Ambassador of Reconciliation
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Diane Castro

Wife, Mom, Grandma, writer and editor of educational materials, with a longing to know and proclaim the fullness of the reconciliation that Jesus accomplished on the cross

Posted 1/19/16 at 8:46 AM | Diane Castro

Conversation about the Atonement: Is It Limited or Unlimited? Part 8

Our conversation about the extent of the atonement is now winding down. In an effort to make sure we understand each other, I asked Joe to write a paragraph or two explaining his understanding of my view of the extent of the atonement. I have done the same with his view. Then we will critique our own statements, correct any misunderstandings in each other’s perceptions, and make some final comments on each other’s statements.

Joe’s Understanding of Diane’s View of Unlimited Atonement
My understanding of Diane’s view of atonement is for the entirety of creation to be reconciled to God. I understand that Diane believes in a Universal redemption of all men, and that Jesus died for and cancelled the sin debt for everyone, so that eventually everyone would come to faith and repentance. Diane believes if a person doesn’t come to faith in this world, they will be punished, but it isn’t an eternal punishment, but an age long punishment. That Jesus didn’t only die for the sins of His elect, but everyone who ever lived. She believes that eventually all men will come to faith and repentance. FULL POST

Posted 1/9/16 at 11:53 PM | Diane Castro

Who Am I and Who Will I Be?

Recently I have been reading a book my son gave me for Christmas, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by British neurologist Oliver Sacks.1 Dr. Sacks tells the stories of people with strange neurological disorders that alter their mind, body, perception, and personality. One man lost all memory of events past the end of World War II and for the next few decades imagined that he was still a young seaman. One woman, “The Disembodied Lady,” lost her sense of the relative positions of her own body parts and had to use her eyes and concentrate intensely to “find” and move her limbs. The man in the title was an accomplished musician who was robbed of the ability to recognize faces:

Not only did Dr. P. increasingly fail to see faces, but he saw faces when there were no faces to see: genially, Magoo-like, when in the street he might pat the heads of water hydrants and parking meters, taking these to be the heads of children. FULL POST

Posted 12/15/15 at 1:24 PM | Diane Castro

Joy Is a Choice, Part 5

In 2012, I posted a four-part series called “Joy Is a Choice.” Parts 1 and 2 presented biblical principles for joy from the book of Philippians. In Part 3 I spoke of the source of my greatest joy. Part 4 gave some practical principles learned by observing joyful people—Love, Move, Learn, Laugh, Dare, Share.

One of the people featured in Part 4 was Ruth Colvin, the founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, now called ProLiteracy Worldwide. Ruth has been a model for me not only of joy, but of diligence, perseverance, and selfless service. Here is an update on her life, showing how she continues to exemplify these qualities. FULL POST

Posted 11/29/15 at 2:01 AM | Diane Castro

The Unpardonable Sin

People sometimes ask me, “How can you believe that all people will eventually be saved if the Bible says there is at least one sin that will never be forgiven?”1

“[T]he blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven…. [W]hoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt. 12:32b, ESV).

“[W]hoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mk. 3:29, ESV)

“[T]he one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Lk. 12:10, ESV).

Some see an open-and-shut case here that those who have committed the sin called “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” can never be forgiven, and that therefore not all people are saved. But there is no consensus about what exactly this sin is, what the results of it are, and what “the age to come” is. In fact, you can find a variety of interpretations, both within a framework of eternal damnation and within a framework of ultimate restoration. Let me suggest one possible interpretation. FULL POST

Posted 11/21/15 at 3:33 PM | Diane Castro

Conversation about the Atonement: Is It Limited or Unlimited? Part 7

Now it is Joe’s turn to respond to my thoughts about the treatment of limited atonement by W.G.T. Shedd (Part 5) and Wayne Grudem (Part 6). He proceeds by quoting something I said (in italics) and then commenting on it. We are winding down our discussion now, so rather than write a separate section, I will just insert some comments of my own in brackets.

Joe:

I spent some time picking a few certain things from Diane’s article that were worth addressing before we write our conclusions. I can’t hit every topic, so I chose some that I thought were worth mentioning. We are obviously still getting caught up on the same issues so I will try to further clear those up in my conclusion. To start, it seems to me that there are a lot of random ideas thrown around by both Shedd and Grudem, but I would like to reroute to scripture again. I have a hard time following people’s thoughts because they are just their conclusions. Reading through their thoughts usually just leaves me lost. I want to always come back to scripture for clarification, and let God do the persuading through scripture. FULL POST

Posted 11/5/15 at 9:38 AM | Diane Castro

Conversation about the Atonement: Is It Limited or Unlimited? Part 6

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine

Part 5 of our ongoing dialog about the atonement was a response to W.G.T. Shedd’s discussion of the extent of the atonement in his Dogmatic Theology (first published in 1894). Here in Part 6 we look at Wayne Grudem’s treatment of the same subject in his Systematic Theology, published 100 years after Shedd’s book. Some of the same observations apply to both, but Grudem takes a little different approach. FULL POST

Posted 11/1/15 at 11:23 PM | Diane Castro

Conversation about the Atonement: Is It Limited or Unlimited? Part 5

David Hayward

Knowing that I was engaged in a discussion about the atonement (see the first four parts, starting here), a friend gave me copies of writings on the subject by two Reformed thinkers. William G. T. Shedd was a nineteenth-century Presbyterian theologian, and Wayne A. Grudem is a contemporary evangelical theologian. Grudem was the general editor for the ESV Study Bible, which is the Bible that I use for much of my study. Here I add to our conversation some reflections on the writing of Shedd, and Part 6 will be about Grudem.

Shedd opens his argument for limited atonement (pp. 739 ff) with an approach that I also noted in Joe’s writing (see Part 2)—using semantics to dance around the real problems. Shedd’s 11-page section entitled “The Extent of the Atonement” begins with nearly two pages analyzing the word extent. He notes the two senses of the word in English usage: the “passive meaning” that is equivalent to “value,” and the “active signification” that denotes “the act of extending.” With these definitions, he can say that the atonement is unlimited in value but limited in application: FULL POST

Posted 10/23/15 at 5:24 PM | Diane Castro

“You created my inmost being”

A recurring theme in my life lately is recognizing the value of every single human life. In his sermon two weeks ago, our pastor spoke about “the inestimable worth of every person,” which prompted me to write a post on that subject. Last Sunday both the choir anthem and the offertory hymn were based on Psalm 139, which tells how God forms us in the womb, knows all our thoughts, and guides all the events of our lives. I keep hearing about people whose life stories have touched me in some way, and I think about how each one is known by God and precious to Him.

A few days ago I read the story of George Bell, an old man who died alone in his apartment in New York City, unnoticed until the stench of his corpse revealed his passing. This week I heard for the first time the remarkable story of Emma Rowena Gatewood, who in 1955 at the age of 67 hiked the entire 2,168 miles of the Appalachian Trail. She did it again at age 72, and then again in sections at age 75. Another incredible story is that of Minka Disbrow, who at age 16 was assaulted and raped. She became pregnant and gave up the baby girl for adoption, but always longed to know her daughter. God remembered her, heard her prayer, and granted her request before she died. FULL POST

Posted 10/21/15 at 4:12 PM | Diane Castro

Conversation about the Atonement: Is It Limited or Unlimited? Part 4

Joe Lindberg and I are continuing our discussion about the extent of the atonement, which started with Parts 1, 2, and 3. Here he responds to an article I wrote, and then I will follow with some thoughts.

In response to Diane’s article. “Jesus Loves Me! This I Know”, it seems like we are going to finally get into some of theology that will really help us understand what the scripture says. We will hopefully be able to answer the question, “does God love everyone”, and be able to answer some questions on the topic of atonement. Once we understand God’s love, we can understand the grace He has given us through Christ Jesus.

I agree with Diane that we must ask, who is the “world”, who are “you”, and who are “us”? Each one of the verses that she posted has a huge impact on how we understand scripture. Let’s jump into some of these verses that Diane mentioned really quick and see what we find. FULL POST

Posted 10/15/15 at 8:35 AM | Diane Castro

"The Inestimable Worth of Every Person"

The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo

In a recent sermon, our pastor spoke of “the inestimable worth of every person.” Because each and every human being is created in the image of God, we all have infinite value in His eyes. As David so eloquently put it:

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
(Ps. 139:13-16)*

I have been pondering this truth and thinking about the ramifications of it, both in terms of how we believe God views and treats people and in terms of how we ourselves view and treat other people. It seems to me that if God imprints His own image on a person, He will love and value that person as a treasured daughter or son.** Since His capacity to love is limitless, every individual can be the recipient of His boundless love. No one—from the tiniest baby lost in the womb to the most powerful kings of the earth—is insignificant to Him. Not a single human being will be forgotten or neglected by Him. Not a single soul is expendable to Him. FULL POST

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