A fellow Christian asked me to share some thoughts on this somewhat unusual word. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it used outside of a Judeo-Christian context. Since there are a few other readers of my ramblings here who are not only Christian, but Lutheran (my favorite brand of Christian ;), I wanted to share those thoughts here to allow for comment/critique, etc. Fire away, friends!
First, please allow me a little editorial license. Polysyllabic theological terms too often get a bad rap, or at least the people who use them fluently do. At times Christians object to the use of “technical” theological/ecclesiastical words because they believe that speaking in the formal language of our faith is off-putting, or makes us look arrogant. This one’s a good example. “Propitiation” is just so… so… Latin-y. Life isn’t a vocabulary test, after all. We have to meet people where they are; we have to speak to them in their own language, without regard for how inarticulate we must become to do that. (Oh, nuts, I just used the word “inarticulate”, durn burn it!) I mean, real people don’t use words like “propitiation”, right?
I think they should, if they’re Christians.
Words have meaning because they convey ideas, and when we’re at our best, we use words to represent and communicate ideas that are true, and ideas that are truth. In most every professional field – legal, medical, technological, engineering, etc., etc. – words specific to that field or discipline are taught, drilled, learned, and used because they improve communication. Such words efficiently convey relevant ideas in a way that those who are engaged in the field will understand with a depth of nuance or significance that those outside that field might not. We even create a word to describe such words – “jargon!”
I believe that most every Christian at some point confronts the fact that he or she is in fact a theologian, and should act like one. In this, the most important “field” or “discipline” on Earth, we should not shy away from our peculiar theological words, but should instead teach them, drill them, learn them, use them, embrace them, and speak them into the lives of our children and our fellow Christians. That doesn’t mean we put ’em on billboards or try to work them into conversations with our next-door neighbor or turn our evangelistic endeavors into a game of Jeopardy. But we should avail ourselves of the benefits of using them with each other.
Okay, I think I’m done with the editorial (no guarantees…..)
“Propitiation” as used in the New Testament, unused or unpopular as it may be, communicates perhaps the most important and profound truth God has chosen to reveal to us. It tells us not only that “God loves you,” but I think it also tells us how He expresses, and to a large extent defines, that agape love.
Looking at the ESV and NASB, I find “propitiation” in the following verses:
Romans 3:25: “…whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”
Hebrews 2:17: “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
1 John 2:2: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 4:10: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
English dictionaries offer us definitions using phrases such as “an atoning sacrifice”, “the act of conciliation”, “appeasement of wrathful gods”, etc. All of which are pretty good, I think. The Christian Cyclopedia gives us a more complex – and complete – picture of the word’s background:
The Gk. word (hilasterion) tr. “propitiation” Ro 3:25 is tr. “mercy seat” Heb. 9:5; the Heb. equivalent (kapporeth) Ex 25:17 denotes the cover, or lid, of the ark of the covenant. Once a yr. the high priest sprinkled the blood of sacrifice on this lid to make propitiation for the sins of the people. This was a type of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ.
Inside the Ark was the law, and the mercy seat covered it. God’s seal was applied to it annually on yom kippur (the day of atonement) by covering it in sacrificial blood, because all sin, which is revealed by that same law, demands a penalty of death, and the spilling of blood is the sign and result of death.
Understanding this, we read the verses above, especially in their context, and see a miracle. Let’s look at the Romans passage:
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
I like to think that when Paul was writing this, the Holy Spirit saw to it that Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 5:17 were coursing through his brain and heart, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
In our 11:00 Bible Study just a few weeks back we read one of the above verses, and when an uncommon word like “propitiation” comes up in the text, I often pause to ask how folks in the class understand or define the word. It’s not uncommon for me to then offer some “gently corrective commentary.” On this day, though, one of our members answered that propitiation was “substitution,” and we dug into that just a bit. I can’t offer any direct quotes, but the gist of it was, as the propitiation for our sins, Jesus’ undeserved death was substituted for our deserved eternal death. His earned righteousness is substituted for our utter unrighteousness. By sacrificing Himself in the person of His Son, God satisfied perfectly every requirement and demand He makes on us to have eternal life, not because we are good enough, or because we are the right kind of person, or attend the right church, or because we’ve achieved anything at all, but because this was His plan all along, since before the creation of the world; since before there was even created time to be “before”.
I offered no gentle corrective commentary on that one. ;)
1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. Just two verses later he gives us God’s perfect definition of that what means when he writes “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
“Propitiation” is why we can love another. “Propitiation” is how we can have hope when the world finds or offers none. “Propitiation” is a true a comprehensive expression of how God loves us, and has demonstrated that love in the world as well as in eternity.
The more fully you understand propitiation, the more fully you understand Justification.
The more fully you understand propitiation, the more fully you understand Sanctification.
The more fully you understand propitiation, the more fully you understand who Jesus is.
The more fully you understand propitiation, the more fully you understand the nature of The Almighty.
Other than that, I don’t really have an opinion. ;)
It is with considerable amusement that many of us in IT and related fields have watched the healthcare.gov comedic tragedy of bad planning, testing, and deployment. It is a Very Bad Thing, a model of how any software project, let alone a government-contracted one, should be run.
Having said that, I fear our focus is on the wrong Very Bad Thing. Yes, the web site is a Very Bad Thing. But web sites can be fixed.
The much greater Very Bad Thing is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. PPACA, a.k.a. ACA, a.k.a. “ObamaCare”). The best part about the web site being inaccessible is that it forestalled and complicated the implementation of the worst law in my memory, and one of the worst Supreme Court decisions since Dred Scott.
Proponents of this law are lying, probably to themselves, definitely to American citizens. Let’s not be naïve. The Obama administration isn’t stepping in to this market because of any desire to “fix a broken system,” as some put it. We had an un-broken system already. It could be improved, but it was already the best system on Earth in terms of its ability to allow personal choices, produce medical advances, and encourage and reward high quality researchers and practitioners. PPACA isn’t intended to fix anything; it is a play to take over a significant percentage of the American economy directly by the federal government.
Most disturbing to me is that PPACA puts the IRS in charge of enforcement of health insurance purchases (not health care per se.) Follow the money! Under PPACA we are all forced to buy a product. Some suggest PPACA is no different from automobile liability insurance, and they are completely wrong. First, auto coverage it is purely optional from a federal perspective. Not everyone needs to buy it in the first place (ask apartment dwellers in NYC), and second, even if you should buy it but don’t, and then drive uninsured, you will be dealt with in municipal or state civil or criminal court, not by the feds. PPACA federalizes this aspect of American commerce, and is, I think, the strongest move toward abject socialism this administration has made. PPACA is not mere legislation or regulation; it is takeover.
As Dave Ramsey says, “…And we all know how good the federal government is at handling money, right?!” PPACA will make health insurance more expensive for everyone; it has to for the numbers to work. Those of us who already have insurance will pay more (in fact most of us already are – I want the other half of my Flexible Spending Account back!), and those that didn’t have it will start paying (complete with very high deductibles on the lower-cost options.) There is no “free” option available to anyone with an earned income.
The worst part of this IRS involvement, though, is that the penalties included in the PPACA will be enforced without the constitutional protections of due process. As the enforcement arm of PPACA, and the IRS can seize property and garnishee wages without a court order. This was the tragic failing of the Supreme Court, re-casting the fines and fees in PPACA “taxes”, in order to make the Act constitutional. Shame on John Roberts! He should have struck it down for what it was, not amended it via legal opinion (not legislation!) to make it fit. I wonder if threats were made against his family to get him to write that opinion…? Cf. Dred Scott.
Shame, too, on the Democratic Party leaders, Representatives, and Senators who forced PPACA through all the way to the President’s desk. They should all be voted out at the earliest opportunity, and those who didn’t actually read the law, including then-Speaker Pelosi, should be fired immediately for rank incompetence to make law, and for putting the nation’s economy at such great risk because of that incompetence.
And shame on voting Americans who either ignored the facts or are incapable of doing the math, and yet supported this horrible mess in two consecutive elections!
Read the Act; it needs to be repealed, not reformed or “fixed.” The cancer is in the marrow of this Act. “Compromise” on any of these points is capitulation to a Very Bad Thing.
Republicans and thinking, voting Americans of all stripes, let’s work towards a “404 – Law Not Found” error!
Submitting Homework via Email
My ITT Email address: KChuvala@itt-tech.edu
1) The Subject Line – THIS IS IMPORTANT!
In the subject line, list the course #, your last name, the Unit or Week #, and the work being submitted. If multiple files are being submitted, put each in the subject line.
Subject: PT1420T Smith Unit 1 Assignment 1
Subject: IS4560T Anaya Unit 5 Lab 5.1 Assignment 5.3
Subject: IS3110T Jones Project Part 1
2) File Name(s) – THIS IS IMPORTANT, TOO!
In order to minimize the chance of me mis-filing or otherwise losing track of your submitted work, each file name should contain your last name, the Unit or Week #, and what is contained in the file. Each item being turned in needs to be in a separate attachment. DO NOT submit multiple assignments, labs, etc. in a single file.
Name each file submitted using this pattern:
LastName_Unit< #>_<Type><#>.doc (or .xls or .py or….)
Note the use of underscores to separate the elements of the filename.
3) Submitting scripts, configuration files, programs, etc. (if applicable)
Submitting any kind of source code, configuration files, batch files or other scripts, etc., can be tricky because some Email systems will not allow those types as attachments. In such cases name your file so that the normal filename extension (.bat. .py, .cmd, etc.) is embedded in the filename prefixed by an underscore (e.g. _py instead of .py), and the actual extension is .txt or .dat, as your Email system allows.
This is prompted by a Facebook post by my son Christopher (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/christopher.chuvala), who wrote there :
First off, let me say that I think gun control won’t be very helpful. Criminals will get their guns just like how drug users get their drugs. Second of all, I think all of you activists “fighting to protect for second amendment” are getting upset over nothing. What is gun control? It is not taking your guns away, but instead it is making it harder for people such as the mentally unstable to get guns. Only you can take that right away from yourself.
I like the way this guy thinks. ;)
But I think the reality of gun violence prompts us to dive a bit more deeply into the effectiveness of the whole notion of “gun control” as has been promoted and legislated in 20th- and 21st-century America.
I think there’s no denying that unstable/sick/evil people can kill more efficiently with high-capacity firearms than with most any other readily available weapon. But the reality is that it is only law-abiding NON-unstable/sick/evil people who are affected by gun control legislation.
Short of amending the Constitution to rescind the 2nd Amendment (despite my more paranoid friends’ fears, I don’t see this as possible apart from the consent of the governed), gun ownership and use will never be removed in this country. So it’s reasonable to expect that the unstable/sick/evil will always be able to commit their horrific acts, regardless of “controls” we pass into law.
What we can do, I think, is address those that don’t fall into either of those categories, namely criminals who who are not law-abiding, but also are not unstable/sick/evil a la Sandy Hook et al, but do use firearms in the commission of crime. And it’s proper that this should be the area of our focus, as many more people die at the hand of gun-wielding low-life thugs than by the acts of insane people.
I propose that mandatory sentencing, e.g. a 10 year minimum for ANY violent crime commited while in the personal posession of a gun whether it is used or not, and a 20 year minimum for any crime in which a gun is discharged in the act, MIGHT be a deterent to punks, gangsters, and the like.
That’s the kind of legislative control that could actually benefit the country – make the consequences of misusing firearms mandatory, severe, and life-altering — without exception. Leverage the legal system we already have to control criminals instead of servicing pipe dreams that controlling gun ownership would have any effect on the unstable/sick/evil.
The Email below was received from Pastor, college classmate, friend, and uber-theologian Rev. Eric Stefanski. If you are able, please consider making a donation. I am!
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Rev. Eric J. Stefanski
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 2:21 PM
Subject: CAT 41 Update: An Urgent Request
14 November 2012
[Please distribute this email ‘everywhere’ and *please* do so with the above date intact.]
Every sentence I write falls short. I will, therefore, try to be as brief as possible, since all attempted eloquence fails:
The Rev. Dan Chambers was joyfully serving the Lord at this time last year, shepherding the Lambs and Sheep of Christ as the Holy Spirit had set him in place to do. After Christmas, he went to Texas to visit family.
Had he not ended up in the hospital, that would seem like a very ordinary story about a pastor.
Had he, perhaps, broken his leg or had a heart attack and some bypasses, it would seem pretty normal.
Instead, Pr. Chambers ended up in the hospital ALL YEAR. For a good portion of it, he was minimally responsive. TO THIS DAY, he cannot stand on his own or walk AT ALL.
The parish he served no longer waits for him; he was ‘let go’ for being unable to perform his duties. Needless to say, with his inability to walk at this point, neither Calls nor other employment will be immediately forthcoming.
His experience with Concordia Health Plan/Blue Cross—Blue Shield has been less than exemplary: they have threatened to kick him out of rehab several times, since he was not progressing ‘fast enough’. Now, there is a hard and fast date of 17 December 2012 fixed when he will have exceeded all the physical therapy his insurance will cover. Will that be enough time for him to be able to walk and go home? Only our Lord knows. What if he needs another week or two? What if ten more days would make the difference between recovering and not recovering?
The doctors fully expect him to regain this ability, but it’s a matter of when?
At the same time, when will he be able to work again? Again, how will his family’s needs be met in the mean time?
The Augustana Ministerium has disbursed well over $100,000 of funds during its short existence to help pastors in need…but we don’t have the sort of resources necessary to make Pr. Chambers any promises. For that reason, we come imploring all of you for help. If you consider it a good thing to help this pastor who will be cast out of his hospital the week before Christmas whether he can walk or not, much less work or not, we wish to provide you the means for doing so. And PLEASE
NOTE: none of us from The Augustana Ministerium get a salary, etc., for doing this and there will be NO administrative fees (other than, perhaps, a stamp to send Pr. Chambers a check…and that will come out of our regular account, not out of your gift; if you donate by credit card, of course, the bank will take its fee…but whatever comes into our account goes directly and ONLY to the aiding of pastors).
Here’s how it works:
1) If you use PayPal, send a donation to TAMBursar@gmail.com and include a memo that it is for Pr. Chambers.
2) If you want to use a debit or credit card, go to http://augustanaministerium.org and click on a ‘Donate’ button. This will take you to a PayPal page, where they will offer to set up a PayPal account, etc., but you don’t have to do so: just enter your card info on their secure site, make sure a memo is there saying it is for Pr. Chambers, and you’re all set.
3) To send a check, put “Pr. Chambers” in the memo line, “TAM” in the pay to line, and send it to:
The Augustana Ministerium
c/o The Rev. Gregory J. Schultz, Bursar
721 Payne Avenue
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
A COUPLE OF THINGS TO CONSIDER
1) Now would also be a great time to make a general contribution to the work of the Ministerium and to add it to your congregation’s budget for 2013.
2) Pastor Chambers’s expenses for therapy alone are over $200 per day.
That being the case, we would like to provide him with at least another month’s worth of rehab and a gift for other expenses by the time his insurance runs out. Even if our Lord were to grant him to walk on 16 December, it would be a gift well-given: a year in the hospital is expensive even if the hospitalization part were paid for in full. If we are blessed to send him a check next month, we will report to you what the next month’s needs look like, as well.
Thank you for your consideration of this request and for your prayers and any other aid you are able to provide this pastor and his family!
[Please distribute this email ‘everywhere’ and *please* do so with the above date intact.]
Rev. Eric J. Stefanski
Dean of Communications, The Augustana Ministerium hattp://augustanaministerium.org
Holy Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Church (UAC) P.O. Box 2612 Harrison, Arkansas 72602-2612 http://HolyTrinityLC.com