Friday, December 21, 2007

What Hodge and I Believe about the Atonement

From Hodge's Systematic Theology, Volume II, Chapter 7, Section "Argument from Related Doctrines," numbered paragraph 1 (pp. 520-21) (the following has been edited by being broken into smaller paragraphs):


No doctrine of the Bible, relating to the plan of salvation, is more plainly taught or more wide reaching than that which concerns the union between Christ and his people. That union in one aspect, was from eternity, we were in Him before the foundation of the world; given to Him of the Father, to redeem from the estate of sin and misery, into which it was foreseen our race would by transgression fall. It was for the accomplishment of this purpose of mercy that He assumed our nature, was born of a woman, and did and suffered all that He was called upon to do and to endure in working out our salvation.

He did not, therefore, come into the world for Himself. It was not to work out a righteousness of his own to entitle Him to the exaltation and power which in our nature He now enjoys. In virtue of the Godhead of his personality, He was of necessity infinitely exalted above all creatures. He came for us. He came as a representative. He came in the same relation to his people, which Adam, in the original covenant, bore to the whole race. He came to take their place; to be their substitute, to do for them, and in their name, what they could not do for themselves.

All He did, therefore, was vicarious; his obedience and his sufferings. The parallel between Adam and Christ, the two great representatives of man, the two federal heads, the one of all his natural descendants, the other of all given Him by the Father, is carried out into its details in Romans v. 12-21. It is assumed or implied, however, everywhere else in the sacred volume. What Adam did, in his federal capacity, was in law and justice regarded as done by all whom he represented. And so all that Christ did and suffered as a federal head, was in law and justice done or suffered by his people.

Therefore, as we were condemned for the disobedience of Adam, so we are justified for the obedience of Christ. As in Adam all died, so in Christ are all made alive. Hence Christ’s death is said to be our death, and we are said to rise with Him, to live with Him, and to be exalted, in our measure, in his exaltation. He is the head and we are the body. The acts of the head, are the acts of the whole mystical person.

The ideas, therefore, of legal substitution, of vicarious obedience and punishment, of the satisfaction of justice by one for all, underlie and pervade the whole scheme of redemption. They can no more be separated from that scheme than the warp can be separated from the woof without destroying the whole texture.


You can imagine how someone could read "the satisfaction by one for all" and think that Hodge held to a view that Christ died for the reprobate. Hopefully the remainder of the paragraph makes it clear that he and I do not think that, but instead hold that Christ came, died, and rose again for the purpose of saving his people (those for whom he is the federal head - those whom he represented on the cross) from their sins.

May God be Glorified!


P.S. Incidentally, this week has been a bit hectic. I hope to provide for the atonement debate a brief argument (my original draft got quite long and ungainly) as to why Hebrews 10 is talking about the same group Hodge is talking about in the paragraphs above.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I don't know Hodge. I have not learned Hodge. So this is elementary at best:

He came as a representative. He came in the same relation to his people, which Adam, in the original covenant, bore to the whole race.

My response:
It seems to me when I read this one can agrue as we have seen at Contend for the "whole" instead of, as I see it, for a "particular" whole.

A couple of stories come to mind to write out here. One I know to be true as I was there and witnessed what I will relay now. The other I heard about which is purported to be a true story too.

I was in New York. I was dealing in diamonds with some folks. I was at the Diamond Borse and on the twelfth floor offices of a friend. While I was there the son came in and asked for advice from the father.

"Adam" the father said, this is your business too. You decide what to do with this deal. It is my deal too through you!

"But Dad" the son said, yes, what is mine is mine is yours is yours. So you are saying my decision is your decision even though you have not heard anything about the deal I want to make?

"Yes" said the father, go do the deal as you see it.

This deal was for several millions of dollars of important jewels! I was quite impressed with what ease the father was with his son in this matter representing him even though he knew nothing of the particulars of the deal. He was simply saying to the son to do whatever was his will and he, the father, would abide by it.


Now the next story impacts me everytime I think about it or tell it. It fills my heart with Joy even though....:

I will try to be brief in writing it out.

This time it is the story of a wealthy man whose "only son" and heir to his fortunes wanted to join the army during Vietnam. Both the father and mother of this "only son" were unwilling to let their son join the military and place himself in harms way during the Vietnam era. They pleaded with their son not to enlist. They said if he wanted to join the military they had connections at the highest levels of the government and could get him in at West Point and could have him placed "outside" of harms way. The son refused the father's influence and went ahead and enlisted in the Army and went off to boot camp. He finally made it to Vietnam and he indeed was placed in harms way.

His soldier buddy was a fair pencil drawer and favored himself so. One day orders came for them to go engage the Viet Cong the next day. They were told to prepare "letters" just in case they did not come back alive. The letter was sent along with two representatives from the Army to the living relatives when a death notice was to be delivered to the survivors of the dead soldier. In the letter the deceased soldier would be expected to say something like, "Dear parents or spouse and children, if you are reading this letter it is because I was killed in action". "This is my will and purpose and so on" ...the parents or the surviving spouse would read.

Well this wealthy only son asked his buddy to draw a pencil drawing of him and if he did not make it out of the fight the next day and he did, he got him to promise that he would see to it after the war that his dad and mother got the pencil drawing. The artist soldier agreed and promised as such and drew the picture of this young man.

The next day they engaged the enemy and the rich young man lost his life in battle and the artist soldier was wounded and taken out of Vietnam to Hawaii for recovery.

About six months later the artist soldier had a chance to visit the rich young man's family and keep his promise and delivered the drawing to his parents.

The parents were of course heart broken at the loss of their only son and they were not doing well emotionally so this unexpected visit and the drawing of their only son quickened their spirits and they were indeed grateful to have the drawing of their son drawn the night before being killed. It became their prized possession!

The mother, nevertheless, several months later died of a broken heart. The man now was all alone and decided to sell off all his worldly possessions at auction after his own death. He had drawn up a new Last Will and Testament.

That pencil drawing was framed and placed in a prominent place at the foyer entrance of their mansion so that any time a guest came to visit this man they would first see this drawing of his son.

A couple years later, the father died and his whole estate according to his Last Will and Testament were put up for auction. Notices were sent out around the world to anyone interested in his wealth to come and attend the auction.

This wealthy man had many many valuable well known art pieces, antiquities, collectible furnitures and jewelry, all of it was well known about in the art communities and communities of private collectors of fine jewelry and buyers of antiquities, around the world.

One day was picked to have an "estate" auction and people from around the world came to bid on this man's collectibles.

The auctioneer begins the auction by placing the man's prized possession up first, the drawing of his son. The drawing was put on the block first and the auctioneer asked for a bid from the audience.

No one bid. He asks repeatedly for someone to make an offer. Instead, those gathered were getting annoyed at this and upset and some present began hollering at the auctioneer to remove that drawing and put some real art pieces on the block for which some came to bid on.

But no, the auctioneer repeated his request for someone to bid on this pencil drawing.

After a bit, the artist soldier, who drew the picture and who heard about the auction, also being present, stood up and offered 20 dollars for the drawing. The auctioneer kicked it in gear then asked loudly for another bid, saying, would there be a bid for more, 30, maybe 50 dollars more?

Silence filled the room. No one bid, so the auctioneer sold the drawing to the artist soldier for 20 dollars and then announced that the auction was now "officially" over because his particular instructions were that whoever got the son got it all!