Friday, September 10, 2010

Reconciliation part 4, Propitiation

OK, I have finished the third chapter, Propitiation. Now I really am not certain how to interact with this chapter. It has almost nothing on the subject. In fact, most of the chapter restates much of what has already been argued for in the earlier chapters. If I had to recommend to an average layman Clinton's Reconciliation verses a far more difficult book, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross by Leon Morris, on the subject of propitiation, I would probably lean to the more technical work by Morris.

One positive aspect is that he has a correct hermeneutic in how one should read the Old Testament. He states on page 36,
By viewing the Old Testament system of sacrifices through New Testament lenses it is fairly easy to realize that that system pointed forward in time to the work that would be accomplished by Christ Jesus.

However, he spends almost no time explaining the Old Testament sacrificial system.

Another positive aspect of this chapter is that Clinton does make clear he rejects Eternal Justification. Page 39 starts with this paragraph,
If persons are justified by faith, then they are not justified from eternity, for we begin to believe at a given point in time, not eternity past else we would never fall into the class of unregenerate.
So now that we sort of have that cleared up, he then seems to muddy the waters. In the next paragraph he states,

In order to be justified by the law one must keep the whole law without failing in even the smallest particular and no man has been able to do that which is why we need that measure of faith which God imparts to each one of us in the necessary quantity.
I have no idea what he means by "imparts to each one of us in the necessary quantity". For he later writes about regeneration in the power of the Holy Spirit,

A great deal of debate still flows as to whether or not the human agent has the ability to resist the overtures of the Holy Spirit...
While he admits on page 32, the previous chapter,

The children of disobedience, also known as unregenerate or pre-converted, are incapable of doing a single thing which is pleasing to God...
It should be obvious as to what power the Holy Spirit has in the raising of a dead sinner, but that is part of the problem when one holds to a Roman view of man and grace. This causes the language barrier in which we end up talking past each other.

For instance, on page 43 he cites Romans 8:32,

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Now I must grant that this book is meant to be brief, therefore my criticism of this may be harsh, but I simply cannot see how this text can be used and not explained. It is his citations of texts like this that cause me to think he must be arguing some kind of reformed/Calvinistic position. Paul is arguing in Romans 8 the perfection of the work of God in Christ, not a mere hypothetical salvation. Paul is arguing that Christ's work of satisfying the wrath of God is a perfect work in behalf of the elect alone. Which is why Paul gives to us the result of this work in what has been called the "Great Chain of Salvation".

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
To which Paul concludes,

Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
In conclusion, the chapter on propitiation has almost nothing on the subject. Even the classic text of 1 John 2:2 is not mentioned until it is quoted as the last paragraph, 1 John 2:1-6. He also continues with the use of cliches, ie: comparing Jesus to a battery, etc..

So although there is much good that is said, it passes by the great opportunities to demonstrate from the text of Scripture what Christ's work has done, especially in the area of propitiation.

No comments: