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.

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