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Featured Penal Substitution & the ECFs

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Martin Marprelate, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    [edited] I am obliged to open yet another thread in order to defend myself and, more importantly, the word of God and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution.
    This is what I wrote initially:
    Now the word 'Trinity' was first used by Tertullian around 200AD, and the doctrine not 'officially' promulgated until 100 years or so later. But that does not mean that earlier writers did not believe in one God in Three Persons and were all Unitarians. Doubtless, if Tertullian had live 100 years later and offered the word to Ignatius of Antioch, he would have accepted it.

    The words 'Penal Substitution' are of quite recent vintage, but they express something that was understood and accepted by many of the ECFs as shown by their writings. I went on to write
    The definition that I am using is very recent; it comes from a book written in 2007. But had it been offered to Justin Martyr and many other ECFs, I have no doubt that they would have accepted it because it represents in large measure what they wrote, as I have shown previously but am more than happy to post again.
    [Edited Just because they didn't give it a name and write long books about it doesn't mean they didn't understand and accept it. We know that they did because they wrote letters and articles that agree with it.
    [Edited] I have stated over and over again that the early Church was appraised of the Doctrine of Penal Substitution and wrote about it. It really isn't helpful to misrepresent other people's views on a discussion forum. If anyone wants clarification of my posts, then a P.M. to me will achieve it.

    People may be wondering why I continue to bother with this subject. [Edited] I view this issue as one of primary importance. If Christ has not taken your sins upon Himself and paid the penalty for them, satisfying the outraged justice of God-- the essence of Penal Substitution-- then you will pay that penalty yourself. Therefore I plough on, not to try and vindicate myself, but to vindicate the word of God and to warn others. Aslan is not a tame lion.
     
  2. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    @JonC:

    Can you provide a succinct definition of Christus Victor? As in, like, 60 words or less?
     
    #2 kyredneck, Nov 26, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  3. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    The ECF indeed knew of the Pst atonement view, how could they not, since many of them learned that from the Apostles of our Lord Himself firsthand, as in the case of John, or from those who walked with Paul and Peter??
     
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  4. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    On another thread we established that Irenaeus did in "fact" hold to the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement. How does Christ bearing God's wrath against us to pay our "sin debt" balance the virginal disobedience of Eve with the virginal obedience of Mary?

    I understand the concept under the theory formerly known as Recapitulation, but I am not sure how it operates now that it's been discovered Irenaeus held to Penal Substitution Theory.

    (Forgive the questioning. I'm a bit "old school" in that I have a difficult time with history shifts....I'm still trying to get over Pluto not being a planet).
     
  5. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Mary was a sinner like you and me, and she had children after Jesus, correct?
     
  6. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I don't hold Penal Substitution Theory, but I think the point was Mary balanced out Eve. This "reversal" is the basis of Irenaeus' "Penal Substitution Theory".

    It is your theory - not mine (it's up to you to explain). How is Christs work a reversal of the deception of Eve in Mary?
     
  7. 37818

    37818 Member

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    I understand Holy Scripture to explicitly to teach Christ bore the sins of sinners. Isaiah 53:6 is a case in point. That by our sin we earned our eternal death. Christ as both God and man received that death in our place, as in Romans 5:8. To deny this is untenable.
     
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  8. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    It is unthinkable that a Christian would deny Isaiah 53 (as a whole, to include growing up as a tender plant, not esteemed, etc all the way to making intercession for the transgressors). And it is unthinkable that a Christian would deny that while we were sinners Christ died for us, that we were justified through His blood, and have been saved from wrath through Him. It is also unthinkable for a Christian to deny this is the righteousness of God manifested apart from the law.

    But it is not unthinkable to understand that Christian's have not understood these passages to include God punishing Christ instead of us to satisfy divine justice by paying our "sin debt".

    This was/ is @Martin Marprelate 's error. While all theories affirm the passages, that Christ bore our sins, that God laid our iniquities on Hom, His flesh for our flesh, etc. they have not understood these things in the context of Penal Substitution.

    It is dishonest to lift statements from people, ignore their explanations and interpretations, and impose upon then your own. It is simply wrong.

    With Irenaeus, he does speak of Christ bearing our sins. He affirms all of those passages. BUT he interpreted them as Recapitulation, not in terms of Penal Substitution Theory. Same is true of Justin Martyr as he focuses on Christ overcoming these principles on behalf of the "human family".
     
  9. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Think of it this way - IF the ECF's statements affirm Penal Substitution Theory (regardless of how they interpreted those statements) THEN all Christian theories affirm Penal Substitution Theory.

    What does this mean? Roman Catholic Theology affirms Penal Substitution hust as much as Reformed Baprists affirm Penal Substitution. What differences that may exist do so apart from Penal Substitution Theory.

    Ransom Theory, Recipitulation, Christus Victor, Moral Influence.....these are all Penal Substitution Theory because, while drawing different conclusions, they all affirm Christ as bearing our sins in His flesh and dying for us. They all affirm that it is by His stripes we are healed. They all affirm it is through Christ we are delivered from wrath.

    In other word, if all of these people held to Penal Substitution Theory then the Theory is meaningless and the conclusion that God satisfied divine justice by punishing Christ to pay our "sin debt" is an afterthought not worth discussing as it is irrelevant to Christian doctrine.
     
  10. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Your error, if I may say so, is to suppose that these things are mutually exclusive. They are not.
    Here is a quote from Michael Horton's Systematic Theology, The Christian Faith. It is not dissimilar to the earlier quote I gave from Henri Blocher, but adds a little more:

    'Finally, in Colossians 2-- a primary text for the
    Christus Victor model-- Christ's death certainly "disarmed the rulers and authorities.... [putting] them to open shame.......triumphing over them in it" (v.15). However, this victory itself is based on His having made judicial satisfaction, as becomes apparent when we read verses 13-15 together. Within a span of a mere three verses, we may recognize clear signs of (1) Recapitulation, (2) Legal Substitution and (3) Christus Victor.

    (1) 'And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him.'
    (2) 'Having forgiven us all our trespasses by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.'
    (3) 'He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in it.'
    [end of quote]

    I give these extracts just to show that I am not unsupported. Christus Victor and Recapitulation have a contribution to make in a full understanding of the Atonement, but not without Penal Substitution. I believe that Irenaeus understood this, despite his confusion in other areas.
    I hope the above will help you to resolve your confusion, but as @TCassidy is wont to say, I can explain it to you but I can't understand it for you.
     
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  11. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    The issue is that the ECF's NEVER drew the same conclusions as Penal Substitution Theory draws. They did not interpret the Atonement in THE SAME WAY that Penal Substitution Theory interprets the Atonement.

    They affirm the same passages but interpret them differently. This means they are different theories.

    This is basic stuff, brother. We all see the same things in nature (we see how an ape hasopposable thumbs, how sea mammals resemble some land mammals) that does not mean we all affirm the Theory of Evolution.

    Do you believe that the ECF’s held Penal Substitution OR is it your opinion that they would have endorsed that had it been presented to them?

    Correct me if I mistake what you recently posted - you insisted earlier that Aquinas held to Penal Substitution Theory. But you also insisted that Catholics and liberals reject Penal Substitution Theory. Is this correct?
     
  12. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    I can answer that: Part of my formal education involved Jesuit teachings and they definitely reject the dogma of PS that the Father poured out His wrath for sin on His Son.

    Not all Church Father teachings are accepted in toto but only those elevated ex cathedra or included in magisterium are binding.

    Now that which I was taught was before the final pronouncements of Vatican II but I doubt it changed their position on PS.

    As for paying the "sin debt"

    Douay-Rheims (RCC translation from the Vulgate)
    Acts 20:28 Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.
     
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  13. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Do you believe, then, that there exists a distinction between affirming that Christ bore our sins, died for us (Christ for us) and affirming Penal Substitution Theory? Or does accepting the canon of Scripture (to include Isaiah 53) an affirmation of the Theory?

    The reason I ask is that Irenaeus obviously accepts the truth that Christ bore our sins -but he 8nterprets "his flesh for our flesh" through Recipitulation rather than a payment of "sin debt" to satisfy divine justice.

    Does his conclusions matter if his explanation contains some of the same elements as Penal Substitution Theory?
     
  14. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    IF Penal Substitution Theory is based on Scripture (and I believe it is) then should we not find such elements in all theories and interpretations that are also based on the same Scriptures?

    It seems that the ONLY way these elements could possibly be taken as a confirmation of of the Theory present in the ECF's writings, since they ultimately came to other conclusions, is if Penal Substitution had no biblical basis at all.
     
  15. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Sir Isaac Newton once said of his scientific discoveries, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." The ECFs might (perhaps!) be considered giants in their day, but they did not see all truth and they often drew wrong conclusions. But the ones I have mentioned certainly did see that penal substitution was an vital part of the understanding of the Gospel. We know that from what they wrote. I would not go to the ECFs, frankly, for anything much and certainly not for a fully-formed understanding of the atonement. Yet P.S. stands out in some of their writings like diamonds in the dust and what they have written, they have written.
    Columbus discovered America,but when he got there he thought it was India; but that does not take away his discovery. I do not believe that the ECFs had a fully-formed understanding of the Doctrine of Penal Substitution, but they knew that Christ died as a substitute and that He paid the penalty for our sins.
    Thank you for asking. I never asserted that Aquinas held to Penal Substitution. What seems like a lifetime ago on the Anselm, Abelard & Friends thread, I quoted a portion of Aquinas and wrote:
    I lifted that particular quote from Pierced for our Transgressions, but when you challenged me to find another I went on line and did so within a few minutes. Now what Aquinas wrote, he wrote. What he made of it and what he meant by it is open to debate, but his words stand. I doubt the quotations I gave are taught in too many R.C. seminaries, but they are there in his works

    In his debates with Cajetan and Eck, Martin Luther was able to provide quotes from Chrysostom and others supporting Justification by faith. Also Augustine spoke against Transubstantiation, but I don't think either of these have found their way into R.C. dogma.
     
  16. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I’m going to try to explain this to you another way. Hopefully it “takes”.

    Suppose the data is ABC

    Suppose the theories are ABCD, ABCE, ABCF, and ABCG

    It would be asinine to look back and claim all hold to G because all confirm ABC.

    The difference is not A, B, or C. The difference is G. That is what has to be shown.

    Do you understand the concept?
     
  17. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    As I had previously said I believe PS is more than a theory but fact from scripture namely Isaiah 53.

    Also by observing from scripture that crucifixion in and of itself speaks loudly of punishment for sin noting that the OC sacrifices (shadows of things to come) were simply bled out for atonement of sin - though the blood of bulls and goats could never take-away (Grk. aphaireo) sin - with no beating or flogging.

    The final revelation of God that through His Son Jesus Christ being God Himself come in the flesh He was both payor and punishee of and for sin.

    His blood - the Holy price of our purchase from sin's slavery and our transformation/conversion back to God..
    His whipping, beating and nailing to the tree as our able receiver of God's wrath for sin in our place.

    Yes it is difficult to receive because it strips us of any prideful hope that there is any goodness in me to commend me to God apart from my Substitute's atonement who both paid for and was punished for my sin.
     
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  18. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    Jon - again human reason/logic with no scripture so conclusions are at risk unless they can be supported (at some level) by scripture.
     
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  19. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    That is my point, brother.

    Most who hold to the Theory of Penal Substitution (regardless of whether they recognize it as a theory or doctrine) work through Scripture using human reasoning. When this reasoning is different, often the conclusions are different.

    That said, believe the illustration apt. Here is another:

    All believe that:

    1. Christ bore our sins.
    2. God was pleased to crush Him.
    3. The wages of sin is death.
    4. The gift of God is eternal life.
    5. Christ is the Propitiation for our sins.
    6. The Father laid our iniquities on Christ.
    7. Through Christ we escape wrath.

    It is dishonest, however, to take what is common Christian belief and declare Penal Substitution Theory common Christian belief because Penal Substitution Theory is more than Scripture.

    What one would have to prove is that the ECF's believed that God had to satisfy the demands of divine justice by punishing the sins of men so that men could be forgiven, so God punished Jesus in our place with the wrath set aside for our sins in order to pay our "sin debt".

    While the ECF's (and all Christians) affirm 1-7, none applied the human reason of retributive justice to the equation. That is why none stated the "doctrine" of Penal Substitution (none identified what makes 1-7 Penal Substitution Theory). Instead we have the Ransom Theory, Christus Victor, Recipitulation, Satisfaction, Moral Influence, and so on.

    It was not until the Reformation that 1-7 produced what is called the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement.

    It is human reasoning and not Scripture that makes the difference.
     
  20. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Try this:

    Suppose the Scripture all believe is S1, S2, and S3.

    Suppose the human reasoning are R1, R2, and R3.

    Suppose the theories are T1, T2, and T3.

    T1=S1+S2+S3+R1

    T2=S1+S2+S3+R2

    T3=S1+S2+S3+R3


    Why are these not equal? Is it because of the S value (scripture) or is it because of the R value (human reasoning)?

    Would it not be dishonest to claim all are equal because they hold the same S values?

    Consider that the authors of those theories went into great detail explaining the role of R (explaining their reasoning). Wouldn't dismissing R be a pretty stupid thing to do?


    OR….

    Suppose a monkey, an elephant, and a kangaroo walk into a bar….. :Biggrin
     
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