Friday, May 25

Historic Church vs. Scripture

In my May 20 post I quoted an Emergent Church pastor, Mike Clawson. Part of what he said is as follows:

"I believe that Jesus death on the cross was a demonstration that God had forgiven our sins, not the reason God forgave them. That is, I find the conservative theology of sacrificial atonement rather repugnant (as many of you do as well I’ve noticed), but I do still think that the cross was more than just a moral example (though it was that too)."

In the comment thread of that post he said the following about those of us that believe that the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for payment of our sin debt is the means by which eternal life is offered to those that place their faith in Jesus Christ:

"Sadly you guys are living up to your reputation of ignorance and condemnation of those who differ from you. My advice (not that you're likely to care) is to familiarize yourself with what the historic Church has said about the atonement and not limit yourself just to what Calvin taught about it."

My ignorance about what the historic Church has said about the atonement means nothing. I believe in the principle of Sola Scriptura. It is my only rule of faith and practice and I need not go any further. My view comes directly from Scripture and not Calvin, the historic Church, or anyone else. I have not condemned you, I have refuted you as Scripture calls me to do where in Titus 1:9 it says to encourage sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Instead of relying on what the historic Church or other “scholars” might say, I suggest you check what the Bible very clearly teaches. Please check out the Scripture passages at the end of the following article.

The Lamb of God

The core theme of the Old Testament is that God chose the nation of Israel to bring redemption to some of fallen mankind. Due to God’s justice, this redemption required atonement for sin in the form of a blood sacrifice. Thus, a system of animal sacrifice was set up by God, through his prophets, to prefigure the ultimate sufficient sacrifice that Christ would make for the atonement of sin since animal sacrifice cannot atone for sin. For God to sacrifice his own son to satisfy his justice is a most unbelievable display of his love and mercy. In Genesis 22:8 this is vividly pointed out when Abraham told his son Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” While Abraham was referring to what he thought was going to be the sacrifice of his son Isaac, it points to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. Seven hundred years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah predicted in chapter 53, and elsewhere, this ultimate sacrifice. In verse 7 Isaiah said, “he was led like a lamb to the slaughter.” The sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ as a propitiation for human sin is the central theme to all of Christian theology. Doctrine after doctrine lead back to the cross and the crucifixion of Christ. The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about Christ is shown in its most concise form in Romans 3:19-31. Salvation is from God and is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Faith is the key that opens the door to heaven and eternal life.

The following verses are but some in the Bible on the subject of atonement:

Leviticus 5:6 and, as a penalty for the sin he has committed, he must bring to the LORD a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.

Leviticus 17:11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

1 Chronicles 28:11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement.

Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-

Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 9:26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Hebrews 13:11-12 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

Romans 3:25 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—

Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Hebrews 10:11-12 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.


jazzycat said...

This post deals with your comments in the May 20 thread. I have not condemned you, but I have refuted your unbiblical doctrine per Titus 1:9. It does appear that you are a bit judgmental in your reference to "our reputation".

I can assure you that I and probably most of the other "you guys" that you refer to are much more interested in our character and walk with the Lord than we are in our reputation with the secular liberal post modern humanists and the PC culture. I think James would agree......

James 4:4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

donsands said...

Scripture alone. Amen.

The Holy Bible is our final authority. Satan hates the Bible.

Here is the battlefield: Truth.
The Holy Writ is very clear why Christ died, as you have shown here Wayne, with only a few verses out of many many more.

Paul said he would not boast in anything except the Cross, and that through the Cross he was crucified to the world, and the world to him.

And he said that those who are inteligent will think the Cross is foolish, and those in the Church, who are religious, the Cross will be a "stumbling block" to their self righteous ways.

" .. the message of the Cross ... is the power of God." 1 Cor. 1:18

mark pierson said...

Yes, scripture alone!!!

Wayne, way to go!!!

These arguments about how we are following man (calvin, church fathers,MacArthur, Sproul, Hinn, Kuhlman, Copeland, Hagin, Greek philosophers... And the list goes on and on)Are good for a laugh.

mark pierson said...

Can you say "genetic fallacy"?... I knew you could.

Anonymous said...

I'm so saddened that a "pastor" views sacrificial atonement as "repugnant."
I wonder if what his view is of how God views "sin." Repugnant doesn't even begin to describe God's view of sin.
I wonder if the "emergent church" views "liberty in Christ" as whatever works for them.
Does the "emergent church" have any doctrine at all? (or is that a "repugnant" idea to them?)

jazzycat said...

Thanks Don, Mark, and Susan....
It seems to me that this theology is man-centered and focuses on the here and now of earth rather than the eternal here-after. It seems like I remember Jesus stating that his kingdom was not of this world.

As Mark said elsewhere the kingdom is spiritual and both now and not-yet. I believe that is his quote.


Eve said...

Thanks for this post and a hearty AMEN!!!

Steve said...

Wayne, you stand on very good ground. Keep up the fight!

jazzycat said...

Thanks for stopping by.

jazzycat said...

Thanks. You always give me encouragement.

Scribe said...

Wow Wayne...what's spurring you on to expose the fallacy of the Emergent movement? Don't get me wrong, I think it's great. I know many undiscerning Christian youth that are enamored with the "preachers" of the Emergent church. Keep up the good work Wayne.

jazzycat said...

Thanks for the encouragement and I agree that new Christians and the undiscerning need to be warned about those that preach a false gospel.

Mike Clawson said...

"My ignorance about what the historic Church has said about the atonement means nothing. I believe in the principle of Sola Scriptura. It is my only rule of faith and practice and I need not go any further. My view comes directly from Scripture and not Calvin, the historic Church, or anyone else."

Again, my apologies, but it strikes me as rather hubristic to suggest that you have succeeded in extracting the one true meaning of the text while all the great saints and theologians of the past who happen to disagree with you must have gotten it wrong (even though they were reading the same Bible with the same desire to understand). What makes your interpretation better than theirs? Why should I trust your ideas about what the text really means more than those of other Christians whose teachings have stood the test of time?

jazzycat said...

Thanks. I am not very strong on church history as I have only been a Christian for ten years and have basically concentrated on studying theology. My thinking is from my interpretation of the bible through teachers such as R.C. Sproul and PCA pastors. However, I have not accepted everything that my denomination teaches as I have some differences with covenant theology. IOW, I form an independent opinion based on Scripture and teachers who expound directly from Scripture. When I have a difference from teachers that I respect, I base it on Scripture alone. Infant baptism is one example of my differing from what my denomination teaches.

From skimming your view of post-modernism and your phrase “the one true meaning” in this comment, I believe we have a different view of truth. I believe Jesus and the Bible teach absolute truth. Penal substitution is either true or it is not true. Faith in Christ as the only way to eternal life is either true or not true. Truth does not vary from one person to another depending on their view. Perception of the truth may vary, but truth does not vary.

The amount Biblical affirmation of penal substitution is overwhelming. From the whole of the OT atonement system pointing to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ to satisfy God’s wrath as described in Hebrews. If anyone can take the passages that I list and disprove penal substitution, then they can prove or disprove anything. I have seen some amazing “spinning” of Scripture from the free grace advocates, but I think it would take much more spinning than that to remove penal substitution from the Bible. That being said, I would sure like to see your interpretation Hebrews 10:11-12 for a sample of how you would do it.

Let me even call it a challenge!


Mike Clawson said...

Hebrews 10:11-12
"11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God."

I'm not sure what you think is so challenging to my views about this passage. I think I clearly stated in my comments over at Hemant's blog that my view of the atonement doesn't reject the language of sacrifice. Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins. That doesn't change.

What changes is what you think that sacrifice was about. Was the sacrifice about God taking out his anger on Jesus, beating up on him so he wouldn't have to beat up on us? Or was it God sacrificing his right to get even, choosing to forgive and bear the brunt of our sin even though he could have rightly punished us instead? It's a subtle difference, but a crucial one IMHO, since one view paints God as an abusive Father with anger-management issues while the other portrays God as a suffering servant more willing to go to the cross than to respond in anger.

The key point here though is that none of the biblical language about blood or sacrifice or atonement or wrath or any of that has to be ignored. It's all still there in my view just as well. That's why all the verses you throw at me really don't do anything to prove your point one way or another. It's not about playing the proof-text game - it's about what you think the language is referring to in the first place. If your interpretive lens is wrong in the first place, then all the Bible verses in the world aren't going to make a difference.

jazzycat said...

You said………..
Or was it God sacrificing his right to get even, choosing to forgive and bear the brunt of our sin even though he could have rightly punished us instead?

This view of yours would only be consistent with universalism. Is that your position?

Mike Clawson said...

"This view of yours would only be consistent with universalism. Is that your position?"

I'm sorry, I don't follow your logic. I'm not a universalist per se. I believe God forgives all, but we still have the choice to accept that forgiveness or not. Forgiveness is not the whole of salvation. God desires more than forgiveness - he desires reconciliation, but reconciliation takes two. Forgiveness is just the first step.

(Though being influenced by your Reformed teachers you probably don't agree with that "free will" angle either.)

BTW, if my view is only consistent with universalism then how is yours any less so? We're both saying that because of the cross our sins are forgiven, we just differ on why that is the case. But what does that have to do with universalism? I'm still not following your logic.

jazzycat said...

As to my being influenced, I believe that everyone, including you, are influenced by people and their doctrinal positions. My reformed view come directly from Scripture and you seem to have a misunderstanding of this view of free will. I will assume that you are aware that the reformed theology holds that man is born spiritually dead and is unable to truly come to faith in Christ apart from the Holy Spirit regenerating him first (Eph. 2:4-5, John 3:3, etc.). In short man has a free will but a total spiritual inability.

Your views are hard to discern. In your last comment you affirmed atonement, blood, sacrifice, and wrath; but then also said such a God would be abusive with anger management problems.

Universalism??? You said……….
Or was it God sacrificing his right to get even, choosing to forgive and bear the brunt of our sin even though he could have rightly punished us instead?

It seems to me that if God sacrifices his right to get even and bears the brunt of our sin rather than punishing us, then we are talking universalism. Since you deny universalism, and say that His forgiveness must be accepted. This begs the question as to what your view is on how humans accept this forgiveness and what is the future of those that accept this forgiveness? You call accepting forgiveness as just the first step. What are the other steps? What happens to those that do not accept forgiveness? What else does man have to do to be reconciled to God? I am really curious about your views on these issues as I have been unable to find much explanation on your site. You have plenty about temporal concerns and sanctification, but I just wonder how you think a person becomes justified and adopted by God.

I have just completed a 6 part series Over at Bluecollar Blog on my view of salvation called Christianity 101. It was based on a post I saw on one of your atheist visitors’ site where he asked the question, “What is a true Christian?” I also answer the question, “what must a person do to be saved?”

I would like to understand your thinking better!

Mike Clawson said...

Those are good questions Wayne. As much as I would like to lay it all out for you I'm not sure I really can in your comments here. It's too complicated and involved, since I'd have to back up and start from the beginning with what I think the gospel and words like "justification" and "salvation" are about in the first place. Perhaps I can find some time to get into in a post on my own blog in the future.

However, if you're really interested I'd recommend checking out some NT Wright books, especially "The Challenge of Jesus" and "What Saint Paul Really Said". I think he does a great job of laying out a biblical view of what the atonement and justification and "adoption" into the family of God are all about. Those two books in particular are written on a pastoral level so you don't have to have an advanced theology degree to get into them (unlike some of his other books). If you do read them let me know what you think.

For shorter versions, you might also check out some of the articles at - especially the ones having to do with justification. I don't agree with Wright on every single point but I think he's basically right.

jazzycat said...

I am somewhat aware of N.T. Wright and his views that are referred to as the New perspectives on Paul. I have read a little about this and I think his view misses the mark. They are viewed as heretical by my denomination (PCA). The following article is by Dr. Ligon Duncan on Wright:

Dr. Duncan is a Seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS and Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson. This is not my home church although I visit there quite often. I will check out the link you gave me.