Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Guest Editorial from Andrea

This was too long for the combox, so with Andrea's permission, I'm publishing it as a blog post. She originally sent this as a private e-mail, but it seemed too worthwhile to keep to myself.

Hi Anastasia

A few posts ago you asked where the idea of Penal Substitutionary Atonement comes from. I can't really answer that from a Biblical point of view, at least not a Biblical point of view that I can support any more. I have a hard time trying to figure out how to support things from an Evangelical belief side anymore, I just can't get my head there like I used to.

You may remember that I grew up Baptist. And for part of that time, until I was 12 or so, Independent, Fundemental, Bible-Believing Baptist. (yes, to some out there it does make a difference!) Most of my family members are still members of Evangelical churches who firmly believe in Pen-Sub. So I've been reading each post, thinking about my family and trying to think how they would respond as well as where their doctrine comes from.

I think...that I should say that I feel I grew up and out of Evangelical tradition. That is to say, as I got older, and my thought processess started to develop more into more logical and rational thought, Evangelical Doctrine just wasn't something I could hold onto. Pen-Sub, Sola Scriptura, No hope for anyone not just like us...just didn't fit with what I read in the Bible and what I could logically bring out of it. I can remember taking my concerns to a pastor when I was in high school. He told me I had to let go of my rational mind and just believe.

And I think that is part of the answer to how so many well meaning Christians can easily believe in the Pen-Sub theory of Antonement. Many of the churches that espouse this theory also put forth an emphisis on feelings over thought. And Pen-Sub "feels" right.

As an education major in college, I read an article where a study was done taking old fairy tales and fables (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Three Little Pigs, The Boy who Cried Wolf among others) and rewrote the endings so that the "bad guy" didn't get hurt/killed or that the negative consequence was removed. The stories were changed enough that kids wouldn't immediately recognize them (places, names etc were changed). Overwelmingly (more than 90% of kids) those who heard the stories....said the stories didn't end right. They asked why the bad guy wasn't punished, why he/she got away with what they did. They wanted the story to end in Justice.

I think this same thought has crept into Evangelical thought. Maybe because so many older pastors/preachers didn't go to Seminaries, they had to find what felt right to them and their flocks. And most people need a feeling of justice, that right will win and evil will lose. And so Pen-Sub became the belief.

I know that for many in Evangelical churches (my mom, my aunts and uncles, cousins included), the logical look at faith that comes on your blog would be hard or impossible for them to understand. Most wouldn't even try. They would just read that you are Greek Orthodox and assume that therefore you are lost and needing salvation. Those that would read, would do so assuming (and sometimes finding) that you would bash their beliefs to support your own. They would assume an Us vs. Them mentality even if you didn't mean for there to be one. A few may try to understand, but even most of those would tell you eventually that the heretical ways you are believing must mean you are not truly a Christian. I know because I have been told all of the above.

I know I didn't provide a lot of answers there, but you have to understand that due to Sola Scriptura, there isn't a place to go to say "See--this is what Evangelicals believe" There are entirely libraries devoted to doctrine, but no Authority to back it up.

On the other hand however...I think for some (like my mom) who could never fully understand the doctrine or teachings of a more traditional church (Orthodox, Roman Catholic, even Anglican), maybe Pen-Sub and other Evangelical doctrines can be what she " For now we(she) see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1st Corinthians 13:12. Verse 11 speaks of " 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." I think for some, like my mom, she will not be able to put away childish things until she sees face to face. Sometimes...that hurts. :(

Ok...I'm going to end this now. Use or reply to any or all of it.