Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Consideration of Infants, Salvation, Divine Sovereignty and the Advocacy of Christ (Part 2)

The Divine Judiciary

The Divine Judiciary, with respect to mankind and his relationship to God, refers to the Court of Heaven. That court has specific properties and/or elements which may be observed in Scripture. Additionally, there are repeated references to this heavenly judicial system in its current form during the history of mankind. We see references to God as the Judge, Christ as the Advocate, Satan as the Prosecutor and us, humans, as the defendants.

And because the Divine Judiciary is real and not figurative or merely anecdotal and its function a primary one with respect to mankind’s salvation, we must discover its properties; that is we must examine and register what belongs to these various positions, roles or offices in order to theologically grasp their explicit and implicit impact and we must do so with theological propriety and harmony.

What Roles/Offices are There?

The Divine Judiciary has always existed, it is eternal. However, its construct and participants have not always been the same though its integrity and divine essence immutably present.

Previous to the age of humanity was the age of angels. We know little about it in comparison to all of its facts but we do know enough to make some determinations. And one certainty is that during this period the angels who rebelled were the defendants in their own trial. God judged Satan and his angelic followers, guilty. There were no humans involved in this construct.

Today, during human history, we again have a Divine Judiciary which, like the history of angels, rules this period of history but some with differing roles (these are the relevant offices/roles to the subject at hand but not all the elements of the Divine Judiciary since this is not an exhaustive treaty treatise [editing elf asleep again] on the subject):

  • God the Father is the Judge (Rom 14:10-12)

  • The second person of the Godhead, God the Son, while we do not know his role in the first construct, we know he serves as the Divine Advocate (1 John 2:1-2) for all humans who receive him as Savior.

  • Satan, while still a defendant in his own case, is now the Prosecutor in the case against humans (Rev 12:10).

  • Humans, themselves, are the defendant (Rom 14:10-12) and can either choose to represent themselves or believe on Christ and he becomes their Divine Advocate representing them.

Judge-God the Father
Divine Advocate-God the Son

Properties of Roles/Offices

And each of these roles has specific properties which distinguish them or make them what they are and cause them to function as they do. The word properties refer to those things which belong to something which make that something what it is. Water possesses the properties of (H2O) and add or take away any of its properties and it becomes something else.

Once we establish its properties we may, then, identify its application or its reach and in what forms it may exist all the while maintaining its properties, that is not compromising its integrity. Water may come to us as an ice cube, steam or bathwater but it is still (H2O). And this is true of the offices and participants in the Divine Judiciary.

The office of Divine Judge has with it essential properties or it cannot exist. It requires many things. First it requires one who God, secondly it requires an adherence to whatever protocol or regulations God himself has established which bind the court and the perfect integrity to execute his role and so on. Much of it is what is called self-evident though other parts are deciphered through rigorous and disciplined study of Scripture . We also must know its limits. For example, the Divine Judge will not control the volition of another and then make them answer for something God did by taking over that person's volition and doing. That would be a violation of the integrity of God who requires us to answer for our own actions which are based in our volition. Humans might attempt to do this to each other because we are sinful but God may not and cannot because that would be lying and deceitful and God cannot do that

The office of Prosecutor is Satan’s and is well documented in Scripture. The book of Job reveals this function in some detail. Additionally, St. Peter categorically tells us he is the accuser or legal adversary (1 Pt 5:8). This is the function of Satan with respect to humanity and the Divine Judiciary. He is the accuser (ἀντίδικος) the Prosecutor.

The Defendant is you, the human being. You have to answer to God the Father who is the Divine Judge (Rom 14:10-12). He issues his decisions based on the principles of His Word which he has given us. The Bible is explicit on this matter and makes it clear that if you choose to stand before God and reject Christ as your Divine Advocate, Christ will not advocate for you and use his perfect divinity to secure a favorable judgment on your behalf (eternal life) rather you will be judge according to your works and be found unrighteous.

But God does give you the option of having Christ the Divine Advocate who is qualified to stand in your place. And the nature of this office, the Divine Advocate, is real and has real properties.

The Divine Advocate, as we have mentioned, is Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1-2), the Son of God the second person of the Trinity. And to qualify as the Divine Advocate required just what we see in Scripture which only Jesus could and did accomplish, namely Divinity living and dying and resurrecting on our behalf. John makes it clear that Christ is not only the Advocate for those who are saved or have believed on him as Savior but is available to the entirety of humanity if they will not decide to represent themselves and argue their own righteousness before God but instead, believe on Christ as Savior.

The Dilemma for Infants or Volitionally Incapable

The dilemma which faces those who do not have capacity to exercise their volition and respond to the gospel is, how then, may they be saved? As stated earlier I believe the answer lies within the construct of the Divine Judiciary and its properties.

And as noted earlier, for some who cannot answer this they make appeals to “divine sovereignty”. It is their get of jail free card when their theology fails them. And understand, it fails them and it will fail you, too, if you make the mistake of giving allegiance to a theological system and not the Word of God no matter what your preferred theological system may be.

So the argument normally goes that because the volitionally incapable cannot exercise faith-since it requires volitional capacity to exercise faith-God, in his divine sovereignty, intervenes and makes new rules for an infant and miraculously enables the infant (even in the womb but let’s deal with ones outside the womb) to now process the necessary information they never learned, utilize the Spirit’s enlightenment of words and concepts which, again, they have not learned but suddenly know sufficiently, and exercise their volition in believing the Gospel. The appropriate response? Theologically ludicrous.

The Call to Believe on Christ is to the Volitionally Capable

When God communicates to us he does so with the obvious in hand. That is to say, God does not say to people who are incapable of grasping what he is saying things that he expects them to understand. Take humans. God, who is eternal and beyond the exponential or anything we can measure has, still, spoken to us with words which we may understand. If God were to speak to us in his omniscient and most glorious fashion and without reservation or modification of his glory, we could not bear, even for a moment, the demands it would place upon our minds and bodies in order to comprehend such magnificence. We have no frame of reference and certainly no capacity for such. So God has formed his communication in a way in which we are able to understand it.

But notice what he does not do. God does not miraculously place in our minds vocabulary words or the concepts behind these in order to enlighten us (in other words God didn't say, "They will never understand me so I will just stick it in their minds for them along with all the necessary vocabulary"). Rather, his Spirit uses words of which the meaning we have learned, ourselves,  in order to enlighten us with his Spirit. The precedence is that God expects the normal learning process of vocabulary and the accompanying concepts to be part of the process of our enlightenment and ultimately the understanding of things, both humanly and spiritually. God does not intervene and do our vocabulary/concept learning for us so that he may save us. So the suggestion that this exception, in the name of divine sovereignty, is done is to assert God takes over our own volition and does our learning for us. That would be a violation of God’s role as Divine Judge since he would, then, be judging us based on something he did by his volition and not ours. It is not possible for us to stand before God and account for our lives if God, even for a moment, took over our volition, either to learn or to believe.

But Christ Representing Someone by Faith Is Not the Only Permissible Means that the Divine Advocate May Represent Someone

So you are still left with a dilemma, it seems. God is not going to violate his own integrity and take control of our volition and do the things our volition accounts to God for which is both learn vocabulary and its concepts and eventually believe (to say the least). So now what?

The Augustinain/Reformed/Calvinist (ARC) student mistakenly believes God elects those who will be saved. He or she starts out with a faulty foundation. Rationalistically then, he or she is forced to figure out a system where those who are volitionally incapable (which are often infants but they are not alone in this category since there are those born mentally incapable of developing volitionally to the point of understanding and believing the Gospel) are elected to salvation and believe the gospel. And what I have previously described is their attempt (and it is, at best, a terribly crooked house, poorly engineered with cracks always in need of patching and a leaky roof that can never be repaired) to answer this question with the sovereignty of God. But I suspect the ARC’ers love their house too much to accept the facts of its wretchedness on this occasion.  But for those of you tired of living with drafty windows, rain on your head and walking at an angle on what should be a horizontally even floor, let me help.

Remember, when God offers the Gospel it is to the volitionally capable and God does not violate his integrity and intervene for those who are volitionally incapable and miraculously give them vocabulary, concepts and the volitional ability to believe, then to see it all miraculously disappear until they get old enough to actually start learning vocabulary/concepts and truly exercise their volition based on the essential frames of reference. This convoluted scenario is the answer for those without an answer.

Christ, the Divine Advocate, is fulfilling an office of the Divine Judiciary, as is God, the Divine Judge. The Divine Advocate, as stated, has many properties but there is one that cannot be emphasized enough which is that, unlike human courts where there are many recognize “court advocates”, in the Divine Judiciary there is only one recognized Advocate, the Lord Jesus the Christ.

And when one cannot decide for themselves it is a matter judicial responsibility and integrity to appoint someone who may speak on their behalf. That is, they are incapable or do not have the capacity to make a decision therefore, it is incumbent upon the Judge of the judicial jurisdiction to which they are subject (in this case a human life answering to God which makes this the jurisdiction of the heaven) to appoint them a representative. This is an inherent obligation of the court stemming from a property of the Divine Judiciary as a whole and that of the office of Divine Judge. God cannot call into account someone who cannot decide for themselves, hence an advocate, The Advocate, must be appointed to such persons and only the presiding Judge in the case may do this. This leaves only one source, the Divine Advocate, Christ.

And this is the legitimate reach of the offices and functions of the Divine Judiciary and specifically the Divine Judge and the Divine Advocate. It reaches to represent those who have died before they were capable of exercising their volition and because they were incapable, the Court of Heaven, acting under authority of its Judge who, himself, is responding to the duties of his office, assigns to those who were volitionally incapable, the only Advocate in existence which is recognized by the court, the Divine Advocate, Christ Jesus. The result is not some but all those who are volitionally incapable have appointed to them, automatically upon their death by God the Father- the Divine Judge, Christ Jesus as their court appointed Divine Advocate and are saved to the uttermost.

Remember the earlier illustration about (H2O)? It may come to us in various forms but always and only with its properties if it is to be (H2O). Christ, who is the Divine Advocate, comes to the volitionally capable in the form of a promise to be believed. However, to those who are volitionally incapable he comes to them in the form of a court appointed Advocate as a property of his office and that of God the Father as Judge. In both cases the Godhead never compromises its integrity by losing or compromising any of its properties in order to save.


wisdomknowledge said...

Hi Alex,

I read through part of the thread at Theologica that you linked to. They not only didn't understand your point but they didn't want to understand it.

After reading some of the comments I checked to see what resources are available on-line regarding the Supreme Court of Heaven and there is some information out there. Here are two that I thought were good:

1) The Justice of God
2) The Supreme Court of God

The concept is not as novel and off the wall as some would have us believe. I doubt the information at the links above will change anyone's mind though.


Alex Guggenheim said...


Thanks for the response and links. The second link will require much more vetting particularly its calendar theology.

The complaint of novelty is worthwhile if it is followed by rebuttals against the arguments made demonstrating where the alleged novel case errs. This is absent in all the objections so far. I believe it is mostly motivated by egotistical protection because this is a consideration with which they are unfamiliar and caught them off guard as well as some innocent reasons such as theological youth.

I am not confident many believers are taught to think for themselves, particularly in this case with Calvinists of many forms. They are taught both group think and allegiance to a theological system but this is exacerbated by a certain form of theological development commonly modeled which is to invest one's ego in the process. This makes it incredibly difficult for such students to entertain thoughts outside their own considerations and produces a reactionary instead of considerate response.

In fact I might do a post on that very phenomenon. Thanks again.

wisdomknowledge said...

Hi Alex,

Thank you for your reply. I just wanted to quickly add that I didn't check out either of the sites I linked to in detail. You are correct to vet them and I didn't mean either link to be an endorsement. I was having fun seeing what I could find on the topic on the internet.

Keep up the good work.


P.S. I agree that many Calvinists (not all) do not think their way through things.