Friday, August 6, 2010

Gandalf And The Atonement (Part 5)

Today I will continue my series on Gandalf's letter/response to my recent series on NT Wright where I severely criticized Wright for corrupting the Gospel by denying penal substitutionary atonement. I know Wright says he affirms it, but if you read the series you will see how this is standard practice for Wright to affirm something when he is really only affirming his own redefining of critical biblical truths.

The fourth point of Gandalf's letter I wish to respond to is the following:

I generally think the amount of flame and vitriol in this debate goes beyond its purpose. People on both sides should handle it more in a manner like the one you advised in your post about the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate, otherwise we would only deserve the laughter of the Spongs, Borgs, Bells and McLarens in this world for our quarreling.

There is intensity this debate for good reason. There are debates that can be interesting and worthwhile on some level without being hills to die on. But the subject of the atonement is a hill worth dying on. As I discussed in part 2 of this series, our understanding of the atonement has strong repercussions as to how we view God and how we approach Him as sinners. Todd Friel discusses this here (by the way, Bart Campolo is Tony Campolo's son):

Gandalf, I understand you are a fan of CS Lewis. I don't know a lot about him but I do know that there is a major theological flaw in the first Narnia movie that affects the Gospel. Do you know what it is? Anyone?

Go On To Part 6
Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1


gandalf said...

You wrote:
"But the subject of the atonement is a hill worth dying on"

no doubt about that, but once again: Is Wright denying the atoning work of Christ? Is the matter really at hand here?

For good reason I put up the names of some well-known liberals at the end of my paragraph. These guys do in one way or another deny the need of humankind for a saviour.

The only thing that Wright says differently as many reformed guys but in line with Paul in Romans is that we should not speak of God punishing his son instead of punishing men, but "condemned sin in the flesh of Christ".
Otherwise he confirms that sin is deadly and leads to condemnation. He also said in a sermon that to deny God's wrath is to deny God's love.

You may find the whole sermon here:

gandalf said...

Hi Cameron,

you asked me about C.S. Lewis Narnia books and about the movie about it.

Unfortunately I do not know much about his fairy tales as opposed to his apologetical writings, but I think the movies contain many departures from the narrative in the books.

Personally, I don't think you should look for a (academically) precise gospel presentation in the Narnia books, in fact there are some things presented there in a way contrary to Lewis' opinions written down in his more "serious" books.

I may look for some information, but it may take a few days.

Steve Meikle said...

Yes, I noticed this one too, the old ransom to satan theory. And if you look in the silver chair you see "an atheist peak out" (which is the title of an essay I wrote on this subject, but never published )

The Green Witch tries to convince the children that there is no realm above them ( as they were underground "there was no Narnia," she was trying to say). Their response? "you may very well be right, but it is better to believe it than not"

What kind of faith is this? That of an atheist who was never really convinced. Can you imagine Paul saying to Festus, you may very well be right but it is better to believe in Jesus than not?

However there are worse heresies in his non fiction. When he says of unbelieving thoughts SHOVE THEM BACK (in Mere Christianity) he is advocating will of the flesh and hypocrisy. Did confessing them to God as sin not occur to him?

And when he said LET'S PRETEND he was advocating hypocrisy

I think Lewis quite good on general apologetics, and I enjoy Narnia as fiction and fiction only, not theology. But when it came to christian living in he did not know his subject