Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Church Retreat

I'll be gone for a few days on a church retreat. So, while all of you are busy being aimlessly unholy, I'll be locked away with a bunch of Christians veritably glowing with holiness.


Well, ok. Sometimes.

Until then, here's a video for your viewing pleasure. In it, conservative Christian, Greg Koukl, debates with self-help/new age guru, Deepak Chopra. Now this sort of thing doesn't usually turn me on, but I actually think it is a good example of courteous and thoughtful conservative Christian apologetics, and I though Koukl tended to generally have the upper hand. I liked his manner. However, Chopra started shinning towards the end in his insistence that he can embrace uncertainty. Koukl apparently didn't feel he could agree here, but I am strongly of the opinion that Christian's too can, nay must, embrace uncertainty. Anything else is an over-realised eschatology. Actually, the ability to accept and be comfortable with uncertainty is, I believe, a sign of spiritual maturity. Uncertainty indicates that one is closer to the truth.

As this question is engaging me at the moment, and if any are bothered, I would be interested to read your top few reasons why I should or shouldn't believe penal substitutionary atonement theory.

I wish you all a good few days!


At 5/15/2007 11:05 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

Paul believed it; why wouldn't you? ;-)

At 5/15/2007 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anthony said...

I was only bothered by the speed at which they were talking. I think they must have crammed 40 minutes into 36.

At 5/16/2007 9:37 PM, Anonymous Mr. Smith said...

It seems to have been in the forefront of Jesus' own mind in Gethsemane: he asked thrice for the cup to be taken from him. What cup? See Psa. 75:8, Isa. 51:17-22, Jer. 25:15ff., Ezek. 23:31ff., Hab. 2:16. This is the cup of YHWH's judgment upon Israel and upon the nations. To drink this cup is to suffer the judgment upon sin (penal atonement), and Jesus does so in the place of (substitution) his people from all nations. I should point out that this does not mean the PS is the only model or perspective on the atonement--Christus Victor, for example, is vital as well.

At 5/16/2007 11:40 PM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

My former supervisor (Neil Ormerod) once said to me, "If you you are going to reject 2000 years of Christian tradition, you had better have a bloody good reason." It is a warning that i think applies in this case. What is needed is not the rejection of a theory that does find its origins in Paul, and in a long history of Christian thought. Rather, what is needed is criticism about simplistic and overstated explanations of the metaphor.

At 5/17/2007 11:15 PM, Anonymous Mr. Smith said...

Agreed, Shane. Perhaps we need a return to a more Augustinian/Dantean view of God's judgment, which has to do with letting the consequences run their course more than a direct Nadab and Abihu sort of thing. In this way, the spiritual enslavement of the world to the Accuser (and the corresponding Roman tyranny) is the consequence of sin upon the world and is thus God's judgment (and consider how often God uses political tyrannies to judge his people--e.g., Babylon, Assyria). So, Christ submits to the full force of Satan/Rome, and thus drinks the cup of God's wrath upon the world to the dregs. It is thus not the Father directly who applies the penalty to the Son, but rather the forces of evil to whom the Father has given over the world as his judgment upon it. Rather, the Father genuinely gives up the Son whom he loves to suffer the consequences of sin at the hands of wicked men, and the Father is seen to be making a sacrifice as well, rather than directly punishing his own Son.

At 5/19/2007 9:17 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

Chris, I agree that Christians need to come to a place in their walk with the Lord where they can handle a certain degree of uncertainty and even ambiguity, particularly in the biblical text. Hopefully this is the with with most who have gone through seminary and higher levels of education.

At the same time however, I think Pastors and teachers need to take their time in bringing a congregation to that place in the spiritual life of the community of faith. Too much uncertainty and it could make things difficult for many Christians aren't ready for it (how much uncertainty are you comfortable with? imagine an untrained person). And this would be where good skilled pastoral care and long-term discipleship would come in.

Hope the "retreat" went well.

At 5/19/2007 9:18 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

oops, typo. "hopefully this is the case with..."

At 5/21/2007 11:57 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thank you for the helpful comments about the Cup of Wrath, Mr Smith. I too tend to see PS in the texts, albeit together with other models, a move explicitly denied, by the way, in Alan Spence's, The Promise of Peace. I very much like your way of seeing Wrath in your second comment. I think this is briefly dealt with in The Scandal of the Cross, I need to have another look.

Thanks, Shane. "Rather, what is needed is criticism about simplistic and overstated explanations of the metaphor." I think I'm starting to see the sense in this.

Brain, thanks for your comment. I totally agree, though I'm not sure that the ability to handle greys is simply about 'training', though that may help for sure. I think it is a level of maturity in faith. S Peck and the likes think there are stages to faith, and one stage simply cannot tolerate 'maybes' and 'buts'. The job of a Pastor is then to be sensitive to that and to help people move on.

At 6/06/2007 11:30 PM, Anonymous Alan Spence said...

I stumbled on your site and enjoyed the discussion about penal substitution, already a couple of weeks old. Is is in order to distinguish between metaphors of salvation of which there are many and a single theory of atonement which seeks to understand their interrelation and achieve a measure of integration?

At 6/06/2007 11:47 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Alan!
Alan Spence of The Promiose of Peace? If so, I'm enjyoing reading your book at the moment!

Alan, that is a good question! To be honest, I am trying to figure out my thoughts on atonement at the moment, so your visit is well timed. If you would like, perhaps you could e-mail me (cf. my blog profile), and perhaps you would care to write a guest post summaring your book and your perspective on matters - and make it a book promotion. I'm sorry if you are a different Alan Spence - God still loves you! - , but your question sounds like your book too!


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