Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Who's Afraid of PSA?

Sorry, but it does rather look like it here and here.

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  1. Regardless of ones views on Penal Substitution, some of those aren't actually Atonement at all.

    Jesus sets an example... yes, but he doesn't atone in it. He is incarnate, yes, and therefore redeems human flesh, "He becomes as we are so we become as he is" (Irenaeus? was it?). They are parrallel to it. Yes, he feels our pain and is with us, that's nice to know... but it doesn't atone.

    Darren Moore

  2. The whole "naughty step" thing is also misleading. The purpose of parental discipline is educative and restorative. But the wrath Jesus took on the cross was destructive and retributive.

    Stephen Walton

  3. Hence my question about when we are allowed off the naughty step - which leads into 'why?'.

    If we are allowed off 'after we've been on it long enough in relation to what we did wrong', then we atone for our own wrongs.

    If we are allowed off it earlier then either there is another means of atonement or (except to teach us not to be bad) there is no need for atonement.

  4. Yes, he's talking about different things.
    Like talking about football and saying, "there are different theories of handball. Like when one is offside, or kicks the ball out of play. They aren't really all compatible, but you'll find them in the rule book and have meant different things to me in the past.

  5. Andrew White (Sydney)5 September 2013 at 03:06

    I think likening the cross to the "naughty step" misses the core issues. A "naughty step" is about discipline - it removes the child from the situation, explains that they have done wrong, and sets expected standards of behaviour.

    But there's no "currency" taking place from the child to the parent. The child learns "currency" from himself to himself (if I do not exercise self control, I will be denied privileges), but he does not "pay" anything to his parents. In fact, he cannot, for he has nothing to pay with, and the parent gains no restitution from the punishment the child is undergoing.

    There is plenty of "naughty step" in the Scriptures, but the cross isn't it. A "naughty step" implies that what the child needs is correction and training. Between us and God, a better analogy is somewhere between the terrorist and finding faeces lying atop your fruit bowl. At the fundamental level, our rebellion against God isn't something that needs gentle correction, but purifying destruction. We can't pay, we can't "learn to do better", we are implacably hostile towards God. This is war. And this is what the cross deals with. The Father and the Son take the terrible vileness of human rebellion unto themselves, and pay the price, and in so doing remove that price from us. This is heart transplant + full blood and bone marrow transfusion, not being more disciplined about your fitness regime.

    If we see ourselves as children in need of a bit of correction, not a corrupt and festering blight on creation in need of purging, then we will never understand the transforming mercy of the cross.

  6. If Jesus' death on the cross is seen in terms of punishment in which he somehow takes that which all humanity deserve, how does this square with the idea of his death as sacrifice when, as I understand it, in the ancient sacrificial system a wrongdoer needed to take his punishment and make amends before he would be in a fit condition to offer sacrifice? (Cf Matt 5:24)

    1. Rob,
      that question may need narrowing down.
      Do you mean, Jesus had to offer a sacrifice for himself before offering a sacrifice? If so, the NT refers to his perfection, blamelessness. That's what Hebrews is about (in part).

      If how does he take our sin. The OT starts getting us used to the idea of representation. It's why he had to take on human flesh. Hence Romans 8:3 compared to 8:29, he became in the likeness of us, so we can become the likeness of him.

      He who knew no sin... became sin...

    2. Darren,
      No, my point was that sacrifice and punishment are two separate things. The wrongdoer must take his punishment and only then come to offer sacrifice. To use a modern metaphor - sacrifice is a bit like having "spent" offences removed from one's record. Sacrifice follows on from wrongdoing and punishment but is not itself part of the punishment. And on that understanding of the metaphor Jesus' death as atoning sacrifice could not be a penal substitution.

    3. So where does the punishment/guilt issue get resolved?

      Col 3:13-15, sounds a lot like the offence being lifted doesn't it? (& deals with Satan, but not by tricking him, but removing accusation).

      Doesn't the OT language used in the NT for Jesus death blend lots of different things together? E.g. Worship, hence Heb 13:15 - we worship THROUGH Jesus. So, Jesus is the passover lamb (sounds a bit substituionary), scape goat, fragrant offering, etc. etc?


    4. Lots of different things, yes. So it is never possible to take just one idea and make it the definitive statement of early Christian thought - the passover lamb isn't the great atonement sacrifice; the scapegoat, being made to bear the sins of the people is thereby not fit to sacrifice and must be driven out of the city. The point is that none of the contributory motifs fit the whole picture.

    5. I think where the thread started was a distinctive/key element being DENIED.

      Also, it seems that often other things that the cross does, is a result of the substitutionary element. For e.g. in 1 Peter, the cross as an example, has it's roots in substitution. Cross as victory over Satan in Colossians and Ephesians similarly.

      The Passover lamb is still, clearly, sacrificial, the scape goate, takes the sins away.

      Interestingly, as far as I've seen, the only people who say (usually) that "there are lots of different images", are those denying one (usually PSA). In fact, as far as I've heard, all those defending PSA believe in the other "models", or better, interlocking pieces.

  7. I don't think I properly read the 2nd of those links before. Yeah, very strange. I've just posted something that I doubt will appear... so I'll put it here;

    I try to stick to the policy, whilst commenting on it.

    Most of it pretty understandable/standard. But,
    1.using Scripture as a weapon/quoting isolated verses. To a point I agree, but surely as well as the whole has to be understood as part of the whole, the whole is made us by parts. People misuse the Bible by taking a verse out of context, but they can easily be shown up. Otherwise we can't use the Bible at all, other than saying - read all of it - there's something that relates to what I'm saying.

    2. How does the disclaimer square with not being able to comment on PSA? Is that a given (i.e. that it's nonsense)? Are other opinions banned? Like Roman Catholic views. Even if (highly unlikely) it's a minority view, are other historically minority views banned (charismatics, baptists) and non-Christians and all liberals - as there views are pretty minority.

    3. Likening gay people to murderers. Unpleasant I agree. Although if (if I may quote a verse - but not to prove a point), this a reference to the 2nd 1/2 of Romans 1, the list includes people who disobey parents and the greedy. Presumably they're still fair game?

    Just not sure this quite stacks. It's why people ask, "What are you afraid of?" when it comes to PSA?

  8. The problem with Kelvin and his blog appears to be that, if anyone comes anywhere near a definitive answer to the questions he poses, there comes a ridicule of some sort. Lots of questions, no answers. All very trendy, in a sixties-sort-of way. However, if the church is going to carry on pretending it has no answers to life and has more doubt than certainty, will anyone take any notice of us?

  9. Dominic Stockford5 September 2013 at 13:44

    Is not the naughty step where WE have to go for communion (at least in the Anglican tradition, if your building allows for it, etcetera)?

    1. Dominic, would it be if the naughty step is where WE go, then that's purgatory, isn't it?
      (that is - I know YOU don't think that... but where it goes)

  10. 'Wherever two or three are gathered in my name' (cf. Matt 18:20) there's sure to be a falling out sooner or later... about this or that gobbet of doctrine, dogma or Scripture. And of course each combatant is right...

    Honestly, Christians hold themselves up as paragons of moral authority and unity, and yet have spent the last two millennia bickering and backbiting - the arguments becoming more and more heated the small the stakes.

    Honestly, wash some feet, turn the other cheek, love one another, forgive... If our learned fellow parishioners worked on this commandments of Jesus instead of trying to point score and intellectually masturbate (which is often little more than trying to argue which 'tribe' one belongs to...) there just might be a bit more Christian growth instead of its continued subdivision and schism and increasing reliance on blame politics and a waxing in reactionary

    Grow up!


    1. The last word of the penultimate sentence should read 'conservatism' - for some reason it didn't post

    2. PD,
      On 1 level of course, you're right. But it would be bizarre, although the Bible warns that, sadly this will be the case. And of course, you're not actually suggesting that Christians are worse at this... that would be silly. IT does show that we're human.

      And of course, we do turn the cheek, wash feet and forgive, whilst being mistreated (in some parts of the world) & disagreeing. Disagreeing does exclude service, forgiving etc.

  11. PD, it's a blog. It ain't the parish, nor is it parish ministry. There's more going on than what gets aired here.

    1. That's obviously true John,
      & although I wouldn't want to be overly defencive, isn't it interesting, that from time to time, more "conservative" blogs, like this, will get someone saying, "grow up, stop being nasty about those with whom you disagree", but you don't get that so much (at all?) on blogs that describe "conservative" types in quite nasty terms and not only disagree with those views, but call them evil.

      Just saying.

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  13. Andrew White's final para "if we see ourselves...." ( for some reason I couldnt paste it, see above) highlights an interesting point...atonement doctrine will be related to one's theological anthropology...a reason perhaps why PSA doesnt figure much( as far as I can see,in Eastern Orthodox theology.

    Perry Butler ( Canterbury)

  14. I'm not on a "naughty step" that is what they are afraid of. Kevin, now the pharisees then.

    Nothing I can do will satisfy God. but I am saved whatever I do or don't do, say or don't say, feet I wash or not wash, cheek I turn or not turn.

    Kevin would like a God who loves me as I am. The problem is that God hates the sin and condemns the sinner. (The God hates the sin but loves the sinner is not in the bible) God made me a .... so the reasoning goes, despite God writing that it is clearly evil, he must bless this in me.

    If you think you are on the naughty step, or think that you can define for yourself what a naughty step is or is not depending on your desires, means that you worship a different god.

    That is why they get so angry.

    And why they are so afraid of PSA.

    If I believe PSA then God can ask me to do anything. because I would owe him everything.


  15. The reasoning goes for many

    If I don't believe in God then I can live my life as I want

    Or for the liberal Christian

    If I believe in God of love then I can live my life as I want

    Basically I will do what God wants provided it does not interfere too much in my wants and needs (which must come first)

    PSA mangles this thinking because it ultimately demands a life change. The focus shifts from self to God. The naughty step models do not require this.

    That what gets them angry and why as CS Lewis said they will eventually chose hell over heaven.

    Regardless of whether they give themselves the label "Christians"..... or not.


  16. Phil,
    I think you are unfair on liberal Christians there. A liberal (who nowadays will be cross with the word, but you & I mean those who either have Evangelical with an adjective/caveat, or those who say, "don't label me man") would say this mis-represents them.

    In fact, I think the situation is FAR worse!

    Evangelicals/conservative/reformed types are labelled as Pharisees. To a point, we have to take that on the chin. It's interesting that the gospels spend so much time on them, those of us who take the text very seriously will be prone to this.

    BUT, you old cliché of point the finger, 3 point back rings true. Liberals are exptremely self-righteous pharisees... and of course much more clevererer too. This is how...

    No matter how liberal you are or how conservative you are, you have a concept of right and wrong. For the Evangelical, God's standards are IMPOSSIBLY high. We can't reach them. Comparison is pointless. When we say 'sinner', what we really mean is totally stuffed. We need saving, we need redeeming. AND, we need constant change.

    Liberals in that sense are not very different. Apart from, they've set the bar very low. So low, most people can get over it. Hence, "don't judge". We're all good enough for God... except Evangelicals - nasty pharisaical judgemental types. That's why liberals always end up being the MOST judgemental. Uh? how?

    Because, Evangelicals are clear - NOBODY is good enough... yet ANYONE can be saved, nobody is beyond grace, paedophiles, rapists, mass murderers. This is the offence of the gospel. Middle glass white sins (dishonest banking, disrespecting parents and modern sexual practices) are lumped in with them.

    BUT, liberals will have everyone crossing the line, but every now and then something repulses them, then the judgement comes out.

    So, the liberal message is be good (you're nearly there), but ulitmatly overs nothing. There is no redemption and no grace. God is love, but there is nothing remarkable about that love, as he loves the loveable, not the unloveable. God is just like us! Made in our image, but more consistent.

    So liberalism (in it's different forms with different names) keeps people away from God, by telling people that they are OK. A bit like the news article recently, where a Dr didn't tell a lady she had cancer, so as not to upset her, keeping her away from the treatment she needed.

    I thought of this thread, when I read this about how (in Evangelical churches), we teach our kids to be moralists, not to believe the gospel:

    1. Darren

      Another thought...

      The Pastor gets many years of training

      The Sunday school teacher gets.....?

      We have 7 kids and they were and are often shooed away to Sunday school. So we can hear the real message. So we can do the real worship.

      Do they see Mum and Dad on their knees in Church? Sometimes.

      When Jesus and the Apostles were preaching there were separate classes taking place away from the adults with age appropriate activities

      Ever been to a growing church in Africa? No Sunday school. The kids may not understand all of what is being said but be sure they want to someday!

      There are other big issues

      If mum takes the kids to Church and dad is not a believer 20% will become Christians. If dad is and mum is not the figure is around 60%

      If mum and dad are both Christians but it is mum who is the key motivator for Church or the spiritual leader in the house then the figure for kids accepting Christ is around 65%. If dad is the spiritual leader in the house and both parents are Christians then around 90% of children become Christians.

      Stats from Focus on the Family

      Comment on all of this? Families need to reflect Biblical ideals and the men especially need to act like men.

      Very difficult in today's Britain and even in the Church men are often undermined by women. What is worse from the kids perspective is that we men let them!

      If you want your kids to grow up as Christians act like a man not a wet blanket.


    2. Sure,
      but the point I was making is that the gospel isn't moralism. It does deal with moral failure, but to feel the benefit one has to admit there's a problem. The problem with many churches is that it acknowledges no problem, so needs no solution and becomes pointless. The stuff about kids was just illustrative. But that happens under our noses.

    3. @Phil Roberts,

      Do you have a link to where you found those Focus on the Family stats? They're very interesting and I'd like to look into it more.


  17. Going back to the original thought that kicked this thread off, "who is afraid"...

    If you click on the 2nd link, I put a comment on that was deemed aggressive. Of course, caveats, that things in print often read far grumpier than they're intended, take a look (it was about research done on Eastern and pre-Reformation Theologians). See if it was agressive, or "Thought Police" - like.

    1. If he finds you too aggressive Darren

      He needs to get out more.

      Or is it a case of...

      Careful now mustn't judge?

      Crap! Of course we should.


  18. Well, I did think, "imagine of John was this sensitive"... but then threads would be much shorter.

  19. a good piece on PSA in history. I'd post it on Kelvin's blog, as someone had specifically asked about this sort of stuff. But it won't get put on & I'll be accused of being thought police (saying something = thought police, editing out decent isn't - interesting)

  20. Here is a great vid from one of your own mob. He is certainly (and rightly) not afraid of PSA!

    Brilliant vid!

    1. Very good - though I'm not sure I like the term 'your own mob'.

  21. Sorry John,

    My 50% Australian DNA coming through, (having 50% Scottish DNA, I should know better). I should show more respect. When I said 'your own mob', I meant one of your own - C of E.
    I should show more respect, especially in the light that the UK has better everything,(except the weather),the Ashes, better pubs, better manners, etc. I watch Escape to the Country too - you have better houses. You even have a bread that rhymes with my sirname!
    What was I thinking. I hope my dear fellow brothers and sisters in the C of E will forgive me.

    p.s I see that the C of E has a new bishop of Durham, The Rt Revd Paul Butler.

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