Monday, May 14, 2012

Double Payment Destroys Substutionary Atonement

Dave "the grizzled-civil-war-veteran-with-an-Aussie-accent" Ponter has been speculating on John Owen's concept of faith and atonement with an interesting, but, standard observation: faith, must be a special kind of gift because not only is it purchased, but it is given from the cross. This means that the gift of faith drags with it automatic atonement.
That's why from now on I'm calling this viewpoint the double purchase fallacy. It's a complete denial of the substutionary model in almost every way.

See, in subsutionary atonement Christ swaps His perfect record for the sinner's guilty one at the moment they put their faith in Him. But it is in fact a substitution. Christ has lived the perfect life, and has been counted as a sinner on the cross, that He may in turn account the believer with His righteousness. Faith is a conduit, it's a channel of grace, allowing the swap to take place. The important thing here is that it's an accounting, as if it were true. Martin Luther called us "snow covered dung." If the Catholics aren't calling it a legal fiction then we are not holding the historic doctrine properly.

In the double purchase fallacy Christ pardons sinful men because He purchases a positive record of righteousness through His suffering. It's not because of His active obedience of growing up and keeping the law of Moses that He has a good record, but because He suffers. Our inheritance and justification is bundled together as a single event: redemption in one fell swoop. 
But then He goes on to make a second purchase, this time of faith, for the elect. And since He purchases it  there is no need to apply it. Righteousness is no longer an accounting, it's an actuality. The blood doesn't cover the record of sin, it expunges it. This would be "snow covered snow."

The problem with Owen's view is manifold and they are all intertwined: commercial vs judicial payment model, temporal vs atemporal position in time, and this, so I hope I'm being clear with my point here. In the double purchase model Christ's procures His perfect righteousness as a gift for the elect by dent of His suffering, and from that and that alone. He then also purchases for man it's application, and together these two purchases make up all of our salvation.
Thus annihilating our free agency, our being under wrath until faith, our being simultaneously justified and yet sinful. All of salvation is rolled up into two commercial transactions made from the cross. So much for the substutionary model.

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