Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Necessity of the Atonement

One thing that differentiates genuine Christianity from some counterfeits, such as Islam, is that the Living and True God is too holy to simply ignore sin. Instead, God's holiness and justice demand satisfaction for sin. There are a number of ways that this can be seen in the Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testaments. The following is one example

2 Samuel 24:10-25
And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly."

For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,
Go and say unto David, "Thus saith the LORD, 'I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.'"
So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, "Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me. "

And David said unto Gad, "I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man."

So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, "It is enough: stay now thine hand." And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.

And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, "Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house."

And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, "Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite." And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.

And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground. And Araunah said, "Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant?"

And David said, "To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people."

And Araunah said unto David, "Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood." All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, "The LORD thy God accept thee."

And the king said unto Araunah, "Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing." So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
There are a few points to notice from this passage. First, notice that God chastises David for his sin. This chastisement comes upon David, even after he expresses remorse for his sin and asks for forgiveness.

Second, notice that God sends this chastisement upon those whom David as King represents. There is a federal headship of Israel that is found in David, such that David's sins are not only brought against David but against Israel in general.

Third, notice that David foreshadows the coming penal substitution of Christ, when he requests that the people of Israel be spared but that the sin be placed against him and and his father's house, that is to say, his family. David's theory is that the people have not sinned, but David has sinned. Nevertheless, God has placed the iniquity of our transgressions on Christ, the son of David, and he has borne them for us.

Fourth, notice that although God first desires not to destroy Jerusalem, and God stays the hand of the angel in advance, God does not simply say "never mind." Instead, God demands sacrifice. It is on the basis of the sacrifice (which itself foreshadows Christ's work on the cross) that God's wrath against the land was propitiated.

From this we can learn that God did not have to wait until the coming of Christ to spare those who trusted in Christ. There was no need for a limbus patrem in which the patriarchs waited for Christ's sacrifice to be performed. God could and did show mercy to the ancient based on the expectation of Christ's sacrifice.

From this we can also learn to trust in God and not in man. David shows us the way in which we should repent of our sins. We ought humbly to go to God and confess our sins to Him. We ought to cast ourselves on his mercy - and we ought to avail ourselves of the sacrifice of Christ to turn away judgment from us.

We should not falsely imagine that God will be happier to judge us than to spare us. Rather, we should see from this passage that although God is a holy God who cannot ignore sin, nevertheless God delights in mercy and spares those who turn humbly in repentance and faith to Him.

-TurretinFan

34 comments:

Eric said...

Thank you for posting this.

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

You're welcome to take a contrary position, but I'm going to delete your comment at this time. What I would suggest is that rather than just placing contradictory assertions in the comment box, you actually support your assertions with an argument.

That's more work, of course, and you may want to consider using your own blog for that purpose (or limiting yourself to a single point rather than trying to tackle 5 or so).

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Excellent and noticed!

As the other, Eric, thanks TF!!

Just to comment on the "altar" building. Lately as I have been going through the Old Testament, I have noticed numerous persons building altars to the Lord suggesting to me the poignant nature of your words, here, reiterated:

"...From this we can also learn to trust in God and not in man. David shows us the way in which we should repent of our sins. We ought humbly to go to God and confess our sins to Him. We ought to cast ourselves on his mercy - and we ought to avail ourselves of the sacrifice of Christ to turn away judgment from us. ...".

Such language is oh so contrare piety and religious works that one need only to "hear" and act upon those Words of Promise to have absolution!

Jesus did indeed beckon, "come unto Me all you burdened and heavy laden"!

Nick said...

Hi TF,

I was not trying to make a laundry list, rather I took the 5 points you originally made and stated whether I agreed or disagreed with each point. (I agreed with about 1/3 of what you said in those 5 points you originally made.)

My general objection was simply this: I didn't see anywhere in that account where the punishment was transferred off of David, thus I saw no reasonable evidence for Penal Substitution. The plague had already done massive damage (2 Sam 24:15b), and the sacrifice only served to stop it from doing more (cf Num 16:41-49).

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

The animals died so that no more of the Israelits had to. The punishment that would have come upon the people came upon the animals instead.

That's how penal substitution works.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

You are building on the assumption Burnt Offerings and Peace Offerings were based on life-for-life death penalties. Just on the life-for-life issue, if 70,000 died that day, and Jerusalem was the next target, then numerous sacrifices would have to be offered to save the city, but such an exorbitant amount of sacrifices seems implausible.

I don't believe such is exegetically warranted, nor does it account for the description of the sacrifices causing the plague to be "stopped" rather than transferred.

Turretinfan said...

"You are building on the assumption Burnt Offerings and Peace Offerings were based on life-for-life death penalties."

Shocking assumption, given that the animals were being slaughtered so that people could live.

"Just on the life-for-life issue, if 70,000 died that day, and Jerusalem was the next target, then numerous sacrifices would have to be offered to save the city, but such an exorbitant amount of sacrifices seems implausible."

Your assumption seems to be a 1-for-1 correspondence. Since there is only one Christ and more than one elect person, you should be apprised that your assumption is not our assumption. Therefore, you haven't critiqued our position on our terms. In other words, you've attacked a straw man.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

TF: "Shocking assumption, given that the animals were being slaughtered so that people could live."

The mere slaughtering of an animal doesn't constitute a Penal Substitution. For example, the text says David offered a Peace Offering (along with Burnt) here, yet if you recall the Peace Offering has nothing to do with sin (Lev 3). So whenever animals were slaughtered for the Peace Offering, there couldn't have been a Penal Substitution aspect. Also, the Levitical Sacrifices were not for major sins - Num 15:27-30 (which caused a person to be "cut off" from the Tribe) - so it's hard to justify life-for-life when the minor sin didn't warrant the death penalty in the first place.


You said:
"Your assumption seems to be a 1-for-1 correspondence. Since there is only one Christ and more than one elect person, you should be apprised that your assumption is not our assumption. Therefore, you haven't critiqued our position on our terms. In other words, you've attacked a straw man."

Christ's sacrifice doesn't compare in 'value' to an animal, so that's not a straw man. The alternative is that a single goat could atone for all the sins of Israel, which is false. The problem with Psub is that multiple folks who deserve the death penalty are satisfied by the death penalty of a single animal.

Turretinfan said...

"The mere slaughtering of an animal doesn't constitute a Penal Substitution."

So you assert. It is not mere slaughter, of course. It is sacrificial slaughter.

"For example, the text says David offered a Peace Offering (along with Burnt) here, yet if you recall the Peace Offering has nothing to do with sin (Lev 3)."

Of course, Leviticus 3 doesn't say that the Peace Offering has nothing to do with sin.

Moreover, the connection between the peace offering and sin can be seen in the combined offerings described in Leviticus 23:19, and Numbers 6:14.

Perhaps most explicitly, the connection can be seen in the following:

Eze 45:17 And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.

Notice that amongst the offerings to make reconciliation is the peace offering.

"Also, the Levitical Sacrifices were not for major sins - Num 15:27-30 (which caused a person to be "cut off" from the Tribe) - so it's hard to justify life-for-life when the minor sin didn't warrant the death penalty in the first place."

You show a surprising lack of familiarity with the text of the Law. It is written:

Exodus 30:11-16
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, "When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

And yes, this method of atonement by payment is not a penal substitutionary atonement, but instead another picture of the atonement: a commercial transaction atonement. Both pictures are right, and there is both a penal substitution aspect to Christ's work and a commercial transaction aspect to Christ's work. All the ceremonial law is fulfilled in Christ.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

Hi TF,

If you consider the various types of Sacrifices Leviticus lays out: Burnt (Lv1), Grain (Lv2), Peace (Lv3), Sin (Lv4-5), there is plainly no mention of atonement or sin with the Grain or Peace in the sections. (Of course, if you want to suggest it's implied, then explain how offering Grain can be Psub in nature.)

The only 'connection' between Peace and Sin or Burn offerings is that they are sometimes mentioned in the same context, but so what? This was certainly for liturgical reasons (e.g. Feast of First Fruits, Lev 23:9ff). We can be certain the types of offerings were not being conflated, such that a Peace was seen as interchangeable or synonymous with a Sin or Burnt. Rather, each type served their own purpose. Even in your Ezekiel 45:17 example there are meat and drink offerings mentioned, which certainly doesn't make sense with Penal Substitution, but none the less fits a liturgical theme.


As for the second half of your response - commenting on my assertion the Levitical Sacrifices were not for major sins - you quote Exodus 30:11-16. The first issue I see here is that you've shifted contexts, no longer Levitical Sacrifices but something else. This doesn't in any way overturn the explicit teaching of the Torah that the Levitical Sacrifices were for minor sins, not major.

The second issue is one which you mentioned in your conclusion: the atonement made for their lives involved money not death. This explicitly proves atonement can be made without death, particularly atonement for major issues involving life or death. So this is a definite 'strike' against the idea the Bible supports a concept of Penal Substitution.

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

You've lost track of the argument.

You need to substantiate your claim that a peace offering has "nothing to do with sin." I provided evidence showing that you are wrong.

Rather than responding to that issue, you've jumped to another issue.

"If you consider the various types of Sacrifices Leviticus lays out: Burnt (Lv1), Grain (Lv2), Peace (Lv3), Sin (Lv4-5), there is plainly no mention of atonement or sin with the Grain or Peace in the sections."

This is a shoulder-shrugger. Why should the words "atonement" and "sin" be mentioned in those sections? Why "atonement"?

What argument exactly are you trying to make from that silence?

"(Of course, if you want to suggest it's implied, then explain how offering Grain can be Psub in nature.)"

1) There are two different categories. One category is "related to sin." Another, narrower category, is "example of penal substitution."

2) Can a grain offering be connected to penal substitution? Well, the grain is ground and roasted (or toasted, or grilled, or whatever) in fire. In fact, a part of the flour and oil is completely burnt in the fire (Leviticus 2:2). That could serve as an illustration of penal substitution.

"The only 'connection' between Peace and Sin or Burn offerings is that they are sometimes mentioned in the same context, but so what?"

It's surprising you have to ask, but as I said, you've lost track of the argument. You had simply asserted that a Peace Offering has "nothing to do with" sin. In fact, it does, just as the Burnt and "Sin" offerings do.

"This was certainly for liturgical reasons (e.g. Feast of First Fruits, Lev 23:9ff)."

I'm not sure what your argument here is supposed to be. Are vaguely defined "liturgical reasons" supposed to be fundamentally inconsistent with something being about sin?

"We can be certain the types of offerings were not being conflated, such that a Peace was seen as interchangeable or synonymous with a Sin or Burnt."

The three types of sacrifices involve three different rituals. So, of course, there is a distinction amongst them. I wasn't arguing otherwise.

"Rather, each type served their own purpose."

Which was what? And how exactly is the purpose of the sin offering and the burnt offering distinct (to take an easier example)? It seems you're not really thinking through this argument. And after you identify those distinct purposes, how will you establish that the peace offerings have nothing to do with sin?

[to be continued]

Turretinfan said...

[continued from above]

"Even in your Ezekiel 45:17 example there are meat and drink offerings mentioned, which certainly doesn't make sense with Penal Substitution, but none the less fits a liturgical theme."

This is very vague objection. "A liturgical theme" may or may not have something to do with sin. Whether or not something has to do with sin may or may not implicate it in representing the penal substitution aspect of the cross. Ezekiel 45:17 helps to demonstrate that each category of sacrifice has to do with sin.

"As for the second half of your response - commenting on my assertion the Levitical Sacrifices were not for major sins - you quote Exodus 30:11-16."

Actually, my citation there was not so much addressed to your assertion regarding Levitical Sacrifices and their relation to major sins as to your apparent assertion that there was no death penalty implicated here. The plague that was upon Israel was the threatened punishment for numbering the people without taking the poll/temple tax. It was a threat of death. And it was being carried out on the people.

Given that, the remainder of your assertion regarding Levitical sacrifices and "major sins" appears to be moot.

And, of course, you're welcome to try to substantiate your assertion regarding Levitical sacrifices and major sins.

"The first issue I see here is that you've shifted contexts, no longer Levitical Sacrifices but something else."

You just didn't follow the argument, I suspect. If you still think there's a context issue in view of the clarification above, feel free to explain.

"This doesn't in any way overturn the explicit teaching of the Torah that the Levitical Sacrifices were for minor sins, not major."

What explicit teaching is that? You cited Numbers 15, but while verses 30-31 do mention a person being cut off, they don't actually address the question of whether sacrifices can be made for those who sin "presumptiously." (as distinct from sin done in ignorance)

"The second issue is one which you mentioned in your conclusion: the atonement made for their lives involved money not death."

It's interesting when your objection takes the form of agreeing with me, but ok. :)

"This explicitly proves atonement can be made without death, particularly atonement for major issues involving life or death."

This is another shoulder-shrugger. There are multiple aspects to Christ's work, including a ransom aspect and a penal substitution aspect.

"So this is a definite 'strike' against the idea the Bible supports a concept of Penal Substitution."

Only for those who ignore the overall theme of the Old Testament sacrificial system, as explained in the Holy Scriptures:

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

-TurretinFan

Coram Deo said...

(Of course, if you want to suggest it's implied, then explain how offering Grain can be Psub in nature.)

Well, some people apparently think grain can supernaturally turn into Christ's very flesh and blood and be re-sacrificed over and over again...so perhaps it could be argued that the OT grain offerings were being transubstantiated.

In Christ,
CD

natamllc said...

Well, with regard to the exchanges between you, TF, and Nick, what seems to be glossed over by him, in my opinion, is the primary reason for both the law system and the Faith system "God" established.

What is that primary reason and why does the RCC system foisted upon the world today miss the mark of it?

The sins of Eve followed by Adam brought about both natural and spiritual loss and death for all mankind.

The nature of this reality is self evident with Abel's offering of a sacrifice, ("the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions"), that was acceptable while Cain's was not.

We see clearly from the writings of the Scriptures and by the written histories of human nature with people groups, generally, down through the centuries, this human thirst and desire to be "restored" to some benevolent "Life" source by the making of a sacrificial offering.

The offering of the sacrifice is the key element within all this latent and natural desire of human nature within civilizations past and present and specifically that of the children of Israel under the law scheme established by Moses.

Again, I reiterate, the spiritual nature of the RCC system deludes the powerful understanding and effects of both the law scheme established through Moses, by God, and the Faith system that was already in play well before that legal process and program began.

Both Godly systems accomplish restoration. The problem is it still takes God's active intervention through the Christ to complete the restoration.

With the Godly law scheme, the Passover offering was simply a postponing of the legal reality of restoration needed brought about by the sins of Adam and Eve and all humanity through theirs and our lifetime. All the offerings were in effect a postponing the legal affects of the legal reality of punishment brought about by the sins of Adam and Eve and all humanity. Without sin there is no death.

With the successful accomplishment of the death of Christ, His burial and Resurrection, the schemes They brought into existence by the Law and the Prophets were ended and thereafter there is only one solution for the pollution, not dilution, which I submit is the real effect affecting the RCC system, but absolution, which I submit is the real effect affecting God's True penal substitutionary work done on the Cross on behalf of God's own dearly beloved children that is brought about and celebrated continually among the Elect, baptism and the sacrament of Holy Communion!

Col 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
Col 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

...

Heb 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Nick said...

Hi TF,

I did substantiate my claim the Peace and Grain offerings were not about sin/atonement: I pointed out such terms like sin or atonement never appear in the sections of the Torah instituting them (where as such terms do appear with the other sacrifices). That's not irrelevant data, especially in light of the fact there are about four distinct sacrifices from Lev 1-5.

As I said, if you want to argue or assume the contrary, you're not only doing so on silence, you must admit the Grain offerings operated in a Psub framework and that atonement was made without the shedding of blood but offering of grain. (I wouldn't mind if you wanted to claim atonement could be made with the grain offering, for it would strengthen my overall case.) When you then suggested Grain Offering could serve as an illustration of Psub, you're substituting shedding of blood with shedding of chlorophyll (or shedding of electrons), which is arbitrarily stretching things. And the same thing goes with your assumption that burning something must entail wrath and a penal component.


You said:
"Are vaguely defined "liturgical reasons" supposed to be fundamentally inconsistent with something being about sin?"

The fact is, the sacrifices are offered in various combinations for different feats and what not. Some of the sacrifices can be addressing the sin/atonement while others do not, and that's perfectly fine. For example, lets say sacrifices were first offered to deal with any sin involved, and after the sin issue was addressed other sacrifices could be offered in thanksgiving for God's blessings and mercy. There you have two distinct types of sacrifices serving different functions, yet none the less being offered within the same liturgical ritual.

You asked:
"how exactly is the purpose of the sin offering and the burnt offering distinct (to take an easier example)?"

Back when we had our Psub debate, I looked into this issue from various sources (Jewish, Reformed, Catholic), but the sources admitted that fully understanding the distinctions was not always easy to discern, only that both involved atonement. But in cases like the Peace and Grain, the chapters were noticably lacking terminology relating to sin, and those sources I consulted also claimed they were for thanksgiving purposes (which fits their Biblical description).


You said:
"you're welcome to try to substantiate your assertion regarding Levitical sacrifices and major sins."

I think it's more than unfair how you can make assertions without backing them up and yet when I back my assertions up you say I'm not. I've showed you where the Torah clearly limits Levitical Sacrifices to minor sins, now you show me where the Torah extends the benefits of Levitical Sacrifices to major sins.

Nick said...

(2 of 2)

You said:
"You just didn't follow the argument, I suspect. If you still think there's a context issue in view of the clarification above, feel free to explain."

I admit I could be misunderstanding your point. All I was saying is the Census Tax issue of Exodus (by making atonement for lives by money) is not of the category of a Levitical Sacrifice.

You said:
"What explicit teaching is that? You cited Numbers 15, but while verses 30-31 do mention a person being cut off, they don't actually address the question of whether sacrifices can be made for those who sin "presumptiously." (as distinct from sin done in ignorance)"

Num 15:27ff certainly does: it says unintentional sins can be atoned for by sacrifice, but then transitions to speak of the one who sins defiantly is to be cut off - a clear implication the sacrifices don't apply. Being cut off from the Covenant is the worst thing that can happen to a person, right along side the death penalty. (NB: the very next verses speak of the man violating the Sabbath by collecting wood, which at first wasn't clear what his punishment should be, he was taken outside the camp and stoned; no recourse to Sacrifices.) And there are other clear texts in the Torah stating the only punishment for grave sins like murder is the death penalty, no atonement can be made.

You said:
"There are multiple aspects to Christ's work, including a ransom aspect and a penal substitution aspect."

That's your assertion. There has been no conclusive (or even reasonable) case presented that the Atonement models of the OT involved transfer of the death penalty. Ransom aspect, yes; Psub aspect, no.

You said:
"Only for those who ignore the overall theme of the Old Testament sacrificial system, as explained in the Holy Scriptures:
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."

That's simply unfair for you to object like that when I have indeed appealed to key areas of the OT sacrificial system. You're operating on the assumption the shedding of blood must entail Psub and nothing else, which I've shown is false. In fact the very text you quote here is speaking of 'cleansing' by blood, speaking of consecrating and cleansing the Ceremonial Objects:

"21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood"

Notice how the shedding of blood here isn't to transfer death penalty, but rather for cleansing/consecrating purposes. It is worth quoting Heb 9:7 regarding the Day of Atonement:

"the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the *unintentional* sins of the people"

This further weakens the idea the Levitical Sacrifices were of a Penal Substitution nature, confirming my point major sins were outside the scope of Levitical Sacrifices.

Turretinfan said...

"I did substantiate my claim the Peace and Grain offerings were not about sin/atonement: I pointed out such terms like sin or atonement never appear in the sections of the Torah instituting them (where as such terms do appear with the other sacrifices)."

I already addressed that argument from silence.

"That's not irrelevant data, especially in light of the fact there are about four distinct sacrifices from Lev 1-5."

It's silence. You haven't explained why that silence should matter to us.

"As I said, if you want to argue or assume the contrary, you're not only doing so on silence, you must admit the Grain offerings operated in a Psub framework and that atonement was made without the shedding of blood but offering of grain."

a) Please don't just repeat what you've already said.

b) As I already answered, you're confused about the path the argument has taken.

c) I already explained how a grain offering can illustrate penal substitution. That explanation didn't involve blood.

"(I wouldn't mind if you wanted to claim atonement could be made with the grain offering, for it would strengthen my overall case.)"

I don't think you have a coherent case to strength. You certainly haven't provided one here (as shown above).

"When you then suggested Grain Offering could serve as an illustration of Psub, you're substituting shedding of blood with shedding of chlorophyll (or shedding of electrons), which is arbitrarily stretching things."

No, actually I'm substituting the destruction of the animal with the destruction of the grain. I already provided the more specific parallels above.

"And the same thing goes with your assumption that burning something must entail wrath and a penal component."

Burning is one of the primary Biblical metaphors for the punishment of hell. It's reasonable to associate the two. If you simply want to argue that it hasn't been proved in this case, so what? My argument didn't rely on such a proof. I only mentioned it because you asked how grain could picture penal substitution. That is one way that it could.

[to be continued]

Turretinfan said...

I asked: "Are vaguely defined "liturgical reasons" supposed to be fundamentally inconsistent with something being about sin?"

You wrote: "The fact is, the sacrifices are offered in various combinations for different feats and what not."

This isn't much less vague, nor does it answer my question.

You continued: "Some of the sacrifices can be addressing the sin/atonement while others do not, and that's perfectly fine."

This makes it sound like you concede that your objection is no objection at all, since there is no fundamental inconsistency. Thanks.

"For example, lets say sacrifices were first offered to deal with any sin involved, and after the sin issue was addressed other sacrifices could be offered in thanksgiving for God's blessings and mercy."

Rather than just hypothecate that, you could try to establish that this is something actually done.

For example, in the New Testament, the Eucharist (meaning "thanksgiving") is a time when we remember Christ's sacrifice for sin, and give thanks to him for his mercy in that.

That said, we also present ourselves as a living sacrifice unto God. We don't offer that sacrifice to satisfy or take away sin, but out of gratitude for God's mercy to us in taking away our sin.

Even there, there is a relation back to sin. It's not as though "Ok, we're done with the 'sin' part, let's get on to the 'thanks' part."

Of course, our offering of ourselves as a living sacrifice is not a penal substitution, even if it has a relation to sin. Nevertheless, it was you who tried to argue the inverse - i.e. that the peace offerings can't be penal substitutions because they don't have a relation to sin. You have to establish that, not just speculate about it.

"There you have two distinct types of sacrifices serving different functions, yet none the less being offered within the same liturgical ritual."

See above.

[to be continued several more times]

Turretinfan said...

I asked:
"how exactly is the purpose of the sin offering and the burnt offering distinct (to take an easier example)?"

You wrote: "Back when we had our Psub debate, I looked into this issue from various sources (Jewish, Reformed, Catholic), but the sources admitted that fully understanding the distinctions was not always easy to discern, only that both involved atonement."

You are arguing from the fact that they are distinct. Arguing that the distinctions aren't clear distinctions, and that the two both involve atonement doesn't help you.

"But in cases like the Peace and Grain, the chapters were noticably lacking terminology relating to sin, and those sources I consulted also claimed they were for thanksgiving purposes (which fits their Biblical description)."

Of course, them being for thanksgiving purposes would not necessarily mean that they were not connected to sin. Moreover, other passages (such as the one I've already set forth) suggest their connection to sin.

I had pointed out: "you're welcome to try to substantiate your assertion regarding Levitical sacrifices and major sins."

You wrote: "I think it's more than unfair how you can make assertions without backing them up and yet when I back my assertions up you say I'm not."

Just identify unsupported assertions I make, and ask me what my support for them is.

"I've showed you where the Torah clearly limits Levitical Sacrifices to minor sins, now you show me where the Torah extends the benefits of Levitical Sacrifices to major sins."

Uh, no you didn't. You cited one passage that I've already addressed above.

"I admit I could be misunderstanding your point. All I was saying is the Census Tax issue of Exodus (by making atonement for lives by money) is not of the category of a Levitical Sacrifice."

Let's say you're right - what difference does that make? I didn't say it was a sacrifice at all, much less "Levitical" one.

I had asked: "What explicit teaching is that? You cited Numbers 15, but while verses 30-31 do mention a person being cut off, they don't actually address the question of whether sacrifices can be made for those who sin "presumptiously." (as distinct from sin done in ignorance)"

You responded: "Num 15:27ff certainly does: it says unintentional sins can be atoned for by sacrifice, but then transitions to speak of the one who sins defiantly is to be cut off - a clear implication the sacrifices don't apply."

a) Do you understand the difference between "explicit" and "implied"?

b) Why do you swap in "major" and "minor" for the actual categories of "ignorance" and "presumptious"?

c) While you might think the implication is lack of availability of sacrifice, there are other explanations - such as lack of opportunity of sacrifice. You can't very well sacrifice if you're struck dead.

d) And, of course, if other passages show sacrifices being offered for presumptious sins, that undermines your theory of implied exclusion.

The lesson the passage is providing, of course, is that one shouldn't think that one can sin willfully and then just kill an ox or sheep.

The same applies today, even though Christ's blood (you have to admit) can cleanse us from even presumptious sins. Nevertheless, we ought not to think that we can just sin willfully and then rely on Christ's sacrifice.

[to be continued some more]

Turretinfan said...

"Being cut off from the Covenant is the worst thing that can happen to a person, right along side the death penalty."

Being "cut off" in that passage refers to the person being killed.

"(NB: the very next verses speak of the man violating the Sabbath by collecting wood, which at first wasn't clear what his punishment should be, he was taken outside the camp and stoned; no recourse to Sacrifices.)"

His punishment was the civil punishment of the death penalty. None of the civil penalties were avoidable by sacrifice - from the least to the greatest, to my knowledge. And the man is someone the children of Israel found. His connection to the covenant is not stated. As you should know, the fifth commandment applies to all men, not only to those who are within the covenant but also to "the stranger that is within thy gates."

"And there are other clear texts in the Torah stating the only punishment for grave sins like murder is the death penalty, no atonement can be made."

Actually, what the law says is this:

Numbers 35:31 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.

"Ye" there refers to the people of Israel, not to God. Other crimes could be set aside by "satisfaction" of the victim. Thus, if you put out someone's eye and didn't want your own put out, you could attempt to pay off the victim. But if he would not accept your offer, the law gave the eye-for-an-eye punishment that was to be meted out.

As you may know in some societies there is a "blood money" satisfaction that can be made even in the case of murder (i.e. payment to the victim's family to avoid prosecution). This is contrary to God's law, which demands that justice be done by men in the case of murder.

I wrote: "There are multiple aspects to Christ's work, including a ransom aspect and a penal substitution aspect."

You wrote: "That's your assertion. There has been no conclusive (or even reasonable) case presented that the Atonement models of the OT involved transfer of the death penalty. Ransom aspect, yes; Psub aspect, no."

That's been adequately demonstrated to you before. My "assertion" here really is simply a statement of my position, so that you will address it, rather than a straw man. Affirming penal substitution does not (as a matter of necessity) involve rejecting a ransom model.

I wrote: "Only for those who ignore the overall theme of the Old Testament sacrificial system, as explained in the Holy Scriptures:
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."

You replied: "That's simply unfair for you to object like that when I have indeed appealed to key areas of the OT sacrificial system."

It's fair for me to say you're missing the forest for the trees (assuming you are). And your objection based on the minority of non-blood sacrifices/offerings/means of atonement is an example of missing the forest for the trees.

"You're operating on the assumption the shedding of blood must entail Psub and nothing else, which I've shown is false."

a) Which argument of mine has that as its premise?

b) Even assuming I had given such an argument, you haven't shown such an assumption to be false. You've alleged that it is false. There's a world of difference.

[to be continued once more]

Turretinfan said...

"In fact the very text you quote here is speaking of 'cleansing' by blood, speaking of consecrating and cleansing the Ceremonial Objects: "21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood" Notice how the shedding of blood here isn't to transfer death penalty, but rather for cleansing/consecrating purposes."

Even if your dichotomy were not false, you've conveniently omitted the part about "remission," which - of course - has nothing to do with cleansing ceremonial objects.

And your dichotomy is false. The cleansing by the ironic element of blood (blood isn't bleach) is a demonstration of satisfaction made through the blood.

"It is worth quoting Heb 9:7 regarding the Day of Atonement: "the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the *unintentional* sins of the people""

The text just says errors or ignorance. To lay an emphasis on the intentionality of the errors seems to be unfounded. Do you have some reason beyond wishful thinking to believe that this a technical term for *unintentional* errors?

"This further weakens the idea the Levitical Sacrifices were of a Penal Substitution nature, confirming my point major sins were outside the scope of Levitical Sacrifices."

There's no obvious connection between the atonement being for "unintentional" sins and the atonement not being a penal substitution.

It might connect to your point about the scope of "Levitical" sacrifices, but only (at best for you) as an example of "and this here one wasn't for presumptious sins."

-TurretinFan

Coram Deo said...

As a Christian the ongoing series of objections about thanksgiving to God being conceptually divorced from sin against Him is quite strange.

What do thanksgiving offerings to the One true and living God reflect but a heart that is overwhelmed by His great love and mercy; that He Who is 'Holy, Holy, Holy' would tenderly consider us, who are sinners?

It's not as if we're offering Him a fist bump and a wink and a nod for pointing out that our fly was open.

Thanksgiving is the response of a heart that's been changed from stone to flesh by grace through faith, and thereby apprehends (albeit through a glass darkly) how great a love the Father has given unto us in the Person and work of His precious, beloved, and One and only Son Who gave Himself for us.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

In Christ,
CD

Nick said...

Hi TF,

I will attempt to condense my response into 1 post since a lot of it is simply repeating ourselves. If you decide to respond, I might make one more post after this, but otherwise we've probably said all we can for now.

(1) The whole issue about silence is obviously a dead-lock here and not much more can be said: you claim sacrifices without any mention of sin or atonement in their description and stated purpose to be about atonement, where as I claim the lack of such terminology indicates they are not.

(2) Your claim that a Grain Offering taking the character of Penal Substitution (“the destruction of the animal with the destruction of the grain”) and that Burning something is “one of the primary Biblical metaphors for the punishment of hell” are two claims I consider weak (esp. question-begging) but, again, we're are obviously at a dead-lock here.

(3) My “vaguely defined liturgical reasons” (as you called them) was a term I used in regards to texts like Leviticus 23 (which described various feasts, along with their own specific offerings required). My claim was that the sacrifices instituted for these various feasts included more than a penitential/atonement component to them, which would require some of the sacrifices to not be about atoning for sin.

(4) You asked me to explain the distinctions between the burnt and sin offerings. There is obviously some important distinction, otherwise there would be no sense in Scripture distinguishing them, but why one is used in a given situation rather than the other isn't clear. As I noted before, I consulted Biblical study resources for what the purposes were and the 'experts' admitted such details were not easily discernible. There isn't much more I can say.

(5) Regarding my charge that you make unsupported assertions and you asking for examples, the three main weakest assertions that come to mind are your claim that: (a) we can assume atonement/sin is involved with the Grain/Peace offerings though the terminology is not used; (b) that destroying grain has a parallel to killing animals (including the claim burning is a metaphor for hellfire); (c) that sacrifices were not limited to minor/unintentional sins but could extent to grave sins as well.

(6) There is a dispute regarding the intentional vs unintentional sins of Num 15:29f and my claim that sacrifice doesn't apply to the persons who are cut-off. (I used the terminology 'major' and 'minor' since I see the gravity of a sin tracking with it's intention level.) This is another dead-lock in the discussion, because I see a clear transition and recourse in verse 29 to that of those in the 'intentional sins' category of v30. You claimed that there are alternate explanations such as “lack of opportunity for sacrifice [since the person is dead].” I don't see how this is a reasonable alternative at all, and I doubt you'll find any such support from anyone for that claim.

(7) The last issue is whether “shedding of blood” (esp Heb 9:22) must entail Psub. If you don't believe “shedding of blood” in this context must entail Psub, then that's news to me and effectively concedes my argument. That's when I showed the context was of cleansing sacred objects, which doesn't make much sense from a Psub standpoint. In regards to the 'unintentional sins' mentioned in Heb 9:7, this is the term translations like ESV, NIV, NASB, etc, use. The term is not for sin in general. The Greek term is 'agnoema', from the root word for 'ignorance' and fits precisely with the Levitical restrictions to 'minor'/'unintentional', and most especially significant is that this is speaking of the Day of Atonement with the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies, the 'ultimate' of OT sacrifices.

Turretinfan said...

As to (1), your description is not accurate. I have already shown reference to sin (both in this context, 2 Samuel 24:10 and 17 and elsewhere, for example, Ezekiel 45:17). You insist, based on silence elsewhere, that it has no reference to sin. Your argument from silence elsewhere isn't very persuasive.

As to (2), since your argument was that the grain offering could not represent penal substitution, and since there is a rather easy way it could, it seems you've been unable to establish your point here.

As to (3), your argument does not follow. Even if there are other aspects to the sacrifice than just atonement (in some cases), still that doesn't make the sacrifices "not about sin," since it is easy to harmonize the other purposes and a relation to sin.

As to (4), the point here (which seems to have been made) is that little can be concluded from the fact that peace offerings, sin offerings, and burnt offerings each have a different category. The whole sacrificial system was instituted on account of sin and for sin.

As to (5), the three things you've identified are not premises to my argument, but simply responses to questions you proposed. For example (a) is simply an example of how grain offerings could represent penal substitution, not a claim that they do; (b) is a continuation of (a); and (c) is a response (inaccurately summarized by you) to your assertion that sins can't be used with respect to "major" sins.

As to (6), since it's your objection and since you haven't found new grounds to support it, I'm happy to let your objection die the death.

As to (7), your comment seems confused. The shedding of blood in the sacrificial system does involve penal substitution, but I'm not sure why it must or why I would need to hold or to argue that it must. It's enough that it does. And, of course, I'm not sure what that issue would have to do with this passage in any direct way.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

As to your assertions regarding the errors of the people, the term is used in a parallel construction with sins in Judith 5:20, Tobit 3:3, and 1 Maccabees 13:39.

Assuming the authors of those books were either Hebrews, or at least using Hebraic style, that implies an understanding of the terms as being approximate synonyms.

There is a term for involuntary sins in Greek, it is ἁμάρτῃ ἀκουσίως (see Numbers 15:27 in the LXX).

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Nick,

you have made a distinction about major and minor sins.

God has also and He ends up with the same result, whether the sin is a major or a minor one. Sin brings the same result: "death" as the "punishment".

Now you can understand this if you would take the time in a spirit of prayerful contemplation asking the Holy Spirit to open your mind up to understand His understanding of the consequences of any sin we commit, whether major or minor, by reading Romans chapters 1-3.

After the introduction the Apostle launches into a definition of both major and minor sins culminating with these Words, here:

Rom 3:9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
Rom 3:10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
Rom 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Rom 3:12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
Rom 3:13 "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."
Rom 3:14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
Rom 3:15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Rom 3:16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
Rom 3:17 and the way of peace they have not known."
Rom 3:18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Rom 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.


Keep in mind Romans 1:18 thru to that summation starting there at Romans 3:9.

For me, the "nut" is well developed and you should take some time and crack it open and eat the meat inside, here, with these words by TF in a numbered response to your abbreviated numbered points above:

"... As to (4), the point here (which seems to have been made) is that little can be concluded from the fact that peace offerings, sin offerings, and burnt offerings each have a different category. The whole sacrificial system was instituted on account of sin and for sin. ...".

I suggest, if you start there with that reasoning all the various offerings God lays out in Scripture, their kinds and reasons for them, etc., will assist you in understanding the Heart of God more clearly that all of them foreshadow and point to the one and only "major" offering that ends all the others by it, reiterated again here:

Heb 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Heb 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Heb 1:4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Turretinfan said...

You posted a conclusion without an argument, Nick. You're welcome to repost it with an argument, if you like.

Nick said...

Hi TF,

As I said in my last post, I think we've said all we can. The only 'new' data to consider is that you mentioned the term for 'sins of ignorance' is used in Judith 5:20, Tobit 3:3, and 1 Maccabees 13:39.

If I understand your claim, you are saying these passages use the term 'agnoema' almost synonymously with sin in general. I decided to look this up to verify it.

ARGUMENT: The term agnoema does not mean 'sin in general', but rather is limited to sins of ignorance, contrary to the three passages you provided.

(1) Judith 5:20 is the hardest of the three passages to figure since the translations I'm consulting vary. There is some indication of a distinction, but not enough info to say one way or another.

-NewAmericanBible: "So now, my lord and master, if these people are at fault, and are sinning against their God, and if we verify this offense of theirs"

-D-R: "Now therefore, my lord, search if there be any iniquity of theirs in the sight of their God"

-RSV: "So now, my master and lord, if there is any oversight in this people and they sin against their God and we find out their offense"


(2) Tobit 3:3 seems to plainly distinguish between sin in general and those of ignornace:

-NAB: "Punish me not for my sins, nor for my inadvertent offenses, nor for those of my fathers."

-D-R: "take not revenge of my sins, neither remember my offences, nor those of my parents"

-RSV: "Do not punish me for my sins
and for my unwitting offenses
and those that my ancestors committed before you."


(3) 1 Macc 13:39 also seems to clearly distinguish sin in general with sins of ignorance:

-NAB: "We remit any oversights and defaults incurred up to now"

-D-R: "And as for any oversight or fault committed unto this day, we forgive it"

-RSV: "We pardon any errors and offenses committed to this day"

CONCLUSION: While there is clear evidence both in terms of the Greek word itself and 2/3 examples above for a distinction between ignorance and sin in general, there are no reasonable grounds to conclude what you're saying, namely that it can/does refer to sin in general or used synonymously.

(The term for "involuntary sins" you referenced is also used in Lev 4:2 LXX for the sin offering.)

Turretinfan said...

My argument was that there is a parallel construction in each of the verses. To wit:

Judith 5:20 (KJV throughout)

Now therefore, my lord and governor, if there be any error against this people, and they sin against their God, let us consider that this shall be their ruin, and let us go up, and we shall overcome them.

Tobit 3:3

Remember me, and look on me, punish me not for my sins and ignorances, and the sins of my fathers, who have sinned before thee:

1 Maccabees 13:39

As for any oversight or fault committed unto this day, we forgive it, and the crown tax also, which ye owe us: and if there were any other tribute paid in Jerusalem, it shall no more be paid.

In each case, it's easy to pick out a parallel construction. Your "argument" is as follows: "The term agnoema does not mean 'sin in general', but rather is limited to sins of ignorance, contrary to the three passages you provided."

That's essentially an assertion on your part. Given that the term is found in the three parallel constructions I provided, it's reasonable to view it as being a rough or approximate synonym for the more general term for sin.

That's especially the case given that (a) it isn't some kind of technical term in the LXX for sins of ignorance (as already pointed out above) and (b) the usages I've identified are the bulk of the uses in the LXX. In other words, it's normally found in the LXX in that parallel construction with the general term for sins.

Questions to you:

1) Do you grant that these are parallel constructions?

2) Do you grant that these three usages constitute the majority usage of the term in the LXX?

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

Hi TF,

The "and" & "or" terms in those texts indicate ignorance is different from sin. To say "sins *and* ignorances" & "oversight *or* fault" indicates they are two different things. It doesn't make sense to suggest the writer is repeating himself.

Parallel construction means clause-1 is used in parallel to clause-2. It does not mean to use two words synonymously side by side.

The only other place I'm aware of the term appearing is in Sirach 23:2, which says:

RSV: "Who will set whips over my thoughts, and the discipline of wisdom over my mind, so as not to spare me in my errors, and not overlook my sins?"

I would say this is closer to a parallel construction than the previous 3 passages, but I would not grant that is how it's to be read. I would say this text also sets ignorance in it's own category.

Nick said...

After a Google Search of the LXX occurrences, I found two more:

Gen 43:12 "Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight."

Clearly, "oversight" cannot mean "sin" here.

Sir 51:19 "My soul grappled with wisdom, and in my conduct I was strict; I spread out my hands to the heavens, and lamented my ignorance of her."

The term 'ignorance' here cannot be synonymous with 'sin'.

Turretinfan said...

Last things first, those other two usages aren't about sins at all. They are not about sins of ignorance as distinct from other sins.

Hopefully, we can agree on that.

Nick said...

True, the last two are not about sins of ignorance, but they serve as examples as to how the term is to be understood. In other words, when we do read it in the context of sin, we know the true emphasis is on unintentional or ignorance, and thus not sin in general (much less serious sins).

Turretinfan said...

As for Sirach 23:2, like the three I identified, there is a parallel construction:

Sirach 23:2 Who will set scourges over my thoughts, and the discipline of wisdom over mine heart? that they spare me not for mine ignorances, and it pass not by my sins:

So, the data from the LXX is two uses where the term does not refer to sins per se, and four usages where there are parallel constructions, that is to say where there is use of "sins ... and ... ignorances" or "sins ... or ... ignorances."

You seem to be trying to deny that there is a parallel construction in some of those places, but your basis appears to be simply an argument that the other phrases are not appositive phrases. That misunderstands the Hebrew approach to synonym/close synonym usage.

Hebrew writers like to pile on synonyms in conjunctive/disjunctive clauses, particularly in wisdom literature and poetry, but also at other times, just for emphasis.

One convenient example is this:

Lev 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Although there may be some important nuances amongst the three words for sin used there, the primary point of the passage isn't to distinguish but to pile on similar points.

The same thing is happening (or appears to be happening) in the four passages we've identified in the LXX. While there may indeed be a nuanced difference between "ignorances" and "sins," the point of the passage is to pile them on as synonyms or rough synonyms of one another.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with Hebrew writing, but I'd be happy to provide you with additional examples of this Hebrew parallelism in situations not involving sin, if you like.

-TurretinFan