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May 5, 2013


So Much Anger Over the Wrath of God

Bosco Peters’ latest post on his Liturgy website is a great example of a liberal attack on the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA), not just for the substance but the manner in which the doctrine is attacked.

At our recent synod meeting, one of the songs was Stuart Townend and Keith Getty’s In Christ alone with the words:

“Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied”

Those words as understood by many (if not most) in that room are heresy. The understanding of those words by many (most) who enthusiastically sing this in services around the planet is heretical.

The understanding is that God (The Father) was angry at us in our sinfulness. And that God took out this rage on Christ instead of on us. And that this now enables God (The Father) to love us.

This understanding is heresy.

Now, at first sight one wants to agree with Bosco. The gross over-simplification that “God took out this rage [His anger at our sinfulness] on Christ instead of on us” is one of the most common of canards thrown at PSA. But as the conversation progresses it becomes clear that Bosco has no real intention of clarifying PSA and defending it against such misrepresentations - rather he gives every impression of being happy to have them repeated and propagated. You see this both in the comments that are left unchallenged and the comments he himself makes. Others describe it as “sadistic theology”, “Divine child abuse”, Bosco claims you need “theological mental gymnastics” to ” [allow] an orthodox interpretation” (i.e. no straightforward thought about those words would lead you to an orthodox reading).

Things get better when Bosco affirms another commentor who refers to those who hold to PSA as “Klingons” and “gory glory seekers” - for Bosco this is “encouragement”.

So it becomes clear where Bosco stands on all this. Rather than simply opening up discussion, he is content to allow commentor after commentor not only deny PSA, but also consistently misrepresent it - making no distinction between the apparent “misunderstanding” of PSA and it’s true position.

I, and a number of others, challenged him on this and the result was quite interesting. You can read the exchange here, following on here. Do note how the argument being made is absolutely clear, and not least at all to the “Melbourne College of Divinity 5 year theology degree after graduating a Bachelor with philosophy & logic, and teaching diploma etc.” Bosco himself.

The New Testament clearly refers to Jesus in specific penal substitutionary language and affirms text that speak in that manner. So, as the example I gave, Peter says this:

1Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Peter is quite obviously quoting this text:

Isa. 53:4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

and telling us that it refers to Jesus. Of course, that may not be the original referent (although I think it is fairly obvious to any Christian reader that it is) but Peter tells us that it is a “New Testament” way to understand the text. Even in this diluted way of reading Isaiah, the point is utterly obvious - Isaiah 53 is about Jesus. But Bosco, who must surely know the implications of this simple argument for his campaign to undermine PSA, starts wriggling - there is no other word for it:

The identity, David, as I’m sure you know, of the servant in the Servant Poems first isolated by Duhm, is disputed. Israel, Israel under the name of Jacob, the prophet and his disciples, as contemplated by other Israelites or foreigners, or by the foreigner Cyrus

to which I make the following response

except, of course, the NT clearly identifies that one not least as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

1Pet. 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

The Apostle Peter thinks it refers to Jesus. What say you, Bosco?

What does Bosco say? Well it’s really hard to tell….

Yes, David, I’m quite comfortable with the way that 1 Peter uses that text. Blessings.

When I point out to him that he’s plainly avoided answering the difficult question he gets a bit upset. Wrathful, even, one might say. I get accused of “ad hominems” and the rest of it - this, remember, from the man who is quite happy to see people who hold my position referred to as “klingons” and “gory glory seekers”. What’s good for the goose is, apparently, no good for the gander. Or, in more simple language, the double standards are breathtaking.

But this, my friends, is always the way. A liberal puts up an attack on orthodoxy in the form of a “discussion”. They encourage all and sundry to affirm the position they are trying to promote. Then when somebody comes along and very simply shows how the argument won’t stand they dig in and accuse them of all sorts of name-calling etc. without at any time stopping those who agree with them from doing far worse.

And I trust, dear reader, you are also not blind to the fact all of this is interspersed with little throw-away suffixes of “blessings” and “Christ is risen”  - again this is the liberal way: make some “Christian” affirmation as though it will persuade us all that there is nothing but truth being propagated here. But nothing could be further from the truth. The liberal, particularly those in the Anglican Communion we are by now very familiar with, revels in such things - they even provide a supposed authenticity as though their constant repetition is somehow a badge of orthodoxy. That and liturgy. The liberals in the Anglican Communion are big fans of liturgy - again it is seen as authenticating.

And that was where I thought all of this was ended until a late commentor did us all a favour by showing just what sort of genuine “mental gymnastics” are required to sustain a denial of PSA:

God no doubt has very good reasons to be annoyed with most of us – in the ways in which we cripple the Good News of the Gospel by over-emphasising God’s righteous indignation.

However, one of the reasons God sent His Son into the world was to show forth in a human being the possibilities of redemption through loving-kindness – as opposed to that obtainable by adherence to The Law. Saint Paul emphasised this importance aspect of soteriology.

The closing reference to Paul is almost comedic. Why? Well consider these words from Paul:

Eph. 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

Paul makes is abundantly clear that we were all deserving of the wrath of God. But why? According to Fr Ron Smith it is because we “cripple ... the Gospel by overemphasising God’s righteous indignation”. But what does Paul say the reason is? Well, immediately prior to v3 we read this…

Eph. 2:1    As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

We are objects of God’s wrath because of our trangressions and sins, says the Apostle Paul. In other words, quite simply, God is angry at us because of our trangressions and sins. This is no extraordinary statement - it is the single overwhelming crisis laid out in the Scriptures from first page to last. The very first sin ever, in the Garden, leads to God’s anger against the first man and woman - against their sin. And it leads to the punishment of death. Again, that this theme courses through the Scriptures is surely uncontrovertible. You would have thought.

The solution to all this, the Scriptures teach, is that one dies in our place. The entire OT sacrificial system models this and then Jesus Himself comes and does it. He is no “abused child” and there is no “lashing out by God”, rather He chooses Himself to lay down His life (John 10:11, 15, 17-18). Those last two verses are stunning how they tell of the unity of purpose between Father and Son:

John 10:17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Father and Son act together. The Father does not force the Son, He lays down his life of His own accord with the authority given to Him by the Father and the Father loves Him for it. The atonement is therefore categorically not the Father against the Son but, rather, the Father acting with the Son. The Spirit is also involved,

Heb. 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

The atonement is something that goes on within the Trinity, with it’s effects applied outside the Trinity to those who trust in the Son, by the power of the Spirit. Which makes the Cross the key to it all - no wonder that the Apostle Paul tells us he will speak of nothing else! But all this is laid aside by those like Peters who seek to undermine PSA. With that in mind, this last statement by Fr Ron Smith, as shocking as it is, should not surprise us:

However, one of the reasons God sent His Son into the world was to show forth in a human being the possibilities of redemption through loving-kindness – as opposed to that obtainable by adherence to The Law. Saint Paul emphasised this importance aspect of soteriology.

God the Father did not crucify Jesus. This horrendous task was attributable to sinful human beings – who mistook the redemptive mission of Jesus as being heretical, and contrary to what they perceived to be God’s Law.

It was the loving actions of Jesus towards known sinners that gave rise to his trial and death. He had rescued people from the due penalty of the Law, and for that he was crucified!

Now consider careful what is being argued here. Jesus rescued people from the due penalty of the Law by loving sinners. This love of sinners was seen in “redemption through loving-kindness”. And it was only because of this salvific action that He was crucified!

So, logically, the Cross (in the soteriology put forward by Fr Smith) does not save! Jesus saves people by loving them. And he is crucified for it. And then Smith has the gall to say that this is Pauline soteriology! Pauline! According to Paul it is the Cross that reconciles people to God (Eph. 2:16), reconciles all things by making peace through the blood of Jesus (Col. 1:20),  and cancels the charge of the Law (Col 2:14) - it is the Cross that saves! Something that Smith claims Jesus achieves purely by loving people. Smith’s soteriology is a mile away from Paul’s.

2 final thoughts.

First, to see Anglicans argue this way (especially Anglicans who are so keen to affirm their orthodoxy) is amazing. Here is the official Anglican position on the atonement set out in the Holy Communion prayer of consecration (also mirrored in Article XXXI):

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world…

Again, it requires real “mental gymnastics” to read this other than as affirming PSA despite Peters’ protestations.

Second, it is very telling that Isaiah, in the great Servant Song of Isa. 52-53 that we have referred to, has this to say:

Is. 53:1    Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

Indeed, some people just don’t get it and refuse to believe it. Isaiah writes about the great saving work of the Servant and the New Testament affirms to us that Jesus is being spoken of. But some simply will not accept that this is the “arm of the LORD” at work.

Isa. 53:10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

There it is in black and white. It’s about Jesus, the New Testament reminds us. And yet there are men and women out there who fight hard to deny it. They are not by any means passive in their opposition - pastors of the church of God, they seek to deny the work of Christ on the Cross.

The Apostle Paul (he of the soteriology) picks up on the opening “wisdom” language of Isaiah’s song (Isa. 52:13) when he writes,

1Cor. 1:18    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

You want to know who is truly foolish or wise? Look at how they speak about the Cross and what they teach it does or does not achieve.

Or then again, just accept their simple affirmations that they are “creedal”. But we’ve been there before...


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48 comments

Thanks. In my former diocese in the CofE, when we sang this at diocesan events, the phrase, “the wrath of God was satisfied” was simply removed from the hymn and replaced by something that I imagined was more to the liking of the bishop. I wondered at the time whether this was done with the permission of the composers.

My own view is that this language is clearly Scriptural and that should end it (and as you say, it is deeply embedded in Anglican liturgy).

FWLIW the unadulterated hymn was sung at the enthronement of Archbishop Justin.

[1] Posted by driver8 on 5-5-2013 at 03:01 AM · [top]

FWLIW the unadulterated hymn was sung at the enthronement of Archbishop Justin.

indeed it was. Perhaps that means +++Welby is a heretic?

[2] Posted by David Ould on 5-5-2013 at 03:08 AM · [top]

FWIW .. the original ‘hubbub’ was all because the Presbyterian Church (USA) is creating another new hymnal.  Why ??? Many in the PC(USA) have no idea, except that maybe the last hymnal from 1990 wasn’t PC enough, what with such ‘military’ hymns such as “Onward Christian Solders” not included.

Frankly, the theology behind the ‘rewriting’ of many of the hymns in this new hymnal is suspect, if not totally lacking in scriptural basis; such as removing ‘paternalistic’ language for God the Father.

I’m very happy that Townsend and Getty did not allow the verse change.  Not that it matters to many orthodox in the PC(USA), they either retained the use of the older hymnal (“the Red book”) as we do or bought non-denominational hymnals that use the original lyrics without apology.

[3] Posted by Reformed Catholic on 5-5-2013 at 07:54 AM · [top]

I have had similar discussions and they all seem to end up in the same place that yours did.

I have to wonder if it’s an intellectual or integrity problem; or if it’s not just a spiritual block.  Seems the anti-PSA folk are the ones doing mental gymnastics around the various texts.  Or maybe they simply don’t have the spiritual eyes/ears to be able to faithfully understand the texts in the first place.

Burden of proof is on them to show conclusive evidence that the Church has been wrong for centuries and centuries.

But they can’t do it so evade answering questions directly.

[4] Posted by WWS-Savannah on 5-5-2013 at 08:39 AM · [top]

Those words have always bothered me, too.  The idea has been very confusing to me and I have trouble sorting it all out.  I’m not sure that I understand what the difference is between “forensic,” “ontological,” and “penal.” I would love to hear your thoughts on this blog post: http://glory2godforallthings.com/2013/04/19/therapeutic-substitutionary-atonement/

[5] Posted by Dragonfly on 5-5-2013 at 09:43 AM · [top]

What does he think the problem is? Apparently there is no sin. And therefore no need to repent. Sinners seems to refer to those under the penalty of Jewish law. Three guesses as to which law he has in mind. He is far from the via media on this one. You cannot hear the good news until you have first heard the bad news.

[6] Posted by Pb on 5-5-2013 at 10:05 AM · [top]

FWIW Dragonfly, Fr. Stephen ( the author of that blog) is a former TEc priest, now recovering in Orthodoxy.  In a similar vein to your post is this commentary on St. Athanasius:  http://www.antiochian.org/node/25462.  I hope that link works.

[7] Posted by Nikolaus on 5-5-2013 at 10:52 AM · [top]

The discussion Mr. Fischler refers to comes from the Christian Century:

http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2013-04/debating-hymns

I’m reminded of Tony Esolen’s observation that changes to the original text of a hymn destroys the poetry of the original and makes the hymn worse, not better.

[8] Posted by MTDave on 5-5-2013 at 11:11 AM · [top]

One more:

William F Buckley was known for answering people who wrote to the National Review: “Please cancel my subscription” with “Cancel your own goddamned subscription.” (blasphemy in the original)

I sincerely hope that when the Gettys and Stuart Townsend were asked to edit “In Christ Alone” so it could be included in the new PCUSA hymnal they responded similarly.  “Write your own !@#$!@#%!@$#% hymn. Don’t mess with ours.”

[9] Posted by MTDave on 5-5-2013 at 11:20 AM · [top]

One of the major reasons behind the hatred of the cross and penal substitution is that we must admit the sinfulness of sin.  Liberals can easily label a particular action or even attitude as a sin, but they do not recognize the reality that our hearts are desperately wicked and destructively deceitful in their attempt to dethrone God and take his place.  They either do not know or refuse to know that we are sinners, through and through, and that we are traitors to a holy God, deserving of the just punishment due to traitors.

In their minds and hearts, our problem is not a sinful rebellious heart, but an ignorant mind, perhaps clouded by a society of warped values and traditions, but able to be informed and so to change. According to them, we do not need atonement.  Rather, we need education.  God’s grace is found in him sending us an instructor, whom ignorant fools psychologically dependent on tradition sent to death.

[10] Posted by AnglicanXn on 5-5-2013 at 03:52 PM · [top]

#5 Dragonfly—I’m glad you posted that.  I was following that that article and comment for a couple of days.  I’m curious to hear some serious rebuttal to that article.

I had googled PSA and Orthodoxy and they have a lot to say against it.

[11] Posted by Dave in Dallas on 5-5-2013 at 05:01 PM · [top]

Am I reading this wrong, or are Peters and co. completely rejecting any form of substitutionary atonement?

[12] Posted by m+ on 5-5-2013 at 06:03 PM · [top]

#10, I think that’s one of the core things happening, no doubt.

#12, I don’t think you’re wrong. They would protest that it is not so, but I don’t see Peters et. al. defending a “correct” understanding of PSA in any way shape or form.

[13] Posted by David Ould on 5-5-2013 at 07:06 PM · [top]

am I right in understanding that PSA is mainly a Reformed thing?  Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox frame things differently- although all agree that Jesus died on the cross for sin.  In other words, sin made the cross necessary and through it we find salvation.

Now consider careful what is being argued here. Jesus rescued people from the due penalty of the Law by loving sinners. This love of sinners was seen in “redemption through loving-kindness”. And it was only because of this salvific action that He was crucified!

Peters and co. are very guarded and obscure with their language.  It’s hard to know exactly what he’s trying to say since he won’t spit it out.  But he/they appear to be proposing that we dispense with the notion that Christ died for sin at all, and thus depart entirely from Christian soteriology.

Am I seeing what you’re seeing?

[14] Posted by m+ on 5-5-2013 at 08:33 PM · [top]

am I right in understanding that PSA is mainly a Reformed thing?

Not really. It was held right from the beginning (so, for example, Sach and Jeffrey present a comprehensive historical survey of the position in their book “Pierced for Our Transgression” - well worth a read) but the Reformers reasserted it since they understood it was a vital underpinning of their particular theology.

By re-emphasising the e.g. “(by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world” (Cranmer -  prayer of consecration in Holy Communion, drawing from Heb. 10 etc.) they demonstrated that all that was needed for salvation was simple trusting faith in Jesus and what His penal substitutionary death had achieved. One might say that PSA underpins Justification by Faith Alone and so the Reformers rightly stressed it because of what flowed from it.

[15] Posted by David Ould on 5-5-2013 at 08:42 PM · [top]

David,  Thank you for your sustained engagement of Peters on his blog.  I am afraid I would not have had the patience or the stomach for it.  Sadly, Peters, et al,  do not accept any form of PSA, and the root of the problem (at least in those I have debated) seems to be a rejection of the idea of the sinfulness of man and our separation from God that made such an atonement necessary.  It finally comes around to a denial of the Fall and an acceptance of something akin to Matthew Fox’s “original blessing.” This, in turn, undergirds the whole “God made me this way” sexual agenda.  If we are now the way God made us, then we do not need an atonement for our sins (only a slight remedy, perhaps, for the ways we do not feel complete or self-actualized); and anything we want to do is okay, as long as it can fit under some construction of the term “love.”  The liberal agenda is all of a piece.

But then Peters would probably just say I am being ad hominem

Robert Munday+

[16] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 5-5-2013 at 08:43 PM · [top]

am I right in understanding that PSA is mainly a Reformed thing?

I would like to point you to a blog piece I wrote during Holy Week entitled, “For Us and Our Salvation” in which I cited the Catholic Encyclopedia articles on “Sacrifice” and “Atonement,” showing that penal substitutionary atonement is consistent with Roman Catholic understanding.  My point was to show precisely that PSA is not merely a Reformed thing, it is an essential piece of ecumenical theology since it is implicit in the Nicene Creed.

Robert Munday+

[17] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 5-5-2013 at 09:00 PM · [top]

Thanks Robert,

That is, indeed helpful. I hope my comment didn’t suggest that the RC Church does not hold to PSA. I was trying to point out that the Reformers held that PSA, properly understood and applied, led one to Justification by Faith. In one sense their charge against the RCC was that they misapplied PSA.

[18] Posted by David Ould on 5-5-2013 at 09:25 PM · [top]

Thank you for the clarifications about PSA and the RCC.

If I understand the argument, then the issue with Peters and his supporters is that his/ their soteriology is fatally flawed because it is blind to the sinfulness of humanity. They’re saying Jesus didn’t have to atone for anything.

[19] Posted by m+ on 5-5-2013 at 10:34 PM · [top]

Great thread!  Here’s what Paul Zahl has to say in his “A Short Systematic Theology,” “That “Christ Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures’ (1 Cor. 15:3) is the first word in the testimony about Jesus that St. Paul received from the earliest circle of disciples.  It is the beginning of the first interpretations of Jesus’ death.  It is the single most frequently used lens through which Christians in the NT sought to understand Jesus.  It is also the most visceral way to understand him.  Christ dying for our sins is the starting point for all further reflection about him, such as the incarnation and the Trinity…  Atonement is the cornerstone of all theology, being the ‘stone that the builders rejected’ which has now become the cornerstone.

I think it’s just amazing to realize that the NT asserts over and over that Christ died for our sins, and that the question why is a preoccupation of the NT.

[20] Posted by Theron Walker✙ on 5-5-2013 at 11:44 PM · [top]

David, no, I didn’t think your comment suggested that the RC Church didn’t hold to PSA, I was responding to m+ (#14) to join you in saying that PSA is not merely a Reformed view.  I agree with you about PSA pointing to the necessity of justification by faith and that the RCC, while holding to it, misapplies it, or, more precisely, misunderstands how the Atonement becomes efficacious for the believer.  Correcting that particular misunderstanding is at the heart of the Reformation.

But the bottom line is that I remained stunned, along with you and most of the commenters on this thread, that anyone can read the New Testament and still manage to overlook or deny PSA.

Incidentally, Justyn Terry wrote a very fine (and courageous) defense of substitutionary atonement in the Winter 2013 edition of the Anglican Theological Review, entitled, “The Forgiveness of Sins and the Work of Christ: A Case for Substitutionary Atonement.”  Although I have linked to it here, unfortunately, all that is available online is a precis.  It was heartening to see the case for PSA reasserted in a scholarly Anglican journal.

[21] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 5-6-2013 at 12:21 AM · [top]

Thanks Robert. I’ll try and chase down the article.
I see that in the precis there is this:

The forgiveness of sins is seen to have a substitutionary character, as does, therefore, the doctrine of justification by faith.

Glad someone else made the connection!

[22] Posted by David Ould on 5-6-2013 at 12:34 AM · [top]

I think there’s an important subtlety here that is easy to miss:

“The understanding is that God (The Father) was angry at us in our sinfulness. And that God took out this rage on Christ instead of on us. And that this now enables God (The Father) to love us.

This understanding is heresy.”

As written, that is correct.  It is heresy.  It’s also a straw man, because no wise Christian believes that, nor does the bible teach it, nor does the song say it.

The cross doesn’t allow God to love us - he’s done that all along, despite our best efforts to the contrary.  What it allows him to do is forgive us without blackening his own character.

Similarly, in the 2nd line following in the song, “bought with the precious blood of Christ”.  To whom is Christ a payment?  Classical PSA theology is from God to himself, on our behalf.  God doesn’t love us because a third party has paid.  God loves us already, and so he pays the debt we cannot.  Why is there a debt? Because sin matters, and it is offensive (causes offence, provokes anger, etc) to God.

Anger is not alien to a loving God.  Lack of anger at wrongdoing implies not caring, not not loving.  Love cares, and thus it is angered by being mistreated.  But his love is also merciful, and in the cross his anger, his justice, and his mercy are all joined in a way that the Scriptures declare that God finds acceptable, for our sake.

Irony: being angry that God is being maligned, while failing to realise that he might feel the same way about our sin.

[23] Posted by Andrew W on 5-6-2013 at 02:22 AM · [top]

RE: “The cross doesn’t allow God to love us - he’s done that all along, despite our best efforts to the contrary.  What it allows him to do is forgive us without blackening his own character.”

Precisely, AndrewW.

God fulfills the attributes of His own character which include both justice and love.

Two things I think are intriguing about the revisionists’ notions not simply about God but seemingly about human beings as well.

1) Being “angry” at someone—indeed, “full of wrath”—is not a sign of lack of love. It’s not even a sign of a loss of control [though often human beings do lose control when they are angry—unlike God]. Indeed, if a person whom you love does something appalling and wicked, being angry is a sign of respect, interest, and honor of that person.  Indifference to a person’s actions is the sign of a lack of love, not anger.

I think it’s a key aspect of revisionist personality and psychology that they deem otherwise.

2) In viewing the effects of sinful action, it seems to me to be impossible *not* to be angry—inhuman almost.

Even I, as flawed and imperfect as I am, become angry when I see a child neglected, when I think about what Gosnell did to the babies at his clinic, when I think of the consequences of evil acts that people inflict on others.

That anger applied to other people’s sinful acts, in order to be congruent and consistent, must also be applied to my own sinful acts. That is often the source, I think, of great quandary, confusion, and disjunction, for it is hard to be angry at oneself—hard on oneself to be so, and hard on oneself *not* to be so.

Actions have consequences.  Sinful actions always harm others or me.  And it is inhuman and singularly warped and misshapen to feel no anger at that.

I cannot imagine being God and being omnisciently aware of all sinful acts and their horrible consequences on human beings and somehow being cold enough to feel no anger or outrage.

The fact that revisionists seem to think otherwise is also illuminating concerning their psychology.

The best book I’ve read that deals with this subject is Fitz Allison’s Guilt, Anger, and God—it’s a must read, as far as I’m concerned, because it once again precisely deals with just what David Ould has written above.

[24] Posted by Sarah on 5-6-2013 at 08:16 AM · [top]

This is really where Sarah’s theory (and its not really just Sarah’s theory, but objective truth) of two Gospels in one organization really is well illustrated.  Comments # 6, 10, and 16 are all right on the money here.  The liberals don’t believe that we are inherently corrupted by sin and in need of radical redemption - i.e. the cross.  Rather, they believe that we are inherently good at our core, but corrupted on the outside by evil (read: conservative) forces, and that all this can be educated away.

Thus, anything that is supposed to be “authentic” about ourselves (and that isn’t motivated by a “conservative” impulse) must be a good thing that ought to be affirmed.  Thus, there is no sense that folks of other religions need to be evangelized.  Perhaps Jesus was the best teacher of “love” on the scene, but, in the end, it doesn’t really matter who teaches “love” and self-fulfillment.

Thus the liberal agenda is to strip away all the repressive stuff (which they view as “sin”) and let the inner “authentic” person come through, which they believe will be a loving and non-repressed person, and if this happens to everyone, a wonderful liberal utopia will break out.  This is the liberal gospel.

[25] Posted by jamesw on 5-6-2013 at 12:47 PM · [top]

I agree with Sarah who wrote,

“Indifference to a person’s actions is the sign of a lack of love, not anger.

I think it’s a key aspect of revisionist personality and psychology that they deem otherwise.”

I am not familiar with the hymn in question, but for those interested, Bosco Peter’s has a little poll up on what folks frequenting his blog think the words mean. This poll probably will confirm Sarah’s point.

[26] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 5-6-2013 at 01:30 PM · [top]

Great thread. I’ve come to believe over the years that avoidance of guilt feelings is a fundamental driver of human behavior and beliefs.

People do this in at least one of two ways. The first way is to elevate one’s own righteousness above that of other people’s. We see this, unfortunately, in some Christians who bring up their obedience to God’s law as opposed to the sins of others, instead of rejoicing in the perfect obedience of Christ. They are rightly seen as judgmental and self-righteous. Even if the moral code that they are espousing is Biblical, such moralism is NOT the Gospel.

The second way is to attempt to tear down the standard by pretending that there is no standard (relativism), often setting up their own standard at the same time (an amazing exercise in inconsistency). We see this in those who would wish to discuss environmentalism, Marxism, feminism, pacifism, you name it while conveniently dismissing the boring things like murder, theft, chastity, etc. Yes, I’m talking about liberals here.

[27] Posted by Capn Jack Sparrow on 5-6-2013 at 02:09 PM · [top]

Obviously the Orthodox do not deny the seriousness of sin, and there are some that have a balanced approach and see more than 1 meaning to Christ’s saving work on the cross. 

So this blog post HERE offers a few compelling responses to the Orthodox.

[28] Posted by Dave in Dallas on 5-6-2013 at 02:40 PM · [top]

Undergroundpewster (#26):  If you are not familiar with the hymn “In Christ Alone,” you might want to take a look at this video, which contains the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ7Y_7xVXSU  The words that are so controversial with liberals,

‘til on the Cross as Jesus died,
the wrath of God was satisfied…

occur at around 1:35 in the video.  At around 2:50, this video goes off into a medley with two other songs before returning for the final verse of “In Christ Alone” at 3:30.  This video is not my favorite arrangement, but it had the lyrics in the clearest type.

A version I like better (but that doesn’t contain the lyrics) is here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnXv2gAfPpE  It is from a festival at the Royal Albert Hall, performed by Keith and Kristyn Getty (who wrote the song with Stuart Townend) along with the orchestra of All Souls, Langham Place, London—the church where John Stott was rector.

[29] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 5-6-2013 at 04:49 PM · [top]

I should add it’s amusing to see Bosco Peters get all huffy and stressed when David demonstrates just how desperate Bosco is to avoid responding to simple questions that nicely reveal his thesis as being the ludicrous straw man that it is.  And David’s demonstration and his pointing out Peter’s avoidance is then denounced as “ad hominem.”

Heh.

[30] Posted by Sarah on 5-6-2013 at 05:53 PM · [top]

RE:  “So, logically, the Cross (in the soteriology put forward by Fr Smith) does not save! Jesus saves people by loving them. And he is crucified for it. And then Smith has the gall to say that this is Pauline soteriology! “

As I told a loved one long ago when we were ‘discussing’ (sic) this very subject, if the Cross is purely an expression of Christ’s love, then He and I would have been better off if He simply bought me some flowers. 

Preferably tulips.

[31] Posted by J Eppinga on 5-6-2013 at 07:23 PM · [top]

As I’ve read through this thread, I’ve puzzled over the almost consistent specific citation of penal (i.e. punishment) substitutionary atonement.  The link posted by TATW (#21) causes me to raise the question.  Are you really talking about penal substitutionary atonement specifically or substitutionary atonement, which is more general encompassing several different atonement theories of which PSA is merely one?

For one thing, I read nothing specifically penal in 1 Peter 2:24, nor would I say that PSA is implicit in the Nicene Creed.  For another thing, while substitutionary atonement theories have indeed existed since virtually the beginning, the ransom theory (another form of SA) was the predominant teaching of the Church until Anselm - shortly after the Great Schism.  Penal substitutionary atonement is generally considered specifically reformed (J.I. Packer et. al.) and credited to Luther and Calvin who were formed by and building on Anselm’s work.

I think all theories of the atonement bear flaws to some extent of another.  In particular I’m troubled by the “punishment” aspect of PSA.  How can the Spotless Lamb be punished?  Personally, I think the ransom theory has more going for it.  But then, it is all a mystery isn’t it?  As C. S. Lewis observed: no explanation of the atonement is as relevant as the <u>fact</u> of the atonement.

[32] Posted by Nikolaus on 5-6-2013 at 07:27 PM · [top]

‘til on the Cross as Jesus died,
the wrath of God was satisfied…

Part of the problem here is that I doubt there are 5 revisionists who know what “wrath of God” means.  They want to take it to mean vengeance, abuse, war, pestilence, etc.  But as is my wont, I looked it up in my Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1966 edition, pre-Spong, et al) and it says:

“An anthropomorphic phrase for the Divine attitude towards sin.  Wrath is predicated of God only metaphorically, as the human passions have no equivalents in the purely spiritual Divine substance.”

That is, God also loves the sinner and hates the sin,  And God does not “lose His temper.” 

The expression is frequent in the Bible, esp. in the OT (e.g. Exod. 15.7, Ps 2.12), where wrath is attributed to God not only when he punishes sinners, but also when He sends trials to the just (e.g. Job 14.13). In the NT the wrath of God is particularly associated with the Judgment on the Last Day which St. Paul calls the “day of wrath” (Rom 2.5), a conception elaborated in the Book of Rev., esp. under the metaphors of the “wrath of the Lamb” (6.16) and the “winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of the Almighty God (19.15).

[33] Posted by tjmcmahon on 5-6-2013 at 08:08 PM · [top]

For one thing, I read nothing specifically penal in 1 Peter 2:24,

perhaps not explicitly in that one verse. But the section of Isa 53 that it cites from does contain clear penal language. Hence we argue that Peter understands it applies to Jesus and thus Jesus’ death must be understood of not least as a penal substitution.

Isa. 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

[34] Posted by David Ould on 5-6-2013 at 08:27 PM · [top]

Hi Nikolas,

“How can the spotless lamb be punished?”

He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us.

[35] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 5-6-2013 at 08:44 PM · [top]

Tim,

Are you sure that’s a fair characterisation?  In (say) Exodus alone, God is angry six times (by simple NIV word search for ‘anger’), usually burning with anger.  Moses is angry twice (at Pharaoh, at the Israelites with the golden calf), and the final reference is that when God declares his name, describing him as slow to anger.

It’s certainly true that man’s anger is corrupted by sin (unlike God’s), but I’m not sure it’s in any way fair to the text to suggest that’s God’s anger is dispassionate or metaphorical (as opposed to measured or just).

[36] Posted by Andrew W on 5-7-2013 at 02:01 AM · [top]

Thank you Nikolaus #7 for that.  It was helpful although I still don’t understand the meanings of “forensic,” “ontological,” and “penal.”  Perhaps I’d better just stick with “substitutionary attonement” and leave the adjectives out of it.

#28 Dave in Dallas, the article you shared says that with penal substitution God does not truly forgive.  Then the comment was that the Orthodox believe that you can lose your salvation “Therefore, am I truly forgiven?  If Christ died for my sins (which I haven’t seen them really come clear on), which pays a debt, yet I am not fully saved and end up in hell, was I truly forgiven?” I don’t see that as following logically - being truly forgiven meaning one can’t lose salvation.

Losing salvation doesn’t really have a lot to do with substitutionary attonment. Salavation is “what” and “attonement is “how.” 

However you want to explain it, Christ died because of our sins so that we would not have to experience eternal death and instead could live with God as originally intended.  I really believe that God forgives EVERYONE through Christ’s death.  Salvation is a gift available to EVERYONE, even murderers, child molesters, and terrorists.  The trick is that we all have to accept that gift, by faith.  Horrible people in the Bible turned to God and trusted him and were saved.  But just as I can turn to God, He has given me free will and I can decide to turn away.  So, am I saved?  At this moment, I believe I am.  But I must be on guard - the devil wants me - he still wants me and will do all in his power to snatch me (he can’t do that, that’s just an expression - I should say to entice me) away.  If I leave, it is my own will that does it, not falling out of God’s hand, or being stolen from His hand.  It is me jumping out of His hand.  But I am free to do that if I choose and so I could lose my salvation. 

(I don’t know if the definition of “salvation” is a problem, but I see it as eternal life with God.)

[37] Posted by Dragonfly on 5-7-2013 at 05:56 AM · [top]

Careful, Dragonfly! You are entering disputed territory when you speak of human will frustrating divine will and of the possibility of turning away from God.  Do you really want this discussion to turn to the dispute between the Reformed and the Semi-Pelagians?

[38] Posted by AnglicanXn on 5-7-2013 at 11:23 AM · [top]

But isn’t the divine will that EVERYONE be saved?  (2 Peter 3:9) And yet don’t we believe that not everyone is saved?  (I read"all” to mean “all” not just those chosen and “predestined.”) Or am I wrong and Rob Bell is right and everyone is saved.  Or perhaps “all” not mean “all” and I’m reading it incorrectly. At any rate, if the first understanding is right and not everyone is saved, isn’t that “human will frustrating divine will.”

No, I don’t even know what a Semi-Pelagian is so I don’t think that I’m trying to turn the discussion into a dispute.  I simply disagreed with the idea that losing salvation equates with not being truly FORGIVEN and tried to give my reasons for that.  I thought I could be forgiven and still not be saved.  Am I supposed to believe that once I come to God I lose my free will? 

I do think I understand what Reformed is - isn’t that Calvin?  And if that’s the case, the one thing I am sure of about predestination is that a Calvinist cannot in good faith say, “Jesus loves you,” because He might not if you weren’t predestined to salvation.

Forget it.  You needn’t answer me if it will cause problems. I’m sorry.  I’ll just stop commenting altogether since it bothers people.  I’m sorry I interrupted your discussion.  Please forgive me.

[39] Posted by Dragonfly on 5-7-2013 at 03:11 PM · [top]

Excellent points from David Ould. As for the false EO claims on this matter—the truth of penal substitution is not only clear from Scripture, but also clear from the Church fathers. St. Chrysostom illustrates the penal substitutionary nature of Christ’s atonement with the following analogy:
“If one that was himself a king, beholding a robber and malefactor under punishment, gave his well-beloved son, his only-begotten and true, to be slain; and transferred the death and the guilt as well, from him to his son, (who was himself of no such character,) that he might both save the condemned man and clear him from his evil reputation;”
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/220211.htm

Also, in response to some other points raised in this thread—the issue of apostasy has nothing to do with the affirmation of the great gospel truth of penal substitution, nor with the issue of monergism/predestination.

Augustine (and Luther and most if not all the great monergists until the time of Calvin) held that God Sovereignly bestows on some of the non-elect the “gift of faith” while justly withholding the “gift of perseverance in the end” (even as He justly withholds even the “gift of faith” from many non-elect). Augustine (and Luther) distinguish the “elect” (or “elect to glory”) as those who receive (undeservedly) not only the “gift of faith” but also the “gift of perseverance in the end.”

Just a quick example of Augustine’s position on the non-elect (from his work Rebuke and Grace): “If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, I have not received, because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received” (Chp 9) and “It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children— whom He has regenerated in Christ— to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also, when to children of another He forgives such wickedness, and, by the bestowal of His grace, makes them His own children.” (Chp 18) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

Augustine held that many of those who are regenerated and justified later return to the damnable dominion of the unregenerate old man (and the elect who persevere are no better than the non-elect who fall away–the only reason they do not ultimately and justly fall away is that God Sovereignly and mercifully ordains for them to persevere in the end).

Luther (who was a strong monergist and an expounder of penal substitution (see his commentary on Galatians, etc) likewise speaks innumerable times to the real danger of the regenerate coming under the dominion of sin and driving out saving faith and the indwelling Spirit. One of many examples:
“The apostle refers to this subject in Romans 7: 5, 8, 23, and elsewhere, frequently explaining how, in the saints, there continue to remain various lusts of original sin, which constantly rise in the effort to break out, even gross external vices. These have to be resisted. They are strong enough utterly to enslave a man, to subject him to the deepest guilt, as Paul complains (Rom 7, 23); and they will surely do it unless the individual, by faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit, oppose and conquer them.
29. Therefore, saints must, by a vigorous and unceasing warfare, subdue their sinful lusts if they would not lose God’s grace and their faith. Paul says in Romans 8, 13: “If ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” In order, then, to retain the Spirit and the incipient divine life, the Christian must contend against himself.”
http://www.orlutheran.com/html/mlseco31.html

The great Anglican reformer Latimer likewise notes (at the time the Articles and 1552 BCP were being completed and shortly before he was imprisoned for his Protestant faith) that one who falls under the dominion of sin (that is, “deadly sin”): “..loseth the Holy Ghost and the remission of sins ; and so becometh the child of the devil, being before the child of God. For a regenerate man or woman, that believeth, ought to have dominion over sin ; but as soon as sin hath rule over him, he is gone: for she leadeth him to delectation of it, and from delectation to consenting, and so from consenting to the act itself.” [THE SIXTH SERMON, PREACHED ON THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT, 1552, BY MASTER HUGH LATIMER]**. Or, as the Homily on Declining from God (Anglican Book of Homilies) says: “…they shall be no longer of his kingdom, they shall be no longer governed by his Holy Spirit, they shall be put from the grace and benefits that they had, and ever might have enjoyed through Christ, they shall be deprived of the heavenly light, and life which they had in Christ, whiles they abode in him: they shall be (as they were once) as men without GOD in this world, or rather in worse taking. And to be short, they shall be given into the power of the devil, which beareth the rule in all them that be cast away from GOD” http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom08.htm

**Latimer’s sermon may be read here: http://books.google.com/books?id=EFoJAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=one

God Bless.

p.s. As a believer in the traditional monergistic position on apostasy held by Augustine and Luther I can say that it does not destroy true assurance of Salvation. In fact, I have struggled less with the assurance of Salvation since coming to this position a number of years ago than I did when I was a 5 pt Calvinist, but that’s a discussion for another thread. I’m afraid I’ll have little or no time to contribute further to this thread.

[40] Posted by William on 5-7-2013 at 03:36 PM · [top]

Dragonfly, we can get into a long and possibly wearisome discussion on “free will” and on the thoroughness of Christ’s work on the cross, but I do not want to dispute with you.  I am, however, going to say (I hope briefly) some of the concerns I and many others have with the idea of Jesus’s death covering everyone’s sins and with the idea of free will.

I think that we often confuse two things: one is the reality that we human beings exercise the power of choice, from what to eat for breakfast to whom to marry or whether to take a certain job.  But when it comes to spiritual matters, Scripture describes us as “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Romans and Ephesians speak of this.)  Many who think as you do say that one of the effects of Jesus’ death and resurrection is to make us all “mostly dead,” still enjoying sin but capable of placing our faith in Christ if we choose to do so.  However, Romans and Ephesians do not say we are mostly dead, but that we are utterly dead.  Indeed, Rom 5:8 speaks of us as being enemies of God. And Jesus says in John 6:44 that “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”  Lazarus was not “mostly dead” when Jesus called him out of the tomb - the four days delay was to show that Lazarus was totally and completely dead.  Yet at the vivifying Word of Christ, Lazarus came to life. He did not hear the voice in a semi-dead state and turn over the possibilities of resuming life or not; he was made alive and came out.

If Jesus’ death covered the sins of all, who must then “activate” that salvation by their choice, that creates the possibility of salvation, but it does not save anyone.  It could be that no one would respond, in which case his death would have been pointless.  Or absolutely all could respond, so that salvation would be universal.  God would stand helpless, awaiting the decisions of sinful human beings - and dependent upon our “salesmanship” in presenting the Gospel.  Christ’s atoning work would result in all, none, or some coming to faith - but God would have to wait to find out.

We have the power to choose many different things, according to our likes, values, and many other factors.  But we cannot choose God on our own; the nature of sin makes that impossible - for it is rebellion against God first and foremost, and not just lots of individual disobediences. We love sin more than God until he makes alive to him, and we repent and turn in faith to the Lord Jesus.

There is a lot more that I could say, but I hope you see the basics of what I am saying.  God bless you - and preserve you in faith!

[41] Posted by AnglicanXn on 5-7-2013 at 04:48 PM · [top]

By these fellows reasoning concerning salvation, Socrates could have been our savior. A teacher with a message that angered some enough that they had him executed…hmm.

[42] Posted by helpmelord on 5-7-2013 at 05:42 PM · [top]

Nikolaus (#32),

To be sure we are using the same definition: Penal Substitutionary Atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners.  God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve.  This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.  Thus, whenever the death of Christ is said to be for our sins (i.e., to be paying the penalty for our sins) or for us sinners, in the sense that it is taking the punishment that was due us, it is Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  In that sense, 1 Peter 2:24 is talking about PSA, as are 1 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 9:26-28, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13, Romans 3:23-26, and 1 John 2:2, among others. 

I believe that it is not merely Substitutionary Atonement, but Penal Substitutionary Atonement that is implicit in the Creed, and that it is not merely Reformed theologians but Catholic ones as well who hold this view.  For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia, in the article on “Sacrifice” (See Part III, Christian Sacrifice), contains the following statement:

  (1) The Dogma of the Sacrifice of the Cross
  The universal conviction of Christianity was expressed by the Synod of Ephesus (431), when it declared that the Incarnate Logos “offered Himself to God the Father for us for an odour of sweetness” (in Denzinger-Bannwart, “Enchiridion,” n. 122), a dogma explicitly confirmed by the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII. cap. i-ii; can. ii-iv).  The dogma is indeed nothing else than a clear echo of Holy Writ and tradition.  If all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, and especially the bloody sacrifice, were so many types of the bloody sacrifice of the Cross (Cf. Heb., viii-x), and if the idea of vicarious atonement was present in the Mosaic bloody sacrifices, it follows immediately that the death on the Cross, as the antitype, must possess the character of a vicarious sacrifice of atonement.  A striking confirmation of this reasoning is found in the pericope of Isaias concerning God’s “just servant,” wherein three truths are clearly expressed:

  (a) the substitution of the innocent Messias for guilty mankind;
  (b) the deliverance of the guilty from sin and punishment through the suffering of the Messias;
  (c) the manner of this suffering and satisfaction through the bloody death on the Cross (cf. Is., liii, 4 sqq.). [Emphasis added.]

Note especially point (b) above.  This is Penal Substitutionary Atonement, according to the generally accepted definition of the term.  Further, The Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on “Atonement” contains this statement:

  The Catholic doctrine on this subject [Atonement] is set forth in the sixth Session of the Council of Trent, chapter ii. Having shown the insufficiency of Nature, and of Mosaic Law the Council continues:

  “Whence it came to pass, that the Heavenly Father, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort (II Cor., 1, 3), when that blessed fullness of the time was come (Gal., iv, 4) sent unto men Jesus Christ, His own Son who had been, both before the Law and during the time of the Law, to many of the holy fathers announced and promised, that He might both redeem the Jews, who were under the Law and that the Gentiles who followed not after justice might attain to justice and that all men might receive the adoption of sons.  Him God had proposed as a propitiator, through faith in His blood (Rom., iii, 25), for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world (I John ii, 2).” [Emphasis added.]

  More than twelve centuries before this, the same dogma was proclaimed in the words of the Nicene Creed, “who for us men and for our salvation, came down, took flesh, was made man; and suffered.”

So the bottom line is that the Catholic Encyclopedia represents the Council of Trent as holding a view that fits the generally accepted definition of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, and that the words of the Creed “for us and for our salvation” represent this same substitution.

This is not to say that the Council of Trent or the Roman Catholic Church’s position is definitive, it is merely an indication that PSA is not a Reformed peculiarity, but rather an overlooked element of essential Christian teaching.

[43] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 5-7-2013 at 06:24 PM · [top]

Hello Anglican Xn—your post has motivated me to get out one more post.

While I’m also predestinarian and I agree with much of what you’ve said, there are a few issues that I think are worth mentioning. First, to be fair to Arminians (excluding, of course, open theists), they still affirm that God foresees all things from the beginning and therefore knew exactly how many would be saved through Christ’s Atonement. Thus, from the normative Arminian perspective, God would never “have to wait to find out” whether any would be saved. Also, as I’m sure you would agree, it’s not wrong to say that we must “choose Christ” or “make a choice for Christ” (after all the Scriptures frequently use such language—e.g. “choose this day Whom you will serve”), as long as we acknowledge that we are completely dead in our sins, and therefore it is God who first chooses us and creates the faith within us (God working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure). 

Also, the belief that Christ died for all men is not contrary to a predestinarian understanding. The historic position of the Church, laid out best in Peter Lombard’s famous statement that Christ died sufficiently for all and efficaciously for the elect, was held on all sides at the time of the Reformation (Lutherans, Anglicans, Continental Reformed, and Roman Catholics). Peter Lombard: “He offered himself on the altar of the cross not to the devil, but to the Triune God, and he did so for all with regard to the sufficiency of the price, but only for the elect with regard to its efficacy, because he brought about salvation only for the predestined.”

Calvin himself explicitly stated his agreement with Lombard’s articulation—Calvin’s only difference on this point was that he strictly limited any real efficacy of the atonement to the elect while the traditional Augustinian position held by Lombard, as well as Luther and many others acknowledged that according to God’s Sovereign Will, Christ’s Sacrifice was not only “sufficient” but also “efficient” in a limited sense for those non-elect that God had foreordained to partake temporarily in Christ with the elect (see post 40 on the temporary partaking in grace by the non-elect). Of course, that Christ’s sacrifice is “efficacious” in bringing final salvation only to the elect.

Finally, a couple of helpful quotes on Christ’s dying for every person. Augustine’s pupil Prosper notes:  “Although the blood of Christ be the ransom of the whole world, yet they are excluded from its benefit, who, being delighted with their captivity, are unwilling to be redeemed by it,” and Latimer notes: “Christ shed as much blood for Judas, as he did for Peter: Peter believed it, and therefore he was saved; Judas would not believe, and therefore he was condemned”—pg 521 of the following sermon:
http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA511&id=6YNsTHCd-hMC#v=onepage&q&f;=false

God Bless,
W.A.Scott

[44] Posted by William on 5-7-2013 at 08:06 PM · [top]

Correction—left out *everyone held*:
“Of course, *everyone held* that Christ’s sacrifice is “efficacious” in bringing final salvation only to the elect.”

[45] Posted by William on 5-7-2013 at 08:10 PM · [top]

Thank you for your post TATW, (#43).  I attempted to respond last night (evenings are my only opportunity for these activities) but my internet went down after a fair amount of work had gone into my answer.  Perhaps God was acting for the best as I did not have my sources at home and was responding from memory.  Now that I re-read my material used before I see that you are in line with those definitions.  My “error” (if indeed it is an error) was in my distinct understandings of “punishment” and “suffering.”  Perhaps I’m putting too fine a point on it but I don’t consider them to be always synonymous. 

That Christ suffered for our sins is not in dispute and I believe is common to all substitution theories.  The question raised by penal substitution is whether He was punished to satisfy God’s demand for justice.  I personally think it is important to note that of the primary supporting citations from Scripture (RSV), only the OT passage in Isaiah specifically uses “punish.”  The various NT authors may be echoing Isaiah, but they do not repeat the reference to punishment, nor does the Creed.  Again, it depends on how broad/narrow you wish to interpret the passages.  Of course, the key to this is not what is said in English but the Hebrew &/or Greek original, which I do not read.

As I said previously, I am partial to the ransom theory (Mark 10:45, Timothy 2:5-6).  I realize there may be issues with that theory as there are with the penal theory.  But what is consistent is Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross, beyond that how God works out the details is more His business than mine.

[46] Posted by Nikolaus on 5-8-2013 at 06:47 PM · [top]

In the late modern period, however, theological liberals turned sharply against the doctrine, often described as “legalistic” or “forensic”, not to mention primitive, violent, vengeful, and sadistic. (In recent years this assault has been revived with a special twist - that it is a kind of “divine child abuse” deeply implicated in social and psychological structures of oppression.) In The Kingdom of God in America (1937), Reinhold Niebuhr pilloried this theological liberalism: “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

[47] Posted by David_Fine on 5-15-2013 at 10:28 AM · [top]

This thread is so old that perhaps no one will ever see this post.  But I ran across this today and thought it might be of interest here: 

http://www.orthodox-christianity.com/2013/06/theories-of-the-atonement/

[48] Posted by Dragonfly on 6-14-2013 at 05:04 AM · [top]

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