Be sure to check out my new blog “The Second Coming of Christ” for an in depth look at prophecies related to the Second Coming and discussions about getting spiritually and physically prepared.

Friday, January 25, 2008

God's Evolution?

Last Sunday, I listened to someone discuss how much comfort they received from the fact they believe in a God and therefore didn't have to believe the idea of Evolution. This in and of it self is a long battle God vs. Evolution. But as the discussion ensued it was brought up again my this individual how corrupt the idea of Evolution is and how we as LDS don't have to believe in that. I dodn't say anything then, I didn't want to offend this person.

I just want to get some other peoples idea's on this subject. I personally am LDS, I fully believe in God and that he is the creator of all things, but I also believe in Evolution. I believe that God took time to plan out a way to get from no life on earth to intelligent beings. I have said it before, but I believe in "God the Ultimate Scientist."

What are your thoughts on this idea?

Friday, January 11, 2008

What is the punishment for sin?

Is the punishment for sin (in terms of an eternal perspective) just the absence of the reward (living with God) or is there an additional punishment? I realize that there are sometimes immediate punishments for sin particularly if you violate a law. But what about when this life is over? Is the punishment for sin simply the negative consequence of how your sin affects your life right now, or is there an additional punishment dealt out by God after this life is over?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What does it mean to forgive?

What does it mean to forgive? This is the first of several questions that I have, related to the atonement. If I were hear somebody ask this question a month or so ago I would have considered this as one of those "duh" sunday school questions. So what changed my perception of the question? It was my study of the mediator parable of the atonement. The way this parable has been explained to me is as follows, God is the creditor, Christ is the mediator, and I am the debtor. In the parable, does the creditor really forgive the debt? From what I understand, if you forgive a debt, it means that you don't get paid. But in the parable the creditor still gets paid. If God forgives (think of this in terms of sin), why does he still require payment (the atonement)? This doesn't seem to fit my understanding of forgiveness. How can you say that you forgive someone of a debt, but still require payment? So what do you think? What does it mean to forgive?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Atonement Part 2: The Theories

In my studying of the Atonement, I've run across several theories of Atonement. Many of them are not applicable to an LDS discussion of atonement, but I think that several are. Here is a list:

The Ransom Theory: The earliest of all, originating with the Early Church Fathers, this theory claims that Christ offered himself as a ransom (Mark 10:45). Where it was not clear was in its understanding of exactly to whom the ransom was paid. Many early church fathers viewed the ransom as paid to Satan. Essentially, this theory claimed that Adam and Eve sold humanity over to the Devil at the time of the Fall; hence, justice required that God pay the Devil a ransom to free us from the Devil's clutches. An extension of this is the "Christus Victor" view which focuses less on paying Satan off as a Ransom and more on defeating Satan through the atonement.

The Satisfaction Theory: The formulator of this theory was the medieval theologian Anselm of Canterbury (1034-1109), in his book, Cur Deus Homo (lit. Why the God Man). In his view, God's offended honor and dignity could only be satisfied by the sacrifice of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Anselm offered compelling biblical evidence that the atonement was not a ransom paid by God to the devil but rather a debt paid to God on behalf of sinners. Anselm's work established a foundation for the Protestant Reformation, specifically the understanding of justification by faith. Anslem believed that humans could not render to God more than what was due to him. The satisfaction due to God was greater than what all created beings are capable of doing, since they can only do what is already required of them. Therefore, God had to make satisfaction for himself. Yet if this satisfaction was going to avail for humans, it had to be made by a human. Therefore only a being that was both God and man could satisfy God and give him the honor that is due him. The classic Anselmian formulation of the Satisfaction View needs to be distinguished from Penal Substitution. Penal Substitution states that Christ bore the penalty for sin, in place of those sinners united to him by faith. Anselm, by contrast, regarded human sin as defrauding God of the honour he is due. Christ's death, the ultimate act of obedience, gives God great honour. As it was beyond the call of duty for Christ, it is more honour than he was obliged to give. Christ's surplus can therefore repay our deficit. Hence Christ's death is substitutionary in this sense: he pays the honour instead of us. But that substitution is not penal; his death pays our honour not our penalty.

The Penal-Substitution Theory: This view was formulated by the 16th century Reformers as an extension of Anselm's Satisfaction theory. Anselm's theory was correct in introducing the satisfaction aspect of Christ's work and its necessity, however the Reformers saw it as insufficient because it was referenced to God's honor rather than his justice and holiness and was couched more in terms of a commercial transaction than a penal substitution. This Reformed view says simply that Christ died for man, in man's place, taking his sins and bearing them for him. The bearing of man's sins takes the punishment for them and sets the believer free from the penal demands of the law: The righteousness of the law and the holiness of God are satisfied by this substitution.

The Moral-Example Theory (or Moral-Influence Theory): Christ died to influence mankind toward moral improvement. This theory denies that Christ died to satisfy any principle of divine justice, but teaches instead that His death was designed to greatly impress mankind with a sense of God's love, resulting in softening their hearts and leading them to repentance. Thus, the Atonement is not directed towards God with the purpose of maintaining His justice, but towards man with the purpose of persuading him to right action. Formulated by Peter Abelard (1079-1142) partially in reaction against Anselm's Satisfaction theory, this view was held by the 16th century Socinians. Versions of it can be found later in F. D. E. Schleiermacher (1768-1834) and Horace Bushnell (1802-1876).

The Governmental Theory: God made Christ an example of suffering to exhibit to erring man that sin is displeasing to him. God's moral government of the world made it necessary for him to evince his wrath against sin in Christ. Christ died as a token of God's displeasure toward sin and it was accepted by God as sufficient; but actually God does not exact strict justice. This view was formulated by Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) and is subsequently found in Arminianism, Charles Finney, the New England Theology of Jonathan Edwards (the younger), and Methodism.

The Declaratory Theory: A version of the Moral Influence theory, wherein Christ died to show men how greatly God loves them. This view held by Albrecht Ritschl (1822-89).

The Guaranty Theory: Reconciliation is based not on Christ's expiation of sin, but on His guaranty to win followers and thus conquer human sinfulness. This view held by J. C. K. von Hofmann (1810-77).

The Vicarious Repentance Theory: by John McLeod Campbell (d. 1872). It assumes that a perfect repentance is sufficient to atone for sin. In his death, Christ entered into the Father's condemnation of sin, condemned sin, and by this, confessed it.

The Accident Theory: Christ's death was an accident, as unforeseen and unexpected as that of any other victim of man's hatred. This view is usually found outside of mainstream Christianity.

The Martyr Theory: Christ gave up His life for a principle of truth that was opposed to the spirit of His day. This view is usually found outside of mainstream Christianity.

So do you have a favorite here? A variation? A new theory?