Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ty Gibson's Sermon on Penal Atonement

Thanks to the Good News Tour some people may have been under the impression that Ty Gibson is like many Progressive Adventists against the Penal/Substitutionary Atonement Theory; instead holding to Christ’s revelation of His Character of love as the method of drawing us to God. Simply put God did not have to punish Christ, Christ did not suffer the wrath of God but God was through Christ demonstrating the love of God and His ability to forgive and reconcile no need to kill in order to forgive. Today I listened to Ty Gibson’s Auburn Camp meeting presentation from Tuesday June 23, 2009. The first 30 to 40 minutes seemed innocuous enough mainly dealing with the attractive nature of God’s love revealed by Jesus Christ. But then as so many Adventists do he began to intentionally misinterpret the Bible to make it appear that Christ could not see through the portals of the tomb, even though He clearly could from the New Testament stories and Jesus made it plan to the thief on the cross that the thief would be with Jesus in paradise. But the need to incorporate Ellen White’s extra biblical ideas into the Bible is very strong among traditional Adventists. Yes I would label Ty Gibson a traditional Adventist, not simply because of his history on 3ABN, but his theology is very much that of traditional Adventists who can’t seem to pull themselves away from Ellen White and Penal/Substitutionary Atonement. The Good News Tour often uses Ty Gibson in their presentations because he seems to have a willingness to speak on the influence of the love of God, but make no mistake he does not really depart from penal atonement theory as I will demonstrate here. In fact his opening text at the camp meeting sermon was not from the Bible but from Ellen White. I suppose that such things are appropriate at camp meetings since they are mainly attended by traditional Adventists who think that Ellen White is in total harmony with the Bible because they interpret the Bible by Ellen White.


After a highly questionable attempt to indicate that Christ is a separate person who no longer held to the attributes of God. Instead of recognizing Christ as still God but living as a human being because if God was Omnipresent, Omnipotent and all knowing Christ’s life would be like a charade.


Ty Gibson says:

“What would it mean for someone who is omniscient to say My God My God why have you forsaken me, what would it mean?


The answer is probably that Jesus was directing the listener’s attention to Psalm 22 which is a Psalm of tragedy to triumph. There is nothing in the New Testament to indicate that God abandoned Christ, nothing to indicate that God forsook Christ. But it is a founding tenant in Traditional Adventist’s Penal Atonement theory despite its lack of New Testament documentation other then reading into those words “My God My God why have you forsaken me”


He continues:

“What would it mean? Approximately nothing. It would be meaningless because if you were omniscient not to mention omnipresent you would be on the cross in that locale and you would simultaneously be where? In heaven with the Father.”…


“So Jesus was revealing love authentically so that we could look at the cross and believe that He did lay down His life for you and me. That there was a period of time when He couldn’t see through the portals of the tomb. When bright hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave as a conqurer. Jesus hung between heaven and earth my friends and He literally was submerged within the deep dense psychological darkness of your shame and mine. Our guilt our sin”…


He then quotes Isaiah 53 where the Lord laid the iniquity of all of us on him.

“The collective whole of all human sin as though He were the guilty party. Do you know what that means? Just to give a hint as to what it might mean imagine for a nanosecond what it would be like right now if you were made perfectly conscious of every sin you have ever committed. .. all the guilt of sin would come to an acute awareness in our consciousness that would crush us. Jesus goes to the cross and He experiences the full ramifications of our sin. Not as a charade, but as a literal actual sacrifice of Himself, and there hanging upon the cross, unbelievable.”


“Psalm 88 as a messianic prophecy pointing forward to Jesus probing into the inner workings of mind and heart hanging there upon the cross not to mention in Gethsemane he says [I am using the NIV I don’t know which version or paraphrase he is quoting but instead of transcribing I will use the NIV] “my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more,”


He then interjects: “This is second death language by the way”

You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. “what kind of darkness, like the turn off the lights kind of darkness? This is a metaphor for what is going on in His mind in His heart as He bares our sins.” Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah He said in chapter 26 of Matthew I am exceedingly sorrowful even to the point of death” Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah



“Verse 8 is crucial”

You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction?


“You hear what Jesus is going through here? Jesus is feeling a psychological and emotional chasm of separation from the Father that is so immense that He begins to feel that He is sinking into a depth from which there will be no resurrection. I am shut out and I can’t get out shall I arise even? Is there a resurrection Father from the death to which I am sinking? But here is the thing my friend. Jesus had earlier told His disciples no man takes my life from me I lay it down freely…”


Now is there some indication that Psalms 88 is a messianic prophecy let alone one that talks about Jesus Christ’s psychological and emotional state on the cross? Here is the whole Psalm.


Ps 88:1-18

CHAPTER 88

1 O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you.

2 May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.

3 For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave.

4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength.

5 I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.

6 You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.

7 Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah

8 You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape;

9 my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.

10 Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah

11 Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction?

12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

13 But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

14 Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?

15 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.

16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.

17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.

18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. (NIV)


Take the time to read the surrounding chapters as well, you will see that there is nothing here to cause one to place this as a messianic prophecy other then a desire to find something in the Bible to back up Ellen White’s statements and the Penal idea that the wrath of God was poured out upon Christ, which we have to remember is another of those ideas missing from the New Testament. If one looks at the lists of presumed Messianic prophecies 88:8 is however listed. These lists are made primarily by comparing any phrase found in the Gospels that is close to a phrase found in the Psalms. For instance the website 365 Messianic prophecies states under number 127:

Psalms 88:8...They stood afar off and watched...Luke 23:49


A site called 324 Messianic prophecies uses the same thing. These type of messianic prophecies are all based upon a very loose comparisons of a few words based upon the King James Version of the Bible. For this Luke 23:49 says: And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. Compared with the KJV version of Psalms 88:8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth. The similarity being the word “acquaintance” and “far” of course if you consider going from Hebrew to Greek even those limited words could be questionable.


Considering Psalm 88 does seem to begin naturally in verse 1 (remember verse numbers were not used in the original texts of the Bible and Psalms were referred to by how they began since they had no numbers or some other memorable refrain from the Psalm). This Psalm begins with “O LORD, the God who saves me”, to use this as some sort of evidence that Christ did not think He would be resurrected is to ignore the beginning sentiments. No, there is little evidence that this is a messianic Psalm. This is a good example of having an idea and reading meaning into a section of the Bible to make it appear that the Bible is saying something it is not. This is known as Eisegesis.


Eisegesis is a huge problem in Christianity. Remember above where Ty Gibson said “this is second death language”. Biblically the second death is mentioned only in the book of Revelation and it is described as a death to which there is no resurrection. In Ty Gibson’s sermon he uses eisegesis to arrive at a position very similar to the Word Faith teachers, such as Kenneth Copeland who once said:


"How did Jesus then on the cross say, ‘My God.’ Because God was not His Father any more. He took upon Himself the nature of Satan. And I’m telling you Jesus is in the middle of that pit. He’s suffering all that there is to suffer, there is no suffering left . . . apart from Him. His emaciated, little wormy spirit is down in the bottom of that thing and the devil thinks He’s got Him destroyed. But, all of a sudden God started talking." (Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice of Victory (television program), TBN, 21 April 1991.)


The similarities here are interesting, first Ty Gibson set forth Jesus as not God because He did not have the 3 omni characteristics of God. They can then move to the next step which is that Jesus died Spiritually, as in Adventist terminology Jesus died the second death. There is an interesting article by Troy J. Edwards and Victory through the Word Ministries I am going to use some of the sections from this article to point out the similarities between Ty Gibson, Word of Faith movement and earlier Penal Atonement theorists. The above link is to Part 1, most of my quotes will be from Part 2 of the article.


First here is a bit from the article about what the Word of Faith teaches using Psalm 88:


The Old Testament, according to the Lord Himself, gives us a picture of all that the Lord was to suffer. Though the disciples were focused on what the Messiah would suffer at the hands of the chief priests and rulers (Luke 24:20), the OT Scriptures focus on both His physical sufferings as well with His internal sufferings. One of the first passages we find in relation to His internal sufferings is in Psalm 71:20-21:


Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.


Though this might be applied to David symbolically, it's literal meaning can only be applied to Jesus Christ Himself. David never died and had to be made alive again and David never went to the depths of the earth. On the other hand, God gave David a glimpse into the future concerning the coming Messiah that the Father would send in the fulness of time. It was He who died and was made alive again. It was He who went to the depths of the earth. The New Living Translation interprets the first part of verse 20 this way: "You allowed me to suffer much hardship..."


If read in the sequence in which this Psalm is written and applied to the Lord, it would seem that the Lord had suffered while still in the depths of the earth. However, I can understand if this passage from the 71st Psalm is not enough to convince the reader that perhaps Christ suffering in hell on behalf of His people may have been prophesied. I believe however, that Psalms 88 gives us much stronger evidence of this possibility. Although a sound exposition of this Psalm would do more justice in the presentation of our case, it would require us to make this series of essays longer than we desire. Instead, I will quote the first seven verses from two different translations:


I won’t deal with the eisegesis of Psalm 71:20-21 now, you can read it and see that it is simply another example of reading into a text the meaning you want just as is being done to Psalms 88. When you read into a text you can always make it refer to whatever you want, here we see that they apply Psalm 88 to Jesus in hell, whereas Ty Gibson makes it Jesus on the cross. What is so interesting about this article is how they relate the Word Faith movement beliefs with pervious Christian writers who taught Penal Atonement theory:


John Calvin seemed to believe wholeheartedly that Christ descended to hell and suffered there. In his well known works, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin says:


If Christ had dies[sic] only a bodily death, it would have been ineffectual. No – it was expedient at the same time for him to undergo the severity of God's vengeance, to appease his wrath and satisfy his just judgement. For this reason, he must also grapple hand to hand with the armies of hell and and the dread of everlasting death ... Christ was put in place of evildoers as surety and pledge – submitting himself even as the accused – to bear and suffer all the punishments that they ought to have sustained. All this with one exception: "He could not be held by the pangs of death."[19]

Now some critics of the Faith Movement would attempt to make us believe that Calvin's teaching is different from that which is advocated by the Faith Movement.[20] Yet we have Calvin saying that Christ had to "suffer all the punishments that they ought to have sustained." Is Calvin saying that men would only have suffered torments in their soul for the rest of eternity if Christ had not suffered them on their behalf? Furthermore, what does it [sic] Calvin mean by having to "grapple hand to hand with the armies of hell and and the dread of everlasting death?" Calvin is very clear that Christ's suffering was not limited to the cross alone but He actually descended into hell itself and suffered there:


The article gives several other examples which I won’t list but they are interesting how so much of Christian history believed that Jesus (who is God) had to die spiritually, that God had to literally cease to be God, which indicates a real lack of understanding about the nature of God. Primarily that God is One. In the words of Ty Gibson it becomes a charade. For the Word of Faith movement that Jesus (who is God) suffered in Hell and for Ty Gibson that conservatively 10 Billion lives worth of human sins were placed upon Christ who felt the guilt for all of them though He was guiltless but this feeling of guilt was the second death and Jesus thought He would die forever for undertaking the charade.


While in the main I have not offered the alternative to Ty Gibson and the other Penal Theory proponents you can read more in my article What is wrong with the Substitutionary theory of the Atonement? And Moral Influence Theory and the Adventist World Magazine This is probably the biggest problem in Christianity today as it says horrible things about God, God has to punish, pour out His wrath and place as a penalty on Jesus (who is God) so that God can forgive the guilty. It makes it appear that Christ is more loving than God, Christ loves and offers Himself as sacrifice while God demands that someone even if it is the innocent has to suffer before God will forgive. It is a terrible view of God and it is not the New Testament view of God but a relatively new view only popularized about 500 years ago with the Satisfaction theory of atonement which progressed into the penal/Substitutionary atonement. Still most people don’t think about what their tradition really says about God. But in the postmodern world we need to present a much more accurate view of God than this human based medieval traditions.

6 comments:

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Messianic said...

Messianic is the right thing!

Bulworth said...

Thanks for the article, Ron. I also wonder what penal substitution theorists think about the wrath of God portrayed in Revelation. If Jesus endured God's wrath for our sins at the cross, why then does Revelation seemingly picture God's wrath coming upon mankind (except for the 144,000 and the great multitude)?

I imagine they would answer something about how His suffering was really only for the Elect or those who choose Jesus as their Savior.

But the result is largely the same, it seems to me: despite Christ's sacrificial life and death, God is still full of wrath, which must be appeased, or meted out.

Ron Corson said...

The classic explaination of the people who represent the Good News Tour and HeavenlySanctuary.com based upon Graham Maxwell's view is that God gives these people up. That God wrath is merely His giving them up to what they have chosen.

But in this sermon Gibson places the wrath as God placing the guilt of all sinners upon Christ and someone He feels the intense guilt for all of these things He never did and He thus thinks He will never be resurrected.

Gibson's view seems to be a hybrid of Maxwell and Penal Theory with Penal theory getting the major role.

What the Word Faith movement article showed me is that there is a tradition in Christianity that Jesus died spiritually. Which is frankly as bizarre as Adventist Jesus died the second death, but still awfully similar. I think I will explore some more of that in my next article.

Pickle said...

There is an inconsistency, though. The Maxwell crowd do talk about God giving the wicked up, but "give up" in the Greek is a word that is often used in a legal setting. That doesn't jive with their attempts to remove the judicial aspect from all of this.

But I have found two verses that predict the rise of that theology:

Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

2Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Another interesting quote is: "These theories, followed to their logical conclusion, sweep
away the whole Christian economy" (MH 428).

Thus, Dr. Milton Crane may have been on to something when he linked that theology to something akin to Kellogg's theories. Kellogg's theories would sweep away the whole Christian economy.

The Jewish economy was all the sacrifices and ceremonies. The Christian economy would be the antitype of the Jewish economy, including the idea that Christ died in our place, suffering the penalty of sin as our substitute.

That theology, carried to its logical conclusion, sweeps away the whole Christian economy, and routinely belittles those who believe what God has revealed about the atonement.

Anonymous said...

All of the new theories coming into the church must make sure that they foster unbelief in Mrs. White's writings. Some, like Dr. Kenneth Hart, are so bold as to try his best to show where EGW contradicted Scripture. If a person gives in even slightly to the idea that the writings of EG White cannot be used for exegesis, then they are pulled down a dangerous path that allows for human opinion to be held above that which the messenger of the Lord revealed to her. The haters of the penal atonement theory hate the cross and the fact that it took the blood of Christ to remit our sins. Jesus was the Lamb of God. If Jim, a person in Old Testament days, sinned, he had to take a spotless lamb and slay it. The lamb would be Jim's lamb. Jesus was the God's lamb. The Father took the son's life by laying the sins of humanity upon His Son. Any other view is human opinion. Who hates the substitutionary death of Jesus more than Satan?