I was wrong – but I am right – Calvinists preach a false gospel.

In my previous blog post, I made the comment that Calvin and many of the other reformers would be rolling in their graves over R.C Sproul’s statement. I was wrong in making that statement. Excuse me a little for showing my ignorance. The circles of faith I have run around with have always clearly taught the Gospel that God became one of us. Fully God and Fully human and as a divine incarnate being, took upon himself the punishment for our sins. That is God took on himself our punishment of death.

But, since having that article pointed out to me – I have done more research and found its a deeply embedded and tightly held doctrine within the Reformed Camp. Basically the doctrine of Divine Impassibility is one which states that God is not effected by his emotions. He suffers no pain and cannot suffer pain. Certainly within the framework of the Godhead, God isn’t affected by sinful emotions. Nor does God suffer tiredness, broken limbs and old age.

However not enough thought and careful reflection has gone into how this is integrated into the “Incarnation!” In the framework of the incarnation Orthodoxy states that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine with only one essence. Those holding to the doctrine of impassibility have to conclude that the divine nature of Jesus didn’t experience the effects of emotions: anger, sadness, frustration, joy and fear. Their conclusion must state that the divine nature of Jesus never suffered tiredness, or for that matter he never experienced the satisfaction of enjoying a good meal or enduring hunger.

But, the problem in doing this is that it makes a mockery of the incarnation. It’s denies the one essence of Jesus. The two natures of Christ – both human and divine were and are so tightly woven and integrated together the natures were and are indistinguishable. If the divine nature didn’t experience the humanness of the incarnation; but instead stood aside in some form of  schizophrenic detachment – than there are two essences in Christ and not one.

The other argument about it being impossible for the divine nature of Christ to die – for in doing God would have no longer had control and influence on the world is laughable. It appears to me that the philosophical assumption here is that of the heresy we call Modalism. That is that during history God has showed himself as wearing one of three hats. That is Father, Son and Holy Spirit only manifested as one person at anyone given time. He and others holding to this doctrine are clearly confused as to the role of the incarnation within a trinitarian context.

Jesus could only do what he did through the power of the Holy Spirit. He could only do what he saw the Father doing. He could do nothing out of his own strength. Clearly the Holy Spirits activity and work was not reliant on Christ. Nor is or was the Father reliant on the Son. Reformed scholars are quick to point out that they believe there is a hierarchy of sorts in their trinitarin theology where they acknowledge the same essence – but different roles and functions which are subordinate to the Father. Within this context – surely by saying that if the divine nature of Jesus died – this causes the Father to die and the Holy Spirit to die – it squashes all hierarchical understandings and underpinnings of the Trinity. And shows a lack of understanding each member of the Godhead has.

2ndly it further shows that the logic of man is involved in not understanding the miraculous of God. They have placed a restriction on what it is God himself can or cannot do. The purpose of the incarnation is that God became one of us. He came to show us the way. He also came to take upon himself the punishment that we must bear. That is the wages of sin is death. Again, within the framework of one essence all of Christ took the punishment for our sins. God took our punishment upon himself. The one essence of Christ was born. The one essence of Christ lived. The one essence of Christ was tempted. The one essence of Christ suffered and enjoyed the fullness of humanity. And the one essence suffered the brutality and punishment of sin on the cross. And the one essence of Christ died and rose again.

If the divine nature of Christ didn’t suffer on the cross – then the one essence of Christ was divided. The divine nature of Christ didn’t descend into hell and preach to the captives. The divine nature of Christ didn’t rise on the third day and show himself to the early church. And the divine nature of Christ didn’t ascend to sit on the right hand of God the father where he continually intercedes for us.

And if we teach that the divine nature of Christ didn’t suffer and take our punishment onto himself – then we make a mockery of the Gospel and preach a false Gospel. For the good news of the gospel is that God himself bore the punishment for our sins and in doing so forgave us.

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About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
This entry was posted in Doctrine of divine impassibility denies the gospel., Gospel message and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to I was wrong – but I am right – Calvinists preach a false gospel.

  1. Hi Craig, I had to set this aside but wish to continue it. As someone who has gone through an eclectic doctrinal journey and is now Reformed, I find this post grievous primarily because you have unjustly banished Reformed folks as unbelievers. I tried to explain on your FB thread that though Jesus is God and did die on the cross in both his divinity and humanity, it is only in the incarnation that he suffered because it takes humanity to suffer. The divine cannot suffer. By saying that God died on the cross, you are uniting the work of the Father and Spirit to Christ’s work, which is modalism.

    So this statement here is false;

    “But, the problem in doing this is that it makes a mockery of the incarnation. It’s denies the one essence of Jesus. The two natures of Christ – both human and divine were and are so tightly woven and integrated together the natures were and are indistinguishable. If the divine nature didn’t experience the humanness of the incarnation; but instead stood aside in some form of schizophrenic detachment – than there are two essences in Christ and not one.”

    No, no, no. The dual nature of Christ remains intact because that is what was needed to fully atone for our sins – both natures acting together.

    I don’t mind disagreement but it saddens me that you persist in casting off your reformed brothers and sisters as infidels and are misconstruing what is being expressed when people like Sproul say God did not die on the cross.

    I’ve asked a few very knowledgeable friends to chime in on a private thread if you are interested so that the conversation doesn’t get bogged down unnecessary garbage. Please let me know.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Hi Lisa. My article stands on the R.C Sproul article and also since then found the Gospel Coalition support the same.
      R.C Sproul in his article denies that the divine nature of Jesus suffered on the cross. Its he who is denying the fullness of the incarnation.
      I’m glad that you believe the divine nature of Christ suffered and died on the cross. In doing so; you have distanced yourself from what R.C.Sproul and Gospel Coalition teaches.

      I’d rather discuss Sprouls and what the Gospel Coalition teaches in public- as they have made their teaching public.

      I’m also happy to join in any other discussion you have going on the subject.

  2. Marcus Ampe says:

    Where do you get it from that “God became one of us. Fully God and Fully human and as a divine incarnate being”?

    • Craig Benno says:

      Marcus. Scripture tells us that Jesus is God made flesh. John 1

      • Marcus Ampe says:

        In the Bibles I have John the eveangelist speaks about the Word, being the Speaking of God and nowhere is mentioned He came unto the earth.
        when looking at the original language a good English translation would be “The Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God.” (The New Testament in An Improved Version)

        or: Yah Chanan (#Jo 1:1-3): In the beginning the Word having been and the Word having been unto God and God having been the Word he having been, in the beginning, unto God all through his hand became: and without him not even one being whatever became.

        The Greek meaning is “the Word was divine” which means God His Speaking was of divine quality but does not say it was God nor did it ever say it was Jesus or that Jesus was or is the God. Jesus might have been like Pharaoh and Moses being called ‘a god’ in Scripture but that makes neither of them to be the Most High Elohim Hashem Jehovah, is it not?

      • Craig Benno says:

        Marcus. There are many scriptures that speak of Jesus being both God and man. I only have access to my phone for the next few days – when I get back to my computer I will engage more fully with you.

  3. Pingback: January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works | From guestwriters

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