Thursday, October 6, 2016

Matthew Henry On Priests

Something Matthew Henry said is pertinent to my book The Covenant of Redemption, on the chapter on priests. I take this from his commentary on Judges 12:

It is very strange that in the history of all these judges, some of whose actions are very particularly related, there is not so much as once mention made of the high priest, or any other priest or Levite, appearing either for counsel or action in any public affair, from Phinehas (Jdg. 20:28 ) to Eli, which may well be computed 250 years; only the names of the high priests at that time are preserved, 1 Chr. 6:4-7 ; and Ezra. 7:3-5 . How can this strange obscurity of that priesthood for so long a time, now in the beginning of its days, agree with that mighty splendour with which it was introduced and the figure which the institution of it makes in the law of Moses? Surely it intimates that the institution was chiefly intended to be typical, and that the great benefits that seemed to be promised by it were to be chiefly looked for in its antitype, the everlasting priesthood of our Lord Jesus, in comparison of the superior glory of which that priesthood had no glory, 2 Co. 3:10.

Unlimited Atonement: When Owenst Makes the First Move

I have a desire to try out a new approach when debating on the topic of limited/unlimited atonement, and the plan goes something like this: first establish some basic fundamentals, then ask the person on what basis can Christ’s death be restricted in every sense only to the elect. Rather than hit the ball back and forth for a while talking about the universal vs particular passages in Scripture as is often the case in this debate, I propose to cut straight to the chase and make the advocate for strict limited atonement build their point from the beginning. I don’t want to say “the burden of proof is on the Owenist” because I think the point is even more fundamental than that. I think the Owenist cannot defend their view when you come right down to it because they’ve assumed what they can’t prove.

Question 1: Is there, humanly speaking, any difference between an elect and a non-elect person?
Obviously given the grace of God there’s a difference between the eternal destiny of an elect person and a non-elect person, but I’m not talking about that. What I’m asking is, is there anything in one human versus another that makes them different? Remove God from the equation for a moment if that helps—is there’s any difference in genius, or species, or nature, or flesh, between the redeemed and the unredeemed? Do the elect have a special chromosome? Do they have medichlorians in their blood? Or is God selecting them from among the rest? Based on John 15:19, Deut 7:6, 1 Cor 4:7, Rom 9:21 it's better to conclude God has a common clay of humanity and from this shapes some to vessels of honor, and allows some to fit themselves for dishonorable uses.

Question 2: Which humanity did Jesus put on?
We all agree that God put on Humanity in the incarnation. But was it an elect humanity or just humanity in general that He put on? For if the answer to question 1 is that there is only the human race and all are born from Adam, then it can’t be true that Jesus puts on anything other than humanity. Or stated positively, it must be that Jesus puts on plain, ordinary, humanity, because there’s no other kind available to put on.

Punch-line: Given that Jesus put on a humanity common to all of us, what is the mechanism that makes His substation inaccessible to all?
Here’s the point of this blog post. I want the advocate for strict limited atonement to tell me how the mechanism of forgiveness is not good for the non-elect given that they share a common humanity with Jesus. As far as I can remember every time this discussion comes up the SLA advocate says something to the effect of “But God didn’t elect everyone to eternal life.” Right. He didn’t. We agree that the intent of the atonement was to save the elect, and that He had them in mind to spend eternity with. But on what grounds is the access to His offering denied to them? How was Jesus, true man, counted as a sinner in such a way that only some men can take His righteousness for themselves while at the same time excluding the rest? The most obvious thing to say is that the elect are a different class of humanity, but we’ve already taken that away with the first question. Given that, how is it possible?
That’s the question I’m betting they can’t answer, because it’s assumed. It’s assumed that the non-elect are in the same class as the fallen angels and that even if they believe (hypothetically speaking) they’d be lost because there’s no atonement made on their behalf. But why is this given that Jesus made the propitiation God-ward on behalf of men? Point to the verse in Scripture that establishes this point. Barring that, point to the syllogism that reveals the mechanism.

Potential Answer: They don’t have faith
But that stubborn disbelief was present in you when you were a non-believer before He got ahold of you. So it cannot be that unbelief is a permanent and inherent disqualifier. Perhaps it’s meant that persistent unbelief renders men lost. But this proceeds from within the person, not as a component within, or mechanism of, Christ’s trade with us. All this is saying is that without God putting our hearts right we will stupidly resist Him forever, it’s not saying that salvation is fundamentally inaccessible.

Potential Answer: They weren’t elected
Right. We covered that. And the question remains how was Jesus, true man, counted as a sinner in such a way that only some men can take His righteousness for themselves while at the same time excluding the rest? It’s not the intent of salvation that directly drives strict limited atonement, it’s the means of salvation. 

Potential Answer: I'm a hyper-Calvinist, in your face!Time to Nope-Out out of here.

Is there any other potential answer? If there is I can’t see it, so leave it in the .