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Featured Lewis on Atonement theories

Discussion in 'Calvinism & Arminianism Debate' started by JonC, May 12, 2022.

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  1. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work. …

    Theories about Christ’s death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works. Christians would not all agree as to how important these theories are….But I think they will all agree that the thing itself is infinitely more important than any explanations that theologians have produced. …..You may ask what good it will be to us if we do not understand it. But that is easily answered. A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it. We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build up as to how Christ’s death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: mere plans or diagrams to be left alone if they do not help us, and, even if they do help us, not to be confused with the thing itself. (C's Lewis, Mere Christianity)
     
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  2. AustinC

    AustinC Well-Known Member

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    I hope you realize that while Lewis was a solid apologist, he was a terrible theologian.

    If this is your source for theology it now makes sense as to why you are so poor in grasping theology.
     
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  3. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    It isn't.

    I just recalled how you thought I was the only person who believed the "classic view". So I looked up early church writings (which proved you wrong on that account). And in the search I saw this quote. He is correct.

    Unlike the books you provided, the books that taught you your faith (Owen, Spurgeon, Gill, etc. the ones you quoted and then said you never quoted ) I take Scripture literally.

    And even here you miss Lewis' point.
     
  4. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    The thing is, @AustinC , that you cannot defend your faith. That is why you shy away from actually discussing Scripture. That is why you refrain from discussing our differences.

    It is easier for you to pretend that I am the only Christian who held the "classic view" of Atonement. It is comforting to you to believe that the reason I left Calvinism was some book you imagine I studied rather than the real reason (that I examined the faith you and I shared against Scripture and found it did not pass the test).

    The reason is you hold a borrowed faith, one you learned about but cannot defend.

    The only way for you to even attempt to prove me wrong is to discuss Scripture (what is actually written in the text of God's Word) because that is what we have in common. But you can't go there.
     
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  5. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Theories about Christ’s death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works.

    I think how one views this is telling of their faith.

    Do we place our faith in Christ or our understanding?
     
  6. DaveXR650

    DaveXR650 Active Member

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    Jon, you are correct in this statement. The question is did Christ's death actually DO anything. This is important because many of the newer atonement theories where Christ's death is an example to us or a means for God to judicially forgive and at the same time show us that he is still just - leave the door open for eliminating the atonement as a necessary central part of Christianity. The proponents of these theories have as a goal the idea of emphasizing the moral teachings of Christianity at the expense of Christianity as redemptive in a literal sense. They use "redemptive" but they mean a fresh start, mental renewal, and psychological renewal. Jordan Peterson can do as much.

    I disagree with you in your critique of PSA because you come so far in agreeing to all the tenets of it that I am unable to see any difference, frankly. Because of this I don't consider you a heretic but I can see how others would because you do not explain yourself clearly. You remind me of Richard Baxter in that respect in that he espouses a different theory and then if you read his writings you see clearly that he believed Jesus died as a substitutionary sacrifice for sins. I think that the idea of Christ as a sacrifice was completely at the forefront and understood in the minds of the early Christians and it is clearly taught in the scripture. I also think that the people pre reformation had a very clear view of the general idea of sacrifice and it's role in approaching a deity. I think there are plenty of verses that explain this to most people's satisfaction, but you quote the same verses and then reject them as showing PSA.

    This whole discussion of the atonement with you and a couple of others on here reminds me of the arguments over the TULIP. Some Calvinist internet warriors were well versed in defending the TULIP and easily confounded non Calvinists who were unprepared to deal with their arguments. This I have noticed is becoming more difficult as non-Calvinists begin looking at other areas and presenting better arguments. It's same thing is going on here. Personally I don't have time and am not that interested but I would suggest that those who do and are interested enough would look up B.B. Warfield and his discussions of the atonement and his evaluation of the critiques of the PSA.
     
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  7. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    #7 37818, May 13, 2022
    Last edited: May 13, 2022
  8. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I agree with a lot of what you say. But the question about the atonement doing anything is a bit more complex.

    You mention Abelard's theory (11th century - moral example theory). This was in contrast to Anselm's satisfaction theory (11th century).

    You are right that this is similar to Cal vs Arm. Both are incorrect (both are debating theories and neither can "win").

    My position is that the Cross was Christ purchasing us. The Cross was God reconciling mankind to Himself. The Cross is the crux of Christ being made like us in all things, it was Christ being made sin for us.

    Your question of me, I think, would be - but what did the Cross do? That is a fair question.

    The Cross reconciled man to God. It is on this basis that Christians urge men to be reconciled to God. Mankind was reconciled to God through Christ's death, and men are saved through His life.

    Where we would disagree is that I believe the atonement for mankind was completed on the Cross, but individual atonement necessitates the person dying with Christ, dying to the flesh, and being made alive in Christ.


    BTW -. I do not expect to change your beliefs. That is not the purpose of discussion. But I greatly appreciate your comments and willingness to discuss our beliefs and differences in a Christ like manner. That is a refreshing change from what I typically encounter with others.
     
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  9. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Then it would not be by grace. [Romans 11:6, Ephesians 2:8-9.]
     
  10. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    No, it is still grace.

    Romans 6:6
    knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
    .

    Galatians 2 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

    Colossians 2:20
    If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,

    2 Timothy 2:11
    It is a trustworthy statement:
    For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
     
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  11. AustinC

    AustinC Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, Jon, your research is unconvincing as you hold an irregular view of atonement, not held by the early church fathers, but certainly held by some author you recently read.
     
  12. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Only if said works are after being saved, not as a prerequisite to be saved or to keep salvation.
     
  13. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    This demonstrates your lack of education (not formal education but your willingness to research before you speak).

    I do not know of any books by recent authors who hold the classic view. This is primarily because most of my more contemporary readings have been Reformed writers (from Owen and Edwards to Piper and Keller).

    The only references I can provide of those holding my view are the Early Church sources and Anabaptist sources prior to the 29th century.

    That does not mean there are no contemporary sources (the view remains the position of Anabaptist theology, Orthodox theology, and is prominent among Anglicans, and many Baptist churches). I just have not taken the time to read books from those sources.

    So if you can produce recent books that you believe I read about this view only I hold (an illogical claim of yours in itself) then provide the sources.

    Ignoring your contradictory claims, I would be interested in reading contemporary expressions of the classic view. So if you were not just blowing smoke, I'd appreciate some references.

    I arrived at the conclusion PSA was a unbilical simply by comparing the theory with Scripture. My presupposition is that foundational doctrines are contained in the text of Scripture.

    Getting to the classic view was not a matter of reading books. I have a BA in religion and a MA in theology, so of course I was aware of Church history and the differences between the classic and Latin views of Atonement.

    The task (for me) was understanding Scripture for what is written without adding to it our traditions. I compared what I concluded with the early church writings and found no discrepancies.

    So I am interested in contemporary books that you have read from classic view supporters. I may not read them immediately but will put them on my list.
     
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  14. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Dying is not a work. A work (biblically.....not a force through distance) is works of the Law).
     
  15. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Then it is not to be one's choice.
     
  16. JesusFan

    JesusFan Well-Known Member

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    ALL those you listed here would take the biblical atonement as "literal"
     
  17. JesusFan

    JesusFan Well-Known Member

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    That viewpoint is NOT the primary one held by reformed or majority of baptists!
     
  18. JesusFan

    JesusFan Well-Known Member

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    How can you state Psa is not biblical and wrong, since these are all "theories"!
     
  19. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Everybody takes it as literal. I am saying that I believe Scripture teaches what is literally written about the doctrine. PSA does not.

    Where I believe Christ died for us, you believe Christ died instead of us. Scripture says Christ died for us. You believe that teaches Christ died instead of us.
     
  20. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    One may choose to accept or not to accept a gift. The offer of a gift to a recipient is not a work that a recipient has any power to cause.
     
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