The Monster God

Man, Sin, & Salvation
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Paidion
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The Monster God

Post by Paidion » Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:26 pm

The Monster God Debate is one of the best debates I have ever watched.
One of the debaters, Dr. Michael Brown defends very well, the penal substitution model of atonement.
The other, Pastor Brian Zahnd, defends just as well, a different view. Pastor Zahnd sees the penal substitution model as an expression of retributive justice on God's part, and his own view as an expression of God's restorative justice.

The debate is on you tube in 7 parts.
Part 1 is an introduction—about 9 minutes long.
Parts 2-7 comprise the debate proper, each video being about 15 minutes long.

Here is the link to Part 1:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdYMO2ZBboc
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

Avatar shows me at 75 years old. I am now 82.

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mattrose
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Re: The Monster God

Post by mattrose » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:54 pm

I also enjoyed this debate

I took some VERY rough notes for those who prefer text to video

Brian Zahnd:
The cross is the center of the Christian faith. The cross is not just something God does. The cross is who God is. We confess that Jesus died for our sins, but what we mean by that is a matter of theological debate. There are numerous theories: Christus Victor, Ransom, Recapitulation, Moral Influence, Non-violent Identification, Anti-Sacrificial, Satisfaction, and Penal Substitution.

The penal substitution theory claims that God required the killing of his son in order to satisfy his wrath, appease justice, and gain the necessary capital to forgive our sins. It was first developed by John Calvin. It appeared in a different form in Anselm in the 11th century. The early church taught nothing like this theory. They taught the Christus Victor theory. In America, however, it is rare to come across Evangelicals who don’t subscribe to this theory.

It’s abhorrent that turns the father against the son and into a pagan deity that demands child sacrifice. When we say that Christ died for our sins do we mean that God required the murder of his Son in order to forgive sin? No, that maligns the character of God. I will suggest it means we violently send our sins into Jesus. He absorbs them. In his dying breath he reveals the heart of his father (forgiveness). Jesus takes those sins with him to the grave, shakes them off, and comes back to bring us peace. The crucifixion was a catastrophe. The death of Christ was a sacrifice, but it was a sacrifice to end sacrifice, not to appease God.

Where do we find God on Good Friday? Is God in Ciaphas looking for a scapegoat to bring peace? Is God found in Pilate demanding an execution to protect the empire? Or is God found in Christ absorbing sin and offering forgiveness? In the cross God is not reconciling himself to the world, but the world to himself. God is not vindictive, monstrous, etc. Are we saying the cross is how Jesus saves us from God’s wrath? Or that the cross is what reveals to us God’s love?

The cross is as ugly as human sin and as beautiful as divine love. Jesus saves us from the emotionally damning picture of a monster God. If penal substitution were true, the prodigals father would have, before running out to meet his son, ran to the servants quarters to beat the hell out of an innocent servant. God did not require the crucifixion of Jesus. We did.

Penal substitution says that God can’t JUST forgive. But of course He can. He’s a God of grace. Penal substitution begs the question ‘who is in charge here?’ (God or some exterior system of justice). At the cross Jesus re-founds the world around an axis of love (Rather than of power).

REBUTTAL from Michael Brown
I find the depiction of penal substitution as a MONSTER God personally offensive and unhelpful for dialogue. Don’t downplay the fact that he was a sacrifice for us. The Old Testament statements against sacrifice were against their particular practice. Their statements were not anti-Torah. Where does it say in Scripture that we violently sinned our sins into Jesus? It says God put our sins on him. God is not ONLY in Christ, He is also ‘above’ the son. God can only freely forgive at any point b/c he has already set something else up (The cross) that pays for the sin side of things. God is not just love, but holy. “MONSTER” God is a demonization of a Gospel doctrine, but it is also the rejection of other characteristics of our God (wrath, holiness). Wrath is not just love wrongly received.
Michael Brown

That Jesus died as a substitute for our sins is one of the central truths of the Bible. This is basic Gospel. Isaiah 53:10, John 1:29, 1 Cor. 5:7. 1 Peter 1:19. This is biblical language, not pagan. This is the day of atonement. There had to be blood. Life for life.

The cross is a demonstration of the horror of sin. It is what we deserve. Jesus takes it on himself. It’s the father saying ‘that’s how much I love you.’ It demonstrates God’s righteousness. Sin must be punished. This is what God planned from the beginning. Without the price being paid, God is not RIGHTEOUS in forgiving us. He wasn’t paying off the devil, but there was a debt to be paid. There is a component of turning away wrath. Jesus was like a lightning rod to attact God’s wrath in order to spare us.

We often underestimate our sin and God’s righteousness. The cross shows the mind boggling love of God. The theme of God’s wrath is humbling and awesome. We can’t just dismiss the biblical doctrine of God’s wrath (or the Old Testament, for that matter). We must beware of manufacturing a god of our own, a god who is all mercy and no wrath. The Father and Son agreed to demonstrate both the justice and love of God through this sacrifice.

REBUTTAL Brian Zahnd
I agree with every text cited. I just interpret them differently. The Old Testament trajectory leads AWAY from sacrifice (from demanding it, to adding to it, to subtracting it, to denouncing it). There is a sense in which Jesus is the sacrifice, but is it as a payment? And who would be paid this payment? If you’re repaid, it’s not forgiveness. Calvin’s economic metaphor breaks down. It’s not SIN MUST BE PUNISHED. It’s THE WORLD MUST BE RESTORED.

The idea that someone has to suffer for the world to be right is us projecting our sin onto God. Penal substitution fails to take sin seriously enough. It focuses on individual sin rather than dealing with systemic sin.

The idea that every 12 year old girl deserves to be punished like Jesus was is absurd and makes God a vindictive ugly deity. Punishment has nothing to do with justice.

I’d say that the wrath of God is the love of God wrongly received. When we run counter to God’s will, we suffer from the shards of self-inflicted suffering. We are more punished by our sins than for our sins. Jesus did not come to change God’s mind about us, but our minds about God.


Q&A

BZ to MB

Q Does it concern you that penal substitution theory was invented by Calvin only 500 years ago?
A No, b/c the roots are in both the Old Testament and New Testament. I’m not even Calvinist.

Q Is violence an attribute of God?
A God does not rape/murder. God does put to death in acts that would be considered violent. God’s violence is just.

Q Will you agree that penal substitution theory is only 1 of many and is not the Gospel?
A I will agree it is 1 of many theories and that there are elements of truth in other theories. But the Gospel is that Jesus died for our sins as a substitute. Substitutionary atonement theory is the core of the Gospel.

MB to BZ

Q Do you have a problem with the God of the Old Testament?
A No problem with OT. Not Marcionite. But I believe in progressive revelation. What the Scriptures do infallibly is point us to Jesus. I wish when we said the word of God, the first thing we would think is Jesus. Jesus FULFILLS the intention of the Old Testament law (to produce a worshiping society).

Q The New Testament speaks of coming judgment? What happens to those who reject Jesus?
A Not going the way of Jesus’ leads to hell, but it’s not inflicted by God.

Q What texts do you use to say that we put our sins on Jesus (rather than God)?
A I use the passion narratives and Acts. It’s the story itself that humans killed Jesus. We killed him.


AUDIENCE QUESTIONS

Q4MB Can God be both a God of love and wrath?
A Absolutely. God didn’t change from OT to NT. God’s just/wrath is beautiful

Q4BZ Does your view obliterate the wrath of God?
A No one REALLY (relatively speaking) saw God until Jesus came (According to 4th Gospel). Jesus is what God has to say. To read the OT with the lens of Christ is not marcionism, it’s Christianity.

Q4BZ Does your view of the atonement mean that God doesn’t judge sin
A Of course God judges sin. The systemic sin is judged by the cross. Sin & Satan are judged. But it’s a primitive concept of judgment that violence equates to justice.

Q4BZ Are there consequences to sin?
A There’s always consequences. Sin is always punished. What God does is offer us a way out of that world into a new society?

Q4MB Does Hebrews say that the blood of Jesus appeases God?
A It cleanses us and pays for sin.

Q4MB If Jesus is coming in wrath, why are we to love our enemies.
A Wrath is God’s business. We are to leave room for God’s wrath.

Q4BZ What does it means that Jesus ‘takes’ the sin of the world?
A As humans we scapegoat. God exposes this scapegoat tendency in the cross. The lamb was slain from the foundation of the world (in other words, as a re-founding of the world… not in the sense of Genesis 1, before time).

CLOSING STATEMENTS


Michael Brown
God so loved the world that He GAVE his one and only son. Nowhere does the Bible say that all of us violently sinned our sins into Jesus. The language is not all that confusing. Jesus was a sacrifice. Theories of scapegoat make it sound like Israel created the system, but this was the word of God. Jesus fulfilled the law in the sense of taking it to its full meaning, not rejecting its sacrificial context. A BIGGER issue has to do with the contemporary American Gospel. It starts with ME. The true Gospel is really about HIM. There is wrath to come. It is wrong to put terms like vindictiveness and malevolence onto God. He is the one with the right and responsibility to deal with evil. When he does so, we will rightfully worship him.

Brian Zahnd
God so loved the world that he sent his son. He sent his saw to recapitulate, to re-establish the world in Christ (instead of in Adam). Retributive justice just recycles sin. Penal substitution has damaged our evangelistic efforts. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The Gospel is not an atonement theory. The Apostles didn’t go around teaching atonement theories. The Gospel is the story of Jesus, the arrival of a New King. It’s a powerful political statement. The way that we have run the world has been shamed. Jesus will return to judge. We’ve been called to live under His Lordship until then.

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Paidion
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Re: The Monster God

Post by Paidion » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:18 pm

Thank you so much, Matt, for this excellent condensation of the debate!
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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TheEditor
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Re: The Monster God

Post by TheEditor » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:56 pm

I enjoyed this breakdown as well. I will probably watch it as time allows, as I am a very auditory person and get more out of hearing.

I once described my theory on the Ransom to a friend of mine as follows: The Ransom is God's Master Stroke. No matter who you are or what kind of person you are, there is a compelling attraction to this act of God. Any of the views of the Ransom can fit into our own tendancies or biases; you can fill in the blanks. Jesus was lifted up, and, as he said he would "draws men of all sorts" to himself.

The one downside I read in Matt's notes was the response of Brown to this question:

Q Will you agree that penal substitution theory is only 1 of many and is not the Gospel?
A I will agree it is 1 of many theories and that there are elements of truth in other theories. But the Gospel is that Jesus died for our sins as a substitute. Substitutionary atonement theory is the core of the Gospel.

He had a chance here to be generous with his views, but unfortunately made this view of Atonement as the core of the Gospel, which really means de facto that it is the Gospel. From that are we to assume he would reject as a Christian any that did not embrace Substitutionary Atonement?

Regards, Brenden.
[color=#0000FF][b]"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[/b][/color]

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Paidion
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Re: The Monster God

Post by Paidion » Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:48 pm

Hi Brenden, you wrote:Jesus was lifted up, and, as he said he would "draws men of all sorts" to himself.
Actually, He said, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all toward myself."

παντας εκλυσω---- προς εμαυτον
All------I will draw toward myself

Rendering "all" as "all sorts" is an interpretation, not a translation.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

Avatar shows me at 75 years old. I am now 82.

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TheEditor
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Re: The Monster God

Post by TheEditor » Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:57 pm

Hi Paidion,

I stand corrected. Though the term "all" can denote "all kinds", still your point is taken. However, the basic point that Jesus "draws"; if he indeed "draws all" this would include "all sorts", therefore, at least to my mind, it needs to be somewhat elastic in order to break through various ways of thinking. A poet is not likely to be "drawn" by the same thing an engineer is. ;)

Regards, Brenden.
[color=#0000FF][b]"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[/b][/color]

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