Is Penal Substitutionary Atonement Too Impersonal?

Some have complained that Penal Substitutionary Atonement is a too legal and impersonal theory of the atonement, a law-based and not a person-based description of how it is Jesus saves.

Andrew Wilson responds on Twitter – “If you need help making substitutionary atonement feel personal, just imagine what it was like to be Barabbas on 7 April AD 30.” That about take care of that objection, IMHO.

“1984” and the Protestant Reformation

As the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is upon us next year, my thoughts are going toward Orwell’s 1984 and the church. There are uncomfortable parallels that keep popping up as I am rereading 1984 for the second time this year.
Churches refusing transparency, the manipulation of language, the prominence of the single charismatic leader, the false theological wars fantasized, the increased power of propaganda to brand, and the neglect of serious biblical/theological education which put the tools of analysis and discernment into the hands of the laity all track with some of the themes Orwell is concerned with in the political arena.
The Evangelical Protestant church of which I am a part needs ongoing conversations about such matters as it reflects, reforms, and visions. I hope these intentional conversations emerge. I hope grassroots laity engage and intellectually engage their church leaders about trends and traps.

Latest in My “Our Soooo Generous Politicians” Tabulation

Bernie Sanders gave $8,000 to charity in 2015 on an income of $205,271. Another one of our “generous” politicians!!

Over time I have kept a running tabulation of what our politicians give to charity. The easy, ready at hand answer? Not much!!

In Sanders’ case this is particularly disturbing since his essential political case is compassion. It seems that in his personal life, charitable giving is not so compassionate. However, he does pay over $27,000 in federal income tax. Government is Sanders’ version of church, so one could make the case that he is a bit more charitable than at first perceived.

My all time leaders for “not so generous” politicians remain John Kerry and Jesse Jackson. Goose eggs here, folks. Literally in Jackson’s case and almost so in Kerry’s.

Jamie Dimon Is At It Again

Jamie Dimon is at it again – What Matt Taibbi wrote of Goldman’s is better said of Jamie Dimon. He is “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Yesterday the Federal Reserve released a 19-page letter that it and the FDIC had issued to Jamie Dimon, the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, on April 12 as a result of its failure to present a credible plan for winding itself down if the bank failed…

At the top of page 11, the Federal regulators reveal that they have “identified a deficiency” in JPMorgan’s wind-down plan which if not properly addressed could “pose serious adverse effects to the financial stability of the United States.”

Why didn’t JPMorgan’s Board of Directors or its legions of lawyers catch this? It’s important to parse the phrasing of that sentence. The Federal regulators didn’t say JPMorgan could pose a threat to its shareholders or Wall Street or the markets. It said the potential threat was to “the financial stability of the United States.”

“Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is”

“The political and ideological force of “social justice” may be seen—by critics as well as some calculating proponents—as useful in its functional vagueness…Social justice is a term that can be used as an all-purpose justification for any progressive-sounding government program or newly discovered or invented right. The term survives because it benefits its champions. It brands opponents as supporters of social injustice, and so as enemies of humankind, without the trouble of making an argument or considering their views. As an ideological marker, “social justice” works best when it is not too sharply defined.” From “Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is,” by Michael Novak.
I have reserved a copy at the library for a good read and some reflection. I am convinced that this word is a sledge hammer used by the left and by leftist Evangelicals without any thought to serious definition. It fits anti-capitalist sentiments and the undefined ‘Jesus is on the side of the poor’ slogan. What does it even mean? Such Novak explores, all within the context of creating a virtuous society, a la RC social teaching, Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle, and, of course, the Bible. Today social justice is often used primarily within the context of expansive government and the growth in the power of the State, often in link with social service agencies fueled by the State. In the use of this phrase, much depends on definition of the terms. Ambiguity here is the enemy.

Massachusetts Mourn the Loss of Barbara Anderson

Taxpayers mourn the loss of Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation. She was at the top of her game when I moved to Massachusetts in 1988. Of her many accomplishments the most notable was Proposition 2 1/2, which kept property taxes from rising more than 2 1/2% a year without an override by the voters of the town or city in which the taxpayer resided. Can you imagine what our property tax bills would be without Barbara Anderson?

She was fierce, funny, and knew exactly where to land the punch. She never came into money and ran CLT on volunteers and a shoestring. In every way she spoke for the man and woman on the street. She is also responsible for the repeal of the state income tax surtax and defeating a graduated income tax ballot question. As the Legislature tried to tie property tax increases to inflation years later, Anderson fought every attempt by the Legislature to modify the law.

The wily one-party Democratic legislature kept trying to figure out ways around 2 1/2, but Barbara was always there watching every move. No one has risen up to take her place. Makes me nervous.