A reconciliation hopping on one leg

I’ve been involved in an interesting discussion here on Christ’s choices and choices in general. This post is in reply to Perry’s assertion that “…Christ’s death is a propitiation, a reconciliation, but not as a deferment of wrath. God can freely forgive for mercy triumphs over justice.” I responded to that assertion already – but I just came across this quote from Owen which I just had to post somewhere:

As, then, the folly of Socinus and his sectaries is remarkable, who would have the reconciliation mentioned in the Scripture to be nothing but our conversion to God, without the appeasing of his anger and turning away his wrath from us, — which is a reconciliation hopping on one leg, — so that distinction of some between the reconciliation of God to man, making that to be universal towards all, and the reconciliation of man to God, making that to be only of a small number of those to whom God is reconciled, is a no less monstrous figment. Mutual alienation must have mutual reconciliation, seeing they are correlata. The state between God and man, before the reconciliation made by Christ, was a state of enmity. Man was at enmity with God; we were his “enemies,” Col. i. 21; Rom. v. 10; hating him and opposing ourselves to him, in the highest rebellion, to the utmost of our power. God also was thus far an enemy to us, that his “wrath” was on us, Eph. ii. 3; which remaineth on us until we do believe, John iii. 36. To make perfect reconciliation (which Christ is said in many places to do), it is required, first, That the wrath of God be turned away, his anger removed, and all the effects of enmity on his part towards us; secondly, That we be turned away from our opposition to him, and brought into voluntary obedience. Until both these be effected, reconciliation is not perfected. Now, both these are in the Scripture assigned to our Saviour, as the effects of his death and sacrifice.

John Owen, Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Book 3, Chapter 6.

Usually I’m taken by the force and eloquence of Owen’s writing – I don’t remember him being funny before!



  1. “Mutual alienation must have mutual reconciliation, seeing they are correlata.” — John Owen

    “distinction is opposition.” — Plotinus

  2. Hi, Photios – I thought you didn’t think that that statement (and “multiplicity is defective because it is not one”) was Orthodox?

  3. I don’t think they are Orthodox…neither statement. The point is to show a theological mindset and paradigm that is essentially…pagan.


  4. Photios – I think I’d need to read more than what I have read of Death of Death… in order to respond relative to that book, but I’d like to know what you thought of David’s comment (point 2) over on EP (the 3rd comment) in the “Two Sides, Same Coin” thread. I’d been pondering a post (or response to you here) along a similar vein when I saw David’s comment. Examples I thought of were:
    1) Shadow references in the NT. Of course, types may be found all over the OT and NT, but NT writers employ “shadow” in Hebrews 8:5 and 10:1 (along with form!) and Colossians 2:17, all of which seem quite Platonic.
    2) Something in a Pauline epistle that seemed distinctly Aristotelian in describing what look like causes – something more than 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.” I’ll have to do some more digging to find that passage…

    This is probably old territory for you, but, as David said, doesn’t the Bible “baptize” aspects of pagan philosophies? If a pagan philosopher happens upon a Truth, we wouldn’t re-interpret scripture in light of the overall framework developed by that philosopher – but might we not understand some passages in light of a particular pagan philosophical device (for lack of a better term) which appears to be referenced/employed by the Bible, as long as everything is clearly seen through the lens of Scripture?

  5. Photios – after doing a little more reading (*), I’ve discovered that I didn’t originally understand your reference to “distinction is opposition”. If it is roughly equivalent to “that multiplicity is defective because it is not one” and if you mean that these (to the Orthodox) cannot be applied to God, since God has parts (“energies” and “essence”), then I’m not sure how you are equating the quote by Owen to “distinction is opposition”. The mutual alienation in Owen’s quote is between God and man, not parts of God. What am I missing?

    (*) The “SIMPLICITY & THEODICY” post here was probably the easiest for me to understand.

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