Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Just as it is written, "Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him." God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the man's spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. We speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. He cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ. **** 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
Now, in the NORMAL workings of English Grammar - and NOT "forced, religious interpretations" - this would most likely be rendered as, "reckoned, counted, decreed or determined". This word deals with reality. If I "logizomai" or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has - IN REALITY - $25 in it !! Otherwise, I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts and NOT suppositions.
In an attempt to maintain objectivity, the word "impute" CAN be used to ascribe potentially TRUE causes to an outcome (as, "electrical failure was 'imputed' as the cause of the plane crash"). However, when used in "christian theology", the meaning is usually just the OPPOSITE (as, "humanity, whose whole nature is basically that of SIN, has been 'imputed' with the righteous of Christ"). In REALITY, our bank account balance remains at ZERO - we are STILL basically "sinners" - but God did a little "creative accounting". He erased the balance line of $00.00, and instead wrote there $1,000,000 - "imputing" the money to our account. The only problem is - in accord with THIS line of "voodoo-religion" - the ACTUAL money IN our account is still ZERO !!
Where sacrifice is mentioned in reference to Jesus' death, through our PSA (Penal Substitutionary Atonement) goggles we have traditionally seen this as implying "substitution" -- Jesus took the punishment that WE deserved.
However, sacrifice doesn't mean substitution. Think about it.
The reality of Scripture is that Jesus bore with and suffered under the curse of SIN NOT "in our place" (as a substitute) - but rather, "on our behalf" - to open up a way that we might ACTUALLY, ourselves be cleansed and liberated from the curse and bondage of SIN.
If someone sacrifices their life to save someone -- a father dies in saving his child or a soldier takes a bullet to save a friend, their deaths are not in any way settling a debt owed by that person. Equally, someone can sacrifice their life for a cause -- there is no implication that they were a substitute.
The most commonly quoted Old Testament passage used to defend Penal Substitution is Isaiah 53:4-5. I'll write my little commentary in italics ....
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
The meaning of the statement that Jesus, "gave his life as a ransom for many" is equally misunderstood. It certainly DOES NOT mean that the crucifixion of Jesus was the "price paid to the Father in return for remitting our sins. EVEN LESS does it mean that it was a price paid to Satan in order to purchase mankind from HIS ownership and dominion !!"
Whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ** Mark 10:44.45 ** Also Matt 20:27,28
For starters, the word rendered "ransom" only occurs in two places in the NT (as noted above). That makes it rather difficult to place its EXACT meaning. Strong's Concordance says that the word (G3083) is derived from G3089. They give the GENERAL meaning of, "loosen, release, break, tear down, dissolve and divorce". All-in-all, this could certainly be construed that the two verses are simply stating that Jesus came with the purpose of "liberating us from the bondage of SIN". It has NOTHING to do with, "Being a SUBSTITUTE" !!
Also, if you take this verse in the context of what Jesus was saying, it is NOT specifically in reference to any "theory of atonement". Jesus was pointing out to His disciples that, if they wanted to be a part of HIS mission, then they were going to have to adopt HIS mentality -- that of a SERVANT and NOT of a RULER !!
A MASSIVE error that has been perpetrated within "christian theology" is to take the relational images of God that are presented in the Old Testament within the context of the people and nation of Israel, and to make these the ABSOLUTES of God's relation to his creation (creatures - US).
Israel was truly unique in-as-much as it was founded with God as its sovereign Lord, Ruler and King - it was THE true Theocracy (nation ruled by God). Some schools of Eschatology (end-times theology) believe that during "Christ's 1,000 year reign ????", it will again be so - THIS, however, is outside of the scope of this writing. The point is, as such, images portraying God in the "judicial role" - as ruler, judge, monarch, sovereign - would be natural and, within the given context, correct.
However, this is ONLY one of His dispensational roles or models - His original relationship with mankind was that of FATHER, as was portrayed through Abram (Abraham) LONG before there was any 'nation of Israel" !! He IS NOT portrayed in the Garden as "ruling over Adam as some almighty King", but He rather "walked beside Adam in the cool of the day" as Father and friend. When Jesus gave us His "model prayer (the Lord's Prayer)", it did NOT go, "Oh mighty absolute regal sovereign and lord, who rules in the heavenlies far above the reach of your lowly and wrenched servants" - but it goes rather, "OUR FATHER" !! Jesus told His disciples when He knew that His time to depart this earth was at hand:
Jesus replied, "Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." **** John 20:17
We also need to remember that in the Old Testament, there was NO ACTUAL "atonement" !! "SIN (the damaged, fallen nature of mankind) and Sin(s) (the ACTIONS themselves) were never actually dealt with or eradicated. They were merely "covered over" (like sweeping dirt under a rug - our of sight, out of mind) or postponed by that yearly ritual performed by the High Priest, called "The Day of Atonement", until that Day when Christ would provide the FULL, effective solution. Click [ Here ].
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. **** Hebrews 9:13,14;10:3,4
Third, they make Him the most unfair judge imaginable, ONE which even any depraved human society would despise -- one who OPENLY, deliberately, intentionally, and flagrantly sentences a totally innocent and guiltless individual to bear the guilt and penalty of another !!!
Forth, instead of a loving, caring Father, they represent God as some crazed, egotistical tyrant who is more concerned with "upholding his dignity, honor and position" than with the care and well-being of his children.
It is NOT a model derived from scripture and an intimate relationship with God through His Holy Spirit, but is rather a model based upon that depraved Roman Empire and ITS rulers, which was the model of rule and power of the period during which this "Theological Travesty" was promulgated.
With such a model as its seed, is it any wonder that the plant that has sprouted forth is as deformed and depraved as is so much of the formal "Theology of the Church of Jesus Christ" ??
From THIS model and THIS society came that UNholy caricature of God's TRUE church called the "Roman Catholic Organization".
Fifth and last, it is EXPRESSLY counter to ALL that God revealed to His prototype nation, Israel - BOTH through His express commandment and His continual speaking and revealing of Himself to them. His Word was, "You shall NOT have ANY god other than me, you shall NOT worship useless idols, and you shall NOT make any graven image to bow down before or worship" !!!
Now hold on -- THIS is going TOO far, you say !! The "christian church" (and MOST certainly myself) does NOT worship other "gods" and does not worship before idols. However, are you SO sure ???
What is an idol but the work of man's hands or the figment of his imagination that he chooses to worship as his "god" ?? Click [ Here ]. I would say that MOST of our concept of who and what THE GOD is consists of nothing LESS or ELSE than the vain, empty and superstitious imaginings of the human heart !!!
We have taken the infinite God - the primeval, creative, generating power and intelligence behind the birth and life of THIS universe (not to even GUESS at perhaps how many others) - and have so given in to anthropomorphism (the ascribing of human attributes to non-human entities) that society at large basically envisions "THEIR god" as being a "huge, powerful, OLD man, perhaps sitting on a throne (somewhere 'UP THERE') ruling over his kingdom". Worse yet, He is often depicted as a fiendish, WRATHFUL old man. In the minds of many modern men and women, He resides as a half-witted, doting, senile, indulgent grandfather or a freewheeling Santa Claus - there to disperse gifts freely to all who mutter the "magic incantation".
The "Roman Catholic Organization", with it's paintings, relics, statues, superstitions, theology, ETC. probably has the dubious distinction of being the primary contributor and offender in this matter.
So then, EXACTLY what IS the TRUE nature, substance or mode of existence of God ??? If we wish to be completely honest, all that we can truly say is, "I DON'T KNOW !!" Ayn Rand, in her book "Atlas Shrugged", criticizes and ridicules Christianity because of its lack of ability to describe its God. She says that ALL that we can say is, "No, He is NOT like this - No, He is not like that - No, He does not posses this form - No, He does not posses that attribute - until so much has been taken away or denied that nothing recognizable is left. She says that what we have left to worship is a "Great ZERO". In the mind of an atheist, this is no doubt a true representation !! It is also, unfortunately, the same mind that has endeavored to fill this void by fashioning its OWN "god" after that which it CAN see (and in fact, really DOES worship) -- itself or MAN.
Within the pridefull, conceited, self-exalted human heart, the highest, greatest and most powerful creature or mode of existence that IT can envision is MANKIND -- ITSELF !! All that God has chosen to reveal to us of this matter is to continually emphasis that, "He is NOT at all like unto US".
He says: "Listen my people! I am speaking! Listen Israel! I am accusing you! I am God, your God! When you did these things, I was silent, so you thought I was exactly like you. But now I will condemn you and state my case against you!" **** Psalms 50:7,21
"For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, says the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." **** Isaiah 55:8,9
For although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator **** Romans 1:21-23,25
He (God) alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see. **** 1 Timothy 6:16
"No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father (Jesus), has made God known." **** John 1:18
God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." **** John 4:24
One of the express purposes behind the incarnation of Jesus Christ (His taking upon Himself human form) was so that God might reveal His TRUE nature (personality) in a form that mankind could relate to and comprehend. Now get this clear though -- Jesus expresses the full INNER nature or character of the Father, NOT His physical form. Of that we will have to remain in the dark, probably because it is beyond our ability to comprehend - we have no frame of reference to understand or visualize such revelation. It would be akin to a virus attempting to comprehend a man !!
When the "Representation of God" DID appear to the people of Israel, it was in the form of a burning bush (FIRE - to Moses) - "thundering, burning and flashing" upon the mountain - or a great wind and an earthquake - or some obscure images of tremendous dynamic power. Click [ Here ]. When the Apostle John, in the Book of Revelation chapter one, sought to describe the appearance of the One who appeared before him, it was in "non-human, supra-human" terms.
Finally, lest you become confused by what I have said, YES, it IS true that the Old Testament speaks of and about God in human terms, ascribing to Him human qualities and attributes. However, as C.S. Lewis argues, how else could primitive man (OR modern man for that matter) understand Him?? Shall we speak of Him as an Effulgence, as an Eminence, as an Energy, as a Force, or perhaps as a Manifestation? How about if we REALLY satisfy the demands of our modern, secular, "scientific" community and refer to God (or Deity) as a "Quantum Singularity"? This would be, I believe - IN FACT - much closer to the ACTUAL existence and nature of He whom we worship than is the primitive "Aged Father" or "Regal Despot" image.
Again, however, exactly WHAT would it tell us about this God whom we can not see and, in truth, can not even conceive -- as we try to make Him real to our minds and to our comprehension. I will proclaim to you what it will tell us ---- It will tell us NOTHING AT ALL !! Would these terms make it easier for us to relate to Him who is admittedly beyond description or human comprehension.
NO -- God revealed Himself in terms that we could relate to, imperfect as they may be. However, God went to great effort to clarify that He IS NOT like us and that we should NOT think so. That has been and IS one of man's great errors !! The Old Testament was a very imperfect revelation of God, though it is more refined than His first revelation, Nature - His Creation. It was His purpose in the coming of Jesus Christ to reveal God - the Father in a FAR more refined and accurate way.
There IS, however, a sane, rational, God honoring THEORY of the atonement (they are ALL theories - we certainly don't REALLY have any idea how it ACTUALLY accomplished its goal) exposed by William Law. Click [ Here ] to learn more of who he was. I don't believe that it actually has a name and I am also not sure if I have ever heard it delineated by anyone OTHER than William Law. I am calling it, "Transformational Atonement" because it involves an ACTUAL "transformation" of our nature into that of Christ's. THIS is the true and correct biblical concept of "atonement".
Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God — what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. **** Romans 12:2
We all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. **** 2 Corinthians 3:18
You have put off the old man with its practices and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. **** Colossians 3:9,10
You may glean some interesting insights and oversights from an excellent book, "C.S. Lewis & Francis Schaeffer: Lessons for a New Century from the Most Influential Apologists of Our Time". Buy your INEXPENSIVE books at one of these sites: Amazon, Alibris, Abebooks.