Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Age of Marriage

I was surprised the other day when I found out that my daughter’s young adult class leader tried to tell her that she needed to go to Walla Walla University not for any primarily educational reasons but to find a nice Adventist husband. I remember when I was in Academy that I first heard the term Mrs degree. In the 1970’s it appeared to be one of the important functions of the Adventist college system to connect young men and women in matrimony with perhaps a side benefit of some education. Here are some statistics on the age of marriage in the 70’s:

Year --- Men --- Women

1979 --- 24.4 --- 22.1
1978 --- 24.2 --- 21.8
1977 --- 24.0 --- 21.6
1976 --- 23.8 --- 21.3
1975 --- 23.5 --- 21.1
1974 --- 23.1 --- 21.1
1973 --- 23.2 --- 21.0
1972 --- 23.3 --- 20.9
1971 --- 23.1 --- 20.9
1970 --- 23.2 --- 20.8

Interestingly for women from 1947-72 all are 20 years of age, the difference is only after the decimal. If we assume the general age for a college student is from 18-22 freshmen to senior then by these statistics if the woman went to college it is highly likely that she met her husband in college or university.

Statistics are a bit different from the days when many of us were in high school or college, the most recent statistics:

Year --- Men --- Women

2003 --- 27.1 --- 25.3
2002 --- 26.9 --- 25.3
2001 --- 26.9 --- 25.1
2000 --- 26.8 --- 25.1

Now using our 18-22 age generalization women are getting married 2-3 years after graduating from college or university. So unless they have an extending engagement they are less likely to meet their spouse in College.

Welcome to the 21st century, education for the sake of education rather then matrimony, what a novel concept.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunday Law preoccupation among Adventists

In a Recent letter to the Adventist Review Claude Morgan, Religious Liberty director
Greater New York Conference Manhasset, New York writes the following:

I enjoyed Michael D. Peabody’s article, “Sundae Laws” (Jul. 24, 2008). Even though I have followed the subject of Sunday laws with interest for many years, I found a lot of interesting information that was new to me. I am concerned, however, that readers might reach the wrong conclusion if they read too much into Peabody’s remark, “Most Sunday Laws are no longer enforced and are generally viewed as anachronistic.”

For years I also have been saying, “Nobody is interested in Sunday laws but Adventists.” But that is no longer true. The reality is that a renewed climate favorable to Sunday laws has been developing quietly. Two examples: In its
August 2, 2004 issue, Time Magazine featured a column by Nancy Gibbs titled “And on the Seventh Day We Rested,” which nostalgically eulogized Sunday Laws. In 2006, Christianity Today, one of the most
prestigious religious periodicals in the country, also ran a column contending that Sunday laws would correct the ills of society.

While Sunday laws are not a center of focus for most people today, the climate of our culture is definitely becoming a fertile seedbed for their rebirth.

Personally I doubt his exclamation that he had been saying for years that “Nobody is interested in Sunday laws but Adventists.” Especially when citing the Christianity Today article. The article in no way indicated that there was any reason to introduce further Sunday laws, in fact it includes this quote:

"Blue laws fell because they became politically untenable," said Bradley Jacob, associate law professor at Regent University. "Not only did non-Christians find them unfair, but even Christians found them silly, archaic, and legalistic."

The article was more a news article which covered a research project. As the Article begins:

Church attendees become more likely to use drugs and drink heavily when states abolish "blue laws." So says a recent study, "The Church vs. the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition?" The study also found that weekly church attendance and church giving decline after states repeal blue laws, which restrict commerce and labor on Sundays.

"They aren't quitting whole hog," said Daniel Hungerman, a study author and assistant professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame. Instead, those who attend weekly might go monthly, and monthly attendees might show up just at Christmas and Easter. While church giving decreased, the study found other charities saw a corresponding increase in donations.

When a blue law is in place, non-church-goers are about 10 percent more likely to drink heavily than churchgoers. After blue laws are repealed, the gap closes to about 5 percent.

For marijuana and cocaine use, the gap nearly disappears. Non-churchgoers are 11 percent more likely to smoke pot while blue laws are in place. After repeal, the two groups look almost the same.

Other than the title, there is nothing to support Religious Liberty Director’s statement that Christianity Today “ran a column contending that Sunday laws would correct the ills of society.”

Neither does the Time article in any way call for Sunday laws, it mainly bemoans the busy lifestyle of modern America. As the concluding paragraphs state:

With progress, of course, comes backlash from those who desperately want to preserve the old ways. Mom-and-pop liquor stores in New York fought to keep the blue laws to have more time with their families. Car dealers in Kansas City, Mo., pushed for a law to make them close on Sundays so they could have a day off without losing out to competition. Chick-Fil-A, a chain of more than 1,100 restaurants in 37 states, closes on Sundays because its founder, Truett Cathy, promised employees time to "worship, spend time with family and friends or just plain rest from the work week," says the chain's website. "Made sense then, still makes sense now." Pope John Paul II even wrote an apostolic letter in defense of Sunday: "When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a 'weekend,'" he wrote, "people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see 'the heavens.'"

In an age with no free time, we buy it through hard choices. Do we skip church so we can sleep in or skip soccer so we can go to church or find a family ritual — cook together, read together, a Parcheesi challenge — that we treat as sacred? That way, at least some part of Sunday faces in a different direction, whether toward heaven or toward one another.

Nothing in modern America promotes the idea of Sunday laws to cause people to attend worship services on Sunday or prohibit Worship services on Saturday. For a Religious Liberty Director to make such statements as that in the above letter is to speak from a poorly informed and generally foolish position.

As to the Review Article on Sundae Laws; it is not freely available on the web other then the first paragraphs. Those sentences lead me to think the story does not give the full information about the origin of Sundae’s as that is still a hotly debated subject between Ithaca NY and Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Naturally being Adventist the Sunday Law idea is preferred: What few people realize about this simple dessert, however, is that it was actually invented as a loophole to avoid stringent Sunday laws that prevented the sale of “soda water” during the late 1800s --

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Good News Tour Meets Origen

Recently one of the people involved in the Good News Tour asked me for my opinion of the final presentation of the series: God's Reputation: The Worthiest Calling? - Sigve Tonstad Here is what I would term the summation of the intent of the talk, beginning at minute 31:50 Tonstad saying:
“Now Granted that it is not easy to explain any of these things but the relative merit of Origin story is not bad, no one says Origen “No one will be able to know the origin of evils who has not grasped the truth about the so-called devil and his angels, and who he was before he became a devil, and how he became a devil, and what caused his so-called angels to rebel with him.”( Contra Celsum 4.65) So this is just an overview here and this is something that you might find familiar and you might kick yourself that you have not heard about Origen before. As I have kicked myself sometimes that I had to become quite well advanced in years before I discovered this person early in the Christian history, who took a cosmic conflict view of reality and made it explain a number of things. And also made it be the foundation upon which some of his most cherished values rest.

So what’s the point of this what about the early church and our church the first point here is that cosmic conflict theology is not a Seventh-day Adventist invention it is not an invention of John Milton, it is not an Ellen G. White Invention. If you go far enough back and you need to go farther then the Reformation and you need to go still further, need really to go into the pre-Constantinian era…you need to go back to that time because that is when this view was thriving and after that it was Cosmic Conflict theology was in some ways lost theology is theology lost and in some ways at least has been to some extent in the Adventist context reclaimed, theology that is reclaimed.”

He includes a slide with bullet points saying:

Cosmic conflict theology is theology lost and –perhaps—theology reclaimed.

My first reaction was “Wow it is hard to imagine someone actually speaking so positively of Origen particularly in the Adventist church”. I see the reason here though, it introduces the great controversy theme that overrides the GNT presentations. Origen is the key factor who introduced the Lucifer myth into Christianity. As my article on WHO IS LUCIFER...OR SATAN MISIDENTIFIED says:

“It is not to Jerome, however that we owe the teaching of Lucifer but to that most creative of theologians, Origen. (185-254 A.D.) It was he who first made the new connection between Satan and Lucifer. He brought together diverse Old Testament references from Job, Ezekiel and Isaiah. Arguing that Lucifer, the Prince of Tyre, and the Leviathan of Job, were all identical with the Devil. He used these texts to emphasize Satan's pride and his fall from heaven.

With the aid of Tertullian (155-After 220 A.D.) who taught that before Satan's fall he was not only an angel but the foremost angel. It is mainly to these three theologians, Origen, Tertullian, and Jerome that we derive the Lucifer myth. It should also be noted that the Lucifer myth can also be found in the Psedepigrapha in the book The Secrets of Enoch. But since it is currently felt that The Secrets of Enoch is likely a seventh century document (at least in its present form), therefor it is probably not the source of this Lucifer myth. ( I will for now refer to the idea that Lucifer is Satan as the Lucifer myth, hopefully by the end of the article you will agree that it is indeed a myth.)”

What Origen has done is supplied the extra Biblical details that were needed to flesh the story of an opponent of God. Then he uses his newly created story to argue against Celsus. Interestingly Celsus speaks of the war among the gods which sounds a lot like what latter becomes the way some Christians view the war in heaven between the dragon and Michael. Celsus writes:

“The ancients allude obscurely to a certain war among the gods, Heraclitus speaking thus of it: ‘If one must say that there is a general war and discord, and that all things are done and administered in strife.’ Pherecydes, again, who is much older than Heraclitus, relates a myth of one army drawn up in hostile array against another, and names Kronos as the leader of the one, and Ophioneus of the other, and recounts their challenges and struggles, and mentions that agreements were entered into between them, to the end that whichever party should fall into the ocean should be held as vanquished, while those who had expelled and conquered them should have possession of heaven…”
There are a lot of people who like Tonstad probably have not known much about early church history. Adventism has for a long time thought church history began at the Reformation. But when we look at the earliest Christian church history we see a world of confusion. A mixture of Proto-orthodoxy and Gnostic Christianity, Proto-Orthodoxy is a term Bart Ehrman uses to describe the views of early Christians who became the Roman Catholic church as Orthodox came to mean what the Church in power came to accept and hold as true declaring other views as heresy, which today we would call heterodoxy. For more see: LOST CHRISTIANITIES: The Battle for Scriptures and Faiths We Never Knew
by Bart D. Ehrman Oxford University Press September 2003, 294 pages, $30

It is therefore difficult to know for sure what kind of Christianity Celsus was attacking. No doubt it is a mixture there was a time when even the Proto-Orthodox held to such books as the Gospel of Barnabas which contains such statements as:

Barnabas 10:6
Moreover thou shalt not eat the hare. Why so? Thou shalt not be found a corrupter of boys, nor shalt thou become like such persons; for the hare gaineth one passage in the body every year; for according to the number of years it lives it has just so many orifices.
Barnabas 10:7
Again, neither shalt thou eat the hyena; thou shalt not, saith He, become an adulterer or a fornicator, neither shalt thou resemble such persons. Why so? Because this animal changeth its nature year by year, and becometh at one time male and at another female.

Barnabas 10:8
Moreover He hath hated the weasel also and with good reason. Thou shalt not, saith He, become such as those men of whom we hear as working iniquity with their mouth for uncleanness, neither shalt thou cleave unto impure women who work iniquity with their mouth. For this animal conceiveth with its mouth.

I will leave the reader to think about the possible meanings there, back to Origen.

Origen is an interesting figure, not only did he really create the Lucifer myth and propose the dualistic nature and immortal soul. He was a believer in universalism. So it is no surprise that he speaks in terms of healing as Tonstad mentioned, he believes all will be saved including Satan. So he is clearly not going to go along with the idea of God destroying the wicked.

Here are a few of the peculiar teaching which made Origen an Unorthodox Church Father as this previous link suggests, though there was no orthodoxy at that time, later the church would try and term people orthodox or not based upon what they had come to believe. A few quotes from the above site:
The Bible. While Origen claimed that the Bible was divinely inspired, he did not accept the complete historicity of Scripture, nor did he interpret it all literally. Like others in the Alexandrian school of interpretation, he often allegorized crucial sections of Scripture.
Preexistence of the Soul. Finally, Origen argues that "If the soul of a man, which is certainly inferior while it remains the soul of a man, was not formed along with his body, but is proved to have been implanted strictly from without, much more must this be the case with those living beings which are called heavenly." Furthermore, "How could his soul and its images be formed along with his body, who, before he was created in the womb, is said to be known by God, and was sanctified by Him before his birth?" (De Prinicipiis, 1.7.4).
Universalism. Origen believed that in the end everyone would be saved. His view is explicitly universalistic:
Spiritualism. Origen also denied the permanent physical nature of the resurrection, for which he was condemned by the bishops of the Fifth Ecumenical Council of the Church when they wrote: "If anyone shall say that after the resurrection the body of the Lord was ethereal, and that such shall the bodies of all after the resurrection; and that after the Lord himself shall have rejected his true body and after others who rise shall have rejected theirs, the nature of their bodies shall be annihilated: let him be anathema" (Canon 10 cited by Schaff, 14:314-19). Likewise, "If any one shall say that the future judgement signifies the destruction of the body and that the end of the story will be an immaterial nature (phusis), and that thereafter there will no longer be any matter, but only spirit (nous): let him be anathema" " (Canon 11 cited by Schaff).
Christ Inferior to the Father. Although he did not deny the deity of Christ, nonetheless, Origen did believe Jesus has a subordinate status to the Father even to the point that he forfeited his deity while on earth. Origen wrote: "The Son of God, divesting Himself of His equality with the Father, and showing to us the way to the knowledge of Him, is made the express image of His person" (De Prinicipiis, 1.2.8).
Evaluation. Origen was at best a mixed blessing for Christian apologetics. He did defend the basic inspiration and historicity of the Bible. He stressed the use of reason in defending early Christianity against attacks of paganism and other false teachings. He was a textual Scholar.
…He held an aberrant view on the nature of Christ, which gave rise to the later Arian heresy…
Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (ISBN 0-8010-2151-0)

The story of why he castrated himself is also interesting:

“By all accounts Origen lived an extremely ascetic life - he had changed little from the impulsive youth who was more than willing to suffer for the sake of Christ. Famously, his great zeal even caused him to castrate himself. It seems his primary motive was to avoid any possible scandal due to his private instruction of women. He also seems to have literally interpreted Matthew 19:12, "There are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." Eusebius comments that this drastic measure was "proof of an inexperienced and youthful heart but also of faith and self control." {5}
The previously mentioned website also mentions the allegorical method of Bible interpretation that enabled Origen to produce his Lucifer myth.
“One of the primary distinguishing characteristics of Alexandrian thought is the allegorical interpretation of Scripture. Origen was not the first to employ this method, but he was the most influential.
A prolific writer of commentaries, Origen held the Scriptures in the highest esteem. As the Word of God, he believed them to be perfect and incapable of error. Yet he also fully acknowledged the numerous problems and contradictions that can be found within its pages. He asked, for example, "What man of intelligence will believe that the first and the second and the third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without the sun and moon and stars?" (De Princ. 4.3.1)
To resolve the problem of an inerrant book that contained errors, Origen taught that there were layers within Scripture:
... And when God is said to "walk in the paradise in the cool of the day"... I don't think anyone will doubt that these are figurative expressions which indicate certain mysteries through a semblence of history and not through actual events. (De Princ. 4.3.1)
Origen found three levels of meaning in the Scriptures: the common or historical sense, for the simple-minded or beginning reader, the "Soul" of the Scriptures which edifies those who perceive it, and a meaning hidden under those passages that are repugnant to the intellect by means of allegory.”
So what does it mean when Tonstad uses Origen to backup the Adventist acceptance of Traditional Christianities acceptance of the Lucifer myth? No one thinks it was Ellen White who came up with all the battle between good and evil, that has been found in the Bible all along. It is just that today we understand how the Lucifer myth began, we understand how and to whom the tradition first began and that it is not based upon any type of logical or reasoned Biblical exegesis. To make the basis of your belief system a large foundation which is truly fictional will make your entire position weak. Others took Origen’s Lucifer myth farther, Milton took it farther and Ellen White took it even farther. But the myth is still a house of cards. I do wish the Lucifer myth portion of the cosmic conflict were really lost but through time it has become tradition, modern Christian scholars realize it’s dubious beginnings but most in the pews still don’t realize that it is not from the Bible, either New or Old Testament.
You can see all of the last three years of the Good News Tour here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Alden Thompson's Revealing Interview

Spectrum offered a few interviews related to the Good News Tour event this past weekend. I would like to comment on the above statement made by Alden Thompson as he was interviewed by Jared Wright.

First I would have to say that among Adventist theologians Alden Thompson is one that I would tend to agree with more often then not; excluding views on Ellen White. So I don’t write this as an opponent of Alden Thompson but as someone in general, in favor of his presentations.

At 5 min and 08 seconds into the interview in a response the question Jared Wright asks:

“What would you say that this particular message that the Good News Tour offers has to say to Adventism and how can this help Adventism as a body?”

At 5 min 33 Thompson says:

“If you ever get to the place where the entire church buys into this, and I am talking about an entire local church without providing for the opportunity for the other part to be part. Then I think that would be a very unbalanced church. You really need both perspectives in creative tension with one another not only in terms of the life of the church now but when the children come along they’ll almost guaranteed, they will have a different view then their parents. So there needs to be a big enough home to include the entire Adventist family.”

Jared Wright then asks:

“So a tent that encompasses various different positions without excluding anyone.”

Alden Thompson:


The two positions that are being referred to here are the Penal/Substitutionary Atonement, the legal view of atonement and the Moral Influence view often renamed as the demonstration view of the atonement, in Adventism named the trust healing model or the Larger view model. The Penal view sees Jesus paying the penalty for sin so that He is our substitute, who pays the penalty and who imputes His righteousness to us. The Demonstration view being that Christ demonstrated the character of love and forgiveness of God thus giving us reason to be able to verify that God is who and what He says He is and enabling us to trust God so that He can heal us.

The problem here is that the Penal/Substitutionary atonement theory has long accepted the view that Christ demonstrated the love and character of God and that it leads us to accept the gift of Grace. But that is in addition to the necessity that for God to forgive He must punish someone because His justice demands that since laws were broken punishment has to be meted out.

However the demonstrative view of atonement says that God can freely forgive and that is what love can do, it requires no punishment for forgiveness, in fact if someone is punished then it can not really even be called forgiveness. This is not a tension that can live together. Either one is Penal and accepts demonstration as an addition to Penal theory or one holds to demonstration alone, without the need for forgiveness to be predicated upon someone paying the debt of someone else.

I understand where Thompson is coming from, just after the quote given above he references some Ellen White statement about having different teachers, as if the moral influence theory is merely another teacher of atonement, a different teacher, and Penal Substitution is another teacher. Of course then carried to the logical conclusion you have to add the other theories as equally good teachers. The Ransom theory, where Jesus is a ransom paid to Satan, or the Mystical theory were we were mystically present in Adam and mystically present in Christ etc. For a more complete summary of the various atonement theories see the article on the Church history of the Atonement

Ellen White is very clearly a supporter of Penal Substitutionary Atonement even going so far as picturing Christ pleading to the Father, “my blood my blood”. Though she does have excellent statements showing the demonstrative side of Christ, those are no different from numerous other Christian authors’ statements even though they also held to the Penal/Substitutionary view. Thompson, here I think, is more consistent then the other Good News Tour presenters. But Thompson is also actually opposing their position. It is the Good News Tour presenters inconsistent use of Ellen White that bothers me the most. In one moment they will extol something from Ellen White as a presupposition that they build on and at the same time ignore multitudes of Ellen White statements which are clearly Penal Atonement views. It is a kind of inconsistency that cannot be maintained. To hold her as a prophet in some areas and not other areas creates the unsupportable position of saying when she is speaking as a prophet and when she is not, how do you tell which is which? Without any of the flexibility we can have with the Bible since it is written over thousands of years by multiple people, many unknown and many different purposes for writing.

One other note: It is my dream to actually have an entire church with the moral influence, demonstration view of the atonement. I honestly think it is the only hope Christianity has for survival. Contrary to Thompson’s view that the children will reject what they are taught I think they will cling to the things that make sense. The Penal view has held sway for 3-400 years now it is simply not true that the younger people in the church will reject the views of their parents. If that were true we would have switched atonement views far more frequently then we have.

What we need now is a church that is able to appreciate what love is and not operate under models more in line with God as tyrant than God as love. No doubt tradition will be hard to fight, and no doubt we will be accused of heresy because we don’t accept the tradition. And ultimately it means leaving behind Ellen White as prophet. For she was a product of her time and we cannot allow her time to dictate our future and we simply cannot allow the tension of contradictory beliefs to define Christian religion. For Adventism that means either progressing or retreating, moving forward with reasonable ideas or moving back to nineteenth century traditionalism repeating the same mistakes that earlier reform movements made.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Comparision of Forensic vs. Demonstrative atonement

"In a comment on a recent blog article here Douglas Hackleman gave us a link to his article “World’s Apart” written around 1980 for Spectrum. On page 6 he compares the two conflicting views on the Atonement mentioned in the previous blog articles; particularly between Graham Maxwell and Desmond Ford. While the Good News Tour claims that they are not representing Graham Maxwell’s theology the fact remains that most certainly, he has heavily influenced the Good News Tour presenters.

From Hackleman’s article [I applied the text color, green for Forensic and blue for Demonstrative theory which Maxwell calls the Larger View today]:

“The following outline contrasts a few of the major points of conflict between the Forensic and Demonstrative views of the Atonement.

(1a) In Forensic views of the atonement the emphasis is on the desperate need of the sinner to be justified or cleansed from guilt. Salvation, or a right standing, or acceptability with God, is contingent upon the penalty for our breaking the law being paid by Another (Substitution).

(1b) I have labeled the non-forensic understanding of the Atonement the Demonstrative theory because its proponents understand the Cross primarily as a revelation of many things which fit loosely under the word Grace. But because the term “revelation” comes with many semantic loadings, I have disqualified it as a title, opting instead for the Demonstrative theory of the Atonement. The detractors of this position label it Moral Influence theory primarily because it shares the belief that the Cross was intended to bring about a change in man, not in God.

(2a) Forensic theology of the Cross hangs on the concept of Substitution and Representation. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Christ took our place dying the death that the Law, or Justice, demanded.

(2b) Demonstrative thinking is good for its name at this point, enumerating several truths revealed clearly at the Cross: The Gracious love of God, the awful nature of evil, and the certainty that God can be trusted when He describes the consequences of disorderly living in His orderly universe.

(3a) The writings of St. Paul (particularly Romans the third chapter) are considered normative and authoritative for Forensic interpretations of the Cross. Quoting Desmond Ford: “Romans is the central explanation in the New Testament on the Cross of Christ.” “[Paul] synthesizes the whole weight of God’s preceding revelation. The whole Old Testament is forensic.”8

(3b) All sixty-six books of Scripture and the writings of Ellen White—interpreted in light of the life and teachings of Christ and the Great Controversy in which He was engaged—comprise the background and illumination for the Demonstrative explanation of what happened at the Cross.

(4a) A rather literal interpretation of the forensic metaphors in Scripture—particularly those of Paul in Romans—is demanded by exponents of forensic explanations of the atonement. When others suggest that Christ’s teaching—particularly the Prodigal Son parable—sheds light on God’s attitude toward sinners, Ford says, “I wouldn’t be comfortable trying to take a parable to tell the whole story of salvation,” and he cites the copious presence of forensic language in the Desire of Ages chapter on Gethsemane and Calvary and “all the forensic language there about surety, substitution, wrath.”9

(4b) The Demonstrative advocates interpret the Old Testament sacrificial system and the forensic language of Paul as metaphors of Grace, realizing that the transcendent cannot be described apart from metaphor. This from an understanding of the Great Controversy and the view of God’s posture to sinners taught by Christ through the parable of the Prodigal Son and even more profoundly demonstrated by the way Jesus treated sinners while He lived among us. God, represented by Jesus, did not become Gracious after the Cross, they contend.

(5a) The Forensic concept of sin tends to be objective. There is a tendency to ascribe ontological properties to sin; it is something. You can get it on you. “I have guilt upon me,” as Ford says. Sins, then, can be moved about in books. And the sinner has a “status” or a “standing” which only can be affected by Christ standing in the sinner’s place. Only Christ’s “work done for me matches the Holy Law,” says Ford.10

(5b) By great contrast, the Demonstrative approach to sin emphasizes its subjective nature. It is a severed or hostile relationship, a condition rather than a status, a state rather than a legal standing. This alienated condition called sin expresses its misery not only in estrangement from God but from our fellow humans and ourselves. The Demonstrative theory explains the Cross as necessary to heal sinners because only the Cross could repair the relationship broken by sin.

(6a) Speaking about “God’s holy law” and “the law accusing sinners,” the Forensic explanation of the law tends to objectify—even anthropomorphize—the law, giving it properties of its own, including the capacity to act as a prosecutor. Still, Dr. Ford says,“the law isn’t something outside [God]. The law is just what God is.”11 But that leaves God accusing sinners instead of “the accuser of the brethren,” Satan.

(6b) The law of God—from the Demonstrative perspective—is the way God made the universe and its creatures to operate: the way things are. The Ten Commandments are seen as the human being’s owner’s manual, or service manual. Living out of harmony with the way we were optimally created to live, results, naturally, in a host of miseries ending in death, which Maxwell explains, “is the consequence of disorderly living in an orderly universe.”12

(7a) The Forensic view of the atonement would have to view the death of Christ as an execution— such as the wicked will receive at the end of the age—since Jesus was made to be sin in our place and died the second death for us. Paxton speaks euphemistically about “the Father putting forward the Son to be a propitiation, but at the same time giving Himself in His Son.”13

(7b) The Demonstrative approach explains the second death of the wicked as the natural consequence of separation from God’s sustaining power brought on by intractable rebellion. God “gives them up,” or “lets them go.” Rather than paying the price or penalty for disobedience on the Cross, God demonstrated the terrible consequences of separation in Jesus who was made sin for us and cried out, “Why have you given me up?”

(8a) Ford, Paxton, and others, perceiving a lack of assurance of salvation among the Adventists they encounter, have attempted to rectify this doubt, this uncertainty, by preaching justification with a heavy legal, transactional emphasis. Reacting also to what they feel is a dangerous leaning toward a “Tridentine” theology of “salvation by works” or “imparted righteousness” or “salvation by sanctification,” they have been making it very clear that our assurance of salvation is based on what Christ did on Calvary, not what Christ is doing in me. And the argument rages whether Righteousness by Faith includes only justification or also sanctification.

(8b) Meanwhile, the Demonstrative adherents feel that the uproar over Righteousness by Faith is unfortunate since they believe, behind it all, “our assurance is based on the kind of Person God is,” and that a thorough study of Scripture fosters trust in statements like Paul’s in Romans 1:17 where the Righteousness of God is revealed as the good news of His power to heal and save. If we believe that, the doubt over assurance is unfounded.

Well, is the cross primarily a substitution? Or is it at its heart a revelation? Is it a legitimate method, for understanding the Cross and its purpose, to accept Paul’s forensic language as normative, and to take that language quite literally? Or do we need to focus more on Christ’s revelation of God and His central role in the Great Controversy? And should not the tendency for Paul to emphasize legal terminology be understood as—at least in part—a reflection of the period and culture in which he lived and to which he tendered his unprecedented message?"