When Is Atonement Complete?

I was browsing my twitter account and saw a reference to the following article titled, “The Only String Attached to the Gospel” published at The Gospel Coalition’s web site.

The article began, “Over the past decade, youth ministry has benefited from insightful analysis about the church’s inability to raise lasting disciples of Christ. Amid the many factors contributing to teenage wandering from the faith, none is more critical than the absence of the full gospel in youth ministry. Simply put, too often our youth hear a gospel with strings attached.
Whether explicitly or implicitly, students hear: “God loves you, but you need to do x, y, and z.” “Yes, Jesus died for your sins, but you must _____.” In other words, “God loves you, but there’s still work left to do to merit or maintain his full acceptance.” This message undermines the complete work of Christ on the cross and ramps up the performance treadmill for young Christians naturally bent toward legalism in the early stages of their faith.”

Cole then explains his position with the following statement: What exactly do I mean when I say we should anchor our ministries in grace? I mean we should teach and operate as if Jesus’ accomplishment on the cross is entirely sufficient for God’s acceptance and redemption of sinners. In Christ, God has rescued sinners from wrath, imputed to them Christ’s righteousness, and adopted them as sons and daughters. There’s nothing a follower of Jesus can do to nullify this reality. “It is finished,” the dying Savior said.

About the only thing Cole has right is the last sentence I referenced, Jesus’ final words on the cross, “It is finished.” The question is, what was Jesus referring too when He cried out this final statement on the cross? Cole seems to suggest Jesus’ death on the cross “has rescued sinners from wrath, imputed to them Christ’s righteousness and adopted them as sons and daughters.” This is a strong claim that the Bible itself does not support.

What Cole is referring to is the atonement. Atonement is reconciliation completed. Atonement is “at-one-ment” or right standing with God conferred. If Christ’s righteousness is imputed to someone and they are adopted as sons and daughters, then right standing has been granted. Now the reality of these for the believer is not what is in question; what is in question is when does atonement take place: at the cross or when one believes. Cole says that Christ’s righteousness is imputed at the cross; he writes that adoption as sons and daughters takes place at the cross. If this is true, then there is no need for the sinner to repent. This simply is not an acceptable theological position.

If atonement is completed at the cross for the elect or anyone for that matter, then a couple things MUST be true. First of all, the elect are never in danger of God’s wrath and are never children of wrath because God’s wrath has been appeased at Calvary and the sins of the elect are paid for in full and so there is nothing for the elect to repent of. Of course Ephesians 4 and I Peter 1 indicate that there is a former life of sin that has been put away so it is obvious that even for the elect, the atonement is not completed until it is applied to the individual and he is “born from above” or converted.

There is a profound difference in looking at the reality of the provisions of the atonement being completed at the cross and the atonement itself being completed at the cross. The problem with the latter is that it simply is not a sustainable argument. The atonement is not complete until it is applied to the individual so it cannot be complete at the cross or there is no need for its application. It cannot be completed at the cross and then applied at some point in a person’s life. Complete is just that, complete.

What is accurate is that the provisions of the atonement were completed at the cross. When Jesus cried out “It is finished” what He was saying was everything necessary for the salvation of believers has been completed. God’s wrath has been satisfied because provision for sin has been paid for in full for those who have already looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises to provide the suitable sacrifice for sin and for those who will believe in the sacrifice given.

One of the questions raised often about whose sin did Jesus actually die for is another interesting question. If Jesus died for the sins of all men, then the price has been paid for sin and men cannot be cast into hell for sins that have already been paid for. This argument that makes atonement important at the cross for the elect. For if the provisions of the atonement are what was finished at the cross and atonement itself is completed at application, then it removes the double jeopardy argument of being punished twice for sins that have been paid for on the cross. If the atonement is completed at conversion, which is the Scriptural position, then it is being “born again” that brings spiritual adoption and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit into the heart of an individual and right standing is established at that time and the benefits of the provisions of the atonement become a reality. In this case, it is the application of the provisions of the atonement that brings conversion to the ones who believe and not a blanket condition as suggested by a theory of atonement accomplished and completed on the cross for a select group of people.

In conclusion, even for the proponents of Calvinism, atonement is not completed at the cross but at conversion or regeneration. For until regeneration takes place even for the elect, they are dead in their trespass and sin and have dead hearts an deaf ears and are enemies of the cross. Even for the strictest Calvinist, atonement is not completed at the cross but when God effectually moves in their heart to bring new life. It is at that point that atonement is completed and not before.

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49 Responses to When Is Atonement Complete?

  1. Thank you for this article. I have heard my pastor preach that there is no punishment for our sins no wrath from God if we are believers because it was all taken care of at the cross. This leaves nothing for the believer to do. It gives open season to sin because nothing will happen. This is very dangerous. Paul warns over and over against believing we have a lisence to sin. It was a great article thank you sir. By the way please keep me and my family in your prayers as i have been called to leave youth ministry and enter pastoral ministry. This sunday is iur last at our current church and we move to the Texas panhandle to serve as Pastor.

    • sbcissues says:

      Will keep you and your family in our prayers as you transition from youth ministry to the pastorate. Not sure what your pastor is referring to… if he is saying that our sins are paid for on the cross WHEN we believe then he is right to some degree; we will not endure the wrath of God in eternity. This is not to be confused with sanctification or developing the mind of Christ as a believer. I certainly hope this is the context with which he is speaking otherwise I would say there may be some serious problems.

      In my view as expressed in this article, if one takes the atonement as being completed at Calvary for the elect, THEN I maintain there is NOTHING else to be done; not repentance or actually… not even regeneration because the atonement is regeneration completed; atonement is right standing granted. So if one believes that regeneration is essential then the atonement is not completed until it is applied.

      Seems tough for some to swallow but it is really a very simple principle… at least as I see it.

    • lydiasellerofpurple says:

      “I have heard my pastor preach that there is no punishment for our sins no wrath from God if we are believers because it was all taken care of at the cross. This leaves nothing for the believer to do. It gives open season to sin because nothing will happen. This is very dangerous. ”

      This doctrine is wrecking moral chaos in youth groups. There is a lot of spoken emotion about being so unworthy of salvation yet chosen anyway and then waiting around for their definition of “imputed righteousness” to take effect. When it does not magically take effect it is open season on sin. There is no teaching on sanctification that is applicable because humans can do nothing. The moral chaos this is causing in young people is breaking my heart.

      And we wonder why Ex Christians and Homeschoolers anonymous is full of young formerly reformed but now atheists. Lots of young people fell away when they left for college but most never became rabid atheists. We are starting to see a totally different effect on the young from this determinist god paradigm.

  2. Bob,

    I think in some way and in some sense we may be closer than farther apart. I contend that the atonement was accomplished on the cross. Satisfaction was achieved by our substitute. But, it was not applied to the elect, at least not the future elect (future from the cross), until the point in time when the Holy Spirit applies the full benefits of the atonement at a person’s salvation.

    In other words, atonement was made for me on the cross. The atonement wasn’t applied to me until 1983.

    Now, on your previous article, I posed the following. Can you respond to this?

    “Particularly have I never seen from synergists who deny unconditional election an answer to this:

    “…everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (Rev 13:8 ESV)
    And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15 ESV)

    These particular names were known to God before the foundation of the world. When were they written in the book of life? Before the foundation of the world.

    So, that is a fixed number. How, in the non Calvinist view, is this verse reconciled with their view that Jesus atoned for everyone without exception and the number of people who ultimately will be saved is not known? Even not known to God.

    What, is God still adding names to the scroll?”

    What say you?

    • sbcissues says:

      With reference to your question dealing with the Lamb’s Book of Life… Revelation 13 is dealing with men still in this world who worship the beast from the sea. I am not a big Revelation scholar so I am not going to spend much time on that particular passage. As to Revelation 20 those whose names were not written were cast into the lake of fire.

      Revelation 3:5 is an interesting comment… He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

      Some have suggested that every person born has their name recorded in the Book of Life… and if they die without Christ their names are blotted out. Those who are saved their names are left in the book.

      I do not really know just exactly what the specifics of the Lamb’s Book of Life are except we both want our names there and because we belong to Him, it is there. Now as to written from the foundation of the world… that can be a reference to the book itself or the names written in it. I do not believe there is enough written on the Book to make any significant contributions to this discussion but that is just my position.

      Now for the record… I have never made any statement with respect to the number of those who are saved being ultimately unknown by God. Someone asked me one time… did I believe my name was written in the Lambs book of life BEFORE the world was formed or after I was saved. My answer was yes.

      I guess my answer has not changed.

    • sbcissues says:

      ok… you say atonement was accomplished on the cross… I say the provisions of the atonement were completed on the cross… so there is no issue there.

      Now… here is the deal… it is not applied until one believes… at conversion. Agreed?

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob, you say “the provisions of the atonement were completed on the cross.”

      I don’t think that says enough. I think it is proper to say the atonement was accomplished. Satisfaction was made. Sacrifice, propitiation, reconciliation, redemption. All this was accomplished on the cross and was applied to all those prior and is applied to the elect in the future.

      I really think the reason you are not willing to agree with me is that you want to hold out the possibility that every human post cross is potentially one of the elect. is that a fair assumption?

      • sbcissues says:

        Look reconciliation was NOT accomplished on the cross… that is a relationship that is established when one believes! Substitution, propitiation, expiation even redemption can be completed at the cross… I simply say these are provisions OF the atonement that is completed WHEN one believes.

        It is not that I am not willing to agree with you… that is a shallow statement… atonement cannot be accomplished until it is appropriated. I do not see what the BIG deal is on your part.

        It cannot be both… accomplished (completed) at the cross and then completed at application for the believer.

        We BOTH know that I believe every human post Calvary can believe and become part of the elect. That is the basis of a relationship initiated by God and accepted by the believer.

      • As Bob W referenced Murray. Murray wrote,

        “Reconciliation. Our sin has brought an alienation between God and us. Murray goes to great lengths to show that the reconciliation here in view is the alienation of God from us, not our alienation from God. We must be restored to God’s favor, but first, the ground of the enmity between us must be removed. The death of Christ accomplished this, and so made this reconciliation possible. Reconciliation is something we receive from God.”

        What Murray is saying, and I agree, is the barrier was taken away at the cross from God’s perspective. I’m not viewing reconciliation from our side.

      • sbcissues says:

        I do not have a problem with Murray’s statement at all. Note he said Jesus death “made reconciliation possible.” I agree. I am not sure I agree with your conclusion that the cross the barrier was taken away; I believe reconciliation is only possible because of Calvary but is only available when one believes. Therefore the cross gives provision for reconciliation to take place but when one believes reconciliation DOES take place and not before.

        Reconciliation is atonement completed.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        First, I may have not been clear. The quote above is part Murray and part someone commenting on Murray.

        Second, and I think Murray is correct, he says that reconciliation in the bible with regards to the cross absolutely happened in the past at the cross. Here is Murray in his own words.

        2 Corinthians 5:18-21. It will serve to confirm what we have found in Romans 5:8-11 to set forth the salient features of the teaching of this passage.
        The reconciliation is represented as a work of God. It begins with God and it is accomplished by him. “All things are of God who reconciled us to himself” (ver. 18). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (ver. 19). This emphasis upon divine monergism advises us that reconciliation is a work that does not, as such, draw within its scope human action. As accomplishment it does not enlist, nor is it dependent upon, the activity of men.

        Reconciliation is a finished work. The tenses in verses 18,19,21 put this beyond doubt. It is not a work being continuously wrought by God; it is something accomplished in the past. God is not only the sole agent but also the agent of action already perfected.

        That in which the reconciliation consisted is expounded for us in this passage. “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (ver. 21). This clearly points us to the vicarious sinbearing of Christ as that which brought the reconciliation into being. This forensic character of the reconciliation is also borne out in verse 19 where “not reckoning to them their trespasses is related to the reconciling of the world as the explanation of that in which the reconciliation consists or as the consequence in which it issues. In either case reconciliation has its affinities with the non-imputation of trespasses rather than with any subjective operation.

        This accomplished work of reconciliation is the message committed to the messengers of the gospel (ver.19) It constitutes the content of the message. But the message is that which is declared to be a fact. Conversion, it ought to be remembered, is not the gospel. It is the demand of the gospel message and the proper response to it. Any transformation which occurs in us is the effect in us of that which is proclaimed to have been accomplished by God. The change in our hearts and minds presupposes the reconciliation.

        The exhortation “be ye reconciled to God” (ver. 20) should be interpreted in terms of what we have found to be the ruling conception in reconciliation. It means: he no longer in a state of alienation from God but enter rather into the relation of favour and peace established by the reconciliatory work of Christ. Take advantage of the grace of God and enter into this status of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
        The reconciliation of which the Scripture speaks, as accomplished by the death of Christ, contemplates, therefore, the relation of God to us. It presupposes a relation of alienation and it effects a relation of favour and peace. This new relation is constituted by the removal of the ground for the alienation. The ground is sin and guilt. The removal is wrought in the vicarious work of Christ, when he was made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Christ took upon himself the sin and guilt, the condemnation and the curse of those on whose behalf he died. This is the epitome of divine grace and love. It is God’s own provision and it is his accomplishment. God himself in his own Son has removed the ground of offence and we receive the reconciliation. It is the message of this divine performance, perfected and complete, that is addressed to us in the gospel, and the demand of faith is crystallized in the plea that is uttered on behalf of Christ and as of God, “be ye reconciled to God.” Believe that the message is one of fact and enter into the joy and blessing of what God has wrought. Receive the reconciliation.

        http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/natureatone.html

    • Les Prouty says:

      And, the atonement and all that was accomplished is not applied until the time of their salvation.

  3. I have another thought on this post, but I’ll wait till you respond to my first comment.

  4. Bob Wheeler says:

    I think I understand what you’re saying and would basically agree. I just feel a little uncomfortable with the way you expressed it — “the atonement is not complete until it is applied to the individual.” That tends to make it sound like Christ’s needs us to complete His work.
    Years ago Prof. John Murray wrote a great little book entitled “Redemption Accomplished and Applied.” In it he said that superabundance of God’s grace “appears in the historic accomplishment of redemption by the work of Christ once for all; and it appears in the application of redemption continuously and progressively till it reaches its consummation in the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” (p. 79). He goes on to point out that the application of redemption includes calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification.
    It could also be argued that, strictly speaking, the accomplishment of redemption is the work of Christ. The application of redemption is the work of the Spirit.
    I did read Cameron Cole’s article at the Gospel Coalition website and had some problems with it. One of the (false) claims often made about Calvinism, and even the doctrine of justification by faith alone itself, is that it leads to antinomianism. Cole lends credence to the accusation by arguing for “his ever-present redemption for young rebels who can’t seem to get their act together.” If a young person is still a rebel, he hasn’t repented. And if he hasn’t repented, he isn’t converted. Moreover, even in the case of a person who has been genuinely converted, there is nothing in sovereign grace, predestination, effectual calling or imputed righteousness that relieves him of his responsibility to follow Jesus in the path of discipleship. Sin, if not confessed, will come between us and God, and grieve the Holy Spirit. How many churches has forfeited the blessing of God because they failed to deal with sin and strife in their midst!

    • sbcissues says:

      Bob W

      “the atonement is not complete until it is applied to the individual.” That tends to make it sound like Christ’s needs us to complete His work.

      If we do not believe then the Savior cannot complete His Work can He? Either way we have that problem.

      With respect to redemption as cited by Murray, I believe he is correct in that it was accomplished at Calvary; What I call a provision of the atonement.

      I am not so sure I agree with his progressive application statement. Redemption is applied when one believes and reconciliation is achieved when one believes.

      • Bob Wheeler says:

        I think what Murray was driving at is this: there’s a difference between Christ accomplishing redemption on the cross and the Holy Spirit applying it to our lives. As a propitiatory sacrifice it was completed when Christ died and rose again. It benefits, however, aren’t realized until the Holy Spirit regenerates, sanctifies, and ultimate glorifies individual sinners throughout history.

      • sbcissues says:

        Propitiation was completed on the cross; Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross indeed satisfied God’s wrath for the consequences of man’s sin; propitiation is NOT atonement; it is an element of atonement. The atonement is not completed until it is applied to one’s life. That is my point.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Packer:

        “The Cross propitiated God (i.e., quenched his wrath against us by expiating our sins and so removing them from his sight). Key texts here are Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2 and 4:10, in each of which the Greek expresses propitiation explicitly. The cross had this propitiatory effect because in his suffering Christ assumed our identity, as it were, and endured the retributive judgment due to us (“the curse of the law,” Gal. 3:13) as our substitute, in our place, with the damning record of our transgressions nailed by God to his cross as the tally of crimes for which he was now dying (Col. 2:14; cf. Matt. 27:37; Isa. 53:4-6; Luke 22:37).”

  5. Les Prouty says:

    Now to another point. You said about Cole,

    “Cole says that Christ’s righteousness is imputed at the cross; he writes that adoption as sons and daughters takes place at the cross.”

    I think you may be reading into what he said more than he meant. He went on to say,

    “In Christ, God has rescued sinners from wrath, imputed to them Christ’s righteousness, and adopted them as sons and daughters. There’s nothing a follower of Jesus can do to nullify this reality. “It is finished,” the dying Savior said.”

    He is talking about followers of Jesus. He is not talking about just anyone. Christians are to live under this knowledge.

    Now admittedly I haven’t read all he wrote since you didn’t link to it. I should probably do that. But I would be surprised if what he was saying is that all of the benefits of the cross were actually applied at the cross.

  6. james jordan says:

    Even the sacrifice itself could not be finished when Jesus said “It is finished” because the sacrifice comes in two parts.

    1. The layman slits the goat’s throat
    2. The priest collects the blood, dashed blood on the altar, and cooks the carcass.

    Which part was finished? Only #1.

    That’s why in John he tells Mary “Don’t touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father.”

    That’s why in Hebrews it talks about him entering the holy of holies in heaven with his blood.

    Anyone who takes “It is finished” to mean that the whole sacrifice is complete, is biblically illiterate.

    • james jordan says:

      This, by the way, was amazingly one of the differences between the Reformers and (of all people) Socinus. Socinus based his whole theology of atonement on HEBREWS, and the Reformed hate Hebrews as much as they hate the Hebrews. As a result, his view of atonement was not the Penal Substitution view, because that view makes ZERO sense with Hebrews.

      His Arianism need not detain us here. In fact, his Arianism was basically the result of Hebrews too, since Hebrews is very plain that Jesus could not be a priest on earth, because on earth to be a priest one must be of the tribe of LEVI and yet, as Hebrews says, “It is evident that this man was of the tribe of JUDAH.” So he could not be a priest until he got to heaven. Socinus merely extends this to the godhood as well, that while on earth he was both layman and only man, but in heaven he is both priest and God.

      Ignoring the Arian bit of this, Socinus is clearly right: Jesus was not and could not be a priest on earth, and so the only part of the sacrifice that could be accomplished on earth was the layman’s part, killing the animal. The sacrifice had to be completed later on, once JEsus got to heaven and became a priest after the order of Melichisadek.

      I once read a book by a Calvinist responding to Socinus, and he had no clue how to deal with Hebrews so he simply asserted, asserted, asserted, and focuses on Socinus’ Arianism. But without the Arianism, the whole thing still follows the book of Hebrews line for line. And Calvinists CANNOT deal with it. Man I wish I remembered the name of that book though.

      And you all thought Socinus entirely denies the atonement, right? Just another lie the Calvinists tell, like saying Pelagius rejected grace when he simply defined grace as God’s mercy rather than as magic enabling power. All the Calvinists know how to do is lie, overcomplicate, and oversimplify by overcomplicating.

      Let the whole discussion focus on Hebrews, and see the Calvinists go insane.

      • Bob Wheeler says:

        A number of Calvinist have written excellent commentaries oh Hebrews, including John Owen, the English Puritan, John Brown, the Scottish theologian, and more recently Philip Edgcombe Hughes, not to mention Calvin himself! Calvin said of the epistle: “There is, indeed, no book in Holy Scripture which speaks so clearly of the priesthood of Christ, which so highly exalts the virtue and dignity of that only true sacrifice which He offered by His death, which so abundantly deals with the use of ceremonies as well as their abrogation, and, in a word, so fully explains that Christ is the end of the Law. Let us therefore not allow the Church of God or ourselves to be deprived of so great a benefit, but firmly defend the possession of it.” (Theme, Hebrews).

      • james jordan says:

        Calvin wrote that before Socinus came around, however. Nobody was yet quite aware of how Christ not being able to be a priest on earth per Hebrews would affect the asinine Calvinist theory that “it is finished” meant everything is finished. Socinus in this regard was much like Augustine. Nobody took Romans seriously until Augustine, and nobody took Hebrews seriously until Socinus.

  7. Waldensian says:

    Hi James,

    Just want to get this straight,

    You deny that God demands a sacrifice for sin
    You deny that Christ was God in the flesh (Arianism/Gnosticism)
    You deny original sin (Pelagianism)
    You deny Justification by faith alone (Legalism)
    You deny the inerrancy of the bible (liberalism)

    Does that about sum it up or have I missed any other heresies?

    • Brothers, James is far from orthodox. His views are clearly laid out on his website where he appears to be baiting Christians to argue with him. This is a person who calls Paul’s words in scripture and Paul a liar:

      “46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.’ (Acts 13:46 KJV)

      This I dare say is a lie. Paul was already preaching to Gentiles before the Jews rejected his message, but he’s pretending that he is only doing it because the Jews rejected it. That is deceit.

      He does this again in Romans 11 where he claims, in verse 11, that “through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles” — such a lie. Paul was going to preach to Gentiles whether the Jews accepted his message or not. He was already doing it!!”

      Brothers I think theological disputing is a mistake here. Evangelism seems more appropriate if one wants to engage.

    • james jordan says:

      Justification by faith alone, at least if we’re talking initial justification and ultimate justification both rather than just initial justification, is the real legalism because it leads to legalistic antinomianism. It leads to making Laws against living right, which is why the American church is so screwed up, and its why all the Evangelicals (under the thumb of Calvinism) are moving in the direction of supporting homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.

      And the Waldensians were Gnostic heretics who forbade marriage. Read any account of them not written by Baptist “trail of blood” fanatics and you’ll see that.

      Accusations of heresy are a deflection from having to deal with actual arguments. Heresy is always in the eye of the beholder, certainly in Protestantism. Who is the pope for us to determine who is a heretic infallibly ex cathedra? You’re not my pope — I didn’t vote for you.

      “Heresy” doesn’t work on a broad cross-denominational scale like you tyrants want to pretend. Only on the local level can each individual congregation define this for themselves, because when we threw off the shackles of Rome, we did away with centralized authority figures who are vicars of Christ on earth. And beyond that, knowledge of the OLD Testament has advanced lightyears since the Reformation, requiring modifications to many doctrines that were of old crystallized by antisemitic Jew-brewing Catholic church fathers who couldn’t read even the shortest book of the Old Testament, like Habakkuk, all the way through because they were so biblically illiterate. You Calvinists are going to have an increasingly hard time selling your nonsense to anyone but crackheads considering how advanced the knowledge of the OLD Testament is for any Christian who dares crack a book.

  8. james jordan says:

    Deflection from the fact that Hebrews demolishes Calvinism when its taken seriously, which Calvinism cannot take it. Maybe I can’t take it too seriously either, but how does that help you?

  9. james jordan says:

    I want to say this about heretics. Whether it Marcion, Valentinus, Basilides, Cerinthus, Simon, Marcus the Magician, Tatian, Montanus, Mani, Arius, Nestorius, Origen, Pelagius, Novatian, Priscillian, (all listed off the top of my head, so I deserve a cookie), Socinus, Arminius, and whoever else — without them, without the heretics, there would be no orthodoxy. Your favorite flavor of orthodoxy was created to answer them. Orthodoxy is not simply what the scriptures say. Orthodoxy is an evolving thing, a set of answers to heretics, partially derived from scripture, but much moreso a refactoring of scripture through a philosophical lense to meet the objects of these men, whatever they might be, when the dominant groups considers them wrong. The dominant group might not actually consider them wrong for scriptural reasons. There is no scripture that says, for instance, that “there never was a time when Christ was not.” but quite the contrary Arius could appeal to Collosians “firstborn OF creation” (not OVER creation as modern translations cover for orthodoxy) — Arius had scripture somewhat on his side in his claim that a Son must be begotten and thus not exist until being begotten, and “firstborn OF creation” helps him out, but who cares? We don’t like his doctrine, so scripture be damned. Our philosophical objection will refactor scripture, and “firstborn OF creation” will gain a queri to be read “firstborn OVER creation” and everyone who reads scripture AS WRITTEN will be a damnable heretic, and only those who read it according to our query, our ORAL LAW, will be right orthodoxy and saved. This is how orthodoxy is DEVELOPED by men. Rather than shouting down heretics, therefore, evolve your orthodoxy to deal with them. Quit yer bellyackin and incorporate my objections into your system, and hand down to the next generation a NEW orthodoxy, as has ALWAYS been done. THere is no point in time where orthodoxy becomes stagnant and finished for all time — this is what you guys are arguing, that Calvin was the end of orthodoxy, that no development is to take place after him. We must all bow to Calvin for all time. Sorry, no, but the production of new orthodoxies marches on. And if it leaves some throwbacks in the past, so be it.

  10. Waldensian says:

    James,

    You seem rather skilled at making these wide sensational claims about Hebrews, the OT and your constant disdain at the biblical doctrine of pre-destination among other widely accepted biblical truths, just wondering if you have some exegesis of the pertinent texts to go with those statements, or should we just believe you simply because you have asserted it?

    I can assure you sir while that type of brash bold denunciation might win kudo’s with the uninformed it isn’t convincing or compelling to those of us that are biblically literate. So please stop bashing Calvinist’s and everyone else that don’t hold to your unorthodox and heretical (technical term) views and provide a positive presentation of your beliefs and the biblical argumentation for doing so.

    …always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1Pe 3:15 ESV)

    Solus Christus

    • james jordan says:

      If you are indeed so biblically literate, Waldensian from the forest, then deal with the point that was raised from Hebrews. Show how much you know.

      In Hebrews it is stated, in two different chapters, and I’m sure you know exactly which ones! I won’t insult your literacy by bothering to cite exactly where. But it is stated that Jesus “if he were on earth” could not be a priest, “because there are priests who minister according to the Law,” and again “it is clear that the one we are speaking of is of the tribe of Judah, not Levi.”

      This being the case, Jesus could not COMPLETE a sacrifice on earth, but only initiate one. As the layman in the OT (I’m sure you know exactly where this is too, so I won’t insult you by telling you what you already know) would slit the throat of the goat. But then the priest would take over, and obviously, the sacrifice was not complete until the priest applied the blood to the altar. In the case of a corporate sacrifice it must be applied not only to the altar, but inside the holy of holies.

      Of course, there are some problems here. One of them being that a layman could not initiate the corporate sacrifice but only an individual sacrifice for himself. The High Priest alone could initiate the corporate sacrifice, and that only after having fully been installed as priest. If Jesus was a layman on earth — and Hebrews he clear he could not be a priest on earth — then he would not technically be able to initiate a corporate sacrifice but only a personal sacrifice for himself.

      But let’s ignore that difficult, as those allege they are so biblically literate always do. Let’s deal only with the first issue. The sacrifice could not be complete until Jesus as priest applied it in the holy of holies, which we are told is heaven, and he could not do this before saying “It is finished” because he was on earth.

      Also “Touch me not for I am not yet ascended to my father” demonstrates that he must not allow himself to be made ritually impure prior to finishing the sacrifice by entering the holy of holies in heaven. All of this goes to confirm that the sacrifice could not be complete until after he entered heaven and became high priest after the order of Melcihsedek.

      Now, what sayest thou?

      • Waldensian says:

        Hi James,

        In respect to your comments on Hebrews I’m not sure exactly what your point is. The scripture that you mentioned (but didn’t quote) is after a pretty long discussion on the High Priestly office of Melchizedek.

        This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7:15-17 ESV)

        Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. (Hebrews 8:4 ESV)

        It’s concluding that Jesus’ ministry was far superior to that of the Levitical priesthood that this new testament was bringing to an end-

        But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (Hebrews 8:6 ESV)
        He does away with the first in order to establish the second. (Hebrews 10:9 ESV)

        For unlike the ministry of the former Christ’s intersession will continue for his people forever-

        This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. (Hebrews 7:22-24 ESV)

        Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant (Hebrews 9:15 ESV)

        So again I’m not sure what your point is in mentioning the High Priesthood, no one is denying that Christ had to die first or that his duties in that role are not to intercede for his people in heaven-

        Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25 ESV)

        I can only assume that you take exception to Calvinist’s stating that the work is “finished” and as has been previously explained over and over again, we are simply affirming that there is nothing humanly speaking that can be added to that divine work which ironically is the whole thrust of Hebrews, that Christ’s work to perfect his people is his and his alone-

        But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:12-14 ESV)

        Post tenebras lux

    • james jordan says:

      “I can assure you sir while that type of brash bold denunciation might win kudo’s with the uninformed it isn’t convincing or compelling to those of us that are biblically literate.”

      This is funny to me. Are you quoting Erasmus against Luther, from the Hyperaspistes? Its almost an exact quote!

      • james jordan says:

        The discussion has also taken a turn in that exact direction, I suppose. Erasmus complains that Luther rejects all popes, church fathers, councils, all tradition. That’s what you’re arguing too. I reject all the Protestant synods and so on. I’m in the position of Luther appealing to scripture alone, and even tossing out what bits of scripture I will as he tossed the epistle of straw to the fire, and you’re in the position of Erasmus defending tradition and crying for submission to ancient authorities. All the councils and popes were antichrist, Luther said. Erasmus couldn’t deal with that, nor can you deal with one who rejects all your synods.

  11. Waldensian says:

    Hi James,

    The Colossians text is not affirming that Christ is created, the “first born” is demonstrating the pre-eminence of Christ over the created order as the proceeding verses demonstrate. It is both a relational and positional term that most in the 1st century would have been familiar with, but which is somewhat lost on modern Christians as we generally don’t hold a pre-eminence for the “first born” among our other offspring. There is no doubt that Christ was not created as John affirms in his prologue –

    All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (Joh 1:3 ESV)

    If Christ were a created being then obviously “all things” that were created were not therefore created by him. Nor does this passage in any way undercut the numerous other passages that affirm the deity of Christ, where he is called God, assumes the titles of God, has OT passages describing Yahweh applied to him, accepts worship, forgives sin and places himself on equal terms with the Father, none of which a created being could ever dare lay a claim to. The Arians were considered heretical because the Church nearly universally saw that such teaching was contrary to the overwhelming biblical evidence that refuted their teaching.

    Your view that theology is somehow evolving or that we require to continually reassess what has been accepted by the mainstay of Christians over the last 2000 years is only true in the sense that every generation must make their stand for truth as enunciated in scripture against those that would attempt to denigrate it. What’s interesting is that none of your views are all that unique, clever or new as a wise person once said there are no new heresies just old re-packaged ones. The truth is not evolving James the faith is unchanged and unmoved as Jude stated-

    I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jud 1:3 ESV)

    Your statement that I am akin to a Roman Catholic for recognising the combined wisdom of those that came before us is rather hard to follow, especially in the light of your own statements regarding those from history that shared your views, I think the inconsistency of that assertion speaks volumes as to the validity of your dubious claims.

    I think given your many comments it is evident James that you do not believe you have anything to learn from anyone you are an island of one, no doubt not involved in a fellowship where those ordained by God to shepherd and have authority over you are able to speak into your life in the attempt to right many of the erroneous things you believe.

    Sola Scriptura

    And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1Pe 5:10-11 ESV)

    • james jordan says:

      You miss the point. I’m not asserting that theology SHOULD be this way, but that it IS under what you guys call orthodoxy. Your orthodoxy evolved over time. This cannot be denied. Every heretic that ever arose contributed to your orthodoxy, by coming up with something that forced your guys to came up with an answer. And sometimes, what the heretic said was right, or at least partially so, but the answer your guys came up with was 100% wrong. The example I gave is not the greatest, obviously. But there certainly was a time when Jesus was seen not as having been pre-existent as God, but as having been a man who was adopted by God (its in Acts, Peter is arguing it in Acts, “a man — a prophet — approved by God among you by signs and wonders. Him God has MADE both Lord and Christ” obviously as a result of his being approved, and in Acts again, at the resurrection it was declare “thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee” which is clearly an adoptionist Christology). So yes, your orthodoxy evolved. Should it be that way? No, of course not. But that’s the way Christian history has worked out. We can’t deny that.

    • james jordan says:

      “I think given your many comments it is evident James that you do not believe you have anything to learn from anyone you are an island of one”

      You’re quoting Erasmus against Luther again.

    • james jordan says:

      “…no doubt not involved in a fellowship where those ordained by God to shepherd and have authority over you are able to speak into your life in the attempt to right many of the erroneous things you believe.”

      Another barb of Erasmus against Luther.

  12. Waldensian says:

    Hi James,

    Your argument might have some validity if you lived 3ooo years ago and only had access to the first five books of the bible, but you aren’t in that position are you? You have the benefit of the entire canon of that which is God-breathed.

    The question isn’t what did people believe given what amount of revelation they had at any given time in history, the point is what does that totality of that revelation say? Does it purport to the claims you are making and if so why does the overwhelming testimony of biblical scholarship based on the entirety of that revelation disagree with you? That is the point Protestants are making when they appeal to “orthodoxy”, not that it is a standard in and of itself but as Sproul once stated “If you find yourself coming to a conclusion that the Church has nearly unanimously rejected then you may need to check your conclusion”, that is unless of course you don’t believe that you have anything to learn from others that have spent a far greater portion of their lives struggling through these very same issues.

    It’s not a question of being a Romanist James it’s a matter of humility and being teachable.

    Sola Scriptura

    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV)

    • james jordan says:

      “Your argument might have some validity if you lived 3ooo years ago and only had access to the first five books of the bible, but you aren’t in that position are you? You have the benefit of the entire canon of that which is God-breathed.”

      The Apocrypha was thrown out as late as the 1700s. Was that “3ooo years ago”?

      Your argument is like the argument of a Mormon. The Mormon Church had added the Book of Mormon to the canon, so sorry, Waldensian, but you don’t get to run back to your forest and use only the Old and New Testaments! No, because an organization of men added a book to the canon, you are forced to use it! Well, if it works for the Book of Mormon, it works doubly for the Marcionite epistles, I mean the Pauline epistle. Oops, Freudian slip.

      “Sproul once stated ‘If you find yourself coming to a conclusion that the Church has nearly unanimously rejected then you may need to check your conclusion’,”

      THAT’S WHAT LUTHER DID!!!!!! AND GUESS WHO MADE THE EXACT SAME ARGUMENT AGAINST HIM!!!!! IT WAS THAT “FOUL ROMANIST” AS YOU CALVINISTS CALL HIM: ERASMUS.

    • james jordan says:

      “It’s not a question of being a Romanist James it’s a matter of humility and being teachable.”

      Again, you’re quoting Erasmus against Luther. Have you been reading Hyperaspistes recently or something?

  13. Waldensian says:

    James,

    “. . . if what the church has decided is true and indubitable, it is not safe for the ignorant multitude to hear the reasons, protestations, and oaths for the other side. But this is what I was urging, that simple people be content to accept the Catholic opinion, believing and holding what they have received, that is, the very thing you have undertaken to impugn”

    If you can’t differentiate between Erasmus’ statement above and what I have said then I fear you have some real issues with understanding language my friend.

    Have I not said repeatedly in our exchanges that the final authority is scripture? I was making the point that it is rather foolhardy to simply ignore what many learned men has stated on an issue simply because you have your bible (+ Apocrypha) and no one can tell you anything i.e. a tradition of one. As the scriptures state:

    Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Pro 11:14 ESV)

    Sola Scriptura

    • james jordan says:

      Apparently you don’t know the difference between Hyperaspistes and Diatribe. I mentioned probably 3 times, that you sound like Erasmus in Hyperaspistes, not in Diatribe.

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