Sunday, March 29, 2009

Affirmative Answer to Question 5

Nick insists it is orthodox to say when Jesus slept that “God was asleep” because Jesus is the second person of the Trinity.

Here, Nick appears to part ways with folks like Ambrose.

Ambrose - Exposition of the Christian Faith - Book II, Chapter VII:

56. As being man, therefore, He doubts; as man He is amazed. Neither His power nor His Godhead is amazed, but His soul; He is amazed by consequence of having taken human infirmity upon Him. Seeing, then, that He took upon Himself a soul He also took the affections of a soul, for God could not have been distressed or have died in respect of His being God. Finally, He cried: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” As being man, therefore, He speaks, bearing with Him my terrors, for when we are in the midst of dangers we think ourself abandoned by God. As man, therefore, He is distressed, as man He weeps, as man He is crucified.

57. For so hath the Apostle Paul likewise said: “Because they have crucified the flesh of Christ.” And again the Apostle Peter saith: “Christ having suffered according to the flesh.” It was the flesh, therefore, that suffered; the Godhead above secure from death; to suffering His body yielded, after the law of human nature; can the Godhead die, then, if the soul cannot? “Fear not them,” said our Lord, “which can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.” If the soul, then, cannot be killed, how can the Godhead?

58. When we read, then, that the Lord of glory was crucified, let us not suppose that He was crucified as in His glory. It is because He Who is God is also man, God by virtue of His Divinity, and by taking upon Him of the flesh, the man Christ Jesus, that the Lord of glory is said to have been crucified; for, possessing both natures, that is, the human and the divine, He endured the Passion in His humanity, in order that without distinction He Who suffered should be called both Lord of glory and Son of man, even as it is written: “Who descended from heaven.”
When Nick asks, “Can the statement ‘God died on the cross’ be understood in a truly orthodox sense?” the answer seems to be “No.”

The expression "in an orthodox sense" invites trouble, since "God does not exist" could be understood in an orthodox sense if further qualified, such as by "in the thoughts of a fool."

Standing alone, the comment that “God died” is facially heterodox, although it can be qualified to some other meaning. The Orthodox way to describe it is "Jesus Christ died on the cross." The church fathers agree.

Thus, Leo the Great, in Sermon 68, explained:
The last discourse, dearly-beloved, of which we desire now to give the promised portion, had reached that point in the argument where we were speaking of that cry which the crucified Lord uttered to the Father: we bade the simple and unthinking hearer not take the words "My God, &c.," in a sense as if, when Jesus was fixed upon the wood of the cross, the Omnipotence of the Father's Deity had gone away from Him; seeing that God's and Man's Nature were so completely joined in Him that the union could not be destroyed by punishment nor by death. For while each substance retained its own properties, God neither held aloof from the suffering of His body nor was made passible by the flesh, because the Godhead which was in the Sufferer did not actually suffer. And hence, in accordance with the Nature of the Word made Man, He Who was made in the midst of all is the same as He through Whom all things were made. He Who is arrested by the hands of wicked men is the same as He Who is bound by no limits. He Who is pierced with nails is the same as He Whom no wound can affect. Finally, He Who underwent death is the same as He Who never ceased to be eternal, so that both facts are established by indubitable signs, namely, the truth of the humiliation in Christ and the truth of the majesty; because Divine power joined itself to human frailty to this end, that God, while making what was ours His, might at the same time make what was His ours.
Theodoret, in Letter 170, goes a bit further:
For in these very Chapters the author of the noxious productions teaches that the Godhead of the only begotten Son suffered, instead of the manhood which He assumed for the sake of our salvation, the indwelling Godhead manifestly appropriating the sufferings as of Its own body, though suffering nothing in Its own nature; and further that there is made one nature of both Godhead and manhood,— for so he explains "The Word was made flesh," as though the Godhead had undergone some change, and been turned into flesh.
And, further, he anathematizes those who make a distinction between the terms used by apostles and evangelists about the Lord Christ, referring those of humiliation to the manhood, and those of divine glory to the Godhead, of the Lord Christ. It is with these views that Arians and Eunomians, attributing the terms of humiliation to the Godhead, have not shrunk from declaring God the Word to be made and created, of another substance, and unlike the Father.
What blasphemy follows on these statements it is not difficult to perceive. There is introduced a confusion of the natures, and to God the Word are applied the words "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me;" and "Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me," the hunger, the thirst, and the strengthening by an angel; His saying "Now is my soul troubled," and "my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," and all similar passages belonging to the manhood of the Christ.


Affirmative Answer to Question 4

Nick asked for patristic support for the quotations he identified in Question 1. With the word limits it is impossible to identify all the relevant quotations or address every facet, but several quotations should illustrate the same kinds of thoughts:

Augustine – On the Trinity – Book IV, Chapter III:

6. Therefore on this double death of ours our Saviour bestowed His own single death; and to cause both our resurrections, He appointed beforehand and set forth in mystery and type His own one resurrection. For He was not a sinner or ungodly, that, as though dead in spirit, He should need to be renewed in the inner man, and to be recalled as it were to the life of righteousness by repentance; but being clothed in mortal flesh, and in that alone dying, in that alone rising again, in that alone did He answer to both for us; since in it was wrought a mystery as regards the inner man, and a type as regards the outer. For it was in a mystery as regards our inner man, so as to signify the death of our soul, that those words were uttered, not only in the Psalm, but also on the cross: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" To which words the apostle agrees, saying, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin;" since by the crucifixion of the inner man are understood the pains of repentance, and a certain wholesome agony of self-control, by which death the death of ungodliness is destroyed, and in which death God has left us. And so the body of sin is destroyed through such a cross, that now we should not yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.

The one death therefore of our Saviour brought salvation to our double death, and His one resurrection wrought for us two resurrections; since His body in both cases, that is, both in His death and in His resurrection, was ministered to us by a kind of healing suitableness, both as a mystery of the inner man, and as a type of the outer.
This quotation provides an example of the basic concept behind the “Reformed” quotations Nick provided: Christ’s one death substitutes for our two deaths. I’d love to provide many more quotations from Augustine, who consistently refers these words to Christ speaking on our behalf, as our substitute, and the representative of the old man. These may be found, for example in his Expositions of Psalms 22, 38, 42, 44, 50, 71, and 141. The issue of wrath, in particular, being on this representative head may be found in his exposition on Psalm 88: “Over that Body, which constitutes the unity of the Saints and the faithful, whose Head is Christ, go the wraths of God: yet abide not: since it is of the unbelieving only that it is written, that ‘the wrath of God abides upon him.’”

Leo the Great – Sermon 68:
Jesus, therefore, cried with a loud voice, saying, "Why have You forsaken Me?" in order to notify to all how it behoved Him not to be rescued, not to be defended, but to be given up into the hands of cruel men, that is to become the Saviour of the world and the Redeemer of all men, not by misery but by mercy; and not by the failure of succour but by the determination to die. But what must we feel to be the intercessory power of His life Who died and rose again by His own inherent power. For the blessed Apostle says the Father "spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all;" and again, he says, "For Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify it ." And hence the giving up of the Lord to His Passion was as much of the Father's as of His own will, so that not only did the Father "forsake" Him, but He also abandoned Himself in a certain sense, not in hasty flight, but in voluntary withdrawal. For the might of the Crucified restrained itself from those wicked men, and in order to avail Himself of a secret design, He refused to avail Himself of His open power. For how would He who had come to destroy death and the author of death by His Passion have saved sinners, if he had resisted His persecutors?
Leo the Great, unlike some of the other fathers, is willing to acknowledge that there is a sense in which Jesus was forsaken by the Father, though (of course) this was voluntary (as the Reformed acknowledge)

John of Damascus - An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (Book IV):
Others again are said in the manner of association and relation , as, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? and He has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin, and being made a curse for us; also, Then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him. For neither as God nor as man was He ever forsaken by the Father, nor did He become sin or a curse, nor did He require to be made subject to the Father. For as God He is equal to the Father and not opposed to Him nor subjected to Him; and as God, He was never at any time disobedient to His Begetter to make it necessary for Him to make Him subject. Appropriating, then, our person and ranking Himself with us, He used these words. For we are bound in the fetters of sin and the curse as faithless and disobedient, and therefore forsaken.
John of Damascus appears to be recognizing that these words are spoken in Jesus’ appropriated role as our representative: receiving (and expressing) the forsakenness we deserve for our sins.


Affirmative Answer to Question 3

I had pointed out that Deuteronomy 9:16-21 does not make reference to an atonement. Now, Nick has taken the position that “it turns out that the term ‘atonement’ is applied to this event,” citing Exodus 32:30.

The answer here is that Moses overestimated himself. Let’s examine the entire relevant passage:

Exodus 32:30-35

30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. 31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. 35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
Moses apparently offered himself as a victim to atone for the sins of the people, but whether that was what Moses was trying to offer or not, God rejected his offer and plagued the people because they made the calf.

Christ’s offer to substitute himself for the sins of his people is not refused by the Father. That’s one way in which Christ is much better than Moses.

Hebrews 3:3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.

That would seem to answer Nick’s question, but again, Nick’s question also contains some faulty premises that need to be corrected.

Nick states: “Surely Christ’s ‘unjust sufferings’ were of infinitely more value than what Moses could provide.” There are a few things that should be noted:

(1) Yes, Christ’s sufferings were of more value than anything Moses could provide, because Christ did not deserve to suffer, but Moses did deserve to suffer, and because Christ was both God and man in two distinct natures and one person.

(2) Moses, to the extent that he saved the people in Deuteronomy 9, did not save them from hell: he saved them from immediate destruction. Thus, the nature of the salvation provided is quite different.

(3) Nick’s comment, though, seems to view the sufferings of Christ as the primary source of value, whereas it is by Christ’s death (sometimes called his “blood”) that we are saved.

Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

One can also this principle in the discussion, for example, of Tertullian (a discussion I almost included in responses to others of these questions):

Tertullian - Against Praxeas (Chapter 30)
You have Him exclaiming in the midst of His passion: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" Either, then, the Son suffered, being "forsaken" by the Father, and the Father consequently suffered nothing, inasmuch as He forsook the Son; or else, if it was the Father who suffered, then to what God was it that He addressed His cry? But this was the voice of flesh and soul, that is to say, of man— not of the Word and Spirit, that is to say, not of God; and it was uttered so as to prove the impassibility of God, who "forsook" His Son, so far as He handed over His human substance to the suffering of death. This verity the apostle also perceived, when he writes to this effect: "If the Father spared not His own Son." This did Isaiah before him likewise perceive, when he declared: "And the Lord has delivered Him up for our offences." In this manner He "forsook" Him, in not sparing Him; "forsook" Him, in delivering Him up. In all other respects the Father did not forsake the Son, for it was into His Father's hands that the Son commended His spirit. Indeed, after so commending it, He instantly died; and as the Spirit remained with the flesh, the flesh cannot undergo the full extent of death, i.e., in corruption and decay. For the Son, therefore, to die, amounted to His being forsaken by the Father. The Son, then, both dies and rises again, according to the Scriptures. It is the Son, too, who ascends to the heights of heaven, and also descends to the inner parts of the earth. "He sits at the Father's right hand" — not the Father at His own.
As you can see, Tertullian rightly focuses on the “suffering of death” (i.e. dying). There is some interesting ways in which Tertullian also addresses the issue of Jesus being “forsaken” (see Answer to Question 4) and of the Trinitarian and Hypostatic relationships (see Answer to Question 5).

Thus, likewise Augustine – On the Creed:
"Patience of Job, end of the Lord." The patience of Job we know, and the end of the Lord we know. What end of the Lord? "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" They are the words of the Lord hanging on the cross. He did as it were leave Him for present felicity, not leave Him for eternal immortality. In this is "the end of the Lord." The Jews hold Him, the Jews insult, the Jews bind Him, crown Him with thorns, dishonor Him with spitting, scourge Him, overwhelm Him with revilings, hang Him upon the tree, pierce Him with a spear, last of all bury Him.
So then, this humiliation up to and including Christ’s death was necessary for our atonement, though not for just any atonement.


Affirmative Answer to Question 2

The question, briefly stated, was whether atonement can be made without penal substitution. The answer is that atonement (reconciliation) does not, as such, require any particular form: i.e., two parties can be variously reconciled.

The case of God, however, is a special case. Justice demands bloodshed. God is perfectly just, and consequently cannot simply overlook the demands of justice. Justice must be satisfied through punishment.

Thus, regarding God’s punishment against sin, there are two options: either the sinner himself is punished or someone else is punished in the place of the sinner.

There are, however, a number of premises in the question itself that need to be addressed:

The “atonement” identified by Nick in Exodus 30:11-16 is a special payment to be made when making a census. If it is not made, God becomes angry and sends judgment on the people. In 2 Samuel 24, David accidentally triggered this provision of the law. David performed a census of the people but did not collect the mandatory ½ shekel (a bekah). Accordingly, a plague came upon the people as promised in Exodus 30:11-16. This plague was the result of the omission of the ½ shekel census payments which would have kept the people atoned-for.

The plague was stayed by making burnt offerings and peace offerings as reported at 2 Samuel 24:25:

2 Samuel 24:25 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

Contrary to the seeming presuppositions of Nick’s argument, David didn’t try to buy out God by providing ½ shekel per numbered person. The reason why, is that the sin had already been committed, so there was need to make a blood offering.

After all, this is the general rule, as Scriptures declare:

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

The second case that was mentioned was not the case of negligent homicide (as Nick seems to think) but homicide by a dangerous chattel – homicide by an animal that was a known danger. It’s similar to negligent homicide, but it differs because there is another actor than the person himself who does the killing.

To understand the ransom involved here, it is important to recognize the way that the Jewish civil law worked. In general, the criminal could avoid the law’s penalty by paying off the victim. For example, if you maimed someone, the law declared that you should be maimed (eye for eye etc.). You could avoid this penalty by paying off the victim. The victim, however, could only demand so much from you, because you could always agree to receive the punishment instead of paying (which helped to keep the buyout amount reasonable).

In the case of the notoriously dangerous loose ox that gores someone, the death penalty was the judgment, but the criminal could pay off the victim’s family. This is significant, because there was a notable exception to permitting criminals to ransom themselves:

Numbers 35:31 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.

In any event, Nick is right that Jesus’ death is sometimes referred to as a “ransom” or a payment of some sort. The commercial analogy is not wrong, it is just not sufficient. Christ’s satisfaction was chiefly penal: it was not “this much for that many” but the substitution of an innocent victim for the guilty people he represents.

The ½ shekel payment would not be a counter-example in favor of a pure commercial analogy for two reasons: (1) it is a payment not for those who have sinned, but for those who are in the army:

Numbers 1:3 From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies.

(2) it is an individual payment, but it is not proportioned to individual sin. In other words, the payment is exactly the same for everyone, whether rich or poor. Thus, although it has definite “commercial” connotations, in that it is monetary, it is not an example of commercial satisfaction that can serve as a legitimate model for any alternative view for Nick.

Finally, Nick mentions the idea of “giving his life as a ransom” as referring to the life (as such) being of a particular value and quality. The first thing that must be addressed here is that “giving his life” means “dying.” It’s unclear whether Nick realizes this, or views the death itself as an inconsequential aside. The second thing is that the value and quality of life is important. The victim must be spotless, i.e. blameless (Cf. Lev 23:12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.), otherwise his death would not be substitutionary: it would be for his own sins.

Christ is that spotless victim:

Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The unique dignity of Christ’s person was important for our atonement too. The blood of bulls and of goats was never actually able to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.), but the blood of Christ can take away not just he sins of a single man (as perhaps the death of a righteous mere man might) but of the world (John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.).

So, our atonement from sin and hell is a penal substitution.

- TurretinFan

Affirmative Answer to Question 1

Nick’s first question was a puzzling question. Rather than cross-examining me on positions I had advocated, he asked me to defend the teachings of Hodge, Boettner, MacArthur, Calvin, Luther, Luther again, and Grudem, not all of which are particularly systematic (while those who are have extensive defenses of their own on this subject).

Nick asserted that these gentlemen claim that Jesus "endure[d] not only a physical death, but a spiritual one as well." That's not quite right. They do say he experienced more than bare death, but specifically the wrath of God. Of course, that expression must be understood within their framework of thought. For them, suffering the punishments due to sinners is suffering God’s wrath: it does not mean that God the Father is displeased with the Son’s sacrifice (on the contrary – it pleases him). But, instead, it means that God’s judgment is on the Son.

Nick asks "Where does Scripture teach Jesus underwent a suffering more painful and serious than physical death?" This itself is trivially answered, since the actual experience of death isn’t something to which we attach any pain. It is the cutting off of soul from body. In Christ's case, however, the way this happened was crucifixion, an enormously painful means to that end.

What was more painful and serious than the physical pain of the crucifixion? It is apples and oranges, but Christ was humiliated in every way: he was condemned and betrayed by the leaders of his people to the gentiles. He was mocked by the gentiles. He was mocked by the thieves on the cross. He was not rescued from death by God. He was abandoned by his disciples. What more could have been done to him that was not done?

But Nick provided further provisos on his question: "Please quote and comment upon at least three distinct passages of Scripture which [sic] state Jesus endured a pain worse than physical death, specifically "the wrath of God" as described above."
I assume Nick's reference to "as described above" is not to anything I had written in this debate, but to other writers with whom it appears Nick would prefer to spar. The first verse in support of their claims is the verse Luther quoted, where Jesus cries out "My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?"

Nick's request for three distinct passages is a bit odd. I guess it would be nice if this facet of the doctrine of the atonement were brought out by numerous verses, but what if it were just that one that Luther quoted? Isn't the Scriptures saying something one time enough of a reason to believe?

Nevertheless, there are others that convey the same concept, more or less directly. For example, there are verses where salvation through Christ is contrasted with the wrath of God:

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

This is a general verse contrasting eternal life obtained through faith in the Son with the wrath of God that otherwise abides on us. Either the wrath of God is against the Son or against us.

Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

This verse makes it clear that the blood of Christ (that is to say, his death) is significant in our justification. That is to say, either the blood of the Son is spilled for us, or God will require our blood.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

This is yet another verse that provides the options of either Christ suffering death or us suffering the wrath of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

This is still a further verse in the same vein. (See also Romans 2:2-11)

We can see the same thing another way by looking at Lamentations 3. That chapter begins:

Lamentations 3:1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.

Now, whether we view this as simply referring to the prophet Jeremiah, or whether we view it as a prophecy of Jesus the Messiah, what is interesting is how “wrath” is manifested in that chapter. It is manifested by various physical trials, pains, and humiliations. This demonstrates that the wrath of God can be manifested against someone without the person spending an eternity in hell. And, of course, none of the theologians Nick identified think that Jesus had to spend an eternity in hell.

We could, of course, give other examples. Perhaps it suffices to add to this Psalm 88. Psalm 88 is about Christ, as Augustine recognized: “The Passion of our Lord is here prophesied.” (Exposition on Psalm 88 – And the Roman Catholic “Haydock’s Bible Commentary” agrees: “A prayer of one under grievous affliction: it agrees to Christ in his passion, and allude [sic] to his death and burial.”) When it came to verse 7, this was hard for Augustine to swallow, and he was concerned that there was a mistranslation in the copies available to him. But we have better access to (and better understanding of) the Hebrew originals and know that is says:

Psalm 88:7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.

Though Augustine thinks that this just expresses the beliefs of those who crucified Christ, we recognize that on the interpretation of this verse, even the great Augustine was mistaken. That’s the nice thing about Scriptures being our rule of faith, we can read them without requiring that our view of them be precisely as the fathers, among whom (of course) there was disagreement. For example, Theodoret does not appear to recognize this Psalm as Messianic.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Question 5 from Negative


As you know, I argue that Penal Substitution entails Nestorianism (even if unintentionally). You asked me about this in your Fourth Question to me. As you were laying out your question to me, you stated the following:

Obviously Nestorianism (denying that Jesus was one person with two natures) is heretical. It appears, however, that your entire claim that somehow Jesus must be split into two persons two accomplish the penal substitution is just your own assertion, not a logical consequence of the doctrine itself.

There are certainly many things that were true of Jesus as a man (such as that he got tired) that are only applicable to Jesus’ human nature. Take, for instance, this account:[Mark 4:37-39] In this account, Jesus was asleep. But surely it would not be proper to say that the Holy Spirit and the Father were also sleeping. To do this would be to flirt with Sabellianism – a confusion or conflation of the persons of the Trinity, as though they were but one person. In contrast, since Jesus is truly a different person than the Father, although they are both persons of one godhead, nevertheless it is possible for Jesus to stand in the place of sinners as their penal substitute to satisfy divine justice and reconcile the elect to God.”

Now, I am not accusing you of anything, but from what you have said above I'm not sure if you understand the reasoning behind my Nestorian charge. While you are correct to say there were actions Jesus performed which were attributes of only His human nature (eg sleep), it is also orthodox to say things such as “God was asleep,” because Jesus was a divine Person, God the Son. You would seem hesitant to affirm this statement of mine by the way you suddenly transition to “surely it would not be proper to say that the Holy Spirit and the Father were also sleeping.” I believe this comment is out of place because the issue of Nestorianism is not about the other Divine Persons (Father and Holy Spirit), but the Person of the Son and a potential human person. You begin by talking of Nestorianism and yet conclude (“in contrast”) by dealing with Sabellianism. What you appear to be alluding to is that “Jesus as a man” can be forsaken by God and die and undergo God's wrath, but “Jesus as God” cannot because “it would not be proper to say” the Holy Spirit and Father underwent those things. My final question to you is: Can the statement “God died on the cross” be understood in a truly orthodox sense? I'm talking about the statement as it stands, without modification of any words. Please explicitly state either “Yes” or “No” and then explain your reason for doing so, with as much detail as you can, in the span of 2-3 paragraphs.

Question 4 from Negative


For your Fifth Question, you gave me a list quotes from the Early Church Fathers which you claimed were advocating Penal Substitution. From the start of this debate I have argued the doctrine is more or less a invention of the Reformers. Because you seem to be well read in the patristics department, I have a question which I think shouldn't be too hard to answer. Do you know of any Early Church Father writings where they advocate Jesus enduring divine punishments along the lines of what the Reformed theologians in Question One above were advocating? I'm talking about quotes where an Early Church Father teaches concepts such as God pouring His Wrath upon Jesus, being forsaken (via “My God, My God”) by God in the sense of divine punishment, suffering more than a physical death, using “descended into hell” in a sense of undergoing damnation, etc. If you do know of such quotes, please list a quote from at least three different Early Church Fathers. If you do not know of any such quotes, then explain why the Reformers and Reformed theologians speak in that manner and why you think the Early Church Fathers missed “the true meaning of the cross” (to quote MacArthur).

Question 3 from Negative


During your Rebuttal Essay, you made the following comment:

Nick cited Deuteronomy 9:16-21 as another alleged example of a commercial satisfaction, and calls his act an atonement. The Scriptures, however, do not use that description, although they do speak of Moses turning away God’s wrath. How did he do so? He did so by making intercession for them, and begging for mercy.

While it is true Deuteronomy 9 did not use the term “atonement,” it turns out that the term “atonement” is in fact applied to this event:

Exodus 32: 30 The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin."

This chapter is dealing with the golden calf-idol, and these words come immediately after Moses finds out. He explicitly says he will “make atonement for your sin,” so what Moses did in Deuteronomy 9 (describing the same event) was in fact what you denied. My question to you is: Can you explain why Christ would have to atone by means of Penal Substitution when Moses didn't have to? Surely Christ's “unjust sufferings” (1 Pt 2:18ff, esp v20b) were of infinitely more value than what Moses could provide.

Question 2 from Negative


One theme I have constantly emphasized is the notion of “making atonement” without an innocent party having to get punished. I have already mentioned some examples, but now I would like to present one more such example:

Exodus 30: 11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 "When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. 13 Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the LORD. 14 All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. 15 The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives. 16 Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the Tent of Meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the LORD, making atonement for your lives."

It turns out that even money can make atonement for lives. In fact, this “atonement” is equated with “ransom” for life. Another significant passage that mentions a ransom for life is Exodus 21:

28"If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall go unpunished. 29"If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.30"If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him.

In this case a man, guilty of murder by negligence, instead of receiving the death penalty can offer a sum of money for his life. As most are aware, the term “ransom” appears in the New Testament on a few occasions, specifically connected with salvation. For example,

Matthew 20: 26 Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

The phrase “give his life as a ransom” is undoubtedly a reference to atonement. Also, the passage indicates it is the value and quality of one's life, not a punishment itself, that is what is given as a ransom. Throughout this debate you seem to have been hesitant to accept my Scriptural examples of atonement being made without the use of Penal Substitution. The question I have for you is: Do you believe atonement can be made without the use of Penal Substitution? If yes, then explain why that cannot be the case with Christ, especially when He is said to make a ransom with his life. If no, then explain how Penal Substitution fits in both Exodus 30:11-16 and the text describing Christ's life as a ransom.

Question 1 from Negative


What Scripture teaches about Christ's sufferings directly impacts the validity of Penal Substitution, because if Christ didn't receive the proper type and degree of punishment which the elect deserved then the doctrine is unworkable and thus false. The following quotes from various respected Reformed sources describe the sufferings Jesus deserved and underwent:

The penalty of the divine law is said to be eternal death. Therefore if Christ suffered the penalty of the law He must have suffered death eternal; or, as others say, He must have endured the same kind of sufferings as those who are cast off from God and die eternally are called upon to suffer. (Hodge, Charles. “Systematic Theology.” Vol. 2, Part 3, Ch 6, Sec 3)

We should remember that Christ's suffering in His human nature, as He hung on the cross those six hours, was not primarily physical, but mental and spiritual. When He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me," He was literally suffering the pangs of hell. For that is essentially what hell is, separation from God, separation from everything that is good and desirable. Such suffering is beyond our comprehension. But since He suffered as a divine-human person, His suffering was a just equivalent for all that His people would have suffered in an eternity in hell. (Boettner, Loraine. “The Reformed Faith.” Chapter 3.)

To [Jesus] was imputed the guilt of their sins, and He was suffering the punishment for those sins on their behalf. And the very essence of that punishment was the outpouring of God's wrath against sinners. In some mysterious way during those awful hours on the cross, the Father poured out the full measure of His wrath against sin, and the recipient of that wrath was God's own beloved Son.
In this lies the true meaning of the cross. … The physical pains of crucifixion - dreadful as they were - were nothing compared to the wrath of the Father against Him. (MacArthur, John. “The Murder of Jesus.” Page 219-220.)

Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God's anger, and satisfy his righteous judgment, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death. ... ... Hence there is nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. ... But after explaining what Christ endured in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he endured before God, to teach us that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price—that he bore in his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man. (Calvin, John. “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Book 3:Chapter 16:Section 10)

Luther: ‘Christ himself suffered the dread and horror of a distressed conscience that tasted eternal wrath;’ ‘it was not a game, or a joke, or play-acting when he said, “Thou hast forsaken me”; for then he felt himself really forsaken in all things even as a sinner is forsaken” (Werke, 5. 602, 605) (Packer, J.I. “The Logic of Penal Substitution.” footnote 44)

So then, gaze at the heavenly picture of Christ, who descended into hell for your sake and was forsaken by God as one eternally damned when he spoke the words on the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!” - “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In that picture your hell is defeated and your uncertain election is made sure. (Luther, Martin. “Treatise on Preparing to Die.”)

The physical pain of the crucifixion and the [psychological] pain of taking on himself the absolute evil of our sins were aggravated by the fact that Jesus faced this pain alone. … Yet more difficult than these three previous aspects of Jesus' pain was the pain of bearing the wrath of God upon himself. As Jesus bore the guilt of our sins alone, God the Father, the mighty Creator, the Lord of the universe, poured out on Jesus the fury of his wrath: Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin that God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world.(Grudem, Wayne. “Bible Doctrine.” Page 253-254)

Given this, Penal Substitution demands Jesus endure not only a physical death, but a spiritual one as well. My request to you is: Where does Scripture teach Jesus underwent a suffering more painful and serious than physical death? Please quote and comment upon at least three distinct passages of Scripture which state Jesus endured a pain worse than physical death, specifically “the wrath of God” as described above.

Answer to Affirmative Question 5

Response from Negative to Question 5

For the Fifth Question you list various quotes from the Early Church Fathers and conclude by asking:

“In view of all this evidence, will you agree that the concept of penal substitution is not simply a doctrine discovered by the Reformers?”

The short answer: No.

The Reformers and Reformed theologians made claims about Christ's Passion that go above and beyond what the above Early Church Fathers would have ever dreamed about the Passion. Claims such as Jesus undergoing God's wrath and undergoing the equivalent of hell, as well as using texts like “My God, why have you forsaken me?” and “let this cup pass” as proof texts are things the Early Church Fathers would have condemned (in fact some Fathers did condemn such interpretations of “forsaken me”). And notice none of the above quotes come anywhere near affirming those claims.

Due to word limits, I can only briefly comment on the Church Father quotes you presented:

Augustine, Sermon 86:6 - As this single sentence stands, it can be interpreted in a way compatible with Catholic understanding of satisfaction and does not demand Penal Substitution. But there is more here than what this sentence sheds light on. The preceding context is of the story of Elisha raising a dead boy back to life, taken from 2 Kings 4:8-36, here is the passage St Augustine quotes and focuses on:

When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. … Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy's body grew warm. … The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

What might appear like an odd way to resuscitate someone is seen by Augustine as a foreshadowing of Christ's taking on our human nature which is subject to the punishment of death. Just as Elisha became 'one' with the dead boy to bring him to life, Augustine says Jesus came to take on human nature to remove the illness impeding it (punishment of physical death) and bring human nature back alive. The context here is medicinal, not God's wrath on Christ.

Augustine, Against Faustus, Bk14:4 - This passage sounds very similar to the one just discussed. It turns out I already discussed this very context in my rebuttal essay when you quoted a passage from around this context the first time.

Augustine, Psalm 51 - This is basically a repeat of the previous two quotes, which by the way are about a single sentence long each (which is not enough context for you to draw fair conclusions from). The context is that of human nature subject to death, that is the punishment being discussed and that is what Christ takes upon himself to remove and heal our nature. The very next thing Augustine does is quote 1 Corinthians 15:22 “In Adam all die, but in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Augustine, Tractate 60 on John: There is nothing incompatible with Catholic theology here, and nothing demanding a Penal Substitution interpretation.

Athanasius, Letter 10:5 - As this very short quote stands, it likewise compatible with the Catholic understanding. Later, Athanasius talks more about Christ suffering in our stead:

“Who, being truly the Son of the Father, at last became incarnate for our sakes, that He might offer Himself to the Father in our stead, and redeem us through His oblation and sacrifice. This is He Who once brought the people of old time out of Egypt; but Who afterwards redeemed all of us, or rather the whole race of men, from death, and brought them up from the grave.”

All this fits with the Catholic notion of satisfaction, while showing nothing significantly of the nature of Penal Substitution.

Gregory Thaumaturgus, A Sectional Confession of Faith, Section 17 – This is a basic creedal (orthodox) statement, nothing specifically Penal substitution about it.

Athanasius, Discourse II Against the Arians, Section 55 (Chapter 20) – Here Athanasius is merely quoting Scripture (texts I have already addressed in a way compatible with the Catholic understanding), so the burden is on you to show he meant it as Penal Substitution.

Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit: Book I, Section 109 (Chapter 9) – He is commenting primarily upon 1 Peter 2:24 in in the limited information he gives can be interpreted in the sense I proposed for this verse in my previous essays. The fact he says in the same quote “do you also crucify sin, that you may die to sin” goes against the notion of Penal Substitution.

Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John: Book II, Chapter 21 – As this quote stands, it is no problem for the Catholic view and says nothing demanding a Penal Substitution interpretation.

Ambrose, On the Giving Up of the Basilicas, Section 25 – I would repeat my above answer. As this quote stands, it is no problem for the Catholic view and says nothing demanding a Penal Substitution interpretation. He is commenting upon Galatians 3:13 but does not interpret this “curse” as any form of God's wrath or divine punishments, but instead in a medicinal sense (ie healing human nature): “in his flesh bore our flesh, in His body bore our infirmities and our curses, that He might crucify them; for He was not cursed Himself but was cursed in you.”

Augustine, Letter 169 – You claim Augustine held to Limited Atonement because he said “not one little one perishes for whom He died.” In my previous essay I pointed out a passage where he taught not all the justified would persevere (while being a strong advocate of baptismal regeneration for infants). Thus he either contradicted himself (not to mention 1 Cor. 8:11) or meant something else (which I assume).

Answer to Affirmative Question 4

Response from Negative to Question 4

The Fourth Question deals with my accusation that Penal Substitution results in Nestorianism, especially when using the quote “My God, why has thou forsaken me?” as a proof-text. I am asked the question: “how can you truly affirm that every concept of penal substitution necessarily involves Nestorianism?”

Take the following quote as one example (of many) of what respected Protestant theologians have to say about Penal Substitution and that cry of Jesus on the cross:

So then, gaze at the heavenly picture of Christ, who descended into hell for your sake and was forsaken by God as one eternally damned when he spoke the words on the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!” - “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In that picture your hell is defeated and your uncertain election is made sure.

(Martin Luther, Treatise on Preparing to Die)

Penal Substitution states that God's wrath due to the sins of the elect was re-directed onto Christ in their place and thus He suffered what they should have suffered (including the deserved eternal punishments). Using the words of Christ “My God, why has thou forsaken me?” as a proof text for this claim has Jesus stating God has forsaken Him as a sinner is forsaken (to use a another phrase of Luther about this event). The epitome of Divine Wrath is when God's presence is removed from the creature (which becomes permanent in hell). Separation from God and being under God's wrath go hand in hand. In order for this to happen theologically, the Second Person, the Son, would have logically had to cast off His human nature (ie God no longer being present with Christ's body and soul), and thus a purely human man named Jesus was speaking those words on the Cross. The Nestorian heresy states a human man named Jesus existed prior to the Incarnation, and at the Incarnation the Word came and settled upon this already existing man (meaning Jesus was two persons, a human and divine). The orthodox teaching is that the Son is an eternal Person who's divine nature became united with human nature at the Incarnation, and thus there never was (nor could be) a 'stand alone' man named Jesus. The heresy resulting in Jesus being forsaken (as described above) is somewhat reverse of the original Nestorian claim, for in your case the Son did not settle upon an already existing man, but rather when the “forsaking” occurred a human man logically would have had to come into being upon the cross. In other words, the Jesus on the cross would have had to been a new and separate person rather than the Second Person, God the Son.

Answer to Affirmative Question 2

Response from Negative to Question 2

The Second Question I was asked dealt with the issue of guilt being imputed, and it suggested I spent more time dealing with “wrath” than guilt being imputed. I can understand why this objection was raised, and I assure you I was not deliberately avoiding or diverting attention off of the important issues. My goal in focusing on any given aspect of the debate, including key aspects like wrath, is to get at the heart of the Penal Substitution issue so as to avoid misunderstanding each other during our exchanges. Wrath and guilt are closely connected, so if one is discussed the other is implied. As for addressing the “imputing guilt” specifically, as far as I remember, the closest thing to a proof text you gave from the New Testament was 2 Corinthians 5:19 (see my rebuttal).

For this question, I think it is very necessary that I make some issues clear in order to avoid any fallacious argumentation or misunderstandings: (1) just because guilt is said to be upon someones head does not mean it was transferred off of a guilty party to an innocent one; (2) the mere reference to “upon the head” does not automatically mean guilt or impute; (3) the teaching of any given passage cannot necessarily be imported into another passage; (4) if no such language is used in the New Testament in regards to Christ, I take that as a significant shortfall to your argument.

The following are the Scriptural references you cite, followed by my commentary:

Numbers 8:12 – This merely states hands were laid upon the sacrificial animal's head. It does not demonstrate that guilt was being imputed. The fact sacrifices not dealing with sin (eg peace offerings in Lev 3) give similar “upon the head” instructions mean imputing guilt is not the first thing we should assume, but rather a sort of dedication.

Acts 18:6; Ezekiel 33:4; 1 Kings 2:37; 2 Samuel 1:16; Joshua 2:19 – There is mention of “blood upon your own heads,” which obviously refers to guilt for transgressing, but nothing indicates this was transferred guilt.

Judges 9:57 – The passage clearly states God held the people of Shechem guilty for their wickedness. What does not make sense here is your comment said: “God imputed their sin to them,” yet 'impute' in this debate signifies transferring guilt to another's account. Here the guilty are charged for their own sins and there is no clear foreshadowing of Christ in that situation, so I would say your linking this example to Christ is unwarranted.

Ezekiel 22:31 – Here God's wrath is poured out on sinners, which I don't deny, but that does not mean this was the case for the sacrifices or Christ. Further, as I noted in my rebuttal, fire does not automatically mean wrath.

1 Kings 2:32-33 – The phrase of interest here is “their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever.” This doesn't quite fit the imputation model for the elect having their sin imputed to Christ, because the guilt never left Joab's own head. Here the curse wasn't so much transferred as it was extended to Joab's family, similar to how a king's punishment can extend to sufferings for what matters most to him, his kingdom. In Old Testament times, punishments that were very severe targeted not simply the guilty culprit, but everything dear to him, especially his family. It was not so much that the descendants were just as guilty (or even getting punished in the father's place) as it was hitting the father where it hurts him most. Catholics have been careful to maintain that while descendants can suffer temporal punishments (eg suffering, death) due to the father's sins, when it comes to eternal recompense each soul is judged by God according to what it alone has done (Eze 18:20; Summa I-II:87:8).

Matthew 27:25 – I would agree with you that this passage expresses a similar concept as the above, and I would give roughly the same response.

(Overall, I consider the 10 passages presented in order to make your case extremely weak.)

All this leads up to your Second Question:

“In view of this evidence, how can you deny that the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29 and 36) could take away the sins of the world in the specific sense of taking the punishment due to the guilt of sin, in other words, how is it that in view of the hand-head typology of the Old Testament sacrificial supported by the evidence above, you would attribute some other kind of “taking away” than having the guilt of the beneficiary imputed to the victim, and the victim slain in place of the beneficiary?”

I would say the question you propose does not follow the case you presented above, at least not without engaging in the logically fallacious argumentation I stated above. There is no direct Scriptural connection established between the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the word” (John 1:29) and the “head-hand typology” and “head-guilt” passages you presented. You are assuming a Penal Substitution took place with the Lamb of God, when this is not proven, nor did your above examples demonstrate the imputing of guilt Penal Substitution requires.

The Lamb of God which John is most especially focused on is the Passover Lamb (Jn 19:14; 1 Corinthians 5:7), in which case no mention of laying on of hands is ever instructed in the Torah, nor is “guilt upon head” ever mentioned. Given this, there is no Scriptural warrant for “taking away of sin” to be by means Penal Substitution, it must be by some other way. I believe the way Scripture describes that other way is the Catholic view of satisfaction.

Answer to Affirmative Question 3

Response from Negative to Question 3

For the Third Question I am asked why the “cup” Christ mentions to the Apostles cannot be both the “Cup of God's Wrath” as well as the Cup of the Lord's Supper. Here are the reasons why I reject this argument:

1) The cup mentioned before the garden and in the garden are figurative, only the cup of the Lord's Supper is literal.

2) The question proposed would sound something similar to this: Can you [literally] drink of the Cup [of the Lord's Supper] which I am going to [figuratively] drink [by death]? You're introducing two meanings for 'cup' and 'drink' in the same sentence. That's equivocation.

3) In Jesus' challenge He mentions both “cup” and “baptism” which are coming up for him (Lk 12:50) and asks if the Apostles can undergo both. These are obviously both figurative and refer the same thing, suffering, otherwise Jesus would be mixing figurative (baptism) and literal (cup). It would be most unwarranted at that point to say this cup is the Lord's Supper.

4) When Jesus asks if the Apostles can drink of the cup He will drink, His question is a challenge to them. It is not much of a challenge if this amounts to sharing the Cup of His Blood at the Supper.

5) Your proposal amounts to the following equation: Cup in Garden = Cup of Lord's Supper = Cup of God's Wrath. There are obvious absurdities that arise from this, for example Jesus and the Apostles drank the Cup of the Lord's Supper. Or are you suggesting a stretched interpretation such as Jesus exhausting the Wrath making the Cup of the Supper 'safe to drink'?

6) You stated “God’s wrath is often expressed in killing those against whom his wrath burns,” yet nowhere do we see God's wrath upon Christ nor do we see God positively engaged with Jesus' death (i.e. a judicial declaration and execution which is what Penal Substitution demands, as opposed to withholding divine protection, Mt 26:53), which is always described as murder (eg Acts 3:13-15; 7:52; 10:39-40).

Answer to Affirmative Question 1

Response from Negative to Question 1

The First Question begins by asking why I don't accept the various proofs put forward by you for penal substitution. I feel it necessary to quote part of the first question:

When I [Turretin Fan] present something that would support penal substitution you claim it’s not talking about God’s wrath being appeased, but something else. I see no consistent standard being applied from your side, so that I could see how to persuade you to accept that the atonement sacrifice (Christ) does turn away God’s wrath through suffering the punishment (death).

There is a critical distinction that must be made clear here which I feel you have not made. Penal Substitution is a specific understanding of the Atonement, but it is not the only understanding. Concepts such as making atonement and turning away wrath are not limited to the Penal Substitution perspective. The problem is that when proofs are put forward by you, you assume Penal Substitution is what is being discussed. My objection is simply that you are assuming Penal Substitution is what a given text says, but that is not enough to be considered proof. If I can take the same text and interpret it in a valid manner other than Penal Substitution, then it fails as a proof text for you. Certain elements must be present for a proof text to fit a Penal Substitution frame work. For example, one of the most critical elements we should see in a proof text is a description of God's wrath being directed onto Jesus rather than the elect. What ends up happening in most of the cases you present is that the proof text is so vague or lacking key elements of Penal Substitution (or even contradicting it) that I am well within my rights to object (and I have explained why for almost every case). The burden of proof is on the side taking the affirmative, in this case yourself, and if reasonable evidence cannot be produced (and I don't believe it has) then you fail to prove your case.

About the Passover, the plain fact is God's wrath was not on Israel but Egypt (Exodus 11). Thus, the only way an Israelite family would be harmed is if they disobeyed God's instructions. A similar example arises with Sodom and Gomorrah, where God's wrath is against the cites but not Lot and his family. Yet Lot and his family can and will be swept away in the process if they don't obey God (Gen 19:15).

The main question I am asked is how do I define and understand “God's wrath”:

So my question to you is to explain your definition of wrath, such that while Scripture seems to explain wrath as being expressed (among other things) by people dying (as seen in the examples the follow), somehow Jesus’ death (and the deaths of the animals sacrificed under the Old Testament administration) cannot be an expression of him bearing the penalty that God’s wrath against sin incurs. Note, this is not a question about whether or not such a view of the atonement would impact other issues of theology, or about anything except the definition of wrath within the context of this debate, from your perspective.

God's wrath, His demand for satisfaction or punishment, is what arises in response to sin. The punishments which result from this wrath – if it is not appeased- come in two forms. The first type are temporal punishments, such as sickness, disasters, misfortunes, and (most especially) physical death. The second and more serious type of punishments are the eternal punishments, which involve God's spiritual presence withdrawn from a soul, and this alienation becomes permanent and reaches its most extreme degree when a soul is cast into Hell.

Now, while Scripture does sometimes speak of God inflicting the punishment of death, the fact is not all death is described in reference to God's wrath against an individual. The most obvious example of death not resulting in relation to God's wrath is in case of murder of the righteous (martyrdom), which occurred as far back as Abel (Mat 23:35). Job is another example of one who underwent the most extreme misfortunes, but this is not described in relation to God's anger burning against Job's sinfulness, but rather more of a testing of Job's faithfulness. Given this, it is wrong for you to assume when death occurs it is due God's wrath, be it in the case of Levitical sacrifices or Jesus Himself. The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate God's wrath was on the sacrificial animal and especially Christ Himself. I have not only not seen any good evidence for such a claim, I see the Biblical evidence pointing in the opposite direction (eg Mat 17:5; Acts 3:13-15).

I am not sure why you quote those three passages in conclusion of your question, because while they all describe God's wrath, I never denied such a thing existed. What I have consistently denied is the notion God's wrath must have been on Jesus and the sacrificial animals because they were killed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Question 5 from Affirmative

Ultimately, it is inconsequential whether the church has faithfully taught the doctrine of penal substitution or whether it has not, since we have the infallible authority of Scripture. Nevertheless, the church fathers also provide evidence that we are not the first to recognize this doctrine in Scripture. You didn’t seem to feel that my quotations from the church fathers initially provided were good enough, so I provide the following:

O Lord Jesus, who hast suffered for us, not for Yourself, who had no guilt, and endured its punishment, that you might dissolve at once the guilt and punishment.
- Augustine, Sermon 86 on the New Testament, Section 6

Christ, though guiltless, took our punishment, that He might cancel our guilt, and do away with our punishment.
- Augustine, Against Faustus, Section 4

For there is no husband that, because he is an husband, is not subject to death, or that is subject to death for any other reason but because of sin. For even the Lord was subject to death, but not on account of sin: He took upon Him our punishment, and so looses our guilt.
- Augustine, Exposition on Psalm 51, Section 10

He was troubled, then, who had power to lay down His life, and had power to take it again. That mighty power is troubled, the firmness of the rock is disturbed: or is it rather our infirmity that is troubled in Him? Assuredly so: let servants believe nothing unworthy of their Lord, but recognize their own membership in their Head. He who died for us, was also Himself troubled in our place.
- Augustine, Tractate 60 (John 13:21), Section 2

He, the Saviour, suffered for man, but they despised and cast from them life, and light, and grace. All these were theirs through that Saviour Who suffered in our stead.
- Athanasius, Letter 10, Section 5

We believe therefore in one God, that is, in one First Cause, the God of the law and of the Gospel, the just and good; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, true God, that is, Image of the true God, Maker of all things seen and unseen, Son of God and only-begotten Offspring, and Eternal Word, living and self-subsistent and active. always being with the Father; and in one Holy Spirit; and in the glorious advent of the Son of God, who of the Virgin Mary took flesh, and endured sufferings and death in our stead, and came to resurrection on the third day, and was taken up to heaven; and in His glorious appearing yet to come; and in one holy Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, and life eternal.
- Gregory Thaumaturgus, A Sectional Confession of Faith, Section 17

And thus, the two being created in Him, He may say suitably, 'The Lord created me.' For as by receiving our infirmities, He is said to be infirm Himself, though not Himself infirm, for He is the Power of God, and He became sin for us and a curse, though not having sinned Himself, but because He Himself bare our sins and our curse, so , by creating us in Him, let Him say, 'He created me for the works,' though not Himself a creature.
- Athanasius, Discourse II Against the Arians, Section 55 (Chapter 20)

Therefore do you also crucify sin, that you may die to sin; he who dies to sin lives to God; do you live to Him Who spared not His own Son, that in His body He might crucify our passions. For Christ died for us, that we might live in His revived Body. Therefore not our life but our guilt died in Him, "Who," it is said, "bare our sins in His own Body on the tree; that being set free from our sins we might live in righteousness, by the wound of Whose stripes we are healed." 1 Peter 2:24
- Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit: Book I, Section 109 (Chapter 9)

"Behold, it is said, I have taken away your sins." Because He had taken on Himself the sins of the people of those who believed in Him, he uses many such expressions as these: "Far from my salvation are the words of my transgressions," and "You know my foolishness, and my sins were not hid from You."
- Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John: Book II, Chapter 21

Have they read also today, "that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us"? Galatians 3:13 Was Christ a curse in His Godhead? But why He is called a curse the Apostle tells us, saying that it is written: "Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree," Galatians 3:13 that is, He Who in his flesh bore our flesh, in His body bore our infirmities and our curses, that He might crucify them; for He was not cursed Himself, but was cursed in you. So it is written elsewhere: "Who knew no sin, but was made sin for us, for He bore our sins, 2 Corinthians 5:21 that he might destroy them by the Sacrament of His Passion."
- Ambrose, On the Giving Up of the Basilicas, Section 25

You had mentioned, almost in passing, that a consequence of penal substitution is limited atonement. If you’re right, this too would make sense since Augustine taught limited atonement.

On the other hand, many who glory in the cross of Christ and do not withdraw from that same way, though ignorant of those points which are so subtlely debated, because not one little one perishes for whom He died.
- Augustine, Letter 169 (to Evodius)

In view of all this evidence, will you agree that the concept of penal substitution is not simply a doctrine discovered by the Reformers?


Question 4 from Affirmative

In your constructive essay, you wrote:
“The Father could never turn His Wrath upon His Son, such a notion should make anyone cringe. The Father could never forsake His Son in a spiritual 'divine punishment' sense, nor could Jesus feel or experience what a condemned sinner before God feels, nor could Jesus experience the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, that is pure blasphemy and a form of Nestoriansim (if not worse).”

In your rebuttal essay, you wrote:
“As I noted in my last essay, to interpret the phrase “My God, why has thou forsaken me” in the sense of divine punishment/wrath is a form of Nestorianism. Despite this, my opponent insists this passage proves “Jesus felt the wrath of God upon the cross.” Jesus is God and thus cannot be “forsaken” by God without causing His Divine Nature to separate from His human nature, leaving a purely human man named Jesus on the cross. That's heretical. Jesus is quoting Psalm 22, in which God's wrath was never on David nor Jesus.”

Obviously Nestorianism (denying that Jesus was one person with two natures) is heretical. It appears, however, that your entire claim that somehow Jesus must be split into two persons two accomplish the penal substitution is just your own assertion, not a logical consequence of the doctrine itself.

There are certainly many things that were true of Jesus as a man (such as that he got tired) that are only applicable to Jesus’ human nature. Take, for instance, this account:

Mark 4:37-39
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

In this account, Jesus was asleep. But surely it would not be proper to say that the Holy Spirit and the Father were also sleeping. To do this would be to flirt with Sabellianism – a confusion or conflation of the persons of the Trinity, as though they were but one person. In contrast, since Jesus is truly a different person than the Father, although they are both persons of one godhead, nevertheless it is possible for Jesus to stand in the place of sinners as their penal substitute to satisfy divine justice and reconcile the elect to God.

So then, how can you truly affirm that every concept of penal substitution necessarily involves Nestorianism?


Question 3 from Affirmative

In your rebuttal essay, you wrote:

“Lastly, my opponent mentions Matthew 26:39 and says it references the cup of God’s wrath, but unfortunately he both ignores and misunderstands (e.g. he claims I treated all cups as one) my own comments on the verse.”

In your constructive essay, you had written: “Jesus asks the Father if the “cup” can be taken from Him (Mat 26:39). Some say this was the “cup of God's Wrath” which Christ must drink. However, earlier on in Mat 20:22-23 and Mark 10:38-39 Jesus asks if the Apostles can drink from this “cup,” and they say yes, and Christ says they will. This is impossible if the cup of God's wrath is in view and the purpose is Penal Substitution. Thus those texts can only mean enduring physical persecutions.”

Here are the Biblical texts that are most immediately relevant:

Matthew 20:22-23 states:
22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

Mark 10:38-39 states:
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

Matthew 26:39 and 42 state:
Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Matthew 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

Mark 14:36 states:
Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Luke 22:42 states:
Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

John 18:11 states:
John 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Let us assume, for the sake of the question, that my rebuttal both misunderstood and did not give proper attention to the argument in your constructive essay. Especially in view of John 18:11, the cup that Jesus is referencing would fairly clearly seem to be his death. After all, Jesus in the institution of the Lord’s Supper included a “cup” that he described this way:

1 Corinthians 11:25-28
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

(which quotes from Luke’s gospel)

Matthew 26:27-28
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mark 14:23-24
23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Notice how the description of the “cup” is one of his “blood” and that this is his “shed” blood. Most specifically, it is a cup that shows his “death.” So, then it would seem that it would be consistent for the disciples to drink of the Lord’s cup through communing in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, whereas Christ himself personally drank of this cup by dying. Furthermore, the cup in question is the cup of his death. Why cannot this be the cup of God’s wrath, where that wrath is expressed by the death of the one who bears the wrath, especially when throughout Scripture God’s wrath is often expressed in killing those against whom his wrath burns?


Question 2 from Affirmative

The resolution is this: “God imputed the guilt of the sins of the elect to Christ.” For much of the time, it seems you focus on the issue of “wrath” even seemingly diverting the issue from guilt when it seems that the evidence points to guilt being imputed.

Leaving aside then the issue of wrath, I provide the following evidence for you regarding the interrelationship between the “upon the head” symbology and the concept of imputed guilt:

1) Numbers 8:12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites. (This is one of the many examples of the animals having hands laid upon their head prior to the animals being sacrificed.)

2) Acts 18:6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. (Paul is saying that their guilt cannot be imputed to him, but only to themselves.)

3) Ezekiel 33:4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. (This is a similar concept to the one Paul mentioned.)

4) 1 Kings 2:37 For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head. (This warning has a slightly different twist, but the similar concept here – the king is pointing fingers, saying that it won’t be his fault if the guy is executed, it will be the guy’s own fault for violating the conditions of his probation.)

5) Judges 9:57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal. (God imputed their sin to them, which resulted in the curse, which incidentally connects with the concept of Christ being “made a curse” for us, which implies the same concept of imputed guilt.)

6) 2 Samuel 1:16 And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD'S anointed. (Notice the same judicial concept here. Their guilt is imputed to them, in the sense of their being judged guilty, and the evidence is their own testimony.)

7) Ezekiel 22:31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD. (Here God explains that he poured out his indignation/wrath “upon their heads” showing that they were condemned. Incidentally the “fire” metaphor used here is further evidence for the fire/wrath symbolism I noted elsewhere)

8) 1 Kings 2:32-33
32 And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah. 33 Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD. (In this case, the imputation of guilt extends not only to person himself who did the evil deed, but to his children as well. This is similar to the general federal principle particularly illustrated in Adam, whose guilt is imputed to all his natural children.)

9) Matthew 27:25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. (Although this doesn’t specifically use the word “head,” it expresses the same concept as the immediately preceding one.)

10) Joshua 2:19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. (This example provides a good balancing example: if the person goes out of the house and dies, it’s not the spies’ fault, but if they stay in the house and get killed, the spies will be held guilty.)

In view of this evidence, how can you deny that the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29 and 36) could take away the sins of the world in the specific sense of taking the punishment due to the guilt of sin, in other words, how is it that in view of the hand-head typology of the Old Testament sacrificial supported by the evidence above, you would attribute some other kind of “taking away” than having the guilt of the beneficiary imputed to the victim, and the victim slain in place of the beneficiary?


Question 1 from Affirmative

In your opening statement, you described the penal substitution position as: “God's Wrath (due to sin) must be legally satisfied (i.e. sin cannot go unpunished) in order for sinful man to be forgiven and justified.”

Then, in your rebuttal, you repeatedly denied that various things were expressions of God’s wrath, e.g.:

“First, Turtullian says nothing specific in terms the atonement, much less anything of Jesus undergoing the Father's wrath in place of the elect.”

Your labels seem to be just ad hoc. When I present something that would support penal substitution you claim it’s not talking about God’s wrath being appeased, but something else. I see no consistent standard being applied from your side, so that I could see how to persuade you to accept that the atonement sacrifice (Christ) does turn away God’s wrath through suffering the punishment (death).

The “positive” examples where you seemed to acknowledge wrath being implicated was regarding the Passover event, and in three places where you were asserting your own point regarding how wrath was stayed.

Regarding the Passover, your comments were inconsistent: “At the time of the Passover, God's wrath was not even on the Jews, but rather on the Egyptians:” and a bit later, “The Israelites were only actually subject to that wrath in a indirect/secondary sense, that is if they had they disobeyed the Passover requirements.” These seem to be a bit contradictory in themselves, since you first say that God’s wrath wasn’t on the Jews and then admit that it was/would be if they “disobeyed the Passover requirements.”

The other three times you seemed to positively identify wrath were these:

“The Israelites in large numbers turned to idolatry and God wrath was against them (v.3), not just the people in the tent. God sent a plague killing thousands, but because of Phinehas' zeal God's wrath against the whole Israelites was appeased and the plague stopped (i.e. not all the guilty were killed).”
“In the case of Moses making atonement in Deut 9, my opponent objects that the word “atonement” doesn't appear, only the turning away of wrath. This, to me, is weak, especially considering how much turning away God's wrath plays into atonement. In Num 25:10-13, turning away wrath is clearly equivalent to atonement.”
“In the case of Moses and Num 16:42-49, atonement and turning away wrath – by good works - is clearly stated. My opponent says this was simply God showing mercy, with no satisfaction, but that is contradicted by the plain reading of the text (eg “atonement”).”

So my question to you is to explain your definition of wrath, such that while Scripture seems to explain wrath as being expressed (among other things) by people dying (as seen in the examples the follow), somehow Jesus’ death (and the deaths of the animals sacrificed under the Old Testament administration) cannot be an expression of him bearing the penalty that God’s wrath against sin incurs. Note, this is not a question about whether or not such a view of the atonement would impact other issues of theology, or about anything except the definition of wrath within the context of this debate, from your perspective.

The Scriptural examples are these:

Isaiah 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

Deuteronomy 1:34-36
34 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, 35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, 36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.

Romans 1:18-32
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.