This is just a quick blurb I wanted to post…it is a re-post from a comment I left on Paul Dohse’s site, paulspassingthoughts.com. Starting tomorrow I will promptly return to my series on “A Double-Minded God.”
Forward to the post:
I have more to say on the issue of Jesus’s sacrifice in light of the Old Testament’s ‘s description of Hebrew sacrifices, as well as the metaphysics implied and/or overtly declared in the first few chapters of Genesis. This is an important issue for me because the more I read, study, and think the more I am convinced that modern Christians, both protestant, Catholic, and all in between, understand very little about who Jesus was as the sacrifice for our sins in light of his utter Jewish-ness, Israeli philosophical and theological precedence; and, further, in light of the moral definition of man which God originally intended before Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit according to their own ability and will.
What I mean to say is that the first step in properly understanding the position of Christ in our theology is to recognize that His sacrifice was NOT in fact a part of God’s original intention for man.
Of course, this fact can only be realized by moving away from the false presumptions of neo-Reformed/Calvinist metaphysics, which are rooted in impossible contradiction. When we stop assuming that God is “in direct control”, or “knows the future” (the “future” being merely an abstract construct created in the mind of man in order to quantify movement through existence), or “has a plan” (read utter determinism”) for everything that comes to pass, we can begin to grasp our existence and God rationally. This is why I spend so much time on reconciling utter physical existence with man’s cognitive constructs and his quantification/qualification of his environment which is done so easily and so instinctively that he assumes what are purely functions of his self-aware brain are actual THINGS that REALLY exist outside of himself. Which they are not.
But anyway…as I was saying: the first step in truly understanding Christ, of getting to the TRUTH about why He had to subject Himself to Roman bloodletting, is to recognize that His sacrifice was not God’s initial intention when He created man. God’s initial intention was essentially, Genesis, Chapter One. And no further.
There was no original divine intention for a Second Adam. Since God already had the first untainted and morally innocent First Adam, a second one is unnecessary. To hold to the idea that two Adams were always and inevitably intended makes God, again, the originator of redundant action, and thus, a hypocrite. God-as-perfect must include rational and logical perfection according to OUR existence (which is our only frame of reference with which to recognize God…which is just fine, because man’s reason is empirical and is precisely what God requires in order to reveal Himself), which means that if there was a First Adam, God could not have simultaneously harbored plans for a Second One. Christ came because of the fall of man, which was a product of man and his free volition. Christ is certainly an act of supreme love and mercy, but let us not think that Christ was intended at first. Christ is a divine solution to a human problem that man could not solve. For if Christ was originally intended (that is, His sacrifice), then man could not have been created in the first place. God would have held in His mind mutually exclusive and redundant ideas about the metaphysical ability of man and Creation to exist; He would have held contradictory ideas regarding man’s inherent morality, and would have, in creating man, been functionally determining him, thus hypocritically and unfairly declaring man’s moral depravity before man had a chance make a decision according to a moral knowledge apprehended of his own free will, which would then justly condemn him, and make him culpable for his sins and legitimize his need of Christ.
You see, man cannot be born already having made a moral choice which condemns him, by definition. No choice is made until it is made, and if man is morally culpable for his sin and thus needs Christ, he could not have been created, nor can he be born, without moral innocence first being imputed to him initially by God as a function his ability to exist. In order for God to create man, man must be inherently morally perfect. As a creation of God, morally speaking, man HAS to be perfect in order for God, who cannot create evil nor cause sin, to have made him. By definition ANY creation of God must be fundamentally GOOD at the root. NOT fundamentally EVIL. It is not a matter of spiritual “faith”, or theology, or doctrine….it is a matter of plain reason. In other words, if man is NOT born morally innocent, then he cannot exist at all. It is a metaphysical impossibility. Moral failing must be a function of free choice; it cannot be innate. Christ is useless to him because he cannot be redeemed back to a position that he never held in the first place. The core of a thing cannot change and still have the thing be the thing. This is axiomatic. Black cannot become white. It can only ever be black. It is contradictory to say that one can make black, white…black cannot be what fundamentally causes it to cease to exist. In the same way, if man’s root morality is depraved upon birth, as a function of his very existence, then “redeeming” man destroys him. He is replaced with something else; he is no longer himself. He becomes irrelevant to the existence equation. The “Fall” requires that man had a place from which he fell from. You cannot fall to the bottom of a cliff unless at one point YOU were at the top of the cliff. If you are born at the bottom of the cliff, then by definition, you did not FALL there. If man is born morally depraved, then technically he is innocent of all God’s charges, and does not need Christ. He cannot sin if he never fell. In essence, the idea of Total Depravity really means moral innocence. Again, the Calvinists contradict themselves. They are good at that. One is born morally innocent. Knowledge of good and evil is what positionally enslaves man to sin. You cannot be born with this knowledge. It is metaphysically and biologically impossible.
So, if it is true (and it is)–that man is born morally innocent and with free will by which to exercise it that it may be manifest—then Christ could NOT have been in God’s original plans. Christ is redemptive of man’s morally innocent state; He does not IMPUTE it. He does not declare man ALREADY depraved before man has the ability to become this way by his own ability. Again, if man is born or created already morally condemned, then God is the Creator of sin.
Christ is God’s mercy…a divine solution to man’s self-imposed problem. And what was the problem? Man’s loss of moral innocence. When man disobeyed God and ate the fruit he declared himself the author of his own moral truth; his own moral dichotomy…that his existence is defined morally by HIMSELF, not by God as a creation of the Divine. When this happened, no matter how much GOOD man did (and he CAN do good), he was still enslaved by sin, because EVIL, in the moral dichotomy of a creature who is not God, is the other half of the equation. This means that man can do no GOOD outside of the law of both GOOD and EVIL, because all GOOD in the moral dichotomy is always and only the other half of the good/evil coin. That is, what is GOOD is precisely defined by what is NOT GOOD…there is no GOOD that does not get its definition of goodness by looking at what is NOT GOOD. Thus, all of man’s moral existence is, in a way, a perpetual moral function of sin.
When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, what happened was that man’s morality ceased to be a function of himself, as God’s creation. Meaning, that man could not longer just BE, and as a result BE GOOD, and let that goodness of being define his moral existence. Remember, God’s morality is simply himself. Man’s morality was originally intended to mirror this. Existence = GOOD. However, when man recognized a standard of GOOD and EVIL; when he saw that some things were “good” and some “evil” as a function of his moral reality as a creature APART from God (not OF God, which is his moral position apart from the “knowledge” of “good” and “evil”), he became enslaved to that moral definition.
As the bible states, there is no sin where there is no law. Once man saw the law, man was enslaved by it. It isn’t that all men MUST sin, as in “act sinfully”; it is merely that man, understanding good and evil as a moral function of themselves as creatures apart from God, are always inexorably bound to the evil, because good and evil are an inseparable part of man’s existential dichotomy apart from being defined simply as existing WITH God (which is moral innocence).
This is precisely why young children are not condemned to hell. Where there no “law” (meaning, in this case, no awareness of good or evil, but just an innocent understanding that some things are this way and some things are that way), there can be no judgement for sin. Young children are not born “sinners”, they are, on the contrary, sinless, until such times as they become aware of the moral law of good and evil as a function of their existence.
After recognizing that Jesus was not “intended all along” by God, we can see Him afresh. We can start to see that the entirety of man’s existence, especially revealed by the Bible, is a give-and-take relationship with God. It is truly man interacting with God as a self-aware, self-willed entity, and that the revelations of Scripture are not all part of some preordained, hospital-cornered cosmic plan of God, but in many ways a disorganized, confusing, philosophical and theological slog-fest as man in his weakness attempts to interact with a God who is trying to love and redeem him without breaching the necessary metaphysical and ethical boundaries of his Perfection (omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence).
The second thing I think is important to recognize (and this is not something I’ve fully organized in my mind or have yet unequivocally accepted) is that the covenant made with Israel was intended to be salvific for those who followed it. That obeying the Law was, in fact, intended by God, and within the Israeli ability to perform, and was intended to both save and sanctify. The fact that the Israelis ultimately showed that the Covenant was untenable does not negate the fact that it was a way for the Jews to regain their moral innocence before God and thus be saved. In other words, the Jews who died before Christ died saved because they had the Law (remember “Salvation is of the Jews”). I have found nothing in the Old Testament where God declares that the Law He intended the Jews to obey could not actually be obeyed. On the contrary, God issues dire warnings for disobedience. The reason? The Law was to lead to righteousness. Not figuratively. Literally. Thus, the Covenant, the Old Testament, was not merely a sign pointing to Jesus, as the Calvinists often melodramatically blubber. It was the way God made for the Jews to once again dwell with God in moral innocence. Its failure to bring about full and lasting fellowship is the fault of man, not of God.
Christ came as an act of mercy, not because God knew that the law really wouldn’t work. For God to create a law, command that man follow it while simultaneously knowing that man could not in fact follow it, makes God the worker of redundancy and a hypocrite. We must be very, very careful in what things we decide were not really intended to do and be what God actually SAYS they were intended to do and be. As Christians these days, buffered on both sides by false reformation theology and pagan Greek and gnostic philosophy, we make a lot of doctrinal assumptions that put God in the position of playing a blasphemer to Himself. We need to stop this. I cannot image that the very doctrine calling God a hypocrite is that which He would consider “sound”.
Thus, we must stop conceding the neo-Reformed heresy “all the Bible is a sign pointing to Jesus”. This is simply false. The Bible is the chronicling of man’s interactions with God, and the defining and elucidation of the subsequent metaphysical and moral truths which naturally arise from such a relationship; a relationship between Creator and self-aware creation. It is not a story, a play, or a “plan”. It is God existing in the here and now of man, and trying, and re-trying, out of love and mercy, to rescue man from his fall into destructive awareness GOOD and EVIL.
Finally, as I have said numerous times before, the Bible is about man, ultimately, not about God. It is about man’s existence, and the tragic fall from God’s originally intended creative purpose. And let me just add that for all the talk of “biblical infallibility”, it is important to remember that God’s initial desire was that the Bible needn’t have been written at all.
Finally, without further ado, here is my comment from Paul’s site:
“All the bible is about Christ is only true insofar as the bible is a revelation about God’s relationship to man in light of their separate, individual existences. This includes ALL of God, including Christ. But, more than that, the bible is MAN-centered, not God centered. If it not for man, the bible is irrelevant. It is all about how we are to exist as separate entities from the Creator. This involves our moral innocence if we expect to commune directly with God (think Adam in the Garden). Christ re-establishes our perfect moral “being” as creatures of God. This allows us to derive our meaning as God’s creation, not OUR OWN creation, which is moral condemnation by virtue of the fact that a dualism, man vs. God, ensues when we reject His authority to declare what is GOOD. If we decide WE will declare GOOD, we inevitably function by both good AND evil…thus, our moral “goodness” or “righteousness” is as much as function of evil as it is good, even if we do good (which we can, even before salvation). THIS is why we all sin, not because we have no choice.
Through Christ we regain our moral innocence apart from the law; but because we acknowledge that it is the fact of EVIL in the moral dichotomy of man apart from Christ that enslaves us to sin without Him, we are obligated to pursue the GOOD that God has declared…because this GOOD is the totality of God’s moral character. That is, without evil, the GOOD is still just as GOOD, and so we are obligated to do it.
If we accept Christ and yet still do evil as is objectively defined by God in the Bible, then what we declare is that we are not really interested in moral innocence at all. To consciously pursue evil amounts to a rejection of Christ. This is why Christ fulfills the law and Christians delight in it. By the law we understand what we are to love and to DO (hello James; the neo-Cals could stand to brush up on James)…and do it now, in Christ, with the understanding that the GOOD now derives its meaning from God, not from sin (man, apart from God).”