Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Literal or not

Is God angry at sinners? Was Jesus Christ a propitiation for our sins?

Erika said this about God's wrath and Christ's atonement on Doorman Priests blog

*You do, of course, know that this is a fairly modern view of the atonement, no more than 500 years old.*

*Wayne,reading the bible literally is also no older than 500 years.*

My responses:

Hmmm. let's see if the Bible has anything to say about atonement or propitiation (in which dictionary.com says :The act of appeasing the wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person; the act of making propitious.)

Romans 3:25

whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

Hebrews 2:17

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

1 John 2:2

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

1 John 4:10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Propitiation for what? Wrath of God for our sins.

John 3:36

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Romans 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Romans 5:9

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Ephesians 5:6

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Colossians 3:6

Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

God is angry and will be full of wrath on sinners who die their sins. But He is rich in mercy and provided a propitiation (atonement) in Christ Jesus who took the full wrath for our sins at Calvary. If we repent and trust in Christ He will save us from the terrible Day.

Erika - I invite you to tell me which of the above verses you would take literal and which ones you do not. I also ask you to tell me how you would interpret them if they are not to be taken literal.


Joseph A. said...

If you don't take the Bible literally, don't take your Christian salvation literally. There are no good reasons outside of pure desire and mental idolatry to interpret biblical verses in a figurative manner in accordance with your personal preferences.

pastorbrianculver said...

If you read the Bible and "you" decide that it is not all true, then you leave yourself an "out." There are some sins you can get away with because you don't feel God will judge you.

The truth of the matter is that God will judge the unrighteous ones. You know who they are...
The ones who mock God by using foul language, the ones who engage in sexually immoral lifestyles. The ones who habitually lie, who steal, who lust and commit adultery. God's Law is written on our hearts and when we try to dismiss it we will have no excuse on the Day we meet God face to face!

Erika Baker said...

I finally made it to your blog and I wanted to engage with you about this question of how literally we have to take Spriptures.

But then I read the next blog entry and I stumbled across the 'Christians' in inverted commas for those of us who do not follow your interpreation.

I am deeply upset by this. That you can dismiss my faith so easily and throw me out of your community simply because, like millions of Christians throughout the ages, I think differently, is not exactly a good starting base for a real conversation.

I may come back another time. For now, I don't think we have anything to say to each other.
When you start to respect me enough to treat me as a sister in Christ, just as I see you as a brother in Christ (although I deeply disagree with you), then we can begin to speak.

But please, in the meantime, do some background reading.
You may not think that it is possible to read scriptures any other way but literally. And you may well be right.

But to claim that this is 2000 year tradition is dishonest or ill informed.
Reading a little theology, St Augustine, the early church theologians, the mystics, major Roman Catholic theologians of the past to name but a few, should at least make it obvious that Christianity has a very rich tradition and numerous ways of understanding Scripture. As I said before, Karen Armstrong is a good starting point for a journey through theology of the bible throughout the ages.

It is NOT necessary or helpful to pretend that those who do not agree with you are not Christians.

WayneDawg said...

Erika - If you are a true born-again Christian you have no reason to be upset over what I said. I put Christians in inverted commas because I don't know if they are Christian or not based on the non-traditional things they are saying.

It's one thing to disagree about tongues or sprinkling versus dunking during a baptism, but to disagree about atonement, propitiation and Gods hatered of sin is another. Once we start talking about how God is just loving us into Heaven with no penalty for sin and how we don't take literal the verses on atonement/propitiation/wrath, we have crossed over into heresy. That is when I start putting little commas over the word Christian.

The Scripture references I provided in the first post or the second post cannot be read any way but literal. The first readers and those who first heard these words 200 years ago could not have taken them any other way either.

I'm sure I am never going to read anything the Roman Catholics or mystics have to say about interpreting Scripture for any reason other than pure filler material.

I'm going to continue to let the Holy Spirit help me when reading the Scriptures and let Him guide me through the Bible; not the mystics or the Roman Catholic theologians.

WayneDawg said...

That should say 2000 years ago.....

Doorman-Priest said...

I, too, have a problem with "Christians". Such an insult has been directed at me by those who comment here. Erika, it is deeply offensive.The arrogance of believing you know the mind of God in relation to another's soul is breathtaking. To apply it, as you say, to Brothers and Sisters in Christ because they have the temerity to disagree with you is pretty unforgivable, particularly as no one claims that what one believes about scripture is determinative of salvation.

"See how these Christians love one another".

pastorbrianculver said...

2 Peter 2:4-9 says
4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them into gloomy dungeons[b] to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.[c]

We can know the mind of God. It is found in the Holy Bible. His mind is displayed in His holy anger towards sin, open rebellion to His Word. The Laodicean Church made Him sick. They were "christians" who, unless they repented, were going to be judged. The false teachers and false prophets who were perverting the Word of God to make it more worldly accepting, were going to be judged too. Jesus would say to them, Depart from Me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you.

We do not want that to happen to you or anyone else.

1 Cor 6:9-10 says
9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

There is nothing literal about that. It is the Truth of God's HOLY Word.

WayneDawg said...

DP - You must not have read my comment to Erika on why I put Christians in quotations. Here it is again:

*I put Christians in inverted commas because I don't know if they are Christian or not based on the non-traditional things they are saying.

It's one thing to disagree about tongues or sprinkling versus dunking during a baptism, but to disagree about atonement, propitiation and Gods hatered of sin is another. Once we start talking about how God is just loving us into Heaven with no penalty for sin and how we don't take literal the verses on atonement/propitiation/wrath, we have crossed over into heresy. That is when I start putting little commas over the word Christian.*

The mind of God is clearly displayed throughout the Scriptures. The mind of God is displayed in all the verses I layed out that Erika said we cannot take literal.

Please look at all the references to sin, wrath, Judgment and propitiation (in that order) and tell me which ones we are not to take literal.

All I hear from Erika and the like are, 'you can't take that literal; you must read this and you will see what I mean; only in the last 500 years people have read with a literal intent; atonement is only a 500 year old interpretation'

Like I said, when you start denying things like atonement/propitiation/wrath, that are clearly meant to be literal, you cross over from disagreement into heresy.

When you don't know the right Jesus (like the Mormons, JW's, etc), you don't know the God of the Scriptures. You might as well be praying to a carved idol.

*....particularly as no one claims that what one believes about scripture is determinative of salvation.*

Major disagreement DP!

Scripture says we must be born again to enter the Kingdom. Jesus said we must repent and trust Him to be born again. Once we do that, Scripture says we become a new creation.

If you don't believe that...you are not born again.

Question of Identity said...

*You do, of course, know that this is a fairly modern view of the atonement, no more than 500 years old.*

Thomas Aquinas (died 1274) was among many who taught that 'the demands of divine justice were satisfied by Christ's cross.'

Aquinas no doubt drew his thoughts from Anselm of Canterbury (11th C) who taught the satisfaction theory: - I quote Wickipedia on Anselm "the satisfaction theory teaches that Christ suffered as a substitute on
behalf of humankind satisfying the demands of God's honor by his infinite merit."

As you are suggesting,Wayne this teaching is simply taken directly from the Bible itself.

It is about time we stopped this false indoctrination that such and such a teaching is only 500 years old. NONSENSE!

Erika, I am not angry with you, though once again it might come across that way. I am however angry at the way God's Word is being abused.

Doorman-Priest said...

Wayne. You aren't the problem when it comes to the speechmarks.

"Believe and be baptised." Not "Believe and accept every semicolon of scripture." Where does Jesus say that what you believe about scripture is detrminative of salvation?

He doesn't. There may be all sorts of Old and New Testament references to the value and use of scripture, but they are not related to salvation. These are the extra burdens we oppress each other with in good Pharisaic style.

WayneDawg said...

Jack –

I don’t think it’s Pharisaic at all to ask, “What is it you believe?”

We have to believe Jesus is the Christ set forth as atonement for our sins once and for all (1 Cor 15:3, 2 Cor 5:15, Rom 5:8, Rom 3:25, Heb 2:17, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10).

If we don’t believe that as literal language then we don’t believe in the right Jesus. If we don’t believe in the right Jesus we do not have biblical salvation. So it is very important to believe correctly when it comes to this basic doctrine if we are to be called Christian.

Nothing Pharisaic at all about that……..in fact, I would call that Christianity 101.

Chris Kratzer said...


Doctrine is a biblical word for "teachings." Didache-GRK

The correct teachings about God and the things of God come from God (not man) through God's revelation in scripture.

John 7:16
Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

Having the correct doctrine is essential for knowing God and having salvation. You can't have sound doctrine without belief that the Scriptures are God-authored, are perfect in truth, and define us and God instead of us defining them.

1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Notice the admonition is to agree with revealed doctrine, not to make the scriptures agreeable.

2 John 1:9
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

So to answer your question, "Where does it say that what you believe about scripture is determinative of salvation?" the above scriptures speak to this issue.


Doorman-Priest said...

Wayne: It isn't Pharisaic to ask at all. Don't get me wrong on that. It is Pharisaic, though, to say "I believe such and such and if you don't, then you are either a second class Christian or no Christian at all."

Of course there are areas where there is a red line. One's belief about scripture is not one of those.

I don't accept that all scripture is the same genre of writing. I don't view the Gospels has having the same aim and function, for instance, as The Psalms although their common denominator is their witness to God.

The more I study (that is both academically as well as spiritually) the more I become aware of the different genres of writing: history (not all of which, confusingly, is historical), myth, poetry, law, wisdom, prophecy, Biography and so on. They all have a role and a context which needs to be understood and I would say that makes the writings interdependent.

That is why I can read the Gospels and assent to their witness to Christ. It is also why I read the Psalms and recognise that they could not all have been written by David which is a secondary point to what they teach me about God and therefore of little spiritual significance but much academic significance; it is why I read Daniel and see allegory and not history; it is why I read Genesis and see myth not science.

In every case I need to read and understand and seek God's guidance as to the function of that genre and what it reveals to me about God. I don't read Esther as having the same authority as St. Paul, for instance, or Hosea as revealing to me the same depths of understanding as John's Gospel.

Scripture is complex in its diversity, for all its wonders. Inspired - certainly. Inerrant - well, I would say not, of the same spiritual value - not at all, (which is not at all to argue no spiritual value). Jonah, for instance: a wonderful story of God's saving power and mercy on the people of Ninevah and a wonderful story of God's calling of Jonah and his patience with Jonah. Historically accurate? I would say not. Allegorical? I would say so. Of equal value with Mark's Gospel? Absolutely not.

Now I don't expect you, or Neil or Brian or Joseph to share my understanding of the nature of scripture. But I would ask you to see where I am coming from and at least understand what has led me to this point.

For you to expect me or Erika to share your view of the nature of scripture is equally unrealistic.

What we must avoid, at all costs, to keep real and open dialogue going and good relationships, is to stop oppressing each other with our certainties. Your certainties aren't mine and mine aren't yours. While we each hold them dear, we will not actually know until the day of judgement.

Wayne, you and I seem to manage to do that.

However, there will now be a pause while Brian ignores everything and posts a hundred proof texts which irrefutably condemn both me and my position as a false Christian and a false priest.


It was ever thus.

Plus ca change.

Doorman-Priest said...


And the doctrine of Christ on scripture would be. "Assent to every semi colon or die" then would it?

Whose semi-colon. Brian's or mine?

God's or yours? (Please don't tell me they are the same because that would be to say - and here we go again: "I am right and you are wrong").

Just occasionally in these exchanges, my faith in the humility of my fellow Christians - note: no speechmarks - would be greatly enhanced by someone saying; "Actually I'd never considered that view before. I'd like to explore that with you."

Too threatening. Let just use the Bible to tell them they're wrong.

Proof texting does not help. We can all do that. I choose not to because it doesn't help, it convinces no one and, while it may make me feel good about how well I know my Bible and my ability to trot out an appropriate verse or two for every occasion, It doesn't prove either that I have anything more than a superficial knowledge and understanding of scripture or that scripture is saying what I think it says.

Chris Kratzer said...


Thanks for your reply, I totally understand your views and would absolutely agree with you when exploring the "non-essentials" of the Christian faith.

If you have ever read my blog, I detest when people, for example, Calvinist try to claim perfect understanding of scriptures that God clearly never makes perfectly clear.

Worst, with some Calvinists there is a vibe that if you don't subscribe to their system of theology, you don't understand God's grace and you desire to minimize God's sovereignty. I can't tell you how much that elitism drives me up the wall. If you think you get the short end of the stick with guys like Brian etc., just go on some Reformed blogs and tee it up.

That said, I believe, by my understanding of scriptures as exampled in part by the scriptures I referenced earlier, that there are some "essentials" to faith in Christ and in the Bible that are not up for debate or creative interpretation.

Such as the doctrine of Christ: Jesus was the son of God, God's one and only provision for our sin, fully human and fully divine, He took God's punishment (wrath upon our sin) for us and died in our place through His shed blood on the cross. He rose to life three days later, ascended into heaven so that we might live and be restored unto Him. This salvation is an undeserved free gift from God received through repenting of our sins (genuine sorrow for and turning away from) and putting our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation.

This truth did not come from man, it is revealed to us in scripture. If one does not hold to this teaching, than one does not have God.

It is a very slippery slope to assert interpretational license over scripture and begin placing logic, reasoning, and personal experience as the guide rails for understanding. Once you begin down that path, than nothing is absolute other than a person's opinion. People have used every kind of exegetical excuse to further what are really their own opinions ever since the written Word.

It's amazing how the same person who doesn't want any absolutes, absolutely wants their own opinion, and not just that, wants it to have more weight and validity than God's counsel.

In a culture that says, "I have a right to my opinion so buzz off" I believe God's word requires us to humble ourselves and our opinions and yield to the counsel of God revealed in His word. Which, more so than not, is pretty straight forward, understandable, and clear.

Just some thoughts.


Doorman-Priest said...

...and very good to read. Thanks.