Saturday, March 14, 2009

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.

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