The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Answering Objections To Penal Substitution


StM - I appreciate your efforts to lay out your position.

I find it difficult to relate to a position that is based on something ‘mystical’, because by the very nature of the case the mystical is not open to difference of opinion. However I will say that imvho the Calvinistic picture of God that is painted by the insistence on punishment, without an eye to rehabilitation, is just not sound.



That’s why the Bible shows God’s wrath to be both restorative and retributive. The pattern in scripture is judgment followed by resurrection or restoration.



Do you realize the implications? If Jesus the just was punished in the place of you, the unjust, then there are no consequences for your wrongdoing. You can live as you like, no matter how wicked. Would it satisfy God to punish His innocent Son instead of all the guilty people of the world? Would justice be served in doing so? Would a human father be satisfied to punish his innocent son for his guilty son’s wrongdoing?




Who said I’m doing anything wrong? I don’t want to live in sin. Even if I do mess up the Bible says God shows His loving discipline to correct His sons.

This isn’t the same thing as punishment and condemnation. Moreover, in mystical union our sins are transferred to Christ as God punishes and His righteousness is transferred to us.

We are also crucified with Christ and ego is deflated. In this sense we die with Christ. We die daily. If anyone sins we have an advocate:



Michael, the verses you quoted do not support the penal substitution theory, although some of them may SEEM to do so for a person who has already swallowed that theory.

Transferred? What does it mean to transfer sins and/or righteousness? Does the transferal of our sins to Christ make Him a sinner? And does the transferal of God’s righteousness to us make us righteous? That sounds like pretending righteousness to me.

Christ’s death brought about ACTUAL righteousness. Through the enabling grace provided by His death, and by coöperating with God, we actually become righteous people living righteous lives.

(2 Corinthians 6:1 ESV) Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and to live sensible, righteous, and devout lives in the present age, expecting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; encourage and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)




It’s not a legal fiction because we enter into a real mystical union with Christ. We are not separate but one. One mystical body. Christ becomes sin because our sins our imputed to him. The wages of sin is death. Christ dies and is resurrected. We are crucified with Christ baptized into His death and resurrected as we are covered in the righteousness of God:

Notice that IN HIM we become the righteousness OF GOD. Indeed, it’s not a righteousness of our own but a foreign righteousness. That a foreign righteousness from God is credited to the believer’s account by faith is seen in Romans 4:2-5 where we observe how Paul infallibly explained Abraham’s justification by faith:

This taken from Genesis 15:6. The word for counted in Hebrew means:

This shows that the NT Greek word for counted or credited (logizomai) in this passage must carry it’s meaning of referring to something being charged or reckoned to someone’s account. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words confirms the word can be “used for crediting something for or against someone." Therefore, the correct interpretation of this verse:

Means exactly what it says. It is a ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Just as God sacrificed animals when Adam and Eve sinned and then clothed them with the skin of the animals as a covering. And yes we are transformed inwardly to imitate Christ.



It is regrettable that so many translations render the Greek word “εις”(eis) as “as.” This suggests that Abraham’s faith was attributed to him instead of righteousness or in place of righteousness. If Paulo had meant that, he would have used the preposition “αντι”(anti). But he didn’t mean that. He used the preposition “εις” which means “into” or “toward” righteousness. Abraham’s faith was a first step toward the process of Abraham’s ACTUAL righteousness—not merely ATTRIBUTED righteousness. The latter is a legal fiction indeed!

Here are two translations that correctly translate the preposition “εις”:

If Paul had thought attributed righteousness was the thing He would never have written Romans 2:

  • For he will render to everyone according to his works: to those who by perseverance in well‑doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give lasting life; but for those who are self-seeking and are not persuaded by the truth, but are persuaded by wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

Affliction and anguish for every person who does evil … but glory and honour and well-being for every one who does good … For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:6-11)*




I showed you where the Hebrew word for counted means impute and therefore it must carry that definition in the Greek. The NT is quoting from the Hebrew. The Greek word can also mean that. I also showed you why it’s not a legal fiction because we enter into mystical union with Christ. One mystical body. This is how our sins become His and His righteousness becomes ours. You also didn’t deal with anything I said but instead referred to an obscure translation of the Romans passage I gave. The KJV is the most accurate and literal in this regard.

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Nobody doubts that there is a change that takes place as our ego or self is crucified with Christ. Ego death produces humility and it’s from here that all virtues flourish. There must be a psychic change.



I don’t think you HAVE shown that the Hebrew word means “impute” in the theological sense of the word.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, in theology, “to impute” is to “ascribe (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to someone by virtue of a similar quality in another.” Then it provides this example ‘Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us.’

I haven’t studied Hebrew, but the Septuagint translation of Hebrew into Greek (several centuries before Christ) used the same Greek word to translate “chashab” as Paul used, namely “λογιζομαι.” (logizomai) This word usually means “to count,” or “to number,” or “to consider,” or “to regard,” but never “to impute” (in the theological sense). Perhaps the best way to understand the meaning of a word is to see how it is used in many contexts. Please consider the following passages from the NKJV. The NKJV uses several different words to translate “λογιζομαι” but you will notice that for the past tense “counted” or “numbered” or “regarded” or “considered” fits most of them. Try substituting “imputed” in the theological sense of the word. How many of them make sense with that substitution? (I have reddened the NKJV translation of the word).

Mark 15:28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered (“λογιζομαι”) with the transgressors.”
Acts 19:27 “So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised “λογιζομαι” and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
Romans 2:3 And do you think (“λογιζομαι”) this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
Romans 2:26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted (“λογιζομαι”) as circumcision?
Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude (“λογιζομαι”)that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
Romans 4:4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted (“λογιζομαι”) as grace but as debt.
Romans 6:11 Likewise you also, reckon (“λογιζομαι”) yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:18 For I consider <3049> that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted (“λογιζομαι”) as sheep for the slaughter.”
Romans 9:8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted (“λογιζομαι”) as the seed.
2 Corinthians 10:11 Let such a person consider (“λογιζομαι”) this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.
2 Corinthians 11:5 For I consider (“λογιζομαι”) that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.



And yet we read in James 2:21 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar.”



Another interesting observation is that though the Greek word “δικαιοω” translated as “justify” is commonly thought to mean “to count as righteous” or “to pronounce as righteous” the word also frequently means “to make righteous” or “to render righteous.” Several Greek lexicons bring this out.

The Online Bible Lexicon

  1. to render righteous or such he ought to be
  2. to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered
  3. to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be


I think your phrase “in the theological sense” is key to exploring the diverseness of evangelical thought on ‘atonement’. As I understand it… ‘penal substitution’ [for sake of better terminology] DOES indeed factor in Scripture BUT NOT as explained by typical evangelicalism. The audience of the scriptures didn’t read/listen in terms of any so-called theological sense but rather, in a practical sense as they experienced life and how that was maintained as the people of God. IOW… “the atonement” — what that looked like and how it was transacted in Israel — was purely because atonement was specific TO Israel, i.e., their being redeemed aka ransomed BACK TO God.

The likes of Andrew Perriman writes far better on this than I can express so here are some brief thoughts of his on this…




I want to highlight:



Yep and in the same vein we have this…

The writer’s… “that those who are called” is seen in the like of Acts 13:48; 15:14, 17; Jn 10:16 etc — this is NOT “us” — “we” however are the beneficiaries of this in terms of the reconciliation wrought through such as these.



If possible, could you expound on the us vs we? In other words the* who is US *verses *who is the WE *who will benefit?

thank you



The “us” and “we” constitutes the post-biblical era of humanity. Those involved in the outworking of Israel’s redemption however was Jesus and his firstfruit saints, aka Paul’s “the Israel of God”. The likes of “we/us” have NEVER been under “the first covenant” (as above) — THAT was Israel and any prostyle gentiles having joined her.



This is what this looks like according to Paul where Israel’s “life from the dead” speaks of Israel’s covenant renewal, i.e., “resurrection” aka “the restoration/renewal of all things”…

What God did for humanity in terms of reconciliation He did first for Israel in terms of redemption — IOW… Israel was God’s means to God’s ends, i.e., the restoration of man.





Interesting. That certainly isn’t the classic penal substitution view. In the classic view, if Jesus suffered the penalty in the place of Israel, then Israel would escape “the judgment or punishment or wrath of God.” Since God supposedly punished Israel around A.D. 70, then how do you explain, Davo, in what sense Jesus paid the penalty for their sin by dying in their place? How could He have paid the penalty, if they still had to pay for their sin by suffering from the Roman attacks around A.D. 70 which God supposedly sent?



thanx davo for the second post :smiley: