What is orthodoxy and how important is it to ECs?

This is a case where I agree with the conclusions but disagree with the argument.
I believe Jesus is God, and in particular God become man and not man become God.
But the argument that salvation requires some kind of magical power derived from a divine sacrifice is something I very much disagree with. In fact there is a list of weird claims behind this argument that Jesus has to be God in order for the atonement to “work.” I reject them all as totally insane!

  1. An innocent person can pay for the crimes of the guilty. CRAZY IRRATIONAL AND IMMORAL!
  2. God cannot forgive people without some kind of blood sacrifice. DEMONIC!
  3. The value of a punishment depends on the value of the person punished! MEDIEVAL!
  4. The value of a crime depends on the value of the person wronged! CLASSICIST HOGWASH!

AND PLEASE do not quote the Bible at me in support of this garbage. I am well aware of what the Bible says and I affirm all of it. I just do not think it means any of these four things above. But I guess the key point is that there are several metaphors in the Bible for understanding the atonement and making this one legal metaphor literal is not rational. So instead I will say…

  1. The innocent pay for the crimes of the guilty all the time… i.e. they suffer the consequences and the fact that they do is often what it takes to make people change. So Jesus paying for our sins is also a metaphor just like when we say that our soldiers pay the price for our freedom. Taking this literally is just stupid.
  2. God can, of course, forgive people easily but that doesn’t mean He should because it is well known that cheap forgiveness is the worst thing you can do for your children, teaching them that their actions have no consequences.
  3. The most important value of punishment derives from how well it helps people to change. Even the second value of punishment as deterrence is dubious.
  4. The only thing that might vary the “value” of a crime are mitigating factors having to do with what the victim may have done to incite the crime against them. To be sure there are no mitigating factors when it comes to God. But this is true of many victims, who did no more to incite the crime against them than God did.
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Interesting, Mitchell, I have a friend who holds the same opinion as you.

A point in favor of your view is that Jesus forgave sins before He was obedient, even unto death.

Matthew 9:5-7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” 7 And he stood up and went to his home.

And what is important to God?

1 Samuel 15:22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

22 And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed than the fat of rams.

Of course the substitutionary atonement is a metaphor. So are all the other ways of understanding the atonement. We cannot understand it other than metaphorically, and all metaphors break down at some point.

My point above that Jesus had to be God incarnate to reconcile humanity to God wasn’t about anything magical or transactional. Only God incarnate could live a perfect human life. And that was the point of the Incarnation; a faithful image bearer who could conquer sin and death and usher in the Kingdom of God and be the first fruits of the Resurrection and the beginning of the New Creation. None of that was in humanity’s power to accomplish.

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OK… I guess I would say something similar. One of the things Jesus is all about is showing us that there is nothing God wouldn’t give in order to save us and reconcile us with Him – so we have to accept that we and not God is the problem. It is a little hard to even make this work if Jesus is just another good man who died at the hands of evil men like so many other innocent people.

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I agree. I do not think Jesus was merely a good guy who had some good things to say. He is the Son of God and the Messiah. And now is resurrected and exalted to the right hand of God. He is Lord and Savior.

Christy, I decided to come back and address this statement too.

You can easily make the case that Jesus is called God in some way in the New Testament. There are several verses that can be interpreted this way, and a couple of them wouldn’t be debated at all. I don’t want to take this away from you, even if I could.

However, I am sure you are aware that the use of the words for “God” or “gods” in the bible is much broader and includes people or things you and I would not say are God. A few examples that come to mind are Moses, the Judges, and Satan (Paul calls him the God of this world).

And problematic for me is that there is not a single explicit claim from the mouth of Jesus to say that he is God. This may not be a problem for you, but I feel he would have communicated that if it was important.

I do think Jesus is divine in some way and that he represents God. I hope that you can see where I am coming from on this even if we don’t completely agree.

I think that is you imposing your Western cultural expectations for direct, low-context communication on an indirect, high-context speech community.

I’ve read up on the fairly recent Ehrman/Bird debates on the divinity of Jesus. I think Mike Bird has the better scholarship on this issue.

I am well aware that there are multiple views on everything. It is not really my goal to ever argue people into different perspectives. You can believe what you want to believe about Jesus. My only point is that the divinity of Jesus is a basic Christian doctrine. Not that he is “divine in some way,” but that he is God incarnate. That Jesus is fully God and fully human is an important confessional part of the Christian creeds.

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I know there are probably several different ways of wrestling with this formula, but I find that the concepts of being fully God and fully human are logically at odds with one another, if not mutually exclusive. I think it is one or the other, and so for me, that means picking fully human.

To flesh out the dilemma… God is immortal, yet Jesus dies. God cannot be tempted by evil, yet Jesus is tempted, in every way that we are. God knows everything there is to know, yet Jesus doesn’t know the day of his coming, and says only the Father knows.

I am sure you have thought about these issues before and maybe you have a path through them that works for you.

I accept the church’s teaching on it and acknowledge it is beyond my full comprehension. I don’t think logic is a sufficient tool for every kind of knowing.

The doctrine of kenosis (God emptying himself) attempts to explain things like Jesus being born mortal and with a limited human nature while still being fully God. All of our constructs to explain the Incarnation fall short at some point.

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Hello Jay,

In short, Orthodoxy is - “accepted as true or correct”

In the most basic sense, it may be described by Paul in the scriptures below:

“Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul (1 Corinthians 1:13)?”

‘But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:23)’

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)”.

And,

'One Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5),;

The central message of the gospel is as follows:

‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).’

These and others are among the most basic of the faith that must never be strayed from.

Evolutionary dogma is anti-God. Even if evolution is seen as God’s way to create, what’s the need for Him to use lots of earthly time even though not limited by time? What was the need to lay aside the power of His spoken word that brings things to past instantly?

Earl

I don’t think you can fairly call evolutionary science “dogma” or “anti-God.” It is substantiated by evidence, and is silent on the question of God.

If God wanted to bring about the material world with a snap of his fingers, he certainly has the power to do such a thing. So there was no apparent need to take a long time and not use this ability.

But God can create however he wants. The evidence seems to show that material creation was a process that took billions of years. And so I think that must have been how God created, unless we are dealing with some kind of cover-up by God to make it appear differently than how he did it. But that is a disturbingly uncomfortable and unsatisfactory rabbit hole to go down.

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I can respect that you are accepting of the mystery of this.

For any two beliefs that I hold, if they are logically at odds with one another, then at least one of them is wrong, and I need to revise my assumptions and construct them in a way that doesn’t conflict. I think that orthodox Christology
and Trinity doctrines have several of these issues. Perhaps this is my own lack of understanding, or perhaps the doctrines need refining. Or maybe some of each.

The Trinity is the first and definitive definition of the Christian God, as opposed to Judaism and Islam. The Quran defines Allah as Absolute and Simple One, as opposed to the Trinity.

Islam does not identify Jesus as the Messiah in any way close to what Judaism does. It does not respect of OT and NT as true revelation. It says that Jesus did not die on the cross and seems to say that Jesus will condemn those who say He did.

Agreed.

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Incorrect. Islam identifies Jesus as the messiah. Judaism most certainly does not.

I think defining a religion only by its scripture is a very weak definition. Interpretations vary too much. Are you really going to identify two groups as separate religions when they believe exactly the same things but simply use different scriptures for them? That is nearly as lame as defining a religion by the translation they use, by the word they use for God, or by the language they happen to speak. And then there are those that use the same scriptures but believe wildly different and contradictory things.

And Christians condemn those who say that Jesus was not resurrected. So both can cry “Jesus lives” while slaughtering each other over insignificant details. Sounds lame to me.

Judaism expects the coming of the Messiah, Who is the Man sent by God to save God’s Chosen People Israel. They believe in the Messiah, but not that Jesus is the Messiah. The Qur’an says that Jesus was not the Messiah that the Jews expected, but a prophet who urged the Jews to repent, which they failed to do. The Christian gospel is that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, Who by the nature of His calling as Savior is more than a human being, but the Son of God, Who came to save all human beings.

So you are saying that you understand the scripture of a faith better than it does. The three Books of the three faiths based on Scripture, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam speak for themselves. They are different in content, although Christianity is a reformed version of Judaism

People disagree over theology. At times it gets nasty, but generally Christians do not condemn people because they say Jesus was not resurrected. They might judge them because they say they are Christians, but also say that Jesus was not resurrected.

The most violence today found in Muslims killing Muslims in Syria and other places in the Middle East. This is based usually on Sunnis killing Shia. Why the leaders of these sects do not seek to stop this senseless killing is beyond me. This is more than “lame.”

First let’s remind people what the issue is. I was claiming that the doctrine of the Trinity is the belief in Christianity that draws a clear line between this religion and others like Islam. Of course there are other differences, but their are huge differences between just one sect of these religions and another. The question is what does it mean to be Christian rather than Muslim? I think it is the consensus among Christians ever since the earliest ecumenical councils that the principle difference is in the question of Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity.

The New Testament says that Jesus was not what the Jews expected. They expected a king who would conquer their enemies not someone who told them to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

The Quran names Jesus as Messiah. but explicitly denies that Jesus is God or the son of God. Though it also seems that the concept of messiah is considerably less clear and far from being a central theme in Islam as it is in either Judaism or Christianity. That much is true.

The Christian gospel is that Jesus is God incarnate, Son of the Father and savior of the human spirit.

So you are saying that you are God. Dictating which books are from you and which are not.

Yeah those pesky secular humanists just won’t let Christians burn heretics at the stake anymore.

It is a lot more complicated than that. I think too much power in the hands of fanatics is always dangerous.

What’s the need for God to have waited 4000 years to send the Messiah in the first place? He could have done it the day after the Fall. What’s the need for God to wait 2000+ more years to send Jesus back? He could have sent Him back in the first century.

God works in His own time, and we don’t need to know why he takes a long time to do something. Taking a long time doesn’t diminish His power in the least. God is outside of time. A thousand years is like a day to eternal God. Likewise, a billion years is like a day to eternal God. We have many examples of God taking time to allow things to happen rather than correcting them instantly with the snap of His fingers, despite His ability to do so.

You believe there was a global flood that wiped out all of humanity, correct? God could have just spoken and everyone but Noah and his family and the appointed animals would have been zapped dead. But instead, a long flood was used. What was the need to send 40 days of rain when He could have just spoken?

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You left off the fact that Jesus is the Logos, Word, or Mind of God. Jesus is the Savior of the whole human being, body, mind, and spirit. We believe with the Jews in the resurrection of the body. Also I believe that Jesus saves us politically as well as spiritually in that Christianity makes possible democracy where humans can govern themselves, rather than have others govern them.

No I am saying that God has given humans the ability to think and determine which books come from God and which do not. I should be noted that the Qur’an directly contradicts the NT by denying the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and the central role that love plays in Christianity.

I think that it is the separation of church and state whish is more important here. In countries where there is a state enforced ideology like Korea there is still persecution.

Because there is no separation of Islam and State (Muhamad ruled as the Caliph of his state) there is always too much power in the hands of those who hold power in Muslim countries.

Incorrect. Democracy not only came at least 5 centuries before Christianity, but after Christianity there was no democracy for 15 centuries. For Christianity to take credit for this is absurd.

No I said, defining a religion only by its scripture is a very weak definition, because interpretations vary too much.

I guess you mean North Korea.

Meander…“Orthodox” is important.

A 14 year old bus passenger of mine once counselled me to drive a certain way. When I told him that was against the law, he said “Laws are made to be broken.” I told him that is why 14 year olds are not allowed to have drivers licenses.

If you want to be an accountant, you have to hold to certain beliefs and practices – and understandings of mathematical and accounting principles – in order to be one. If you want to be a medical doctor, then there are other standards, but they are standards – or “orthodoxies” nonetheless.

That is what orthodoxy ultimately is. It is a clear definition of what “is” and what “is not” the definition of right thinking about a subject…of how to conduct oneself on the road (for the safety of self and others) and also of how not to conduct oneself on the road.

But you can major in the minors on things. There are Biggies…such as in Christianity it is a Biggie to believe that Jesus is/Was God in the Flesh, the prophesied Messiah who came to pay the price for the sins of each human…was crucified and rose from the dead…The basics of this are in the earliest writings of Christian history although it took centuries of people and church councils debating the details and wording of various creeds…If

But then there are those who major in the minors. It is important for people to believe that God created the Universe…the details of that (are you YEC, EC, or some other acronym) — those are debatable and different people are convinced in different ways.

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