Saturday, July 3, 2010

R.J. Rushdoony: Self-atonement is impossible, and man is totally passive in salvation -- God alone is sovereign

Self-atonement is an impossibility. … Man is God’s creature, totally God’s creation, and man can exist only in God’s world. He is totally morally liable to God, and man’s every attempt to assert a claim to autonomy is not only a violation of his moral duty but a metaphysical impossibility and a mental monstrosity. Man cannot make atonement to God for his sin because he is neither capable of truly self-righteous atonement, since he is nothing in and of himself, nor can he add anything to God. As Paul asked the Corinthians, “and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (I Cor. 4:7). Since man is totally God’s act, man’s justification and atonement are also of necessity totally God’s acts. …

The declaration of all Scripture is that atonement and justification are the sovereign acts of God through the work of Jesus Christ. Atonement therefore is essentially not a subjective experience but an objective fact. The primary point of reference in atonement is not the sinner’s experience but God’s order, God’s self-propitiation. Christ pays the price to God as the representative sinner, so that the reconciliation and atonement are divinely initiated. Christ, by His incarnation as very man of very man, acts as man’s representative in the transaction. The atonement of the elect is thus vicarious, in that it is not their work but God’s work. Because man is totally a creature, he is totally passive in relationship to God; because he has been created lord over the earth, man can assume a secondary activity towards the earth. …

The only possible source of political liberty is on the premise of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. (R.J. Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity, pp. 7-8, 10)

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