Archive for the ‘ Vox Apologia ’ Category

A Clarification

Vox is not canceled permanently – I worded it badly, in the last post.

The current editions were canceled. God Or Not, on the other hand, IS canceled permanently.

Vox Weekly is suspended temporarily as I retool it, but the Symposium will have a new topic soon.

Look for updates.

No entries for the Symposium, and only one for Weekly, from codepoke.

I’ll have the next Symposium topic up soon – but I’m thinking about doing something else for Weekly. The first two went fine, but I’m thinking we need more lead time again. Perhaps every two weeks? Or, I need to pick a few posts in a row for us to respond to, while we drum up some submissions.

I honestly don’t know. Something has to happen.

God Or Not was canceled, as well, with a biting comment at Evangelical Atheist.

wo weeks ago, GOD or NOT 10 was cancelled because there were no theist submissions. Tomorrow’s edition, which was to be hosted at Buridan’s Ass, is also cancelled. Once again, the theist bloggers have shown no interest in participating; not a single believer submitted work.
It’s over. The grand experiment has failed, and I’m bringing the carnival to a close. I want to thank everyone who hosted and participated, particularly LBBP, Chad and Cadmus.

Failure is acceptable if you learn from it, so what have I learned from this experience?

1. Some theists (and theasts) are willing to exchange ideas about the existence and nature of gods in an open, intellectual forum.
2. The vast majority is not.

I don’t agree, obviously – I just think that a lack of promotion is what brings endeavors like this to their knees. I’m guilty of this, myself – but I need some ideas, folks. I’m short on time of late, which is why I went to a “carnival” style hosting.

How do we get this moving?

I want Vox to be a regular staple. I wish I had the time to do the promotion right, but I’m oh, so short on time right now.

What shall we do?

Vox Weekly hosted here tomorrow

Looking for hosts on upcoming versions, but I’ll take it this week. I’ll announce something tomorrow, too.

Incidentally, GodorNot needs some theist hosts – go visit, and find a date that works for you.

Vox Weekly’s current question is here, submitted by John Loftus (reposted from his blog, here).

This post is a response.

In my book I argue that there is no coherent understanding of the atonement. Here are some questions for those who accept the penal substitutionary view:

Fair enough.

In order for someone to be forgiven why must there be punishment at all?

Well, I think we’ve crossed terms already. The forgiveness is not dependent upon the punishment. It follows after it, but is not dependent upon it. Forgiveness is granted upon repentance, not atonement. Atonement is required to satisfy God’s Justice, and His Holiness, but not to satisfy His Mercy.

To forgive someone doesn’t mean that you must first punish the offender at all.

Yes, they are two different terms altogether.

Punishment is satisfied by the Atonement, and satisfies God’s Holiness.

Forgiveness is granted by God, and satisfies His Mercy.

They are related, as God will not forgive anyone who has not been atoned for. This is due to His holiness, which cannot tolerate sin. A sinful man cannot even *be in the presence of God*. It’s not a random requirement, it is necessity. For us to be with God, we must be atoned for, and our sins as if they never were – as far as the East is from the West.

Forgiveness doesn’t really depend upon the remorse of the offender, either, although it does help quite a bit. At this point it’s not up to the offender at all, but the victim who must find a way to forgive.

Remorse is onlya step toward repentance, which is required for salvation. God found a way to forgive – He substituted Himself for us. The victim took the punishment for the offender, and seeks to grant the offender eternal fellowship with him.

To forgive means bearing the suffering of what that person has done to you without retaliation.

That’s a bit of a fib. Forgiveness is pardon, excusing a mistake or offense – not bearing suffering and the like.

If I stole something from you, then forgiveness means bearing the loss without recompense.

How can we recompense God for anything we’ve done? We have no way of doing so. That doesn’t apply very well. Besides, God doesn’t want recompense. God wants Justice, and Holiness. Neither can accept anything short of perfection without negative consequences.

If I slandered you, forgiving means bearing the humiliation without retaliating.

God cannot slander us, and cannot ever commit any sin in retaliation. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

If the cross of Christ means someone got punished for my sins, then that’s not offering forgiveness, that’s punishing someone for what I did wrong.

Do you really think that forgiveness means that there are no consequences for sin? If my son or daughter steals from me – I’ll forgive him or her – but, they will still be punished for what they did. To simply allow them to do wrong, and not face consequences for it is not good parenting.

I forgive them – I do not hold it against them, and still love them. However, they will still have to face consequences for their wrongdoing.

If the cross was needed to pay the punishment for my sins, then how can God really be a forgiving God?

Punishment was for the sin. Forgiveness is for the sinner. Punishment is for the action. Forgiveness is for the actor. Actions have consequences – forgiveness does not negate those.

Forgiveness and punishment are not balance here. Atonement and punishment are. Forgiveness is the act of God to grant life eternal with Him, to those who believe. Atonement is the payment for sin by the substitutionary death of Christ. The two are not the same. Atonement is paying for the consequences of sin. Forgiveness is granting more than just not-death, but life more abundantly. Therein lies the difference.

Forgiveness doesn’t require punishment.

No, it doesn’t. Holiness and Justice does.

To put it bluntly, if I can’t forgive you for striking me on the chin until I return the blow back to you, or to someone else, then that’s not forgiveness, that’s retaliation, or sweet revenge!

Do we let criminals go free, if the families forgive them? Do we let people get away with crimes, if we choose to forgive them? Only if a pardon is signed – but the consequences are always the same, and authority has to grant that pardon to the consequences.

In God’s legal system, there is one penalty, for one crime. Death, for Sin. To pay that penalty required a substitutionary death. God’s love is still boundless, but it does not allow for sin to go unpunished. It must be atoned for, and it has been, for those who believe. For those who do not, they will take their own penalty on themselves.

Revenge is never an ethical motive for action, even if we are led to take revenge on others sometimes. John Hick: “A forgiveness that has to be bought by the bearing of a just punishment is not forgiveness, but merely and acknowledgment that the debt has been paid in full. (The Metaphor of God Incarnate, p. 127).

Vengeance is often quite ethical. If a man takes a life, his life is required of him. God says “the man who sins, shall die”. God is the essence of ethics, thus, you are incorrect. God Himself says “Vengeance is Mine”. So, rethink that one. Your own idea of ethical, when God says differently, won’t sway me here.

Besides, revenge is said to be wrong because it can be done spitefully, or vindictively. It’s been a mainstay of human life since human life began, just about. However, Christians are told that revenge is not ours – it is God’s – because He is Just, and Righteous in every way. How could a perfectly righteous God seek vengeance and not do so Justly and Rightly?

It’s not possible. Thus, you are incorrect.

To sum up:

Forgiveness =/= Atonement.
Punishment does not relate to forgiveness.
Vengeance is not wrong when God executes it.

That’s about it.

Vox Apologia Info Box – The Code

I’ve been telling you, for some time now, that I was going to write some code for everyone to see when/where Vox is going to be, and where it is right now. I got it.

Here’s the code:

[code lang=”javascript”][/code]

Hope it’s helpful. Now, remind me to update it regularly, will ya?

Vox Weekly I

It’s up, at CADRE Comments!

Vox News and Info – 3/7

1. Vox Weekly was unavoidably detained! It should be posted later on tonight, 3/7, over at CADRE. I have to admit something, though – the original question DarkSyde posed was not changed, per his request, until a few days ago – I put up the initial draft of his question, and forgot to change it when he asked me to 🙁

So, the amended question is now up, below the original, with my apologies, on the Vox Questions page.

2. Vox XXI will be postponed until March 25th, just so we have a bit more lead time.

3. Vox Weekly 2 will skip a week, because I got sidetracked by some other obligations, and haven’t got anything up on it – and it’s a week away. I’ve learned that this sort of thing *requires* lead time – especially for custom topic issues. The next post date will be March 20th.

4. We need volunteers – I have no hosts lined up for the next editions of weekly, and I’d like to see this be a migratory effort, like a carnival.

5. I’m going to try and take care of the javascript to display Vox info on your sites, and get as many bugs worked out as possible tonight. Also, I’m going to try to get a script running to display the latest posts from all three sections of aggregated posts.

A New Way to Be Wise

A response to the comments posted here, by t.f.

God decides to make a universe (for whatever reason)

Actually, He says why He created it.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.
~ Col. 1:16

God created everything – for Himself.

God decides to create free moral agents (ditto)

Well, that’s exlained as well: Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.
~ Isaiah 43:7

It’s to God’s own glory everything exists.

God decides to create some rules (to, supposedly, give them moral choices)

Well, I’d have to disagree with you, there. They aren’t rules He “created” – they are the essence of God’s own character. Things are, because God is. God is holy – thus, sin cannot be permitted – unholiness is, by definition, wrong.

It’s not arbitrary. It is in keeping with the character and person of God.

God arbitrarily decides to assign the punishment of “death” for ALL SIN, and specifically, “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin”

First: Where is your backing for “arbitrarily”? Where is that said, implied, or mentioned?

Second: Why not? If every sin is a specific violation of the very character of God – His holiness, shouldn’t He set the penalty?

Since man, by virtue of his free will, chooses at *ANY* point to disobey, god must punish man with death/require blood, in order to be “just” or consistent

With Himself, correct.

However, since god is love/good, god decides to give man an “escape hatch” from this system of justice by offering mercy/grace


god decides to pay the penalty of sin in the place of man
those men who “accept it” get to have grace


(god is not “just” in this sense, since punishing the innocent for the crime of the guilty is a tortured logical exercise in demonstrating “justice”)

By who’s standard? Yours, or God’s? God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, correct?

(Isaiah 55:8-9)

those men who do not believe it, for whatever reason, still get what is coming to them – death and hell

Well, it’s not believing *it*, per se – it’s believing *in* God as Savior – and your own need for such a Savior – and turning away from the sin that required you to need a Savior.

in summary:
god dies because god decided death was necessary to pay for what god determined was sin because man committed sin and god dies for man and if man accepts it he gets eternal bliss and if he doesn’t he gets eternal hellfire

…sound about right to you?

Eh. To some extent. Obviously, it’s more complex than that – but that’s a decent synopsis – aside from one thing. God doesn’t precisely “decide” that death was necessary. It *is* necessary, because of God’s holiness.

and do you really wonder why paul said the gospel was foolishness to people like myself?

No, I don’t. At all. It’s very clear it is, and there is a reson for that, which is grounded in what you mean by “foolishness” – and from what perspective that determination is made.

That series of verses has much more to it than just “the gospel is foolishness”.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

~ 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:16

Basically, this passage says that God’s wisdom is totally different from our wisdom. We have only so much information to go on – and He has it all. God shows us what is right, directly. This is moral wisdom, as well – not just intellectual wisdom. When you try to filter God’s principle through your own, it won’t work. You have not been shown what is correct about the world around you, because you insist on insisting that your way is correct – and something which does not conform to your way of thinking must, (dare I say it?) for some reason, be inconsistent.

This is not logical. If there is a transcendent being – God – his ways, necessarily, as Isaiah mentions earlier, will be much higher than our ways – and different. We haven’t even got to the point of our intrinsic sinful nature, or our egocentricity. Basically, Paul is saying that regardless of what men *think* is wise – God will show us, like Paul does later in this letter to the Corinthians, “a more excellent way”. God’s way of doing things may not jive with our sensibilities. I think, before we rush to say “it isn’t logical”, we ask ourselves “how in the world am I qualified to judge that?” Are you eminently logical? Do you have the answer to everything? God asks Job that, in a serious of pointed questions.

Job’s answer is excellent.

Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard6 of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”

When we encounter the Living God, we too, repent in dust and ashes – and we learn a new kind of wisdom. Not the wisdom which we thought was wisdom – the same wisdom anyone else deems themselves as possessing. This wisdom is the wisdom of God, which surpasses everything we thought we knew before. It’s a new way to look at things, because we have more of the information – and we have the Author to explain His book to us.

Wouldn’t that be the best way to go about understanding what an author meant, when He wrote a book?

That’s the kind of wisdom God shares with those who are His. It’s not “based on nothing”. It’s based on MORE. It’s a fundamental paradigm shift, which leaves you looking at things a completely different way. The “wisdom” people think they have looks foolish, in comparison to God’s. God’s “foolishness”, as they call it, looks like transcendent profundity. That is the meaning. God gives, and we receive. His wisdom, not ours. We’re not as smart, or as profound, as we think we are.

In light of the fact that Jesus was in effect, God, and therefore knew he was both immortal and utterly in control of his fate, or at the very least knew of God’s existence beyond any doubt and his place therein, why is his death considered such a magnificent sacrifice in comparison to we ordinary folks who have neither example of foreknowledge?

~ DarkSyde

This is the question I’d like to interact with.

Basically, it seems to me, this is a question dealing specifically with the necessity and centrality of the Atonement, and several other doctrines as well. This doctrine – and doctrine it is – is the central, keynote theme of the entire Bible. It is central to the entire message it gives, and part and parcel of just about every story in it.

The Atonement is key. Second, however, is the doctrine of Propitiation. Third, the Hypostatic Union, then the Holiness of God, and the Divinity of Christ.

All of these subjects (and most likely more) are touched on by this question! It’s an interesting one, and needs a (Biblical and doctrinal) response.

The importance of the Atonement:

That’s because Jesus made much of it, I think. He said it Himself: “…but for this purpose I have come to this hour.” This was not Christ’s only purpose – but it was chief. In Matthew 5:17, He says “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” The Atonement is the purpose the whole Bible is pointed toward. The means, however, is called Propitiation.

The importance of Propitiation:

Correct, Jesus is God, the ruler of the Universe. You are correct, though – it isn’t the same type of sacrifice. It is a propitiatory sacrifice. From theopedia: “Propitiation is not the placating of a vengeful God but, rather, it is the satisfying the righteousness of a holy God, thereby making it possible for Him to show mercy without compromising His righteousness or justice.

This concept is what makes the forgiveness (mercy) of God compatible with the moral perfection (holiness) of God, when God offers us salvation.

It is not the “same sense” of sacrifice. It is a sacrifice only God could make. Humanity is awash in their own wrongdoing – their own sin. There is not one perfectly righteous man who could stand in our stead as a sacrifice. Furthermore, a mere man could not withstand the full wrath of God out upon them. God, however, could. This is the reason for Christ – fully God, fully man – and clothed in flesh specifically to “to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

This is correct – Christ’s sacrificial death is, indeed, not a sacrifice how we typically view human sacrifices on behalf of others. It is a sacrifice that only God could make, in the person of Jesus, the Christ – and it is a sacrifice required by God, of God, that He may save us from ourselves.

The Law’s position (and thus, God’s position) is that the penalty for sin is death – blood.

The death and suffering of Christ is a substitionary payment for the sins of all. The price for that sin is the death of Jesus – the perfect, sinless man. He was separated from God, was inundated by the Wrath of God, took upon himself all of the sins of the world – past, present, and future – and by that payment, has satisfied the wrath of God for mankind and enabled God to forgive men who accept that payment for their sin, repent of their sin, and acknowledge Christ as Lord and God.

The comparison is not between foreknowledge and lack of foreknowledge. It’s a red herring to the central focus on sin. The difference lies in who Jesus is. First, Jesus is a hypostatic union of God and man. This means that Jesus was both man AND God – and that He was both God and man fully – two natures in one person. God cannot sin, thus the human nature of Jesus was sinless as well. He was the perfect man, and God to boot – thus, His sacrificial death was sufficient to pay the penalty of sin – even though He had committed none Himself. This is the reason why Christ’s death is important. The perfect man – the man who was also God – died in our place, took the wrath of God upon Himself, and now offers us salvation from the penalty for our sins. We have only to accept His offer, once we are empowered to by the Spirit, and once it is given. We must repent of our sins, acknowledge Jesus as Lord and God, and follow Him.

So, I think you’re asking the wrong question. Since Jesus is God – of course He knew His death was not permanent. However, that is not the operative factor in why it was important – nor does it matter. The importance of His death lies in His identity and His perfection – not in His knowledge.

Vox XXI and VA I

Vox Symposium, Edition XXI, will be posted on March 11th. The topic is The Fear of The Lord. It will be hosted at Vox Apologia’s blog.

Vox Apologia, Edition I, will be posted March 6th, hosted by CADRE Comments. The topic is Why is Jesus’ Death a Sacrifice? submitted by DarkSyde, who blogs on science and politics at Daily Kos and at the atheist and skeptic blog Unscrewing the Inscrutable.

Entries for either must be received by midnight of March 10th and 5th, respectively.

Look to your right for the submissions email address, in the Vox sidebar section.

Coming Soon: Vox Schedule Page, code to include Vox info on your site or blog, and several other features.

Thanks, and start writing.

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