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December 27, 2007


Paul Robotham

Interesting post.

Would you confirm my understanding of what you're trying to say:
- Jesus as the God-man didn't atone for our sins, rather it was Jesus the Human-man
- Jesus was the God-man only in that he lived a Godly life as a human, ultimately sacrificing his life for others as was God's will
- We are not justified through mere belief in the historical event of Jesus' crucifixion (even Satan believes Jesus was the Christ), but only being spiritually 'in' Jesus and living a Christ-like life will atone for our sins and make us sons (daughters) of God.

I expect that some people, especially Calvinists, may have issues with your post because it implies that we have to be and do something (more than mere intellectual assent) in order to partake in (make effective) Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. I presume that you believe it is in within our human power to claim Jesus'atonement for ourselves. I assume you have at least a basic understanding of Calvinist doctrine -- how would you respond to a typical criticism of your view from their viewpoint (considering the five points of Calvinism in particular)? BTW, I'm not a Calvinist.

I just discovered your blog. It's good to hear an alternative point of view. Keep up the good work.


Paul, thanks for your comment.

You are correct in your understanding of my position, except perhaps that you think I ascribe to the "divinity" of Jesus, which I do not.

My position is that the doctrines of 'orthodox' Christianity are not based on the teachings of the Hebrew Jesus and the Hebrew apostles - on scripture - but on the misapprehensions of the post-apostolic, Hellenist-Latin 'fathers.'

Your remark re Calvinism raises many vital issues - too many to address properly here. So far, I've mainly dealt with creedal issues such as the 'Trinity,' and the 'Miraculous Incarnation' but certainly intend to blog on the many unnecessary complexities raised by the TULIP understanding of scripture.

Briefly though, Calvinism's doctrines of 'salvation by faith alone' and 'total depravity' completely overturn the testimony of the entire Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus.

They arose mainly through -

(1) a failure to recognise that neither the Greek word 'pistis' nor the English word 'faith' convey the same meaning to us as their Hebrew counterpart did to Hebrews. The Hebrew concept of 'faith' is not just assent to a proposition but implies persistence, loyalty, unwavering conviction and 'faithfulness' to 'someone.' This inward 'faithfulness' is demonstrated by outward good works and righteous behaviour, the type of 'works' on which Paul himself was fully engaged.

(2) a failure to recognise the Pauline distinction between the 'spirit' of the Law and the 'works' of the Law. According to Paul, salvation cannot be earned through keeping the ritual 'works' of the Law of Moses - the sacrificial system, keeping Shabbat, the dietary laws, circumcision - all the outward signs separating Jew from non-Jew. Jews did not enter the Mosaic covenant; they were born into it but expected to maintain membership by the works of the Law. Henceforth, membership of the New Covenant was not to be gained by the works of the law but by 'faith in Jesus.' In New Testament terms, to have 'faith in Jesus' is to believe that Jesus is God's anointed, God's human delegate on earth. As such, the 'way' of Jesus, emulation of his righteous behaviour, is the only way to God.

(3) a failure to understand the NT proposition that those who choose to emulate the righteousness of Jesus have become children of the Most High, 'begotten' of God, and sinless. It is a great pity that Paul's warnings to the leaders of different communities to be on guard against a sense of self-righteousness and works glorifying the self have become the servant of the 'we are all sinners' teaching.

Of course, these are all very complex subjects - one's I hope to analyse thoroughly in future posts.


Paul Robotham

Thanks for the detailed reply, Vynette.

In a way, I read what you say about Jesus as attributing divinity to him, but perhaps not in the sense that other Christians might attribute divinity to him. I'll read more of your posts to better understand where you're coming from. There can indeed be much subtlety implied in the term 'divine'.

I'm open to 'liberal' understandings of Jesus (e.g. Marcus Borg), but I remain skeptical of some metaphorical interpretations because they seem rather arbitrary, subjective and unreasonably hesitant to give a literal interpretation the benefit of the doubt due to exaggerated presuppositions. At such times, I fall back on a more literal/historical grammatical interpretation. Anyway, I'm still learning.


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