin, seems to me to be what the Bible teaches.

"For God had come to seek and to save THE LOST."

"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for THE REMISSION OF SINS"

"be baptized for the forgiveness of sins."

A dictionary definition of "save" in a theological sense is, "to deliver from sin." The theological definition of "salvation" is "spiritual rescue from sin and death."

From the Bible Today website.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

by what means are we granted that salvation? "Grace" is not a means. Grace is only possible THROUGH Christ's death.

Oh? Says who? Who says Grace is not a means?

As to the "possible through Christ's death" line, I don't entirely disagree - God's grace IS found in Jesus' life and death and resurrection. It is evidenced and found therein.

Are you saying God's grace is NOT found in Jesus' life and resurrection, only his death?

If so, that's another part of what I find wrong in Calvinism - the de-emphasis of Jesus life and resurrection and emphasis on the death alone.

As renowned preacher Charles Spurgeon said...

“I do not know whether what Adam Smith supposes is correct, that in the garden of Gethsemane Christ did pay more of a price (for our sins) than he did even on the cross; but I am quite convinced that they are very foolish who get to such refinement that they think the atonement was made on the cross and nowhere else at all...”

Craig said...

Dan,

After a fair amount of research on the 5 points I feel confident that Calvin has made an excellent explicitly Biblical argument that supports the five points. Or more accurately Calvin's 5 points accurately and succinctly express explicitly Biblical concepts.

As to total depravity, you seem to fall into the common misconception that TD means that humans have no capacity for good. If you were to research how it is actually defined you would see that that is not what Calvin meant.

I understand that you selectively apply your literality litmus test to fragments of scripture, this is not in doubt. What is in doubt is the correctness of your diagnosis. If you actually look at the scriptural support for PSA, the scriptures clearly support the obvious reading, if you have a reason (beyond Dan says so) to take them figuratively please let's hear it. If you have a figurative interpretation (besides it's not literal, it's figurative because of my Reason), let's hear it. But I'm willing to bet that I could probably answer your objections before you post, but we'll see.

RE: It's obvious, please don't put words in my mouth. However, when Jesus says "It is finished" (tetelestai) I am willing to accept that he actually said that and that the Greek word is the same word used to indicate a debt being paid. Which would be one additional support for PSA.

Dan, as I have said (ad infinitum) the 4 corners example, if taken literally is literally a figure of speech. This figure of speech has a fairly established meaning and is not really something that could reasonably be misinterpreted. So instead of beating a dead horse (and diverting the conversation) why not demonstrate how some of the verses under discussion here could be interpreted figuratively or why a literal interpretation is completely unreasonable. It might move things forward.

Re: English definition of innocent. I am willing to accept the Biblical record that those who He ordered destroyed were indeed wicked and that God is a much better judge of innocence than I (or you). So, while I would use the standard English definition of innocence in discussion of a criminal case in the U.S. I would not presume to supposed that God would be limited to your definition. You can feel free to impute any motives to God you will. But, you have yet to provide any support for your contention that any who were killed were innocent (using God's standard of innocence).

I'll address your six "objections" later but, this is all commonly dealt with stuff and has been dealt with adequately elsewhere.

I note you choose to ignore the earlier quotes from (among others Menno).

It is interesting that the objections you raise seem to deal with a caricature of PSA rather than an objective analysis of what is actually taught. For example no one that I have read uses PSA to limit of deny the power of the resurrection or of the resultant victory over sin. In short, the common thread of most objections is "It's not fair". Well no one said it was, and we don't get to define fair anyway. Every one of those objections can be reversed and used against the Moral Example interpretation.

more later

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

As to total depravity, you seem to fall into the common misconception that TD means that humans have no capacity for good. If you were to research how it is actually defined you would see that that is not what Calvin meant.

While I have not thought a good deal about the meaning, I think "no capacity for good," is a fairly faithful definition of the English term, "total depravity."

Totally, meaning "Entirely; wholly; completely."

and

depraved, meaning "morally bad or debased; corrupt; perverted"

Entirely corrupt and morally bad.

Are you suggesting that Calvinists define the term in some way other than the common English definition? If so, please share that.

In the real world, I recognize that many (most?) Calvinists recognize in some form or the other the human capacity to do good things. I've seen that "phenomena" described as "Well, they may do things that look and are, in fact, morally good, but they do it for selfish reasons."

I have also seen it defined as, "the belief that original sin renders humans incapable of achieving salvation without God's grace," and, "Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel. This is why Total Depravity has also been called "Total Inability..."

which comes closer to being a reasonable biblical explanation, but still falls short of biblical reasonableness, seems to me.

I believe the Bible teaches that God made humanity with the ability to choose right and wrong, including the ability to choose to accept God's grace and follow Jesus and the ability to choose to reject God's grace.

But, please, tell me how you think Calvinists define it (and if you have a source, that would be even better.)

Dan Trabue said...

I note you choose to ignore the earlier quotes from (among others Menno).

Ignore?? I've got dozens of questions on HUGE topics and I have a job to do and family matters to take care of and it is entirely true that I have not even given much consideration to your Menno quotes. What of it?

Are you "ignoring" all my questions asked of you, since you have yet to respond to them?

Patience fellas. I am one man, one man with a life outside of blogging. I'm striving to prioritize and answer questions but can only do so much.

Be reasonable.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said...

RE: It's obvious, please don't put words in my mouth...

As to total depravity, you seem to fall into the common misconception that TD means that humans have no capacity for good...

...It is interesting that the objections you raise seem to deal with a caricature of PSA rather than an objective analysis of what is actually taught.


Things like this, but you don't say WHAT the caricature is, WHERE I've gone astray, WHAT "put words in your mouth," etc. When you raise vague objections, I hope you realize that I most likely will have no idea what you're speaking of. I recognize that we all do this to some degree as a shortcut and sometimes people do and sometimes they don't know what we're speaking of, but in many of your comments like the ones above, I have no idea what you're speaking of and I thought you might like to know.

Seems like a waste of words to write something that the other doesn't know what means.

Dan Trabue said...

as I have said (ad infinitum) the 4 corners example, if taken literally is literally a figure of speech.

I know you have said that. I'm saying, SAYS WHO? Where is the book that says, "When you see X, it is obviously a figure of speech, not to be taken literally..."?

And I know others have said that "it's just obvious, you'll know it when you see it...," or words to that effect. But that gets back to the whole subjective, whimsical approach to Bible study.

What SEEMS like to me an obvious figure of speech, you all take literally. What SEEMS like to some here is imagery, I think is fairly clearly literal.

That is what is at question here, or at least one of them. What is the criteria for knowing what is "obviously" imagery or figures of speech? Our own God-given reason? Okay, but what happens when my God-given reason conflicts with your God-given reason?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said...

I am willing to accept the Biblical record that those who He ordered destroyed were indeed wicked and that God is a much better judge of innocence than I

okay, this gets back to the question of utter depravity and the view some Calvinists seem to have of humanity, even babes. Here you appear to be saying that when God commanded the slaughter of a whole group of people - babies and children included - that God is a better judge of who is and isn't wicked and they must have been wicked.

Is that what you are saying? That the babies and children of the Amalekites were wicked?

IF SO, then how are you defining wicked? Standard English, or some other definition?

Which gets back to another as-yet unanswered question (I realize that answers may be coming): if you're ONLY saying that babies have a sin nature, then that is what I have been saying all along and we don't disagree, do we? OR, are you saying that babies are actually committing sin and are, in standard English, wicked or evil?

Clarifying that, would help, because it seems to me like the answers have tended to go back and forth (no, I'm not saying they commit sins, but I am saying they are wicked, but not that they're actively evil, just that they have a sin nature, which means they're guilty, but not guilty of actually committing a sin...!!???)

Craig said...

In the midst of all of this could we take some time out to pray for the folks suffering in Port-au-Prince as a result of the earthquake. Please also consider support of any relief efforts. I am scheduled to travel to Haiti in Feb, and am concerned for friends in country as well as for how this will affect our trip. But most of all keep these people in your prayers.

Dan Trabue said...

Sure Craig...

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, starting with the problems of taking literally the verses that PSA supporters point to... I will say that I'm no theologian and that this is something that the church (which ignored this mostly for the first few hundred years, I've read) has been discussing for centuries, and I am in no way able to compare to others more enlightened and educated. Nonetheless, here are my thoughts on PSA...

Part of the problem in addressing the problems of PSA from a biblical point of view is that it's easy to find support for PSA if you simply look at a scattered verse here and there and take them literally, without thinking about what the implications of doing so are.

There ARE verses that say, for instance, "and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all..." or "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us..." or "and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith..." or "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

These verses individually sound like they're talking about Jesus serving as a ransom (ie, "a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity") or as a penal substitute (ie, someone to be receive a penalty in another's place).

The problem, it seems to many of us, is that these isolated verses do not hold up to the Bible as a whole, in regards to how the Bible as a whole deals with humanity, God, sin, forgiveness and grace.

Does that mean that we must reject these verses that, taken literally, imply PSA? No, not to me and many others. I just don't think there is reasonable biblical justification for taking them literally.

In a very real sense, Christ acted as a sacrifice for us. He came to earth and poured out his life with and for us. That IS a sacrifice. Just as a soldier might live and give his life sacrificially to protect others.

Sometimes people will say of soldiers, "He paid the price so that you might be free," and in the sense that he poured out his life sacrificially, you might say that this is a true statement. But NOT in the sense that someone demanded a human sacrifice to "pay" for our liberty or to ransom us out of captivity.

The "soldier paying a price" line is an allegory, an illustration, not a literal reality.

Dan Trabue said...

As the Anabaptist source noted earlier, for the most part, for the first 300 years, this was not a big issue for the church. From what I've read, there appears to have been no great debate upon the "meaning of atonement," it just was accepted that Christ's life and death and resurrection led to our being made at one with God, if we just accepted the gift of God's grace.

But moving beyond that, let's start with one that we might mostly agree upon. The earliest theory of atonement, I believe, was the Ransom Theory. The thinking was that the devil had a claim to our souls because we were sinners (just like the White Witch claimed a right to Edmund in the first Narnia book - which expresses a very Ransom Theory view of atonement) and that God had to pay a Ransom to the devil to "buy back" our souls.

Clearly, there is language in the Bible that sounds like it supports the notion of a ransom atonement. For instance...

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death

~Hosea 13

...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

~Matt 20

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

~1 Tim 2

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.


~Heb 9

"This [Ransom Theory] was the dominant belief in the early Christian church. It has also been called the "Classic" theory of the atonement. It was accepted by church leaders for about a millennium, from the second to the twelfth century CE. There are very few theologians outside of the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Protestant Word-faith Movement who believe in it today...

The early church father Origen (185-254 CE) was a leader of the Alexandrian School in Egypt. He suggested that, as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, Satan had acquired a formal dominion over, and ownership of, all of humanity and the rest of the world. In order to free people from the grip of Satan, God agreed to arrange the death of Yeshua, his son, as a ransom price to be paid to the devil."


source

...Should I stop there and allow time for prayerful contemplation on all of this before moving on?

Craig said...

Yes, the term "total depravity" is what would be (in other contexts) a "term of art". In other words it has a specific definition in the context of Calvin's work. I'll get you a specific definition since I want to make sure I convey it correctly.

"Are you "ignoring" all my questions asked of you, since you have yet to respond to them?"

Really, after I've answered all the questions you've asked me in this thread, and after blowing off who knows how many at your place, you can ask this with a straight face. Get over it.

Dan, you have patience issues, I'll get to this when I have more time. Chill out.

"That is what is at question here, or at least one of them. What is the criteria for knowing what is "obviously" imagery or figures of speech?"

That's what I'd love to get you too answer. The main criteria is being able to identify phrases that are commonly used as figures of speech as figures of speech. It's not that hard to ID 4 corners as a figure of speech. That's what it is. What I hope for is for you to grant us a glimpse into your process of divining these things. This is why I'd hope you can abandon the 4 corners and deal with what is here.

"Is that what you are saying? That the babies and children of the Amalekites were wicked?

IF SO, then how are you defining wicked? Standard English, or some other definition?"

I am saying that I believe that the best information that we have indicates that God had judged the Amelikites to be wicked. I would hope that you would agree that a culture that sacrificed their children to false gods would qualify as wicked. The issue is not how I define wicked, it is how God defines wicked. He (not you or I) gets to judge.

Dan, If you has read my responses in our earlier discussion along this line you would not honestly be able to say I have not answered. Go look.

Dan Trabue said...

Really, after I've answered all the questions you've asked me in this thread, and after blowing off who knows how many at your place, you can ask this with a straight face. Get over it.

Dan, you have patience issues, I'll get to this when I have more time. Chill out.


Wow. This feels like a bizarro world sort of answer. From where I sit, I do more answering than getting answers. Apparently you feel the opposite.

I put my comment there ("Are you "ignoring" all my questions asked of you, since you have yet to respond to them?") exactly because YOU were rushing ME to answer your questions, saying "I note you choose to ignore the earlier quotes from (among others Menno)."

I was IGNORING nothing, I was wading through the questions and misunderstandings of sometimes three different people and getting to things the best I can.

WHO needs some patience?

Funny how things can seem the opposite ways to two people in the same conversation.

Dan Trabue said...

It's not that hard to ID 4 corners as a figure of speech. That's what it is.

SAYS WHO?

Once again, I fully understand that this is your feeling, but on what basis do you feel that way? Because it is "obviously" a figure of speech, or was one thousands of years ago in another culture with another language? How do you know that? Was this literally translated or did the translators stick in a known figure of speech for what they presumed was a figure of speech?

Says who? On what basis?

I really don't think you're getting the point, there.

Dan Trabue said...

What I hope for is for you to grant us a glimpse into your process of divining these things.

I HAVE given a fairly detailed process of what I go through in divining these things. MUCH MORE of a process than Marshall's "It's just obvious," or even your, "I look at what others have written."

Are you forgetting my eight or so bible study criteria which I've provided more than once?

Dan Trabue said...

"Is that what you are saying? That the babies and children of the Amalekites were wicked?

IF SO, then how are you defining wicked? Standard English, or some other definition?"

I am saying that I believe that the best information that we have indicates that God had judged the Amelikites to be wicked. I would hope that you would agree that a culture that sacrificed their children to false gods would qualify as wicked. The issue is not how I define wicked, it is how God defines wicked. He (not you or I) gets to judge.


You have not answered the question that was asked:

Are you saying that the babies and children of the Amalekites were wicked?

THAT is the question that was asked. What is your answer to THAT question: Yes, no or some detailed reason why you can't answer yes or no.

Craig said...

"Clearly, there is language in the Bible that sounds like it supports the notion of a ransom atonement. For instance..."

And obviously no one could in any possible way conceivably come to the reasonable conclusion that the language sounds like it supports a ransom atonement, because it might actually support a ransom atonement.

Sorry, but "because I say so" isn't a reason. Now you would want to demonstrate why you should not take clear statements as clear statements.

I'll try to deal with more of this when I have time this week. But work and family may intrude.

Dan Trabue said...

The issue is not how I define wicked, it is how God defines wicked. He (not you or I) gets to judge.

Craig, I am beginning to think you are being deliberately obtuse. NO ONE DISPUTES THAT GOD IS GOD AND WHAT GOD THINKS IS WHAT MATTERS.

I ask you to clarify YOUR definition of wicked is because I want us to communicate and understand one another. Sometimes, you all appear to be using "terms of art," and expecting others to realize that your non-standard definition is something else. We can't understand one another if we don't agree on the language. THAT is why I ask you questions, not to suggest that what God thinks is not important.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

And obviously no one could in any possible way conceivably come to the reasonable conclusion that the language sounds like it supports a ransom atonement, because it might actually support a ransom atonement.

Then clarify for us: Do you think the Ransom theory of atonement is biblically sound? Don't leave me hanging, help me understand your position.

It is my understanding that most evangelicals DON'T hold to the ransom theory any more. I was sort of assuming that you wouldn't either (although it appears that Marshall does)

Craig said...

Really.

Please demonstrate one instance in which the term "4 corners of the earth" is used to literally identify a square earth. This whole digression is silly. This is not a phrase that is questioned by anyone. So move on, man up, and actually deal with the verses that you have deemed figurative in this context.

Dan, (it's kind of fun to sound like you), I have answered it, multiple times. That you choose not to acknowledge my answer is not my fault. But, unlike some in this discussion, I will answer once more.

I think that God. (remember He gets to decide these things not you or me) judged the Amelikites to be wicked. (obviously you disagree) I think that the best information we have indicates that by God's standards the Amelikites were wicked. I don't have the cojones to disagree with His judgment. You appear to.

I will expand a little and say that when Paul says "all have sinned", I don't know any reason to define all as anything other than all (meaning all). If you can demonstrate an instance of any actual human being (Jesus excluded) who is without sin, I will eagerly await your source.

People aren't sinners because they sin, they sin because they're sinners.

Just to save time and keep this on track, I am going to refer any restatements of your question to what I have already written both here, at your place and at mine. I have no desire to rehash this stuff given the limited time I have. I hope you can understand.

Marshall Art said...

"I really don't think you're getting the point, there."

To say it's obvious that you have this backwards would be an incredible understatement. The point is that we now, in this day and age, recognize at a glance that "4 corners" is not to be taken literally. To continue any further reference to this phrase is unnecessary. THE POINT is not that you have, to YOUR satisfaction, given what you call a process that guides you in determining what should be taken literally, but that said explanation does NOT tell US how you apply that to conclude what you do about the verses in question. Particularly, the causal effect of Christ's death on the cross.

"Paying the price". This phrase is fairly specific and there is a distinction between how it is used regarding Christ and how it is used with soldiers. I don't believe you could find more than one in a thousand who would apply the phrase to a soldier who hasn't died in the line of duty. THAT is what is meant when the phrase is used for soldiers: "He paid the price for our freedom with his life."

Similarly, to say that Christ paid the price for our salvation by living goes against every usage of the phrase that I've ever heard, and I doubt you could find such an example anywhere. He paid the price of our salvation by giving His life.

I would also say that I don't think it is commonly believed that the early church didn't understand this, particularly with Paul's message speaking of Christ crucified from day one of his ministry. In addition, if any had not made the connection between the thousands of years of sacrifice ritual and Christ's death, that does not mean that no such connection and/or meaning was intended and meant to be inferred. That people who believe your view can be found is beside the point. The point is what is the Bible teaching and that teaching is Christ sacrificing His life so that we might live--for eternity with God in heaven.

And once again, those infants who died in all the towns destroyed by God, either personally or by other means, are His to take as He sees fit. By your own statement earlier, separation from God for all eternity would be far worse than death in this world. So, to act as if God taking life YOU consider innocent and unworthy of so horrible an end demonstrates that you are NOT giving God His due and instead are putting up boundaries of human construction around what He is allowed to do in order to satisfy YOUR understanding of what a loving and just god would look like. As far as I'M concerned, He can take me anyway He wants to take me, as long as He takes me and keeps me somewhere near His side. This is far preferrable than to endure a "fair" death just to lose heaven.

You worry about a babe being put to death by the sword (yet support a woman's right to choose to do far worse) by God's mandate, but what is of greater concern is the worse death that is sin and being separated from God. THAT is the death from which Jesus saves us by having died that death Himself.

Craig said...

Dan,

"Craig, I am beginning to think you are being deliberately obtuse. NO ONE DISPUTES THAT GOD IS GOD AND WHAT GOD THINKS IS WHAT MATTERS."?

Had I ordered the killing of the Amelikites, my definition would matter, but I didn't, and therefore my definition doesn't matter.

Maybe that is deliberately obtuse (takes one to know one ;)) but I can't answer it any better than that.

I think that a culture that sacrifices children is wicked, why should I need to repeat myself.

FYI-The only "term of art" I have used is/are the terms used to describe the 5 points. Which is a reasonable use of the term. These term have specific definitions in this context and those definitions and contexts should be respected.


Now, I really have to leave for a meeting, and try to get some info about what's happening in Haiti.

Dan Trabue said...

Dan asked...

Is that what you are saying? That the babies and children of the Amalekites were wicked?

IF SO, then how are you defining wicked? Standard English, or some other definition?


Craig responded...

I think that God. (remember He gets to decide these things not you or me) judged the Amelikites to be wicked. (obviously you disagree) I think that the best information we have indicates that by God's standards the Amelikites were wicked.

and

I will expand a little and say that when Paul says "all have sinned", I don't know any reason to define all as anything other than all (meaning all). If you can demonstrate an instance of any actual human being (Jesus excluded) who is without sin, I will eagerly await your source.

and

I think that a culture that sacrifices children is wicked, why should I need to repeat myself.

Which SOUNDS like you're saying that those Amalekite babies were wicked and sinners, although YOU NEVER DIRECTLY answered the question.

If that's the way you're playing this, then I'll pass. I thought you were interested in conversation, not merely looking to denigrate my Christian belief system.

Once again - and for the last time - DO you think the Amalekite babies committed sins? That they were guilty of sin? That they were wicked? I'm not talking about the Amalekites as a whole, I'm talking about the BABIES. Were the babies wicked and guilty of sin?

Yes, no OR SOME EXPLANATION of why you can't give a yes or no answer. Just throwing out words and not explaining how it actually relates to my question is not conversation.

Dan Trabue said...

Based upon your answer, I'm guessing that you think that the babies WERE guilty of committing sin, you say that Paul says that ALL have sinned and I am thinking that means you think that babies have committed sins.

You asked...

If you can demonstrate an instance of any actual human being (Jesus excluded) who is without sin, I will eagerly await your source.

IF, by "without sin," you mean someone who has not committed an actual sin, then yes, I can give you billions of instances. My son when he was one day old had yet to commit a sin. My daughter, when she was 15 days old had yet to commit a single sin.

Babies have not committed sins. They have not said, "This is the right thing to do and I'm NOT going to do it." (Remember that James says that "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.")

I don't know at what age (there, of course, not being any one specific age) where people start committing sin, but certainly babies are innocent - by definition - and sinless - by definition. Even you, Brother Craig, when you were two days old, had not sinned.

Did you have a sinful nature? Sure, you are human and we all have a sinful nature. No one is disputing that. What my question for any of you all is, BUT, do you think the Amalekite babies were innocent and had not committed a sin or do you think they were evil and HAD committed sins?

Those Calvinists who insist that babies are evil, wicked and commit sins, THOSE Calvinists are the ones I disagree with and who I think don't have a good grasp on basic Bible interpretation.

Are you amongst those Calvinists?

Dan Trabue said...

Here would be an example of someone who believes that babies go through the motions of sinning (being self-centered and not loving, he says) but even so, don't sin, because they aren't aware of choosing to do the wrong.

Now, I would disagree with his notion that babies are self-centered in a bad way, that they are unloving in a bad way. They're just babies and that's what babies do. It's not even the appearance of evil or sin.

Still, he ultimately gets it right. They aren't sinning. Sinning requires awareness of rejecting the right. And this illogical, unbiblical belief that babies DO commit sins (by at least some Calvinists) is part of what I find wrong in Calvinism.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

So, to act as if God taking life YOU consider innocent and unworthy of so horrible an end demonstrates that you are NOT giving God His due and instead are putting up boundaries of human construction around what He is allowed to do in order to satisfy YOUR understanding of what a loving and just god would look like.

It has nothing to do with what I think, babies ARE innocent. That's just a definitional reality. They have committed no sin, they are guilty of nothing.

And I think this NOT based on some hunch, but because the Bible so clearly and repeatedly condemns punishing an innocent for the crimes of the guilty. This is wrong, according to the Bible.

Killing a son for the crimes of the father is wrong, according to the Bible. That is true whether it's ONE child or a whole city, how would that make a difference?

This has nothing to do with me putting boundaries up around God, it's about what the Bible does and doesn't say. Do you agree: It IS wrong to kill the innocent for the crimes of the guilty?

Do you, Marshall, think those Amalekite babies were guilty of something? Were they wicked?

I think, in order to give God his due ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, we have to heed the teachings of the Bible, including the teachings that tell us that the innocent should not pay for the crimes of the guilty.

Are you interested in conversation and answering questions or is this just a forum for unthinkingly holding to your cultural traditions and attacking those who disagree with them?

Babies guilty of sin? Yes, no or some explanation of why it can't be yes/no.

Wrong to kill the innocent for the crimes of the guilty? Yes, no or some explanation of why it can't be yes/no.

After all the badgering you gave me for not giving a yes/no answer to your question (although I did explain why it was not a yes/no answer and gave my answer), surely you're not going to dodge some now?

Craig said...

Dan,

The fact that you don't acknowledge my numerous previous answers to your question. Once again, I believe that all have sinned, that we are born in a state of sin. I believe that it is our inherent sinfulness that causes us to commit sinful acts. Conversely, I do not believe (and you have never given any support for) your contention that humans are not sinful until (at some unknown mystery date) all of a sudden sins start to count. I believe that sinfulness is a condition of being human. The acts that we commit are simply a natural outgrowth of our sinful nature. So, to be specific (once aging), our sinful nature is not caused by our actions our actions are a result of our nature. Now, I've answered your questions multiple times in multiple ways, so you can either accept that my answer is my answer or you can keep beating this dead horse (that was a figure of speech, I realize that you are not actually striking a deceased equine animal).

As far as putting the innocent to death for something someone else has done. Here goes.

1. To randomly select someone to die for someone else would obviously be wrong. But no one is suggesting that this be done. So one wonders why you ask the question

2. For someone to put themselves in the position of choosing to die for what someone else has done is the greatest act of love imaginable.

I am so pleased to realize that you are so committed to the anti abortion position. For what could be more representative of your conundrum, but to take the life of one for the acts of its parents.

A few links that might help you understand the doctrine of TD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_depravity

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/depravity.html

http://www.gotquestions.org/total-depravity.html

http://www.the-highway.com/depravity_Boettner.html

http://www.theopedia.com/Total_depravity

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/sproul/depravity.html

Finally, I can only assume you just haven't read my posts here, I have answered every question you have asked me (If I missed one let me know), I have referred you to other places where i have answered your questions previously. I have not badgered you about the fact that you have answered almost none of the questions from the post at your place (and been fairly gracious in not expecting you to), so why not dial back the rhetoric on this. Your choice, wallow in this or move on.

Marshall Art said...

I'm apparently not being clear. Perhaps.

I'll say again, it is not a matter of whether or not YOU think the babies are innocent and unworthy of being put to death directly or indirectly by God. There is no itemized list depicted who is worthy of death as a punishment for anything and how worthy, or any list explaining why they'd be put to the sword along with the entire town. What I mean by this is that if God chooses to ALSO take the lives of babies whilst destroying those in the town who ARE guilty, He is perfectly free to do so.

Also, we've already gone through your poor understanding of the verse that speaks of putting someone to death for the sins of their father. At the same time, we spoke of how punishing someone down to whatever generation is different. With the destructions of whole towns and everyone in it, we're likely seeing the consequences of the father's (or adult's) sin being death, as in my example of the drunk driver and those who die as a result of his drunken behavior. Again, it isn't "fair" or "just" that victims of drunk driving die due to the sinful behavior of the drunk, but it happens.

Another possibility is that the deaths of all those in the town are also punishment for the actual guilty, though not punishment for anything the "innocent" have done themselves.

It's all speculation because I don't have insight into God's mind. I simply assure myself, rightly I believe, that He has His reasons for doing things I might not understand or with which I might personally prefer to be otherwise. What I do NOT do is pretend such stories mean something else because of some notion of ancient writing styles without having ANY explanation for what they might otherwise mean or represent. It's simply too goofy to say that God would allow those who record such things to do so in a manner is so specific only to have it mean something entirely removed from what the words say. This is NOT imagery or hyperbole or metaphor on the level of "4 corners", and you have NOT provided a better explanation.

With a God who had made Himself known is such direct ways as is described in the OT, and through prophets and such, don't you think there'd be some clarifications for these things if they were giving off an improper representation of His nature? I simply can't buy the notion that the next generation after these stories were recorded, that the readers would not take the words saying that God commanded His people to destroy entire towns and all in them exactly as the story is rendered. Do you mean to say that as the stories are read to them that they are constantly saying, "Of course this part is only metaphor."? Do you mean to say that it was always understood as such by people who didn't understand sexuality the way we do now? That's sarcasm directed at the notion that ancients know nothing about sex but are always sharp enough to understand literary liberties.

So again, how does your "process" lead you to these conclusions about God's nature? How does it dictate to you that His anger is always represented by metaphor and imagery and His love is not?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, those aren't answers to the question I asked. Nor is it a response like, "I can't answer that question yes or no because..." It does not seem to be related except marginally to the question I asked.

I'm left to assume that you aren't interested in conversation.

Perhaps my not seeing an answer AT ALL related to my question is akin to you all not seeing an answer (even though it was quite obviously there) to your question?

To make it clear what my question is and how you have not answered, you said...

I do not believe (and you have never given any support for) your contention that humans are not sinful until (at some unknown mystery date) all of a sudden sins start to count.

My questions were quite specific:

1. DO you think the Amalekite babies committed sins? (not that they were "sinful," not that they had a sin nature, but DID they commit sins?)

Yes or no?

2. [do you think] that they were guilty of sin?

[not "were they sinful?" but were they guilty of some sin?]

Yes or no?

3. That they were wicked?

You did not respond to this question, I'm striving to get an answer: Yes or no: Were those babies wicked? NOT did they have a sin nature, not even "sinful," because it remains unclear to me what you mean by that beyond that they have a sin nature, but were they wicked?

You also non-answered:

I believe that sinfulness is a condition of being human.

No one disagrees with that. That's not the question asked, though. The question asked was Did the Amalekite babies commit sins?

You also said:

The acts that we commit are simply a natural outgrowth of our sinful nature. So, to be specific (once aging), our sinful nature is not caused by our actions our actions are a result of our nature

I understand that, but that's NOT what I asked. I asked if those Amalekite babies sinned.

I fully understand if you can't answer yes or no, but your answer should still deal with the question asked.

As in, "I can't really say that they committed sins, yes or no, because..." and give an answer that deals with the question asked.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

YOU think the babies are innocent and unworthy of being put to death directly or indirectly by God.

No, not "I THINK." Rather, babies ARE innocent.

Do you disagree? Yes or no?

Since no one is answering questions asked here, I'm left to assume you aren't interest in actual dialog.

If and when you get interested in answering actual questions asked, let me know. I'll be glad to pick this up.

I may still finish my thoughts on what's wrong with PSA as you all are taking it, but I might do that at my blog, since no one here appears to be interested in conversations.

Marshall Art said...

I cannot be more clear. Whether or not babies are innocent, whether or not babies are capable of consciously committing sinful acts (for the record--DUH! That's my answer), whether or not babies can fly jet fighters, none of this matters to whether or not God can decide to end their lives and do so in whatever manner He pleases and STILL be a loving and just God. Therefor, it doesn't matter whether or not YOU THINK BABIES ARE INNOCENT. You're looking at the events through human eyes and basing it on human perceptions of right vs wrong, laws set up for HUMANS and NOT GOD. God is not bound by laws He sets for us anymore than your father was bound by the rules he set up for you as a child. What about this aren't you getting. Does it suck that "innocent" babies might have been killed by God's command to annihilate a town? Yeah. It does suck. Does it suck that the Angel of Death wacked the first born of Egypt even if they had nothing to do with the plight of the Hebrews? Yeah, it does suck indeed. Does our empathy for those unfortunates mean we can pretend those verses are not to be taken literally? Only if we have good solid Biblical reason to do so. We don't. YOU don't. You are not applying any process equally to those verses illustrating God's wrath the way you do those illustrating His love.

Regarding your 11:12PM comment: How do YOU like it? Now you have a sense of what Bubba and I have been going through with you, except that I think Craig was alluding to the pointlessness of your "innocent" Amelekite baby question. I'll leave it to him to verify.

Craig said...

Just because you don't like my answer, doesn't mean there was no answer.

"1. DO you think the Amalekite babies committed sins? (not that they were "sinful," not that they had a sin nature, but DID they commit sins?)

Yes or no?"

First, the question is unanswerable on several levels.
a) The term babies is not precise enough for me to answer.
b) I don't have any way of knowing what these babies did or didn't do.
c) You have not demonstrated that there were even any (undefined) babies. (you infer this, but it is not in the text)
d) You have not made the case that it is the commission of sin rather than the condition of sin that confers sinfulness.
e) This is just a semantic game.
f) Given that there is no exhaustive list of what is officially sin and what is not, I could only speculate to what behaviors these alleged babies did or did not engage in.

So given those caveats my answer is it is highly probable that some of those who you would define as babies had "committed sins". It is also possible that there were babies that had not committed sin yet. I have no way of knowing. But more importantly all of them were sinful.

"2. [do you think] that they were guilty of sin?

[not "were they sinful?" but were they guilty of some sin?]

Yes or no?"

Again, the question as posed is unanswerable as a yes or no.

a) Only God can judge whether someone is guilty of innocent of sin. I am not God.
b) See A-F above.

So, given the increasing caveats, I would say that it is probable that some were judged to be guilty of sin, and it is possible that some were not. Without information that is unavailable I just can't be more specific.

"3. That they were wicked?"

A) See a-f above as well as a-b above.

I will say that they (presuming that there were any babies would probably not be described as wicked. I personally probably wouldn't (at least with out some evidence)use the term wicked, since I believe the word wicked has more of a sense of intentional wrongdoing, rather that the sense of condition or nature that a world like depraved or sinful implies. (but that's just me and playing with semantics). I have no way of knowing how God would describe them.

"Rather, babies ARE innocent."

So you would agree that anyone who kills a baby for any reason would be committing a sin? or are wicked?

In closing, I'm answering your questions, you just don't like the fact that I'm going into more detail than you want. Again, that's not my problem. But don't keep spouting this lie that no one is answering my questions. I realize that sometimes you aren't much for nuance or expanding your horizons, but maybe you could give it a try.

Craig said...

Marshall,

Amen, on the sovereignty issue. Why not let God be God, and we can just be the creation. I'm satisfied with that role, how 'bout you.

To pick up on your answer to Dan. If in fact it is true as Dan claims(no evidence yet, but hypothetically), that these babies have no sin, then when they die they are immediately in the presence of God. So, if one looks at the big picture, maybe it's not such a bad deal after all.

Yes, this whole digression is pointless, if Dan would go back and read our earlier exchanges he could discover the answers he seeks. Or he/you (sorry it's probably rude to refer to you as if you weren't going to read this) could bring something new to the table and we could deal with that. But yes this whole digression is pointless, unless the point is to steer the thread away from some potentially uncomfortable questions that Dan hasn't answered. In which case it would not be pointless for Dan/you, just for the rest of us.

Craig said...

For the record, so as not to leave any of Dan's probing questions unanswered.

I do not subscribe to the Ransom theory as I have not really studied it.

I personally, believe that the most accurate way to describe the atonement would be to combine the PSA model with the CV model. I personally think that both are insufficient to explain the scope of the atonement. I find that the ME theory (while not denying that there is some truth to be gleaned from it), is both the most limiting in scope, and the most speculative in terms of scripture support. It seems to be the most isegetical of the three main options.

So, now you can accurately represent where I stand on this issue.

Dan Trabue said...

Thank you for at least TRYING to answer the question. If it helps, I'll be specific: Did the one day old (23 hours and fifteen minutes) Amalekite baby - had it even conceivably committed a sin?

It appears that you think it is in the realm of possibility that a newborn could commit a sin. For most of the rational world, I think we recognize that it's not possible. It's certainly not biblical.

I'll note that Marshall didn't answer directly, either, other than to say, "duh!" whatever that means.

But you can clarify: Can the 23 hour old newborn commit a sin - is it in the realm of the possible?

Craig said...

Dan,

I did not TRY to answer your (alraedy answered multiple times here and elsewhere) question (again), I answered it. The fact that you found the answer too nuanced or somehow lacking is irrelevant. I answered the question. The (most recent)unanswered question I have for you is why do you continue to insist (against plain fact) that I haven't answered your question? Again, your satisfaction with the content of the answer doesn't mitigate the fact that an answer was given. If roles were reversed, you would have broken out the charges of slander by now. So how about a little of what you ask of others?

As to your hypothetical newborn, your specifics help, although your asking the wrong question. In your hypothetical I would think (opinion here) that it had not "committed" a specific sin.

The reason why you are asking the wrong question, is that you are presuming that it is the "commission" of sin that is the problem, rather than the condition of sinfulness that is why we "commit" sins in the first place.

You still haven't demonstrated that your hypothetical infant (you have switched terms on us, not an uncommon tactic) actually existed, or was actually killed. Further you haven't demonstrated that the "commission" of a particular sin, rather than the condition of sinfulness is what causes the problem is the first place. You have a chicken/egg problem here. Under your fanciful proposition one must assume that (for example) a 2 years old that lies has not sinned. Yet,lying is clearly against Gods law. How can this be?

Is a sin not a sin when certain people of certain ages commit it? If people go along in sinless bliss until some nebulous "age of accountability" then why do they start sinning then? What is it about some undefined age that makes people start to sin? Where is the fine print in the 10 commandments that says "you get a free pass until you're 6 (or whenever you arbitrarily set the age)"? If you lie 20 seconds before the "age of accountability" are you still sinless? If you lie 1 second after the "age of accountability" are you just screwed? Where in scripture do you find the term "age of accountability"? Where in scripture do you find the concept of some magic age where it all starts to count? So when we see a 9 year old who has sexually molested a sibling, or killed a pet, or killed a younger sibling, are they off the hook because they haven't reached the magic age yet? Do we as parents not have to punish our (below the magic age) children for lying or being selfish? Can your Amelikite infant actually follow God will all its heart mind soul and spirit?

Looks like you have a lot of catching up and answering to do, so lets get busy.

Craig said...

I've gotta bookmark this thread, so I can cut and paste Dan's comments to use when he is being obtuse and evasive. It'll be so much easier.

Dan Trabue said...

Obtuse and evasive? Coming from someone who thinks that "Has that baby committed a sin?" is not a yes/no question. Funny.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I did not TRY to answer your (alraedy answered multiple times here and elsewhere) question (again), I answered it. The fact that you found the answer too nuanced or somehow lacking is irrelevant. I answered the question.

I'll pass on going back and forth on this (did not! did, too! did not! did, too!) I think most reasonable people would say that your answers was in no way a direct answer to my quite specific questions. If you had a question about what I MEANT by baby, all you had to do would be to ask, to clarify, but instead you answered a different question.

I'll let it go at that.

You appear to think that infants might commit sins and that even up to at least two year olds might sin.

I think the Bible is clear that the qualifying point is that, "For he who knows what to do and does not do it, it is sin." Sin requires knowledge, awareness of the choice to choose the wrong.

Babies and even some young children do not possess this moral reasoning agency.

Sure, there is a sense in which one can sin unknowingly, but in the deeper sense of the notion, as found in the Bible, sinning requires deliberately choosing to reject God or the good.

Again, this is one problem I have with Calvinism, I think it tends to misunderstand and caricaturize sin and forgiveness.

Craig said...

The (most recent)unanswered question I have for you is why do you continue to insist (against plain fact) that I haven't answered your question?

Again, I'll pass on the Did Not, Did, Too game. I think a reasonable person would say you did not directly answer the questions I asked of you.

Eventually, you have. You have made it clear that you think babies of some age CAN commit sin, you are less willing to say that newborn infants can sin. So you DO have an opinion on the direct question I asked, but you didn't until just now give relatively clear answers.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig asked...

Is a sin not a sin when certain people of certain ages commit it? If people go along in sinless bliss until some nebulous "age of accountability" then why do they start sinning then? What is it about some undefined age that makes people start to sin?

This is not rocket science, Craig. If a newborn rolls over in her sleep and accidentally smothers her twin brother, that baby is not guilty of any sin. There was no intent there. There was no decision to choose the wrong and reject the bad. THAT is sin.

If one does not recognize right and wrong, then one can not sin. If I have a young man with severe mental retardation and he hits someone while flailing his arms, he has NOT assaulted someone, he has committed no sin.

Sin is the rejection of the right and the choosing of the wrong.

Given your comments, I guess you disagree?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

The reason why you are asking the wrong question, is that you are presuming that it is the "commission" of sin that is the problem, rather than the condition of sinfulness that is why we "commit" sins in the first place.

I have made it quite clear that I believe we all have a sinful nature. Do you understand that you and I agree on that point?

Nonetheless, it IS the commission of sin that brings guilt. Having a sinful nature does not bring guilt, but committing an act of rebellion or a sin, THAT is what brings guilt.

Agree or disagree?

If a newborn has a sinful nature (which we both agree that it does), but has yet to commit a sin, that newborn is guilty of nothing.

Agree or disagree?

If you think that baby/infant (don't nitpick - that 23 year old newborn, if you must have it defined) is guilty of something, what exactly is she guilty of?

It SEEMS your answer is, "She's guilty of having a sinful nature, which condemns her!" Is that your answer?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

You still haven't demonstrated that your hypothetical infant (you have switched terms on us, not an uncommon tactic) actually existed, or was actually killed.

First, get over the infant/baby thing. My point is and has been there is some point - at the very least with a one hour old infant - where a baby/infant has not committed any sin. I'm starting from that point and moving outward, but you all seem to have gotten stuck on that one point, seemingly unable to agree that even a newborn one hour old infant has not committed a sin (although, you, Craig, at least SEEM to agree to this point, now).

As to "proving" that in a large city/nation/tribe that there would be newborns/babies/infants in the mix is a given. Can you point to any large culture that had NO infants at any point in time?

Further, I don't really believe you all are saying that no infants existed in Amalek. Am I mistaken?

Further still, God specifically commanded Israel to kill the infants, "Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants," if you take 1 Samuel 15 literally.

Are you STILL suggesting that there might not have been any infants there? Do you think that perhaps God was mistaken?

Bubba said...

Though I do plan not to spend much more time in this particular discussion, I realize this morning that there's a way for me to make important observations without all the frustration and wasted time: I can address only those who I believe are willing and able to engage in a good-faith discussion of the issues.


Marshall:

"I, for one, certainly understand the 'ignore Bubba; mode. But rather than explain just what I mean by that, I would once again point out that you do indeed dismiss those parts of the Bible that conflict with your conclusions."

I'm quite sure I don't know what you mean by that. If you don't mind explaining, I'm interested.

If you do mind, no biggie.


Marshall and Craig, I believe that God's sovereignty is a far more important question than an infant's innocence. Whether an infant is guilty of willfully committing a particular sin is a digression, completely beside the point.

God created us and gave us life. He continues to sustain us and one day He will judge us. We remain utterly dependent on Him, and we are absolutely contingent creations.

He is WELL within His rights to end any human life that He created, whenever He chooses and however He chooses, and so that includes the right to end the life of even an infant, even through human agency.

(To be clear, I believe that God did so through an absolutely unique relationship with the nation of ancient Israel, a relationship that is not repeated and probably won't be repeated with anyone else, as the Christian church is far more an agent of God's grace rather than His wrath. I also don't believe that infants are literally damned, but I have no problem with the possibility that their acceptance into God's presence really is from His salvation rather than their merit -- that it's a function of His mercy rather than His justice.)

The opposite position strikes me as absurd, that God has the right to take a human life only at certain times (e.g., adults but not adolescents), or that God can take a human life only through certain means (natural disaster but not disease).

If, as our Creator and Sustainer, God has the right to take human life at any time and through any means -- and He does -- then it's completely beside the point whether one particular life is innocent of being sinful or committing sin.

Even if I were to continue answering irrelevant questions about babies and sin, I would point out their irrelevance.

Dan Trabue said...

There's plenty of questions answered there for everyone, along with many new questions asked (or clarifications sought).

I'll continue on, then, assuming you all don't have much to say to my first thoughts on PSA. I'm sorry if this next section is less than clear. I'm having a hard time trying to express what I want to say about the ransom theory.

Again, I'm no theologian. I'd suggest reading others (I'm not sure about that link, it may be helpful, maybe not)...

On Ransom Theory:

Clearly, we can see why many in that first millenium might have thought this - the Ransom language is clearly and literally there in the Bible. If they reasoned like some today, if it's there, it is probably literal and probably should be taken literally.

WHO is the ransom to? The Bible never says, it just uses the word over and over referring to Jesus' death and/or how God would save us. In the classic version of this theory, the ransom was for the devil, to "buy us back."

Problems?

1. I don't think many Christians today buy into this. For one thing, it makes the devil extraordinarily strong, that God can't just demand our "release," but rather, that the devil must be bargained with.

It just seems a rather silly notion to most folk - including most Christians, I suspect - today. Plus, as I noted, there is nothing (or very little) at all in the Bible to support the idea that a ransom was paid to the devil.

Clarifying question: Do you (anyone) believe in the ransom theory as it apparently was believed for the first part of Christendom - that the devil "owned" our soul as sinners and God had to pay a ransom to the devil to redeem us? I don't think anyone here thinks that, but I thought I'd clarify.

continued...

Dan Trabue said...

2. There are some who have modified this theory to suggest that it wasn't a ransom payment to the devil, but rather, God was paying a ransom price to... God's Self. This is what Marshall has suggested as a possibility here.

Biblical support for this idea...

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

~Isaiah 53

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.

~Ephesians 5

The problems with this approach - or any approach that considers Jesus' death a literal ransom...

A. A ransom is (in standard English - let me know if you would mean something other than standard English) "a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity" - if the ransom passages meant that Jesus' death was literally a ransom, WHO is the ransom being paid to if not the devil? God? God is saying that a ransom must be paid to God and without that ransom being paid, God can't/won't forgive us?

Question (and this would apply to PSA, too):
Which is it? God CAN'T forgive us without a ransom being paid or God WON'T forgive us without a ransom being paid?

Question
B. Says who? Who says God can't simply choose to forgive us? Is this a biblical notion?

C. Clearly, when it comes to us, we are expected to simply forgive others who sin against us. We aren't to expect some payment or some penalty or some ransom for offenses, but rather, we are simply to forgive. Does anyone disagree with this or need biblical support for this or is that much obvious?

D. A ransom is a charge that is demanded of someone to obtain someone's release. One does not "charge" a ransom to one's self. It reminds me of the scene from the comedy, Blazing Saddles, in which the black sheriff is surrounded by a mob of white townspeople, looking to kill him. Suddenly, the sheriff pulls a gun and puts it to his own head and says, "Nobody move or I'll kill him!" and then the sheriff assumes a terrified voice and says, "Oh no! Someone help me!" or words to that effect.

Suggesting that we were owing death to God, then God saved us by paying a ransom debt to God does not sound very rational, at least to me.

Question:
If God could merely pay a ransom to God in order to forgive our sins, then why couldn't God also simply forgive our sins?

4. Where, then, in the Bible is there support for the notion that God can't simply forgive us without offending justice (which I belieive some here preach) or diminishing the seriousness of sin?

Dan Trabue said...

To come closer to wrapping my thoughts on this PSA up (and this part, I think, is fairly clear and straightforward)...

Perhaps the largest problem I have with literal PSA of the sort that you all seem to be advocating is that it caricatures (caricaturizes?) sin, forgiveness and grace as found in the Bible. It takes words as literal that are metaphor, which causes us to reach bad conclusions and which sometimes might cause us to miss the point of the metaphor.

Sin is sometimes represented as a debt ("Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,") but that, in the Bible, is "obviously" imagery. WHAT literal debt would there be? How does one incur it? How does one pay it? To whom?

It is imagery, not literal. Sometimes in the Bible, sin is represented as a stain, sometimes, as a weight, sometimes, and sometimes as a debt. These are all metaphors for the nature of sin, not a LITERAL stain, not a LITERAL weight, not a LITERAL debt.

QUESTIONS: Do you take the sin-as-weight to be a metaphor or literal? Do you take the sin-as-stain as metaphor or literal? Why would you take those as metaphorical and yet the sin-as-debt to be literal? What biblical reason?
And within the imagery of sin-as-debt, what needs to happen is for it to be forgiven, not paid off.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin...

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.


~Psalm 51

The good thing about debt as a metaphor for sin, is it demonstrates what needs to happen with us. We don't need someone to pay off our debts - we'd just be in debt to that person. If we owe a debt to God because of our sin, then God pays off that debt, do we not STILL owe a debt to God?

Paying off a debt might help a poor person (ie, the people Jesus tended to be speaking to, the point at which Israelis tended to find themselves), but only for a while. Good news for the poor (as Jesus and Isaiah came proclaiming), would be to have that debt forgiven. Wiped away. Blotted out. Forgotten.

If it is merely a business transaction of someone paying off a debt, then soon, they may well be in debt again. But if their sins are forgotten, blotted out by God's great Compassion - by God's saving grace - well, then, that IS good news.

The year of God's good favor. Jubilee!

You may or may not know that the most common metaphor for sin in the Hebrew OT is as a weight, not as a debt.

"in Israel's earliest period, sin was mostly understood as a weight. Anderson notes the frequency of metaphors in the Hebrew Bible (pp 16-17): "to bear away a sin (weight)" has 108 occurrences; "to forgive a sin (debt)" has 17 occurrences, and "to wipe away a sin (stain)" has only 6 occurrences."

source

Does that mean we need a literal weight lifted off our shoulders? Or do you recognize it as "obviously" a metaphor?

But sin-as-weight IS a good metaphor. Who amongst us hasn't felt like there was nearly a literal weight on our minds, on our backs, when we've been troubled with sin problems? Who amongst us hasn't felt the blessed relief of having that weight "lifted" off our shoulders by the forgiveness of a brother or sister or of God?

It is a very good metaphor, too. But it IS a metaphor, as is sin-as-stain, as is sin-as-debt. But we ought not confuse the issue and begin thinking that they mean literal weights, stains and debts.

Agree or disagree?

Dan Trabue said...

You know, it may be instructive to go to the Bible and look at every occurrence of the word, "debt."

concordance

It's not too large a list and you could browse it in a few minutes.

I think that is probably where PSA goes most astray - in its understanding and misunderstanding of sin as debt.

As you look at these words, repeatedly what you see is that debts need to be forgiven, forgotten, blotted out, wiped out, dismissed. The year of Jubilee.

NOT paid off by someone else.

Now, I know that some think "merely" forgiving the debts/sins by grace is to pay too little attention to the seriousness of sin. It seems to me that, from a biblical perspective, this is backwards. It seems to me that insisting on debt as literal and one that must be paid off by a human/god blood sacrifice is to not give serious enough attention to God's mighty grace and forgiveness.

I don't think I'm in error at all on this, but if I were, I'd rather be on the side of giving "too much" due (as if it were possible) to the power of grace rather than not giving enough due to the destructive power of sin.

Another thing you'll note as you look at that list of "debts" in the Bible, is that associating debt with sin is not that commonly done. Jesus appears to do it with his "forgive us our debts" prayer, and again in the parable in Matt 18 and the teaching in Luke 7. Otherwise, the bible tends to use debt to talk about, well, actual debt.

This whole "We owe a sin debt to God that can only be paid for with death" seems to me to be more extrabiblical than biblical.

Dan Trabue said...

Oh, and when Jesus DOES invoke a sin/debt comparison, it is fairly obviously a metaphor (literally a parable, in one case), seems to me.

Dan Trabue said...

More thoughts...

By presuming the PSA is to be taken literally, that leads to Gospel "presentations" like this typical one:

1. We Are All Sinners. You must accept you are a sinner. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We have all sinned. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Romans 5:12). We are born with our sin and fall far short of God and His Glory. No one is exempt.

2. Sin Has A Penalty. You must accept you owe a penalty. "For the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23a). Because of our sin, we owe a debt. This debt is spiritual death. Separation from God forever. However, nothing we can do will pay this debt. There is only one way to get to Heaven. How?

3. Jesus Christ Paid That Penalty. You must accept that Jesus paid your sin debt. "But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Christ was not a sinner, and the Bible teaches that God took all of our sin and placed it on Christ. While Christ was bearing all our sins in His own body, God punished Him in our place to pay the debt we owe. This is not something God promised to do. It is something He has already done. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). It is a fact: Jesus Christ has already paid your sin debt.

4. Accept Jesus Christ As Your Savior. You must accept that Jesus Christ died for you. "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).


source

But do you see the problem here?

1. We all agree, everyone is a sinner (ie, has a sinful nature, a bent towards sin). No problem. But from there, we go downhill.

2. Sin has a penalty. Well, that's not what the text says. It says that "the wages" of sin is death. That is to say, sin leads to death, to darkness, to destruction, to bad things. Sin is rebellion against the Right Way, the deliberate embracing of the wrong way. Sin is a breaking of our relationship with God (as in the Garden of Eden) and with others. It is a relational problem. Not a debt problem (debt, literally). Sin leads to death and, as God is a God of love not willing that any should perish, this is not what God wants.

3. Jesus "paid the penalty." Again, this is not what the text says. It says, Christ died for us. Christ laid down his life and took up his cross, for us, inviting us to do the same. "Paid a penalty?" That's not biblical language. Check it out yourself. "Jesus paid the penalty" is not New Testament language. "Jesus paid a debt," is not biblical language. In short, PSA is not biblical language, IF we're talking about PSA fairly literally.

Now, as I have repeatedly agreed, there is certainly a very real sense where Jesus came, lived and died sacrificially, not unlike a good mother who pours out her life sacrificially for her children. But she's not paying a literal debt or penalty. It is a sacrifice of love.

4. Accept Jesus as savior. We're all okay on this one and agreed that we ought to believe in Jesus, his teachings, his Way, his life, death and resurrection.

But "penalty" or paying a literal "debt" for our sin? I'd need some biblical support for that, and I don't think it exists. Not in a literal sense and this literal view of PSA is problematic because it is extrabiblical and not a valid reflection of sin, forgiveness and grace as found in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

I'm just a simple person who does not indulge in lengthy discussions, but it seems to me that Dan has a problem with recognizing the Holiness of God. I must forgive others because I am always in need of forgiveness, but God is HOLY. Never in need of forgiveness! mom2

Anonymous said...

I am sure I did not explain enough with that last post. I was referring to why I think a debt to be paid for me was necessary. Another thought I have is that nothing I can do would be sufficient to pay my debt because I am a sinful person, but Jesus was the Perfect, Sinless sacrifice that God sent to pay my debt and His sacrifice was sufficient. No unholy thing will be in heaven, but I have been bought and paid for by Jesus Precious blood, thus my righteousness is His. mom2

Dan Trabue said...

mom2 said...

it seems to me that Dan has a problem with recognizing the Holiness of God. I must forgive others because I am always in need of forgiveness, but God is HOLY. Never in need of forgiveness!

No problem at all, mom2. God IS holy. Set apart. There is none other like God. I recognize that fine, thanks. I've never suggested that God IS in need of forgiveness.

mom2 said...

I was referring to why I think a debt to be paid for me was necessary.

But why would you think that in the first place? That is my question. The Bible never says that you owe a debt that must be paid by God.

The Bible DOES say that sin separates us from God and we are in need of forgiveness.
The Bible DOES say that we can HAVE forgiveness, by God's good grace.
The Bible DOES say that if we repent of our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive them.

Since the Bible does not say you owe a debt that you can't pay, why do you think that? I would guess because you have been raised to believe in the literalist version of PSA - a tradition of humanity, not a teaching from the Bible.

mom2 said...

Another thought I have is that nothing I can do would be sufficient to pay my debt because I am a sinful person

Yes, you are a sinful person. And you know what the good news is? Jesus stands ready to forgive you and invites you to join the community of God.

mom2 said...

, but Jesus was the Perfect, Sinless sacrifice that God sent to pay my debt

Bible source for this?

mom2 said...

...and His sacrifice was sufficient.

Yes, Jesus lived a perfect, holy life. His grace brought about this loving sacrificial life and it IS sufficient (that is, God's grace is sufficient, as the Bible tells us, "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." - surely you agree? And I don't believe there are any passages that say or imply that Jesus' sacrifice or his paying of a debt is sufficient. Biblically speaking, it is the grace of God which is sufficient and that grace is enacted by Jesus' life and death. Right?)

Les said...

"I know YOU find me stubborn as well for not rolling over and accepting other opinions as superior to mine."

Nope. I find you stubborn for refusing to acknowledge ANY merit whatsoever in the opinions or suggestions of others. Who made you the expert?

"But pray, where does a Les go for discussion that isn't 'boring'?"

Oh, I don't know. Maybe someplace that doesn't have grown men acting like daytime talk show guests for years on end.

Dan Trabue said...

Speaking more seriously, Craig, what's the news on your friends in Haiti?

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