While we’re at the Tektonics Apologetics Ministry, let’s continue looking at Holding’s remarks on the subject of atonement. One of the inherent inconsistencies in the Christian Gospel has to do with the problem of evil. Not just that evil exists at all (though that is a serious problem), but that we live in a world where a genuine, omnipotent, and benevolent deity could do a tremendous amount of good, and yet we do not see God doing any such things. Warning us of imminent disasters or crimes, for instance, or giving clear, unmistakable doctrinal instruction to thwart the rise of heresies and destructive cults. Things God could do (if the Gospel were true) and yet very plainly does not do.
There are only two ways to account for this, each of which compromises the Christian doctrine of God in some way. You can either deny that God wants to do good, or you can deny that God is able to do good. So either He’s not really loving enough to behave in a truly caring manner, or there are circumstances beyond God’s control which prevent God from behaving the way He’d like to (in other words, God is not truly omnipotent). This is an inherent and unavoidable contradiction within the Christian Gospel. No matter how much one wants to believe it, one must either contradict it at some point, or deny reality itself.
James Patrick Holding falls prey to this same dilemma when trying to address the issue of why God doesn’t simply forgive us our sins instead of sending His own children to eternal punishment and suffering. Try as he might to defend the Gospel, he cannot build a coherent answer to this problem without contradicting the very doctrines he is trying to uphold. (The “Nutshell” page is here, scroll down to the section on Atonement.) Let’s have a look. [UPDATE: it appears the argument below was not, in fact, written by Holding, but was summarized from a longer paper by someone else. See the link in the original article on the Nutshell page for details.]
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