Monday, February 13, 2006

Is Forensic Justification "Poppycock"?

John Loftus responded to my answer to his question concerning substitutionary atonement:

[quote]The cross of Christ was a propitiatory sacrifice in the sense that it satisfied the wrath of God.[/quote]

Exactly why was God angry? Are you affirming that by my pride I tried to usurp his throne? Poppycock! Absolute poppycock. The fact that I once touted this crap is a surprise to me now.

This is the problem when you have unregenerate apostates responding to a faith they think they once had. Loftus has already been shown to be completely ignorant of the penal substitutionary view of the atonement. Here he lacks understanding of the basic components of the gospel that are addressed in the epistle to the Romans. Remember this passage, Mr. Loftus?

Romans 1 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

You may call it “poppycock,” but it is what the Bible states nonetheless. Loftus seems to forget that when we have rational dialogue, we stay consistent within the assumptions of the worldview. If he is going to attack the atonement of Christ as describe in the Bible as being morally reprehensible, or as being “poppycock,” he must do so with Biblical assumptions concerning the justice of God, his holiness, his complete separation from sin, his wrath against sin, man’s complete depravity, etc. Of course the Bible will not make sense if you do not know what it says.

[quote]For God to simply forgive a person apart from the cross would be an unjust act. It would be an unrighteous act. It would be an unholy act. It would fail to satisfy his wrath. Going back to the illustration of the courts, it is not the duty of the court to forgive the offender. The same is true with God.[/quote]

Poppycock! Absolute poppycock. The fact that I once touted this crap is a surprise to me now.

In this case the person primarily offended by our sins is God. He is the primary offended party. While others on a horizontal plane might feel slighted by comparison, God is the primary one offended. In this case, there doesn’t need to be any punishment between offender and offended, even though God is also the judge. Why? If God is a person at all then he responds toward us as a person, a father, and even as a creator who cares for us, not a harsh and demanding judge.

Your God is primarily a judge and not a father.

Loftus alludes to the notion that God is “father” a few times in his response (he compares a “creator who cares for us” with a just judge (and Loftus has yet to tell us why God’s just demand for punishment for sin is “harsh and demanding,” apart from his own personal opinions about it). But these statements of his simply show how misinformed he was about Christianity even before he left the faith. Does Loftus honestly believe that Christians think that the relationship between God and all of fallen humanity is that of Father and son? Does Loftus really think that Christians believe that God is the Father of Pharaoh, or that Judas was a child of God? You see, if Loftus had any clue about the religion he is attacking he would know that one must become a child of God (John 1:12), that the Father/son relationship comes only through adoption (Romans 8:15), and that before justification we were all “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3) and like our father, the Devil, doing his desires (John 8:44).

Why should God act as a Father to those who are not his children, and especially to those who are his enemies (Romans 5:10)?

He’s an aloof potentate who rules his people like the Kings of old did over the serfs and peasants. The very image bespeaks of a God who doesn’t really love us, but cares more for administering punishment to offenders in a kingdom of serfs.

But God wants to be known as a father, a person, a lover, and even as a friend of sinners–in Jesus. All I am saying is that forgiveness between persons does not involve punishment, or retaliation, repentance, or reparations. Show me the logical and rational relationship between punishment and forgiveness between persons. That’s all you have to do.

Loftus continues to force unbiblical assumptions into Biblical principles. Where does the Bible state that God wants to be “a father” or “a lover” of those whom he hates, and of those who are his enemies? Where does the Bible portray Jesus as a “friend of sinners” apart from justification and adoption through the cross? You see, when the Bible talks about “forgiveness” as a result of the work of Christ (Romans 4:7), the basis is justification as a forensic act. Has Loftus really forgotten this, or did he not know it in the first place?

There is no personal relationship with the Father apart from justification and adoption. It is on the sole basis of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ (and the imputation of our sin to Christ) that we can even approach God.

The only way you can have your cake and eat it too, is to affirm that God does not respond to us as a person, but as a judge, a potentate, and a ruler. And even then, since he is the primary party offended, there needs to be no punishment.

Or, I can have my cake and eat it too by affirming what the Bible actually does say, that the basis of my forgiveness is through forensic justification (God as Judge), and the result of that is adoption as a son (God as Father).

It would be like living in a kingdom where we slightly offend each other from time to time. But none of us would ever want any of our worst enemies to be punished in ways that the King will do when he’s offended by the very same actions that have merely slighted us. We would all desire that our enemies were all completely forgiven, including us ourselves, than suffer under the wrath of that aloof potentate who only cares about a infinite tit for a finite tat. None of us would be happy about such a king at all, nor that he would have had to punish his own Son, when none of us would have wanted anyone to be punished at all. We would think such a God is a monster, a weirdo, and even retarded.

More unbiblical assumptions and perspectives forced into Biblical principles. Loftus equates a sinner “forgiving” another sinner with a Holy God forgiving a sinner. Steve stated in his response to Loftus:

The fact that I may freely forgive my fellow man doesn’t mean that I should expect the same from God. The reason we’re more inclined to forgive one another is a gentleman’s agreement among sinners. I’ll forgive you for your sins as long as you forgive me for my sins. It’s a mutual permission slip to sin. I’m not doing you a favor. I’m doing myself a favor. Because I expect you to do the same in return.

Evan May.


  1. If Mr. Loftus wishes to debunk Calvinism, then he needs to deal responsibly with it. Calvinism is built on the concept of the covenant.

    There are two types: Diathetic and Synthetic. God's covenants with men are diathetic, between unequals. Loftus treats them as synthetic covenants, between equals, and, even within the terms he names "Father" for example, those relatioships are not the same, so even if he wishes to play as if we are in a synthetic covenant, the relationships are still unequal. If he can't tell the difference, then one wonders what he actually learned in seminary.'

    So, Mr. Loftus, if you read this, if you wish to critique the inner logic of penal substitution and, more broadly, Reformed theology, you need to deal with the nature of the relationships between God and man within the concept of the covenant. That's the main structure on which Calvinism is built. If Calvinism doesn't make sense, then you must show how it violates this fundamental concept.

  2. Aren't there less moronic atheists to debate?

  3. Listen up. Before we sinned, or before Adam & Eve sinned, what kind of relationship would you describe God had with his creatures? Did he care for his creation? Did he love his creation? Did he wish for the absolute bery best for his creation? It sure sounds like a metaphor for a father-child relationship to me. At least it is a loving relationsship, right?

    Now, go back and re-read my comments on sin and forgiveness, re-read the parable of the lost son. And consider my posts all over again.

  4. Mr. Loftus:

    I would re-read your comments except that they are already self-contradictory. If I am not allowed (per your most recent posts on your blog) to use the Bible to answer your questions about God or theology, then either you cannot be allowed to do it either or you have to admit that you have a double standard and go forward from there.

    Either you are willing to reason from the Bible, or you are not. Trying to have it both ways is a criticism you want to level at Christendom, but it seems to me that clarity should begin at home.