Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thoughts on the atonement debate

I think I got banned for the 3rd time from Orthodox Bridge.  You can decide the outcome for yourself.  I was called a shrill critic of Orthodoxy, yet I merely pointed to the gentlemen their own commitment to basic metaphysics.  It was the original poster that said my view was the heresy of heresies.  Who's shrill now?  In fact, I was rather reserved.

The behavior of the Orthodox commenters was rather amusing.  At least the original poster had the integrity to admit he couldn't answer my points (more below).  He asked his friend for help.  that fellow, a Mr. M., basically told me, "A lot of non-Reformed scholarship has refuted you."  He didn't give examples.  In internet debate that translates to, "I can't answer you but I know people who are smarter than you."  And so on.  He really translates to an admission of defeat.

The real crux of the debate is whether Christ's sacrifice atoned for guilt and sin in an objective sense  The Orthodox had problems saying that Christ assuaged the wrath of God, because they really don't believe God has wrath.  When pressed they will say, "You are reading Western categories into it" or it really means that we don't love God.  Of course, and as one commenter, a Prometheus, himself no friend to the Reformed faith, pointed out this is philosophical nominalism and ultimately meaningless.  Even more basic:  no one said a) how I was reading Western categories into this; b) what these categories exactly are, and c) how your categories aren't themselves derived from neo-Platonism.

Of course, this does raise a problem that even Reformed must face:  no one believes God changes in his essence.  So how can Christ's death placate the wrath of God?  Well, we predicate wrath, not of God's essence, but of the relationship between us and God. It is a relationship of wrath.  The original poster even admitted the force of this rejoinder and asked another Orthodox commenter, "What do you make of this?"  I don't remember an answer.

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