Saturday, March 14, 2009

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.

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