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The X-istence Files: A072908G - The Doctrine of Moral Achievement and Why The Loss of Salvation Is A Non-Christian Theory

by gonzodave coulon  
7/30/2008 / Christian Living

The X-istence Files: A072908G

James 4:8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

"To will the Good for the sake of reward is hypocrisy sheer duplicity! The person who in truth wills the Good thinks only of the Good, not of some resulting benefit. For the Good is its own reward. In fact, the pure in heart understands that here on earth the Good is often rewarded by ingratitude, by lack of appreciation, by poverty, by contempt, by many afflictions, and now and then by death. Of course, these are inconsequential for the one who in truth wills only one thing.

Neither can one who wills the Good do so out of fear of punishment. In essence, this is the same thing as willing the Good for the sake of a reward. The one who wills in truth one thing fears only doing wrong, not the punishment. In fact, he who does wrong, yet sincerely wills the Good, actually desires to face the consequences so that the punishment, like medicine, may heal him. He understands that punishment only exists for the sake of the sinner. It is a helping hand. It goads one to press on further toward the Good, if one really wills it. On the other hand, the one who is divided considers punishment or hardship as a sickness. He fears all worldly setback for there is nothing eternal in him."

Soren Kierkegaard
Provocations compiled and
edited by Charles E. Moore, p 36

"Bart, I've never been much good - at least up till now I haven't. You aren't getting any bargain, but I've got a funny feeling that I want to be good. I don't know. Maybe I can't. But I'm gonna try. I'll try hard, Bart. I'll try."

from the film noir classic Gun Crazy

"When this stage is reached then there will be life, not life subject to death but life that is clearlyand assuredly life giving. There will be a body, not a body which is animal, weighing down the soul as it decays, but a spiritual body experiencing no need and subordinated in every part to the will. This is the peace that the Heavenly City has while it sojourns here in faith, and in this faith it lives a life of righteousness. To the establishing of that peace it refers all its good actions, whether they be towards God or towards one's neighbor, for the life of this City is utterly and entirely a life of fellowship."

The City of God


Dear Reader,

This paper is intended to reveal the irreconcilable differences within Protestant salvation teachings. The important factor is how the would-be and the assumed-to-be Christian is relating to Christ based upon what she or he believes about their salvation. May it be understood, that the underlying support for all Protestant denominations who claim that salvation can be lost is an almost secret, rarely, if ever, discussed theory of atonement that has no biblical basis. This subjective scheme was formed more than a century after the Reformation began by Martin Luther. It is a theory of salvation based in Catholic Soteriology. Reformed theology teaches a secured salvation based on the gift of eternal life given to whosoever is divinely recognized as trusting in the finished work of Christ for forgiveness and the transformation of a new life "in Christ".

*** (a free e-brochure of this discussion may be previewed and downloaded from Lulu Publishing @ )

An undeniable principle in the NT Epistles is the renewing of the mind of the believer. This may only come about by proper teaching. Teaching that must come by those whom Christ has prepared through gifts to edify and grow His Church. Every believer is given a spiritual gift for service by Christ. A gift is not a natural talent. A gift is not intended for the unsaved world at large; rather, as one of many gifts, the gift of evangelism is to grow the Church, the Body of Christ, until such time as the preordained number of believers, past and present, has been reached. The purposes of God cannot be stalled or defeated. Nor may His timetable be expedited by the efforts of men. Christ is "all things" (Gk. ta panta) to the invisible Church of believers.

Grace is not something that is intuitively nor rationally comprehended by the unsaved - or the saved. May it be understood, there is a well documented biblical blindness regarding spiritual matters. This can be observed daily from milk to meat in the carnal and mature Christian. Only a voluntary change of mind (Gk. metanoia, KJV translation=repentance; which is NOT a horrible anguish over sin). Rather, when one yields their mind and heart to initially, the gospel of God's saving grace, and later to the lessons brought by Christ, then and only then, might spiritual maturity be progressively gained. These lessons are uniquely suited to each regenerate believer. Yet, a common truth remains to be shared, as the source is always contained in the Holy Scriptures.

(An Adobe PDF version of this article is available for viewing and download at: )

Protestant Religious Humanism

Dr. John Miley, a prominent Arminian theologian and author of his own systematic theology, is cited in the following:

The fundamental error of the Socinian view was found by Grotius to be this: That Socinus regarded God, in the work of redemption, as holding the place of merely a creditor, or master, whose simple will was a sufficient discharge from the existing obligation. But, as we have in the subject before us to deal with punishment and the remission of punishment, God cannot be looked upon as a creditor, or an injured party, since the act of inflicting punishment does not belong to an injured party as such. The right to punish is not one of an absolute master or a creditor, these being merely personal in their character; it is the right of a ruler only. Hence God must be considered as a ruler, and the right to punish belongs to the ruler as such, since it exists, not for the punisher's sake, but for the sake of the commonwealth, to maintain its order and to promote the public good. (cited by Miley, Theology, Vol 2, p 161. quoted in Systematic Theology, Dr. Lewis Chafer, Vol 3, p 146)

Dr. Lewis Chafer, a renowned Grace theologian responds to this view of God:

From this brief analysis it will be seen that the two major ideas are paramount in this theory as presented by its advocates, namely, penitence and forgiveness, and no other aspects of the value of Christ's death are acknowledged and no other feature of the great work of God in the salvation of a soul is comprehended by this system. Should any question be raised about the need of an amercement or penalty that would uphold the sanctity of the law, the fact that Christ suffered sacrificially is deemed sufficient to meet the requirement. Grotius was Arminian in his theology and his theory is well suited to a system of interpretation of the Scriptures which is satisfied with modified and partial truths.

As for the methods employed by these two systems [of evaluating the death of Christ], it may be observed that the doctrine of satisfaction follows the obvious teachings of the Bible. It is the result of an unprejudiced induction of the Word of God as bears on the death of Christ. On the other hand, the defenders of the Grotian theory build a philosophy which is not drawn from Scripture, and, having declared their speculations and reasoning, undertake to demonstrate that, by various methods of interpretations, the Scriptures may be made to harmonize with the theory. It is significant that Christians, being, in the main, subject to the Bible, have held the doctrine of satisfaction throughout all generations.

Of those who have expounded and defended the Rectoral or Governmental theory, none in the United States has given it more scholarly consideration than Dr. John Miley, the Arminian theologian. When stating his disagreement with the time honored doctrine of satisfaction, Dr. Miley objects (1) to the doctrine of substitution as generally held. It is his contention that neither the sin of man is imputable to Christ, nor the righteousness of God imputable to man; and (2) if man's sin is imputable to Christ, man does not need the personal faith which appropriates forgiveness, since nothing could remain to be forgiven. These are the major arguments which Socinius advanced and these, in turn, have been presented by many of the Arminian school. (Systematic Theology, Dr. Lewis Chafer, Vol 3, p 146-47)

From the citation of Dr. Chafer above as regards the assertions by Dr. Miley - his statement (1) is argumentum ad absurdum founded only in a traditional creed and (2) prima facie seems convincing, but at bottom it is a feeble and specious (Latin good looking) induction from two truths. If the reader will be patient with this writer in his analysis on this matter of infinite importance, a disclosure of the false premises in the deduction made by Dr. Miley will be detailed. The order of Dr. Miley's premises and conclusion may be clarified in the following structure that resolves into the subsequent summary statement :

Col 2:4 I say this so that no one will deceive you through arguments [7tn by specious arguments, the art of persuasion] that sound reasonable. NET

To clear away the double-speak of inversion, I reduce (1) and (2), above, to their original statement in the doctrine of "completed satisfaction," disputed by Dr. Miley:

(1a) Sin and righteousness is imputable [because Jesus is the Christ the Lamb of God who "expiates," takes away sin]
(2a) Forgiveness comes through faith [because of God's grace]

Dr. Miley's rationale for his claim of (1a) as false proves (2a) to be true. Because if (1a) is true, then (2a) is false (LOGICAL antecedent, if p then q). Patently, then (1a) must be false because every one accepts man must have faith to be forgiven. Thus he has proven the validity of his claim in item (1) and (2) below.


For these reasons, the Rectoral or Governmental theory, championed by Dr. Miley, is secure in its assertions:

(1) Sin and righteousness is not imputable [because tradition says so]
(2) Forgiveness comes through faith [because (1) is true and (1a) is false "if man's sin is imputable to Christ, man does not need the personal faith which appropriates forgiveness, since nothing could remain to be forgiven (again, because tradition says so)."]

Detailed disclosure of the "specious" argument:

Dr. Miley's dogmatic argument chases its tail endlessly around the same circle. On the one hand, he has made a logical statement using a false premise (1) to prove a universal truth (2a), to be true. Proving (2a) to be true was unnecessary, as there was no initial dispute until he introduced one. On the other hand, he has taken the truth of (1a) to prove (2a) false by drawing a false induction in (2) to further validate the lie claimed in (1).

In summary, he has drawn a false conclusion by introducing (1a) into item (2), above, intended to prove that two truths - (1a) and (2a) in the doctrine of "completed satisfaction - cannot logically co-exist in order to further validate his lie in item (1). This is a classic use of a logical statement to support an apparently true but actually false, specious (good looking), syllogism (Greek sullogismos < sullogizesthai "infer" < logos "reason").

Dr. Miley, in defending a lie with an innocent truth - grabbing a child as a shield in a firefight has left himself the burden to support his claim without a comparison to God's truth. Might the assertion of "sin and righteousness are not imputable" stand on its own merits? [to prove this merit: the deductive conclusions drawn from an Arminian theory of premises for a divine "forgiveness," without imputation, supposes to support its own statements. This will be disclosed, throughout this paper - at length]. Dr. Miley has not "rationalized" his negative claim and proven item (1a) to be false, quite to the contrary, he has unwittingly illustrated an age old axiom to be true: A lie is inverted truth (1), which when challenged, requires a second inversion (2) to remain apparently true.

The Oracles of God's Truth fully support a positive declaration of substitutional demerit and merit, in contradiction to his traditional "opinion" stated in item (1). Additionally, as regards the validity in the charge that his logic is argumentum ad absurdum in item (1): What school board, city government, or corporation is not liable for the actions of its employees? What parent is not legally responsible for the acts of their minor child? Guilt and penalty are transferable in this world - as well as beyond. Finally, his statement in item (2): "if man's sin is imputable to Christ, man does not need the personal faith which appropriates forgiveness, since nothing could remain to be forgiven"; is a false inductive conclusion from "does not need personal faith" from his new premise of "nothing could remain to be forgiven" is prima facie, because it violates the unalterable biblical requirement for faith, "by grace through faith are you saved." The point is - there is no valid rational argument that can be introduced to prove or disprove the need for faith, it stands by itself, as "Scripture may not be broken." Secondly, his statement "nothing could remain to be forgiven" censors divine reconciliation. Whereby all men may be forgiven by faith. Reconciliation is the end result of substitutionary imputed sin suffered by Christ that rendered God "completely satisfied" in the His judgment against all sin. For this reason, Christ is the worthy object of a required faith for forgiveness that is given to whosoever shall believe in Jesus Christ for the reality that he has been forgiven. Therefore, in the final analysis, both premise (1) and (2) may be classed together as argumentum ad absurdum in the effort to rationally prove the necessity for a divine forgiveness not grounded in divine imputation and the sacrificial blood of Christ that satisfied God's judgment and wrath against sin.

God is not obligated to explain Himself to men by deduction He reveals Himself and His plan and men may by induction, rightly or wrongly, take Him at His Word and conclude His purposes. He has simply stated, many times over, the positive command for unsaved men to "obey the gospel" and, that "righteousness" comes through faith. Dr. Miley has failed to preach the "gospel of the grace of God." He has proven his censorship of divine grace. Dr. Miley offers a spurious logical construct in (1) as a substitute truth for God's work in the imputation of sin to Christ that purchased the grace of righteousness that is imputed and imparted to men in (1a). By his substitute induction in item (2), grace is not only censored, but thrown out with the truth in item (1a). Should grace ever raise "its ugly head," it is supposed, by a "good looking" substitute, to be irrational, "since nothing could remain to be forgiven."

I cannot find in the NT declarations, or in the OT prophecies of Christ, where it is revealed that God's rights, either as a creditor or as a ruler protecting a commonwealth existing only for a common good, was the basis for the sacrificial death of His "Servant." These ideas are simply holy smoke and mirrors. God's rights, unlike those stated in the citation from Dr. Miley, were clearly established in the OT. He is the "God of all flesh" (Num 16:22; 26:16). What God does on earth is for His "reputation" before the nations of the world. This is a central theme in the book of Ezekiel. What God does for His heavenly "glory," salvation by grace, is for the witness of all intelligences throughout the ages. This is the central theme of all the Epistles, which culminates in the earth shattering events and glorious conclusion in the Book of Revelation. Unfortunately, Arminian Christians follow the notions of Dr. Miley, rather than Scripture - to define Christianity.

As a concise rebuttal of Dr. Miley's censorship of grace: In the passage from Romans 5:12-21, at the beginning of this division, what the NET renders "gracious gift," the KJV translates as "free gift." In this passage, the "free, gracious gift" is defined as the "gift of righteousness" that leads to justification. Christ redeemed sin, yes, and all unsaved men stand reconciled before God, but the unsaved have not reconciled themselves to God. They have not entered into the New Covenant by faith. An everyday illustration would be: One might receive a suspicious "worthless check" in their mail. But, until that person believes the check is "worthy" - will he produce that check for payment? Christ redeemed sin, but retains grace until such time as saving faith may claim His finished work and the "free, gracious gift of righteousness." Only by grace through faith is man saved. This is the infinite merit of the imputed righteousness of the Righteous One, Jesus Christ. Dr. Charles Ryrie gives this definition of Arminianism:

Though the views of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) were not divergent from traditional Reformed theology, those of his successors were increasingly so. Arminianism teaches that Adam was created in innocency, not holiness, that sin consists in acts of the will, that we inherit pollution from Adam but not guilt or a sin nature, that man is not totally depraved, that man has the ability to will to do good and to conform to God's will in this life so as to be perfect, and that the human will is one of the causes of regeneration. Wesleyan theology, sometimes called evangelical Arminianism, holds similar views on the subjects of Adam's and man's ability, though it differs in other points.

After the personal appeal in this, Book Two Glorious Grace, the arguments and proofs for the positive claims of grace in items (1a) and (2a) above, will be the scope of Book Three - The Tribunal.

Gal 2:21 I do not set aside God's grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing! NET

This writer:

The following is a full quotation of the Arminian theory of the value of the death of Christ. Upon which is based the many invalid gospel presentations and teachings about God's salvation.

"The Necessity for Atonement"

The following citation is from Dr. John Miley, who will be stating and defending the Rectoral or Governmental theory of atonement against the biblical doctrine of "Completed Satisfaction":

(1). An Answer to the Real Necessity. The redemptive mediation implies a necessity for it. There should be, and in scientific consistency must be, an accordance between a doctrine of atonement and the ground of its necessity. The moral theory finds in the ignorance and evil tendencies of man a need for the higher moral truth and motive than reason affords; a need for all the higher truths and motives of the Gospel. There is such a need very real and very urgent. And Christ has graciously supplied the help so needed. But we yet have no part of the necessity for an objective ground of forgiveness. Hence this scheme does not answer to the real necessity for an atonement. Did the necessity arise out of an absolute justice which must punish sin, the theory of satisfaction would be in accord with it, but without power to answer to its requirement, because such a necessity precludes substitutional atonement. We do find the real necessity in the interests of moral government interests which concern the divine glory and authority, and the welfare of moral beings. Whatever will conserve these ends while opening the way of forgiveness answers to the real necessity in the case. Precisely this is done by the atonement we maintain. In the requirement of the sacrifice of Christ as the only ground of forgiveness the standard of the divine estimate of sin is exalted, and merited penalty is rendered more certain respecting all who fail of forgiveness through redemptive grace. And these are the special moral forces whereby the divine law may restrain sin, protect rights, guard innocence, and secure the common welfare. Further, the doctrine we maintain not only gives to these salutary forces the highest moral potency, but also combines with them the yet higher force of divine love as revealed in the marvelous means of our redemption. Thus, while the highest good of moral beings is secured, the divine glory receives its highest revelation. The doctrine has, therefore, not only the support derived from an answer to real necessity for an atonement, but also the commendation of a vast increase in the moral forces of the divine government.

(2). Grounded in the deepest Necessity. We are here in direct issue with the doctrine of satisfaction: for here its advocates make special claim in its favor, and urge special objections against ours. We already have the principles and facts which must decide the question. In their scheme, the necessity lies in an absolute obligation of justice to punish sin, and ultimately in a divine punitive disposition. But we have previously shown that there is no such necessity.

We have maintained a punitive disposition in God; but we also find in him a compassion for the very sinners whom his justice so condemns. And we may as reasonably conclude that his disposition of clemency will find its satisfaction in a gratuitous forgiveness of all as that he will not forgive any, except on the equivalent punishment of a substitute. Who can show that the punitive disposition is the stronger? We challenge the presentation of a fact in its expression that shall parallel the cross in its disposition of mercy. And with no absolute necessity for the punishment of sin, it seems clear that but for the requirement of rectoral justice compassion would triumph over the disposition of a purely retributive justice. Hence this alleged absolute necessity for an atonement is really no necessity at all. What is the necessity in the governmental theory? It is such as arises in the rightful honor and authority of the divine Ruler, and in the rights and interests in the moral beings under him. The free remission of sins without an atonement would be their surrender. Hence divine justice itself, still having all its punitive disposition, but infinitely more concerned for these rights than in the mere retribution of sins, must interpose all its authority in bar of a mere administrative forgiveness. The divine holiness and goodness, infinitely concerned for these great ends, must equally bar a forgiveness in their surrender. The divine justice, holiness, and love must, therefore, combine in the imperative requirement of an atonement in Christ as the necessary ground of forgiveness. These facts ground it in the deepest necessity. The rectoral ends of moral government are a profounder imperative with justice itself than the retribution of sin, simply as such. One stands before the law in the demerit of crime. His demerit renders his punishment just. Though not a necessity. But the protection of others, who would suffer wrong through his impunity, makes his punishment an obligation of judicial rectitude. The same principles are valid in the divine government. The demerit of sin imposes no obligation of punishment upon the divine Ruler; but the protection of rights and interests by means of merited penalty is a requirement of his judicial rectitude, except as that protection can be secured through some other means. It is true, therefore, that the rectoral atonement is grounded in the deepest necessity.

(3). Rectoral Value of Penalty. We have sufficiently distinguished between the purely retributive and the rectoral offices of penalty. The former respects simply the demerit of sin; the latter, the great ends to be attained through the ministry of justice and law. As the demerit of sin is
the only thing justly punishable, the retributive element always conditions the rectoral office of justice; but the former is conceivable without the latter. Penal retribution may, therefore, be viewed as a distinct fact, and entirely in itself. As such, it is simply the punishment of sin because of its demerit, and without respect to any other reason or end. But as we rise to the contemplation of divine justice in its infinitely larger sphere, and yet not as an isolated attribute, but in its inseparable association with infinite holiness, and wisdom, and love, as attributes of one divine Ruler over innumerable moral beings, we must think his retribution of sin always has ulterior ends in the interest of his moral government. We therefore hold all divine punishment to have a strictly rectoral function.

Punishment is the resource of all righteous government. Every good ruler will seek to secure obedience, and all other true ends of a wise and beneficent administration, through the highest and best means. Of no other is this so true as of the divine Ruler. On the failure of such means there is still the resource of punishment which shall put in subjection the harmful agency of the incorrigible. Thus rights and interests are protected. This protection is a proper rectoral value of penalty, but a value only realized in its execution. There is a rectoral value of penalty simply as an element of law. It has such value in a potency of influence upon human conduct. A little analysis will reveal its salutary forces. Penalty, in its own nature, and also, through the moral ideas with which it is associated, makes its appeal to certain motivities in man. As it finds a response therein, so has it a governing influence, and a more salutary influence as the response is to the higher associated ideas. First of all, penalty, as an element of law, appeals to an instinctive fear.

The intrinsic force of the appeal is determined by its severity and the certainty of its execution; but the actual influence is largely determined by the state of our subjective motivity. Some are seemingly quite insensible to the greatest severity and certainty of threatened penalty, while others are deeply moved thereby. Human conduct is, in fact, thus greatly influenced. This, however, is the lowest power of penalty as a motive; yet it is not without value. Far better is it that evil tendencies should be restrained, and outward conformity to law secured, through such fear than not at all. The chief rectoral value of penalty, simply as an element of law, is through the moral ideas which it conveys, and the response which it thus finds in the moral reason. As the answers to these ideas in the helpful activities of conscience and the profounder sense of obligation, so the governing force of penalty takes the higher form of moral excellence. As it becomes the clear utterance of justice itself in the declaration of rights in all their sacredness, and in the reprobation of crime in all its form of injury or wrong, and depth of punitive desert, so it conveys the imperative lessons of duty, and rules through the profounder principles of moral obligation. Now rights are felt to be sacred, and duties are filled because they are such, and not from fear of the penal consequences of their violation or neglect. The same facts have the fullest application to penalty as an element of divine law. Here its higher rectoral value will be, and can only be, through the higher revelation of God in his moral attributes as ever active in all moral administration.

(4). Rectoral Value of Atonement. The sufferings of Christ, as a proper substitute for the punishment, must fulfill the office of penalty in the obligatory ends of moral government. The manner of fulfillment is determined by the nature of the service. As the salutary rectoral force of penalty, as an element of law, is specially through the moral ideas which it reveals, so the vicarious sufferings of Christ must reveal like moral ideas, and rule through them. Not else can they take the place of penalty as they reveal God in his justice, holiness, and love; in his regard for his own honor and law; in his concern for the rights and interests of moral beings; in his reprobation of sin as intrinsically evil, utterly hostile to his own rights and to the welfare of his subjects. Does the atonement in Christ reveal such truths? We answer, Yes. Nor do we need the impossible penal element of the theory of satisfaction for any part of this revelation. God reveals his profound regard for the sacredness of his law, and for the interests which it conserves, by what he does for their support and protection. In direct legislative and administrative forms he ordains his law, with declarations of its sacredness and authority; embodies in it the weightiest sanctions of reward and penalty; reprobates in severest terms all disregard of its requirements, and all violation of the rights and interests which it would protect; visits upon transgression the fearful penalties of his retributive justice, though always at the sacrifice of his compassion. The absence of such facts would evince an indifference to the great concerned; while their presence evinces, in the strongest manner possible to such facts, the divine regard for these interest. The facts, with the moral ideas they embody, give weight and salutary governing power to the divine law. The omission of the penal element would, without a proper rectoral substitution, leave the law in utter weakness.

Now let the sacrifice of Christ be substituted for the primary necessity of punishment, and as the sole ground of forgiveness. But we should distinctly note what it replaces in the divine law and wherein it may modify the divine administration. The law remains, with all its precepts and sanctions. Penalty is not annulled. There is no surrender of the divine honor and authority. Rights and interests are no less sacred, nor guarded in feebler terms. Sin has the same reprobation; penalty the same imminence and severity respecting all persistent impenitence and unbelief. The whole change in the divine economy is this that on the sole ground of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ all who repent and believe may be forgiven and saved. This is the divine substitution for the primary necessity of punishment. While, therefore, all other facts in the divine legislation and administration remain the same, and in an unabated expression of truths of the highest rectoral force and value, this divine sacrifice in atonement for sin replaces the lesson of a primary necessity for punishment with its own higher revelation of the same salutary truths; rather it adds its own higher lesson to that penalty. As penalty remains in its place, remissible, indeed, on proper conditions, yet certain of execution in all cases of unrepented sin, and, therefore, often executed in fact, the penal sanction of law still proclaims all the rectoral truth which it may utter. Hence the sacrifice of Christ in atonement for sin, and in the declaration of the divine righteousness in forgiveness, is an additional and infinitely higher utterance of the most salutary moral truths.

The cross is the highest revelation of all the truths which embody the best moral forces of the divine government. The atonement in Christ is so original and singular in many of its facts that it is the more difficult to find in human facts the analogies for its proper illustration. Yet there are facts not without service here. An eminent lecturer, in a recent discussion of the atonement, has given notoriety to a measure of Bronson Alcott in the government of his school. He substituted his own chastisement for the infliction of penalty upon his offending pupil, receiving the affliction at the hand of the offender. No one can rationally think such a substitution penal, or that the sin of the pupil was expiated by the stripes which the master suffered instead. The substitution answered simply for the disciplinary ends of penalty. Without reference either to the theory of Bronson Alcott or to the interpretation of Joseph Cook, we so state the case as obvious in the philosophy of its own facts. Such office it might well fulfill. And we accept the report of the very salutary result, not only certified by the most reliable authority, but also as intrinsically most credible. No one in the school, and to be ruled by its discipline, could henceforth think less gravely of any offense against its laws. No one could think either that the master regarded with lighter
reprobation the evil of such offense, or that he was less resolved upon a rigid enforcement of obedience.

All these ideas must have been intensified, and in a manner to give them the most helpful influence. The vicarious sacrifice of the master became a potent and most salutary moral element in the government maintained. Even the actual punishment of the offender could not have so secured obedience for the sake of its own obligation and excellence. We may also instance the case of Zaleucus, very familiar in discussions of atonement, though usually accompanied with such denials of analogy as would render it useless for illustration. It is useless on the theory of satisfaction, but valuable on a true theory. Zaleucus was lawgiver and ruler of the Locrians, a Grecian colony early founded in southern Italy. His laws were severe, and his administration rigid; yet both were well suited to the manners of the people. His own son was convicted of violating a law, the penalty of which was blindness. The case came to Zaleucus both as ruler and father. Hence there was a conflict in his soul. He would have been an unnatural father, and of such a character as to be unfit for a ruler, had he suffered no conflict of feeling. His people entreated his clemency for his son. But, as a statesman he knew that the sympathy which prompted such entreaty could be but transient; that in the reaction he would suffer their accusation of partiality and injustice; that his laws would be dishonored and his authority broken. Still there was the conflict of soul. What should he do for the reconciliation of the ruler and the father? In this exigency he devised an atonement by the substitution of one of his own eyes for one of his son's. This was a provision above law and retributive justice. Neither had any penalty for the father on account of the sin of the son.

The substitution therefore, was not penal. The vicarious suffering was not in any sense retributive. It could not be so. All the conditions for penal retribution were wanting. No one can rationally think that the sin of the son, or any part of it, was expiated by the suffering of his father in his stead. The transference of sin as a whole is unreasonable enough; but the idea of a division of it, a part being left with the actual sinner and punished in him, and the other part being transferred to a substitute and being punished in him, transcends all the capabilities of rational thought. The substitution, without being penal, did answer for the rectoral office of penalty. The ruler fully protected his own honor and authority. Law still voiced its behests and sanctions with unabated force. And the vicarious sacrifice of the ruler upon the alter of his parental compassion, and as well as upon the alter of his administration, could but intensify all the ideas which might command for him honor and authority as a ruler, or give to his laws a salutary power over his people. This, therefore, is a true case of atonement through vicarious suffering, and in close analogy to the divine atonement. In neither case is the substitution for the retribution of sin, but in each for the sake of the rectoral ends of penalty, and thus constitutes the objective ground of its remissibility. We have, therefore, in this instance a clear and forceful illustration of the rectoral value of the atonement. But so far we have presented this value in its nature rather than its measure. This will find its proper place in the sufficiency of the atonement.

(5). Only Sufficient Atonement. - Nothing could be more fallacious than the objection that the governmental theory is in any sense acceptilational, or implicitly indifferent to the character of the substitute in atonement. In the inevitable logic of its deepest and most determining principles it excludes all inferior substitutions and requires a divine sacrifice as the only sufficient atonement. Only such a substitution can give adequate expression to the great truths which may fulfill the rectoral office of penalty. The case of Zaleucus may illustrate this. Many other devices were also at his command. He, no doubt, had money, and might have essayed the purchase of impunity for his son by the distribution of large sums. In his absolute power he might have substituted the blindness of some inferior person. But what would have been the signification or rectoral value of any such measure? It could give no answer to the real necessity in the case, and must have been utterly silent respecting the great truths imperatively requiring affirmation in any adequate substitution. The sacrifice of one of his own eyes for one of his sons did give the requisite affirmation, while nothing below it could. So in the substitution of Christ for us. No inferior being and no inferior sacrifice could answer, through the expression and affirmation of great rectoral truths, for the necessary ends of penalty. And, as we shall see in the proper place, no other theory can so fully interpret and appropriate all the facts in the sacrifice of Christ. It has a place and a need for every element of atoning value in his substitution. (Ibid., Vol 2, pp 176-84, cited in Systematic Theology, Dr. Lewis Chafer, Vol 3, pp 147-153) (bold italics and highlights mine, this writer)

Witnesses for the Prosecution - Analysis and Response

This writer:

Superficial views of an all-important cosmic government may only contain a dishonoring evaluation of the work of Christ. I ask: If this loving God who can deny Himself and overcome His wrath for judgment against sin, was He the same God that authored the Flood and the writings of the prophet Ezekiel? The O.T. prophet who wrote the words of God, "You will not be cleansed from your uncleanness until I have fully unleashed my anger upon you. I the LORD have spoken: judgment is coming and I will act. I will not relent, or show pity, or change my mind. I will judge you according to your conduct and your deeds, declares the Sovereign LORD" (Ezk 24:13-14 NET).

The underlying principles proposed by Dr. Miley are not to be found in the Scriptures of Truth and, without exception, are an insult to the sacrifice of the Son of God for the sin of man. It is an argumentum ad exemplum. Initially, the learned Dr. Miley seems to have excised his NT Bible from all mention of the much prized word that recognizes the crowning completion of salvation in this life justification. Justification is the act of a judge requiring due payment of penalty, not that of a "Ruler" maintaining a common good. God is and can only be - good. Additionally, Dr. Miley completely confuses human forgiveness as divine forgiveness. Whereas the latter demands the just payment of a debt for satisfaction divine substitutions who actually suffer the penalty being acceptable. And, the former may only relinquish the right to be satisfied. Thirdly, Dr. Miley has made partial use of the doctrine of reconciliation in his scheme of forgiveness. Although the unsaved may be forgiven, this forgiveness is but one part of divine salvation. The sinner is reconciled (changed thoroughly from un-savable to savable) and God is propitiated (completely satisfied) by the redeeming reconciliation and propitiation provided by the substitutionary sacrificial death of Christ. However, forgiveness may not be claimed by the unregenerate, i.e., those not "born from above" (begotten) by God the Father, baptized into Christ, indwelt, and sealed "until the day of redemption" by the Holy Spirit until saving trust is placed in the finished work of Christ. The simple message and truth of the gospel of grace is to trust that the one who believes is forgiven all sins by the once-and for-all sacrifice of Christ. The Governmental theory asserts that one is forgiven after tru Dr. Miley's theory lacks the ability to produce the desired result - salvation. This Governmental theory of atonement is inadequate in that it lacks the "necessity" of usefulness.

As to the origins of the Governmental theory, one may note, Hugo Grotius was a Dutchman, who possessed the inherent baggage of the national beginnings of the emerging global power of Holland in the 17th century. A country that was fighting for freedom from Spanish rule. The Dutch equivalent of our George Washington was the one-eyed Clavius Civilus (cf. "Zaleucus"; the late works of Rembrandt) who deserted the Roman army to lead the Batavians to independence. The following is a an excerpt from Encarta: "Earlier, his [Hugo Grotius] efforts to moderate a bitter doctrinal dispute among Dutch Calvinists had embroiled him in a political clash between his province of Holland and the rest of the Dutch Republic and its orthodox majority. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1619 but escaped to Paris in 1621. There he finished De Veritate Religionis Christianae (On the Truth of the Christian Religion, 1627), a nonsectarian statement of basic Christian beliefs that was widely translated and won Grotius great acclaim. His voluminous writings included other theological and legal works as well as poetry, histories, and classical translations.

The Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius is considered the founder of the modern theory of natural law. His break with Scholasticism is in methodology rather than content. His definition of natural law as that body of rules which can be discovered by the use of reason is traditional, but in raising the hypothetical argument that his law would have validity even if there were no God or if the affairs of human beings were of no concern to God, he effected a divorce from theological presupposetions and prepared the way for the purely rationalistic theories of the 17th and 18th centuries. A second innovation of Grotius was to view this law as deductive and independent of experience: "Just as the mathematicians treat their figures as abstracted from bodies, so in treating law I have withdrawn my mind from every particular fact" (De Iure Belli ac Pacis; On the Law of War and Peace, 1625)."

Additionally, the political content in the scheme of Governmental atonement, based as it is in ancient emperor worship contained in Roman Caesarian law, is more in the vein of early 20th century Italian Fascism. To think of God in natural, material terms as an all powerful ruler is most unlike communism, but greatly related to the smoke and mirror social engineering for a common beneficial good and the peaceful co-existence ideal of fascist intolerance. For example, during his public appearances in the United States in the late 1950's the darling of the American press, the "El Loco" Cuban attorney, the hero of the July 26 slaughter of Batista's army forces sleeping in the barracks at Moncado, and the leader of the revolt hiding in the Sierra Maestra whose famous claim was, "History will absolve me" - Fidel Castro - portrayed himself as an idealist and his Cuban revolt as "Green" not "Red." He lied.

`Today's idealistic, South American democratic socialism, based on the Christian ideals of community, not private property, will be tomorrow's military dictator-ships. If I were to attempt to duplicate the political hyperbole and rhetoric of the Governmental theory espoused by Dr. Miley, I would say: No one can pose a rational objection to this deepest and most determining principle of the undeniable logic of the salutary good that with the utmost force is stated to be the highest and most exalted rights of the state and the protection of the rights of the individual to share in a common beneficial good a common beneficial good which, incidentally, would be controlled by and determined by a state with zero tolerance for dissent. The all hail Caesar, who sacrificed his son (symbolized as the eye of Zaleucus) for the public good motif of the Rectoral or Governmental theory, conceived by a man, Hugo Grotius who was obsessed by the natural laws of this world, is not the place to find God. The logic of this thinking, biblically, conforms to the ideas embodied in a world controlled by the ultimate stealth control freak, Satan, in this, the God permitted penumbra of our world - the cosmos diabolicus. The entire concept is based in penalty and reward for the superficial. The "Ruler" is not the Father that Jesus came to manifest and, it is not the new law of life to obey the gospel of the grace of God. "Jesus replied, "This is the deed God requiresto believe in the one whom he sent" (John 6:29).

Easton's Bible Dictionary credits the revelation of justification to the following: "The Epistle to the Galatians and that to the Romans taken together "form a complete proof that justification is not to be obtained meritoriously either by works of morality or by rites and ceremonies, though of divine appointment; but that it is a free gift, proceeding entirely from the mercy of God, to those who receive it by faith in Jesus our Lord."" I would include the book of Hebrews, also, as it is outlined from Galatians. Hebrews is intended to prove Christ is superior to Moses and the Mosaic Law. Additionally, Hebrews states that salvation is a new system under a new High Priest that lives forever to intercede for His brothers and sisters "begotten of the Father."

Once again, this theory is based on carrots and sticks. Regardless, that the Governmental exempli gratia atonement theory predicts fear for penalty, the effect of the stated cause is jealousy brought forth by the inherited sin nature in all men that requires a completed satisfaction for all sin by God in the substitutionary penal death of His Son.. When NT Scripture is read without bias, one finds that God has designed forgiveness in such a way as to preclude the competitive enticement of merit. The passage quoted at the end of this paragraph describes the motive of God as righteous judgment placed upon Christ, which makes one worthy of the kingdom through the finished work of Christ.

Forgiveness is accomplished through belief in a righteous Christ who bore our substitutionary judgment. The righteous wrath of judgment put upon Christ made the "cleansing" of reconciliation possible. Reconciliation is self-validating and forgiveness is not waggled as a future competitive goal to those who do not obey the gospel and believe that Christ paid a just penalty for all sin. It is not a solicitation to pragmatism. It is stated in such a way that one may take it or leave it. This is forgiveness for a belief that we could never merit our own forgiveness and righteousness which is not a call to a green-eyed envious penitence that would compete with a Great Example to receive a completed future satisfaction. A forgiveness that would deny immediate divine transformation to substitute future behavior with divine forgiveness in reformation is an insignificant surrogate. Belief in the imputed righteousness of Christ excludes the stealth of a marketed, "I will be like the most high God You must forgive me" and the underlying enticement, "You will be like gods," originally conceived and offered to Eve, who was deceived. To his credit and man's federal shame, Adam did not believe the false religious proposal, but only desired his now pagan companion and boldly rejected God's one command. Thereby demonstrating by his actions, "My progeny be damned, I will have my companion." A sad excuse for a mother and father were they both. They begat a murderer. They begot a race of "marred," apollumi, men and women that are doomed to "perish" in eternal perdition unless they receive zoen aionion, eternal life (cf. John 3:16). And this eternal life may be received only after the reality of a just payment in penalty by the Righteous Substitute Jesus Christ. Divine wrath is most real. The Apostle Paul explains:

Rom 3:5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is he? (Grk "That God is not unjust to inflict wrath, is he?") (I am speaking in human terms.) 3:6 Absolutely not! For otherwise how could God judge the world? NET

The Governmental theory meets the criteria for a biblical "strong delusion" sent by God: " and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence [23tn Grk "a working of error."] so that they will believe what is false. And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned" (2 Thess 2:10-12 NET).

2 Thess 1:5 This is evidence of God's righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering. 1:6 For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 1:7 and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. 1:8 With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 1:9 They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength, 1:10 when he comes to be glorified among his saints and admired on that day among all who have believedand you did in fact believe our testimony. (bold highlights mine) NET

Whereas, NT Christianity, for me, is not to be a protected subject that is the property of a Cosmic State, it is to be a family member, with not a shared, divine, and sinless blood, but a shared humanity that is to be glorified, and a shared pleroma [the very life of God; eternal life] that is afforded by the "objective" at-one-ment. Objective meaning that the authority of the Bible plainly states it. Heaven high revelation and world wide subjective instrumentalism are antithetical, sharing only the single orthodoxy that Christ, the Son of God, died on a cross. From this single common point, Arminian Christianity leaves the Bible and enters into the proven allegory and fiction of the Rectoral theory of fear cited above. The above citation is not abridged, it is an unabridged statement by a leading theologian of Arminian Christianity. His thought and writings have been taught and cited by generations of Arminian seminary graduates. Thus, this de facto theory of atonement is well established Christian fascism, spread by its derivative false negative gospel of repent/believe and forgiven/saved to the nave and ignorant. This theory and the offshoot gospel is a parody of catholicizing. Biblically, in sense and word root, faith-believe-repent are synonyms and are not required separate acts. Over 130 verses state salvation is by belief only. Some, but a very few, use two of these synonyms. An often repeated false dichotomy does not a truth make. Repetition induces tradition.

Salvation is revealed to be a completed satisfaction began by the sacrificial death of Christ and finalized by His resurrection and ad interim ascension into heaven. This transformation is available by God assisted faith. Who in their right mind would not desire, but reject the thought of God's assistance in salvation? Yes, faith is assisted, plainly proven by the fact that it is His Son His Bible His Spirit - His messengers His plan - that assists simple trust in Christ for the "whole enchilada" which is an eternal salvation in a new progressive state of existence lived in the righteousness and the image of Christ.

The death of Christ is not just a mere cosmic background for forgiveness of personal sins, it includes the judgment of the primary source of sin - my inherited sin nature and my personal guilt in original sin. The forgiveness of inherited and personal sin produced by the sin nature was completed 2,000 years ago. This is to say, conclusively, whosoever will believe on Christ as Savior possesses a completed salvation based in the Word of God that states God's judgment against sin was completely satisfied. Thereby, a completed satisfaction and an eternal salvation from the moment of saving faith is available to whosoever and each and everyone of their earthly family with the never-ending assurance of son and daughtership in the heavenly family of God. This, His New Creation of glorified humanity in Christ Jesus our Savior, now and forevermore.

Dr. B. B. Warfield:

The Grotian theory has come to be the orthodox Arminian view - the theory, that is, that conceives the work of Christ not as supplying the ground on which God forgives sin, but only as supplying the ground on which He may safely forgive sins on the sole ground of His compassion - and is taught as such by the leading exponents of modern Arminian thought whether in Britain or America; and he who will read the powerful argumentation to that effect by the late Dr. John Miley, say for example, will be compelled to agree that it is, indeed, the highest form of atonement doctrine conformable to the Arminian System.

In a word, wherever men have been unwilling to drop all semblance of an "objective" atonement, as the word now goes, they have taken refuge in this half-way house that Grotius has builded for them. I do not myself look upon this as a particularly healthful sign of the times. I do not myself think that, at bottom, there is in principle much to choose between the Grotian and the so-called "subjective" theories [non-Biblical personally conceived schemes, this writer]. It seems to me only an illusion to suppose that it preserves an "objective" atonement at all. But meanwhile it is adopted by many because they deem it "objective," and it so far bears witness to a remnant desire to preserve an "objective" atonement.

Dr. Lewis Chafer:

As a summarization of this discussion of the Rectoral or Govern-mental theory, three indictments may be lodged against this system.

(a) It is a hypothesis based on human reason, which makes no avowed induction of the Scriptures on the theme which it essays to expound, but contends that the Scriptures, by special interpretation, can be made to harmonize with it.
(b) It attempts an impossible distinction between the sufferings of Christ as sacrificial in contrast to the sufferings of Christ as penal. The weakness of this distinction is well published in Dr. Miley's two illustrations, quoted above the teacher punished in place of the pupil and the Zaleucus who sacrificed his eye for the crime of his son. Of these, Dr. Miley asserts that they could not be penal. If he means they render no satisfaction to God for sin as God saw it, none will contend with him; but within their sphere as related to human laws and regulations, each became a definite penal substitute which not only upheld the law that was involved, but gave, so far as human standards may require, a righteous discharge of the offender. One fallacy which dominates this theory lies hidden in the unrecognized distinction which exists between divine and human governments.
(c) It restricts the scope of the value of Christ's death to the one issue of the forgiveness of the sins of the unsaved, the assumption being that fallen man if, indeed, man be fallen at all needs no more than the forgiveness of sin. The death of Christ unto the sin nature and the death of Christ for imputed righteousness are either neglected or rejected.

Dr. B. B. Warfield:

We are getting more closely down to the real characteristic of modern theories of the atonement when we note that there is a strong tendency observable all around us to rest the forgiveness of sins solely on repentance as its ground. In its last analysis, the Grotian theory itself reduces to this. The demonstration of God's righteousness, which is held by it to be the heart of Christ's work and particularly His death, is supposed to have no other effect on God than to render it safe for Him to forgive sin. And this does not as effecting Him, but as effecting men namely, by awakening in them such a poignant sense of the evil of sin as to cause them to hate it soundly and to turn decisively away from it. This is just Repentance. We could desire no better illustration of this feature of the theory than is afforded by the statement of it by one of its most distinguished living advocates, Dr. Marcus Dods. The necessity of atonement, he tells us, lies in the "need of some such demonstration of God's righteousness as will make it possible and safe for Him to forgive the unrighteous." Whatever begets in the sinner true penitence and impels him towards the practice of righteousness will render it safe to forgive him. Hence Dr. Dods asserts that it is inconceivable that God should not forgive the penitent sinner, and that Christ's work is summed up in such an exhibition of God's righteousness and love as produces, on its apprehension, adequate repentance. "By being the source, then, of true and fruitful penitence, the death of Christ removes the radical subjective obstacle in the way of forgiveness." "The death of Christ, then, has made forgiveness possible, because it enables man to repent with an adequate penitence and because it manifests righteousness and binds men to God." There is no hint here that man needs anything more to enable him to repent than the presentation of motives calculated powerfully to induce him to repent. That is to say, there is no hint here of an adequate appreciation of the subjective effects of sin on the human heart, deadening it to the appeal of motives to right action however powerful, and requiring therefore an internal action of the Spirit of God upon it before it can repent: or of the purchase of such a gift of the a Spirit by the sacrifice of Christ. As little is there any hint here of the existence of any sense of justice in God, forbidding Him to account the guilty righteous without satisfaction of guilt. All God requires for forgiveness is repentance: all the sinner needs for repentance is a moving inducement. It is all very simple; but we are afraid it does not go to the root of matters as presented either in Scripture or in the throes of our awakened heart.

Conclusion - this writer:

For a professing Christian belief system the Arminian concept of atonement, like the Greek word hamartia, meaning sin, has completely missed the mark. Man's rationalizations can never weigh against God's revelations. From a grace understanding, this theory is comparable to voluntarily using an incomplete deck of cards where in order to play a game one needs to draft special senseless rules. Grotius, Miley, and Wardlaw are to be given this measure of credit. It is to be expected from a scheme that is drawn from natural law and not the heaven high divine principles given in the Bible. The mercy seat, substitution, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, expiation, holiness, the cross, blood atonement, imputation, and righteousness are not contained in the Arminian scheme of atonement for the beggarly rights of Rulership. The Arminian, easily grasped and rationally explainable, human-styled forgiveness falls far short of the revealed biblical measures taken by God to secure the salvation of men.

Dr. Charles Ryrie would define and group atonement theories in the following manner:

Governmental Grotius (1583-1645) Also Wardlaw and Miley. God's government demanded the death of Christ to show His displeasure with sin. Christ also did not suffer the penalty of the Law, but God accepted His suffering as a substitute for that penalty.

Penal Substitution Calvin (1509-1564). Christ the sinless One took on Himself the penalty that should have been borne by man and others.

(1) Views that related the death of Christ to Satan (Origin and Aulen)
(2) Views that consider His death a powerful example to influence people (Abelard, Socinus, Grotius, Barth).
(3) Views that emphasize punishment due to the justice of God and substitution (perhaps Anselm though deficient and the Reformers). Although there may be some truth in views that do not include penal substitution, it is important to remember that such truth, if there be some, cannot save eternally. Only the substitutionary death of Christ can provide that which God's justice demands and thereby become the basis for the gift of eternal life to those who believe. (Basic Theology, Dr. Charles Ryrie, p 356)

Go Well in Christ Jesus,


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Copyright 2007-2008 by David Coulon. Registered and released under CC license 3.0 2007-2008.

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