Matt wrote:Calvinists, Arminians, Roman Catholics, and others will disagree with each other on the details of many of these propositions and on the meaning of many of the key terms, but they all agree on the basic superstructure.
I notice that all you list here is Western Christianity, for this is indeed a western affectation.
Matt wrote:My question for Christians: How important is justification theory to orthodoxy?
Well of course you are going to get different answers depending on how they feel about this Justification theory. In my case, I think (certainly as Cambell has stated it) that it is a load of crap and so it should be no surprise that I think it is NOT important to orthodoxy. It certainly has VERY little to do with Eastern Orthodoxy. LOL
Matt wrote:Can you deny justification theory (based on an alternate interpretation of the relevant biblical texts) and still be orthodox?
Yes, of course. This is simply the most naive and simple minded rendition of the judicial metaphor. The judicial metaphor is only one metaphor for atonement and redemption and although I have no problem with a better understanding of that metaphor, there are other metaphors like the medical one that I think are less prone to distortion. This is the Eastern Orthodox position and although I am not Eastern Orthodox, I think that a defintion of orthodoxy that clashes with Eastern Orthodoxy is rather absurd.
Matt wrote:State in your answer how you define orthodoxy
Orthodoxy is defined by the agreements of the eccumenical councils, it is a spectrum because these are agreements that have been added to as time went on and in the process excluded more and more groups as time went on. I think that the most minimal definition according to the first eccumenical council, being the one that includes the most of Christianity is the one that should be accorded the most respect and seen as the most significant.
Matt wrote:1. God is fundamentally a god of retributive justice (He rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked)
2. God has made himself and his laws known to all humanity through nature
3. God's laws have been more clearly revealed in the Law of Moses
4. In the future, rewards and punishment will be apportioned by desert (obey the law and you will be rewarded, disobey and you will be punished)
5. Human beings are sinful--everyone falls short of God's ethical demands.
6. Honest reflection on one's condition leads to one of two courses of action: (1) renewed attempts at being righteous (leading to more failure), or (2) denial of one's guilt or of God's existence (self-delusion)
7. God redirects his wrath on Jesus
8. God has provided a more manageable criterion for righteousness, namely, "faith"
9. God, by his grace, redirects the righteousness of Christ to people of "faith"
10. People of "faith" will receive a positive judgment on judgment day
1. Incorrect. God is fundamentally a god of love. He is our parent and He has a parent's concern with justice and punishment which is to teach His children what they need to learn for their own well being.
2. God's laws are not simply His arbitrary decision of the way that He wants things done, but are founded upon the dictates of logical consistency and thus His punishments are like those of a parent meant to avoid the more terrible natural consequences that come from disregarding them.
3. That is something that I think that only God is in a position to comment on. And since Jesus is God then I think that his comment is the most significant and that comment was that there are two great commandments to love God and to love your neighbor and that these are the basis for all of the law. THAT is the clearest revelation of God's laws.
4. There is no way of avoiding the natural consequences of ones actions, but what really matters is what you do afterwards. Do you learn from your mistakes and turn your life around or do you continue on the path of self-destruction. The choice between life and death that God presents us with is one that remains before us to make with every choice in our lives.
5. Correct, with a single exception. There was one man, Jesus in whom God was well pleased. Is it impossible for any other human being to do so? It was not impossible for Adam and Eve but after the choices which they and all the rest of our ancestors have made, to avoid the habits of sin would be comparable to an earthworm trying to grow up to be a kangaroo (the worm has three times as many chromosomes as the kangaroo, by the way), for even if we have all the right information right there in front of us, the habits which mislead and distort are also there in quantities that are too numerous to avoid.
6. Correct but stated in a silly manner. It reminds me of what God said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? if you do well will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." Failure is the means by which we learn, so if we want to succeed then we should continue to perserve and learn from our failures, for giving up is the real guarantee of complete despair.
7. There is a truth here but this is stated in the most absurd manner. There is no law of conservation of God's wrath, such that God cannot control himself and in order to avoid crushing us then He has to crush something else. That is ridiculous. What remains constant is the need for us to learn from the consequences of sin, and thus God has put His Son forward to suffer from those consequences of OUR sin in order for us to learn what we must learn.
8. Yes and no. Yes it is CORRECT, in accordance with what I said in number 6, if we are going to measure ourselves it should not be according to our success but according to our perseverence. Our success in abiding by the law is not as important as our faithfulness, so that we continue to learn and to try to do what is right. But no it is INCORRECT that you can really make any such substitution. The requirements of logical consistency and the natural consequences of our choices remain unchangeable.
9. The grace of God is that He can work the changes in us that we cannot by ourselves.
10. People who put their faith in God and even more importantly who live by faith rather than measuring themselves by their accomplishments are the ones who have opened themselves most fully to the work of God within them.