H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
Blogroll
 
T.U.L.I.P.
  • - Endorsed
  • - Indifferent
  • - Contested
 
Autobiographical
 
Profile
Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
 
The Buzz


Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
Email Me
email
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Saving Yourself...
Atonement Psychology
Not many Christians think about it, but our understanding of the nature of the atonement drives a great deal of our theology.

It not only flavors the gospel we preach - but for many of us, our understanding of the atonement (inherited through the gospel we our selves received) has stood untested against the word of God - being the foundational lens through which much of what we believe is interpreted.

If a man believes that the atonement is limited - it is often because the gospel that saved him or her emphasized God's righteousness - focusing on the necessity of punishment which therefore requires Christ to play a substitutionary role in the atonement - the "how does it work" question is answered with "it's a legal switcheroo" - that God isn't concerned so much about who He punishes - as long as someone gets punished. Thus Christ can graciously offer Himself to God in our place such that God punishes the (consenting) innocent man in order that a particularly agreed upon guilty person may go free. Thus God justifies the guilty by punishing an innocent Volunteer.

My father was a butcher for many years when I was growing up; he even owned his own slaughterhouse. One of the things I learned as a young man was that after killing an animal, you had to drain the blood and then let the carcass hang for a while. My father explained that while the animal itself was quite dead, yet the meat was still "dying" at the cellular level. Even though the animal had been slaughtered, the meat wasn't "dead" yet. That is why the carcass is hung in the freezer for at least 24 hours before it is butchered - to let the meat die.

In Leviticus 17:11 we read (in the context of the law against eating food with the blood still in it) 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.' (NASB).

What Moses was saying (in the context) was that the Israelites weren't allowed to eat meat with the blood still in it because the "life" was still in the meat. This verse highlighted the reality of that life by reminding the reader of the fact that it isn't the carcass of a sacrifice that atones - but the life of that sacrifice that atones - life that is pictured in the blood. This is the passage that the author of Hebrews quotes from when he writes in Hebrews 9:22, "And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

The conclusion is that forgiveness cannot be had without the forfeiture of life.

This first atonement philosophy (in absorbing the fact that a sin cannot be forgiven unless it is punished) identifies Christ as a "Stand-In" who takes the "punishment" on behalf of sinners. Because this model tightly couples "the sin" with "the punishment" it concludes that God would be unjust to punish Christ for sins that won't be forgiven - ergo: only the sins that Christ was punished for on the cross were actually forgiven. Since it is clear from scripture that not everyone is forgiven, the conclusion is that the atonement is limited to those whose sins are actually forgiven - the elect.

This model has a lot going for it, but it has flaws too.

Another 'competing' atonement philosophy is typically found in people who were saved by a gospel that de-emphasized the righteousness of God. A gospel that focuses on God's love and provision while glossing over his righteousness - tends to produce a sense of generalism - that is, Christ died for sin in general. Such a gospel focuses on the the "whosoever" "all" and "whole world" sort of verses - that is, on the reality of the possibility of (and provision for) salvation.

Here sin and punishment are not tightly coupled at all - Christ's work on the cross is inspecific - providing the possibility of forgiveness which is thereafter received only by those who choose to believe. In order to make the possibility of salvation "real" this model paints God as punishing Christ for every sin that was ever committed (everyone is atoned for) but those atoning benefits are only applied to those who ask for it.

Alternately, if the "gospel" you heard was that everyone is going to be saved eventually - then your atonement model is going to paint what happened on the cross as a "moral object lesson."

My point is that the gospel we received (typically) influences the atonement model we will embrace. Many Christians have an opinion on the atonement, that hasn't been mined from scriptures, but having been exposed to a particular teaching and having accepted it already - they project that same understanding unto the holy writ, such that they find their predetermined conviction in scripture only because they expect it to be there when they go looking for it.

The gospel I heard emphasized the righteousness of God such that my sins had to be punished and Christ was offered as a solution to that dilemma by giving Himself as my "Stand-In" taking God's wrath in my stead - so it was the most natural thing in the world when my atonement model reflected that. In that way, I was likely an "L" from the moment I heard the gospel.

As time went on however, I began to examine critically my understanding of the atonement. Scripture made it plain that sin (all sin) would be punished - that is, I knew that all sin must be punished if God is going to be consistently righteous. Yet I had to question the consistency of a righteous God being able to punish an innocent substitute (no matter how voluntary that substitution might be).

Wasn't the OT sacrificial system entirely substitutionary? It certainly looked to be. They would lay their hands on the animals, confess their sins to God, and then sacrifice the animal - it seemed substitutional enough... weren't they imputing their sins onto the animal who then was slain in their stead? I sort of thought that was how it worked. But because I knew that it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (c.f. Hebrews 10:4) - I finally understood that they weren't actually putting their sins on these animals but were really putting their sins on Christ - the animals were merely placeholders.

But how did that help me? I still had this problem with trying to understand how God can be righteous and at the same time justify the ungodly and do so in such a way as to not punish an innocent (albeit consenting) person.

I reasoned that since Christ offered himself as a sacrifice that God sort of overlooked the fact that he was innocent, and punished him anyway -but it was wishy-washy and didn't satisfy my understanding of God's characer.

During a time of contemplation upon Romans six, I happened to hear a sermon where the preacher said something radical - he was preaching that God didn't punish Jesus on the cross, but that God was punishing us - as many as were "in Christ." I rejected that as soon as I heard it - since it didn't match my model - but it haunted my thoughts for days, and the more I considered it, the more it fit.

I began to see Christ in the context of an "Ark" - understanding that all believers have literally been "placed into" Christ and were therefore literally on the cross with Christ in some sense. This allowed me to set aside the image of God pulling a cosmic switcheroo - and instead of punishing Christ, now God was punishing me directly on the cross - Christ being the "Ark" into which I was placed - the Ark that entirely absorbed God's wrath as it was poured out on me. Now Christ was truly sacrificing Himself - being bruised for my transgressions - not instead of, but on account of, me - since I was in Him and my sins were in me (my old man).

My own take on it doesn't change my bottom line at all - that is, only those who are in Christ can have their sins forgiven, because only those who are in Christ have been punished already: yet it would be wrong to start with this model (or any model for that matter), and work out the "truth" backwards from it.

Really, we must not forget that our atonement models are mere constructions that we have put together for the sole purpose of illustrating how the conclusions we have already formed answer our understanding of scripture. That is why I think it is important to recognize that the gospel we received (and likely preach) will practically (by and large) dictate the details of the atonement model we embrace.

Recognizing this, we may opt to examine our own theology in the light of our inbred bias - perhaps stepping back and seeing what an holistic approach to our understanding of the atonement might reveal. It is far too common for us to preach our model without having first examined it to see why our theology demands it.

posted by Daniel @ 2:19 PM  
23 Comments:
  • At 12:29 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    ...and instead of punishing Christ, now God was punishing me directly on the cross - Christ being the "Ark" into which I was placed - the Ark that entirely absorbed God's wrath as it was poured out on me. Now Christ was truly sacrificing Himself - being bruised for my transgressions - not instead of, but on account of, me...

    So Daniel, what you are saying is that Christ stood between me and God and in doing so took upon Himself the full wrath of God?

     
  • At 1:10 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Jennifer said…

    Daniel,

    This is a subject about which I am much confused. I came to Christ as an Arminian due to the teaching I heard. About a year ago I discovered the "L" in both scripture and the teaching of those like Luther and Calvin. Now I'm attending a Lutheran church (Wisconsin Synod) and am hearing about universal justification but limited salvation. I don't know what to believe because both the Calvinist and the Lutheran use scripture to support their view and both sound convincing when presented.
    I read your post a couple times and am left scratching my head over what position or view you hold.
    I am afraid to ask this question of other bloggers because I have seen the venom that is used to correct wayward believers who don't hold to the "L" firmly. But I want to know what scripture teaches on this issue as I agree with you that it shapes our witness as it forms the basis for how we understand our theology proper. However, I am not afraid to ask you and to expose my ignorance. You have always been gentle and gracious with fellow bloggers.
    Did Jesus die to pay the price for sin for the elect or did his death justify everyone and only those whom God gives faith to believe will be saved?

     
  • At 1:53 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim - yeah, that would be how I see it. Not that God was punishing Him, but that he put Himself between God's wrath and me (so to speak). It is a spirutal reality that we are approximating with images - but that is how I think it happens.

     
  • At 2:52 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    That gives a very vivid picture then of Christ's standing in the gap for us so to speak.

    Just like all who were in the ark were saved from the flood, so to all that are in Christ are saved from the wrath of God.

     
  • At 3:19 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,
    I may be out on a limb here, but here goes:
    Reading your post and subsequent comments, I rememberd something I read somewhere related to the significance of "pitch" (used in constructing the ark).
    I can't find it in any of my books, so I went to my Hebrew Bible and found the word "Kofer" for pitch. In seeking the root of the word (that is caf, pe, reysh), I see the verb means "to pitch, besmear, tar." My Hebrew dictionary even provides a reference for that verb to Gen. 6:14.
    Immediately below this verb is the listing for the verb "Kee-fer," spelled with the exact same three consonants, which means "to pardon, forgive, atone for, appease, expiate." This is the same root word from whence the Day of Atonement (Yom "Kippur") hails.
    Is this a stretch?
    It's the exact same root in Hebrew, but the vowel placement is different (which is how Hebrew works - once you can read Hebrew well, you can buy a newspaper in that language with no vowels).
    Maybe I'm out on a gopher wood limb here, but I like the word play.

     
  • At 3:31 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jennifer,

    The atonement confuses and divides more Christians than any other doctrine I know of.

    How we answer the question, "What did Jesus take to the cross?" will determine our view of the atonement.

    Scripture tells us (1 Peter 2:24) that Christ bore our sins on the cross. Not that he bore their "penalty" or that he was a substitute for us - but that he bore our actual sins. I believe that. Paul speaks about it in Romans six as well. Why doesn't a believer continue in sin? Because he was placed into Christ (baptized) and as such his "old man" was placed on the cross with Christ, and it is because of this union that sin no longer has dominion over us.

    It might be helpful to frame our understanding of the atonement with regards to those things that scripture describes as taking place before the foundation of the world. In discussing events that are recorded in scripture, but take place "outside" of creation (that is, out side of both time and space) we cannot really use words like "before" or "after" - as such words are chronometric, having no frame of reference "outside" of time. Yet for the sake of being understood, I will use chronological language to help paint an otherwise confusing picture.

    I believe that before God created anything there was only the Triune God. At some "point" God determined to create all of creation. While it is probably more realistic to envision God planning everything simultaneously rather than chronologically, we can piece it together chronologically for the sake of our own understanding.

    1. God determined (according to my impressions from scripture) to create creation (prior to creating anything)
    2. God "then" determined to create Man, to love him (and all his progeny) yet allow Him (and all his progeny) to "fall."
    3. God "then" determined to give Christ to Adam and his progeny as their sole mankind's redeemer
    4. God knew that because of the "fall" not one person throughout the history of creation would ever come to Christ even though he was offered freely as their sole redeemer.
    5. God "then" elected to "quicken" some of those who would have otherwise rejected Christ.
    6. God "then" determined to call and save every last person He had determined to save through the process of election - such that every last elect person will eventually be saved.
    7. "After" planning all these things God created everything and put the plan into action.

    I suppose this would be my "model" for election - that is, this would be my answer to the "how did God elect man?" question - being a slightly modified form of infralapsarianism.

    The point is that before the earth was ever created God loved everyone - and because of that love He determined to save as many as He felt like saving - and elected those (and only those) to salvation. All this was already in God's mind before Adam was ever created. Now the gospel offer can be made to everyone - and everyone has an equal chance to accept it - but no one will - we all stand condemned on this point. The gospel offer is legitimate - but no one comes to it ever. So God quickens the elect who them come to Christ - and even though they have already rejected Christ, yet God quickens them so that they turn to Christ in faith and Christ saves them by entering into "union" with them (the two shall become one flesh) so that when Christ took the elect (via their union with Christ) to the cross with Him, God could punish the elect for their sin - but Christ being their "shield" sacrificed his own life (out of love for the elect) by absorbing entirely the wrath of God that was poured out on our sins at the cross.

    Thus - I believe that only the elect were atoned for on the cross; that is, I believe the atonement was “limited” to the elect.

    I do not believe that the gospel offer is invalidated by this limitation either – as some would.

    That is because I understand that the gospel cannot be believed by faith unless God grants that faith freely to the person receiving the gospel. In Ephesians 2:8 we see this – that even the faith with which we believe is a gift in order that no one can boast about their own salvation (or anyone else’s for that matter.)

    Thus I don’t imagine that the validity of the gospel hinges on a person’s ability to believe it – since scripture makes it plain that belief itself is a gift. I am not therefore presenting a possibility – as though Christ were in heaven wringing his hands and hoping that someone might take advantage of his death - rather I am boldly proclaiming a truth because doing so is my privilege – bringing as it does, honor to my God, either as the means by which the Spirit quickens, or as a stumbling block to increase the damnation of the damned.

    Truly when God condemns those who deserve to be condemned – no one is going to second guess Him. I for one expect to praise Him.

    Anyway – that is the long answer.

    Short answer? Daniel believes in Limited Atonement.

     
  • At 3:36 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,
    "infralapsarianism"
    Gesundheit!
    Thanks a lot.
    My dictionary is now pulp.
    I've worn it out.
    :-P

     
  • At 3:37 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan, I am not familiar with the Hebrew myself - but that sounds like it would make a fascinating word study. I wonder if there is a connection.

     
  • At 3:56 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    The "infra" suffix simply means "after" (such as "infrared means that light that is outside the visible spectrum beyond the color red)

    "Lapse" while it is less common anymore - can be used synonymously with the word "Fall" as in to (c.f. "collapse")

    The "arian" appendex just describes one who ascribes to something or does something - a Librarian - is one who looks after or is concerned with books.

    Putting it all together (infra-lapse-arian) an infralapsarian would be one who believed that God determined to "elect" mankind after he determined to allow the fall. Not that these things happened chronologically - but that in our logical model we place the election after the fall (the lapse).

    A "supralapsarian" would say that God determined who would go to heaven and who would go to hell before He determined that there would even be a fall.

    Hyper-Calvinists are typically supralapsarian. That is, they believe that God determined who would be saved and who would be damned before He ordained the fall - such that some people are created solely for the purpose of being damned.

    Normal Calvinists (moderates) are typically infralapsarian - that is, they understand God as permitting the fall, then electing from amongst a "condemned" race - some people to save.

    The difference is that in supralapsarianism God is not redeeming the damned so much as condemning the innocent.

    if that helps.

     
  • At 3:58 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Jennifer said…

    Daniel,

    Thank you for taking the time to minister to me. :)

    I've printed your answer out so I can go over it as often as I need.

    I'm still left wondering what the difference is between limited atonement as you have explained it and universal justification. Are atonement and justification the same thing? Can someone be justified by not saved?

    As I've been learning, Jesus' death justified all men but salvation only comes to those whom God gives faith to believe.

    To me this seems like the same as limited atonement. Jesus' death was sufficient to save everyone, but God willed that only "few" would receive salvation.

    Your item #3 - "God 'then' determined to give Christ to Adam and his progeny as their sole mankind's redeemer" - Is this universal justification?

    I hope I'm not exasperating you with this question.

    Jen

     
  • At 4:11 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,
    Fascinating explanation. Thank you.
    1. But how can supralapsarians (gosh am I tempted to add -'expialidotoius' to that word. Sorry) How can supralapsarians - or Hypercalvinists, say - think that God is not redeeming the damned so much as condemning the innocent, when surely they believe none are innocent, right? I mean, Total Depravity.
    2. I also don't understand this view: "infralapsarian - that is, they understand God as permitting the fall, then electing from amongst a "condemned" race" since as you say, well, chronologically doesn't it suggest that God determined one thing only after another. That (to me) suggests, God saying 'well, looks like the humans chose to sin, now I'll do this.' Kind of like an "if...then..." construct.
    (I tend to lean toward the logic of not following it chronologically, with God being omniscient - so I wonder if I'm the supradupra kind, although I've never considered myself 'hyper'Calvinist.)
    3. And finally, when you write: "Hyper-Calvinists are typically supralapsarian. That is, they believe that God determined who would be saved and who would be damned before He ordained the fall - such that some people are created solely for the purpose of being damned." Is this really any different from Him creating people with the foreknowledge that they would choose not to follow Him, and thus be damned? I don't see the difference in those two versions of God really. One creating them expressly for Hell and One creating them not for that purpose but knowing they'll choose it anyway.
    (And I also think supralapsarians sounds like some kind of super breed of lap dog.)

     
  • At 4:25 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Hyper-Calvinists are typically supralapsarian. That is, they believe that God determined who would be saved and who would be damned before He ordained the fall - such that some people are created solely for the purpose of being damned.

    Normal Calvinists (moderates) are typically infralapsarian - that is, they understand God as permitting the fall, then electing from amongst a "condemned" race - some people to save.



    Daniel, you cannot honestly tell me there is a distinct difference between these two?

     
  • At 5:47 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jennifer, to put it succinctly - to be justified before God means to be "counted as righteous" before God - that is, even through you are a sinner, God regards you as being sinless. Only those who are "in Christ" are justified - and every justified person goes to heaven. Old Testament believers were placed "in Christ" looking forward to the cross, just as we are placed in Christ looking back at the cross.

    When we talk about the atonement in this context, we are talking about how many people Christ died to save. Did Christ die to save the elect only, or to save everyone. If we say to save the elect only - we say "limited atonement" - since provision for the atonement was "limited" to the elect of God. If we say "universal" atonement, we are saying that Christ went to the cross to pay for everyone's sins.

    Justification and atonement are not the same thing. Justification is God's declaration - "Not Guilty!" ; where atonement speaks about whoes sins Christ took to the cross.

    I believe Christ didn't take the sins of the world to the cross, nor did He go there to provide a "possibility" for everyone to be saved - rather he went to the cross to save those (and only those) who were in Him - those whom He Himself elected before Adam was ever made.

    I don't think Jesus' death justified all men (that is, I do not believe that God declared all men "Not Guilty!" on the cross.

    Surely Christ's sacrifice would suffice for a billion universes filled with trillions of earths - inhabited by zillions upon zillions of sinners - were the matter of sufficiency relevant. No one can deny the infinite value of the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Yet, the question of whether Christ's death had the capacity to save the whole world is out of scope because Christ didn't come to superimpose himself between God and the whole world, but only to superimpose himself between God and the elect - whom Christ knew before the foundation of the world.

    Lastly item three would be more like universal "comdemnation" - the idea that God determined to allow everyone to be condemned prior to determining who would be elect.

    As I said, our model is presented chronometrically in order that we might understand it - but it is just that - a model that explains election in such a way that we can contemplate God's sovereignty and righteousness in a way consistent with what scripture teaches.

    You are not exasperating me.

     
  • At 6:33 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan

    1. - Hyper-Calvinists reason that (in the soteriological economy of God) God determined to elect people "before" God determined that everyone would be totally depraved.

    Recall - we are not talking about the way things panned out - but rather the order in which God determined to do things. In our "model" all these items (1 through 7) were determined before God created the universe.

    2. ...doesn't it suggest that God determined one thing only after another...

    One of the pitfalls of using chronometric language when discussing things in which time has no value is just that - we end up trying to organize the various soteriological elements so that the we can both comprehend the motives of God and agree that they reflect the character of God as revealed in scripture.

    I don't suggest that anything happened chronologically - rather I believe everything happened simultaneously, and likely in a way far more alien than anything I can think or even comprehend. Nevertheless - if someone says - what did "election look like" - I don't imagine for a second God as gazing into a crystal ball, to see who would believe - then "declaring" them to be elect - that isn't God sovereignly deciding beforehand whom he would save (election) - rather that would be God reacting to man's choices by playing a shell and pea game with time and foreknowledge. ;-) It is the very definition of "intellectually dishonest!" ;-) The kid inside me wants to spend some time making fun of people who think that way - but I... must... maintain... my... decorum... lol.

    3. The difference is certainly negligible with regards to who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.

    The big difference shows up in our evangelism philosophy. The supralapsarian mindset says that some people are created to be saved and some are created to be damned - and whether we share the gospel or not, those created for salvation will be saved, and those created for damnation will be damned.

    There isn't going to be a lot of evangelism going on if that is how you understand election.

    On the other hand, the infralapsarian says that if all men are guilty, then God is justified in saving some and not others - since no one "deserves" to be saved in the first place.

    I have four kids. If I come home one day with treat and decide to give it to one of my children I have done nothing evil. Yet the children who didn't get a treat - because of their selfish greed - will feel that they "deserve" a treat too - since the one received a treat and didn't do anything to deserve it - they reason that by equally doing nothing deserving of a treat that they to deserve a treat - and that if I fail to give a treat to everyone - I am "evil."

    It is a good example of how twisted and evil we can be at heart. We are programmed to think that we deserve anything anyone else gets. If four of us are rightly condemned to die, and one of us is shown mercy - we immediately feel "wronged" that the others haven't been given mercy - we say it is "unfair" when in fact it is nothing of the sort. What is "fair" is that those condemned to die are executed. If mercy spares one - it in no way purchases similar treatment for the others.

    When we carry that into our understanding of election. The infralapsarian reasons that everyone is guilty - in this way no one can charge God with being "unfair" - since God elects from amongst the lost - none of those who go to hell can say that God is unjust.

    An infralapsarian may well reason that the elect are going to be saved whether or not he or she does anything about it - and he or she would be right (though whatever crown might have been his or hers will be given to another.) But that is not typically how the infralapsarian reasons. The infralapsarian (espialodoscious) typically reasons that everyone is lost, and so he or she is free to share the gospel with everyone, regarding each and every person as "fit to hear the gospel" - not knowing who the elect are until God grants them faith.

     
  • At 6:34 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Daniel, you cannot honestly tell me there is a distinct difference between these two?

    um... I can, I can, I can. ;-)

    Jim, you cannot honestly tell me you don't? Surely you see that much?

     
  • At 9:58 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I am not trying to make you write another long explanation but I see the differences as simply technical rather than practical.

    While God obvious does not create evil or sin, is not His ordaining or permitting the fall a rather minor distinction such as trying to split hairs? If ordaining means He causes the fall in the first tense than I would probably disagree. However how can He not have ordained to permit the fall? Would that not make the two fundamentally the same?

    It seems to me that the line between supra and infra can be quite easily blurred until a charge of unbiblical comes and the the excuse is made that what the person is describing is in fact hyper which is apparently only 5% of professing calvinists?

    My point is that once we begin down the road of labeling our doctrines with these highfalutin terms, does this not lead to a continuation of more and more intricate definitions to explain our exact stance?

    Perhaps I am off in left field here but this has been my perception so far?

    God bless,
    Jim

     
  • At 7:56 AM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,
    I, too, have two more questions, if you are willing to entertain them.

    1. A bit to the side of this discussion perhaps, but relevant nonetheless, where does the 'scapegoat' from OT sacrifices fit into the substitutionary model? Is that 'us'? It doesn't make sense to me that it's 'us' because the 'us' were there in person doing the sacrificing. (Well, 'we' weren't, but the person offering the lamb or goat were there to be 'let off the hook'. Hmm, I wonder is that where that latter expression comes from? In a meat hook sort of way?) But what does the scapegoat represent? All of us whom God saves through the substitutionary sacrifice?

    2. Is the difference you cited between hyper-Calvinists and moderate Calvinists the only distinction between moderates and hypers? I've heard the latter term, but never knew what it meant. Surely being a supra- can't be the only difference between the two.
    If I believe (and I do) that God foreknew EVERYTHING that would happen and that He Himself would determine all before He created any speck of creation. I also believe He predetermined every single elect person's destiny prior to the Fall, prior to Genesis 1, prior to it all - AND that He Himself predetermined each elect person - am I a hyperCalvinist?

    3. When you write "There isn't going to be a lot of evangelism going on if that is how you understand election" with respect to hyperCalvinists, I wouldn't agree. Because wouldn't Calvinists (hyper and mods both) evangelize knowing that God may use them in witnessing to His elect, even if we don't know who they are. Even if the one to whom you are witnessing may never be saved.

    4. The following is a statement more than a question, when you write "not knowing who the elect are until God grants them faith". I'm not sure we even know then. There are a lot of 'flavors' of faith out there. Well, I guess some are pretty easy to determine as false, but others not as easy. I guess this is why God gives so many warnings in the NT about false prophets and false gospels. And to be on guard against both. And that we can't recognize false teaching if we don't know true Biblical teaching. But I'm just thinking that we don't always know (how can we?) who the elect of God truly are. As far as people in my life, some, I believe I do know are saved. Others, I can only pray for. Their outer cup sure looks saved, but I'm not always sure about that inner cup.

     
  • At 10:06 AM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    FYI, the word "two" in my first sentence above is an antiquated Hebrew word meaning "four," also known in contemporary English as a "typo."
    ;-)

     
  • At 12:08 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Bryan said…

    Take a look at http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/sup_infr.htm

    Daniel I think is off a bit in his explinations. When he said:

    "Putting it all together (infra-lapse-arian) an infralapsarian would be one who believed that God determined to "elect" mankind after he determined to allow the fall. Not that these things happened chronologically - but that in our logical model we place the election after the fall (the lapse).

    A "supralapsarian" would say that God determined who would go to heaven and who would go to hell before He determined that there would even be a fall."

    This is a bit off. Both groups believe that God choose who would be saved before the foundation of the world. The difference between Supa and Infra is, at least in mind mind, fairly minor and is a theological debate amoung Calvinist. In fact I would argue it's more a logical debate then theological. It doesn't has to do with what the logical order of decrees is, not whith when they were carried out and therefore I don't think have as practical important in evangalism as Daniel seems to make them.

    Also although all Hyper-Calvinists are Supralapsarians, not are Supralapsarians are Hyper-Calvinists.

    Phil Johnson also has a page that explains Hyper-Calvinism a bit more:
    http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm

    Matthew MCmahon also has an article on them, which I like a bit better if I remember right:
    http://www.apuritansmind.com/PuritanWorship/McMahonABriefCritiqueOfHyper-Calvinism.htm

     
  • At 1:37 PM, April 09, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim said: While God obvious[ly] does not create evil or sin,

    My understanding is that God, and God alone is "The Creator." Whether it is sunshine and flowers, or evil and sin - God created them. Scripture isn't silent about this either. God (or so scripture says,) created everything (through Christ) that was ever created - whether visible or invisible.

    Thus when we ask, "Who created evil?" we can answer boldly, and unashamedly, "God did!" Likewise, should we ask, "Who created sin?" we can answer with full confidence from scripture - "God did."

    I wonder whom you think created evil and sin if not God? Who else can create? Us? The devil?

    With regards to the practical differences between infra/supra etc. I certainly agree that the "practical" implications that flow from the infra vs. supra positions are negligible.

    No doubt in my zeal I have enlarged the distinctions between the two such that I have to back pedal a bit and restate myself. The distinctions are not primarily in the application - as though the outcome of one position verses the other demanded (practically speaking) one external philosophy vs. another. The primary distinction is more with regards to how we think about God's character.

    With regards to your thoughts about labels: I agree that every academic Christian stands in danger of substituting intellectualism for spirituality - and that this same corruption is rampant in the church. But I would contend as well that a form of anti-intellectual, "primitivism" is just as rampant, and just as wrong as there is nothing especially "spiritual" about maintaining a rigid and presumably "pious" ignorance.

    It is between these two extremes where the healthy Christian lives - and we must guard ourselves against poo-pooing terminology as being either too simple or too sophisticated, providing the terminology is explained up front - especially if they come in the context of answering valid theological questions. By that I mean that I think it is not overstepping one's place to use that sort of terminology that was developed to facillitate this very medium.

    I hope that doesn't make me a snob (lol!) - either of that primitive variety that imagines that God cannot be discussed in sophisticated English - or of that sophisticated variety that believes that God cannot be discussed in simple terms.

     
  • At 1:54 PM, April 09, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan

    1. Great question! Both goats on the day of atonement (Yom Kippur) represent Christ. This could be a whole 'nother post so I will keep it as short as that unless you have a specific question about that.

    2. That doesn't make you a hyper Calvinist - it makes you a Calvinist. Bryan linked to a Phil Johnson article that explains hyper-Calvinism - it is worth reading, and will probably do a better job that I am prepared to do right now (it is lunch time and I am being quite brief on account of that)

    3. You're probably right. Certainly our motive to evangelize is not "to save people" - but obedience to God and a desire to see God glorified. This motive is likely identical in both the infra and supra camps. The hypers don't witness because they are disobedient and disregard the command - reasoning pragmatically in this fashion (no doubt) that if the same number of people will be saved whether I witness or not - I don't need to witness. But that is an abominable position as it imagines that the purpose of our witness is to save souls. Saving souls is God's business. Our witness is a matter of obedience. So, I stand corrected.

    4. Agreed.

    Lastly, you count like I do.

    Dan

     
  • At 1:55 PM, April 09, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bryan - I know it is a bit off, in the sense that it is a bit overly simplistic. I was trying to make it understandable without writing a treatise on it. ;-)

    Thanks for the links too.

     
  • At 9:03 AM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,
    Thanks. I would love to see a post about both goats representing Christ.
    When the Spirit moves you to do so.

     
Post a Comment
<< Home
 
 
 
Previous Posts
 
Archives
 
Links
 
Atom Feed
Atom Feed
 
Copyright
Creative Commons License
Text posted on this site
is licensed under a
Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5
License
.