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Featured Punishment in the Atonement

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC, Feb 19, 2017.

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  1. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    There has been a connection suggested that Penal Substitution Theory is proven through Levitical sacrifice as the burnt-offering itself necessitates the symbolism of God punishing the object of the sacrifice with the punishment reserved for the worshippers. I suggest this conclusion is eisegesis, that the practice of burnt-offerings (and specifically in terms of propitiation) has never been interpreted by its practitioners as implying the punishment due the worshipper symbolically being inflicted on the sacrifice itself. For arguments sake, I am contending here that the idea is a modern concept foreign to the ANE world in which God called Abram and the Hebrew religion.

    Scripture itself offers several examples of burnt-offerings that could not be defined as propitiation as they do not have wrath in mind. All animal sacrifice where an animal is slaughtered, in the Hebrew religion, result in at least a part of the sacrifice being consumed by fire. The use of fire apart from an appeasement of divine wrath demonstrates a function that does not have punishment in view.

    The process of atonement in ANE culture served to make things or people acceptable or pleasing to a deity and averting the course of evil loosed by some action or force. Actions of propitiation turn aside wrath.

    Here are a few examples:

    1. In the ancient Akitu Festival (dating back the time of Abraham) animal ritualistic sacrifices were offered to the god Marduk. The ritual lasted 12 days and consisted of purification of the temple, sacrifice, propitiation, penance and absolution (this is the festival with the “humbling” of the king…something I wish we could do today with D.C.). Wrath awaiting the king is averted and the king is forgiven. The evil of the king is viewed as resting on the sacrifice. The god is appeased, BUT the wrath that would have resulted because of that evil is not presented as being inflicted on the sacrificed animal.

    There is also a sacrifice which removes evil from the people and places it on the sacrificed animal. The animal is not offered, here, as a burnt-offering but is instead discarded outside of the city. The evil, however, is not viewed as sins but rather demons or evil spirits. Regardless, what is laid upon the sacrifice is the evil endangering man, not punishment inflicted by deity.

    2. The kispum ritual (essentially a family cult ceremony to dead ancestors) was practiced twice a month during the full and new moon, and animal sacrifices were rendered to the gods. The purpose here was not appeasement of wrath but honor and worship. The mode of the sacrifice did not imply the gods acting on the object sacrificed at all.

    3. The pagrā’um-ceremony, connected with the god Dagan, offered dead animals in honor of the dead. Again, no punishment is placed on the object sacrificed.

    4. The Ugaritic texts found at Ras Shamra describe ritual sacrifice. The people presented a donkey as an offering for purification and atonement for the purpose of appeasing the wrath of the gods, to turn aside their anger. But again, the idea that the gods punished the object sacrificed with the punishment due the worshippers is foreign to the cult.

    I am not suggesting that the Levitical system of atonement is based on pagan ritual. But I am suggesting that the practice of ritualistic sacrifice, specifically burnt-offerings, existed prior to the Mosaic Law. This is evident through Scripture (the offering of Noah, the near-sacrifice of Isaac) as well as the ANE rituals just presented. Therefore, when introduced within the Levitical system, the idea of burnt-offerings was not a foreign concept to the Israelites. Just as common was the idea of atonement. What was foreign to these people was the notion that the punishment for man’s sin would be inflicted on the object being sacrificed.

    In Scripture, burnt-offerings are associated with appeasement and not the exercise of wrath on the part of God. Likewise, I do not know of a passage that states God poured out his wrath (in terms of inflicting punishment due sinners) on Christ as the atoning sacrifice, but rather that God sacrifices His Son.

    Since the notion that atonement consists of the sacrifice not only representing man but also being punished (symbolically with animal sacrifices, literally with Christ) with the punishment due the worshipper is foreign to both the world that made these sacrifices and Scripture, where did it originate?

    (Sources: Julye Bidmead, “The Akitu Festival: Religious Continuity and Royal Legitimation in Mesopotamia”; John Walton, “Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible”;Samuel Kramer, “The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character”; Eugene Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti, “The Word and the World”; Dennis Pardee, “Ritual and Cult at Ugarit”).
     
  2. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    One of the most striking passages of the Atonement in the Old Testament is Isaiah 53. This passage speaks of the “Suffering Servant”, and is often used (appropriately and inappropriately) to illustrate penal substitution.

    Let’s look at Isaiah 53 “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.

    One “proof” offered on this forum is easily dismissed. That Jesus was “smitten of God” is not stated in this verse as an absolute truth. In fact, it is not stated at all. What the passage says is that “we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”. But “we” were wrong. Instead God was offering his son as an atonement for us, that he would bear our iniquities:

    “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. …And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? ... But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; … By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.”

    The strongest point for penal substitution is not the one often offered (“The chastening for our welling-being fell upon Him”). As Arthur Hertzberg pointed out, the historical definition of sin from a Jewish perspective is that “Sin is rebellion against God, but more seriously yet, Judaism considers it the debasement of man’s proper nature. Punishment is therefore not primarily retribution; it is chastisement, as a father chastises his children, to remind them of their proper dignity and character.” The context is the Righteous One and “His people”.

    Verse 8, “By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?”

    But this verse, as strong of a statement it can be made to make, does not demonstrate Christ being inflicted with the individual punishments of individual sinners on the Cross. Verse 8 is not apart from verse 7. And the “cutting off” in verse 8 does not go beyond the “cutting off” of Lamentations 3:54.

    Lamentations 3:51-54 My eyes bring pain to my soul Because of all the daughters of my city. My enemies without cause Hunted me down like a bird; They have silenced me in the pit And have placed a stone on me. Waters flowed over my head; I said, "I am cut off!"

    Isaiah 53:9-10 make the same observation on his death that has been made earlier. It was the death of the guiltless, and it was a death which the Servant suffered because of the sins of those who now report it.

    So the question remains. Where does the idea that Jesus was punished by God with the punishment intended for the sins committed by individual sinners come about? How did chastisement, or even "punishment", become focused on the offense rather than the offender (how did we arrive at a definition of punishment where the act itself could be punished)?
     
  3. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    It is Isaiah 53 which nullifies your proposal.
    To deny it and offer writings of those in agreement does not change the scripture.

    Isaiah 53
    5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
    6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    To me there is no dispute, no doubt.
    He was punished for our sins.

    HankD
     
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  4. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Hi JonC, Penal Substitution is simply a Trojan horse for Limited Atonement. As you have discerned, there is no actual support for it in scripture.

    Jesus paid the price God required to take away the sin of the world. Anyone God transfers into Christ is washed with His blood, made white as snow, and justified forever.

    Jesus, who knew no sin, became the sin offering for all mankind. But only when someone is transferred into Christ is that person's past, present and future sins taken out of the way.
     
  5. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    I agree.
    But did Jesus take our punishment for sin?
    Did He suffer the wrath of God for sin?

    BTW, I am not a calvinist and do not accept the calvinist "L" of TULIP.

    HankD
     
  6. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist Well-Known Member
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    Against my better judgement I am going to weigh in on this absurd argument being advanced by Jon and Van.When one has to interpret the words "we esteemed him stricken of God" as a false view being corrected when no correction is present in the text or context you know the interpreter is grasping for straws.Moreover,the phrase "yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" is again confirmed by the fact that it is God from whom this affliction, smiting and being stricken originates from and it is for our sins:

    Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin,

    So all this accusation about "eisgesis" is really self-condemnation as the text demnostrates.

    The burnt sacrifice has its origin with God and his way in Genesis 4. All pagan rituals or "the way of Cain" are departures from it and all similarities are derived from God's pattern not vice versa. So to postulate that since "fire" can be found among pagan rituals as an argument that it is not necessarily from God is absurd when it is introduced by God's people and approved by God FIRST and moreover, the fire in the tabernacle came directly from God. It is not merely the presence of fire that indicates divine wrath upon the animal in type, but fire in combination with the offering being a "sin" offering and the animal acting as the substitute. The brazen altar also adds to this scenario.

    However, as a wise man once said, "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." I dropped from the previous argument when I saw the kind of rationale employed to get around the obvious - nit picking in order to avoid the obvious. Truth was not the goal in that thread and neither is it the goal in this thread.
     
    #6 The Biblicist, Feb 19, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
  7. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I think to most of us there is no dispute (even as we disagree).

    My question is that since Isaiah 53 was traditionally (both in Judaism and Christianity) interpreted within the context of an atoning sacrifice (chastisement being the offering as God lays upon the Righteous One our iniquities), where do you find the doctrine that God punished Jesus with the punishment due our individual sins? Or can you not see the passage without that implication?
     
  8. Darrell C

    Darrell C Well-Known Member
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    I think if we simply look at the penalty for sin then we have our answer: Christ died in our place.

    When He died...it was finished. We all know that Christ had to die, simply being beaten of "blooded" would not have mattered, because that is not the penalty that sin incurs.


    God bless.
     
  9. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Was it the consequences of sin or the actual punishments for the individual sins committed?
     
  10. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    I believe Isaiah 53 clearly illustrates not only the vicarious atonement put the penal aspect of the atonement.
    Do the animal sacrifices illustrate the penal aspect? Only in that the animal had to suffer death. The Hebrew believer had to identify with that death.

    HankD
     
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  11. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    Both, although the very first sin would suffice for the demand of death.

    HankD
     
  12. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I understand that you may not have been exposed to arguments other than you own regarding this verse, and the interpretation that it is referring to the failure of men to believe the report (Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?) may truly seem absurd to you. But that says more of you than choose to interpret the verse within the passage itself (e.g., Darrell Bock).

    The point is that the men believed Jesus was smitten by God for his sin (Jesus was being punished for sins against God) when in fact what they witnessed was God offering Jesus as a propitiation for sin (laying our iniquities upon the Atoning Sacrifice).

    Brother, I do not mean to be rude here but I am wondering if you are simply clouding the water to hide a deficiency in your doctrine or if you truly do not understand the difference between our positions here. You do realize that penal substitution is not Penal Substitution Theory…right?

    Of course it pleased the Lord to bruise him. Of course he has put him to grief. Of course he is making his soul an offering for sin. NO .ONE, NOT ME, NOT VAN, NOT DARRELL BOCK, …has denied this truth.

    The Father is viewed in the place of Abraham, offering Isaac, but going through with the sacrifice. The offering, the “bruising”, “crushing”, “putting to grief”, “making his soul an offering for sin”, “smiting”, does not demand (by Scripture) the Father punishing his son with the punishments of the iniquities laid upon him any more than Abraham could have been punishing Isaac or the priests could have been punishing the sacrificial animals. Your theory puts things into the text that neither exists in the context of the passage, the world of its authors, or its interpretation in the New Testament.

    Can you show us even one case where the object of atonement is even shown symbolically to be inflicted with the punishment of the worshipper offering the sacrifice? I’ll answer for you. “No, of course not”. You can insult. You can create a smoke screen by tossing up passages we all affirm. But you will never be able to argue the issue because you cannot come to terms that the difference is not Scripture but the reasoning you carry into Scripture. Believe it or not, there existed Christians, even those who believed in penal substitution, long before you Penal Substitution Theory was articulated.
     
  13. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    Just in passing, faith in the death burial and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life is the essence of the gospel and not all the shibboleths and fine tuning of systematic theologies.

    HankD
     
  14. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I agree that there is a penal aspect to the atonement. Where I disagree is that sin itself can be punished or transferred. Jesus became man. Jesus became a curse for us. And Jesus, having never sinned, payed the consequence of sin for mankind. He died. And God vindicated His Son.

    My question here is where the idea that Jesus was punished with the punishment reserved for the individual sins (the actions) of other people.

    To illustrate - suppose the penalty for stealing a cookie was one lash. Do you believe that the OT sacrificial system proves the Father punished Jesus for the crime of me stealing a cookie by giving him one lash?

    My suggestion, and (regardless of what The_Biblicist believes) the non-absurd belief of many, is that Christ died for the Sin of mankind and not in an accounting system (of individual sins) type of way.
     
  15. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    How in the world do you seen these two as being different?
     
  16. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    The first views Jesus as becoming man so that he might taste death for everyone, that he shared in humanity with us, completely, so that through death He might render Satan powerless and free those in slavery. Jesus had to become man (not more human than human but man) so that he could mediate on behalf of mankind to make propitiation for the sins of men. Christ became a curse for this redemption, and experienced the consequence of sin which is death.

    The second view sees Christ as experiencing not only the consequence of being offered a sacrifice (it pleased God to “crush him”), not only the consequence of human sin (as sharing in humanity), but also as God inflicting the punishment for the sinful acts committed by others on Him at the cross.

    We can all agree on the first view, but the second has an addition that is foreign to Scripture itself. This is the part that I am asking about (that I said I was contending against for arguments sake). I am asking exactly how we moved from the first view (which is historically affirmed) to the second (which is not, historically, a majority view or even an articulated position for over a millennia).
     
  17. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

    Taste - geuomai -
    Friberg Lex. : (2) Come to know, experience, partake of
    UBS : taste, eat, experience
    See Hebrews 2:9 above.

    Jesus (being God come in the flesh) suffered the singular sum of the collective total (singular) of the sins of mankind.
    John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

    HankD
     
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  18. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    The first and the second are exactly the same.Experiencing the consequences of sin and God inflicting punishment for the sinful acts are the exact same thing.
     
  19. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Jesus experiencing the consequences of human sin and Jesus experiencing God punishing him with the individual punishments for the sinful acts of others are far from the same idea. I think this evident in the debates that have followed the introduction of the latter position.
     
  20. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I agree.
     
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