Thursday, May 10, 2012

The $100 Challenge

The sole focus of this blog is to answer one question: is the Biblical term logizomai compatible with the Protestant understanding of imputation? 

Through my studies, I believe the answer to that question is a definitive "No!" and that the impact of this will have far reaching ramifications for Protestantism as a whole. I believe this devastating realization is also the primary reason why almost no Protestant scholar, pastor, nor apologist will touch this issue (except in passing). The problem is, this devastating truth is not getting out there for people to learn about, and that is why I have created this challenge. 

I know there are many popular Catholic apologists out there who could quite easily reach hundreds if they were to write about this issue, so I am willing to pay $100 (upfront) to the first 5 apologists who will write an article about the word logizomai

The conditions are as follows: 
  • The apologist must have a large audience. (I will make that judgment)
  • The article must be at least 2 pages long and be publicly posted online.
  • The article must incorporate (to some extent) the facts and details I present below.
Since most people have never heard of the term logizomai, here are some noteworthy facts and details about the word:
  • The Greek verb logizomai (Strong's G3049) appears 41 times in the New Testament. It is translated into English in various ways, commonly as "credited" or "regarded" or "reckoned".
  • As it is used throughout the New Testament, the meaning and use of the word is, roughly, 'to form a mental evaluation of something'. It does not mean anything along the lines of "to transfer" (e.g. to transfer to an account). The Hebrew equivalent term, chashab, follows the same general meaning.
  • When something is "reckoned" (logizomai) as having a certain quality, it is because that thing truly does have that quality (e.g. Rom. 3:28; 4:4; 4:9; 6:11; 8:18; 9:8; 1 Cor. 4:1; 13:11; 2 Cor. 3:5; 5:19; 10:7; 11:5; 12:6; Php. 4:8; Heb 11:19; 1 Pet. 5:12). The term logizomai can be used to denote equivalency between two things (e.g. Rom. 2:26). On the flip side, when someone reckons contrary to reality, they are in error, even sinning (e.g. Mk 15:28; Rom. 2:3; 8:36; 14:14; 2 Cor. 10:2). 
  • Some valuable passages to consider: Romans 4:4 states working wages are correctly "reckoned" to have the quality of debts, and this use of logizomai falls within two others in the context (4:3 and 4:5). Psalm 106:30-31 uses identical Greek construction as Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3 and so should follow the 'Scripture interprets Scripture' principle. Psalm 32:1-2 (Rom 4:6-8) says sin is forgiven, which is precisely why sin is "not reckoned," because there is no longer any guilt there (32:5).
  • A popular Biblical commentary by Albert Barnes says this about Romans 4:3,
    "I have examined all the passages [where logizomai occurs], and as the result of my examination have come to the conclusion, that there is not one in which the word is used in the sense of reckoning or imputing to a man what does not strictly belong to him; or of charging on him what ought not to be charged on him as a matter of personal right. The word is never used to denote imputing in the sense of transferring, or of charging that on one which does not properly belong to him."
    Notice that Barnes frankly admits here (and in his wider comments) that logizomai never follows the Protestant understanding.
  • Protestant scholar, Dr James Buchanan, says the following in his tome The Doctrine of Justification (II:12:17):
    'There is not in all the Scriptures,' says one [opponent], 'an instance in which one man's sin or righteousness is said to be imputed to another. There is not in all the Bible one assertion that Adam's sin, or Christ's righteousness, is imputed to us; nor one declaration that any man's sin is ever imputed by God or man to another man. Having followed (the Hebrew and Greek verbs) through the concordances, I hesitate not to challenge a single example which is fairly of this nature in all the Bible.'

    These are bold statements, and may seem to imply a denial of the doctrine... But the question is, Whether the same verbs [i.e. logizomai] may not be equally applicable to other cases, in which that which is imputed to him was not personally his own, and did not previously belong to him, but became his only by its being put down to his account?

    The debt due, and the wrong done, by Onesimus to Philemon [1:18], were not chargeable against Paul personally or previously, but he became chargeable with them simply by their being imputed to him: 'If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account,' or 'impute that to me;' 'I will repay it.' In like manner, 'He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us,' and 'bore our sins in His own body on the tree,'—not that our sins were chargeable against Him personally or previously, but they became His by imputation on God's part, and voluntary susception on His own. If it be said, that the mere word 'impute' [logizomai] is not employed in this case, it may be asked, whether there be any other which could more accurately express the fact, if it be a fact; and whether the word itself is not used in a parallel case, when God is said 'to impute righteousness without works,' as often as 'He justifieth the ungodly?'
    Contrary to popular belief, and unfortunately perpetuated by various Protestant scholars, the term logizomai does not appear in Philemon 1:18, which uses a different Greek word. Also note that Buchanan indirectly admits there is not a single instance in Scripture where the term logizomai is used in reference to imputing (a) Adam's guilt to us, (b) our sin to Christ, or (c) "Christ's Righteousness" to the believer. (Paul was well aware of the term, using it over 30 times throughout his epistles, yet he never used it in such contexts.)
If you or someone you know is open to accepting this challenge, my email is on my profile and the comment box is open as well. Even if you don't consider yourself up for taking this challenge yourself, at least spread the word and write a little bit about it.