Chadb

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The Incarnation and Atonement - a 3rd party view
« on: March 09, 2018, 03:51:47 pm »
I have been thinking through a new view of the atonement for a while now.  Christianity stands or falls on the atonement.  It is not necessary for us to understand the atonement for it to be true, but I sincerely believe that it should be comprehensible and compatible with all the facets of God's moral perfection (mercy, forgiveness, justice) without over-emphasizing any one.  I have not come across this view in any of my readings up until now so I would like to know whether it has any validity.

Premise 1 – When we sin we always incur a debt held by God.

Premise 2 – God is morally justified (but not morally obliged) to dismiss debts held by himself

Premise 3 – When we sin against a person other than God we incur an additional debt held by that person (in addition to the debt against God)

Premise 4 – That person is morally justified (but not obliged) to freely dismiss the debt incurred by sins committed against her.

Premise 5 – If the debt held from Premise 4 is not dismissed but is instead brought to the judgment throne a just God cannot simply dismiss the debts.  A just God must dispense justice in accordance with the debts held.

Premise 6 – As described in Question of the Week 549 the misdeeds of a worker can be impugned to an employer.  God impugns those sins onto Himself and then inflicts the maximum penalty any human can justifiably request – a tortuous death.  This then clears the debts held by any person who does not freely dismiss the debts.  At this point all debts against the person in question have been cleared (God has freely dismissed, forgivers have freely dismissed, non-forgivers have seen their justice done).

Premise 6b – We innately recognize the right of God to take the place of the sinner.  How many times have we heard the question “why would God let this happen” when “this” refers to the sinful actions of another human.  People often hold against God the actions of sinful man.  This demonstrates an intuition that God has the moral right (but not obligation) to accept responsibility for the sins of others.

Premise 7 – If we do not freely drop our complaints against other people (as in Premise 4) then God does not drop his complaint against us (Premise 2) and punishes us according to our deeds.  That is, if we require Christ’s death on the cross (the means by which God can clear debts against others) then God does not dismiss the debts held by himself.

Followup on Premise 6:  In our legal system (and really any legal system) the maximum penalty for any crime is death.  In our system the death penalty is made as painless as possible, but that has not always been the case.  In many systems crimes could be punished by a tortuous death.  That is really the greatest penalty that any mortal could request.  However, God as a disembodied spirit cannot take that punishment.  The only way God could bear the punishment that humans request in Premise 5 is through the incarnation.  Once embodied God can then bear the punishment that we deserve, suffering in our place, and freely forgiving our sins.

Ultimately then the cross is not an answer to God's demand for justice, but God's just response to man's demand for justice and lack of forgiveness.  Man is complicit in the act because humanity's spiritual and political leaders (high priest, Herod, and Pilate) agreed that a sinless man should die on behalf of many.  Every example of God's free forgiveness is taken at face value, and the passages "if you do not forgive you will not be forgiven" fall in place.  The incarnation is crucial and cannot be removed without the process of the atonement falling apart.

What reasons (biblical or philosophical) are there to reject this view?

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jayceeii

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Re: The Incarnation and Atonement - a 3rd party view
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2019, 06:38:14 pm »
I have been thinking through a new view of the atonement for a while now.  Christianity stands or falls on the atonement.  It is not necessary for us to understand the atonement for it to be true, but I sincerely believe that it should be comprehensible and compatible with all the facets of God's moral perfection (mercy, forgiveness, justice) without over-emphasizing any one.  I have not come across this view in any of my readings up until now so I would like to know whether it has any validity.

Premise 1 – When we sin we always incur a debt held by God.

Premise 2 – God is morally justified (but not morally obliged) to dismiss debts held by himself

Premise 3 – When we sin against a person other than God we incur an additional debt held by that person (in addition to the debt against God)

Premise 4 – That person is morally justified (but not obliged) to freely dismiss the debt incurred by sins committed against her.

Premise 5 – If the debt held from Premise 4 is not dismissed but is instead brought to the judgment throne a just God cannot simply dismiss the debts.  A just God must dispense justice in accordance with the debts held.

Premise 6 – As described in Question of the Week 549 the misdeeds of a worker can be impugned to an employer.  God impugns those sins onto Himself and then inflicts the maximum penalty any human can justifiably request – a tortuous death.  This then clears the debts held by any person who does not freely dismiss the debts.  At this point all debts against the person in question have been cleared (God has freely dismissed, forgivers have freely dismissed, non-forgivers have seen their justice done).

Premise 6b – We innately recognize the right of God to take the place of the sinner.  How many times have we heard the question “why would God let this happen” when “this” refers to the sinful actions of another human.  People often hold against God the actions of sinful man.  This demonstrates an intuition that God has the moral right (but not obligation) to accept responsibility for the sins of others.

Premise 7 – If we do not freely drop our complaints against other people (as in Premise 4) then God does not drop his complaint against us (Premise 2) and punishes us according to our deeds.  That is, if we require Christ’s death on the cross (the means by which God can clear debts against others) then God does not dismiss the debts held by himself.

Followup on Premise 6:  In our legal system (and really any legal system) the maximum penalty for any crime is death.  In our system the death penalty is made as painless as possible, but that has not always been the case.  In many systems crimes could be punished by a tortuous death.  That is really the greatest penalty that any mortal could request.  However, God as a disembodied spirit cannot take that punishment.  The only way God could bear the punishment that humans request in Premise 5 is through the incarnation.  Once embodied God can then bear the punishment that we deserve, suffering in our place, and freely forgiving our sins.

Ultimately then the cross is not an answer to God's demand for justice, but God's just response to man's demand for justice and lack of forgiveness.  Man is complicit in the act because humanity's spiritual and political leaders (high priest, Herod, and Pilate) agreed that a sinless man should die on behalf of many.  Every example of God's free forgiveness is taken at face value, and the passages "if you do not forgive you will not be forgiven" fall in place.  The incarnation is crucial and cannot be removed without the process of the atonement falling apart.

What reasons (biblical or philosophical) are there to reject this view?
cb: I have been thinking through a new view of the atonement for a while now.  Christianity stands or falls on the atonement.

jc: Christianity as it was formulated by Paul stands or falls on the atonement. Christians noting this are sure that it must stand; but if it falls, then great is their fall, i.e. they fall in foolishness, their minds not understanding God’s terms, what He expects of good people.

cb: It is not necessary for us to understand the atonement for it to be true, but I sincerely believe that it should be comprehensible and compatible with all the facets of God's moral perfection (mercy, forgiveness, justice) without over-emphasizing any one.

jc: Yes, but if it is false you were better served trying to understand something else. God can still be morally perfect and not save everyone, even those who cry, “Jesus, Jesus.” It was not given to men to try to make themselves worth saving because they rebel against it. In general Christianity is a flatterer’s religion, painting a pretty but false picture of God eager to save everyone, where the basic tenets of what God wants from men were denied.

cb:  I have not come across this view in any of my readings up until now so I would like to know whether it has any validity.

Premise 1 – When we sin we always incur a debt held by God.

jc: Perhaps you would accept the wording that when men sin God sees their wickedness. But I think it is wrong to think God is saying, “You owe me.” Think of pets misbehaving in your house. You see they don’t know any better as they gnaw on your shoes. You don’t hold them responsible. Dogs will be dogs, cats will be cats, and humans will be humans. If they knew better they would not sin, which is the nature of solid moral virtue.

The premise presumes too much of the human race, i.e. that they hold the relation to God of intelligent beings. If God does not respect them as such, then if they fix this sin or that sin it doesn’t matter; they still are not competent to be in His Presence, in particular the Incarnation. Humans have a much longer road to travel, than fixing specific sins. Such ideas are founded on weak and nearly useless ideas of virtue or quality in personality. You can only say to a human that he’d better not steal from his neighbor. He won’t understand if you ask him to make himself a better person who has no selfishness.

cb: Premise 2 – God is morally justified (but not morally obliged) to dismiss debts held by himself

jc: Again the presumption that sin is like a debt is shallow and wrong. Sin springs from sinful minds, which is the real source of the trouble. A man is not justified if he merely stops specific sins. He has not attained virtue that way, and God was not holding him to account that way. The souls must take responsibility for themselves, or they do not grow to be venerable and self-aware. Humans will no doubt go on believing earnest prayers to God to purify their hearts are answered; but they go on to fail every simple test of virtue.

cb: Premise 3 – When we sin against a person other than God we incur an additional debt held by that person (in addition to the debt against God)

jc: Here you are talking about crime and punishment on the human plane, which is also a form of error although it is the only way that works. The whole thrust of Jesus saying to turn the other cheek was to emphasize such a perception of debts incurred or paid is not real. If someone harms you, you cannot fix him by punishment. The drive that another should feel the pain he made you experience, has almost no good effect upon his soul. Why do you undertake his redemption? Sinners are better avoided, and if punishment is meted out it is for the sake of preventing further crimes, not really to expiate former ones.

 cb: Premise 4 – That person is morally justified (but not obliged) to freely dismiss the debt incurred by sins committed against her.

jc: This one is a big error, since it presumes a harmonious society results when all the debts are paid, which is very far from the reality. Men acting at their very best are still not that great. They are still shallow, selfish people, who do not make robust companions contributing to the joy of their fellow man. The gods or angels do not appear overnight.

cb: Premise 5 – If the debt held from Premise 4 is not dismissed but is instead brought to the judgment throne a just God cannot simply dismiss the debts.  A just God must dispense justice in accordance with the debts held.

jc: Again the model is pitifully shallow, trying to encapsulate virtue and quality of personality into an accounting of deeds and misdeeds. God is more than an accountant, and He expects a lot of things from His friends never seen in humans. If you want a short list, an ecstatic life, an ability to watch and enhance moods, eagerness to hard labor with no money or prestige, the absence of anger, the absence of greed, and deep love for all.

Judgment is not about justice. Humans are not rising that high. God has not respected them in the religions or He’d have given ten thousand commandments, instead of the Ten Random Suggestions. Humans were left to their own devices because they would have it no other way, and the world has been basically unguided. This is the meaning of the Garden of Eden fable. Men eat from the tree God forbade to them, which is making themselves the standard, presuming they can decide what is good and evil, without God.

cb: Premise 6 – As described in Question of the Week 549 the misdeeds of a worker can be impugned to an employer.

jc: No, God can only be called the employer if some of His standards are followed, but humans miss every one. The relation of humans to God is very distant, not like friends or even acquaintances. Further, the misdeeds of a worker can only be impugned to an employer when that employer asked for them. For instance if you said any company should not be making so much plastic waste you’d be fired. Such employers are guilty.

cb: God impugns those sins onto Himself and then inflicts the maximum penalty any human can justifiably request – a tortuous death. 

jc: This is indeed one of the fictions driving Christianity, and here is one of the places it is most manifest Christians think of a Big Ape in the Sky, not about the real living God. It’s the Grumpy Old Man they never liked growing up, but whom they can manipulate. God takes responsibility for human sins only in an ultimate sense, and they don’t see the road they are on or the end of sin. Cowboys similarly don’t take on the sins of the horses.

cb: This then clears the debts held by any person who does not freely dismiss the debts.  At this point all debts against the person in question have been cleared (God has freely dismissed, forgivers have freely dismissed, non-forgivers have seen their justice done).

jc: This is the law of the jackals, you know, that once the sins are dismissed all is well. Men haven’t even been told what their real sins are, and this means the path to salvation has not been declared. It’s not that hard to notice. Christianity is formulaic to an extreme, and reality almost never answers to formulae. Humans are happy with the shell of a path.

cb: Premise 6b – We innately recognize the right of God to take the place of the sinner. 

jc: This is tough to overturn in the human mind, but it does not exist in God’s mind. This is what Jesus meant, “All that they think they have shall be taken from them.” The Creator does not stand in the place of sinners. That could only be said in a most general and useless sense, that God has compassion for all although He also sees their station. It isn’t about Judgment, it’s about progress; but humans did not care enough to be warned.

cb: How many times have we heard the question “why would God let this happen” when “this” refers to the sinful actions of another human.  People often hold against God the actions of sinful man.  This demonstrates an intuition that God has the moral right (but not obligation) to accept responsibility for the sins of others.

jc: Right premise, but wrong conclusion. Men do blame God for the faults of other men, and this is even more important, since whenever a Christian describes the planet as a “vale of sorrows,” 99% of these sorrows are from man’s inability to love his fellow man. The only justification they can find to want to leave the Earth for Heaven, is the other humans, who would render Heaven the same kind of hell they make on Earth did they go there. And the ones wanting to leave, of course, are the problem that the others face too.

The right conclusion is that man is the problem and God should not be blamed, who after all has given superb bodies and a magnificent planet, a veritable heavenly region indeed. In general the religionists lean on God for aid, because their neighbors would not supply it. Job had all the friends he needed to overcome his difficulties, and they just sat and mocked him, an early summation about how the whole human history was going to go. Ultimately though God is not a “relief valve,” for humans who cannot stand one another.

cb: Premise 7 – If we do not freely drop our complaints against other people (as in Premise 4) then God does not drop his complaint against us (Premise 2) and punishes us according to our deeds. 

jc: Jesus did tell a parable about this, and it almost looks like an authentic teaching intended for intelligent people. The Lord knows something of how the human mind works, though it is very difficult to bend down that far. Yet asking for forgiveness from them is not a sophisticated teaching, as I’ve begun explaining above. Humans are falsely empowered as they believe they are having big effects on other souls, choosing to forgive or not to do so. Humans like to feel in power, like they are dominating, and the teaching feeds into this. Jesus asked what could be asked from humans, but this is a very low bar.

cb: That is, if we require Christ’s death on the cross (the means by which God can clear debts against others) then God does not dismiss the debts held by himself.

jc: I’m guessing this has not been well-stated, since it subverts Christianity. The way it is usually said is that the Son’s sacrifice on the Cross is sufficient so that God dismisses the debts held by Himself. The argument appears to equate “not freely dropping complaints” to “requiring Christ’s death on the cross," bringing in the additional issue that it is not normally expected a man is justified before God if he merely forgives his fellow man. The usual Christian case is that ALL require the death of Jesus, since ALL are sinners.

This makes the post into a singular attempt to establish a new form of Christianity, or it may be an instance of what I’ve noted many times, each man has his own brand of religion and these are only loosely held together by the churches, often forming sects. In this new form of Christianity recommended by cb, only those who forgive are justified, which is to say the class of people who forgive are not a class that requires Jesus’ death.

cb: Followup on Premise 6:  In our legal system (and really any legal system) the maximum penalty for any crime is death.  In our system the death penalty is made as painless as possible, but that has not always been the case.  In many systems crimes could be punished by a tortuous death.  That is really the greatest penalty that any mortal could request.  However, God as a disembodied spirit cannot take that punishment.  The only way God could bear the punishment that humans request in Premise 5 is through the incarnation.  Once embodied God can then bear the punishment that we deserve, suffering in our place, and freely forgiving our sins.

jc: Such is the Christian mythos, a formula men can understand but which may not apply. Importantly I’d say the crimes are not known, in fact the Bible pushes men towards some of these crimes. If the crimes are not known then men had no chance to try to please God and win whatever favors He bestows. Judgment is not about God’s anger, for to be angry God would have needed to tell men what He expected from intelligent, friendly creatures.

cb: Ultimately then the cross is not an answer to God's demand for justice, but God's just response to man's demand for justice and lack of forgiveness. 

jc: This seems to rely on the poorly worded section of the argument. You seem to be saying that men demand justice from their fellow men but fail to forgive of themselves, therefore Jesus needed to die. This puts humanity even more in a central spot than usual, with God circling in the background, evidently speechless and unable to have any effects.

cb: Man is complicit in the act because humanity's spiritual and political leaders (high priest, Herod, and Pilate) agreed that a sinless man should die on behalf of many. 

jc: Jesus is not a sinless man, He was God embodied. The Christians say it right sometimes, and wrong other times, nobody paying heed to critical existential details. The juxtaposition of Jesus with the political sphere of His time was symbolic of God’s general failure to guide men, a failure that necessitated Judgment. It’s a story that hasn’t changed.

cb: Every example of God's free forgiveness is taken at face value, and the passages "if you do not forgive you will not be forgiven" fall in place.  The incarnation is crucial and cannot be removed without the process of the atonement falling apart.

jc: I guess the “poorly worded” section was actually the central part of the argument, but it seemed to be confused. From the words given you have said men are justified by forgiving, that only if they do not forgive do they require Jesus’ sacrifice. Look again. Yet even were you correct in altering Christianity, at best you are adjusting a formula that was never right to begin with. I am not convinced you’ve suggested a cogent alteration.

cb: What reasons (biblical or philosophical) are there to reject this view?

jc: It looks like you and I are not in agreement about anything, but such is my usual life.