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Monday, October 12, 2009

More on PST eliminating True Forgiveness

On, I have had some good interchange with Dr. Glenn Peoples, a scholar from New Zealand (, on the subject of whether or not PST eliminates the need for forgiveness.

I am going to post some of our interaction here as I think he raises some good points around the subject.

Ken Pulliam: However, there are some other problems with PST as well.For example, on pages 263-265 in the book Pierced for Our Transgressions, the authors deal with the objection: Penal Substitution implicity denies that God forgives Sin . IOW, true forgiveness does not require payment or punishment. If the penalty for man's sin is extracted from Jesus Christ, then it is not forgiven, its paid for by Christ. If, I owe someone a $1M and my friend pays that debt for me, the debt is not forgiven, its paid. If the person I owe the money to forgives me the debt, then no one has to pay it.The authors of Pierced response to this objection is: The reason why Penal Substitution does not deny that God forgives sin is precisely because it is God himself , in the person of his Son, who pays the debt we owe. (p. 264).

I fail to see how that resolves the problem. No matter who pays it, it is paid and not forgiven.

Glenn Peoples: I am pleased that you call this your failure. ;) This point - that Christ is God himself - is actually significant in a way that you haven't appreciated, unless you're using the word "forgive" (what I take to be) a rather idiosyncratic way. I think in a "normal english" way of speaking, it is people who are forgiven. According to this normal usage, to forgive a person is to choose not to pursue that person for what they owe you (already you will see where this is going and why this idea of forgiveness is compatible with penal substitution). Now imagine that God is a moneylender, to whom we all owe one hundred trillion dollars (I had to pick a sum high enough so that nobody on earth can pay it). Now imagine that God apprehends a third party, neither the guilty party nor the wronged party, and forces that person to pay. There's a contrived sense, I suppose, in which this is forgiveness of sorts, since God would not be pursuing us for what we owe. But it's still unjust, because a person who was not a party to the misdeed is dragged in and made to pay. So people are let off the hook (forgiven), in an unjust way, with an immoral price. But now consider the Christian view: Jesus is fully God, and as such he is the wronged party. God (Jesus), out of his own wealth, places his own money against our account, paying it off. Now, we no longer have the issue of injustice, because nobody is being wronged in the process (God is morally entitled, after all, to offer his own goods, or even himself), and we have forgiveness (again, in the normal english sense: God no longer pursues us for what we owe, our debt is not payable by us etc). This seems to me to preserve the ideas of justice and forgiveness, and if this just boils down to a standoff with you insisting that I must construe justice or forgiveness in another way, I will merely decline. I have no reason to do so.

Ken Pulliam: Yep, I have failed at a lot of things in my life but I keep moving and trying to learn. :)

This is how I understand PST. 1) God is holy. 2) God's holy nature demands that sin(ners) be punished. 3) Christ bore that punishment as a substitute, in the place of, sinners. 4) Christ's death propitiated God (satisfied his holy nature) and expiated (removed completely) sin. 5) Therefore, God can now justify (declare righteous) sinners. If these 5 points are accurate, then there is nothing to forgive. It was paid for and eliminated.

If I owed someone $100 trillion and President Obama and Speaker Peolosi decided that the US Taxpayers should cover that debt for me :), and then I went back to the person to whom I owed the debt, after Obama paid them, and said: "Will you please forgive me this huge debt of $100 trillion because there is no way I can pay it?" How do you think the person would respond? I think he would say: "There is nothing to forgive, someone else has already paid it for you." That is how I am looking at this matter and what I mean when I say that PST eliminates the need for forgiveness. I look forward to your comments.

Glenn Peoples: The way you start with holiness there actually makes this a blend of Anselm's satisfction theory and the penal substitutionary view, but there's much in common.

Do you see how that is fundamentally different from a case where the person to whom you owe the money themself covers your debt? This is why, as I noted in my previous post, it makes a difference that Jesus is God, so Jesus is the party who is initially wronged. You owed Joe Smith $100 triliion, and the taxpayer footed the Bill, then - and again I stress this - in the ordinary english usage of the word "forgive," Joe would forgive you, because the ordinary English usage of Joe forgiving you just means that Joe will no longer pursue his entitlement from you. That's how, in our normal everyday language, we use the word "forgive." However, this would not do, because it is unjust - a third party (well, millions of them actually) has been compelled to pay what you owed Joe. Penal substitution has Joe taking the money from his own resources, thereby absorbing the loss himself. By absorbing the loss himself and still not pursuing you for what you owe, you have been forgiven in an ordinary English sense of that word, and no injustice is done (since Joe has the right to absorb the loss Himself). I don't think I could put it more clearly.

Ken Pulliam: Okay I follow you. Here is how I would respond. A person really does not pay themselves back, rather, they absorb the loss. IOW, if I owe you $100 (a more reasonable sum) but I don't pay it back and you choose to forgive me. You just absorb the loss. You don't necessarily go to the bank and withdraw $100 and place it back in your wallet. My point here is that why did Jesus have to die (in my illustration, withdraw the money from the bank) to pay the price for my sin? Why couldn't he just choose to forgive (absorb the loss) without dying? PST maintains that God could not just forgive (absorb the loss) because "sin must be punished" in order for justice to be served. In addition, there are some problems relative to the Trinity and the relationships involved. The Bible seems to portray Jesus as propitiating God (presumably the Father who sent Jesus to die) for man's sin. So you have one person of the Trinity paying (propitiating) another person of the Trinity.

Thanks for the dialogue and I look forward to continued discussions.

For the entire thread, see
(I post under the name FormerFundy and Dr. Peoples under the name Dr. Jack Bauer)


  1. Ken, I think you have some good thoughts, but you are still restricting the meaning of the word "forgiven."

    Let's say you owe me $1000 and don't pay me back. I can absorb the loss, thereby "forgiving" the debt, and still not forgive you in any relational sense. It wouldn't be forgiveness if I still treated you with contempt or with a grudge, even though you technically don't owe me the money anymore. So in this way there are two senses to forgiveness: one penal or retributive and another relational or reconcilliative

  2. Brad, Thanks for your comment. You are right that forgiveness (in the Biblical sense) has to be more than just legal; its also personal or relational. The Bible presents sin as a personal offense by man against God.

    However, the Bible teaches that the death of Jesus expiatied (completely removed or wiped away) man's sin (at least for the elect or for those who believe).

    Now if the sin (personal offenses) are completely wiped away by the death of Christ, What is there to forgive?

    Col. 2:14--"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross"

    And since they are blotted out, God doesn't remember them anymore.

    Heb. 8:12: "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. "

  3. Ken, I think this is another illustration of how a skeptic can take verses too woodenly and forget the total witness of scripture.

    First, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 shows that at least on of the main thrusts of Paul's ministry was some sort of reconciliation between God and Man. And this was in light of the salvific work of the cross.

    Also, contrition seems to be important in this relationship, as evidenced in Psalm 51 and in Jesus' parable of the merciful king and unmerciful servant.

    So let's look at Hebrews 8:12 again in light of those scriptures. The main thrust of the passage is God's new covenant, and the writer quotes from Jeremiah 31. The first thing anyone quoting this passage should note is that it uses Hebrew parallelism, paralleling God's mercy with Him not "remembering" our sins. The Hebrew "remember" (zachar) is used in various poetic ways throughout the OT that our English word doesn't convey. God "remembers" Noah during the flood, He "remembers" Israel, He "remembers" His Servant in Isaiah. So to really understand the passage, you have to see how the word is used and how it relates to God's mercy.

    "Remember", then, is not our concept of memory because God certainly didn't "forget" who Noah was or that He had chosen Israel. Rather, God "took into account" Noah's and Israel's condition, which is what the passage in Jeremiah is talking about. God will no longer hold Israel's sins against them in a penal fashion, He will end their captivity in Babylon, and His new covenant with them will be based on "mercy."

    So God has extended His offer of peace in this covenant. The debt has been forgiven (on the cross) and His call to the world now is turn to God (or repent) and be reconciled.

    So let's say that I "forgive" you the $1000 debt you owed me earlier and you somehow maintain that you never really owed me the money, refusing to acknowledge the debt or show any sort of contrition or gratitude. What if you then willingly run up another debt with me? How would I respond to that attitude?

    God wants us to live with the humble recognition of our forgiven state, informing our relationship with Him and with the rest of creation.

    I think this is only a problem if one insists on woodenly interpreting the genre in which the statements are made.

  4. Brad,

    Thanks for your comments. You are right the Hebrew word for "remember" does not necessarily carry the connotation that something was "forgotten" and then recalled. It seems to mean more "to consciously recall". In other words, to bring something to the "front of your mind" and think about it, etc.

    However, you really didn't deal with my main point which is that man's sin was "blotted out" by Jesus. It was expiated. It was wiped away. Again, there is nothing to forgive because its gone.

    I recognize that the Bible indicates that "repentance" (including contrition) is necessary in order for one to receive the benefits accomplished on the cross but that doesn't change what in fact was (according to the Bible) accomplished.

  5. OK, so we agree on repentance, and "remember".

    I guess I don't see what the objection is, then. You can't be saying that forgiveness has no meaning on the cross since God already "forgave" the sin debt on the cross.

    Is your objection, then, why do we ask for forgiveness if it was already expiated on the cross?

  6. Brad,

    No my argument is that "to forgive" means to let something go without exacting full payment. PST maintains that Christ paid the full payment for sin on the cross. Thus, God really doesn't forgive, he just accepts Christ's payment instead.

  7. Doesn't it sound like you are quibbling over semantics, Ken? I could get out of it by saying that God forgave us the sin debt we owed, or by expanding the understanding of "forgiveness" to include elements of mercy, grace, contrition, and reconciliation. I suppose God could have rejected Jesus' "payment" and required that we humans pay it.

    It just seems like I could grant everything you say and it still wouldn't amount to what I would call and "objection".

  8. Brad, I don't really think it is semantics. I think its a flaw in the PS Theory. We all know that man's theology is not perfect, yet, men will adhere to what they have been taught sometimes regardless of the problems.

    While this is not in my opinion, the most serious flaw in PST, I do think its a flaw.

    The satisfaction theory of Anselm and the governmental theory of Grotius would not have this particular problem (they have others).

  9. I don't follow Ken either. Ken didn't pay the price for his sins; however, he has been forgiven because his debt has been paid by someone else.

    On the other hand, the righteous demands of God have been met in Jesus Christ who alone being the sinless Son of God could make the payment.

    The debt was paid to God and forgiveness was provided to Ken through Jesus Christ. This is what the Bible says,

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

    In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace

    Ken has been both forgiven a debt he did not pay. In addition, Christ paid the debt that Jesus did not owe on Ken's behalf. Ken stands both forgiven as well as having his debt paid through Christ.

    I guess I would need for Ken to demonstrate a logical contradiction. I simply am unable to see where the logic results in a contradiction making the concept irrational.

    God obviously was the One who sent His Son to die on our behalf. The grace of God is then seen as God giving up His Son in order to cover our sins on the cross.

    For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

    In the whole argument, Ken leaves out that his debt has been forgiven because it was paid for by Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Son of God and having been sent by the Father, God through Christ has forgiven Ken. God couldn't forgive Ken apart from Christ which is what the Bible says,

    "God presented him (Christ) as a sacrifice of atonement,through faith in his (Christ) blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. He (God) did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

  10. No, I still think you are using a wooden understanding of "forgive" to try to capture a concept that the Bible uses multiple terms to try to explain. You have "forgive", "grace", "mercy", "lovingkindness", "redemption", "ransom", "liberation", "cleansing", and "love". It just seems myopic to single out "forgive" in the formulation of the theory when it tries to account for all of the data.

    I'm happy to adhere to a mixture of traditional theories considering the variety of the data.

  11. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans "Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding for us" in heaven. (Romans 8:34, NIV) While Romans 14:12 tells us that each person is going to have to step up and "give account of himself to God" even though God already knows all the thoughts of our hearts (Romans 8:28). (Not that "heart" is necessarily being used as a scientific term by Paul, though it also can't be denied that in Paul's day many did believe that "hearts" had "thoughts.")

    But returning to the image or metaphor of "Jesus at the right hand of God interceding for us" in heaven. Not to be coy, but how exactly am I to imagine the need for incessant "intercession?" Didn't Jesus suffer, "become sin," say "it is finished," then die and rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven? But after he got to heaven he was assigned yet another job, which is to "intercede for us" to the Father--who apparently is still highly prone to yet more anger? Or forgetfulness?

    Scene in Heaven:

    Once every second God sees at least ten-thousand of His 2 plus billion Christians sinning. And within that single fraction of a second, God considers each new sin committed by each Christian one at a time.

    God: "That Christian down there is really starting to piss me off! I should let him slip into sin further; send him strong delusion that he might believe a lie; send in some lying spirits; and let Satan have his way with him (but save some for me to punish eternally)?"

    Jesus as intercessor to God: "Forgive him Father. I died for him!"

    God: "Oh, yeah, I remember now. O.K. Forgiven. But Jesus, what about that Christian sinning right over there?"

    Jesus: "Forgive her father. I died for her."

    God: "Oh, yeah, I remember now. O.K. Forgiven"

    Jesus now after 2,000 years and for the Googolplex time: "Forgive him father. I died for Him."

    And God responding for the Googolplex time: "Oh, yeah, I remember. O.K. Forgiven"

    Jesus making intercession: “Blah, blah, blah.” God: “O.K. Forgiven.”
    Next Christian sin. Jesus to God again: “Blah, blah, blah.” God: O.K."
    F-O-R-E-V-E-R! (Can anybody say Alzheimer?)

    Little wonder neither God nor Jesus has time to answer prayers since both now find themselves in a Catch-22 situation; an eternal hell of their own making; one of eternal intercession and forgiveness!!

  12. God the father was paid in full. We must seek forgiveness from Jesus. He holds our debt. He purchased our debt from the father.

  13. So when Jesus made atonement, God paid Himself.

    OK. And when Jesus prayed in the garden, God prayed to Himself. And when Jesus obeyed God, God obeyed Himself. And when God raised Jesus from the dead, God raised Himself from the dead. And when Jesus received commands from God, God gave commands to Himself. And when Jesus said that God gave him the authority to judge, he meant that God gave Himself authority to judge.

    Why does anyone take such stuff seriously??

  14. From all appearances, traditional evangelical theology is driven chiefly by the need to explain difficulties. It's an exhausting enterprise.

  15. Steve, It is for those who actually think. The problem is that most people never question what they hear in church. They just swallow it hook, line, and sinker.

  16. SteveJ, the whole of modern science is the drive to explain difficult phenomena. It is pretty exhausting (e.g. string theory, punctuated equilibrium, inflationary theory, etc.), but I don't think it's fruitless.

  17. This is a great site! But I don't understand why any of us should think that we can completely comprehend God and His composition. Isn't it a stretch to think that a created being can fully explain the creator? I know this is elementary, but sometimes we overlook the obvious. I question my faith often, but I do leave room for some things to be out of my grasp. Now I don't mean we can't wrestle with these things or understand them better, but we may not always be able to come to a satisfying conclusion.

  18. Ken clearly has not demonstrated a logical contradiction. His argument appears to be based on equivocations rather than anything of substance.

    Keep trying Ken as you haven't convinced anybody yet.

    The evidence for Christianity is overwhelming and our understanding of God actually goes beyond your finite mental powers obviously.

    Thanks for your comments Rover! I think it is always good to question what you believe; however, Christians don't doubt that Christianity is true because we know the love of God in our lives. Christians who know the love of God never leave the faith.

    Still waiting on the logical contradiction Ken...

    It is impossible for a person who knows the love of God to ever leave. Ken missed out on this! He must have been struggling with desires of the flesh that eventually won his heart.

  19. ZDENNY: “It is impossible for a person who knows the love of God to ever leave. Ken missed out on this!”

    Re: Oh Really! Try telling this line to Israel (Fell 722 BCE) and Judah (Fell 586 BCE).

    Ancient Near Eastern Covenants (of which Israel’s contract with Yahweh has been proven to be just such a one) were all conditional and not eternal. Thus, the Old Testament (Old Covenant) is now surpassed by the New Testament (New Covenant). (This is a problem Paul struggles with in his letters: Just where are the Jewish people in God’s new contract.)

    ZDENNY, it seems you have more in common with Peter than Paul.

  20. **and we have forgiveness (again, in the normal english sense: God no longer pursues us for what we owe, our debt is not payable by us etc).**

    I've re-read this a few times, and I still don't see how this idea meshes with the normal English sense of the word "forgive." When we use the idea of forgiving someone, we mean that we relinquish all claims to what is owed to us -- and the expectation is that the person will not get what is owed to them. But in this scenario, the reason why God chooses not to pursue what is owed to Him is because He's already been paid -- and if He's paid, why would He pursue?

    Plus, the concept of "forgiveness" in any dictionary that I look up is attached to the person granting a pardon, giving up all claim to something, cease to feel resentment for, or to cancel a debt. Isn't that deliberate decision to give up what is owed to a person a necessary part of forgiveness? Otherwise, we could have someone say, "Yes, that person still owes me, but I choose not to pursue it because it's not worth the effort." In this scenario, the person has chosen not to pursue what is owed to him -- but no one would say that it's forgiveness.

    That, and I don't see how "absorbing the loss" is the same as being paid something. Doesn't absorbing the loss means that you accept that you won't be back what you put in? You'll never see that loss? You won't get what's owed to you? Yet to say that Jesus paid the debt we owe is to say that God does in fact get back what's owed, and thus how is anything absorbed?

  21. Harry, you are demonstrating your lack of knowledge of the NT.

    You talk about covenants and nations, I am speaking about individuals.

    It is impossible for a person who knows the love of God to ever leave. Ken missed out on this. His fleshly passions overwhelmed his desire to live a life of love within the reality of God's love.

    The fact that Ken says there is no evidence for Christianity demonstrates that he never believed in the first place. A rational person who handles evidence consistently will become a Christian.

    I am looking forward to his future arguments. He has failed to demonstrate a contradiction as of yet, but Ken can keep trying and I am interested in what he has to say. His arguments are just so weak against PST that it is hard to take him seriously at this point.

  22. ZDENNY, please... you don't speak for anyone BUT yourself ("Keep trying Ken as you haven't convinced anybody yet."). And I could equally say that YOU have failed to convince anyone but yourself of your perspective. You're only able to see YOUR point of view. That's fine, we get it, you've made your point. Now shake the dust from your shoes and kindly move on.

  23. Ken hasn't convinced anyone. He appears to simply be preaching to the choir. I am waiting on a serious argument.

  24. ZDENNY: "He must have been struggling with the desires of the flesh that eventually won his heart."

    Yes, that's right. All of Ken's philosophical objections to penal substitution are born out of his desire to pursue rampant, wild sensuality. It probably started when he wanted a third piece of pie at the church picnic. After that binge, he began looking for logical flaws in penal substitution (even though none exist). Ken, how could you?? Two pieces would have been plenty.

  25. Brad Haggard: "SteveJ, the whole of modern science is the drive to explain difficult phenomena. It is pretty exhausting (e.g. string theory, punctuated equilibrium, inflationary theory, etc.), but I don't think it's fruitless."

    I see your point but there's a notable difference. Science scrutinizes theories and hypotheses critically in an effort to disprove them. It invites scrutiny, so we can get at the truth -- whatever it is.

    Not so with dogmas. The invincible will to believe a given dogma drives the theologian to devise ever more ingenious methods to buttress it. There's no invitation to scrutinize. More often than not, the reaction to scrutiny is indignation.

    The question, "Is this REALLY TRUE?" is seldom on anyone's lips. Instead, the sentiment is usually, "How can we make this work?" and, "How can we defend it against dissenters?"

  26. ZDENNY: “Harry, you are demonstrating your lack of knowledge of the NT.

    You talk about covenants and nations, I am speaking about individuals.”

    RE: For your information, nations are composed of individuals who make up a collective unit.

    According to the Hebrew Bible, both Israel and Judah fell because of the sins of their kings.

    People are Saved or not Saved based on what they understand about themselves, not what you think or how you define them.

    I can come on here and cite Roman’s Road (Plan of Salvation) and make you think I’m your brother in Christ.

    I can also cite the Bible, as in my first comment here and prove that I’m not your brother in Christ.

    But I am only who and what I say I am, not what ZDENNY thinks I am.

    Put ZDENNY in his home denomination, and ZDENNY is saved. Put ZDENNY in a Greek Orthodox Church and ZDENNY is now no longer SAVED. You can ONLY define yourself.

    If you have some universal definition of what being a Christian is that’s absolute, please inform the other 20,000 plus Christianities that they are wrong; that they just don’t understand the Bible; that they “lack of knowledge of the NT.”

    People are or, or are not Christians based on their knowledge. They / we define oursleves.

    ZDENNY, since you have ALL the knowledge of the Bible (you seem to know my religious educational history in order to pass judgment on me), then you should be able to write the definitive book on the New Testament and Christian doctrine, one that would squelch any further division of Christianity.

    It seems you have divine knowledge to know that some how neither Catholics nor Ken were EVER SAVED.

    It is just people like you that we have freedom of and from religion (Christianity) in the United States. You can not define me. You can not burn me at the stake.

    Your arguments here will only support Calvinist, and not Wesleyans and Methodists.

    Doctrinal history proves that neither Judaism, Catholicism nor the Orthodox groups would ever agree with you.

  27. Harry, you obviously don't understand the Bible. I am speaking about individuals who know the love of God in their life.

    The fact is that most people are not able to live up to the ideals of Scripture.

    Can we blame all atheists for the acts of Stalin? Actually, we can. Atheists don't have a standard by which all men can be judged. They only have subjective judgements so all acts are justified because there is no objective standard.

    Christianity is different because judgements are not subjective; rather, they are objective and when a person acts in opposition to the reality of love taught in Scripture, we have the right to say that person is wrong.

    The moral superiority of Christianity cannot be challenged because Christianity itself (not the acts of men) is about living within the reality of the love of God which all Christians know is true.

    This is something that atheists cannot understand because they are driven by their desires which they experience within the bubble of self. The expression of those desires can at times turn violent as we saw in the life of Stalin.

    Ken is attacking the reality of love by which God defines Himself because He doesn't understand it and never has.

    Since Ken is made in the image of God, he still can reason so I am waiting on him to come up with a real contradiction that can be considered.

  28. Steve said, "Science scrutinizes theories and hypotheses critically in an effort to disprove them. It invites scrutiny, so we can get at the truth -- whatever it is."

    It totally depends on the science you are referring to. For instance, life coming from non-life has never been demonstrated and is believed by faith by all Darwinians.

    The fact the the Creation had a beginning has overwhelming evidence; however, Darwinians still believe the universe has always existed in some form which is another faith position.

    Darwinians believe that Darwinian evolution is true; however, even people like Stephen Gould believe in punctuated equilibrium because the fossil record does not support slow gradual change that Darwin predicted.

    In other words Darwinians don't have the missing links. The Smithsonian claims to have 40 million fossils and only a very small handful are considered transitional fossils.
    In other words, Darwinian evolution is believed by faith.

    In fact, the entire Darwinian view is believed by faith as there is no evidence for any of this stuff.

    The fact is that the resurrection has been empirically verified. Christians have overwhelming evidence making Christianity the only rational system.

    That is why I am interested to see if Ken is really rational or simply another tired mind focused on the lust of the world.

  29. SteveJ, You are right. I now know that I should have stopped at two pieces of pie. I gave into the flesh and everything went downhill after that. Kind of similar to what happened to Adam. Food is such a terrible temptation.

  30. I wish you guys would not encourage ZDENNY by replying to him. Better to just ignore his rants. ZDENNY are you off your medication?

  31. Ken, I just had a thought in the shower(it seems to be where God speaks to me the clearest ;-)

    I know PST offends your sense of the meaning of "forgiveness", but you probably already know that the word translated from the Greek is "aphiemi", which literally means "to let go, release." So if your only problem with PST is that it misconstrues our English sense of forgiveness, take heart, because it's just a translation that doesn't grapple with the nuance of the actual Greek text.

  32. Brad, I sometimes have "revelations" too when I am shaving or in the shower. Have even cut myself after one such "revelation"

    Its not PST offends my sense of the meaning of forgiveness. Its that I think PST eliminates any need for forgiveness. And my whole objection is based on the meaning of the Greek word, not the English word.

    Again, if sin is let go or released (forgiven) then its not punished. If its punished, then its not let go or released (forgiven). I don't know how I could state my objection more clearly.

  33. Dr. Ken & Brad,

    How is PST credible when its premise is the definition of injustice and its application impotent.

    PST is unjust because I never did anything to deserve the sentence god hands down. Why does Jesus have to die for me when I did nothing to deserve the stain of sin in the first place? Those crazy kids Adam and Eve screwed up, not me. Believe me, if I were there I would have told them to back away from the tree. I say this with confidence because I was taught by Nuns and I know how to follow rules.

    Additionally, the evidence of those who have accepted the blood of Christ to cover their sins shows that his blood to be very ineffective. We have seen with Ted Haggard and his infidelity and George Bush and his enjoyment of torture that accepting the PST is not solution to on-going sin.

    Therefore since I had noting to do with the circumstances which make PST mandatory it is unjust and, because it doesn't really work in a pragmatic sense it is fallacious.

    I find no credibility in it.

  34. Dr. Ken,

    I think Z is off his meds and I suggest we all treat him with the compassion the mentally ill deserve.

  35. Ken, I think the point is that I am released from the debt of sin. When Jesus said "your sins are released" that means that that person's sins are released from their account. What God does with them after that doesn't seem to be a concern.

    And I don't know about you, Chuck, but even though I don't accept original sin, there are a multitude of things that I have done for which I wouldn't want anyone to know. It's my fault, not Adam's. But that's why "release" is so great, because I'm not just freed from the ultimate penalty, but I'm also freed from guilt.

    I suppose someone could deny that there is anything wrong with them, and I sometimes am good at rationalizing behavior, but when it comes down to it, I can't get past it myself.

  36. One more thing, Ken, in Acts 2:38 Peter says tells the people to be baptized "into (eis) the forgiveness of sins," implying that "release" is a new state of existence. We move into a new status before God in Jesus' sacrifice. Prepositions can make a huge difference.

  37. SteveJ,

    I can see where you are coming from, but I only think you can say that about theologians when you aren't familiar with the professional literature. There are "cutting edge" theologies today, such as Open Theism, that are operating even within Evangelicalism.

    String Theory is one huge attempt to iron out all the wrinkles between general relativity and quantum mechanics. Punctuated equilibrium is an attempt to fix the geologic record with what we expect to see based on evolution. Inflationary theory is almost an ad-hoc attempt to explain the difficulties in the Standard Model. Abiogenesis research is grasping at straws right now to explain paleo-biochemistry.

    All of these are valid areas of science.

    And theology is open to change. Remember the Reformation? In fact, there has been a long history of critical exchange, from the early fathers, to the councils, to medieval scholasticism, through the reformation, to 19th century criticism, to the modern day. I've reworked a lot of my theology in just the past two years.

    I think it is just a question of perspective.

  38. Brad,

    You misunderstand me when you say, "And I don't know about you, Chuck, but even though I don't accept original sin, there are a multitude of things that I have done for which I wouldn't want anyone to know. It's my fault, not Adam's. But that's why "release" is so great, because I'm not just freed from the ultimate penalty, but I'm also freed from guilt.

    I suppose someone could deny that there is anything wrong with them, and I sometimes am good at rationalizing behavior, but when it comes down to it, I can't get past it myself."

    I don't deny there is anything wrong with me but I do deny that what I need to change in myself deserves a sentence of capital punishment and, I don't buy that PST is ennobling or helpful to those that embrace it in fact, more often than not I see it creating an infantilizing psychology in its proponents and a practice of "cheap Grace". I much prefer awareness, self-observation, personal accountability and if needed therapy. The primitive atonement stuff leads me to delusions like self-hatred and immunity from guilt. Guilt is not a bad thing - it tells me I made a mistake but, believing this mistake is deserving of a bloody death at the hands of an angry god leads to shame, which is a very bad thing.

  39. Brad,

    First I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I would be interested to learn a little more of your background. Do you have any formal theological training? If so, from what institution. What type of church do you attend?

    Second, you say: "I think the point is that I am released from the debt of sin. When Jesus said "your sins are released" that means that that person's sins are released from their account."

    But here is your problem. The Bible states that the sins were expiated by the death of Jesus. That is, they are completely wiped away. Thus, there is nothing for God to release us from.

    Third, you say: "even though I don't accept original sin". So you do reject the idea of the impuation of man's sin to Christ and the imputation of his righteousness to the believer? It seems to me that all three are interconnected in Paul's arguments in Romans.

    Fourth, you say: "in Acts 2:38 Peter says tells the people to be baptized "into (eis) the forgiveness of sins," implying that "release" is a new state of existence. We move into a new status before God in Jesus' sacrifice. Prepositions can make a huge difference." The preposition eis can here mean either the cause or the purpose. IOW, "be baptized in order to (purpose)acheive forgiveness of sins (taken this way by baptismal regenerationists) or "be baptized because (causal) your sins were forgiven (i.e, when you repented; this position is held by those who hold faith alone and deny the necessity of baptism for forgiveness). Your view of being baptized into the sphere of forgiveness, I have not heard before and I am not sure exactly what it would mean.

  40. Brad,

    Here are the comments of A. T. Robertson, called by many, "the greatest Greek Scholar America ever produced":

    "Unto the remission of your sins (eiß apesin twn amartiwn –mwn). This phrase is the subject of endless controversy as men look at it from the standpoint of sacramental or of evangelical theology. In themselves the words can express aim or purpose for that use of eiß does exist as in 1 Corinthians 2:7 eiß doxan hmwn (for our glory). But then another usage exists which is just as good Greek as the use of eiß for aim or purpose. It is seen in Matthew 10:41 in three examples eiß onoma prophtou, dikaiou, maqhtou where it cannot be purpose or aim, but rather the basis or ground, on the basis of the name of prophet, righteous man, disciple, because one is, etc. It is seen again in Matthew 12:41 about the preaching of Jonah (eiß to khrugma Iwna). They repented because of (or at) the preaching of Jonah. The illustrations of both usages are numerous in the N.T. and the Koin‚ generally (Robertson, Grammar, p. 592). One will decide the use here according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not. My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission. So I understand Peter to be urging baptism on each of them who had already turned (repented) and for it to be done in the name of Jesus Christ on the basis of the forgiveness of sins which they had already received."

  41. Brad has a good point because Ken is taking a risk of eternal life without the love of God based on a different understanding of a preposition.

    Instead of Ken saying, "Well, that is a possibility." He goes back to his statement that forgiveness is not forgiveness. Ironically Ken is the one that is forgiven being unable to pay the debt himself.

    While Brad's point is well taken, it is apparent that Ken regardless of the interpretation wants to go into eternity with John Loftus rather than Jesus.

    The idea that Ken could be forgiven by the Son of God for a debt he could not pay is a simple concept.

  42. Ken, I've had a few mild scares so I don't share a lot of my personals on comments anymore, but if you'd like to email me I'd be happy to continue the conversation. (BTW, I'm pretty close to Loftus' theological tradition)

    I don't see why you don't allow for Jesus' propitiating death to be the means, or instrumentation, of God's "release" of our sins. It seems to be the point of Jesus' priestly status in Hebrews, that His sacrifice is the means of grace/reconciliation/forgiveness/etc.

    When I say I reject "original sin" I am talking about the Augustinian inherited guilt construct. Adam's sin doesn't make me guilty, my sin makes me guilty. I didn't have imputation in mind.

    And as for "eis", I'm ignoring the traditional controversy about the occasion of salvation. I don't think the passage has that in view (we read the NT heavy on soteriology to the detriment of Christology anyways, I guess we're trying to save our behinds). Rather, I'm just woodenly applying the lexical definition of "eis"-into. People went "into" cities, areas, food goes "into" the body, etc. I'd cite verses but it is ubiquitous. So I'm almost taking "forgiveness" spatially, as a new realm of existence. It is a new status conferred upon us by God's grace. Once again, Jesus' sacrifice and our contrite repentance are the means of this grace.

  43. Chuck, what you described as the superior option, awareness, integrity, responsibility, and even therapy, is what I would call (along with the church fathers) sanctification. And I think it is the better way. John himself says that perfect love drives out fear.

    Every time you make a comment like that I can't help but think that your faith was conditioned by an un-critical/fundamentalist church body. That conditioning almost led me to lose faith as well.

    Like I just said to Ken, we read the NT only with ourselves in mind: how do we escape hell? This sentiment is the one which you rightly rejected in your post. But as I read the NT, Christ is the focus, not salvation. Justification/salvation and sanctification are not separate things, they are together.

    When I take a look into my core being, it scares me. By all accounts I am happy and well-adjusted, successful, amiable, honest, and committed. But when I look at my motives, they are almost always tied into how an action will benefit me. I am always thinking of me, and I have to struggle to not manipulate other people. And when I see the example of love and sacrifice of Jesus, the beauty of that vision inspires me to (pardon the extra-churchy word) holiness. I see Jesus and I say, "I want to be like Him," and by following Him, I am given the freedom to live as my heart desires. Free from shame, blood guilt, even free from natural desires. This is the "new realm of existence" that I mentioned to Ken. Fire insurance is not the Gospel.

    PST frees me from living my life as a repayment for past transgressions but rather as a life of freedom and holiness. (but I'm open to other emphases in understanding, because Jesus' Passion is not just PST)

  44. Brad, you can email me if you don't mind.