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Featured Penal Substitution Theory and the presupposed (eisegesis) definition of מוּסָר in Isaiah 53:5

Discussion in 'Christian Theology Forum' started by John Caldwell, Nov 28, 2019.

  1. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    Throughout several “debates” some who advocate the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement have offered a verse as evidence of their position while the verse itself is far from proving their point. Basically, they through up a verse and then state their opinion (illustration: John 3:16 tells us that limma beans are nasty, therefore if you disagree you disagree with God…it does not state that but it nevertheless says it because that’s how theology works).

    I am going to look at a few of these instances and claims starting with מוּסָר (the word often translated “chastening” or “chastisement” in Isaiah 53:5).

    What we have seen on this forum is some offering the passage and making the claim that “the chastisement of (or for) our peace was upon him” a clear statement of Penal Substitution when it is in fact far from a statement (much less a clear one) of the Theory. (This was done by @Enoch111 in Penal Substitution is NOT a “Theory” and by @Steve Owen in Calvinism)

    The Hebrew word used in Scripture translated as “chastening” or “chastisement” is מוּסָר‎ (
    (mûsr). It is used 50 times in Scripture. Most of the time (30 times) it is used to mean “instruction”. It also means correction, bond, and discipline. In terms of Christ it can be related to the Greek word μανθάνω (instruction) as found in Hebrews 5:8 (“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”).

    The word “chasten” means (1) to correct by punishment or suffering, (2) to prune of excess or pretense, or(3) to cause to be humble or restrained. (Merriam-Webster).

    Mounce (Complete Expository Dictionary) notes that the word can mean "correction" or "discipline". There are several Hebrew words that point to punishment, but the one we are dealing with here does not.

    So we have a few things to consider. The English word could mean punishment, but this is one of several choices. The related Greek word does not mean punishment but could mean discipline or instruction.

    The point is not that using the word to mean “punishment” is impossible linguistically (although scholars of the language have stated it is not a related meaning). The point is that those who hold Penal Substitution Theory need to explain why they choose this meaning, especially since it is not necessarily considered one of the meanings of Hebrew word and does not fit with the Greek word expressing the purpose of “the things which [Christ] suffered”.

    The problem is those who hold Penal Substitution Theory offer a verse as “proof” when it is in fact far from evidence the theory is correct and then they try to silence anyone from pointing this out by insulting them and obscuring the issues.

    What needs to take place is those who would interpret the word as "punishment" need to explain the reasoning behind their interpretation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
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  2. Enoch111

    Enoch111 Well-Known Member

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    1. First of all A DOZEN VERSES were presented and ignored. And if more verses are presented they too will be ignored.

    2. Secondly when a Christian calls the core of the Gospel a *theory* he shows his true colors. He does not believe God.
     
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  3. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    @Enoch111,

    I apologize for the confusion.

    While there are several instances like this the reference for the OP is Isaiah 53:5. I must not have stated the verse by oversight.

    Are you saying you believe the verse means our "punishment" was laid on Christ? If so, are you able to justify that opinion? If so, how?

    Insofar as other passages I have asked you to support that claim on the appropriate thread. If you are able I look forward to your reply on that thread (I am interested in knowing which verses you believe I, and supposedly most of Christianity, have rejected).

    What I am questioning is not the gospel of Christ but the theory expounding on the gospel (the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement). I am do not believe any of our theories about the gospel should be used to replace the gospel of Christ (if any of these theories are held as the gospel itself then they are false gospels lacking the power of God unto salvation).

    John
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
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  4. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Active Member

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    The Doctrine of Penal Substitution does not depend on arguments over the meaning of 'chastisement' in Isaiah 53:5, although it might be compared to Deuteronomy 11:2-7 and Jeremiah 30:12-15 where the same Hebrew word is used and the idea of punishment is very much to the fore. Therefore 'punishment is well within the semantic range of מוּסָר‎, musar.
    Therefore the context must decide the meaning of the word in a given place:
    'He was wounded for our transgressions,
    He was bruised
    [or 'crushed'] for our iniquities;
    The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,,
    And by His stripes
    [or 'cutting blows' - NKJV margin] we are healed.
    .........For He was cut off from the land of the living;
    For the transgression of My people He was stricken,
    .........Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
    He has put Him to grief.'


    I invite people to assess the likely meaning of musar, 'chastisement,' here. In the context of these verses, would you translate it as 'instruction,' as @John Caldwell seems to believe or as 'punishment'?

    Moreover, John the Baptist described the Lord Jesus as 'The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29). In the light of the description of the Peace Offering in Leviticus 3:6-8, was the lamb 'instructed,' or did something else happen to it?
     
  5. Nondenom40

    Nondenom40 Active Member

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    Personally i don't think penal substitutional atonement has to be terribly hard to understand.

    Apart from Jesus we bear the wrath of God.
    Those in Christ do not bear the wrath of God.

    For those who are saved, where did the wrath go? Jesus took it for us. We broke Gods law, i.e. we've sinned. When you break the law you are now in the penal system. Charges are drawn up, you see a judge and you are sentenced. In the bible we all have sinned; Romans 3:23. Everyone has a certificate of debt which has things written on it which are hostile to us. But for the saved, ours is nailed to the cross; Col 2:14. He became sin for us, we receive His righteousness; 2 Cor 5:21. There is no condemnation for those in Christ; Romans 8:1.

    The whole idea revolves around sin and Gods wrath. Either you own your sin and Gods wrath abides on you or Jesus takes your sin and you have peace with God; Romans 5:1. I don't see the difficulty.
     
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  6. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Active Member

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    It isn't the least bit hard to understand. It's just that some people keep bringing up half-baked objections to it and they take a wearisome amount of time to deal with.
     
  7. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    I agree that Penal Substitution Theory is not hard at all to understand. And I agree the whole idea revolves around sin and wrath (within a specific philosophy of justice).

    I also believe it is false (I lean towards the "classic view" on this issue.

    To the point of the OP - do you believe Isaiah 53:5 says that God punished Jesus was instead of punishing us ? If so, why do you view the theme of the verse as punishment and what justification would you use to derive that conclusion from what is actually said in the text of Scripture?
     
  8. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    I do not agree that people have no right to disagree with Penal Substitution Theory simply because many who hold the theory cannot defend it via Scripture. That is why I have (and will continue) to ask how you (and other's of your tradition, my former tradition) get from the data (Scripture) to your conclusions (not in Scripture, nor apparently taught by Scripture as no one thus far has been able to back up even one of those presuppositions that are distinctive to Penal Substitution Theory).

    My goal is not to change any of your minds but that others may come to the realization that Penal Substitution Theory is a theory and examine it as such to determine where they will stand rather than blindly follow the opinions of other men. Historically Penal Substitution Theory has been a minority view (for a long time there is no evidence it actually existed) and it continues to be a minority view within Christianity. So Christians do need to examine what others (what "classic Christianity" teaches before accepting indoctrination into a system or tradition.

    I agree that it is not hard to understand. Like Calvinism, the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement is very simple and concise. I held the view for most of my life (taught and preached it as well). But even apart from my experience it is simple to grasp. So is the idea God paid a ransom to Satan. Simplicity is not the criteria for correctness of doctrine.

    You stated that מוּסָר‎ in Isaiah 54:5 means "punishment". It is used 50 times in Scripture, 39 times to mean "instruction". It has been translated chastening, chastisement, discipline, instruction.... but rarely has any Hebrew scholars translated the word "punishment". Mounce offers a list of entirely different Hebrew words that can be translated "punishment" (מוּסָר‎ not among ).

    Why do you believe that מוּסָר‎ should be read as "punishment" rather than "chastisement" or "chastening" (words that can carry different meanings)?
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  9. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    @Nondenom40 , @Steve Owen , and @Enoch111

    It is obvious that I believe Penal Substitution Theory a false and distracting doctrine that has weakened the Church. But that is not the topic here. This is your chance to defend your view of this verse (I'll look at other verses on different threads for clarity).

    Regardless of whether your theory is correct, or whether your interpretation of מוּסָר‎ to mean "punishment" is accurate - I am asking you how you arrive at this conclusion. Most of the time the word does NOT mean punishment. Scholars have suggested it cannot mean punishment. No translation (that I know of) has translated the word as "punishment". Even the English word "chastening" does not demand the meaning "punishment". BUT that is what you all seem to read when you read the verse.

    If you do not arrive at your conclusion of this verse via eisegesis then please walk us through your process.
     
  10. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Active Member

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    @John Caldwell
    I am quite happy with what I wrote in Post #4, thank you.
    I await your comments on it before expanding further.
     
  11. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, I missed the post (must be the turkey....not you but dinner :p ).

    As Mounce notes, "punishment" is not within the semantic range of מוּסָר -BUT even if it were it would be dependent on anyone who chooses the word to defend it's choice.

    My comment was that it is in the range of the Greek word μανθάνω as used in Hebrews 5:8 (“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered”). Here the word μανθάνω also points to instruction but as Steve notes we do need to pay attention to context as this is what drives the meaning of words.

    The word English word "chastisement" and "chasening" does not necessitate the idea of "punishment" (obviously, but this is our language and we all have dictionaries so I'm sure we can at least agree here).

    So the idea is we can look at context to see if "punishment" could be a possible meaning.

    He was wounded for our transgressions (not punishment),
    He was bruised [or 'crushed'] for our iniquities (not punishment);
    The chastisement (not punishment) for our peace was upon Him,,
    And by His stripes [or 'cutting blows' - NKJV margin] (not punishment) we are healed.
    .........For He was cut off from the land of the living (not punishment);
    For the transgression of My people He was stricken (not a punishment),
    .........Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him (not punishment);
    He has put Him to grief. (not punishment)
    (by "punishment" I mean divine punishment, God punishing).

    So we have all of those ideas above. We could say those things mean punishment although they do not necessitate that idea. Or we could use Scripture to determine that Christ [learned obedience] from the things He suffered [those things]. The context of the latter is not punishment but a surfing along the lines of "instruction" or "being perfected" (or, being made the Firstborn; the High Priest; the second Adam).

    Which do you choose? Does the verse mean God punished Jesus (which is not in Scripture) or does the verse point to Christ "learning obedience", being "made perfect" as Scripture does state? If it is both, then how do you justify the first?

    In other words, why do you assume all of those verses mean "punishment" when they could mean what is actually stated in Scripture?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  12. Jay Ross

    Jay Ross Well-Known Member

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    Hello

    I am reminded, from memory of the story in the bible of the man who had leprosy and sort healing from an OT prophet who told him that if he went and dipped himself in the Jordan River, that he would be healed, but refused to follow the prophets instruction as it seemed to simple a thing to do.

    The man was required to believe by faith that if he entered the Jordan River that he would be healed. This discussion reminds me of the man with leprosy, in our case sin, that did not believe that the simple act of believing would bring healing to his body simply by stepping into the waters of the River Jordan, and in our case, that we will have our sins covered, if we accept that our sins have been covered by the death of Christ on the Cross.

    The man was told by his Israelite servant girl that if he had been told to do something that cause him pain in order to gain his healing that he would have accepted that instruction without question and acted accordingly.

    In John 6 Jesus told the crowds that to help to bring in the Kingdom of God, what was required of them was to believe in "Him, Whom He has sent." When the crowd pressed Jesus further, Jesus answered that they had to eat of His Flesh and to drink of His blood, and many rejected this simple step of faith, that if they entered into this act of eating His Flesh and the drinking of His blood, that they would be saved.

    This discussion is all about what we believe is required to be saved. Not about what God requires from us to be saved. Faith.

    Shalom
     
  13. Nondenom40

    Nondenom40 Active Member

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    Tell us what scripture actually says according to you. Here is but one commentary on the verse.
    There are others. Seems to me that chastisement really means what it says. But this aside. What do you do with the fact that the people of God are at peace with God and not under His wrath? I asked earlier, where did this wrath go?
     
  14. Nondenom40

    Nondenom40 Active Member

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    Words mean things in different contexts don't they? Look up the greek word eis as an example. It has many uses depending on the context. In the context of Isa 53 which is a wonderful messianic prophecy it speaks of being healed by His stripes. The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all..The whole chapter is this way. Its inescapable.
     
  15. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    I believe that the verse says that Jesus was pierced through for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, that the chadtening for our wellbeing fell upon Him and by His stripes we are healed.

    I do not understand what you mean by "where did this wrath go?" Wrath, like sin, is not a physical thing.

    Why do you think that מוּסָר means "punishment" in this verse?
     
  16. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    Words do mean different things. Context drives interpretation. But we have to stick with meanings of words as well.

    If I say I ate my car, using "car" to mean "lunch" thinking context would make that clear you would think me an idiot. God is not an idiot.

    But more than this - even if context allows for the meaning of "discipline" you need to defend that meaning. What has been done thus far is people have insisted it means "discipline" by projecting it onto other passages.
     
  17. Nondenom40

    Nondenom40 Active Member

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    Wrath is very real and its consequences are eternal for those whom it abides. Jesus took it for those who are His. He satisfied Gods justice as sin must be dealt with. This is the whole idea behind propitiation and expiation. Penal substitution is very biblical.
     
  18. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    Red herring fallacy.

    Wrath is very real. And it is in Christ we escape the wrath to come. Christ is the propitiation for our sins. Propitiation has wrath in view. I never disagreed.

    What I disagree with is Penal Substitution Theory (those ideas you can't quite defend), not Scripture. Where we disagree is I believe it is appointed men once to die and then the Judgment and I believe the Father has given all judgment to the Son.

    Do you believe your understanding of Penal Substitution Theory is equal to God's Word (to what is actually written and repeated in Scripture itself) ?
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  19. Nondenom40

    Nondenom40 Active Member

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    Youre actually making the argument for ps. Youre right, Christ is the propitiation for your sins. And right again that propitiation has wrath in view in that Jesus satisfied Gods wrath, in our place. This IS substitutional penal atonement.

    No one has argued that we don't die and face judgement. There is more than one judgement in the n.t. so it depends which one you show up at. And no one has said Jesus doesn't have all judgement. Believers have one judgement, unbelievers another. Some have Gods wrath, some don't. For those that don't its because Jesus took it in their place.
     
  20. David Taylor

    David Taylor Well-Known Member

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    The word is listed as punishment as a viable definition in MANY lexicons.
     
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