I just saw an older debate with my former pastor, Brian Zahnd and my former Bible College professor, Dr. Michael L. Brown on Youtube. To top it all, it was hosted by another former pastor, Mike Bickle at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.
I would say that all three of these men, among others, have formed my faith to where I am today. All helped this radical guy saved in the fires of the Brownsville Revival that went to Central Bible College and ultimately finished up at Oral Roberts University. They all mark a time in that my path.
What did Brian Zahnd and Michael Brown feel they needed to debate?
Well, Brian (as I said in another article) has changed alot of his theology over the last decade and one of those changes is his view on Soteriology.
Before I get into the issue more, let’s get a two different working difination of it. Here is a great handout from the Assemblies of God Theological Semiary on it too.
First of all is the official Assemblies of God‘s position,
Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life.
Secondly, I have many readers in the Calvary Chapel movement. So I want to look at their view as well. The article was written by Kellen Criswell.
Basic soteriology is what unifies all born-again Christians as the universal church, because it simply states the simple gospel. It is the truth, that though all people are sinners, we can be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in the Jesus Christ of the Bible alone.
One thing that does concern me a little is the Assemblies of God does not have a clear working statement of this is what Soteriology really is. That is alarming to me. I am sure that Stanley Horton has some writing on this in his books.
Brian Zahnd’s Soteriology
Brian presents a very interesting view on the issue of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. To my knowledge, he had a very different view when I was a member of his church, Word of Life in Saint Joseph, Missouri.
His basic position that God is Love and because He is Love; there is no way that God could have turned his back on Jesus at the Cross. He also seems to believe that Jesus did not die to replace our transgression.
This seems to be part of his new soteriology, one that I am not sure many in the Faith movement would accept to be honest. I am sure that Dr. Oral Roberts and Jack Coe Sr would both reject completely.
In his own words,
Particularly abhorrent are those theories that portray the Father of Jesus as a pagan deity who can only be placated by the barbarism of child sacrifice. The god who is mollified by throwing a virgin into a volcano or by nailing his son to a tree is not the Abba of Jesus!
I have my concerns with this view that is part called Christus Victor. To be fair, many people before the Reformation hold this view as well.
The problem that I see with this (I will get into more later) is alot of theology in the Pre-Reformation era, was as Brian said about Jesus, Pagan. Catholic theology from about the fourth century to the about the fifteen century is a little screwy…and that is being nice.
One thing that is very interesting to me is Brian Zahnd rejects war as a means for national security from a biblical point of view but quote many theologians that actually believed in things like the medieval crusades and the embarrassment of history known as the Inquisition.
As I said, I do not fully understand Brian’s “new” atonement ideas and in his overall Soteriology. I am sure he is not as off it seems. He is a good man. I do know that.
Dr. Michael L. Brown’s Soteriology
The doctrines of Dr. Brown are much clearer and more defined by common theologians in most, if not all, seminaries and bible colleges around the world.
The first thing I know is a Jewish American that a Ph.D in Jewish Letters probably know a little more about customs, culture and beliefs of Jewish people in the first century. I am no scholar on Hebrew. I got a C- at Oral Roberts in it and only did a little better in Greek!
The position that Dr. Michael L. Brown took is the more traditional one that Jesus took us place on the Cross that all sins has been bought up Him for us. In doing so, we can now be saved.
What I loved about Dr. Brown, as I always do, is he unleashed the Bible into the discussion and required that the talk be about the biblical texts, not ideas formed over pizza at GodFathers last night!
I want to be fair though, Dr. Brown did have a little of a benefit here. He did sit on the platform for over four years seeing Soteriology interpreted in the Baptismal tank of Brownsville Assembly of God in the fire of the revival in Pensacola. Few had a stronger Soteriology than Evangelist Steve Hill of Together in the Harvest Ministries.
As I listen to Dr. Michael L. Brown prestent the gospel, the story of salvation from a complete academic and biblical point of view, I wanted to get saved again. It laid it out as clear as a theologican can. It did not have the fire that Reinhard Bonnke might have but it is was very clear.
Winner of the Soteriology
The real winner is Jesus. I believe that both Brian Zahnd and Dr. Michael L. Brown would agree that he is the one that is the victor and the finisher of our Faith.
As you can gather, I lean toward the traditional view on Soteriology