Monday, June 14, 2010

The Five Points of Calvinism 101

Introduction

I am going to give a brief overview of Calvinism in this post. This means that I am going to provide a explanation of each of the five points of Calvinism and then provide the strongest arguments in favor of each point. This was a Sermon I present at Grace URC for the second Service and so the content is very simple at the cost of not being overly precise. But this is a very good general introduction and defense to Calvinism.


Total depravity

With that being said let us move right into the first point of Calvinism which is Total depravity. There are a few misunderstandings about this point so I will start with what this point is not saying: This point is not saying that human beings are so evil that they cannot do any civil or public good. Furthermore, this is not saying that we ought to expect human beings to be so evil that we should expect every unbeliever to have actually committed murder and adultery. Why if that were true that would make the T.V. Show Law and Order only 30 minutes instead of hour because the cops would know right away that the prime suspects to all the crimes would be unbelievers. Well this is not what Total depravity is teaching rather what it is teaching is that Human beings in their fallen state cannot do any spiritual good and cannot choose God (unless of course God chooses to give them grace sufficient to save them). The three best verses in support of this doctrine are John 6:44, Romans 3:10-12, and Romans 8:8, I am telling you them ahead of time so that you can turn to them in your bibles. So let us first look at John 6:44 44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. The verse just says you cannot come to God unless he draws you and that person who is drawn is raised in glory on the last day. Now let us turn to Romans 3:10-12 10 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." The funny thing is that some of these are so clear that they require little exposition. But the point of this passage is that unbelievers cannot do spiritual good and they cannot seek God. And obviously if one were believing in Christ they would be seeking God, so this verse clearly teaches total depravity. But perhaps the clearest and concise verse of all is Romans 8:8 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. If you are a unbeliever you cannot please God and clearly by believing in Christ and doing a good work is pleasing to God, therefore, according to Romans 8:8 unbelievers cannot do this.

Unconditional Election

All of these verses clearly establish total depravity, so let us move on to the next point which is unconditional election. The point of unconditional election teaches that before the foundation of the word and before we were born God choose us and predestined us in Christ Jesus. This choosing of God is based on anything about us like our foreseen faith or works but rather it is based on the free will and good pleasure of God. God chooses many for eternal life and others for eternal distress and this is not based on the creature, but based on God and bringing about his greater glory. This is clearly taught in two places in God's word: Romans 9:11-23 and Ephesians 1:4-12, Let us read Romans 9:11-23 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-- in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls-- she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath-- prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory--” This verse really could not be any clearer. God freely chooses many for eternal life and eternal death not based on anything about them, but based on his greater glory. If anyone ever objects that this verse is not really teaching Calvinism then all you really have to do is point out all of the objections that Paul anticipates like 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! And "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" These are precisely the sort of objections you get when you teach Calvinism, so clearly Paul is teaching Calvinism otherwise he would not anticipate these objections. Well Ephesians 1:4-12 is just as strong so let us turn there Ephesians 1:4-12 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” This verse is a wonderful verse that shows us God's unconditional love for us in Christ Jesus. The point is that we were chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world and this was not according to our agenda, but according to God's free will, pleasure, and glorification. I would say that these two places are by far the strongest places to go to support this doctrine.

Limited Atonement

But with that being said lets move to one of the most controversial points of Calvinism Limited Atonement. Limited atonement or perhaps more accurately called particular redemption teaches that Christ dies for the elect only, that is to say Christ death only atones for the sins of those who were chosen and saved by God. This view denies that Christ has died for every single person who has ever lived. So whats the biblical evidence for this controversial view? The nature of the atonement itself is perhaps the best evidence for this view. The atonement is a propitiation, that is to say, the atonement is a turning aside of the wrath and anger of God for sin because Jesus Christ took our place. For this let us look to Romans 3:25 which reads Romans 3:25 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- Now the NIV translates the Greek word i`lasth,rion to mean a sacrifice of atonement, but that is technically not precise enough. The Greek word i`lasth,rion means propitiation and the definition of propitiation is turning aside the wrath of God. Therefore, the implication is that Christ's death turns asides and satisfied God's anger and wrath toward sin. So if this is what the atonement did and Christ satisfied God's just anger and wrath for our sins. Then what is the implication if one rejects limited atonement and says that Christ died for all people? Well this means that God is not justly angry or wrathful toward anyone which means everyone is going to heaven, but this is false because the Bible clearly teaches that there are people who are going to hell in Matthew 25:46 - 26:1 46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Finally, another strong argument comes from Romans 8:31-34 and Romans 8 especially verses 31 and following is about how believers should not worry about losing their salvation because nothing can separate us from the saving love of Christ Jesus, so with that in mind lets read Romans 8:31-34 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-- more than that, who was raised to life-- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Here the fact that Christ died for us is suppose to comfort us and assure us that we are saved. Now if the arminian is right and Christ died for those who are suffering in hell forever and ever, then mentioning the fact that Christ died for you would not be a very comforting fact because Christ dies for those who are in hell and who do not have salvation. And lastly perhaps one of the most classic texts in support of the Reformed position is John 10:11 which reads 11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Now arminians are quick to point out that just because Jesus says he dies for his sheep (believers) it does not mean that Jesus did not die for other people. But the problem with this rationalization of this text is that Jesus mentions unbelievers and false teachers in the context, so it seems like Jesus is implicitly excluding them from the benefits of His death. So let me give you an example of what I mean: If I came to you today and I said well there are some churches in town like a baptist church, and there is a Lutheran church, but today I have gift for this church. Now I dare say that everyone would take what I am saying in a exclusive sense, that is to say you would all interpret it to mean that I have only given this church a gift and not the other churches in town. But this is what Jesus does in John 10 he mentions unbelievers in the context and in so doing he implicitly does not includes unbelievers from the benefits of his death and includes only believers. Those are the most powerful arguments for limited atonement so lets move on to the most powerful arguments for Irresistible grace.

Irresistible Grace

Irresistible grace is the doctrine that when God graciously wills to saved you and creates faith in your heart you cannot resist and you cannot do otherwise. There three verses that strongly support Irresistible grace John 6:44, Ephesians 2:8-9, and Romans 9:18-20. Let us turn to our first verse found in John 6:44 it reads: 44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. This passage is teaching that anyone who is drawn is raised up on the last day. Raised up refers to being raised up in glory rather than damnation because Jesus consistently uses the phrase “on the last day” in this way throughout the entire discourse (John 6:39-40). Moreover, the Greek word e[lkw (or "draws") suggests that it is Irresistible because John uses it with regards to Peter dragging fish that he has caught (John 21:11) and John seems to use it this way consistently throughout his Gospel. If the arminian wants to suggest that all persons are drawn then all people will go to heaven because those who are drawn are raised in glory in verse 44. And Suggesting that all people go to heaven as we have seen is demonstrably false from Matthew 25. As we will see John 6:44 also has implication for perseverance of the saints. So lets move on to our next verse Ephesians 2:8-9 which reads Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. The reason why this verse teaches irresistible grace is because the faith and grace we have is not from us, but it originates with God which means if God wills to save us and our ability to have faith solely comes from God then we cannot resist it (because after all it is not of us). In the Greek “this not from yourselves” refers both to faith and grace. So faith is a creation of God and not of us which means it is not of our ability to resist it. So with that in mind let us move to our last verse which is Romans 9:18-20 it reads 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will? 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?” Paul here is anticipating a common arminian objection to irresistible grace which is “well if God irresistibly causes you to be saved and to be damned then why would God hold you morally accountable for something you cannot resist?” If Paul were not teaching Calvinism here specifically irresistible grace then Paul would never anticipate these objections. In other words, if Paul was teaching the arminian view which is resistible grace then these questions and objections would never come up. But they do which shows conclusively that Paul was teaching Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace. So if we are getting the same objections that Paul got we are probably in pretty good shape.

Perseverance of the Saint

Perseverance of the saints is the last point of Calvinism which teaches that once you are genuinely saved you cannot lose your salvation. This point has been subject to gross misrepresentation and mocking because people paint it like this: Once saved always saved no matter what you do, no matter what you do your always going to be saved. And people also say well if once saved always saved is true then you could just take out a gun and start shooting people at random and you still you will saved. Well this is not the way we as Reformed Christian view it. We view it like this: those who are genuinely saved will not lose their salvation and a sign that someone never had salvation to begin with is if they do not persevere in the faith which is manifested by rejecting Christ and living in unrepentant sin. Now although this view has been mocked by many it has ample biblical support, the verse we will be looking at is John 6:44, John 10:28-29, and Romans 8:34-39. Lets us turn in our Bibles to John 6:44: John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. Here John could not make it any clearer if you are drawn by God you will be raised in a glorious resurrection body, there is no thought or concern in John's mind that those who are drawn will fall away and be damned to hell. But John makes this even clearer in John 10:28-29 which reads 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. Again John is crystal clear: those who have eternal life and who are in the Fathers hand no one can snatch them out, in other words when they are in the Fathers hand they will always remain there. And finally we are going to end on this last verse which is perhaps one of the strongest verses in favor of perseverance of the saints and it is found in Romans 8:34 – 8:39 and it reads 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-- more than that, who was raised to life-- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. This verse teaches that nothing in all creation can separate us from the saving love of Jesus Christ and the logic here is inescapable: If nothing in all creation can separate us from Jesus Christ's saving love, then are you a part of creation? The answer is: Yes! So once you are genuinely saved you cannot even separate yourselves from the love of Christ Jesus which means you cannot lose your salvation. This is an amazing truth as are all the points of Calvinism. And this is why I wanted to spend our time on them today, for you see if one rejects Calvinism they are ultimately compromising the Love and Glory of God. And in all we do we should glorify God even in our Doctrine.



41 comments:

  1. This was a pretty good overview of TULIP, using the typical Calvinist passages and reasoning. From my (Catholic) perspective, while it is largely logically sound (as most unorthodox views often are), it isn't Biblically sound.

    Rather than argue all the points at once, I believe focusing on the Atonement is where a lot (or even the heart) of this dispute hangs, as it also directly impacts Sola Fide.

    Limited Atonement is often criticized on 'emotional' grounds, but it is logically consistent based on Penal Substitution. The more important issue is what form the Atonement took, specifically, whether Penal Substitution is what the Bible teaches. I deny the Bible teaches Penal Substitution, and I believe I have (and can) produce a very robust Biblical defense against Psub. If you're interested, I'd be happy to share my findings.

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  2. Hello Nick,

    Thank you for your encouraging words. I would love to hear your arguments against penal substitutionary position, but I would rather do that over a faster mode of communication like: the Phone, Instant message, or Skype. If you would like to do this then great...just e-mail me. And if it we do it in this faster mode perhaps then we can catch up on our other discussions.

    God Bless,

    NPT

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  3. Hi,

    I'm not sure the 'faster mode of communication' would be better for me. First of all, I've been so busy lately that my time online has been sporadic lately. Second of all, I've found that 'fast' and even 'oral' discussion isn't as beneficial as written because these topics require time to think and reflect, especially before responding. One prime example is the oral debates that James White is so fond of, and while they might be beneficial in some ways, that's outweighed by the negative effects. Too often it becomes an issue of who the better orator is and not who's making the better argument. The last thing we want to do in important subjects is not have enough time to think before responding.

    Now, to comment on your LA paragraph:

    (1) You said the atonement took the form of "propititation," which most Reformed confuse as synonymous with 'transfer-of-punishment/wrath'. I can't tell if you are doing this, but it seems like you are. There is a clear distinction between wrath being appeased and wrath being re-directed onto a substitute. To use the term 'propitiation' rules out Psub by definition.

    (2) As you noted, Rom 3:25 uses the term "propitiation" (so by definition it is not operating in a Psub framework), but it also uses the term 'redemption'. Redemption is buying back at a price, not transfer of punishment, so again Paul's own words preclude Psub. I would also add that he uses the term "forbearance" which means to give time to fix the problem so the punishment can hopefully be stayed.

    (3) Your claim that if one rejects LA that it means everyone is going to heaven, but that 'danger' only exists in a Psub framework. The reason is because you're not distinguishing 'potential' from 'actual' forgiveness. Actual forgiveness is what Psub results in, meaning all the sins of an individual are forgiven at the Cross (which logically entails the sinner is never under God's wrath, even prior to conversion). If Actual Forgiveness took place at the cross, and this was done for all men, then all would be saved. Potential forgiveness means the ground is laid *to* forgive, but an extra step like faith/repentance is necessary.

    (4) You say Rom 8:31-34 is a "strong argument" for LA/PSub, but surely you're not allowing the Catholic interpretation any room here. The context is speaking on 'external' evil forces acting on the Christian, it is not speaking of the personal sins of the Christian, which Paul clearly speaks of elsewhere. This is lost when you cut off Paul mid-thought. Verses 35ff bring this out more clearly, especially Paul quoting Psalm 44, which is addressing persecution (and not 'eternal security' of sorts).

    But that's not all, the text, even if speaking of Perseverance, doesn't require LA/Psub. Notice how it says Christ is at the right hand of God "interceding" in Heaven, which goes directly against PSub.

    (5) Your John 10:11 comments don't work when one takes into consideration the distinction between 'actual' and 'potential' forgiveness. Catholics say Christ's death was intrinsically sufficient for all, but that it was only efficacious for those who would believe, which satisfies your 'objection' from John 10:11.

    It seems to me that you've built your argument off of what is at most implicit evidence, and that is assuming the Cross took the form of Psub.

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  4. Hello Nick,

    I guess your reasons why you do want have to have oral communication have thrown me off. If your time is sporadic I can accommodate that because I am by a computer with internet writing stuff for church and school pretty much all day (even late hours), so anytime you would have spend writing you can just spend directly talking to me. If the online issue is getting to you then you can call me anytime you like on my cell phone. And this would not be a debate, so I would give you plenty of time to think if you needed to. I am only concerned with arguments and academic honesty (as evident by the way I conduct myself on this site). I am not an orator or something like that I just want to discuss things in a calm and friendly fashion (like I do on this blog). It is also strange that you have discussed issues in a oral format with my friend Joshua Lim from Westminster, but you refuse to discuss them with me. So I must say I am a bit perplexed why you refuse altogether to have a friendly discussion about theology and arguments. The reason why I am being so insistent about this is because it is more enjoyable, faster, and fulfilling to orally communicate. Also I have to write so much I get sick of having to correct all the grammatical errors and so forth. So I would be so happy if we could communicate any other way. I promise I will be nice and I will not say anything offensive.

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  5. Now I am going to try to respond to your five points

    1) I do not see how the turning aside of wrath is logically incompatible with being a substitute for someone. These both seem like logically coherent propositions. As for being a substitute the Greek clearly communicates substitution in the atonement as I have written on my paper on double imputation in 2 Corinthians 5:

    "In this section I argue that 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and 21 teaches that Christ died as our substitute. Verses 14 and 15 clearly indicate a sense substitution. According to BDAG huper can mean substitution and the passage they cite in favor of this is 2 Corinthians 5:14. Daniel Wallace points out that when huper is paired with a genitive and it is used in soteriological passages then it is being used in a substitutionary sense1. All six uses of huper in verses 14-15 and 20-21 meet this criteria of being paired with a genitive (although 20 is not used of Christ, but Paul). A further principle that Wallace establishes is that when huper is used in soteriological significant texts we are to assume it is being used in substitutionary sense unless we have sufficient reason to doubt it2. In verse 14 Paul uses huper is being used clearly to indicate substitution because the conclusion “therefore all died” cannot be true unless if Christ died for all, as their substitute3. Verse 15’s use of the two huper ought to be taken as substitutionary because it is the same subject matter (the death of Christ), it follows contextually from verse 14, and there is no reason to doubt that it is being used in sense. Verse 20 is also a soteriological significant passage that has huper with a genitive. There is no reason to doubt that huper is being used here as substitution. In fact there are positive reasons for taking huper as referring to substitution. huper has been used three times of Christ in this pericope of substitution so we should assume that Paul is using this consistently in a christologically and soteriological passage. Lastly, the substituional usage of huper in verse 21 explains the teaching of verse 19 about imputation because Christ was our substitute for our sins therefore our sins are longer imputed to us. If we do not understand huper to mean substitution then we have no way of explaining how and why our sins are no longer imputed to us. For these reason above huper is to be viewed substituionally in verses 14-15 and 21. Having established the subsitutionary atonement in 2 Corinthians 5, I move to discuss the imputation that occurred while Christ acted as our substitute in his death.

    This the reason why I assumed a substitutionary atonement because of the clear meaning of huper.

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  6. 2) All of these things are logically compatible with a substitutionary atonement. I believe that substitution in the context of Romans (specifically Romans 5:6-8 use huper which is substitutionary) and elsewhere in Paul's theology on the atonement so to blend together redemption, propitiation, and substitution is perfectly legitimate because all of things are taught in the Bible about the atonement. Propitiation means that God's rather is satisfied by a turning away of his wrath, but why would God be satisfied in turning his wrath on Christ if substitution is not being taught? In other words, what is God's morally justifying reason for punishing Christ with is wrath and how does that contribute to saving us in your view?

    3) I would distinguish with forgiveness as actual forgiveness and potential forgiveness that will necessarily occur if certain contingent states of affairs obtain. I think this distinction is taught biblical and gets out of the arguments you have made on your blog (Eph. 2:3 believers are objects of wrath before conversion)

    4) Romans 8:39 includes all creation and clearly believers are a part of creation so it seems like this is not just referring to external forces. Why think that intercession is logically inconsistent with penal substitution? Please try to make the implicit premises in your argument explicit for clarity in your arguments.

    5) Well I think John 10:11 works just fine because I do not see any reason to believe in the distinctions you have made between your understanding of potential and actual forgiveness. Also the distinction between intrinsically sufficient for all but it is only efficacious for those who believe. So with out you presenting a defeater for my exegesis of John 10:11 then I am still warranted in thinking that it teaches limited atonement.

    Sorry if anything I said was offensive. I just really hope we can chat in a more enjoyable form than writing words on a screen.

    God Bless,

    NPT

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  7. Hi,

    Here is my response:

    (1) Turning aside wrath and being a substitute are two mutually contradictory things. Here is a solid example: in the OT, Aaron made the golden calf idol and deserved death for it. Moses is said to have made atonement, turning away God's wrath, for Aaron so that he was spared. Being a substitute would mean Moses would have had to have taken the death penalty Aaron deserved. Do you see the clear conceptual difference?

    (1b) The idea that huper demands 1-to-1 substitution is a jump to conclusions. It can simply mean 'on behalf of'. 1 John 3:16 uses huper twice, paralleling our work "for" fellow Christians to Christ's work "for" us. That would be absurd to take it as 'in-place-of', for then Christians would be penal substitutes for other Christians. As for huper being used in 2 Cor 5:20, clearly that is "on behalf of" as that is precisely what the language of "ambassador" and such implies.

    (2) I don't see how terms like propitiation (addressed in #1) and "redemption" can in any way help psub. Redemption is about payment, not transferring the punishment. You said: "what is God's morally justifying reason for punishing Christ with is wrath," to which I would respond by saying: Where does the Bible ever speak of God's Wrath being poured out on Christ? Where?

    (3) I don't understand your comments here. If Jesus took the wrath, that wrath cannot be on the elect. Period.

    (4a) The context is of external forces, not about one's personal sins. Your argument is not only reading too much into the text, it makes personal sins intrinsically *beneficial* for the Christian, for if they harmed the Christian they would have the effect of separating one from Christ.

    (4b) For the distinction between intercession and PSub, see my Aaron-Moses example above. Also, see examples like Prov 16:6,14, which someone steps in to make atonement without being a substitute. As for the more problematic points, if Christ took the wrath on earth, then His interceding in Heaven is illogical.

    (5) This might tie into #3. Consider this example:
    A king is angry at some peasants and wants them executed. That same day, the King's son is drowning but is rescued by an innocent peasant. The king is so pleased by this heroic act, he will grant the hero any request. The hero requests that the guilty peasants be released on the condition they apologize for their crime.
    Here we see "potential forgiveness" enacted, in which they didn't deserve forgiveness, which was actually merited by the hero, yet this offer wont be of value to them unless they meet the condition of repenting. The hero's merit is intrinsically sufficient for the release of all, but only efficacious for those who repent.

    If the situation were that of PSub, the story would go as follows:
    A king is angry at some peasants and wants them executed. That same day, some innocent peasants offer to take the death penalty in place of the guilty. The king grants this request. Since the death penalty has been enacted, no legal grounds exist to hold the guilty, and they are thus freed.
    In this situation, "actual forgiveness" took place, in which the guilty were freed by the very fact the punishment took place. It is intrinsically sufficient only for the guilty and also efficient only for the guilty. No steps such as repentance are necessary, for that would imply a legal demand remains, which was in fact removed.


    You did not say anything offensive, and I enjoy this talk. I still find that writing things out provides the best way to deal with these issues, for we can see how easily terms can be misunderstood or important details forgotten/skimmed.

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  8. Nick,

    If I may jump in, just because one of your points is bugging me. There is nothing inherently contradictory between the concept of turning aside wrath and the concept of taking wrath upon oneself. Christ must turn God's wrath away from us and onto something else. What is that something? There is nothing inherent in the idea of turning away wrath from human beings that would preclude the possibility of Christ simultaneously taking that same wrath upon himself in our place. So I really don't understand your point here. Your OT example, at best, only proves that the two concepts do not ALWAYS go together (after all, in the OT the wrath was symbolically turned on the animal instead of the people, so there was still a substitute), but it does not in any way show that they can NEVER go together.

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  9. Nick, there are clearly some incorrect assumptions on your part here that are guiding your conclusions. I can see that you have thought about this, which confuses me even more to see on who has researched the issue make such blatant inaccuracies.
    You say:

    "2) I don't see how terms like propitiation (addressed in #1) and "redemption" can in any way help psub. Redemption is about payment, not transferring the punishment. You said: "what is God's morally justifying reason for punishing Christ with is wrath," to which I would respond by saying: Where does the Bible ever speak of God's Wrath being poured out on Christ? Where?

    Redemption is not intrinsically only about payment, sir. This claim is false - you've incorrectly limited the use of the word apolutrosis. Frieberg states concerning this:
    "3198 avpolu,trwsij, ewj, h` (1) literally, as an action a buying back of a slave or captive through payment of a ransom; hence setting free, release (HE 11.35); (2) figuratively; (a) of rescue from sin redemption, deliverance (RO 3.24); (b) of the release of the body from earthly limitations and mortality liberation, deliverance (RO 8.23); (c) of Christ as the one who sets free from sin redeemer, deliverer (1C 1.30)”
    It is simply incorrect to say that all the word means is to buy and hence conclude that transfer is untenable. This is not a very strong argument, sir. The word definition in Frieberg and Louw and Nida gives strong support of being used as a “setting free”, “rescue from sin”, “deliverance”, etc. This in no way shape or form denies transfer, sir. I find it very odd that you allege that the inherent meaning of payment somehow denies transfer. Your claim of intrinsic contradiction are false, as Nilsen has pointed out. To show that one group in a category is contradictory doesn’t mean that they all are. This is simply false.
    The basic word used here is apoluo, which is merely a forensic term. BDAG states, “1. A legal term, to grant acquittal, set free, release, pardon a prisoner.” While BDAG does support the use of payment in both of these terms, as Penal Substitution contends, the word apolutrosis is given more than that as well: “1. release…2. release from captive condition… redemption, acquittal.” You do realize that this is one of the reasons why the Penal Substitution view has had such wide support among Protestants, right? We are not required to submit to an alleged claim of infallible interpretation on the part of the Pope and can and do explore the full intent of the word to see how it was intended in its authorial writing. I’m not trying to be rude – I’m only pointing out the oddness of your reduction of the term. I don’t see where it would come from other than incorrect presuppositions of what the Bible teaches before the exegesis begins. The inherently forensic nature of redemption as a payment (Christ’s atonement) and the freeing of captives is exactly what the Penal Substitution view contends for. This is was the lexical argument supports, sir, so again I’m just not sure how the denial of transfer based on the word’s definition is at all meaningful to support your position.

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  10. As for your last question, are you claiming that unless a particular usage of word order is used then the meaning cannot exist (such as the popular arian argument that the word trinity is never appears in the Bible thus the doctrine is wrong)?
    Either way, however, I don’t understand how you could read the following to be anything other the federal penal substitution:
    “4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities (Isa 53:1-11 ESV)”

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  11. Hello Nick,

    I have tried my best to respond to your thoughts below.

    (1) Turning aside wrath and being a substitute are two mutually contradictory things. Here is a solid example: in the OT, Aaron made the golden calf idol and deserved death for it. Moses is said to have made atonement, turning away God's wrath, for Aaron so that he was spared. Being a substitute would mean Moses would have had to have taken the death penalty Aaron deserved. Do you see the clear conceptual difference?

    Response: Well there is a difference between two meanings or concepts being different and being contradictory such that they cannot be compatible nor complimentary in the same act and instance. For example I can put dark blue in a painting and I can be painting a picture of the summer sky at night in the very same painting. But no one would argue that painting the picture dark blue and painting the night sky are the same thing or mean the same thing. It is especially strange that you should object to this since Roman Catholics are dogmatically bound to believe in divine simplicity were God is simply one yet there can be different meanings applied to God like justice, merciful, gracious, and loving. None of these things mean the same thing but they can be instantiated in one thing and be different with respect to meaning. This is also true of propitiation and substitution, they mean something different, but they can be used in the same sentence to describe a event in a complimentary and compatible fashion without any sort of derivable contradiction. Here is an example of such Christ was our substitute by being righteous in our place and taking the wrath of God in our place. How is this statement logically impossible by the line of reasoning you have displayed above?

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  12. (1b) The idea that huper demands 1-to-1 substitution is a jump to conclusions. It can simply mean 'on behalf of'. 1 John 3:16 uses huper twice, paralleling our work "for" fellow Christians to Christ's work "for" us. That would be absurd to take it as 'in-place-of', for then Christians would be penal substitutes for other Christians. As for huper being used in 2 Cor 5:20, clearly that is "on behalf of" as that is precisely what the language of "ambassador" and such implies.

    Response: It is what the Greek simply means in certain context see Daniel Wallace on this the leading Greek Grammarian in the world. It would only be a jump to conclusions if one applied to every instance that is christologically and soteriologically significant passage, but that is not what I wrote. I wrote that unless there is a reason to doubt that it is being used that way then the Greek suggests it is being used in a substitutionary way. Obviously the passages you have above may or may not be using it in that way, but that is irrelevant because my argument primarily came from 2 Corinthians 5:14-16 and Romans as well. Lastly, with respect to 2 Cor. 5:20 that is the more consistent usage of the Greek word in the context so it probably more reasonable to see it as being used substitutionary rather than not. So it seems to me that you have not refuted the primary examples I gave to prove that Christ was a substitute.

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  13. (2) I don't see how terms like propitiation (addressed in #1) and "redemption" can in any way help psub. Redemption is about payment, not transferring the punishment. You said: "what is God's morally justifying reason for punishing Christ with is wrath," to which I would respond by saying: Where does the Bible ever speak of God's Wrath being poured out on Christ? Where?

    Response: I do not think you can infer propitiation from redemption in and of itself as a word, but I think it is logically compatible with it. The payment in this case would be the transferring of punishment among other things. There is nothing logically impossible with this truth. There is no where that explicitly says that the wrath of God is poured out on Christ, just like there is no passage that says that God is one substance in which three persons subsist, just like there is no passage where Jesus says I am God bow down and worship me. You deal with cults so you know such a request is absurd, perhaps a better question should be: does the Bible teach the concept that Christ received the wrath of God in our place. I would say yes in the following passages:

    2 Corinthians 5:21 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    God legally imputed Christ with our sin (see my paper for the rest).

    Galatians 3:10-13 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." 12 But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"-

    Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

    God has to punish those who sin and do not keep the Law perfectly so they are under the curse and wrath of God. Christ was a curse (huper) in our place because we are cursed because we have failed to keep the Law of God. This text just says in the Greek text that Christ took our curse in our place so it is pretty clear that a penal substitutionary atonement is taught in the Bible. Lastly, what morally justifying reason did God let Christ die? Why did Christ die on your view?

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  14. Furthermore, here is an argument from philosophical theology for the penal subsitution view point:

    God is the greatest possible being which entails God has every property that is better to have rather than to lack. It is clear that it is better for God to have justice to the greatest possible degree rather than to have justice that is lesser than the greatest possible degree. God has the greatest possible degree of justice entails if there is great evil God will at least punish that evil with at least a great punishment. There is a great evil that occurs in every sin which is this: the creature is not honoring and loving with all of his ability the greatest possible being. Instead the creature loves and honors something created that is lesser than the greatest possible being. This is a dishonoring and unloving sin against the greatest possible being and it is at least a great evil. Hence, any sin that a creature commits is at least a great sin and a great sin requires from a being with the greatest possible degree of justice at least a great punishment (This great punishment could very well be understood as the traditional doctrine of hell). This argument establishes the following: God cannot freely forgive sins without retributive justice.

    Now if God has to punish sins with retributive justice and we are saved and have satisfied God's retributive justice, then we have either satisfied it ourselves or another has satisfied in our place. It is false that we have satisfied ourselves (because God's justice and wrath our infinite) therefore, it follows that another satisfied in our place had to satisfy it and that other had to be a infinite person. And this infinite person that satisfied is one everyone calls Jesus Christ. Hence, it seems to me that substitutionary atonement can be established on rational grounds via general revelation.




    (3)I don't understand your comments here. If Jesus took the wrath, that wrath cannot be on the elect. Period.

    Response: Jesus satisfies the wrath of the elect once they are justified because prior to being justified they have not used the instrument to receive Christ's substitutionary work so God would still be angry at their sins at that time. What is the logical problem with saying that Christ died for the elect when they have faith and justified? God waits to applies his wrath on non-believers in some cases until they die, why could not God do the same with elect and wait until the moments until God causes them by his Spirit to produce faith?

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  15. (4a) The context is of external forces, not about one's personal sins. Your argument is not only reading too much into the text, it makes personal sins intrinsically *beneficial* for the Christian, for if they harmed the Christian they would have the effect of separating one from Christ.

    Response: Well one's own personal sin would be from a creature and the text says that creatures cannot separate from Christ's love so it would seem such logic would apply to personal sins as well. In fact the context seems to suggests that such notions are in mind when it mentions bringing a charge against his elect and that God justifying the elect (which justification is about not being condemned by sin). Lastly, sins are not beneficial for the Christian, but it does not follow from that sins can separate us from being in the saving love of Christ Jesus. Again, making your premises explicit will make your arguments stronger it seems to me.

    (4b) For the distinction between intercession and PSub, see my Aaron-Moses example above. Also, see examples like Prov 16:6,14, which someone steps in to make atonement without being a substitute. As for the more problematic points, if Christ took the wrath on earth, then His interceding in Heaven is illogical.

    Response: The arguments here are not sufficiently precise for me to respond to, but I will try my best. Proverbs 16:6 and 14 are only principles that apply to men and not to God. Why is his intercession illogical? What law of logic would it break?

    (5) This might tie into #3. Consider this example:
    A king is angry at some peasants and wants them executed. That same day, the King's son is drowning but is rescued by an innocent peasant. The king is so pleased by this heroic act, he will grant the hero any request. The hero requests that the guilty peasants be released on the condition they apologize for their crime.
    Here we see "potential forgiveness" enacted, in which they didn't deserve forgiveness, which was actually merited by the hero, yet this offer wont be of value to them unless they meet the condition of repenting. The hero's merit is intrinsically sufficient for the release of all, but only efficacious for those who repent.

    Response: Now is this your view of the atonement? Where is that whole scheme ever taught in the Bible? This sound's like Richard Cross' view of the atonement. Have you read his work? I have written a paper against his view when I get back from Washington I would be glad to send it.

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  16. (3)If the situation were that of PSub, the story would go as follows:
    A king is angry at some peasants and wants them executed. That same day, some innocent peasants offer to take the death penalty in place of the guilty. The king grants this request. Since the death penalty has been enacted, no legal grounds exist to hold the guilty, and they are thus freed.

    (4)In this situation, "actual forgiveness" took place, in which the guilty were freed by the very fact the punishment took place. It is intrinsically sufficient only for the guilty and also efficient only for the guilty. No steps such as repentance are necessary, for that would imply a legal demand remains, which was in fact removed.

    Response: Well this is only analogy so it does not sufficiently capture the situation we are in with God. But the analogy in my view of the atonement would be that the person who is in Jail has to accept the legal sentence by some instrument (signing a legal document perhaps), then and only then can he be released justly. The reason why is because the person prior to the peasant dying would rather choose to be in jail because he hates being in the kingdom because he hates the king with such passion. But see here I have no idea if you are even comparing and contrasting my view and yours because I have no idea what your view is.

    You did not say anything offensive, and I enjoy this talk. I still find that writing things out provides the best way to deal with these issues, for we can see how easily terms can be misunderstood or important details forgotten/skimmed.

    Response: Well I am glad Nick that I said nothing offensive to you. But this discussion shows how bad writing is as a mode of communication is. It is harder for me to clarify your view of the atonement and for you to state unclear arguments that have missing premises so I have no idea what you are talking about or how you arguing for something or other. Worst of all you will skip over some of my responses to your previous arguments and then your bring up new ones. It seems to me that in personal dialogue it is easier for both sides to stay on one topic because it is intrinsically awkward and dishonest to skip around in verbal communication. Lastly, it much quicker in general. You still have not answered why you would discuss things with Joshua and not me (or all the other excuses you have for not wanting to have a pleasant theological discussion)??? see this is the problem you just dodge questions whenever I ask them to you without giving me straight forward answers. In fact every time we have done this like in perseverance of the saints, Sola Scriptura, and this one I still at the end of the day have no clear idea what your arguments are because you just state things with missing premises and unstated assumptions. This is why I was pushing for verbal communication so things would be clearer and so I can ask about each of your arguments one by one and evaluated and discuss them. Well I hope you respond to this and consider having a calm, pleasant, thoughtful conversation with me about theology rather than just putting out unclear one liner apologetic come backs in print.

    God Bless,

    NPT

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  17. There is a lot to respond to here, so I'll get what I can now, and the rest later.

    David N,

    You said: "There is nothing inherently contradictory between the concept of turning aside wrath and the concept of taking wrath upon oneself."

    Yes, there is. Appeasing wrath is essentially "defusing" it, for lack of a better term. The wrath is gone, just as an angry person goes from angry to happy without having vented the wrath on another. Re-directing wrath is, clearly, conceptually different, for the wrath was not appeased but spent, vented. If someone punches you, you can respond by (1) hitting them back, (2) hitting an innocent by-stander, (3) dropping the anger and hitting nobody. Logically, the three scenarios are different. If you can't agree on that, then I can't say much more.

    You said: "Christ must turn God's wrath away from us and onto something else."

    This is logically fallacious. Nothing demands it must be turned to something else, that's a serious theological bias affecting your exegesis and reasoning. Prove this from Scripture, else retract. I've shown *explicit* examples of Scripture where wrath was "turned away," atonement was made, without the wrath being re-directed to a substitute.

    You said: "Your OT example, at best, only proves that the two concepts do not ALWAYS go together, but it does not in any way show that they can NEVER go together."

    My logic and argument are simple: Positive proof has been presented showing X (my view), to which you even concede, no proof whasoever has been presented showing Y (your view). From a standpoint of strict fairness, your claim has no leg to stand on. Your position has the two-fold burden of showing X isn't always true and that Y is indeed what took place at the Cross.

    I await your Scriptural proof for Y.


    Beau,

    You said: "Redemption is not intrinsically only about payment"

    You've got to be kidding me, even your own dictionary supports me. It is a "buy-back" at a price, be it money or other valuables. This is directly incompatible with the transferring of punishment. The rest of your comments, likewise, don't seem to be addressing (or even understanding) the real issue here. 1 Peter 1:18f clearly speaks of redemption by Christ's blood in monetary terms, above that of gold or silver, which fits all I've said. It goes directly against the idea the blood was shed in any form of transfer of punishment sense.

    As for your quote of Isaiah 53, see my blog where I address this very passage.
    http://catholicnick.blogspot.com/2010/05/is-job-suffering-servant-of-isaiah-53.html

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  18. Nick, I've shown and documented the lexical evidence for you. Saying "you've got to be kidding me" doesn't overturn what I've already cited especially when you fail to engage the definitions presented that in no way support your reductionist terminology. Once again, there is nothing inherent in the word or elsewhere that denies transfer. Repeating that it does with a louder voice doesn’t make it so, Nick. Sir, take a minute to look up the references I've cited and you'll clearly see that I cited them accurately and correctly - the word encompasses a large domain that allows for substitution and transfer. You denied this and I corrected you. Other than making references to some abstract dictionary (do you mean the lexicons I cited, Nick?) and restating "this is directly incompatible with transfer" you've said absolutely nothing new here and have completely failed to explain how it is “directly incompatible.” Wanting something to be so and proving that are two separate issues. Nick, please, if you want to engage someone, take time to respond to what they say, not just ignore their citations and reassert your position. This is poor scholarship. If you want to overturn my position, then respond to the citations I've given and the clear fact that the lexical domain of these words is not restricted to solely purchase in a way that denies the concept of transfer. Until and unless you do, you are just repeating yourself and getting nowhere.

    And sorry, Nick, but I don't go running around reading other blogs when someone comments on my own. I've only even paid partial attention to you here - you have not shown yourself to be a serious interlocutor so far. If you want to repeat your argument on this blog feel free to do so, but I'm not really interested in taking the time to look at what you put up somewhere else.

    And Nick, you could not have misunderstood 1 Peter 1:18 any worse. No, Sir, it clearly does not speak in monetary terms. I am not shocked that you have misread this verse – this is a common practice for Romanists as far as I can see – when the Pope and/or magesterium tell you what to believe you just do it without question and the Bible no longer speaks for itself, so there’s no surprise that you pick up an apple and call it a banana. Let me quote it here for you, Nick and see if you can catch it:
    “Ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefather, not with perishable things such as gold or silver [did you catch that, Nick?], but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." Did you notice the negation this time, Sir, or did it pass by your presuppositions again? Next time you publicly attempt to correct someone, make sure you've actually read the verse first. It is not silver and gold, Sir, and to use your word, it’s clearly not such. It's the precious blood of Christ, imperishable, and there is nothing, as already demonstrated, that denies transfer here or anywhere else. Please don't just reassert your position, Sir, this isn't the place for that, it's the place for arguments. If you have them present them, but be prepared to have your presuppositions challenged and your inaccuracies exposed.

    Cheers,
    Beau McKinley Boyd

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  19. Nick,

    You seem to have misunderstood my point. You originally said: "To use the term 'propitiation' rules out Psub by definition." In other words, you are making a philosophical/theological argument about what the concepts of propitiation and substitution mean and how they must (always) relate to one another. YOU made this argument, I am challenging it on the simple basis that I see no good reason to accept it. Citing an example from the OT is illegitimate because one particular instance of A being incompatible with B is simply not sufficient to prove that A is always BY DEFINITION incompatible with B.

    Further, you seem to be attaching presupposed significance to the definitions (in English, no less) of words like "appease." There is no reason why an angry party who has been wronged cannot have their wrath "appeased" by, for example, imposing a just monetary fine on the wrong-doing party. Likewise, if a substitute stepped in and agreed to take the fine upon himself in place of the wrong-doers, the wrath of the wronged party is still appeased, and it is appeased by the substitute who takes the just penalty for the wrong-doing upon himself. There is nothing logically contradictory here.

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  20. Hi Nathanel,

    (1) I think you are over-complicating my point. Does not my Moses-Aaron example show a clear difference between appeasing wrath and re-directing it onto a substitute? I just gave David the example of someone getting punched and either: (a) punching back, (b) punching a substitute, and (c) dropping the anger and thus punching nobody. The three options are truly different and mutually exclusive. Moses effected "option C" with God and Aaron, not "option B".

    As for projecting divine simplicity onto the subject, I believe that is an invalid comparison. Divine simplicity is based on the idea God cannot be solidly described in creaturely language. The distinction between propitiation and substitution is the *real* distinction between "Option C" and "Option B" above.


    (2) I am not sure why my example of 1 Jn 3:16 is "irrelevant" to how you're interpreting huper, when the situation is just as Christological and soteriological as 2 Cor 5. If huper means X in 1 Jn 3:16, and the context isn't significantly different, I don't see why it can't mean X in 2 Cor 5. As for your comments on 2 Cor 5:20, I don't see how your claim trumps mine. My interpretation is just as coherent. When someone is an ambassador, the act "on behalf" of a party, not in strict substitution. But even here I see the problem not so much about the word "substitute," but what is being *meant* by that term.

    Speaking of Daniel Wallace, I recently read something that is pretty serious as far as justification goes. In his Essay on Romans, he explicitly says Romans 5:12ff is *not* about "justification" but instead "sanctification". (But this is a side issue)

    (2b) You said: "The payment in this case would be the transferring of punishment among other things. There is nothing logically impossible with this truth."

    How is payment (redemption) and transferring wrath/death-penalty the same? One is a price-equivalency, the other is virtually the opposite, a direct transfer of what is due to the guilty. The way redeem is used in the Bible (e.g 1 Pt 1:18f), it doesn't at all fit transferring punishment.

    You then gave the following passages which teach God poured out His Wrath on Christ:

    -2 Cor 5:21 says Jesus was "made sin." How in the world does that single out the notion of "pour out wrath" as the leading correct meaning? That's a huge jump to conclusions, especially for a doctrine so significant. Even jumping to inject "impute" there is unwarranted, for Paul knew the term (cf 5:19) but never used it like that. Your article is operating on the unproven notion that 'if sin isn't imputed to X, it must be imputed to Y.'

    -Galatians 3:10-13 speaks of Christ being "made a curse for us." But you're assuming "curse" here means God's wrath poured out. That's invalid for two reasons. First, Paul frames this in terms of "redemption," second he is speaking of the Mosaic Law curses, which were 'temporal' punishments (i.e. physical death, physical suffering), not 'eternal' (e.g. hellfire, God's wrath on the lost, etc). The curse on the tree is that of a humiliating crucifixion (cf Josh 8:28f, Josh 10:26f).

    -Rom 4:15 says "the law brings wrath," which is speaking of the Mosaic Law, who's punishments were not of the "eternal" variety. Further, the law bringing wrath doesn't mean it was dumped on Christ, that's fallacious logic. Places like 1 Thes 1:10 say Christ saves us from the coming wrath, which in no way implies He stepped in the way and took it for us.

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  21. You asked me: "what morally justifying reason did God let Christ die? Why did Christ die on your view?"

    God let Christ die in a similar sense that He let the prophets die. 1 Thes 2:15 explicitly says the Jews murdered Christ, just as they murdered the prophets (thus it was not God enacting justice upon Him). Surely God's wrath wasn't on the prophets who were subjected to this. Christ was allowed to die from the greater-good that the evil would reap. Suffering for righteousness sake is of the highest meritorious value in God's sight (1 Pt 2:18ff).

    Your philosophical argument fails (even traps itself) by the fact it cannot explain how justice allows a punishment like hell to be transferred. It also fails to consider God can love something like obedience to an infinite degree, and thus have a life of perfect obedience be a suitable means of atonement.

    (3) I don't see how your response gets you out of the problem. If Jesus took the wrath, it's gone, not at all on the elect. This is precisely why some Reformed theologians have argued "eternal justification", and even Eric Svendson saw this dillema and on his blog calls himself a 4.5 Point Calvinist. Your idea that God waits to apply His wrath doesn't work, for all unregenerate are under wrath by definition. That God holds off delivering the wrath in it's full force until the future is irrelevant.


    (4a) You said: "Sins are not beneficial for the Christian, but it does not follow from that sins can separate us from being in the saving love of Christ Jesus."

    If sins are not beneficial, they hinder growth with Christ in a negative way. Thus, they are causing very real separation between the believer and Christ and His Love.

    (4b) You said: "Proverbs 16:6 and 14 are only principles that apply to men and not to God."

    You've got to be kidding me. First, how do you know that. Second, why would men be operating on a more virtuous plane than God? The Bible explicitly says God prefers obedience over sacrifice.

    You asked: "Why is his intercession illogical? What law of logic would it break?"

    If Christ dealt with sin at the Cross, then the continuous/present Intercession in Heaven is illogical (cf 1 Jn 2:1; Rom 8:34b). It would be like Bob taking a bullet in Tim's place, and afterward Bob having to continually intercede for Tim sin/forgiveness.

    (5) You asked: "Now is this your view of the atonement? Where is that whole scheme ever taught in the Bible?"

    The purpose of that example was to convey a concept, not to precisely model the Catholic view. If that concept isn't grasped, then I won't be able to convey the fuller Biblical (Catholic) concept.

    You said: "But the analogy in my view of the atonement would be that the person who is in Jail has to accept the legal sentence by some instrument (signing a legal document perhaps), then and only then can he be released justly. "

    Why would they have to accept the sentence if the punishment has been enacted? If someone took the death-penalty, there are no legal grounds to hold the prisoner. Choosing to be in jail and/or hating the King is irrelevant, the King has no grounds to hold him. Keeping him locked up is a form of punishment in itself and can only correspond to the original crime. Christ's saving work is 100% independent of the individual, thus getting out of jail doesn't depend on them.

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  22. (6) I think this discussion shows how important writing is, for these things take time to think over and respond to. This would be difficult to do 'live'. I surely couldn't clarify anything live any better than I've done now.

    (6b) You accused me of dodging your questions/responses and even going off topic. That's a serious charge, I'd like some solid evidence that I've done this. To my knowledge, I've never avoided (intentionally) any of your questions. Usually when I don't respond to things, it's because I see the issue as either (a) already dealt with, or (b) consider it not on topic enough to respond to and in order to keep posts shorter)

    Also, I believe it's far, far easier to go off topic when speaking live, just look at the various oral debates between Catholics and Protestants.

    (6c) I'm not sure what the big deal is with my talking with Joshua Lim. He actually found me on Gmail and started the chats. The chats were OK overall, but they didn't make any more progress than a written talk would have.

    When it comes to me talking "live", I also have the problem of finding "quiet time" in a big enough lump to make such a thing feasible. Doing so while at work is obviously not going to be easy, and with a noisy/distracting family, such is not always easy. Further, when I do find time to get online, it's often at scattered, even late hours, and that's inconvenient for live talks. You've seen how it sometimes takes me a day or two (even more) to catch up on just my email!

    (6d) When it comes to missing premises and badly explaining a view and such, honestly, I think the problem is often mutual. What you consider a solid premise/explanation is not always see as such by me, so the frustration is mutual. What I consider clear and solid is often seen as weak and/or unsubstantiated by you. I'm sure neither of us intend this.

    As for the discussions that you might have considered as left unfinished: I'd say in a good number of them we've gotten to a point where we've said all we can say, so it's no sense in 'responding' just to repeat oneself.

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  23. Beau,

    You said: I've shown and documented the lexical evidence for you. Saying "you've got to be kidding me" doesn't overturn what I've already cited

    You must have misunderstood my first sentence: your source supports my claim. There is nothing about "buying back at a price" that fits or is compatible with "transferring punishment". None of the definitions you gave say anything about or warrant a transfer of punishment. Your own dictionary vindicates my claim: "a buying back of a slave or captive through payment of a ransom." Where does transfer of punishment fit here?

    As for reading "other blogs," the link I gave you is to my own blog, addressing the very issue you brought up. There's no sense in me taking up multiple posts *here* simply cutting and pasting what I said on the link I gave you. If you don't want to follow the link, it's your own laziness and not a deficiency on my part.

    You said 1 Pt 1:18f is not speaking in monetary terms. Peter's point is that Christ's blood is of infinitely greater value than gold or silver, that's what I meant by monetary. The point is that what took place was a redemption, and the buy back price was the infintely valuable Blood of Christ.


    David,

    You said: YOU made this argument, I am challenging it on the simple basis that I see no good reason to accept it. Citing an example from the OT is illegitimate because one particular instance of A being incompatible with B is simply not sufficient to prove that A is always BY DEFINITION incompatible with B.

    The burden is on you (re-read my paragraph beginning with "My logic and argument are simple"). You're tossing my OT example (NB: I have various others) aside when you've got no grounds to do so. Show ONE clear example where your supposed exception exists. Otherwise you're begging the question by definition.

    You said: There is no reason why an angry party who has been wronged cannot have their wrath "appeased" by, for example, imposing a just monetary fine on the wrong-doing party.

    I never denied such a notion, in fact I fully agree with it! It's the heart of my argument! The *key* is that paying a fine and having that wrath vented on a substitute are not the same and in fact mutually exclusive. Prov 16:6,14 are some great examples where "love and faithfulness atone for sin," which is not the same as transferring the punishment to a substitute.

    You said: Likewise, if a substitute stepped in and agreed to take the fine upon himself in place of the wrong-doers, the wrath of the wronged party is still appeased, and it is appeased by the substitute who takes the just penalty for the wrong-doing upon himself. There is nothing logically contradictory here.

    I AGREE with this. This is not the same as someone taking the death penalty for someone else. In the example you're giving (which I agree with), a monetary price is imposed to 'counter-balance' the wrong done. The wrath was not transferred, another party stepped in and appeased it. If someone deserves the electric chair, the king's wrath is not appeased by a substitute stepping into the electric chair but rather through someone paying a ransom fine to atone for the crime.

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  24. Nick, if you want to post your comments about Isaiah here please feel free to do so. I’m not going to look up your post – I really don’t take your attempts here as a serious challenge to the faith – your comments and failure to grasp the discussion show that. These are arguments I’ve had back and forth for quite a while now and there isn’t anything new you’ve presented. Nick, I understand you think well of yourself, but you need to know that I take time out of my day when I get an email saying you wrote something, but otherwise this doesn’t occupy my time. You have a view of yourself others do not share, Sir. You state: “If you don't want to follow the link, it's your own laziness and not a deficiency on my part.” =) This is the pedantic statement of one who thinks far too highly of himself. I’ve read Romanists scholars in my academic career and don’t take the time to run off to the blogs of people who raise popularized arguments when I have read the original sources of the original thinkers – I spend my time with those who make the arguments, not untrained kids who think they are more significant than they actually are. Bro, you really need to understand that you are a merely blogger, not a trained scholar to occupy a Protestant’s time, so in actuality it really is a “deficiency” on your part. Why read what you wrote when I can read Scott Hahn, Pat Madrid, Ludwig Ott, the Romanist Catechism, etc? You aren’t a serious thinker, and I don’t say this to be rude, Nick, just honest. I hope that you will pursue a virtue of humility and not call other people lazy because they see you for the sophomore than you have shown yourself to be. I have been sadly amazed at how you are missing the points being made in response to you, Sir. All I see is a repetition of you statements without any attempt to warrant or defend them, thus, unlike you, Sir, I cannot in good conscience take you as the scholar you think you are. Repetition does not a good argument make.

    The Isaiah passage is a statement of God pouring His wrath out in Christ, and if you disagree then feel free to explain why you believe the clear statement is other than it states. Sorry, Nick, but I don’t go looking up blogs when I’m only even taking the time to interact with you because you’ve come here to our blog. There’s not enough time in the day to appease everyone who asks me to look up their work elsewhere, and when you simply and repetitively fail to grasp what we are explaining to you, I take you even less serious. There are many people to read, Nick, but you are just not one of them. Sorry, Nick, but you just don’t warrant the attention you think you do.

    As for the Peter quote, this is simply not what you said earlier. Here’s your quote: “1 Peter 1:18f clearly speaks of redemption by Christ's blood in monetary terms, above that of gold or silver, which fits all I've said.” Blood is not a monetary term, Sir, as something to be used in human bartering. When I show you the text does not speak in monetary terms, this is a correction of your claim that it does. Gold and silver are negated here, not emphasized. Do you follow that? The point made is the transcendence of human bartering, not an emphasis of it. You say, “clearly” when it is anything but, and it boggles the mind that I have to explain such simple facts to you as this. The blood of Christ is what is referenced as something humans cannot provide – the “money” term is used to emphasize the superiority of Christ’s blood over such things as finances in some human flea market. The purchase (have you realized yet that we don’t deny purchase, Nick, we deny your false logical statement of purchase being an inherent denial of transfer?) is the divine work of Christ having taken our federal headship from Adam and placed us under Him by taking the wrath of God due to God’s elect upon Himself. He did not do so by paying with money, Nick, He did so by paying with His own life as a transfer.

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  25. You have said that:
    - “You must have misunderstood my first sentence: your source supports my claim. There is nothing about "buying back at a price" that fits or is compatible with "transferring punishment". None of the definitions you gave say anything about or warrant a transfer of punishment. Your own dictionary vindicates my claim: "a buying back of a slave or captive through payment of a ransom." Where does transfer of punishment fit here? -

    Nick, you are not following my comments here. I’m getting more and more convinced that you have misunderstood the penal substitution theory. Here’s the belief simpliciter: Christ has “bought” his people with His blood by the transfer of God’s wrath to Christ. Do you follow that? We believe in purchase and transfer. You reply and say “they are contradictory in nature!” Nick, anyone who has a basic understanding of word usage, English or biblical languages, will inform you have gone above the factual evidence of the intrinsic meaning of the word. The meaning you force on it is “purchase, of necessity, denies transfer” yet even a simple thought experiment of purchase and transfer let alone a semantic examination is itself enough to deny your claims let alone the lexical sources being completely silent on your claim of necessity within the word. Then we ask you for any kind of explanation, logical or semantic, to defend yourself and you provide nothing other than repetition of your incorrect belief that purchase and transfer are incompatible entities. Nick, listen to me - you need to explain where the contradiction it, not just repeat yourself. You claim this is a square circle and falsely think that that’s true – it is not and we are simply asking you to prove it. You misunderstand my lexical citation – there is nothing in the word by any means at all that denies transfer. You say it does – that it’s an inherent contradiction, and we cite the source to show your falsehood. Are you following the dialectic here now? The citation of the sources gives nothing to support your theory. It is a purchase by transfer according to the Penal Substitution theory. Why is that so hard for you to understand? Nick, you need to do some work to show that this is a square circle, but you simply just repeat yourself and assume that through repetition suddenly I’ll say “yes, that’s right, it’s a square circle!” Nick, provide evidence that this is a contradiction and I’ll believe you – repeat yourself and stomp your feet and nobody will take you seriously.
    You have made some very basic failures in reasoning (do you see why I don’t take your position serious enough to look up and read your thoughts elsewhere?). If your Isaiah thoughts are anything like this then I would simply be wasting my time explaining to you simple rules of thought there as well. The trouble I have is that you write enough to make me believe you have enough familiarity with the discussion to get the basics, but then you pull such a simple failure in logic that I can’t help but see you as blinded by your presuppositions to such obvious inaccuracies. Go back and read out last few posts – nothing new has been advanced by you, and you don’t seem to realize that it won’t be because you are unable to show the contradiction you claim exists. You have created a false dilemma in claiming contradiction when there simply isn’t one. Here’s something for you to think on as you pursue your studies – when you come up with an argument that others of your own persuasion, who are much smarter than you or I are, have not taken up, you should really consider the strength of this position.

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  26. Nick,

    So, as long as it's anything except the death penalty you can have appeasement and substitution side by side, but as soon as you're talking about the death penalty they become exclusive and contradictory? Why? You're just asserting stuff as if you've given an argument for it, but I see no reason to accept what you're saying.

    In any case, you seem to have a pretty long and involved conversation going on with Nate that I don't want to distract you from, and frankly I'm just not motivated enough to continue commenting right now. Cheers!

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  27. Hello Nick,

    I have responded to what you have said below:

    Response to 1: Your example shows that there are some cases in scripture were God was about to kill people physically because of his wrath, but Moses does something to appease God such that God no longer kills people as a result of his wrath. No one would doubt that this is different than the idea of a penal substitutionary atonement. I would actually agree with everything you have said above. The difficulty is that I do not see how any of shows how a substitutionary atonement is contradictory. Certainly wrath and the way it is appeased is different throughout the scriptures but it does not logically follow from that the particular instance of it being satisfied by Christ Jesus in our place on the cross is improbably (given the evidence I have for huper and for the meaning of propitiation in the atonement) or impossible. In other words: there is nothing logically contradictory with the concept of a person taking the wrath of God in our place. Now one can agree with everything you have said above and affirm penal substitutionary view of the atonement, so it is not so much about your premises lacking supper as it is that you do not state all of your premises and the inference to your conclusion is not stated clearly if at all. And if I were talking on the phone I could help discuss your arguments and better construct them so you can clearly see what premise I reject so that you can either support it or not. You seem to just repeat what you have said previously without giving clearer arguments and tighter premises in your argument so at this point a phone or online conversation would straighten all of this confusion out it seems to me.
    The reason I brought up Divine simplicity is because I thought you were saying that two differing concepts/meanings cannot be in the same thing and I thought that was odd because that is what occurs in Divine simplicity (see Brian Davies on the on the philosophy of religion, Thomisic philosophical theologian). Now it could be true that if two things have differing meanings that they could be distinct or even separate, yet it need not follow from that truth that they cannot be in the same thing or instance as in the case of the penal substitutionary atonement (having the properties of 1) appeasing the wrath of God for us by virtue 2) of Christ as substitute taking the wrath of God.

    Response to 2a: Now if we were on the phone you could just ask me why I think it is irrelevant and then make a more longer informed response based on that information, but since we are crippled here by this time consuming medium that fuels miscommunication then we cannot do that. Wallace's principle is not that any soteriological and Christological context were huper is used entails substitution rather the principle is that the context has to be 1) soteriological, 2) Christological, 3) there is no sufficient reason to doubt it in the context. You have argued that huper could not be used this way in 1 John 3:16 which would mean that it would not fulfill condition 3 out of Wallace's principle so that it is why I have said it is irrelevant for our discussion of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 because I argued previously that these verses do fulfill conditions 1-3. While your understanding of huper in 5:20 is coherent logically it is not probable because of how it is used in the preceding context. As for Wallaces understanding of Romans 5 I would not say it is not that serious at all since one could get to active obedience through other texts and I do not agree with Dan Wallace on everything, but I am in general agreement on all things pertain to his work on Greek grammar. His Romans 5 discussion is not based on Greek Grammar so much as it is on context and I would disagree with him about the contextual thrust of the passage not so much on any grammatical usage of words or range of meanings of words in the passage.

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  28. (2b) I would say the payment or the transfer (redemption) would be Christ taking our wrath on the cross. Your 1 Peter 1:18 example is not clearly against my understanding of redemption it says that it is not about payment in the money sense (gold and silver), but rather it was the blood of Christ, which is a reference to his death. I am not sure how this is incompatible with my understanding of the atonement.
    2 Corinthians 5:21: The argument for wrath being poured out on Christ was a cumulative argument and if we were talking on the phone I could correct you about your understanding of my argument and then you could proceed to respond with the proper understanding. I was combining all three of these verses to justify my position. I do argue for it being the imputed understanding of sin by making explanatory contextual arguments. Like the following:

    Therefore, this passage was only meant to justify premise that Christ was imputed out sin and then I support an additional premise that if something is sinful then God must punish it.
    As for the Galatians passages you assume that redemption is compatible with paying in terms of punishment which you have yet to sufficiently prove. Furthermore, your remark that curse means physical punishment is mistaken because Paul argues that if one does not follow all the Law's then there is this curse (Gal. 3:10). In addition, not all the Laws when one disobeyed them in the Old Testament resulted in physical punishment (like lying for example). So clearly, this cannot be referring to physical death because no one followed all the Law's in the Old Testament, but that does not mean everyone was physically punished.
    As for your comments on wrath in Romans 4: The context is not about the death penalty or temporal life but about spiritual and eternal life and justification so it is best to take this verse as referring to things of eternal significance rather than the death penalty (which really would make no sense in the context). Also, the Law did not brings physical wrath to all (my comments above), but it certainly put all human beings under more of God's eternal wrath. As for 1 Thes. 1:10 that verse does not teach explicitly or implicitly by itself that Christ satisfied the wrath of God in our place, but it is not logically incompatible with it.
    I am still not clear on your view of the atonement: Does Christ have to die to redeem us on your view? Are you saying that Christ died to earns merit for us that cancels out our sins? Could Christ have earned merit for God in some other way? If God truly had nothing to do with this punishment and it was all human beings then why would Jesus say to God: My God, My God why have you forsaken me? It seems like that the sort of God that would only need obedience to cancel sin is a God with not as much justice as a greater being with greater justice that would need obedience and a satisfaction for sins committed. So it on your view of the atonement (if it is your view?) God would not being the greatest possible being because I can think of a greater being, namely a being that would have a higher standard of justice that needs both sins paid for to the fullest extend and active perfection. I do not know if it is a legitimate defeater for a philosophical argument to say well you cannot explain how this was done (as was your response to my philosophical argument). Because if I were to give a cosmological argument for how a necessary being needs to give a sufficient causal explanation for the existence of the universe, to ask how a necessary being caused the contingent universe would not defeat my argument that a necessary being in fact caused it. If you do not agree with this assumption then I am going to need to hear a good reasons for thinking that I need to explain *how* for every or any philosophical and theological that we make in order for it to be sound and reasonable to hold. My argument does consider your view because it is an argument against your view.

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  29. Response to 3: I would say that Jesus died on the cross for those who are justified and so for the justified it is true that the wrath is gone, but for the elect there can be wrath on them prior to being justified (Ephesians 2:1-10). The bible teaches the substitutionary atonement and that all unregenerate are under the wrath of God. Therefore, this warrants the distinction between Christ accomplishing redemption and God applying redemption until God rightly chooses to apply it. There is no contradiction here between Christ accomplishing something and then God at a later time for a morally justifying reason applying that redemption. I think God withholding wrath from those who are eternally condemned is very relevant because of the fact that they deserve eternal condemnation the moment they sin, but God withholds that until they die. So you still have not given a reason for why God cannot do the same with the elect until they are justified.

    Response to 4a: I agree they are not beneficial and they do hurt our relationship with Christ but you make the false inference that they separate from Christ. I see no reason for this and you have not given one, nor have you responded to my exegesis and inferences I have made about nothing in creation separating us from the love of Christ Jesus. You assume in your premises and your conclusion that it separates us thus you committing the fallacy of begging the question.


    Response 4b: First off all Nick, you've got to be kidding me is a disrespectful remark and not a charitable way to conduct yourself in a conversation. You have been rude enough to blow off having a friendly conversation about theology, I would ask that you at least not be disrespectful in theological conversations. But to answer your questions: I know it because of the context verse 7 is about men and the verses about kings are about earthly rulers. Men are on a different moral plane than God, even Catholic philosophers like Brian Davies and Thomas V. Morris agree with me on this (I learned this view from Catholics). My own particular view of this is that men are duty bound by the commandments of God, but God is under no obligation but rather he functions in a way that brings about his greater glory. I would agree, God prefers obedience over making old Testament ritualistic sacrifices. Notice how you just asserted that and you gave no inference pattern, connections, or conclusion for that statement. This is what I mean from you being terribly unclear and sloppy in your reasoning.

    Response to 5: I would all of Christ's actions his life, death, resurrection, and his intercession are jointly sufficient to save us. None of these are sufficient in and of themselves. I would say substitution is a necessary condition for our salvation but not a sufficient condition so I do not see how you have shown it to be illogical. Can you please clearly give me your view of the atonement and stop dodging questions. The reason why God waits to justify us is so that he can transform us thereby showing his glory by regenerating us and giving us faith by the Holy Spirit. It is better that God do this, rather than justifying us and then afterward letting us sin and act terrible. Christ's work is 100% independent of the individual which is why God causes Christians to be regenerate and justified and non e of this is based on man but on God (Eph. 2:8-10).

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  30. Response to 6: I think this discussions shows how bad writing is. If you could have asked things about my position and I likewise prior to responding then our responses would be informed and thoughtful rather than forcing ourselves to give a full response when none of what you argue is really clear.

    Response to 6b: Nick, you have conducted yourself on this blog with no class or respect...I really do not think that it is that hard to believe that you dodged questions and arguments in fact it has been done in this discussion and others as well. What ever happened to your response to my exegesis of John 10? Did you ever say good point to that? Or did you just move on as if nothing ever happened? I am not clear that you ever laid out your view of your atonement in this entire discussion even though I asked you twice. In our past discussions on justification on this blog this quote by you is perhaps the best summary quote I have ever seen about your anti-intellectual and disrespectful sophistic tactics:
    “ Nick: You're asking a ton of questions in a row here. Paul's point is that the Mosaic Law served it's purpose, but now that Christ has come it's become obsolete: this is what Rom 10:4 and Gal 3:23-25 are explicitly saying, and thus how Rom 3:31 is to be read. I'm exegeting based on the historical principle of “let clearer passages interpret less clear passages.”
    I asked 4 questions in row to better learn and understand you and your position in the conversation. Instead of you patiently asking each one of them, what you did is just gave some quick response that barely addressed anything. So I know my charges are serious, but it is only because your actions are seriously disrespectful and not proper conduct for a blog that is serious in academic discussions rather than Catholic vs Protestant Debate WWF style.

    Response to 6c: Well every single discussion I have had with every single atheist, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic everything is usually comes to a natural close in an hour. Well, you can call me on a cell phone on late nights and in scattered periods so I still think you are making excuses and being rude. I have a loud Irish family, I go outside.

    Response to 6d: I have always complained about my your arguments being unclear. But what you complain about is the support for my premises not the arguments themselves, so I find what you have said to be unsupported by past experience. In our all of our discussions you have never shown any of my arguments to be invalid, but rather you have disagreed with the soundness of each argument. I am saying barely give any arguments at all that a) clear, and b) logically valid. Even in your response to my accusation you have shown a failure to distinguish between valid and clear arguments from well supported sound arguments. The arguments are left unfinished in I have the last word and you always stop engaging me. For example, the one perseverance of the saints you did not have adequate Greek knowledge to respond to all my arguments.
    Well my hope for you Nick is that you try to be more respectful, intellectually responsible, and less apologetically fanatical in our future discussions. A discussion between differing views must including listening, respect, and honesty because these virtues help guide us to the Truth. I did not mean to be to mean or nasty, I just would really like if your conduct change in interacting with others.
    God Bless,
    NPT

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  31. Hi,

    Sorry for this late response, a lot of stuff came up in my life (nothing tragic, thankfully), including food poisoning the last few days. I simply have been unable to be online for more than maybe 15 minutes a day over the last week or so. I'll try to remember and respond as best as I can.

    (1) You said: "Certainly wrath and the way it is appeased is different throughout the scriptures but it does not logically follow from that the particular instance of it being satisfied by Christ Jesus in our place on the cross is improbably (given the evidence I have for huper and for the meaning of propitiation in the atonement) or impossible."

    You say God's wrath can be appeased different ways throughout Scripture, which is a foundational point I've been trying to get across from the start. The burden now is to show even a single, clear example of appeasement/atonement taking place via PSub. Without that, you're assuming Psub is a valid method of appeasement before proving it. I would say the PSub scenario is highly improbable, since Christ is the fulfillment of the OT and yet I see not a single example of PSub in the OT. I just finalized a post I've had lingering in drafts for a few months now, and it looks at how the OT uses the term atonement and related concepts. All you have on your side is assuming a particular usage of huper, including tossing out my 1 John 3:16 example on "3 Conditions" that I don't agree are valid. Appealing to Wallace is of limited value, since his authority is limited. As for "impossible," that can be taken two ways: Logically speaking, Psub is possible on it's own. When used in conjunction with appeasement/atonement (as in the Moses example), it is logically contradictory.
    As for Divine Simplicity, since it is speaking of what Transcends us, certain concepts that may seem conflicting need not be in actuality - but to pull this out at one's whim opens the door to justifying any contradiction.

    (2a) The issue of huper and 1 John 3:16 is going to have to be a place where we agree to disagree. I see no reason why I need to submit to your/Wallace's "conditions." Ultimately, the argument is saying huper is used the way you want and not the way I claim.

    (2b) You said: "I would say the payment or the transfer (redemption) would be Christ taking our wrath on the cross."

    As I've pointed out, a ransom payment and taking wrath is not the same. It's just not. And the very notion of "taking our wrath" is something not found in any Scripture. You even admit it comes from the combining of three texts, which to me renders the argument more dubious. It says 'you were not redeemed with gold but with the "precious blood" of Christ', indicating redemption is done with valuables like gold, but in this case the infinite value of Christ's blood.

    Your response on 2 Cor 5:21 is repeating your assumptions on the passage. You've not established "impute" here at all, nor have you established that "made sin" here involves imputing or even punishing.

    Your response on Gal 3:13 is mixing a few things. The "curse" Paul speaks of is indeed temporal punishments, for Paul is directly quoting Deut 27:26, which is in clear context of temporal blessings and curses (see Deut 28!). These curses ranged from cursing the farm land all the way up to death penalty. I never said it was only the death penalty. Your conclusion, "clearly, this cannot be referring to physical death," is ambiguous. Christ's death certainly was physical death, and the hanging on a tree curse was a (humiliating) physical death.

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  32. Your response on Romans 4:15a is similar to that of Gal 3:13 above. Romans 4:13-16 is parallel to Galatians 3:15-18, which is *precisely* about not confusing the eternal promises to Abraham with the Mosaic Law's temporal promises. The "law" here is clearly the Mosaic, and it never promised salvation. (Aquinas is fond of quoting Hebrews 10 in showing this distinction: 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses [i.e. physical death penalty]. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot [i.e. hellfire]")

    You asked a series of questions, which I will try to answer one by one:

    -Does Christ have to die to redeem us on your view?

    God could have redeemed man in multiple ways, but the Passion was the most "fitting." See ST 3-46-4, for more info on what "fitting" means.

    -Are you saying that Christ died to earns merit for us that cancels out our sins?

    Yes, very similar, but infinitely more efficacious than the foreshadowing of events like Moses in Deut 9 and Phinehas in Num 25.

    -Could Christ have earned merit for God in some other way?

    Yes; this is similar to the first question

    -If God truly had nothing to do with this punishment and it was all human beings then why would Jesus say to God: My God, My God why have you forsaken me?

    God was involved just as God is involved in the events surrounding the murder of martyrs. This doesn't mean God's wrath was upon the martyrs or Christ. The quote "My God, why forsaken me?" is quoting Psalm 22:1 and applying it to himself. It is speaking of God not coming to the rescue of Him, which is the paradox of the ages why God doesn't always rescue His beloved. Psalm 22: "1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me"

    -It seems like that the sort of God that would only need obedience to cancel sin is a God with not as much justice as a greater being with greater justice that would need obedience and a satisfaction for sins committed.

    The rest of what you say seems built on this premise. I would counter by saying it would be incongruent for God could accept an act of virtue/obedience as atonement in situations like Moses but have this notion wholly repugnant for His own Son. It would be akin to saying Christians are called to forgive, which is a higher calling/standard than the pagan retaliation morality (Mat 5:46-47), yet God cannot act according to this higher standard and instead must model pagan morality. And does not Scripture say "Obedience is better than sacrifice"? Lastly, speaking only in terms of "perfect justice" is an incomplete picture, for it gives a lop-sided account of the situation and God's nature.

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  33. (3) You said: "There is no contradiction here between Christ accomplishing something and then God at a later time for a morally justifying reason applying that redemption. I think God withholding wrath from those who are eternally condemned is very relevant because of the fact that they deserve eternal condemnation the moment they sin, but God withholds that until they die. So you still have not given a reason for why God cannot do the same with the elect until they are justified."

    There are situations where something can be accomplished but yet to be applied, but in other situations such a distinction doesn't work. In Psub, Christ *accomplished* redemption by removing the wrath due to the elect, there is no further stages of application. This is dissimilar from the non-elect under God's wrath, for the punishment still lingers. Remove the punishment and there are no grounds for wrath. Think of it in terms of two men on death row, held in *custody*. The elect man is in custody despite the fact there are no legal grounds to hold him since the death penalty has been effected. This is contradictory. On the other hand, the non-elect can rightly said to be in custody awaiting the punishment to be effected on him.

    (4a) I say "hurt our relationship with Christ" and "separate from Christ" are intimately related. Christ said, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love" (Jn 15:10), ergo sinning will cause one not to remain in His love. Another text that comes to mind: "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (1 Jn 3:17). The examples can be multiplied.

    (4b) I did not mean to be rude with the "you've got to be kidding me" comment. I apologize if you took offense to that. That said, I don't agree with your analysis at all, for the context is solidly about man's relation with God, without focusing on man to man relations. In the second half of the Proverb the king is spoke of, but that's a different context by that point. Your comments on "Men are on a different moral plane than God" are ambiguous and could actually be seriously incorrect. For example, it could be taken to mean God doesn't operate according to the same moral standards he holds men to such that God can indeed lie, murder, etc, at Will. This is how your comment can be taken as well, though I wouldn't jump to conclusions: "men are duty bound by the commandments of God, but God is under no obligation but rather he functions in a way that brings about his greater glory." This *could* be taken to mean God engages in or causes "sin" as long as it brings about His Glory. The only sense God's moral plane is different in that it is a higher standard than what He holds man to.

    (5) First, I hope I've answered your questions thus far so that you don't consider me "dodging questions" which you mention here.
    Second, you said: "I would all of Christ's actions his life, death, resurrection, and his intercession are jointly sufficient to save us. None of these are sufficient in and of themselves." I don't see how Christ's Intercession in Heaven and Resurrection tie into His Active and Passive Obedience, and thus I don't see how they play into Justification for you. To say they are 'jointly sufficient' doesn't explain to me how Christ removed the wrath by taking the punishment yet still continuously intercedes for us - the two don't work together.

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  34. (6) As I said in my last post, the feelings you express towards me and my conduct are often mutual. Not that I hate you or think you a bad person, you are not, but that you say as many things equally frustrating to me as you accuse me of doing to you. In this thread alone, you express frustration that I havn't laid out my view of the atonement, yet from my perspective I kept repeating that until you recognize the atonement principle behind the Moses example I wouldn't be able to build to a more complete picture. And what happened was I ended up spending a considerable amount to time/energy before you acknowledged that point at your last response.

    As for your John 10 comments, I honestly don't remember which discussion you're talking about; I go through so many discussions from all over the place I can't always keep things straight. As for your “I asked 4 questions in row” example you quoted, that shouldn't be seen as a “summary” of how I operate. There are times when someone can rightly consider a series of questions to be too numerous to individually address, rephrasing of similar questions already asked or addressed, or not deemed relevant to the topic. That's a valid claim. Now, there are times when it's out of place to dodge what are infact important questions, and that's not acceptable. Have there been times I've not answered a valid question of yours? In fairness, I'd have to say yes; but that doesn't entail you're entitled to a full blown response to every question you ask, especially if I consider it to have been addressed. So to say I blew off 4 questions of yours, implying I have a track record of dodging questions left and right is a bit of a smear. Anyone can read our discussions and see I do an overall thorough job of addressing the meat and direct questions you have for me. I'm sure I could dig up examples where you've given responses I find unsatisfactory, but that's not the way things should turn here.

    As for when discussions are left 'unfinished', that's a judgment call. Someone has got to have the last word on things, so if I leave that up to you, that's not abandoning a discussion. Other times I get sidetracked or overwhelmed with other duties in my life or apologetics and don't find time and/or forget to get to responses you've made. So please don't feel that if I don't 'keep on responding' that I'm abandoning a discussion. Often times our discussions end with us having each repeated ourselves at least twice, so there's times when I'm sufficiently burnt out that I stop. If there are pressing questions I've not answered, in all honesty, I'm open to hearing them.

    Rather than let this frustration build, I'd think it best if I stopped coming to your blog for the foreseeable future. I hope I have not wasted your time. I hold no ill feelings towards you.

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  35. Hello Nick,

    Thank you very much for your respectful tone this time. You are always welcomed here to respond to the arguments I post. But in the future if you want to bounce things off me I would like if you e-mail me and then from there I would give you my phone number to call me (my time is limited). I have tried to respond to the things you have said with the best of my ability.

    Sorry for this late response, a lot of stuff came up in my life (nothing tragic, thankfully), including food poisoning the last few days. I simply have been unable to be online for more than maybe 15 minutes a day over the last week or so. I'll try to remember and respond as best as I can.

    Response: Well I hope you feel better.

    (1) You said: "Certainly wrath and the way it is appeased is different throughout the scriptures but it does not logically follow from that the particular instance of it being satisfied by Christ Jesus in our place on the cross is improbably (given the evidence I have for huper and for the meaning of propitiation in the atonement) or impossible."

    You say God's wrath can be appeased different ways throughout Scripture, which is a foundational point I've been trying to get across from the start. The burden now is to show even a single, clear example of appeasement/atonement taking place via PSub. Without that, you're assuming Psub is a valid method of appeasement before proving it. I would say the PSub scenario is highly improbable, since Christ is the fulfillment of the OT and yet I see not a single example of PSub in the OT. I just finalized a post I've had lingering in drafts for a few months now, and it looks at how the OT uses the term atonement and related concepts. When used in conjunction with appeasement/atonement (as in the Moses example), it is logically contradictory.
    As for Divine Simplicity, since it is speaking of what Transcends us, certain concepts that may seem conflicting need not be in actuality - but to pull this out at one's whim opens the door to justifying any contradiction.

    Response: I would have the New Testament interpret the Old Testament and not have the Old Testament interpret the New because of the fact that the New Testament is the infallible interpretation of the New. Furthermore, the Old Testament is a type of the anti type the New Testament revelation, types by there very nature are imperfect and not entirely like the anti type. I believe the New Testament clearly teaches a substitutionary atonement in Galatians 3:13 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." It's not just Wallace that thinks this text teaches penal substitution but the majority of commentators you will find affirm this truth of the Greek word huper in this text. I would say the top Greek scholar has much more authority than anyone else to comment on this matter and not only that but he backs up his claim by appealing to various texts surrounding the New Testament period. I would encourage you to read his stuff if you want your Catholic faith to be academically defensible. Furthermore, the curse has to be damnation because it is contrast with the eternal blessing of justification (which is not referring to a physical but a spiritual reality . I do not believe that obscure examples from the Old Testament that are not meant to be taken as teachings on Christ atonement should overrule the clear teaching in the New Testament that is teaching clearly on the death of Christ. This is my problem with simplicity and why even if all Catholic doctrine were proven to me I would still reject Catholicism because divine simplicity is incoherent and it opens the door to allow contradictions in any and everything. Lastly, if you accept simplicity maybe parts of God's word transcend us (in our understanding) so you have no grounds logically and consistently to even claim any contradiction because I could just say it is only an apparent contradiction.

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  36. (2a) The issue of huper and 1 John 3:16 is going to have to be a place where we agree to disagree. I see no reason why I need to submit to your/Wallace's "conditions." Ultimately, the argument is saying huper is used the way you want and not the way I claim.

    Response: The reason why you should submit to is because in his book he cites literature around the New Testament period that establish this use of huper. This is contained in his book Greek grammar beyond the basics and he did not write it for you or for me...he wrote for the purpose conveying God's truth. It seems to me that you have only rejected his argument now after you have continually failed to respond to it.

    As I've pointed out, a ransom payment and taking wrath is not the same. It's just not. And the very notion of "taking our wrath" is something not found in any Scripture. You even admit it comes from the combining of three texts, which to me renders the argument more dubious. It says 'you were not redeemed with gold but with the "precious blood" of Christ', indicating redemption is done with valuables like gold, but in this case the infinite value of Christ's blood.

    Response: After preaching on Galatians and doing further work on the Greek I would say that the substitutionary propitiation is taught in Galatians 3:13. I did not say it was the same thing but it can be logically combined with a substitutionary propitiation. I really do not see the argument here from 1 Peter. Christ blood on the Cross was used to bring us salvation and it has value even on the penal substitutionary view of the atonement. So again this is just another argument that is not clear and missing premises.

    Your response on 2 Cor 5:21 is repeating your assumptions on the passage. You've not established "impute" here at all, nor have you established that "made sin" here involves imputing or even punishing.

    Response: If you recall my response previous to this I did not just offer a conclusion, but contextual arguments for my conclusion and you have yet to deal with my paper or the parts I have cited in this interaction.

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  37. Your response on Gal 3:13 is mixing a few things. The "curse" Paul speaks of is indeed temporal punishments, for Paul is directly quoting Deut 27:26, which is in clear context of temporal blessings and curses (see Deut 28!). These curses ranged from cursing the farm land all the way up to death penalty. I never said it was only the death penalty. Your conclusion, "clearly, this cannot be referring to physical death," is ambiguous. Christ's death certainly was physical death, and the hanging on a tree curse was a (humiliating) physical death.
    Your response on Romans 4:15a is similar to that of Gal 3:13 above. Romans 4:13-16 is parallel to Galatians 3:15-18, which is *precisely* about not confusing the eternal promises to Abraham with the Mosaic Law's temporal promises. The "law" here is clearly the Mosaic, and it never promised salvation. (Aquinas is fond of quoting Hebrews 10 in showing this distinction: 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses [i.e. physical death penalty]. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot [i.e. hellfire]")

    Response: I have already responded and shown this argument to be unsuccessful above because the curse is contrasted with the everlasting blessings of justification.

    You asked a series of questions, which I will try to answer one by one:

    -Does Christ have to die to redeem us on your view?

    God could have redeemed man in multiple ways, but the Passion was the most "fitting." See ST 3-46-4, for more info on what "fitting" means.

    Response: If God is the greatest possible being then would it not necessarily follow that he ought to the most fitting rather than something less fitting?

    -Are you saying that Christ died to earns merit for us that cancels out our sins?

    Yes, very similar, but infinitely more efficacious than the foreshadowing of events like Moses in Deut 9 and Phinehas in Num 25.

    Response: Phenehas and Deuteronomy 9 have do with turning aside temporal wrath and not eternal wrath so I do not see how these texts justify that position.

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  38. Could Christ have earned merit for God in some other way?

    Yes; this is similar to the first question

    Response: This text seems to contradict this Hebrews 9:22 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

    -If God truly had nothing to do with this punishment and it was all human beings then why would Jesus say to God: My God, My God why have you forsaken me?

    God was involved just as God is involved in the events surrounding the murder of martyrs. This doesn't mean God's wrath was upon the martyrs or Christ. The quote "My God, why forsaken me?" is quoting Psalm 22:1 and applying it to himself. It is speaking of God not coming to the rescue of Him, which is the paradox of the ages why God doesn't always rescue His beloved. Psalm 22: "1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me"

    Response: This is a fair response and on a Catholic framework I do not think citing this text would be persuasive. So I retract that argument.



    The rest of what you say seems built on this premise. I would counter by saying it would be incongruent for God could accept an act of virtue/obedience as atonement in situations like Moses but have this notion wholly repugnant for His own Son. It would be akin to saying Christians are called to forgive, which is a higher calling/standard than the pagan retaliation morality (Mat 5:46-47), yet God cannot act according to this higher standard and instead must model pagan morality. And does not Scripture say "Obedience is better than sacrifice"? Lastly, speaking only in terms of "perfect justice" is an incomplete picture, for it gives a lop-sided account of the situation and God's nature.

    Response: The examples in Moses are referring to physical wrath and not God's hell like wrath. Human beings are sinful and are in a different ethical situation than human beings even as Catholic philosophers like Thomas Morris and Brian Davies admit. God is perfect and he functions entirely differently as the greatest possible being. Obedience is better than sacrifice is referring to the sacrificial system of the Old Testament in which case love would have more value than just following those rituals. I would say your view gives a lop sided view of things because it ignores God's need to punish sin by adding obedience, but there is simply no reason to think in scripture and by the deliverances of reason that doing good things negates all the bad things that were done. Ultimately your view compromises the justice of God and the need for him to punish sin which the greatest possible being is necessarily required to do.

    There are situations where something can be accomplished but yet to be applied, but in other situations such a distinction doesn't work. In Psub, Christ *accomplished* redemption by removing the wrath due to the elect, there is no further stages of application. This is dissimilar from the non-elect under God's wrath, for the punishment still lingers. Remove the punishment and there are no grounds for wrath. Think of it in terms of two men on death row, held in *custody*. The elect man is in custody despite the fact there are no legal grounds to hold him since the death penalty has been effected. This is contradictory. On the other hand, the non-elect can rightly said to be in custody awaiting the punishment to be effected on him.

    Response: You still have not responded to my argument that God could have a morally sufficient reason for doing this. Furthermore, the unelect accomplish their eternal damnation the first moment they sin so God is withholding his eternal wrath from them until they die, so I do not see how you have refuted that point.

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  39. I say "hurt our relationship with Christ" and "separate from Christ" are intimately related. Christ said, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love" (Jn 15:10), ergo sinning will cause one not to remain in His love. Another text that comes to mind: "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (1 Jn 3:17). The examples can be multiplied.

    Response: John 15:10 does not refute Romans 8 because all those whom Christ inseparably love will generally obey his commandments in their sanctification, but if they sin from time to time that will not separate them from Christ because they are generally following his commandments and they could not do otherwise because nothing can separate them from the love of Christ Jesus as Romans 8 tells us. The 1 John 3 passage is giving a indicator for who is a christian and who is not, and obviously those who are loved by Christ cannot do other than have pity on a brother in need, so nothing can separate them from Christ which is still compatible with Romans 8.

    I did not mean to be rude with the "you've got to be kidding me" comment. I apologize if you took offense to that. That said, I don't agree with your analysis at all, for the context is solidly about man's relation with God, without focusing on man to man relations. In the second half of the Proverb the king is spoke of, but that's a different context by that point. Your comments on "Men are on a different moral plane than God" are ambiguous and could actually be seriously incorrect. For example, it could be taken to mean God doesn't operate according to the same moral standards he holds men to such that God can indeed lie, murder, etc, at Will. This is how your comment can be taken as well, though I wouldn't jump to conclusions: "men are duty bound by the commandments of God, but God is under no obligation but rather he functions in a way that brings about his greater glory." This *could* be taken to mean God engages in or causes "sin" as long as it brings about His Glory. The only sense God's moral plane is different in that it is a higher standard than what He holds man to.

    Response: Thank you for apologizing. I do take that proverb as to be referring to man to man relationships because of the contextual shift that occurs. For us a action is right because God commands it, but for God an action is right for him because it brings about his greater glory. However, no action involving God sinning could bring about his greater glory so my statement need not be taken in that way.

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  40. (5) First, I hope I've answered your questions thus far so that you don't consider me "dodging questions" which you mention here.
    Second, you said: "I would all of Christ's actions his life, death, resurrection, and his intercession are jointly sufficient to save us. None of these are sufficient in and of themselves." I don't see how Christ's Intercession in Heaven and Resurrection tie into His Active and Passive Obedience, and thus I don't see how they play into Justification for you. To say they are 'jointly sufficient' doesn't explain to me how Christ removed the wrath by taking the punishment yet still continuously intercedes for us - the two don't work together.

    Response: It could be for Christ maintaining our justification state (or keeping us justified) or it could be for our sanctification. The resurrection is linked to justification in Romans 4 and the reason why is guarantees that when one is justified they are glorified because Christ was the first fruit or the representative of all those who are justified who die.

    As I said in my last post, the feelings you express towards me and my conduct are often mutual. Not that I hate you or think you a bad person, you are not, but that you say as many things equally frustrating to me as you accuse me of doing to you. In this thread alone, you express frustration that I havn't laid out my view of the atonement, yet from my perspective I kept repeating that until you recognize the atonement principle behind the Moses example I wouldn't be able to build to a more complete picture. And what happened was I ended up spending a considerable amount to time/energy before you acknowledged that point at your last response.

    Response: The point about Moses I am still unclear about it's connection to Christ's atonement and so was everyone else. So it was not my frustration alone, but the others on the blog. It was so unclear, dubious, and obvious false that you managed to get the attention of the other bloggers on this site. The point still remains: Just because there instances like x apart y it does not follow that every instance of x is apart from y. I never granted this, but only granted that the Mosaic atonement's are not the same as the Christ's atonement's.

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  41. As for your John 10 comments, I honestly don't remember which discussion you're talking about; I go through so many discussions from all over the place I can't always keep things straight. As for your “I asked 4 questions in row” example you quoted, that shouldn't be seen as a “summary” of how I operate. There are times when someone can rightly consider a series of questions to be too numerous to individually address, rephrasing of similar questions already asked or addressed, or not deemed relevant to the topic. That's a valid claim. Now, there are times when it's out of place to dodge what are infact important questions, and that's not acceptable. Have there been times I've not answered a valid question of yours? In fairness, I'd have to say yes; but that doesn't entail you're entitled to a full blown response to every question you ask, especially if I consider it to have been addressed. So to say I blew off 4 questions of yours, implying I have a track record of dodging questions left and right is a bit of a smear. Anyone can read our discussions and see I do an overall thorough job of addressing the meat and direct questions you have for me. I'm sure I could dig up examples where you've given responses I find unsatisfactory, but that's not the way things should turn here.

    Response: I would love for you to dig up examples of times I did not attempt to answer your questions. Every question you asked, I have you a response. So now that you have made an accusation, I would want to see the evidence for such a claim as I have provided. The four questions I asked on justification on this blog were relevant and good questions that you did not answer. Anybody can go back and look at that on this blog. As for the John 10 dodging and ignoring: that was in this conversation and one of the first arguments that you presented in this conversation (look to your first few responses). All who have read this discussion as objected to your reasoning and how you have conducted yourself. But thanks for apologizing and I hope and pray that in the future we can have fruitful and honest conversation. I hope you are well.

    God Bless,

    NPT

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