Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Would Jesus Have Died For Only You? Your Thoughts Here…

No doubt you have heard the phrase: “if you had been the only person on earth Jesus would have still died for you”.  If you want you can discuss the validity of this claim.  However, I would prefer that you answer two questions:172027__passion_l
1) How is such a statement helpful?
2) How might such a statement be harmful?

Thanks.  I am working on something and really need your help with answering this .


  1. I don't think it's entirely wrong. Especially considering God's fundamental nature is self-giving.

    My only major problem is that it is entirely too individualistic.

  2. I think it is good, in that it expresses that each individual person is of value to God, no matter who they might be.

    However, I think there might also be the tendency of this frame of mind to elevate the person's sense of importance too much.

  3. How can a person have too high of a sense of importance, David? If the God of the universe is willing to die for them, does that not demonstrate how infinitely valuable they are?

    Besides a few suburbanites who think to highly of themselves (in the wrong way), many, many people in our culture need to understand how in love God is with them. They have been broken and abused, and we need to show them how valuable they are to God.

  4. Tom,

    Sorry for not replying to you sooner.

    You are right, that there are many people that are broken and they need to know about God's amazing love.

    However, I think you over-estimate the number of those people. From my experience, most people already have an elevated sense of self-importance, especially here in America. From our very beginning we have had the mind-set that we don't want anyone to impinge upon our freedoms. That has manifested in our general philosophy, pluralism, now as well. The general mindset of people that I have always seen is that they are free to believe whatever they want and no one can judge them for that. What that ends up meaning is that each individual is free to believe what they want about God, which means that they are really in control over God, which means that they are in fact their own god. If that is not an over-elevated sense of self-importance, I don't know what is.

    Most people need to be broken by God's Law. They need to know of God's holiness, and righteousness, and His judgment and wrath against all unGodliness. Only then will they flee to the cross where Christ took the burden of that wrath for all who would.

    The cross is the ultimate display of God's love, but it presupposes God's wrath. So, a knowledge of God's wrath has to come before a knowledge of God's love.

  5. David, thanks for the response.

    You may be correct in my overestimation. But I think you make the same mistake in the other direction. I think you're (probable)experience with suburbanite, small-town America probably informs this overestimation.

    Doing ministry amongst battered women, the poor in the inner city, and other outcasts from Suburban culture demonstrates that we cannot categorize all Americans (or even most) as having an elevated sense of self-importance.

    In fact, a statement such as yours such as yours is not really capable of empirically substantiated - it's a matter of opinion. (Just as mine is)

    I used to think as you do...that what we needed was wrath and righteousness preaching. I contend now that what we need is preaching on God's love that is not sentimentality laden and watered down.

    I'm not saying that we should avoid wrath and righteousness. But it is the kindness of God that leads sinners to repentance. Jesus was gracious and ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. (It was the self-righteous 'believers' whom he got angry with!)

    Just a quick question - where do you get the statement that people need to be broken by God's law?

    I would also quibble with your assertion that the cross presupposes wrath. But that may be a fundamental theological difference between us - I'm more inclined toward the expiation view of atonement, not the propitiatory view.

    Of course, this fundamental theological issue may also explain why we disagree on what message Americans need to hear.

    Cheers brother. Thanks for the dialogue.

  6. David,
    I just re-read over my comments and since you don't know me they may come off as rude or something. No ill-intention here brother. Just enjoying a good discussion.

  7. Tom,

    When I read over your comment, I didn't find it rude at all. You believe what you believe and state it with force. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I admire it.

    In your post, you said that you lean more towards that expiatory view of the atonement. Before I engage on that subject, would you please be so kind as to define your terms. I have my own definition, but I want to make sure we are on the same page.

    θεος μονος δοξαζηται,

    David S. Dittmer

  8. I think the only time this situation is helpful is if a person is struggling with the notion that Jesus died upon the cross for their sin.

    I think the second question is of more importance. I think this statement is harmful because it goes beyond what the Bible says. We read nowhere in Scripture that Jesus would have come to the earth to die for one person. It is always that he came to die for the whole earth, the whole of mankind. When we make that statement, we have begun to impose what we want upon Jesus' death on the cross.

    God's love is important to communicate, but so is the new life. Yes, we recieve salvation because God loved us, but he also calls us to be holy.

    Furthermore, if we were the only person on the earth, would there have been need for the Scriptures? Would sin have ever entered the world? If we were the only ones on earth and we never sinned, why would Jesus have to come to earth as a human and die? If we were the only one on the earth, doesn't that mean we would have to crucify Jesus ourself?

    I think this statement is potentially far more harmful than it is helpful.

  9. The fundamental assumption is that humans and God are in a broken relationship. Humans are in rebellion and God loves them and calls them to repentance. Humans are held captive by the devil and by sin. This captivity does not allow for God and humans to be in relationship.

    Expiation is essentially that Christ's death effectively defeated sin and the devil through his complete and total devotion to God. The cross was his act of substitution - where we could not be completely and totally devoted to God b/c of sin, he demonstrated full and complete devotion in our place. As a human high priest, he paved the way for other humans to live totally devoted lives before God in genuine relationships - lives not encumbered by sin.

    He eliminates the sinful nature in believers such that we are now new creatures able to please God and be obedient to him and commune with him. It is NOT God who needed to be changed, but humans.

    God is judge and stands in judgment on sinners. But God is in love with those sinners and calls them to repentance. He has enabled that repentance through the cross. He does not need his wrath appeased (propitiation) to be in relationship with humans. What is needed is a change in human nature...which is accomplished through the cross. God is wants relationships with humanity (all humanity!). And while he will punish sin, that is not his desire for anyone.

    Okay - that's the quick rundown.

    I really wasn't trying to debate, brother. I just was making observations about our probable differences which play out in what we think people need to hear.

    I think humanities purpose is to be in relationship with God. God desires a relationship with ALL humans and has made a way possible for ALL of them on his cross. This is what I preach. God does judge, but he does not want to. He wants to show mercy and be in loving union with everyone.

  10. Tom,

    I had intended to engage you in debate. However, after your post and reading your blogger profile, I don't think that we would be reconciled on much. Our fundamental assumptions about God, are just too different. If you wish to continue conversing, you can contact me via e-mail.


  11. Are our fundamental assumptions all that different? I mean, I can't imagine you would disagree with anything I said. I would probably just assume you would add to it that God's wrath needed to be appeased.

    Besides, we both like Harry Potter. Doesn't that cover a multitude of differences? :)

    I'm an HLG graduate from the Bible dept., too. Are you enjoying your studies under Bergen and Morgan?

  12. BTW - don't take my blogger profile too seriously. I was in a really goofy mood when I wrote it.

    Cheers bro.

  13. Tom,

    The love of Harry Potter does cover a multitude of differences. So, please don't take offense at what I am about to say.

    The reason that I backed out of our discussion in the last post was because, like I said, I think we have some very fundamental differences in how we perceive God. What I have picked up from your comments is that you believe God's love is His most preeminent attribute. Am I right in this? If not, please correct me.

    About HLG, I am not actually in school at the moment. I had to take some time off, for financial and family reasons. School is a heavy load to bear on top of my wife and soon to be 4 children. Although, when I am in school I very much enjoy my studies under Drs. Bergen and Morgan.

    θεος μονος δοξαζηται


  14. If there has to be a preeminent attribute, then yeah, I'd say it is love. But it is a holy love, not a cheap-grace love.

    Are we all that different in that assumption?

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Tom,

    Perhaps using preeminence was a bad choice of words. However, I hope you know what I was getting at.

    My point is that there are certain attributes of God that are functionally subordinate and some that are functionally superior. You even indicated this with your last comment, saying that God loves us with a 'holy love.' In that statement, God's love is functionally subordinate to His holiness. So, I would argue that love and self-giving-ness (is that even a word?) are not, and could not be, the most fundamental aspects of God's nature, as you have asserted.

    I would argue that the most fundamental aspect of God's nature is His holiness. At it's most base meaning, when referring to God, this would be His complete 'otherness' is what sets Him apart.

    What say you? Agree? Disagree?

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηεται


  17. David,

    Sure, I guess there are attributes that are subordinate...I guess. I don't know that the Scriptures ever speak that way. But for the sake of the dicussion, I'll take the bait.

    As for my comment about holy love - I disagree with your assessment. Holy is an adjective modifying love. In other words, it describes love. There is no reason to assume it subordinates love.

    I guess this is the problem I have with the whole subordinating attributes discussion: Who gets to choose which attributes get exalted and which get subordinated? And how do we make such an assessment considering the fact that the scriptures don't speak that way? in the end, we end up letting our systematic theology determine which gets exalted and which gets subordinated. and this gets us back to square one.

    There is no scriptural reason to begin with holiness above benevolence, as far as I can tell. Or the other way around. There are only theological agendas which must emphasize one over the other.

    For my part, I try not to start with my Arminianism. I try to start with the trinity - the ontological trinity, who God is in himself.

    In Trinitarian relationships I see selfless, sacrificial love. But even there it is a holy love, a good love, a righteous love. God's holy love is central to who he is - it is fundamental. Speaking of any other aspect of God without reference to his holy love is a mistake, in my book.

    Make sense? Critiques?

    Cheers brother. Enjoying our discussion.

  18. Tom,

    The Bible doesn't really talk of ontological trinities either, but we come to that conclusion through systematization. So, I think that through the same process we have to come to the conclusion that there are certain attributes that are functionally subordinate. This is not to say that they are of less value, because God is perfect in all of His attributes, it just means that they, in a sense, are governed by certain others. With this I come back to God's love.

    Once again you describe God's love as being 'holy,' 'good,' and 'righteous.' God's love is all of these because God in Himself is all these things, before you could even come to the trinity.

    But, I have digressed a ways from where I intended to be with my argument.

    All I meant to point out was that it seems that you elevate the attribute of God's love, to where it is superior to all others. Which you seem to agree with, to a certain degree. Further, I wanted to assert, as I already have, that God is perfect in all of His attributes.

    Would you agree with that assertion?

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηται


  19. Yes, I would affirm that God is perfect in all his attributes.

    But no, I don't think I understand God's holy love prior to coming to the Trinity. The Trinity is the place to start with our understanding of God b/c the Trinity is who God is ontologically. We understand God's relationship to creation as an EXTENSION of His inter-trinitarian love.

    And while the words 'ontological trinity' are not in scripture, the concept of who God is in himself is in Scripture. But I still maintain that the subordination of attributes is not explicitly in scripture...even if it might be a useful systematic paradigm.

    If I do, then, elevate love as God's central attribute, it is b/c that is how the persons of the Trinity relate to each other - in passionate, unbridled, service oriented, sacrificial love. And this, then, is how God relates to creation b/c that is his nature.

    So, I guess I don't really understand what our disagreement is. I have affirmed that God's love is not a cheap-grace love. It is a holy love. That, when it comes to God, holiness cannot be separated from love and love cannot be separated from holiness. These things are inseperable.

    Am I saying anything that is not grounded in scripture? Is our 'disagreement' merely over which attribute (perfect as they all are) gets to be called the 'superior' one?

    But if that's it, my original question still stands - who gets to decide which attribute gets to be exalted? And on what grounds, being as the scriptures aren't as explicit as we are about superior and subordinate attributes?

    In other words, do you have a critique based in scripture or even ecclesial history that calls into question the claim that God's holy love is his central attribute? I only ask b/c I don't think I'm removed from what the church has always claimed - Calvinistic or otherwise.

    Does that even make sense?

  20. Tom,

    I think you misunderstand me. I was not suggesting that God's holy love exists prior to the trinity. In fact, I think you are right in that God's love and benevolence are function and outpouring of His tri-unity. What I was saying was that God's holiness exists prior to His tri-unity, because His holiness is an essential function of his divinity, which is God's most essential and over-arching attribute. Another reason I would argue for the priority of God's holiness is because it, of all His attributes, in Scripture is the only one that is elevated to the superlative level(see Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). But, once again, I never intended to talk of functional hierarchies of the attributes God.

    I have been trying to bring this back to God's justice, and ultimately God's wrath. It isn't that I want to elevate this above God's love, it is that I want to see a pastor of the church have a healthily balanced view of who God is.

    God is not only loving, He is also just. In His justice, he promises blessings for those who obey Him and wrath for those who do not. This is most clearly exemplified in the book of Deuteronomy. Since as it says, 'all have sinned,' God must exact, or fulfill, His justice. If God did not fulfill His justice, by pour out His wrath, He would not be just. If He was not Just, He would not be good, in any sense, and would, in fact, be evil. So, when Christ died on the cross, there was a sense in which He expiated (or covered) our sins, but there must also be a sense in which He absorbed the wrath of God, thereby making Him propitious towards. However, it was God's love that compelled Him to put forward Christ as a propitiation by His blood (Rom. 3:25).

    I know that you have said that you don't believe that God's love, is a cheap grace sort of love. However, if God's justice was not fulfilled on the cross, that's what it is: cheap-grace.

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηται



    By now, you probably know that I am a Calvinist, though I don't really like that title, but please know that my argument doesn't spring from Calvinism, but rather from my study of the Bible and theology.

  21. I'll abandon, with you, the discussion of holiness and love as attributes. I believe we're not really getting anywhere in that discussion - possibly b/c the divergent starting places we come from. I dunno.

    That said, I will assume your comment about 'cheap grace' was not intended to be personal. I believe grace is free, but I don't think grace is cheap (that is, we should not take advantage of it or assume it is our based on our own merits).

    Further, I do not disagree with you that justice is a key component in understanding God. One cannot have a biblical view of God without understanding God as just.

    It seems though, that your argument makes sense IF and only IF I accept your premise that God cannot be good if he does not execute his wrath on Jesus. Since I do not buy that premise, I do not see any reason why God cannot be just without pouring his wrath on his Son.

    It's interesting to me that the one NT book that exegetes the atonement in any really detailed fashion is Hebrews. But in Hebrews there's nothing even close to resembling a propriatory view of the atonement. Rather, Christ's death is the means by which the Devil is defeated and those who believe are released from sins and set in right relationship with God.

    I guess we could go on and on all day about my system vs. yours and who is relying more on their system than on Scripture, but I guess the real question is what the Scriptures say - regardless of the systematic theology or logic we buy into.

    The fact is, I see nothing in the Scriptures that EXPLICITLY states that God poured out his wrath on Jesus. In the gospels, it is the wrath of Rome. In Acts, the references are largely on the resurrection. In Paul's epistles, it is liberation from one kingdom to God's kingdom.

    I mean, I'm guessing you could come up with one or two texts that ambiguously seem to argue your point (i.e. "he became a curse for us"), but the overwhelming explicit evidence is that there is no text which supports your view. Logically, the onus is on you to provide a text that expliclitly says God poured out his wrath on his Son.

    Do you have one off hand? If so, it only demonstrates that propitiatory atonement is one particular metaphor, but is far from even being the dominant one.

    You say your Calvinism doesn't instigate your reading of the text. That may be to a degree. But it's interesting how Calvinists are the one's who are always pushing the penal substituation view of atonement, when it is only one of many possible biblical metaphors for atonement. I think you're influenced more than you know. After all, nobody reads the Bible as 'just the Bible'. Everyone has presuppositions - yours are Calvinistic, mine are Arminian. We should just acknowledge them.


    PS - My next few responses might be a few days apart. My semester's coming to a close and I have a new baby, so my time is getting especially limited. I desire to continue this discussion, so if I don't respond as quickly over the next few days/weeks, don't think I'm ignoring your points.

  22. Tom,

    It is my understanding that you are denying that on the cross Christ the penalty for our sin. Am I correct in that understanding? If I am correct, what in the world was he doing up there on the cross? To put it more respectfully, in your understanding, what is the central motif of the atonement?

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηται


  23. David,
    Why does there have to be a 'central motif'? That sounds more like the needs of systematic theology than the biblical witness.

    In the Bible, there are many motifs of the cross. There is justification, ransom, redemption, warfare (defeat of the forces of evil, devil), and others.

    If the Bible is not limited to a central motif or metaphor, why must we limit ourselves? There is a beauty in the plurality of metaphors, there is no need to pick one to the neglect of others...But, alas, this is a common complaint Arminians have against Calvinists anyway.

    Jesus did a lot of things on the cross. Whether or not the penal substituation view is right or not, we cannot limit the meaning of the cross to only that.

    It is the assumption of Calvinists that the cross means nothing if it wasn't for the appeasment of God's wrath. But this assumed so easily b/c they often only work with that one theory and neglect the others.

    In my opinion, it's essential that pastors need to have a more balanced view of the atonement, whether they agree with PS or not.

  24. BTW - blogger annoys me b/c in order to respond to your comment I have to actually go like a mile above your comment to do so. It gets frustrating after a while!

  25. Tom,

    I whole-heartedly agree that there are many things that Christ did on the cross. However, there is a central theme, by virtue of the fact that the Bible revolves around a central theme: God and humans are in a broken relationship because of man's sinfulness, but fixes that relationship through the cross. So, my question to you is, how does the cross mend the relationship?

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάξηται


  26. You have no disagreement with me that humans and God have a broken relationship.

    I'm merely saying that there are many metaphors that explain how that relationship is mended.

    Like I said - it is mended through Jesus' defeat of the Devil, his humanly complete devotion before God (the requirement of the law), his identification with sinners and substitution for them.

    The only point, that I can see, that we are disagreeing on is the nature of the penal substitution view - that is, whether or not God displays his wrath on Jesus.

    We may have minor nuances that differ in various places, but this idea that God brought his wrath on his Son is the major issue we haven't dealt with. So I'll try to force us back to that question...

    I know that your theological system determines that you must have a PS view of atonement. However, I want to see some EXPLICIT NT reference to God pouring his wrath out on Jesus on the cross.

    Now, once you provide that and I see that the idea is grounded in Scripture, we still have not determined that it is THE major motif. So we will then need to establish how major an idea it is in the NT. If it IS THE major motif, then you have made your point. If it is not, then I believe questions arise concerning your whole system of theology. And we'll cross that bridge when/if we get there.

    So, the only think I'm really looking for you to answer is what scriptures you have that EXPLICITLY and unambiguously say that God poured out his wrath on Jesus.


  27. Tom,

    I will concede the point that nowhere in the New Testament does it say that Jesus bore God’s wrath; however, I do not concede that this isn’t still the major theme of the atonement and the entire Bible, not just the New Testament.

    It is quite clear that the Law is a reflection of God’s holy and righteous character. Sin, by definition is violation of the law (1 John 3:4), thus each sin is a violation against God Himself, and thus is an assault against God’s holy and righteous character. God promises punishment for sin, which is death (Romans 6:23). Punishment is the outpouring of God’s wrath, which itself is the negative aspect of God’s justice. God’s wrath is against all mankind (Romans 1:18) because all have sinned and rob God of the glory that is rightly due Him (Romans 3:23). God, in His love, put Christ forward as a sacrifice to appease His wrath [propitiation, ἱλαστήριον] (Romans 3:25), in the fact that He became accursed for us (Galatians 3:13), which in Biblical terms, if you violate the covenant, you are cursed by God and fall under His divine wrath. Thus, on the cross Christ, became an object of God’s wrath to fulfill the negative aspect of His justice and maintain His own personal righteousness (Romans 3:26). In other words, if Christ’s blood merely covered over our sin, then God’s wrath against sin has had no fulfillment; thus, God is unrighteous and is not worthy of worship, but is nothing more than the idol of someone’s mind is worthy of nothing more than scorn and contempt. Christ fulfilled the law not only in that He lived a perfectly righteous life, but also in that He bore the negative sanctions of the law for us.

    Θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηται


  28. Brother,
    I understand how the logic works. I understand how the system works. But it is a major concession to say that this theme is nowhere explicitly stated in any one (or more!) text. B/c if it is so important, I would think that Paul or Jesus or somebody would have delineated it clearly somewhere.

    But that they don't, raises major questions about the PS system and logic.

    Now, we can string a bunch of verses together without regard to their contexts, but that doesn't help us because, as you've conceded, no single text teaches what you're arguing.

    This leads me to my next point - which is that I believe, in your string of verses, there are numerous ones that, because the context is ignored and the PS view is assumed, you misunderstand what the verses are talking about. In other words, your prior theological commitment determines your reading of those verses.

    I want to support that statement with exegetical evidence, but it could take a bit to explain it, so if you say you want me to lay out my exegetical argument for the claim that you've misunderstood say your citations from Galatians 3 or Romans 3, or your use of the Gk hilastrion then I will. But I won't go into the detail if you don't want go that deep into this discussion.

    In the end, I would encourage you to further contemplate why, if the PS view is sooo central, Paul or Jesus or the Bible never explicitly draw it out like they clearly do with other metaphors.

    That's just too big of a deal for me. The logic works, if I have reformed assumptions, but since I don't, I see the logic as not only circular (assuming what it sets out to prove), but also lacking in biblical evidence.

    Finally, I think your claim that Jesus is just an idol of someone's (mine?) mind if the PS view of atonement is not adhered to or if the expiation view is adhered to is troublesome. I know that you're not purposely trying to insult me, but it is a bit offensive, considering our discussion, to insinuate that I have created an idol in my mind...especially considering that I'm attempting to make a biblical argument informed by the evidence of the text. Like I said, I know you're not doing that on purpose, but your statements are a bit troublesome to me.

    All that out there - I can say that I'm still quite enjoying our discussion.

    Cheers brother.

  29. Tom,

    I would be interested to see your exegesis of all the information. I have been trying to refrain from insults, but the fact that you keep on saying that my system is interposing itself on the Bible, is getting to be insulting to me. I have tried to refrain from returning like for like, but ministers of God's word are supposed to speak strong words against false teachers, and that is what you seem to be to me at this point.

    Those things that seemed insulting to you, in my last post, were intended to be.

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηται


  30. Brother,
    My intention was not to insult you. I was merely making, from what my end, seems to be a possible observation. I was not intending to 'call you out', for we are all guilty of that to some degree - Like I said in a previous comment, the challenge is to only acknowledge the reality of the influence of our theology on our exegesis - acknowledge it and not deny it.

    I apologize for being offensive, even if it was unintentional. Written medium is so difficult that way - even when we're not trying to be rude, we come off that way. Grace and humility are necessary in written communication b/c we can't see one another face to face and peer into one another's souls.

    I am also sorry that you view me as a 'false teacher.' I suppose that it matters not to you that we are but a hair-breath's different in our affirmations of what the atonement is - that we have more similarities than differences.

    Can we not rejoice in those similarities? Can we not glory in our Spirit-inspired unity without labeling each other 'false teachers'?

    I suppose it would be the easy way out of this discussion just to throw words like 'false teacher' out there and end the conversation. But what would that accomplish for us? It would leave us both back at square one, solving nothing regarding the questions we are asking of one another.

    That said, I can understand why you might call me a 'false teacher.' Not that I agree with that assessment, but I can see how you might conclude that coming from the place you do theologically. But I would like to encourage you to look at all I've said to you - I've hardly even stated my own position. Mostly, I've challenged you to exegetical honesty. As 'dangerous' as I may be to your theology - you've said nothing which demonstrates that I or my teachings are 'false.'

    If you did/do demonstrate that my teachings (or questions at this point) are 'false', then I am happy to repent.

    Do you consider it worthy to continue this conversation in grace and humility on both our parts...attempting to be understanding of, not only the limitedness of the medium of written communication, but also the respect each other has for the written word? If so, then I will procede by giving you a brief exegetical anaylsis of Galatians 3 as a critique of your understanding of the verse.

    Cheers to you, brother. And if you choose not to continue this conversation, I honor that completely. My best wishes to you and your family and your studies.


  31. Tom,

    You shame me with your reply, it being more gracious than I deserved. For my part, I am sorry. I am often too quick to label people, who believe differently than me, to be false teachers and heretics. So once again I am sorry, and beg your forgiveness. Also, I accept your apology. I did take offense at some of the things that you said, fore they seemed condescending to me. However, I reacted badly. If you are agreeable, I would like to continue our conversation.

    Would you please help me understand your position. Two posts ago you said that I misunderstood Romans 3:21-26, Galatians 3:13, and the Greek word ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion). Would you please show me your interpretation of these, so that I might have something of substance to interact with.

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηται


  32. Oh man, there's no reason to feel shamed. It's not a big deal, really.
    I've totally been there before - I've intentionally and unintentionally been rude on blogs. I can have patience with someone who makes the same mistakes we all have and are capable of.

    Give me a day or so and I'll get back with your requests. Today is like the only day of the week I get to relax, so I'm going to take full advantage of it and spend it trying to teach my 5 wk. old daughter to I have high expectations or what? lol.

    Instead of starting with Gal. 3 like I said, I will probably start with the Gk. word for propitiation/expiation. Then move from there, after dialoguing with you, to the particulars of the exegetical work needed.

  33. Tom,

    lol, you do have pretty high expectations for your daughter. My youngest, Isaac, is 16 months and at most will say DA-DA!!

    What you proposed will be fine. I will do what research I can on ἱλαστήριον and its cognates so I am prepared. Then we can move on from there.

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηται


  34. Be prepared...this is long! :)


    PREFACE: I will be selective here of what I engage, as this turned out to be much longer than I expected. My central thesis is that the use of this word in the NT refers to expiation and that the idea of propitiation (appeasement of divine anger) is not only foreign to the NT, but actually originates in pagan religions where the arbitrarily angry gods needed to be assuaged by human sacrifice. While I believe the propitiation use has it’s origins in pagan religion, I recognize that this is NOT the intention of many contemporary believers who hold to a PS view. They are simply trying to be faithful to what they know of God and the Bible. My contention is not that they or you are pagan, just mistaken.

    1. hileos, the root word, originally connoted ‘friendly’, ‘gracious’, or ‘favorable.’

    2. in the LXX, hileos is added to ‘to be’ verbs to refer to ‘forgiveness’ or the accepting of hurt, and/or ‘to have pity on.’

    3. hileos only occurs 2x in the NT – once in Matt. 16:22 as a negative protest, and once in Heb. 8:12 in citation of Jer. Where it clearly means ‘merciful’ or ‘fogiving.’

    4. Hileos is employed in PAGAN literature to refer to placating divine anger. (I will argue later that this usage is foreign to the NT occurences and if I'm wrong about this, it is hardly explicit)

    5. The verb Hilasomai only occurs in the NT 2x – once in reference to a Pharisee crying out for mercy (Luke 18:13), the other time in Hebrews 2:17 where in context the metaphor in use is that of atonement as VICTORY OVER DEATH AND THE DEVIL (2:14-16), not appeasement of divine wrath.
    *NOTE* - Even if the word is shown to mean propitiation in some biblical context, that does not mean it HAS to in EVERY biblical context. The Hebrews 2 passage, no matter what else of my argument is proven true or false, does in no way suggest appeasement of divine wrath is in contextual view.

    I make this claim mostly on exegetical grounds – The writer of Hebrews employs the infinitive form of the word (hilaskesthai) with an ACCUSATIVE noun harmartias. I don’t know what your greek skills are, but I’ll assume you have some (as you have used Gk. fonts!), so you should understand that this infinitive + accusative noun construction is called an ‘accusative of reference.’ The reference of the infinitive is to the sin, not God. Human sin is in view, not divine anger.


    A. The nouns Hilasterion and Hilasmos each only appear twice in the NT.
    -In Hebrews 9:5, Hilasterion refers to the physical Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle…This usage suggests that, insofar as Christ’s NT sacrifice parallels the OT model, the idea is more an illusion to the OT idea of provisions for the covering of sins precisely and is associated with the REMOVAL of sins (not the appeasement of God’s wrath b/c of sins).
    Furthermore, this one use of the word in the book of Hebrews, combined with the lack of evidence that the idea of propitiation is anywhere in the book, suggests that the idea of expiation is what is in mind here.
    *NOTE* - Expiation is not incompatible with propitiation, so that propitiation is not in Hebrews need not logically entail that propitiation is wrong!*

    B. The second reference is n Romans 3:25-26 where the word Hilasterion refers to the vindication of God’s righteousness in PASSING OVER former sins and justifying all who express faith in Christ.

    Paul’s contextual argument is important here:
    P1 - The central question being asked in the book is about God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises, especially considering the fact that he has now rejected ‘the Jews’ and has moved onto the Gentiles.
    P2 - Paul’s answer is that God IS just…meaning, that God is faithful to his covenant promises.
    P3 - Paul argues in chpts. 1-3 that no individual or nation has ever deserved God’s promises (covenantal!)
    P4 - Paul argues in chpt. 4 that the attainment of those covenantal promises were ALWAYS by faith.
    P5 - Paul argues in chpt. 5 that Jesus is the embodiment of God’s faithfulness to the divine desire for communion an reconciliation, even when he was rejected by sinful humanity.

    Notice here that nowhere is God’s anger the stumbling block to humanity’s reconciliation. Rather, God is the one who has been working, from the time of Genesis, to reconcile with humanity. In fact, (by inference, not explication) that he has been doing this SO LONG suggests to me the patience, not the anger of God.

    But notice, again, that Paul is drawing on OT imagery. The idea is that Jesus is the Mercy Seat, the COVERING of the ark, the place where the blood of the covenant was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement. This is far from inferring that Jesus died to assuage God’s wrath. The subject is the restoration of relationships (Gentiles being reconciled to God!) between the Holy and the unholy.

    While the idea of ‘propitiation’ in this text emphasizes (rightly!) the justice of God. HOWEVER, I think the PS view misunderstands the meaning of God’s justice.

    The central question of Rom. 3 is ‘how can God be just (faithful to his covenant promises) and yet forgive sin and include Gentiles?’, the answer is this – God is so faithful to his promises that he sent his son to cover sins previously committed SO THAT his faithfulness to his covenant (his justice!) is displayed clearly. This is not about demonstrating God’s anger and justice (in the sense of retributive justice), but is about demonstrating God’s justice in the sense of his faithfulness to his promises! He did this to demonstrate that he is just (faithful to his promises!) and to justify (bring into those promises!) those who will believe.

    *NOTE* - I do not mean this to sound condescending. However, I think one of the major reasons this misunderstanding of God’s justice takes place is b/c God’s justice, as characterized by the PS view, looks A LOT like the Western, American justice system grounded in guilt and innocent. In as far as this is the case, it suggests that the PS view is more intimately tied to Western imagery and conceptions than biblical ones. When examining the biblical view of God’s justice, it is largely restorative (concerned with relationships and fellowship!...See I John 1:9 where God’s justice and faithfulness are tied, not to punishment, but to FORGIVENESS!), not retributive (the American model).

    This understanding, then, confuses American justice with biblical justice (a common mistake in American theology that extends way beyond discussions of atonement!). In doing so, it casts ‘justice’ in terms foreign to the biblical writers AND their world.

    C. Galatians 3 (in short b/c I’m getting tired!)

    The point of this passage is not that there is a general curse on humanity or a wrathful disposition of God toward all humanity. Rather, the point lies in ETHNIC relationships within the early church….Jews and Gentiles and God’s redemptive purposes which are to make them a single, unified family.

    The logic of the passage goes something like this:
    P1 – God made promises to Abraham in Genesis that his people are justified by faith, not works of the law.
    P2 – the Galatians reception of the Spirit by faith signifies the fulfillment of these promises to Abraham…a fulfillment made possible by the death of Jesus.
    P3 – The benefits of the death of Christ are justification (vs. 11) and redemption (vs. 13)…which are both OT Exile and Exodus images.
    P4 – Formerly these covenant promises were made to Israel, but now they have extended to the Gentiles (a problem which plagued the early Jewish church…see Paul’s rebuke of Peter in this very book!)
    P5 – The problem is that these Gentiles, who are now included, were formerly under the curse (that is, outside of God’s covenant promises), but now they are sharing in ABRAHAM’S covenantal blessing.
    P6 – But Paul argues now that Peter and others cannot use the law to drive a wedge between the ETHNIC groups of Jew and gentile because the law PUT EVERONE ONE THE SAME LEVEL b/c the Jews, who had the law, were excluded form the covenant promises (just as the Gentiles) b/c of sin.
    P7 – So the question is now – who can participate in God’s covenant promises since everyone is exiled from them? The answer is that Christ bore the curse of God…that is, HE HAS BEEN EXILED FROM THE COMMUNITY OF GOD’S COVENANT PROMISES.
    P8 – He has taken this lot on himself ‘on our behalf.’
    P9 – the Christ (the chosen, anointed one) has actually become the rejected one, cursed one. The idea here is that the one who was once in intimate fellowship, not is excluded from God’s covenant promises
    THEREFORE – If the messiah (chosen one) has identified himself with exiled humanity (Gentiles, first, then Jews who sinned…all of them!) and is outside the covenant of god’s people bearing the curse of the exiled, this means ALL EXILED ONES, BOTH JEW AND GENTILES are accepted with God!!!!

    The practical implications drawn by Paul are two fold (notice they suggest nothing about God’s wrath having been appeased, which, though is an argument from silence, seems to be a pretty big silence if the PS view is correct):
    1. The blessings of Abraham are now available to the Gentiles
    2. Jewish Christians (‘we’) are able to receive the promise of the Spirit by faith, not works of Torah.

    My point in this description of Gal. 3 is NOT to demonstrate that propitiation is unbiblical and expiation is biblical. Rather, it IS to demonstrate that that discussion has NO PLACE in the context of Paul’s argument. Paul is addressing a completely different idea altogether. He is not answering the question of whether or not Jesus appeases God’s wrath. He is answering the question of Christ’s identification with outsiders which practically works out in Paul’s argument to mean that if Christ can identify with outsides, then Jewish Christians can identify and be in relationship with outsiders (gentiles!).

    Okay, that’s the quick and dirty rundown. Critique away, brother. I look forward to your response.

    In grace and (hopefully) humility,

  35. Tom,

    This is just a note to let you know that I read your post and need a few days to mull it over and do some research. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am not in school this year, so at the moment, I indisposed of scholarly sources. I am also getting ready to take a trip back to my hometown in northern Iowa to visit family this coming weekend; so, it may be next week before I can reply decently.

    θεὸς μονὸς δοξάζηται



    It isn't a Greek font that I am using. I actually have Greek and Hebrew keyboards installed into Windows that I downloaded free from Logos bible software. With the stroke of a couple of keys it allows me to switch back and forth between English, Greek, and Hebrew. It's pretty awesome for a Greek Geek like me! :D

  36. No problem, brother. I look forward to your response. And I will also continue to consider my own position to see if there's any weaknesses that need to be addressed or anything that destroy's my position.

  37. Mike,
    Is this discussion at all even helping with whatever it is that you were working on? I mean, clearly we've gone beyond your original question, but didn't know if we ever did actually contribute to your thoughts that you were forming.

  38. Tom,

    This is absolutely not what my original intentions were. However, I really don't care. I think whoever would have commented has so far. I would create another thread for you guys...but it'd be easier to just keep it here. So.......have at it.

  39. David,
    Did you ever have an opportunity to consider my final arguments?

  40. Tom,

    Please forgive my slowness in responding, I had a busy couple of weeks and am just now getting back to our discussion. I am doing some reading on the topics that you have brought up and will then work on evaluation of your exegesis and then present my own. It may take a few more days, but hopefully I will have something up soon.

    πρός θεὸν μονὸν τήν δοξάν

  41. Hello David, Mike and Tom.

    I did a google search with the phrase in David's question and landed on his blog for the first time. I had the same question about whether or how strongly the comment was supported in scripture that Christ would have died for just one. If I knew the answer I would not have blogged it.

    The reason I was searching for this is that if it is true then I feel more strongly that God truly loves me. I feel at times that maybe He only loves me for what he can make out of me or because He has to(His duty). Or that He loves me but doesn't really like me. These are feelings, and feelings are influenced by information. Of course correct information is better than incorrect. The other statement made similar to this is that God loves you just the way you are. Again is the idea that they are expressing true or is it just because he can make something out of me. Maybe I am splitting hairs.

    Here are a few paragraphs I wrote a couple months ago expressing how I want to see God and love, but is it accurate?

    One man 's junk is another Man's treasure. There are many junkmen and treasure hunters out there, but the ultimate junkman is satan and the ultimate treasure-hunter is Jesus. Satan sees us as junk to be used or wasted at his whims. Jesus sees us broken treasure to be found, rescued, protected, appreciated, valued, and fixed. The Essence of love is beauty(or inner value since God looks on the heart). "Love" without beauty is pitty and I only want pitty if I can't have love. Jesus said God so loved the world. He has pitty on us also but that is another discussion, something like...."as a father pittieth his children so the father pittieth us." Jesus sees us as valuable and beautiful. If something or more appropriately someone is to be loved they must be seen as valuable and beautiful. If we look at someone a try to love them but see no value in them, loving them probably cannot be done. We must see them as Jesus sees us. Jesus sees us as a unique and beautiful part of His creation. Yes we are morally depraved and bound for hell. We are morally ugly. We need to be washed in the blood of Jesus and be born of the spirit. But God loves our quirkey personalities and thinks we are beautiful. If a human parent can look at a homely looking child and see the beauty of that child, how much more beauty can God see in a person.

    Ran out of space so I'll make two entries.

    Love in Christ.
    Jeff K

  42. In the treasure hunter parable I have always assumed that I was the treasure hunter selling everything I have to obtain the treasure of heaven(not to earn it but to take hold of it). Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hid in a field at the start of that parable. At the next parable he changes things around. He does not say the kingdom of heaven is like a valuable pearl. He says the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who finds a pearl of great price. He sells everything He has and buys the Pearl. Why does He not say that the kingdom of heaven is like a valuable pearl. Is Jesus the merchant who gives up everything for us(the pearl?)

    If I feel valuable in God's eye's(not righteous without Him) then I feel more like He loves me with an intimate, true love. If He calls me skeeterbug like my grandpa Kittle did or Jeffy like my Grandpa Hirschfeld did then I'll know He loves me. Or if He says you're the last thing I think of before I go to bed at night.

    If thats how He loves me, and I know I'm not spreading heracy I can tell other people about that. Maybe I can love them like that. For the most part they knwo the other half of the story.

    I read the entire blog about propitiation. Obviously I feel the need for understanding God's love more, but...OT...

    2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 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. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
    Isaiah 53:2-9 (KJV)

    I will read replies but I won't debate propitiation.

    Love in Christ

  43. Jeff,

    For one I would absolutely love to have a further discussion with you through e-mail. Feel free to e-mail me at fbcyouth AT rallstech DOT com.

    For now let me just say that I often feel like John when he exclaimed "what manner of love is this..." God's love is so intense that it is difficult to understand. I would like to dialogue with some of your comments but would prefer to do it through e-mail. So give me an e-mail and we can begin discussing.

  44. Jeff,
    First let me affirm God's passionate, unbridled love for you. It's not something he 'has' to do - He wants to love you! (If you knew me, you'd know I don't say this lightly - I struggle with that idea of God's love for me too!)

    I can read the citation from Isaiah just as anyone else. I don't really think I have anything to explain from it. Notice how the 'smitten' of God thing is connected (not to wrath), but to exile...finding his lot amongst the wicked. Which is exactly what I was arguing in my post where I addressed Galatians 3.

    Third, I think it is important to read that passage FIRST in its original context - the Suffering Servant is Isaiah, not Christ. Only later is that passage read as a predictor of Christ. But I think we have an exegetical responsibility to read it first in light of Isaiah's suffering for the people. Did God send his wrath on Isaiah? No, of course not - the passage does not say these things, nor does it imply them. When read in light of Is. first, then we can see how the idea of propitiation is absent. Then when we get to Christ, it's not even a question...especially considering the lack of evidence for it throughout the rest of the Bible. Thus, I believe a reading of PS onto Isaiah's Suffering Servant passage is anachronistic at best, and eisegetical prooftexting at worst. You may disagree, but I hope you can see where I'm coming from.

    All that to say (and I say this often to folks who quote scripture in theological debates) - it takes more than a mere citation of scripture to settle these things. Every individual scripture is grounded in a larger structural argument (as I hopefully took into my argument with David in my analysis of Romans 3 and Gal. 3).

    This structural context MUST be engaged, not just an isolated text which seems to support our position by itself. I can make any isolated text say just about anything I want it I'm sure you're aware from other discussions you've probably had with people.

    Those are my initial thoughts, at least. Let me think about them a few more days and maybe I'll have something else to contribute to that citation as it pertains to this discussion.

    Cheers brother, I appreciate the questions.

  45. Tom,

    When the Bible was written, the authors did not use some a new language or change the existing language to fit their purposes. They used the ordinary language of the day to communicate God’s message. It makes no sense they would have used words that everyone knew meant one thing and then gave them a completely different meaning. To suggest so, smacks of Gnosticism. In Greek, ἱλάσκομαι did not mean expiation, it meant propitiation. This was virtually unanimously agreed upon until the early part of the last century, and then began to change primarily through the writings of C. H. Dodd (especially his The Bible and the Greeks). There have been enough other people, who were/are much more intelligent than I am, who have studied this and written upon it (see especially Adolf Deissmann’s Bible Studies and Leon Morris’ Apostolic Preaching of the Cross) that I am not going to spend time arguing it. You even admit that in Pagan contexts, this is what it meant. Instead of trying to argue around the natural meaning of the word (which is propitiation), why not just accept it and try to understand in what sense God’s wrath needs to be appeased?

    Πρός θεὸς μονὸς τήν δοξάν


  46. Tom,

    What do you take the phrase 'the righteousness of God' (Romans 1:17; 3:5,21,22; 10:3) to mean?

    πρός θεὸν μονὸν τήν δοξάν


  47. David, let me take your first statement first. (I'll respond to your second post later b/c it's late right now and I don't have time.)

    Forgive the bluntness...I'm pressed for time...

    I believe you are participating in a Word Study fallacy. Words do not have exact, static, fixed meanings. They have dynamic usages which can vary in small and large ways.

    Hilasmos does not have a single meaning. And meaning is never determined by how it is used elsewhere (that is called an Illegitimate Totality Transfer fallacy). Rather, meaning is solely determined by context. I have argued from context (in every citation of the word) that the hilasmos as 'propitiation' simply does not make sense.

    Instead of dealing with my argument from context, you have just placed your chosen meaning on the word and assumed that is final. But it is not so, brother.

    The syntactical range of hilasmos is pretty large - as I demonstrated. So if you're going to change my mind you've got to argue with me from the context of each passage. I know it's a lot of work, but this is a worthwhile discussion to put a lot of work into. It bears on the very nature of God!

    Next, aside from your assumption that words have fixed meanings (which even DA Carson debunks in his book on Exegetical Fallacies), you also assume that that fixed meaning must be used the same way in every citation.

    Here's the problem - it's simply not true that this is the case. The Hebrews (long before Paul and Jesus) were fond of taking pagan words and ideas and subverting them. That is, they would use the words and phrases of pagan religions, but they would invest them with new meaning to teach true theology.

    Consider, for example, the NT use of the word "Lord." Yes, it parallels the OT's "Yahweh" but it ALSO was a word used by the Romans to refer to Caesar (who was considered a diety). The first place Jesus is called Lord by one of his disciples is in Caesarea Philippi (a place named after Caesar!). In other words, every time the Christians said that Jesus is 'lord' they were not only referring to him as Yahweh, but they were ALSO proclaiming allegiance to a different empire and different God!

    So, take that same idea and apply it to hilasmos - they took a pagan word and used it (in contexts!)in a way which subverted the "angry deity" ideas and showed that the God of the Christians was a different kind of God - one that did not need to be continually appeased b/c he was arbitrarily angry. (Even consider OT passages where Yahweh's anger is assuaged through a broken heart and contrite Spirit, NOT a sacrifice!...see Moses's prayer in Exodus after YAhweh threatens to destroy the people.)

    If you've followed my argument thus far, you can see that this happens ALL OVER THE PLACE in the Bible and that (even if I am wrong) it is a plausible argument at worst and a great argument at best.

    So, in conclusion, there are two main problems I have with your argument:
    1. It relies on an exegetical fallacy (Illegitimate Totality Transfer) where the meaning of a word in one place is stuck to the word in every other context.
    2. It disregards both the context (which I previously argued from)of the usage of hilasmos AND fails to see the pattern of the NT writers subverting pagan religions in the use and re-definition of their words. So, yes, they most assuredly did change the existing language to fit their purposes...this is not even a question amongst biblical scholars.

    Sorry if any of this is 'blunt', it's 1 am and I'm tired from a 10hr. drive from MO to KY. I've got to go to bed!

    Will respond to your Romans 3 question later, but I would encourage you to re-read my formulation of Paul's argument in Romans 3 in my previous post. In the end, though, it's a great question you have asked.

    Cheers brother.

  48. I would just like to add one more thing - the meaning of lots of words in the NT were assumed to be clear before the 18th and 19th centuries. But the challenges to those words after that are often legit...which is why we don't use the Greek text behind the KJV anymore.

    So to argue that the word's meaning was assumed prior to the 19th cent. is not only probably a misrepresentation of the evidence, but actually demonstrates nothing concerning your argument b/c this is a common thing given our new understandings of Gk. words, language theories, textual criticism, and the discoveries of thousands of other biblical manuscripts and extra-biblical documents.

    So, I appreciate that you don't want to argue about it, but I don't think you've provided a sufficient reason for me to 'admit' that you are right.

    I think you're oversimplifying the matter too much and giving yourself a false sense of security in this matter. And that's fine - that's your choice, to be sure. But I'm still coming with legit challenges, I think, despite your clarity on the matter.

    Anyway, I will consider your thoughts more tomorrow. But for now - off to bed!

  49. Tom,

    You are right that I was over-simplifying things in my last post. I understand that words have varying nuances in their meaning. I also understand that Jews were fond of taking Greek words and subverting their pagan meaning. Even in these instances, though, words have a root core meaning that they don't vary from. If the meaning of words was determined solely by their context, as you said, then words would have no meaning because then every word is determined by a bunch of other words whose meanings are only determined by the context of other words whose meanings are only determined by... you get the point. We have to have a starting point to determine what words mean. In Koine Greek, from everything that I have read, ἱλάσκομαι had a very narrow range of meanings. At its root it means to 'make gracious or merciful (i.e. to propitiate).' From there it moves to the nuance of meaning ‘to appease.’ This is the primary meaning of the word and should not be abandoned unless the context absolutely demands it. It appears that you start with expiation, only willing to abandon it if the context absolutely demands it. In truth, the burden of proof is on those that hold to the expiatory view.

    In your exposition of Romans, there are several things that I question the validity of. However, in order to engage your exposition, I need to know what your view on the phrase ‘the righteousness of God’ in Romans 1:17; 3:5, 21, 22; 10:3.

    πρός θεὸν μονὸν τήν δοξάν

  50. David, thanks for the concession.

    You are right that words have various meanings and therefore sometimes it is difficult to understand the meaning of a single word in the context of other various words with various meanings. (This observations has infact led some to the pessimistic conclusion that you hint at - that there is no inherent meaning in language).

    That said, I don't think it's the either/or you seem to cast it in. God is a speaking God and he intends that his words be understood. But there are language rules and they must be acknowledged - they are difficult and nuanced!

    A word only means what it means within a given context. This is basic language study - be it Greek, English, or whatever. You cannot take the 'root' meaning of a word and apply it anywhere - language doesn't work that way.

    You and I both work with multifaceted language and assume we have understanding, even though we use words that have various meanings. The meanings of the words we use are determined by context. Epistemological humility requires that we always acknowledge that our knowledge of a given word is never 100%, but there ARE more likely and less likely options.

    Our discussion of the word hilasmos is exactly that - a discussion of what is more likely. It will not work with me to continue to assert that propitiation is the main or even root meaning. That's not how language works. And even if it was, what is determinative is the context.

    I do not 'start with expiation' as you assert. I start with the context of a passage, as I believe I have tried to assert over and over - and none of those contexts, as you have yourself admitted, is explicitly propitiatory (overtly saying that God poured out his wrath on his Son).

    That said, I think we're going to run into the same problems that we are with hilasmos when discussion the 'justice of God' - you are already convinced of a fixed definition and have determined what the word means without looking at the context.

    If this were not so, then please begin by telling me you problems with my exegesis. You don't need my definition of God's righteousness to critique me, do you?

    The reason I'm saying that is b/c I feel like I'm doing all the exegetical leg work while you get to say, "No, that's not right because this person says this or this is what the fixed meaning is."

    So, instead, lets first finish our discussion of hilasmos (I do believe we can work with the other citations outside of Romans...if the idea of propitiation isn't in any of those, then surely it would not be present in Romans 3, won't you concede?).

    OR, lets at least begin our Rom. 3 discussion with your critique of my exegesis so it doesn't seem like I'm doing all the hard work here.

    Not trying to be rude, brother. I'm just mildly frustrated b/c I am trying to do careful exegetical analysis and you are coming back with your favorite scholarly opinion, but ignoring my contextual arguments and trying to justify your opinions through exegetical fallacies and faulty logic.

    I'm just being honest about what it seems like to me. I don't mean it in any way to be mean. If this is not the case, then please demonstrate the faultiness of my logic/exegesis by providing some of your own as a response to mine.

    If we continue in this vein of discussion, then it is really not worth my time and effort to work hard at the discussion b/c I don't feel like you're putting the same amount of effort in.

    Again - not trying to be rude or mean spirited. Just expressing some frustration.

    Cheers brother.

  51. David,
    Here's the thing, man....why don't we just call it a truce?

    We've been discussing this for 2 months with little or no head-way.

    I may disagree with your position, but I don't consider it 'un' or 'anti' Christian.

    While I think there is a dangerous side to it, I know that many believers through the ages have held to it and have served God while believing in it.

    So long as you can grant me the same statements, then I'm happy to lay down my logical and exegetical guns and let the conversation be lost to cyberspace and random googlers.

    What say you?

  52. Tom,

    Fair enough. Mike and I were actually talking, just yesterday, about whether or not to continue this... discussion.

    If we are to stop this, I do want to thank you for challenging me. I haven't had a whole lot of mental exercise lately, so this discussion has been good for me. I have been looking deeper into scripture than I have in quite a while.

    Before we do quit, I just want to make something clear. Mike pointed out to me yesterday that I had been arguing from something of a polar position. So, let me state this for the record: I do believe that God does have need of being propitiated (which He does Himself), but this is done primarily through Christ acting as an expiation (as long as expiation is understood as paying the penalty for sin).

    πρός θεὸν μονὸν τήν δοξάν

    David S. Dittmer

  53. I enjoyed the discussion as well, David. I'm sure we'll engage more on here, brother. Looking forward to future discussions.

  54. Where exactly in the bible does it say that he would have died for one person?

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. The question eludes to a conflict of interest. If there were only one person on Earth and Jesus still had to die to afford that one person salvation... who, among that single person, betrays him, tortures him and nails him to the cross to fulfill the prophesy... if not that single person?

    Matthew 26:24 invalidates the cause:

    "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

    "Woe". Not a desirable outcome for the individual that must fulfill prophesy by betrayal. Not a desirable outcome for the only person on Earth requiring salvation.


    1) How is such a statement helpful?

    As long as the listener does not consider the prophesy and as being the necessary "Judas Iscariot" of the scenario, the statement could be used to exemplify god's love for each individual.

    2) How might such a statement be harmful?

    If the listener considers prophesy and their place in it as the necessary "Judas Iscariot" character to fulfill prophesy, they realize, based on scripture, that the matter of their own salvation is rendered irrelevant and, therefore, the entire purpose of Christ along with it.

    To indemnify doctrine and faith, do not EVER ask any questions within the confines of christianity that might invoke actual logical thought. Therein lies the gateway to atheism.



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