Tag: big words

Substitutionary atonement

The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is often taken by western churches (and most atheists) as being the only view of salvation. This is far from true – something I will explore as I attempt to define the topic.

Overview of substitutionary atonement

This form of atonement starts with the idea that God is both just and angry at us for our sin. Therefore he punishes Jesus to satisfy his anger and we get the benefits – if we believe. In many cases, if we forget to believe, fail to believe, or just don’t hear about it then we still get the punishment of his anger for all time.

Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, ‘instead of’ them.

There are different theories that come under the umbrella term “substitutionary atonement”. Four of the more well known are:

  • Ransom theory.
  • Christus Victor.
  • Satisfaction theory.
  • Penal substitution.

Criticisms of substitutionary atonement

Where do I even start?

There are many competing views of the atonement and whole forms of Christianity (Universalism, for one) where this doctrine is seen as holding no water at all.

Any doctrine that took a look as hell as eternal conscious torment and concluded that it does not fit with concepts of God’s justice, love, and mercy tend to reject substitutionary atonement.

Emma Higgs makes the argument on Patheos far better than I ever could. But she is far from the only one to do so. Australian Anglican minister, David G. Peterson quotes John Goldingay saying:

For example, in 1995 John Goldingay edited a volume of essays entitled Atonement Today. Goldingay himself denies that there is any link between atonement and punishment in the Old Testament and argues that the improper linking of punishment with sacrifice in much Christian thought is particularly due to a misunderstanding of Isaiah 53.

Objections include:

  • Devine child-abuse
  • Murders mobs as the will of God
  • Punishing the innocent as an affront to true justice
  • Moral guilt is not transferable
  • Anti-trinitarian aspects (angry God vs innocent Son)

Substitutionary atonement and the Axioms of Faith.

As with most widely held doctrines, it can be reached via Axiom zero. However, no form of the atonement can be said to be axiomatic itself. I will not be assuming this form of the atonement to have been in any way proven or established as a given. Not least of all because I have many unanswered or unanswerable questions regarding it.

How I intend to use the phrase “substitutionary atonement”.

As substitutionary atonement is – for better or worse – pretty much a core doctrine of the church I am going to have to talk about it directly. When I discuss substitutionary atonement, I expect that I will focus on penal substitution. The range of objections to this doctrine deserves better investigation and will, therefore, be a topic I return to frequently.

Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics is the study and interpretation of scripture. Most of us just call it Bible Study.

  • It could be fair to call this website a hermeneutical website.
  • On the whole, you will find the word written with a prefix such as “Biblical hermeneutics”.
  • Most Christian debates surrounding theology stem from different hermeneutical approaches.

While reading up on hermeneutics, I learned that Jewish and Christian biblical hermeneutics overlap but have very different interpretive traditions. Which goes some way to explaining why Jewish and Christian readings of scripture vary so much.

My use of the word hermeneutics.

I am not one for big words when shorter ones will do. However, with the Axioms Of Faith, I will be dealing with hermeneutics. I might, if I am feeling verbose, use the word. If I do, you should now know what I mean.

 

Amyraldism

Amyraldism is a word I bumped into for the first time right at the end of October 2017. If I do a poor job of defining it, please forgive me.

Amyraldism is, as I understand it, a form of theology introduced by Moise Amyraut. With amyraldism, you get the Calvinist doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints. Which, up to that point, is regular vanilla Calvanism.

With amyraldism however, only the elect are brought to faith and actually saved but salvation was available to everyone anyway (so going to hell is your fault). As I said, you get the teaching that Christ died to save all which (as I understand it) is at odds with regular Calvinism.

Moise Amyraut was alive between 1596 and 1664 which makes this doctrine less than 400 years old. Or, in other words, the Church taught something else for more than 75% of our history.

As doctrines go, amyraldism is one which does not fit terribly well with Romans 8:32 as well as pretty much any verses that talk about God saving all men.

Amyraldistic theology might explain Bob’s rather odd flavour of Calvinism. If it does then I disagree strongly with it.

According to one website I read (which gives a better definition), it is also known as “four-point Calvinism”.

How I plan to use the word “amyraldism”.

I have no plans to use this word. I just thought it was interesting and (once again) avoiding working on my book. I’m not sure I fully understand the term but figured I would define it as best I could because of topics I have covered previously.

Can you expand this definition?

If you have a better, clearer or deeper explanation of amyraldism, please speak up. If I was wrong about any point, say something.

Share your thoughts – if only to let me know that someone is reading this.

Agnosis

Agnosis is the first of the seven principles I listed in an essay I wrote called, “Travellers along the path of The Way of Yeshua”.

It comes from the Greek, and means literally “lacking knowledge”. ἀ- (a-, “without”, “lacking”) + γνῶσις (gnôsis, “knowledge”).

In my essay I wrote:

Man is ignorant and the full truth is inherently unknowable to us. All that we think we know is faulty due to our own limitations. Our own best knowledge, doctrines, and understanding are forever flawed and full of error. We seek to embrace metanoia – a change in our thinking – freely confessing our ignorance and, in doing so, we allow our nature to be changed into the nature of Yeshua.

The concept of agnosis is that there is simply so much that we do not know about The Father and about even ourselves. It follows that as we are finite and God is infinite that we cannot possibly know as He knows.

Many of the other principles flow from this one. Along with love, and trust in Yeshua, you could easily work out the others.

Embracing our own agnosis requires humility. Appreciating our own agnosis keeps us from being proud about what we do know. Agnosis keeps us open to learning from others. Which is why I recommend it for the Church of tomorrow.

Agnosis from the axioms of faith.

The principle of agnosis can be reached from the axioms of faith. The zeroth axiom states that all scripture is good for establishing doctrine.

  • Luke 10:21 and Matthew 11:25 show us that there are things that The Father has hidden from us.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known.”
  • Romans 3:23 tells us that all have erred (sinned) and therefore we are flawed.

Scripture never asks us to understand everything, only to trust Father, and walk humbly in righteousness.

How I intend to use the words agnosis and agnosia.

Sparingly. However, when I do use these words it is always as a reminder (to myself) of the limits of human understanding.

Metanoia

Metanoia, an Ancient Greek word (μετάνοια) meaning “changing one’s mind”.

Metanoia is translated as repent most of the time in English language Bibles. However, reform might be closer to the original meaning. “Reform, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17). I think only Young’s Literal Translation renders metanoia this way (read it here).

Metanoia is a fundamental change in thinking and living rather than a confession of sins as repentance is often explained.

How I intend to use the word metanoia.

Sometimes I try to avoid words which bring colour or meaning that they should not have. For example, the word repentance is so heavily charged, so thoroughly defined that it might not be fit for use in a particular discussion of doctrine. Where I wish to specifically refer to the radical change of heart and mind implicit in the original Greek, there I may use this word.

Eschatology

end of the world

Today’s topic is eschatology, and specifically what on earth the word means.

Theology is a funny old thing with a lot of big words that seem designed to make understand God an impossible task for the average human being. So while I am putting off writing anything remotely related to my book, I thought I would start a new category a glossary of words.

Eschatology is that part of theology concerned with death, judgement, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind. Or, in more common language “end times”. (Here’s how you pronounce eschatology).

The end of the world as we know it.

Scripture talks about aeons (or ages): The present age, the age to come, and so forth. Scripture also talks about aiṓnios which while basically being part of the same word family as aeon gets rendered as eternal quite a lot.

As a result, eschatology can also be a study of the end of things as we know them right now. This is particularly true when dealing with “the end of the age”.

Along with eschatology comes words like apocalypticism. The book of Revelation is apocalyptic, for example.

If we talk about eschatology we may be about to discuss matters such as:

  • The end of the world
  • The Second Coming of Jesus
  • Heaven and Hell
  • The Rapture
  • The Tribulation
  • Millennialism
  • Death and the afterlife
  • The resurrection of the dead
  • The Last Judgment
  • The New Heaven and New Earth in the world to come

How I plan to use the word “eschatology”.

I don’t.

Not that eschatology is not a fine word that says a great deal but I just do not feel familiar enough with the word to use it convincingly. Besides, the word means so much that I feel it might be better using more precise language.

If I do us use the word, however, at least you will know what it means.