Monday, May 14, 2012

Predestination as a Diode

The diode. This little baby is a great thing for electronics: it only passes electrical current in one direction. When the voltage potential is high on the left side and the low on the right side then current flows. It's a wire.
When voltage is high on the right and low on the left current does not flow. It's an open.
Schematic Symbol for the Diode
Now instead of the word diode, let's call it predestination- it still functions the same way. Let's call the left side the Will of God, or better yet let's just call it Grace, and the right side will be our account, or our record. When the grace of God builds up really high on the left side it flows through the barriers and onto the right, and we can say that Salvation is all of Grace. We were predestined to it. It's by Grace alone that we are what we are.
But when when do not have grace on the left side predestination is blocked. The right side is cut off, and you cannot say that my condemnation was predestined to happen by God's will. It's no good to say that God demanded I be damned.
It's an imperfect illustration if you press it, I like that we have a physical illustration in nature of something that is clearly a one way street. God get's the credit for the good, and we get the blame for the bad.

J Vernon McGee used the illustration of a doorway of salvation; on the other side is written the words 'predestined' but you could not read that off the post until you pass through the frame. It's sort of the same illustration, you cannot blame God for your own faults, you cannot have the same perspective for both events. If we are damned it is because we have chosen it against His pleas, and if we are saved it's because He had mercy on us.

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.

Hodge and Christ dying for all men

It's pretty well established that Hodge believed in an 'unlimited' atonement, but something that he said surprised me. In volume II section 4 - Philological and Moral Evidence (of a common ancestor) while talking about the evidence that we all descended from a common pair of people Hodge says this
Christ died for all men, and we are commanded to preach the gospel to every creature under heaven. Accordingly nowhere on the face of the earth are men to be found who do not need the gospel or who are not capable of becoming partakers of the blessings which it offers.  The spiritual relationship of men, their common apostasy, and their common interest in the redemption of Christ, demonstrate their common nature and their common origin beyond the possibility of reasonable or excusable doubt."
This astonishes me because here I am going around trying to show that because Christ dies as a man His death is good for all men, while the hyper-Calvinists are saying He died only for the elect. Much like atheists of old the modern Calvinist is asserting that there is a separate kind of humanity, a separate, unsavable group. Yesterday the eugenicists were saying it was black people; today it's the non-elect.
But even more startling, I'm using the shared humanity to prove unlimited atonement, yet 150 years ago it was completely the other way around. People were using the death of Christ for all men as proof that all men come from Adam.
How far we have come in accepting the truth, only to backslide all the way down the hill.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Seeing what isn't there

My son has a 103 fever from the shots we gave him today at the doctors office, and that got me thinking, as a parent it's easy to be on guard against the things you can see, but it's really difficult to be on guard against what's missing.

It's easy for me to look at him and say, oh, he has a fever, we had better call the doctor because this added pathogen is not good for him, but it's really hard for me to look at him and say, he's got a deficiency due to a lack of nutrition.

It's therefore easy to look without wisdom at the Liberal churches and hear them talk about how Jesus was a man, and how He lived a life as a man, and agree to all that, or to talk with Catholics and see how zealous they are for protecting the unborn, and how they pray to Christ, or to listen to a Rick Warren sermon and think that he didn't say anything wrong or offensive.

What's really hard to do is to look at something and see what is lacking. To look at the Catholic church and see that they lack grace, or that the liberals lack the divinity of Christ, or Rick Warren lacks any real substance or knowledge of justification by faith alone. What's even harder is trying to help someone in this situation, because they immediately default to the thought that you were attacking a positive belief, rather than the deficiency.

What you must do in those circumstances is look at the results of what is going on, the fruit. Or if you have a knowledge of what the finished product should be you can see where the deficiency lies. This is why we left the Churches of Christ, because at some point we figured that the lack of talk about repentance, and justification, and election were such serious things, and why when we tried to talk about it, nobody seemed to understand.
The older I get the more I see the need for a church to be integrated across the age groups, so that we have a number of old people telling us what we are missing. I used to think of it as a painful burden "You kids these days need to blah blah blah work with your hands" but now I wonder if they are not actually out of love doing the hardest thing of all: telling us what we are not seeing for our own good.