Thursday, April 30, 2009

I admit it: I'm a Mark-Neglector, are you?

I hope I'm not the only one who sorta sees Mark as a subset of Matthew. I end up reading Matthew much more than Mark for that reason. And then when I read Mark again, I realize how wrong I am to have such a mentality. Reading Mark after having read Matthew so much is sorta like an easter-egg hunt the weekend after all the kids have had their whack. There are all these gems that stick out at you because you have this idea that "hey, that wasn't there before" (because the "before" was when you read Matthew's account).

Are you a Mark-Neglector?


Christopher Lake said...


Two days after a post, Justin Taylor (at Between Two Worlds) puts into effect a "comment moderation," which basically means that any further comments on a particular blog entry will not be posted. I don't think that this is maliciously intentional on his part; he's probably just too busy to keep up with all of the comments.

About J.N.D Kelly's book, with a $40 price tag, and my being on a very limited income (less than $700 a month right now), I may not be able to immediately buy it, but I will put it on the list.

If you can afford it, do buy and read Pierced For Our Transgressions. The authors go into more detail on the texts of early church fathers than was possible on the website for their book.

However, the website does provide the introduction for the book, which tackles the myth of "penal substitutionary atonement was not believed until the Reformation." Here is the link to the introduction (very small print on the website, unfortunately, but that is another reason to buy the book!):

Christopher Lake said...

Also, has the book (PFOA) for $15.99, which is almost ten dollars less than Amazon.

In the introduction, the authors write that some of the "standard texts" on church history have portrayed the early fathers' stance(s) on penal substitution in a way that is not historically accurate. A provocative statement, to be sure... Monergism doesn't have Kelly's book, but it does have A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs (for $22) which looks interesting.

David Rudel said...

I already own the book, actually. I had already gone through every one of their passages that attempt to support their version of penal substitution.

I believe if you reread those passages you'll notice what I had said on JT's blog. The early church was not focused on Hell as the punishment for sin, but rather death. Nor was it God's active wrath being propitiated but rather God's eternal decree that "the wages of sin are death."

The early church fathers were focused on the resurrection of the Body (just look at how often that comes up in Acts) and their theories of atonement dealt with Christ controverting the degree that all who sin must die. That is the curse of the carnal flesh. If Jesus is to resurrect all at the end of the era, he is essentially overturning that edict. Their theories described how this occurred.

Indeed, the early fathers did not even see Christ as having the punishment "transferred" (as we might use the term) to Christ, but rather that Christ shared the punishment with man so that man could share the resurrection with Christ.

You'll also notice how often those fathers speak of Christ taking the curse of "The whole world" and "all" of humanity. That did not make them universalists. It is just that they did not see Christ as averting or coloring the Judgment that occurred after the resurrection. Rather they saw Christ overcoming death as a necessary part of the "re-creation" of the coming age.

Some particulars from the quotes in PFoT:
page 165: Christ is said to take the curse for all humans. Martyr is rather emphatic on that point.

Page 170: Note the effect of the "corruption" Athanasius refers to. Its logical conclusion is not hellfire but "non-existence." The original state of humanity. Note also the quote at the bottom of that page that says explicitly that it is the death that is being referred to here, and that by virtue of divine edict.
And on page 171 [same paragraph], what is God safeguarding "our continued existence"
This is not a "God cannot have the sinful in heaven" issue. It was a "God has declared that all who sin must die, so Christ had to die for us to be raised."

And look at the paragraph on page 171. The reason why repentance is not enough was not because "1 sin is enough" but rather that repentance does not undo the "corruption" that is physical mortality. Athanasius claimed Jeremiah and John the Baptist never sinned, but they were still under the curse of corruption (but were not considered to be under guilt by Athanasius).

And another proof that it was death, physical death, Athanasius refers to is at the bottom of 171. Jesus took on a body liable to the same corruption we have. Did Jesus become liable to eternal wrath in hell? No, He became liable to physical mortality. Athanasius ties this once again to the resurrection at the top of page 173.

Page 175, "The curse was unto death, but grace is after death"

Note page 180 "enduring the death which was hanging over uas as the result of our sin..." If "the death hanging over us as the result of our sin" were eternal torment in hell, then that would make this nonsensical.

Similar remarks on page 183 with Gregory's comments.

One of the running themes here is that Christ took the actual punishment that was due humanity [physical death.]
This differs from what would later be taught where Jesus did not actually take our punishment but rather the smallest dishonor to Him was infinite due to His majesty, and thus would somehow equal eternal torment of the entire elect.

I hope you see the significant change between Christ actually bearing the sentence all humanity was under compared to Christ being punished with a different punishment [physical death instead of eternal torment] that somehow evens out because of the infinite Glory of Christ.

I actually have two copies of Kelly's book. If you send me your address, I'll mail you my extra one.

Christopher Lake said...


I really do appreciate your offer, but I don't give out my address on-line to anyone. Please know that it's not personal.

I don't have time to respond to your comment tonight (it's after 3 a.m. here), and I'll be at a conference all weekend, but Lord willing, I'll reply to you on Monday. Take care!

David Rudel said...

No problems, Christopher. I'd also be happy to post it to your church, where you could pick it up.

Please also accept my genuine apologies for a less than gentle tongue in the discussion/debate we were having at JT's.