Brian Zahnd’s False Dichotomy: Does God Love Me or Has He Just Been Paid Off?

Brian Zahnd is making more of a name for himself outside of the name his mega-church has already created for him. It is not a good name among orthodox biblical Christians. Apparently unorthodox hipster Christianity is more prevalent than I thought.

Brian Zahnd has recently been in two public debates. He debated on Austin Fischer’s side against Calvinism, and he also debated Michael Brown on Substitutionary Atonement. The latter debate will be the focus of this blog.

Before diving into that debate, allow me to briefly sum up Brian Zahnd: Brian Zond is an inch away from Open-Theism and is even closer to Marcionism. It is only a matter of time before he is an out of the closet Open-Theist, Martionite.

In this debate, Zahnd attacks the clear biblical teaching of Substitionary Atonement. Michael Brown had to even call him out personally during the debate for his insulting attacks on believers, for Zahnd mentioned that those who believe in Substitutionary Atonement have a “monster God” (which is the title of the debate in fact) and that they believe in a “pagan deity who desires child sacrifices to be appeased”. In fact, Zahnd later in the debate identified the Eastern Orthodox church as being a genuine Christian church! Zahnd was able to anathematize biblical orthodox Christians everywhere and turn them into pagan idolaters while saving the majority of the eastern world from their idolatry. That’s truly amazing.
In short, Zahnd believes the cross was NOT necessary for our salvation because God can love and forgive without requiring a sacrifice to pay Him off like pagan deities needed. The cross, in his mind, is just a demonstration of how wicked man is by “violently sinning our sins into Jesus”.

Although a blog post on each and every point Zahnd raised would be appropriate, I would like to focus on one statement Zahnd made which I think essentially sums up half of his debate thesis.

In the debate Zahnd characterized inaccurately the biblical position through this particular rhetorical question: “Does God actually love me, or has He just been paid off?”
This is committing the logical fallacy of a false dichotomy. Those positions are not the only two options and they are not at odds with one another as Zahnd has set them up to be.

What Zahnd is fundamentally ignoring is the means by which God was “paid off”.
God paid off our debt with His own Son! God provided the payment due to Himself BY Himself with the blood of His Son! It takes a love that cannot be fathomed to pay for someone else’s debt to you with your own Son. He is trying to paint this picture of God in Substitutionary Atonement as some 1920’s mobster who does not torture a citizen who stole his drugs because the money was paid for later on. Yes, in that scenario the mobster is not loving anyone; he is just paid off.
However the biblical picture could not be more different. Someone didn’t just come along and pay God off. God loved us enough to pay it for us. That’s MORE loving than Zahnd’s overly simplistic, nonchalant forgiveness which ignores ALL aspects of God’s glorious wrath and justice by sweeping sins under the rug and winking at the wicked. My God is far more loving than Zahnd’s precisely because mine paid off my debts for me in a horrible way in my place.
God’s love and forgiveness and His righteousness and justice are not only not opposed, they are harmoniously interwoven. 

What Zahnd is actually asking is this: ‘Is God merciful, or is He just?’ And a biblical Christians’ answer is, ‘Well, actually, He is both.’ 

In other words, the love needed to come first. God LOVED us, actually, in order to pay our debt by the sacrifice of His most Beloved. I cannot begin to explain the blasphemy and offense of Zahnds question.

Does God actually love His people, or was He just paid off?
God actually loves His people and proved it by the fact that He was willing to send Jesus to “pay Him off”.

Substitionary Atonement is the heart of the Gospel and the ultimate glorification of the justice and righteousness of a holy and vengeful God.

To hear these accusations yourself and witness Michael Brown’s defense, hear the debate free:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCLuHZ4I_9U

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