The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Answering Objections To Penal Substitution


Yeah, I’m kinda confused as to what’s LLC’s motivation for not seeing the Mosaic covenant as divinely instituted.



Could it be because the Israelites didn’t have glasses invented then? Therefore, they might not have seen things too clearly :question: :wink:



Randy said:

That is surely one way of putting it! :smiley:



Randy, you crack me up! :laughing:

Davo, I explained my take on the verse you point out. The Israelites were in Egypt for hundreds of years, being raised in Egyptian ways. In this sense the Egyptians were their fathers. Since you don’t agree, what is your explanation of this verse:

Deut. 7:12 'Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God WILL KEEP WITH YOU THE COVENANT AND THE MERCY WHICH HE SWORE TO YOUR FATHERS."

MM, No I don’t believe the institution of animal sacrifices, rituals, ceremonies, traditions etc., which were part of the Jewish law, came from God. My question to this is: Why would God bring them out of bondage only to put them in bondage under the law?

As all the prophets, Jesus, and the writers of the New Testament say, they were but doctrines of men.



That verse references the covenant blessing of land & linage made with Abraham and summarily reiterated with Isaac and Jacob; as likewise here being self-evident by the following verse…

Listen LLC… as the bible shows (as I have provided adequate evidence), there were numerous covenants in train covering various things at various times — any honest reading of the text with see this. That you want to expunge from the text passages and portions of scripture demonstrating this fact is fine, you’re not the first here to demonstrate that doctrinal position counts for more than does faithfulness to the text; if that works for you… have at it — I can only provide what the texts actually say.



I just dug out a book that I’d read some years ago when I was a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church - my ‘Calvin’ phase. The book is called “Covenants” and it was written by O. Palmer Robertson, a Calvinist theologian.

Just to add a little spice to the thread, I will list the various covenants Roberston finds in Scripture:

  1. The Covenant of Creation
  2. Adam: the Covenant of Commencement
  3. Noah: the Covenant of Preservation
  4. Abraham: the Covenant of Promise
  5. Moses: the Covenant of Law
  6. David: the Covenant of the Kingdom
  7. Christ: the Covenant of Consummation

I remember as I read it thinking that this short study on Covenants had really opened my eyes to a structural element of the OT especially that would help me in future studies, and it has.

I’m not sure of the point(s) of disagreement being discussed above, I"m just plugging the book as a good 'un.

As a note, I don’t agree with Robertson’s theology much at all; but he did a good job with this book.



DaveB… just pulled that book off my shelf, seems I read it way back in 1995 :astonished: :laughing:



Yeah, it was '94 or '95 for me as well. I think it was the same year I read J. Marcellus Kik’s An Eschatology of Victory - a preterist commentary of sorts. Is that one familiar to you?



Lol… I was brought up a dyed-in the-wool amillennialist, which in Baptist circles here in Oz was at the time pretty rare as they were traditionally dispensationalist. My old man was the local Baptist reverend and didn’t mind being a bit of a stick-in-the-mud when it came to “accepted” theology and eschatology was a big one for him (wonder where I got it from :wink:. In my mid+ 20’s I realised I knew why I wasn’t a dispensationalist but I couldn’t answer why I wasn’t in particular a post-millennialist… so began my journey and J. Marcellus Kik’s ‘An Eschatology of Victory was my first foray in that direction to where I am today. The more I read it the more I found myself agreeing with what I was reading and on a few occasions I had to double-check the start of the book to just make sure I’d read that it was “postmill” lol. Similar in a lot of ways to a-mill but way more positive in its overall outlook… and back then that really grabbed my imagination.



Davo, the covenant has always been about land and lineage which comes from the beginning.
Genesis 1:27-28 'So God created man in His own image…Then God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

It is all a matter of what they had to do to inherit the earth and continue to live and prosper. This is also stated in Genesis, "So God created man in His own image. To fulfill the covenant, one has to walk according to God and live in righteousness. Jesus was an example of such a man. I believe that the word He gave us came from the beginning and has not changed.



qaz, I do see the Mosaic covenant as divinely inspired. However, the Mosaic covenant was not what many people think it is (animal sacrifices, rituals, ceremonies, etc. etc.). 1 Corinthians 10:4 tells us what the covenant was. " They all ate the same spiritual food(the bread of heaven) and drank the same spiritual drink( living water) from the spiritual Rock that followed accompanied them and that Rock was Christ."

In other words, they were taught the SAME thing that Jesus taught. They were to keep it and teach it to their children as Moses said to Aaron "Take a jar, put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations. However, as it is written, “the law was added because of transgressions”. God did not add to the word. On the contrary,the transgression was adding to the word as it says in Deut. 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you nor take anything from it that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”

As I pointed out before, Galatians 4:21-31 speaks of two covenants. There was only ONE true covenant. The other was man made and came from Mount Sinai of Arabia which was not the mountain of God, as it says in Exodus 3:12 'So He said, 'I will certainly be with you and this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: Ehen you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on THIS mountain ( HOREB)."



The final objection says that Penal Substitution wasn’t taught by church Fathers. Yes there were other views of atonement in the early church but Penal Substitution was also one of them. Here’s a small list of those who believed in Penal Substitution:

Clement of Rome [c. 30–100.]: 1st Epistle to the Corinthians

Justin Martyr (c. 100-165), Dialogue with Trypho

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 275-339), Proof of the Gospel

Hilary of Poitiers (c. 300-368), Homily on Psalm 53 (54)

Athanasius (c. 300-373), On the Incarnation

Ambrose of Milan (339-397), Flight from the World

John Chrysostom (c. 350-407), Homilies on Second Corinthians

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Against Faustus



Well, S. Michael, I have read Clement’s letter to the Corinthians many times and have read Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho twice and have not seen a hint of penal substitution in either one. Please quote the passages in which you see the doctrine.

The only passage I have ever encountered among the earliest Christian writings that could be interpreted as penal substitution is the following passage written by an anonymous writer to Diognetus (end of Chapter 9) and even here, it is not obvious that Jesus is a substitute in the sense of receiving a punishing penalty in our place:




The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) - Chap XVI

We have declared [our message] in His presence: He is, as it were, a child, and like a root in thirsty ground; He has no form nor glory, yea, we saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness; but His form was without eminence, yea, deficient in comparison with the [ordinary] form of men. He is a man exposed to stripes and suffering, anti acquainted with the endurance of grief: for His countenance was turned away; He was despised, and not esteemed. He bears our iniquities, and is in sorrow for our sakes; yet we supposed that [on His own account] He was exposed to labour, and stripes, and affliction. But He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we were healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; [every] man has wandered in his own way; and the Lord has delivered Him up for our sins, while He in the midst of His sufferings opened not His mouth. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before her shearer is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His judgment was taken away; who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth. For the transgressions of my people was He brought down to death. And I will give the wicked for His sepulcher, and the rich for His death, because He did no iniquity, neither was guile found in His mouth. And the Lord is pleased to purify Him by stripes. If you make an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed. And the Lord is pleased to relieve Him of the affliction of His soul, to show Him light, and to form Him with understanding, to justify the Just One who ministers well to many; and He Himself shall carry their sins. On this account He shall inherit many, and shall divide the spoil of the strong; because His soul was delivered to death, and He was reckoned among the transgressors, and He bore the sins of many, and for their sins was He delivered.”


XCV — Christ took upon Himself the curse due to us.

For the whole human race will be found to be under a curse. For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them’ [Deut 27:26]. And no one has accurately done all, nor will you venture to deny this; but some more and some less than others have observed the ordinances enjoined. But if those who are under this law appear to be under a curse for not having observed all the requirements, how much more shall all the nations appear to be under a curse who practise idolatry, who seduce youths, and commit other crimes? If, then, the Father of all wished His Christ for the whole human family to take upon Him the curses of all, knowing that, after He had been crucified and was dead, He would raise Him up, why do you argue about Him, who submitted to suffer these things according to the Father’s will, as if He were accursed, and do not rather bewail yourselves? For although His Father caused Him to suffer these things in behalf of the human family, yet you did not commit the deed as in obedience to the will of God. For you did not practise piety when you slew the prophets. And let none of you say: If His Father wished Him to suffer this, in order that by His stripes the human race might be healed, we have done no wrong. If, indeed, you repent of your sins, and recognise Him to be Christ, and observe His commandments, then you may assert this; for, as I have said before, remission of sins shall be yours. But if you curse Him and them that believe on Him, and, when you have the power, put them to death, how is it possible that requisition shall not be made of you, as of unrighteous and sinful men, altogether hard-hearted and without understanding, because you laid your hands on Him?

In William Lane Craig’s soon to be released book defending Penal Substitution he goes into more depth and documentation of the early church fathers showing that Penal Substitution was a live option. Listen here as he quotes some fathers teaching Penal Substitution:




The quote you posted from Clement is mostly quotes from the Scriptures. “He bears our iniquities.” He certainly bore or withstood human iniquities when they put him to death. But I see NOTHING in your quote from Clement that God punished His Son for sin, and that satisfied His need for punative “justice” so that people wouldn’t have to be punished for their sin. That’s the doctrine of penal substitution, and Clement said nothing like that in your quote of him.

The quote from Justin says that “Christ took upon Himself the iniquities of us all.” But again, that’s not penal substitution. There is nothing about God placing a penalty upon Christ for sin, so that His sense of “justice” was satisfied, and thus we could escape punishment.

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God’s curse is His punishing wrath all through the Bible. Also, William Lane Craig quotes the fathers like Origen in the video.



UI agree that PSA is false.

I believe the PSA defenses in this post are not very well researched or supported; certainly not by the early church. Christus Victor was the prevailing atonement model dominating the first 1000 years of the religion.

The refutation to the supposed objection that God can forgive without justice is malformed for example; the correct statement is God can forgive without “payment”; and that is very true. Jesus goes out of his way to show us many times in Scripture that this occurs. God does not require a pound of flesh like all pagan deities required before (and virtually all after) did…2Cor 5:19 says that God was IN CHRIST (not abandoning Him); and also, not impugning their trespasses to them…that’s the very opposite of penal satisfaction atonement claims…it cannot get more opposite from what I see! We (that is: humanity in alignment with the forces of darkness/principalities) murdered Christ, not the Father! The Father was pleased in His Son, not to abuse and murder Him instead of us, but rather BEING IN ONE SPIRIT, to demonstrate to us THAT HE IS NOT APPROVING OF THE SCAPEGOATING violence and accusation of carnal man!



Cleverest, I would like to hear your thoughts on this: did Jesus only SEEMINGLY forgive freely during his ministry?



I think some people subscribe to a variant of substitutionary atonement without the penal implications. Also, while I believe in PSA theory at a base level, I certainly don’t think it’s incompatible with any of the others. For example, I think it has a puzzling congruence with Christus Victor, since Satan’s kingdom slowly begins to gradually crumble, and his judgement is declared/made known to the world from the Crucifixion, forward until the end of days. This is not only in both theories separately but when combined, amplifies the value of Satan’s defeat from a 30,000 ft., aerial view that combines a past, present, and future (eternal) perspective, and consistently upholds the judicial sovereignty of God in Christ as testified by both OT and NT in light of progressive (but not exclusionary) revelation.