For God So Hated The World?

For God So Hated The World? November 9, 2018

 

If Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theory is true, then we need to re-write John chapter 3, verse 16 to say:

“For God was so filled with wrath against the world, that he sent his only begotten son to take the beating that we all deserved. That if anyone would want to escape eternal suffering, and would raise their hand and repeat this prayer after me, they would escape this horrible wrath. For the son was not sent into the world to change our minds about God, but to change God’s mind about us. So now that Jesus has taken the punishment for us, God can now finally love us, and forgive us.”

But…there’s nothing at all like this in the New Testament. Not even close.

In fact, as I’ve already mentioned in a previous blog, John 3:16 doesn’t even mention the crucifixion at all. It only mentions God’s love for the entire planet, and God’s desire that we put our trust in Christ and not die, but have life.

That’s a bit more like it, I think.

What’s more, the idea that God requires the shedding of blood to forgive our sins is not only false, it’s clearly demonstrated to be unnecessary as Jesus forgives sins numerous times in the Gospels – pre-crucifixion – and even empowers us to do so.

For example, check out this exchange in Matthew 9:

[Jesus says] “But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.” [v. 6-9]

Did you catch it? First, Jesus says that he [the Son of Man] “has authority on earth to forgive sins” and to prove it, Jesus heals the man. Then, the crowds “were filled with awe and praised God” – why? – because “God…had given such authority to man.”

Had given WHAT authority to man? The authority on earth to forgive sins.

Notice Jesus diddly about the shedding of blood needing to come first.

Also, when Jesus is in the act of being crucified – but still very much alive – he asks the Father to forgive them in advance for what they have done – and are about to do – to him. All without actually being crucified, shedding blood on the cross, or dying for anyone’s sins.

The idea that God requires blood and the sacrifice of an innocent victim before God can love, forgive or accept us is archaic, and pre-Christian. It’s an idea that was formulated by ancient people who had barely emerged from idol-worshipping cultures where the gods were seen as fickle and angry and that this anger could only be assuaged by the sacrifice of an innocent animal or sometimes a human being.

This is what natives and islanders believed thousands of years ago. We would call those people primitive and perhaps even scoff at their foolish ideas about appeasing an angry god by killing someone, or something.

But, Christians seem to have no trouble believing that the God of the Bible is exactly the same.

In spite of the fact that Jesus said no such thing, and even demonstrated the exact opposite: God is love. God’s love for us is endless. God is the Good Father who patiently waits for his children to return to him and rushes out to meet them, and kiss them, and place a robe around their shoulders and a ring upon their fingers and to throw a huge party – without first requiring us to grovel, or beg, or even to pay him back what we stole, or requiring the torture or death of any living thing in advance.

God just forgives. It’s how God responds to sin: Forgiveness.

It’s how God responds to us: Love. Just total and complete, inexplicable love.

Why? Because God is love. It’s just who God is.

Reading the Scriptures through the lens of Christ allows us to see a God who does not count our sins against us. It allows us to see – in Christ – a God who would rather die than live without us, and who would rather suffer the violence we bring against him than to retaliate against us.

Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory is just that: a theory. It’s also, I believe, a pretty bad one; one that does not square with the character of Christ – who is the incarnation of God and the exact representation of His being; the one in whom the fullness of God lives in bodily form. [See John 1:1; Heb. 1:3; Col. 2:9]

Now, I realize that I’ve left a lot of questions unanswered here. What about those verses that suggest that Jesus died for our sins? What does that mean? Well, the short answer would be that “dying for our sins” may not mean what we’ve always been told it is supposed to mean. Maybe it means that Jesus died “because of our sins”, meaning that we, in our sinfulness, killed Jesus and in this way he “died [due to] our sins.”

I think N.T. Wright’s latest book “The Day the Revolution Began” does an excellent job of unpacking this question. Much better than I could do here [or have done].

Another question might be: What about the verses in the New Testament [Hebrews for example] that repeat the pre-Christian notion that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins”?

Again, the answer to that is quite long and would require an entirely new post. But, in short, I’d say that those verses [especially the one in Hebrews] are used to compare/contrast the Old Covenant with the New Covenant and to point out how Jesus transcends and supersedes those archaic ways of thinking and acting. The overall point is often how Jesus has now put an end to those old ways and abolished those old practices, once and for all. His blood has been shed – by us, no less – and now God’s forgiveness is finally, ultimately, and forever poured out over all mankind; from here to eternity.

So, where was God when Jesus was being crucified? Is God the one holding the hammer? Is God the one pouring out His wrath upon the Son? Not at all. “God was,” as Paul so beautifully reminds us, “in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself; not counting men’s sins against them.” [See 2 Cor. 5:19]

What’s more, the “wrath of God” is a loaded phrase that too many Bible teachers have watered down to mean “God’s wrath against us” rather than an apocalyptic hyperbole that is always a metaphor for reaping what you have sown and most often revealed when an invading army surrounds your city or defeats you in battle, or takes you and your family as captives.

In short, there’s a lot more to the Atonement than meets the eye. It’s good to consider some of those other 7 theories of the Atonement that have been around much longer than Calvin’s “Penal Substitution” (PSA) which didn’t exist until the 16th century.

What proponents of PSA often fail to recognize is that most of the 7 major atonement theories that have popped up over the last 2,000 years were in response to the dominant theory of the day. So, Moral Influence Theory wouldn’t exist without Ransom Theory, and Christus Victor modifies them both, and Satisfaction Theory wouldn’t exist if Anselm weren’t trying to update and refine Ransom Theory, and Calvin would never have formulated Penal Substitution without the framework of all that had gone before.

PSA is not the Gospel. It’s a theory. The Gospel? That’s what Jesus says it is. He tells us all about it in the Gospels – you know, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It’s very simply the “Good News” [or Gospel] of the Kingdom of God. It’s what Jesus preached. It’s what Paul preached. It’s the only Gospel there ever was, or ever will be.

Please, don’t take my word for it. Read the Gospels for yourself. Listen to Jesus. Don’t just call Him ‘Lord, lord’, but please, do what Jesus says.

You’ll be glad you did.

NOTE: If you’d like to listen to a debate I did this week with my friend on this topic, it’s available HERE.

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. 

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • soter phile

    To believe as you believe, we have to ignore the clear & repeated emphasis in the Scriptures.
    Just because you don’t like PSA fails to make it unbiblical.

    Yes, as you cited, God was reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor.5)…
    but why did you ignore v.21? Oh, it teaches PSA… the divine exchange…
    “God made him who knew no sin to be sin that we might become the righteousness of God.”

    Why not believe the clear meaning of the text (esp. of Heb.9:22)?
    Why not acknowledge the repeated emphasis on the cross (“my hour”, “messiah must die”, etc.)?
    Why not admit the parallels with the sacrificial system all over the Passion Week?
    Why not affirm the OT sacrifices for sin explicitly focused on shed blood (Lev.1-11)?
    Why not see the Lord’s Supper focuses on remembering his death & shed blood?

    “Because I find that teaching distasteful” betrays a competing ‘god’ in one’s life.

    It’s very clear you hate PSA…
    but it’s equally clear the Scriptures teach it (Rom.3-6; Isa.53:5; 1 Pet.2:24; etc).

  • Herm

    Children are not born with a guilty conscience, it is beat into them; mentally, physically and spiritually. I know, both from my education in social sciences and my childhood beatings, from which I did not lose my guilty conscience, believing I was a naturally born sinner, until I was 51 and born a child of God whelmed by the Spirit.

    My children were never beat from my wrath in payment for the harm that they caused purely out of actions of ignorance and immature judgment. My children were forced to endure “timeouts” to consider the real live consequences experienced by all from their trespasses. As they could they were, also, led to repair as much of the damage as they were able. As a legally responsible parent I forgave them their childish stupidity as I repaired the remainder of the damage, as was possible. Their mother and I paid the majority of the price for their trespasses until they could speak as each an adult for themselves. My children are debt free from all their childish sins.

    Keith, you alluded to the primitive worship I understand best as to a “volcano god”. It is childish to believe that an all powerful God, with experience and maturity going all the way back to no beginning (compared to our 80 year average life expectancy), would demand payment for mankind’s immature, ignorant and stupid trespasses. Without God’s love we are relatively nothing in this finite universe, with less affect on the all than an empty, senseless comet looking for a puny little planet like ours to trespass against.

    Every element on this earth, that we use for our bodies to communicate through and that we depend upon to sustain us, was here eons before us. We didn’t earn any thing that was not already made available before us. Our children of flesh and spirit can’t provide shelter, nourishment and protection without the support of those who gave them birth. None of mankind were, are, or will be born into this world of graced opportunity by their own choice. Parents owe their service to their children because they made the choice to do so. Children owe their parents nothing, especially if their life is a living hell.

    The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    Matthew 23:11-12

    Everything Jesus commanded that his sibling students (sister and brother disciples) do he did first. He didn’t make it a prerequisite to become his student to carry his/her cross, before he carried his own first. He didn’t demand all my love (of heart, soul, strength, mind) until after he, my heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit gave all theirs first to me. If I want to be perfect, as is my Father, I have to love my enemy as does he before me.

    There was no fall of mankind from the grace (unmerited favor) of God’s love. That lie is the consequence from primitive religions beating a guilty conscience into superstitious, ignorant, and immature people, teaching them to believe they were naturally born sinners. Oh boy, does that truth piss off some very insecure fundamentalist religious authority types (and their disciples), especially from those spawned from Abraham. Oh woman, why did you have to eat from that tree? We could have been the most beloved little herd of pets in the entire cosmos, grazing in the Garden of Eden, with no knowledge of good and evil, thanks Eve! If you only would have eaten the fruit from the other tree so we could be possibly the most naive, but oh so ignorantly blissful, beings living throughout all eternity.

    I don’t have as much experience, or education, in the study of good and evil as God does. From my limited, though much more progressed than the authors of the Bible, perspective, it seems to me that there can be no greater trespass (sin) against God than murdering his Son in his name. What is the price for that offense? Is it a freebie because Jesus’ Father could have sent four legions of angels to stop it?

    Seriously, and point blank honestly, not only is the Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theory a tool for the physical corporate church to beat a guilty conscience into superstitious, ignorant, and immature people to appease in worship a wrathful volcano god, but the concept of an eternal punishment of hell, that none of those stupid sinners could ever adapt to, meted out by God to those who are ignorant of, or choose not to accept God’s gift of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, is an even greater trespass against the Gospel Jesus died delivering. What’s the price to pay for misrepresenting to conceal the all love first of God for all of Man, who are only (no more and no less) asked, so that they may inherit eternal life as children of God, to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, with all their souls, with all their strengths, with all their minds, and like that, in everything love their merciful neighbors first as they would have their merciful neighbors love them? Why does any of Man think that individually they are worthy of that much ire? It is so much easier and loving for all simply to allow the unforgivable to know nothing and be forgotten forever more.

    I am not special, no more than any other daughter/son of Man. I am not loved by God any more than any other daughter/son of Man. God accepted me to be their infant child of spirit, and so will they accept any other of Man who comes to them humbly as a know nothing, helpless child to be nurtured, provided for, protected, and taught by one Teacher, one Instructor and one Father as one God, bound in all love. That’s the salvation Jesus gave us, of mankind, that we could not ever earn, but we can accept today, for eternity.

  • Herm

    To believe as you believe, we have to ignore the clear & repeated emphasis in the Scriptures.

    If that is how much authority you give “the Scriptures” over God’s love offering to teach you directly through the Spirit of truth, then I would suggest you do so, post haste, if you choose to ever become a most beloved child of God. You didn’t offer one red letter word of scripture to substantiate your premise.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    If the Bible so clearly teaches PSA it is quite surprising that no-one in the first 15 centuries of Christianity noticed.
    In the Corinthians passage v21 states that Jesus was made to be sin, not made to bear the punishment for people’s sins, and was so in order that (as the previous verses do state quite clearly) we would reconcile ourselves to God and turn back to him, not so that God would reconcile himself to us and turn back to us, the Bible being equally clear God never actually turned away from us in the first place.
    Hebrews 9:22 refers to the practice of scattering blood on things to sanctify them and asserts no more than that Christ shed his blood that we might be purified from and forgiven our sins.
    That the sacrificial system had anything to do with substitutary punishment is an invention of Calvin and others, millennia after the event. Sacrifices were offering food animals as gifts to God which would otherwise equally have been killed in exactly the same way but for human consumption. That sacrifices included grain and perfume as well as animals further demonstrates the absurdity of the idea that the sacrifice was somehow being punished in anybody’s stead.
    Saying that Jesus was crucified for the sake of our sins is not in any sense the same as teaching PSA.
    You are right that asserting God is good and loving, and that his behaviour is good and loving and all his actions must be compatible with the character of God as revealed in Jesus is a demonstration that the author worships a wholly different God from that postulated by PSA. That, however, is because the un-Christ-like God revealed by PSA is not that taught by and revealed in Jesus, and a false God.

  • ashpenaz

    Here’s a way I’m looking at that verse now: “God so loved that world that He sent His only-begotten Son so that all who are currently believing in Him are experiencing the kind of life we will all be living in the next age.” This way of reading doesn’t say that “believe” means “make a choice.” This way of reading the verse says that it is simply a description of what a life grounded in Jesus is like.

  • soter phile

    you said: “…no-one in the first 15 centuries of Christianity noticed.”
    and then you have to explain away several passages in Scripture that clearly teach PSA, long prior to the Reformers you want to saddle with sole responsibility for this *biblical* teaching.

    The Hebrew word for atonement (kippur) literally means to “cover over”, echoing Ex.12 & the passover. It’s what the blood sacrifices were doing – and why the angel ‘passed over.’

    read Leviticus 1-11. note well that grain & perfume were NOT sin offerings. blood is required over & over for sin (unless the poorest of the poor do not have it). And even with grain, the lamb was necessary (Ex.29:41-42).

    Read Isaiah 53. Note well the trade: he was pierced by our transgressions, crushed for our sins, he was chastised so we would have piece. the Lord has laid on him all of our sin. by his stripes we were healed.

    Romans 3:25-26 (we get Christ’s righteousness because of his sacrifice)
    Jn.10:10 (shepherd lays down his life for his sheep)
    Heb.9:26 (our sins are removed by his sacrifice)
    Gal.3:13 (Christ became a curse for us to redeem us)
    1 Pet.1:18 (the righteous died for the unrighteous)
    1 Pet.2:24 (he took the cross for our sin)
    And then there’s the repeated use of “propitiation” in the NT…

    Your “let me dodge this teaching I don’t like” approach to Heb.9:22 & 2 Cor.5 is untenable. (Frankly, your attempt with 2 Cor.5:21 to delineate between “made to be sin” and “made to bear punishment” is nonsensical, especially since, as Jesus repeatedly said, the messiah “must suffer and die”.)

    PSA isn’t a later misinterpretation based on a handful of passages, it’s the entire trajectory of God’s plan for saving his people. Therefore, to dismiss this teaching is to dismiss the character of our “good & loving” God. The irony here: you are trying to save God from what He teaches about himself.

    Moreover, PSA does not merely date from the Reformation.
    Here’s an NT scholar on that very point:
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/did-early-christians-believe-in-substitutionary-atonement/

    Yes, there are other atonement theories. No one theory covers all the implications of atonement. But the current Western cultural objection to PSA is an objection to clear biblical teaching. Your problem is with God’s Word, not the Reformers.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    As I have said, over and over, the church has always believed that Christ died for our sins. Repeatedly quoting passages in the Bible and other works that say Christ died for our sins provides no support for PSA at all. The church’s historic historic understanding of this is:
    1. By dying Jesus demonstrated God’s love for us and by having faith in him and following this example we can reconcile ourselves to God and cease our rebellion against him.
    2. By entering into death Jesus destroyed it, and in rising from the dead brought with him to freedom those whom death had held captive.
    3. We can participate in Jesus’s death and resurrection by faith in him and by partaking of his body and blood in communion, and in doing so we can die to sin and rise to new life freed from it.
    What was an entirely new doctrine was saying that God punished Christ for our sins. This appears nowhere in the Bible or anywhere else until Calvin, and no-one thought the passages in the Bible you quote as “clear Biblical teaching” meant this until Calvin invented the notion.
    Your “NT scholar” seems as clueless as you in his understanding of Patristic theology, reading every passage about God forgiving sins or dying for us as if it were a reference to PSA. My favourite bit is this:
    He is “explaining” this passage in the Epistle to Diognetus, a 2nd Century work:
    “But [God] was patient, he bore with us, and out of pity for us took our sins upon himself.”
    What he says about it is:
    “Even more the author says, ‘God took our sins upon himself.’ Presumably the author has God the Son in view here, or is simply saying that God (in Christ) took sins upon himself.”
    His problem is that this passage is completely incompatible with PSA. The passage does’t say God placed our sins on Jesus, but that he took them on himself (in accordance with the traditional understanding of the church). Your “scholar” is forced to ignore what is actually said and say that “presumably” the author really meant to say something completely different from what he actually does. Given that your scholar picked this passage as his best example of PSA in the early church, this is pretty telling.

  • I will probably get jumped on for admitting this, but I couldn’t reconcile a loving omnipotent omniscient God with the story of a God who condemned an entire future world of humans to eternity in hell if they do not choose to believe that God came to earth as Jesus and died and was resurrected because God required a blood sacrifice to quench his sense of justice. It didn’t add up and sounded more like the primitive “a God is angry so something has to die” mentality of fearful ignorant people who don’t understand the world. And where is the choice? Profess belief and live, or do not profess belief and suffer eternal torment in hell.

  • soter phile

    700 years *before* Christ: “God laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa.53:5).

    And again, the entire sacrificial system was predicated on this. The blood is life (Lev.17:11). The penalty of sin is death (Rom.6:23). Over & over again in Scripture. It’s abundantly clear in Heb.9:12-14 – blood is how you get into the holy place; blood not of animals, but HIS blood which purifies us from our dead works. It’s the whole point of the temple – once and for all. His life for our death. The trade.

    Read Lev.1-11. Why do they have to lay their hand on the animal, right before the blood is shed? What’s the point of the sacrifice? reconciliation without justice? No, it’s for them to identify their sins’ just treatment with what happens to that animal… instead of them. And in the NT, Jesus is the Lamb – whether John the Baptist is declaring it, or the entire Passion week is set up to echo it. Jesus is the point of the whole sacrificial system.

    What is it you think you’re “saving” God from here? His wrath? Propitiation (again, a NT term) inherently includes that meaning. You can’t worship a God who exacts justice in this way? The justice I deserve fell on Christ instead of me – but God does not compromise his justice in bringing his mercy. Both are held together.

    And what view of the Trinity do you have in mind in attempting to pit “he took them on himself” against ‘the Father laid them on the Son’? It was the will of YHWH to crush him, to make his soul a guilt offering (again, Isa.53:5,10). And that was their plan throughout (Jn.17:4-5).

    Yes, PSA is clearly taught in the Scriptures.
    No, you’re not ‘helping’ God by avoiding that teaching; it denies his self-revealed character.

    As for mocking Dr. Kruger, you might want to check his peer-reviewed works before you casually dismiss his knowledge of early Church history out of hand.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Leviticus 5:11:
    “But if you cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, you shall bring as your offering for the sin that you have committed one-tenth of an ephah of choice flour for a sin offering”
    Oh the poor suffering flour, enduring in its body for my sin the torture that was rightly mine! Tragedy that the flour must die that I might live!

  • soter phile

    Funny, you didn’t counter that Lev.1-11 is meant some other way. Are you conceding the larger point? All those animals, offered for sin; all that blood, hands on before being sacrificed?

    Instead, you cite the lone exception… made solely for the poorest of the poor, who couldn’t afford to bring even the cheapest animals.
    Notice:
    a) God’s provision even for those who couldn’t afford it (Isa.55:1-2), just like the cross…
    b) while still upholding the sacrificial system that points to Christ (Heb.9-10). Mercy does not come at the expense of God’s just character. He pays the cost for us.

    If that’s your only counter to the whole of the Scriptural trajectory…
    again, that fits the PSA view. it just doesn’t fit your caricature of it.

  • Henry Verdier Jr.

    Two problems two solutions:- WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE between Sin & sins?

  • soter phile

    “…if God were not angry at injustice and deception and did not make the final end to violence God would not be worthy of our worship…. My Thesis that the practice of nonviolence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many Christians, especially theologians in the West. To the person inclined to dismiss it, I suggest imagining that you are delivering a lecture in a war zone…Among your listeners are people whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit. The topic of the lecture: a Christian attitude toward violence. The thesis: we should not retaliate since God is perfect non-coercive love. Soon you would discover that it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence corresponds to God’s refusal to judge. In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die. And as one watches it die, one will do well to reflect about many other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.”

    – Miroslav Volf, “Exclusion & Embrace”

  • Iain Lovejoy

    You cannot say that the sacrificial system was about the infliction of suffering on the sacrifice when the sacrifice can be an inanimate object. That is just lunacy. As far as I know it is not true that PSA derives from the idea that Temple sacrifices were substitutiary punishments – the (previously unknown) idea that Temple sacrifices were substitutiary punishments was invented to support PSA.
    I generally find that it is when someone fails to find anything actually in the Bible to support their view that they resort to waffling about the “whole Spiritual trajectory”, and saying their view has been “caricatured” without being able to say exactly in what way it is misrepresented is a sign that they are running out of ways to defend it.
    Calvin’s PSA and Anselm’s “satisfaction” theory of atonement that preceded it did not come from people suddenly noticing that there were a few passages in the Bible everyone had somehow previously never read in 1500 years of intense study by the entire Christian world. To say objections to PSA are rejecting what the Bible says because they don’t like the character of God it portrays is the exact reverse of the truth. It was Anselm and Calvin who did not like the idea as portayed in the Bible that God should simply freely forgive sins out of love, as they thought it weak and beneath God’s dignity to do so, nor the idea that God should give himself to death as a free gift to sinners, and so produced their theories, against how the Bible (and all the passages you cite) had always been understood, to explain Jesus’s sacrifice for us as instead being a sort of internal accounting system for sin to avoid God besmirching his “honour” with mercy.

  • soter phile

    again, you want to reject the content of Lev.1-11 by citing the lone exception for the poorest of the poor. go read it. notice the prominence of blood (i.e., life) splattered on the altar. notice the repeated commands to put their hand on the animal before the sacrifice. notice the meaning of the word atonement (‘kippur’ – to cover over). do you really claim it’s happenstance that a life is given so that sins are forgiven?
    go read Gen.22. Abraham is told to sacrifice Isaac, but instead God *provides* a ram. i’m left wondering *how* you read that provision – or the whole passage? why would Abraham even think the ram is a “provision” if not for the ram being the substitute sacrifice for Isaac?
    go read Exodus 12. why do the Egyptian sons die, but only lambs die for the Hebrews? how in the world does lamb’s blood on the doorpost *not* mean that and have some other spiritual significance for the angel to passover? “I will execute judgments… but when i see the blood, i will passover…”
    yes, this is the entire trajectory of the sacrificial system. no, it is not the invention of Calvin, or Anselm, or even the author of the Epistle to Diognetus – though all of them are recognizing this *pre-existing* theological stream in Scripture. it’s not just a “handful” of passages. it’s throughout the Scriptures – not only directly, but also in typology (see video below). It’s one of the reasons Jesus repeatedly says the OT is all pointing to him (Jn.5:39-40; Lk.24:27,44).
    that’s not lunacy. that’s not me waffling. that’s not an inability to say how i’m being misrepresented. it’s the repeated teaching of Scripture. That’s not “against the Bible”, much less does it match your re-narration that it’s against how these passages “have always been understood.” it’s the very thing that transforms lives.
    case in point, you mock an “a sort of internal accounting system for sin…” and yet that’s exactly what Ps.130:3-4 says we are being saved *from* (see Mt.12:36-37). Love & forgiveness mean there is no record of wrongs kept (1 Cor.13:5) – but that’s not because God is unaware or ‘lost count’ or just doesn’t care… no! he’s omniscient. he’s made it clear he finds sin grievous. we can keep no record of wrongs because the bigger debt has already been paid (Mt.18:21-35)… because of the cross, where God demonstrates two things very clearly:
    a) God is fully aware of the depth of our sins (it’s worse than we want to admit – we deserve that death; again, as the OT repeatedly teaches)
    b) God’s grace is deeper than our sins (he was willing to pay the cost for us; he took the wages of our sin on himself, so we could have the gift – Rom.6:23).
    It’s not some misguided, Victorian notion of ‘honour’, but a matter of God’s character. He is just. He defines justice. He will not compromise his character. Any mercy he extends will not come at the expense of justice, and therefore has a cost. And that’s the point PSA-detractors seem to miss in their attempt to save God from his self-revealed character.
    There is a COST to grace. And it’s seeing the cost that changes people. No sense of cost; no change. It’s Jesus’ entire point to Simon in Lk.7: she loves much, because she was forgiven much; you love little, Simon, because… you don’t think you need it as much. no sense of the COST for God to love you. no sense of the deep divide between us. forgiveness COSTS the one doing the forgiving. anyone who has forgiven a deep wrong of another knows this. Jesus is saying: little sin, little cost, little savior… little love for that savior.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkNa6tLWrqk&t=42s

  • soter phile

    why was my response removed?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    No idea, I’m not a moderator for thus blog. It has nothing to do with me, sorry.

  • soter phile

    I appreciate the sentiment. Even if we are disagreeing here, it’s worth the time for the dialogue. It stops being worth it when comments get inexplicably yanked.