Search This Blog

Monday, December 31, 2012

John Locke and the "Governmental Theory" of Atonement

There are many views of the Christian Atonement including the Governmental Theory, perhaps tied to Hugo Grotius, but adhered to by John Locke. The Governmental Theory extends God's forgiveness for sin among other things. There are several different views of the Atonement, the belief of which may not have anything to do with whether someone is saved, but it has to do with Locke's overall faith. This portion of his commentary on Romans proves my point:
But the righteousness of God, that righteousness which he intended, and will accept, and is a righteousness not within the rule and rigour of law, is now made manifest, and confirmed by the testimony of the law and the prophets, which bear witness of this truth, that Jesus is the Messias, and that it is according to his purpose and promise, That the righteousness of God, by faith in Jesus the Messias, is extended to, and bestowed on all who believe in him* , (for there is no difference between them. They have all, both jews and gentiles, sinned, and fail of attaining that glory which God hath appointed for the righteous,) Being made righteous gratis,[without payment] by the favour of God, through the redemption which is by Jesus Christ; Whom God hath set forth to be the propitiatory, or mercy-seat* in his own blood , for the manifestation of his [God’s] righteousness , by passing over§ their transgressions, formerly committed, which he hath borne with hitherto, so as to withhold his hand from casting off the nation of the jews, as their past sins deserved. [bold face mine]
--Romans 3:1-31 Paraphrase

24Redemption signifies deliverance, but not deliverance from every thing, but deliverance from that, to which a man is in subjection, or bondage. Nor does redemption by Jesus Christ import, there was any compensation made to God, by paying what was of equal value, in consideration whereof they were delivered: for that is inconsistent with what St. Paul expressly says here, viz. that sinners are justified by God gratis,[without payment] and of his free bounty. What this redemption is, St. Paul tells us, Eph. i. 7, Col. i. 14, even the forgiveness of sins. But if St. Paul had not been so express in defining what he means by redemption, they yet would be thought to lay too much stress upon the criticism of a word, in the translation, who would thereby force from the word, in the original, a necessary sense, which it is plain it hath not. That redeeming, in the sacred scripture language, signifies not precisly paying an equivalent, is so clear, that nothing can be more. I shall refer my reader to three or four places amongst a great number, Exod. vi. 6, Deut. vii. 8, and xv. 12, and xxiv. 18. But if any one will, from the literal signification of the word in English, persist in it, against St. Paul’s declarations, that it necessarily implies an equivalent price paid, I desire him to consider to whom: and that, if we will strictly adhere to the metaphor, it must be to those, whom the redeemed are in bondage to, and from whom we are redeemed, viz. sin and Satan. If he will not believe his own system for this, let him believe St. Paul’s words, Tit. ii. 14, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.” Nor could the price be paid to God, in strictness of justice (for that is made the argument here;) unless the same person ought, by that strict justice, to have both the thing redeemed, and the price paid for its redemption. For it is to God we are redeemed, by the death of Christ, Rev. v. 9, “Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” [bold face mine]

He says "unless the same person ought, by that strict justice, to have both the thing redeemed, and the price paid for its redemption." That's precisely what happened. Only God could satisfy the perfect justice His Holiness requires.

Before I make the conclusion, unitarians believe in mercy by forgiveness through a moral example, which is exactly what this theory requires. It's more evidence that Locke believed in God's forgiveness in a unitarian context, rather than the satisfaction by blood as a sacrifice. Does Locke say the same person couldn't both accept the redemption and pay the price for it. Why not? Ironically, he used Biddle's argument in the Adversaria Theologica.

1. How can God satisfy God? If one person satisfies another, then he that satisfies is still unsatisfied, or forgives. Ib. 12.
John xx. 17.
Eph. i. 7.
Heb. i. 8, 9.
First, Locke is buying Biddle's ideas. If any man could answer some of Biddle's questions he would be God. But not this one. God satisfies God because of the Trinity.
God cannot forgive because His very nature is Holiness and Perfect Justice. The Bible says God is just. Therefore, Justice and Holiness is His nature. God cannot act contrary to His nature. God doesn't even have the capacity to forgive or the capacity to be Holy. It violates His nature. He's already inherently Holy and Just. This is what Calvin's Substitutionary Theory is all about. Calvin was a lawyer, which is why he used legal terms to explain this.
Also, God's fellowship with Sin is completely void and impossible. God cannot have fellowship with anything less than His perfect righteousness. He must also deal with every human being with perfect justice, meaning He can't deal unfairly with us or send us to hell without providing a solution for our salvation. Man is entirely without spiritual life or capacity, so no one can work or earn fellowship with God; that is, Propitiation is the Reconciliation in Christ and what satisfies God's Holiness.
Forgiveness in the Scriptures refers not to what God would literally do, but a result from satisfying and Propitiation. John Locke's view on the Governmental Theory of Atonement mirrors his unitarian belief of Salvation.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

John Locke Contradicting History

Parts of Locke's Adversaria (check Locke's for and against list):

Unitaria.--The Fathers before the Council of Nice speak rather like Arians than orthodox. If any one desire to see undeniable proofs of it, I refer him to the Quaternio of Curciltaus, where he will be fully satisfied. There is scarcely one text alleged to the Trinitarians which is not otherwise expounded by their own writers: you may see a great number of these texts and expositions in a book entitled Scriptura S. Trin. Revelatrix, under the name of St Gallus. There be a multitude of texts that deny those things of Christ which cannot be denied of God, and that affirm such things of him that cannot agree to him if he were a person of God..
Trinity.—The Papists deny that the doctrine of the Trinity can be proved by the Scripture ; see this plainly taught and urged very earnestly by Card. Hosius de Auth. S. Script. 1. iii. p. 53; Gordonius Hunlaeius Contr. Tom. Cont. de Verbo Dei, c. 19; Gretserus and Tanerus in Colloquio Rattisbon. Vega. Possevin. Wiekus. These learned men, especially Bellarmin, and Wiekus after him, have urged all the Scriptures they could, with their utmost industry, find out in this cause, and yet, after all, they acknowledge their insufficiency and obscurity.
Curcillaeus has proved, as well as anything can be proved out of ancient writings, that the doctrine of the Trinity, about the time of the Council of Nice, was of a special union of three persons in the Deity, and not of a numerical, as it is now taught, and has been taught since the chimerical schoolmen were hearkened unto.
Concerning the original of the Trinitarian doctrines, from whom they are derived or by whom they were invented, he that is generally and indeed deservedly confessed to have writ the most learnedly, is Dr Cudworth, in his Intellectual System.
Trinity.—The Divinity of the Holy Spirit was not believed, or, as I think, so much as mentioned, by any in the time of Lactantius, i. e. anno 300..
If you go through his list for and against the Trinity, there's no debate anymore. He quotes the Father of Unitarianism John Biddle, and neglects most of the New Testament that mentions the Trinity. By this work--which was private, and thank God for his sake it was, Locke was actually an amateur theologian (citing uninspired men) if he can be called one. The last sentence of the first paragraph proves Locke denied Christ's Deity. He agrees that this "Curcillaeus has proved..special union of three persons in the Deity." Locke even mocks the Trinity "Concerning the original of the Trinitarian doctrines..or by whom they were invented." Locke was wrong about the Church Fathers and the Trinity, as well as Divinity of the Holy Spirit.

Yet the Church Fathers spoke of the numerical Trinity years before Nicea:
And at the same time the mystery of the oikonomia is safeguarded, for the unity is distributed in a Trinity. Placed in order, the three are the Father, Son, and Spirit. They are three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in being, but in form; not in power, but in kind; of one being, however, and one condition and one power, because he is one God of whom degrees and forms and kinds are taken into account in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
--Tertullian, 216 A.D. Against Praxeas 2
The Father's Word, therefore, knowing the economy and the will of the Father, to wit, that the Father seeks to be worshipped in none other way than this, gave this charge to the disciples after he rose from the dead: "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt 28:19) And by this he showed that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through the Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did and the Spirit manifested.
--Hippolytus of Rome, 220 A.D. Against Noetus Ch. 14.
For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now [and ever] and for the ages to come. Amen.
--Polycarp of Smyrna, 155 A.D. To Autolycus 2:15

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Apostle To The Indians, John Eliot (1604-1690)

Gen. H. A. S. Dearborn:
Sir: — I am happy to acknowledge the receipt of the Lithograph you were so kind as to send me, of the proposed Monument to the memory of one of the greatest of men — John Eliot the Apostle to the North American Indians..This will be a lasting memento before your children and our children, what true greatness is; and would to God, that while they are under its shadow, the self-sacrificing spirit which was in Eliot, might be felt by them, for the moral elevation of man and glory to the Great Spirit.
While the localities of the labors of the Apostle were shown to me, my natural stern character was overcome, and I could pour out tears of joy as well as grief, over the ground where it is said he walked and knelt with the red man. My mind was carried back two hundred years, and I could see John Eliot bending over the Forest Child, while he sought the guidance of the Great Spirit, and whispering in his ears — "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This sweetest of sentences, this gentlest of truths, this purest of God's own design, elevated the mind of the Indians. Yes, absorbed in thought, it appeared to me that I could see into the future, while angels held up the curtain of time, and that I could behold group after group around Eliot the Apostle, in the home of the blessed in Heaven.
I need not mention his love of literature,—his zeal for it remains before us—his translations of the Bible and other works,—a monument of itself, what Christian Heroism can accomplish. Should I be successful, in securing a Home for my brethren in the North West, it has been my intention to erect two qolumns of granite to the sacred memory of two of the best friends, in years gone by, of the Indians—John Eliot and William Penn.
--I have the honor to be, Your humble and ob't servant,
Or, Firm-standing,
Alias G. COPWAY,
Of the Ojibway Nation.