The Atonement Part 62--Moot Court (i)

Claim #7 states: “God instituted the Old Testament animal sacrifices because our debt to him must be paid in blood.”  Undergirding this claim are six sub-claims, the first three of which we will summarily refute in this moot court session, saving the remaining three for the next session.

Sub-claim #1 states: “God hates us and wants to kill us.”  As risible as this claim sounds, the Atonement School can actually build a formidable prima facie case for it by stringing together a number of verses taken mostly from the Old Testament.  Notable among these verses is Psalm 5:5--“The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.”  While the Atonement School’s woodenly literal interpretation of this passage saves its appearances, it does not account for passages like 1 John 4:16--“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.  God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”  The Restored-Icon School reconciles these verses by understanding statements about God’s “hatred” to be phenomenological language.  When human sin interacts with the divine energies, the resulting catastrophe appears to the onlookers to be the result of God’s wrath or hatred.

Sub-claim #2 states: “To appease God’s hatred, we have to kill animals as proxies for ourselves.”  While there is much data to refute this claim, today’s lecture confines itself to the story of Balaam’s donkey.  In this bizarre event from Numbers the twenty-second chapter, the Angel of the Lord explicitly tells Balaam that he would have killed Balaam for the sin that he (Balaam) was committing, but would have spared the innocent donkey.  Balaam must pay for his own sin; an animal proxy cannot do it for him.

Sub-claim #3 states: “When we fail to appease God with blood, or when we displease him in some other way, he inflicts temporal punishment on us.”  We undermine this doctrine of temporal punishment by showing that the even the Atonement School’s own grandees cannot apply it consistently.  In an audio clip dated 2004, R.C. Sproul, Jr. describes human suffering as punishment from God.  But in an audio clip dated 2014, the same man cautions against one’s seeing suffering as divine punishment.  This about-face makes sense when one learns that in the ten years between those statements, Sproul’s wife died, his daughter died, and he himself came down with cancer.

We count R.C. Sproul, Jr. among our “usual suspects.”  But we will also hear from two unusual suspects: tabloid journalist Geraldo Rivera and washed-up heavyweight Mitch (Blood) Green. 

Run time: 23:31; Posted: 2/15/15