Sunday, March 1, 2009

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.


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