Q and A answer at 52:50 on the atonement and impassibility

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Hello,

At 52:50 of this linked online lecture on the nature of God, Dr. Sam Waldron is asked a question about the atonement as it relates to the doctrine of impassibility. I am trying to evaluate and digest his answer:

http://livestream.com/cbtseminary/ST23/videos/100003091

First, I am wondering how impassibility relates to propitiation:

Romans 3:25 speaks of the work of the Cross providing propitiation.
"The word propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement, or satisfaction, specifically towards God. Propitiation is a two-part act that involves appeasing the wrath of an offended person and being reconciled to them."

If the atonement was propitiatory, this means that not only the sinner's relationship to God is changed, but that God's view of man is changed. Though the Elect are loved from all eternity, they are considered "children of wrath" and "under condemnation" before the atonement is applied.

In the classic Redemption Accomplished and Applied http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/natureatone.html, Murray states:

Propitiation presupposes the wrath and displeasure of God, and the purpose of propitiation is the removal of this displeasure. Very simply stated the doctrine of propitiation means that Christ propitiated the wrath of God and rendered God propitious to his people.

If the work of Christ rendered God propitious to His people at a moment in time, how does this relate to the impassibility of God, whereby there are no internal changes within the disposition of God?

If we say that propitiation only concerns man's relation to God and that only man's relationship to God changes and nothing within God changes, only how man relates to God; have we thus turned "propitiation" into "expiation?"

Waldron appears to answer that God has both wrath and grace relations with us, but we only experience them in time. But this is not a satisfying answer to me (without further explanation of how this could be).

He even says, "God sustained both relations to you simultaneously (54:40)" referring to our status as not under wrath and also under wrath. I know he is answering off-the-cuff, but this statement seems troubling, for it would seem to indicate that we are eternally also considered as "children of wrath" from before the foundation of the world, whereas Scripture only expressly speaks of us as Elect from before the world and eternally loved. He then speaks of these things as being "simultaneously" and then also "not in time" ...in the same answer. He seems to be trying to defend that God does not change his relationship toward you, which would imply that his relationship of both wrath and grace are both eternal/outside of time, lest it be changed at the point that the atonement is applied and we are no longer considered "children of wrath" by the "turning away of God's wrath through propitiation."

Any help on this topic would be appreciated. How would you answer the question posed at 52:50?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
When God views you "in Christ," all the Trinitarian divine love flows to you by virtue of your union with the Son.

When God view you "in Adam," all the wrath of God against sin is directed toward you in rebellion, without any mitigation.

The wrath of God due to his elect for their sin is poured out upon the Son in their place.

Covenant and Election matter. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
When God views you "in Christ," all the Trinitarian divine love flows to you by virtue of your union with the Son.

When God view you "in Adam," all the wrath of God against sin is directed toward you in rebellion, without any mitigation.

The wrath of God due to his elect for their sin is poured out upon the Son in their place.

Covenant and Election matter. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Does God "view us in Adam" eternally? The same way He views us in Christ? From before the foundation of the world, from all eternity, were we also considered "children of wrath?" and for all eternity future will God also still view us "in Adam"?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The classic explanation is -- God does not change His will, God wills the change.

Working with this explanation, we see that God willed to change the status of elect sinners in relation to Himself; He did not change His will in relation to sinners.

With respect to the atonement, it was the unchanging love of God towards the elect which appointed and provided the atonement as the means by which sinners would be reconciled to God. There is no change in God towards the elect; the elect are changed in relation to God.

However, if the atonement is universalised, and made something less than definite, it is difficult to maintain the unchangeability of God. The atonement has come to be interpreted as something which has made sinners salvable to God, and therefore God Himself must have undergone some kind of change as a result of this indefinite atonement. Obviously this is not an inevitable consequence of universalising the atonement, but there seems to be no reasonable basis for the doctrine of "mere salvability" without it, and so defenders of conditional universalism have often inclined towards this doctrine of changeability.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Does God "view us in Adam" eternally? The same way He views us in Christ? From before the foundation of the world, from all eternity, were we also considered "children of wrath?" and for all eternity future will God also still view us "in Adam"?

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The classic explanation is -- God does not change His will, God wills the change.

Working with this explanation, we see that God willed to change the status of elect sinners in relation to Himself; He did not change His will in relation to sinners.

With respect to the atonement, it was the unchanging love of God towards the elect which appointed and provided the atonement as the means by which sinners would be reconciled to God. There is no change in God towards the elect; the elect are changed in relation to God.

However, if the atonement is universalised, and made something less than definite, it is difficult to maintain the unchangeability of God. The atonement has come to be interpreted as something which has made sinners salvable to God, and therefore God Himself must have undergone some kind of change as a result of this indefinite atonement. Obviously this is not an inevitable consequence of universalising the atonement, but there seems to be no reasonable basis for the doctrine of "mere salvability" without it, and so defenders of conditional universalism have often inclined towards this doctrine of changeability.

Thanks. This explanation helps.
 
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