Baptist post about how God can be just and forgive. is this right?

My Baptist friend made a post saying the following:

"Question:
How can God be just and righteous while forgiving, liers, thieves, murderers, and adulters?

Answer:
Through Christ’s death on the cross the unjust acts against God were justified.

What does that mean?
It means that while we have forgiveness for us, the ultimate purpose is in protecting the character of God. By ensuring that the price of purifying the corrupt is paid without ruining the already corrupt."

This sounds a little odd to me. Wonder what you guys think of it?

I’m not a theologian, but I’m uncomfortable with the language. We are justified. I don’t believe our sins themselves are simply made just (this sounds like a “I’m washed in the blood, therefore I can do whatever!” type mentality). But it’s not just that. Martin Luther spoke of us as piles of manure, and God’s justification as being a blanket of pure white snow on top of it, covering up the vileness. As Catholics, if we were to borrow the metaphor, the process of salvation (which is different than just justification) is like God planting seeds in the manure, and the resulting plants flowering and turning it to rich soil (if we cooperate).

That is, we are justified in Christ by what he did to redeem the race of men collectively before God, and which individuals may partake of. But Christ did not die so that, whatever we may do, we’d be saved. Christ died to break the bonds of death, to provide us a model of obedience (in contrast to Adam’s disobedience), and more. Being a Christian is not simply being saved or not saved, like an on/off switch. It’s a lifelong transformation and goal. It’s an initiation into a family. It is not a king and serf, scenario. Nor master and slave. It’s a family, and there are expectations. We may not be perfect, and we may never merit on our own our presence in the family, but God has provided for us as imperfect beings to allow us to remain a part of it.

I responded to him saying

“hmm this doesnt sound right to me. It makes it sound like the acts themselves are justified.”

I’ll let you know what he says

I agree that the language is problematic. The root of the problem is that the Protestant understanding of Christ’s work on the Cross is completely wrong. The Protestant view of the Cross is called “Penal Substitution” (click Here for more info) in which they believe the point of the Cross was for Jesus to receive the very punishment our sins deserved (i.e. being eternally cut off from the Father). They believe that this transaction is what allows God to “forgive” while upholding His Justice. This is all wrong.

The Church explains that God only allows sin to enter the world in order to either (1) prevent a worse evil from happening, or (2) if God can somehow bring about a greater good from that sin. As hard as it is to wrap our minds around this, it is the truth. So any sin we commit, God only allows it for those reasons. For example, if someone becomes addicted to alcohol, even though that is a sin and not pleasing in God’s sight, God might be allowing it so that later on when they convert they able to help out others struggling with similar addictions (2 Cor 1:3-4). This sort of lays the foundation to answer the original question more properly.

God forgives because He is merciful and we are weak. The Cross provides a real life example for showing what “He is merciful and we are weak” means. The Cross was not about the Father punishing Jesus in our place, as Protestants mistakenly believe, it was about Christ as High Priest making Atonement for our sins. Atonement is a cleansing ritual that repairs damage done. The love the Jesus showed to His enemies and throughout His life is the love we should have shown to God and neighbor. This love that Jesus showed was infinitely pleasing to God, as an analogy Jesus offered up a fragrant aroma that completely blots out the stench of sin in God’s nostrils.

The Cross was never about protecting God’s character, as if His character ever was or could be compromised. Rather, it was about God not allowing sin to win in the end. The Cross was about God saying “I will not leave humanity fallen forever, I will make all things right someday, when the time is right to do so”.

Hes now responded with

“It is a reference to thru Christ’s death our wrongful act against God were justified.”

This doesnt seem to help though

The problem is that Protestantism does not offer the proper theology or vocabulary that the Catholic Church offers, so Protestantism is not able to go beyond simple one-sentence responses like that.

Everyone believes that Jesus died for our sins…but what does “Jesus died for our sins” even mean? Only the Catholic Church has the detailed and reasonable answer.

He still seems to think that the acts themselves are justified through Christ’s sacrifice, which is not correct. The sinful acts are not justified, we are. Through Christ’s sacrifice -we- are made clean, not the acts. Christ’s sacrifice great enough to atone for all of our sins.

Part of the problem is that your friend is missing one key piece of the puzzle, Purgatory. Without Purgatory I understand why he might be confused. God’s mercy offers us forgiveness, but his justice demands that we atone for our sins. As Catholics, we understand that our atonement takes place while we live our lives, through penance and reparation; and after our deaths, in Purgatory. God’s justice is satisfied through our purification, and his mercy is satisfied when we accept his forgiveness. Without Purgatory, any sins which we do not atone for in life would essentially be ignored, which would indeed seem to violate God’s justice.

Protestantism really falls short when looking at the dichotomy between God’s mercy and his justice. This is because of their incomplete understanding of how God’s mercy is put to work in our lives through the sacraments; and in death through Purgatory. Without these two things, it is unlikely that your friend will ever be able to develop a sufficiently reasonable response to the question.

I’d like to note that this is my understanding, at may not be 100% accurate.

Ok so I’m thinking of this as a response to him. I’m combining some of you guys’ posts. Let me know if there is an issue with this reply or anything you would add or subtract to make it a good response

" This still seems to think that the acts themselves are justified through Christ’s sacrifice, which is not correct. The sinful acts are not justified, we are. Through Christ’s sacrifice -we- are made clean, not the acts.

The Cross was not about the Father punishing Jesus in our place, it was about Christ as High Priest making Atonement for our sins. Atonement is a cleansing ritual that repairs damage done. The Cross was never about protecting God’s character, as if His character ever was or could be compromised. Rather, it was about God not allowing sin to win in the end. The Cross was about God saying “I will not leave humanity fallen forever, I will make all things right someday, when the time is right to do so”.
God’s mercy offers us forgiveness, but his justice demands that we atone for our sins. we understand that our atonement takes place while we live our lives, through penance and reparation; and after our deaths, in Purgatory. God’s justice is satisfied through our purification, and his mercy is satisfied when we accept his forgiveness. Without Purgatory, any sins which we do not atone for in life would essentially be ignored, which would indeed seem to violate God’s justice."

This language is intended to suggest that we are saved by “faith alone”. In other words, no response is required from us. It is also used to support the doctrine of “once saved akwS saved”. It serves to eliminate the need for the church, sacraments, and good works.

The faith alone concept incorporates the idea that the crucifixion saves us from all past present and future sins.

Compare this to Matthew 25, James 2, or any scrupture on repentance or God’s judgement

I decided to start off simple with

“This still seems to think that the acts themselves are justified through Christ’s sacrifice, which is not correct. The sinful acts are not justified, we are. Through Christ’s sacrifice -we- are made clean, not the acts”

We’ll see what he says to this first

He replied with

“What I mean is that if a Holy, Pure, Just God forgives without a sacrifice then God is no longer Just. Indeed we are Justified in Christ with repentance and death of self.”

Repentance is a good thing.

However, when a Protestant talks about being born again it’s usually something resembling an altar call (professing your faith…“alone”).

There is likely some degree of Calvinism (predestination, or once saved always saved) also at work here, so it may not resemble how we think of repentance. There are are many baptist denominations so it’s difficult to pin down.

Hes part of the southern Baptist convention. I’m not sure where they stand exactly but this might narrow it down a bit

If every bad act by everyone has been justified past, present and future, by Christ’s death, why does one need God at all? Is it conditional upon one accepting Christ as personal savior? No, the Bible never said that is conditional. That is bad man-made theology. Christ died for all but not all will be saved.

The cross has always been recognized as a redemptive act or at least by Catholics. Ask him how he differentiate the Christ the Redeemer redeeming act vs Christ the Savior saving act. Redemption in itself does not save, but open doors to heaven so that one might possibly be saved. Christ death is His act, our act in order to be saved is to cooperate with God’s grace so that we are grafted on to God’s family. To be an accepted member of God’s family, we must be in good standing i.e. deemed just/righteous by listening to and obeying ALL the things Jesus said to do if we love him, till we die. We need stamina to complete the race. That’s what the sacraments are there for to strengthen us. Those who signed up but never bothered to complete the race will be found outside the door.

To be clear while Penal Substitution is a popular view it is not held by all Protestants. Though I do think it fair to say the basic idea pervades much of Protestantism.

It is good that he recognizes we must repent and die to self. It would be interesting to ask if he thinks then we must cooperate with God’s grace. If so he doesn’t hold a more extreme view that we are not held accountable for our sins.

I just asked him. We shall see

He responded asking

“what do you mean” (in regards to asking him if he believes we must cooperate with God’s grace)

As him if he knows the difference between Redemption and Salvation.

Excellent! :wink:

When Jesus spent his time on Earth, he would have lived by the greatest commandments, he could do nothing greater. But how did Jesus love all his neighbours as he loved himself, the neighbours who condemned him to death and nailed him to the cross. We know Jesus prayed on the cross forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

Could it possibly be; that nothing should stand in the way of Jesus loving all his neighbours as he loves himself?

Could the forgiveness of sins hang and depend on the greatest commandments?

It could be said that Jesus loves us more than he loves himself, because he was prepared to die for us. It could also be said that Jesus does not love us as much as he loves himself, because he holds the power of heaven or hell.

The greatest commandments seem profound; when you test them against our perception of the Love of Jesus.

We are commanded to love one another as Jesus loved us, this seems a challenging test of faith.

Just a thought.

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