Is there something "outside of God that God must fulfill"

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by JonC, Aug 6, 2016.

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  1. JonC

    JonC Puritan Board Freshman

    I read an article the other day and in the conclusion the author made the statement “Rather than seeing salvation in terms of honor or law, for which a price must be paid upon violation, in a related approach, there is not something outside of God that God must fulfill.”

    While I’ve encountered the premise of divine reconciliation primarily consisting of God accomplishing through the Law what man could not and righteousness being God’s attributing to us the perfect “Law keeping” of Christ (a theory I believe flawed), I do not think that the majority of Reformed faith holds to an approach where there is “something outside of God that God must fulfill”.

    I’ve been discussing this with a co-worker (who belongs to a Nazarene church) who consistently goes back to this “law-keeping” idea. Rather than Sin being in relation to God Himself, my friend also insists that sin is transgressing God’s commandment. If this is so, then would not Dr. Oden (the author of the article) also be correct that in salvation there is something outside of God that God must fulfill?

    The article to which I have referred (but not really engaged except a concluding statement) : Patrick Oden, “Obedience is Better than Sacrifice: Atonement as the Re-Establishment of Trust,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 50, no. 1 (2015)
  2. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a very good idea to examine, something a friend and I once talked extensively about and both agreed on. But I will start first with something to help people here understand why it is important to address this idea.

    Unbelievers often ask Christians, if God is loving how can He allow bad things to happen? There is a presupposition here which is that there is a standard, a law, moral values, a moral law that is outside of God, and that the creature can judge the Creator by this external standard.

    When you are not born into Christianity but come to it later like me, you might encounter within yourself these leftover ideas that there are things outside of God. But the law, morals, moral laws or whatever you want to call it are not external to God; they are not an external standard, but they are part of God, of who He is. I think it is safe to say that they are a subset of who God is.

    With the context of my second paragraph in mind, I have seen many Christian teachers and authors when they explain what Jesus did for us as perfect law keeping, that He satisfied the demands of the law, that He fulfilled the demands of the law, that their argumentation almost always leaves the door open for those people who believe there is a standard external to God.

    "sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4) But that is not the only concept in the Bible of what sin is. My favorite example of sin in the entire Bible is given in Deuteronomy chapter 1. The same God who had freed Israel from bondage in Egypt, and had led them to the land promised to their fathers, told them to go into the promised land and God Himself would fight for them. But instead, Israel did not believe God and rebelled against Him. Then when God pronounced judgment on them for their rebellion and told them to not go in but go back into the wilderness, again they rebelled. This is not about breaking a law or a moral law, sin is rebelling against anything God says.
  3. JonC

    JonC Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you, Keith, for your observations. I agree. I also think of Psalm 95:8 and Hebrews 3:8 as both point to, as a warning, Israel hardening their hearts in the wilderness (Meribah and Massah in Exodus 17).

    Here is how I understand the topic: Sometimes our sinfulness finds expression as a transgression (or breaking God’s commandments). This is why, after all, the Law was given to Israel – to teach them of sin (Rm 7:7). So while sin is a transgression of the law, it is (as you point out) more than that. Our sinfulness is rebellion against God which manifests itself in transgressing God’s law.
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