Is Penal Substitution a dangerous doctrine?


#22

Great stuff, Tom. I’m signing up with Boyd for the “Christus Victor Penal Substitution view of the atonement.” Boyd is influencing me more and more.


#23

Mikey G,

I agree full heartedly with what you are getting at here that faith is not giving intellectual assent to right ideas, but rather what is in our heart. What matters is faith in Christ because it’s what produces a real love in our heart for others. I would agree that this notion that faith is just intellectual assent does give a false sense of security. Faith is seen in what we do.

I’m glad I’ve not lost it, too, about the Prodigal Son and that there are others that can relate to my thinking.


#24

Gem, I can certainly relate to your feelings that PSA alligns God’s character, as well as other things you said.

Thanks TV for your words. I have read my dad’s paper on PSA. It’s what got me started thinking on all of this stuff.

AndTGB, I 've got Boyd marked as a favorite so I can take the time to read his stuff.


#25

I heard this view all through my teen years ---- and accepted it until I was in my late 20s.

This view seems to express the idea that Jesus died to save us from God. Otherwise, God would send us to everlasting punishment. It almost sounds as if Jesus accomplished something on the cross which divided the Son’s purpose from that of His Father. The Father’s intention was to send us all to hell forever, but the Son’s “finished work” insured that some of us would not participate in this intended destiny.


#26

This will probably have been argued elsewhere (if someone can point me in the right direction, I’d be most appreciative!)… I came across this verse:

Rom 5:9 (NIV): Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

For the last year, I’ve not been a supporter of us being victims of God’s wrath, and I’m not about to jump back into bed with the idea… but I’ll need some help.

I probably ought to add that I find Romans a tough book to understand, so I’m probably missing something.


#27

Mikey

My reply would be that because Jesus saves from sin (not the punishment for sin) - as exemplified by those who crucified him being told that Jesus came to turn each one from his iniquity that it is the turning from sin and its attendant misery and loss (hell if you will) that saves from further wrath.

Here’s a quote I like from a book I’ve been reading lately by a 19th century man called Thomas Baldwin Thayer . He was a Unitarian but I find his book The Theology of Universalism (of the Christian, not denying wrath and hell persuasion) a wonderful read.

The whole book is free at Google Books:
books.google.com/books?id=ZKP_TU … text#c_top


#28

Thanks Jeff. I particularly found the points about Luke 4:16-21 very interesting.

, Thomas Baldwin Thayer"]Why did Jesus stop in the middle of the sentence, and leave out the important declaration, “and the day of vengeance of our God?” doubly and trebly important if he came to save us from this. How do believers in this doctrine explain the omission!


#29

Whilst a very interesting point, and one that does add a little weight to the universalist argument, I think we should be careful about forming arguments based on what isn’t written. Yes, there may have been some great theological reason for why Jesus stopped there. But it’s speculation.

(Much like the ECT argument from Rev 20:10 where, because the devil, beast and false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire to be “tormented day and night forever and ever,” they assume all non-Christians will suffer the same fate. Just because the Bible doesn’t say the opposite, that doesn’t make it right.)


#30

Hi MikeyG, can’t keep up and missed your question and all the other posts to follow.

What I get from this verse is that since we are brought near to God, embrace His way, as a result of the cross, then we know we’ll be saved from His wrath that comes for the disobedient. His blood clears our consciences of guilt, draws us to God, changes us so that we will not be candidates for wrath, since wrath is for those that have yet to turn to God.

I
Faith, coming into relationship with God, is why we avoid wrath. There is a sense in which God saves us from the consequence of our sin, as he teaches us to die to self and live for God, but not because he took out all His anger on Jesus and no longer sees, or takes seriously, our sin.

This,anyway, is what I’ve been noticing, more and more, in scripture.


#31

Boy, amen to all that!
If PSA is not a dangerous doctrine, it’s certainly a problematic one. I think PSA is what people who complain about “cosmic child abuse” are really railing against. There is certainly a substitutionary element of atonement, but I think the reason that Jesus had to suffer and die was not to “take the necessary punishment of God on our behalf” but because in order to win the victory over sin and death (which was the goal) he had to become sin on our behalf so that he could remove the curse of its wages (death) by being resurrected from the dead. Since it’s true that the wages of sin is death, then to become sin for us (by taking all of our sin upon himself) caused him to suffer the wages (death). So as I see it, the “punishment” was not God’s punitive wrath being poured out on him, but rather the “natural” consequences of having taken all of our sin on himself.
Ah, but then comes the resurrection…which means that death (the wages of sin) was defeated at the resurrection. So I don’t see it as retributive punishment at all, nor do I see it as “corrective” unless it is in the sense of putting things right. It’s like God is saying; “Look, I’m going to defeat sin and death once and for all. I’m going to do that by having my Son take all of your sin on himself which will cause him to suffer the consequences of that, which is death. This is necessary so that sin can be destroyed. Then, I’m going to destroy death by raising him from the dead, and thereby thumb my nose at both sin and death.”

Sin was defeated by the physical death of Christ (which was the result of having taken all of our sin upon himself, which also caused the “separation from God” component of death, however temporary). Then death was defeated by the resurrection. Sound familiar? The last enemy to be destroyed is death…Which would mean that that part of Revelation has already been fulfilled in one sense, but I am also reminded of the “already/ not-yet” tension presented in Hebrews where all things are already subjected to Christ, but we do not yet see all subjected.

Sorry for the rambling and repetition; just thinking “out loud” here…


#32

THE MYTH OF PENAL SUBSTITUTION
What would you think of a human father whose younger son committed a violent crime, but who punished his innocent older son “in his place” and was thereby “satisfied” so that he could let the younger son go scot free? Then… concerning our own wrongdoing, did someone actually “take our place” and presumably our punishment? George MacDonald put it this way:

They say first, God must punish the sinner, for justice requires it; then they say he does not punish the sinner, but punishes a perfectly righteous man instead, attributes his righteousness to the sinner, and so continues just. Was there ever such a confusion, such an inversion of right and wrong! Justice could not treat a righteous man as an unrighteous; neither, if justice required the punishment of sin, could justice let the1 sinner go unpunished. To lay the pain upon the righteous in the name of justice is simply monstrous. No wonder unbelief is rampant. Believe in Moloch if you will, but call him Moloch, not Justice. Be sure that the thing that God gives, the righteousness that is of God, is a real thing, and not a contemptible legalism. Pray God I have no righteousness imputed to me. Let me be regarded as the sinner I am; for nothing will serve my need but to be made a righteous man, one that will no more sin.

If that is the case, some may ask, “Was it necessary then for Jesus, the Son of God to die? Yes, certainly it was necessary, or He would not have undergone death. He prayed to the Father, “O my Father, if possible let this cup of suffering and death pass from me.(Matt 26:39). And the Father didn’t release His Son from suffering and death. So obviously it was not only necessary for Jesus to suffer and die, but impossible for it to be otherwise—that is, if the purpose of God were to be realized.

So clearly it was necessary. But WHY was it necessary for the Son of God to die? Peter, Paul, and the writer to the Hebrews answer that question plainly:

I Peter 2:24 He himself endured 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.

II Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Heb 9:26 …he has appeared once for all at the end of the age for the abolition of sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Many cannot accept these reasons for the death of the Messiah. They make statements such as, “No one can be sinless! So it must be the case that God IMPUTES righteousness to me because of Christ’s death.” No, that is not the case at all. It does not follow that through His death the Anointed One of God imparted to us “imputed righteousness.” Rather, through His death, He made possible ACTUAL righteousness. The attainment of this righteousness is a process. This process is known as “salvation from sin,” and continues throughout our lives. The process ends in the day of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul put it this way:

I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

So in the day of Jesus Christ, the process will be complete for all those in whom the process has begun, and who continue in it, coöperating with the enabling grace that God made available through the death of His Son.

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)


#33

amen


#34

Thanks Dave.


#35

Does this make sense:

“For me it all simply boils down to this; if eternal hell is the price for sin, then why isn’t Jesus sitting in hell paying that eternal price, for you and me? Him being sinless never ‘changed the price for sin’. And that ‘price’ was either ‘eternal hell’ or it was ‘physical death’. Being sinless never changed the price of sin, it simply ‘qualified’ sinless Jesus to vicariously pay ‘the price’ for us, that we might live again beyond the grave. And He did so by dying an UNJUSTIFIED physical death with a ‘very short’ time separated from the Father, in our place. And He did so, that we might be JUSTIFIED by His physical death. But the price was never 'eternal separation from God’ and it was never ‘burning in Hell eternally’ either. If that was ‘the price’ of sin, then that’s where Jesus should eternally be, making payment. Jesus being perfect did not change the price for sin. And that’s where orthodoxy’s vision needs spiritual glasses to see what religious men have missed.”


#36

William Lane Craig gives the logical and philosophical coherence of Penal Substitution defending it from all the lies and craricatures brought against it. Will be released June 30th


#37

Assuming there are only lies and caricatures! There are responsible people just as educated as he that find the PS to be almost incoherent.
I look forward to the book, as I respect Dr. Craig quite a bit.
Thanks for the heads-up.


#38

Don said:

THE MYTH OF PENAL SUBSTITUTION
What would you think of a human father whose younger son committed a violent crime, but who punished his innocent older son “in his place” and was thereby “satisfied” so that he could let the younger son go scot free? Then… concerning our own wrongdoing, did someone actually “take our place” and presumably our punishment? George MacDonald put it this way:

They say first, God must punish the sinner, for justice requires it; then they say he does not punish the sinner, but punishes a perfectly righteous man instead, attributes his righteousness to the sinner, and so continues just. Was there ever such a confusion, such an inversion of right and wrong! Justice could not treat a righteous man as an unrighteous; neither, if justice required the punishment of sin, could justice let the1 sinner go unpunished. To lay the pain upon the righteous in the name of justice is simply monstrous. No wonder unbelief is rampant. Believe in Moloch if you will, but call him Moloch, not Justice. Be sure that the thing that God gives, the righteousness that is of God, is a real thing, and not a contemptible legalism. Pray God I have no righteousness imputed to me. Let me be regarded as the sinner I am; for nothing will serve my need but to be made a righteous man, one that will no more sin.

If that is the case, some may ask, “Was it necessary then for Jesus, the Son of God to die? Yes, certainly it was necessary, or He would not have undergone death. He prayed to the Father, “O my Father, if possible let this cup of suffering and death pass from me.(Matt 26:39). And the Father didn’t release His Son from suffering and death. So obviously it was not only necessary for Jesus to suffer and die, but impossible for it to be otherwise—that is, if the purpose of God were to be realized.

So clearly it was necessary. But WHY was it necessary for the Son of God to die? Peter, Paul, and the writer to the Hebrews answer that question plainly:

I Peter 2:24 He himself endured 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.

II Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Heb 9:26 …he has appeared once for all at the end of the age for the abolition of sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Many cannot accept these reasons for the death of the Messiah. They make statements such as, “No one can be sinless! So it must be the case that God IMPUTES righteousness to me because of Christ’s death.” No, that is not the case at all. It does not follow that through His death the Anointed One of God imparted to us “imputed righteousness.” Rather, through His death, He made possible ACTUAL righteousness. The attainment of this righteousness is a process. This process is known as “salvation from sin,” and continues throughout our lives. The process ends in the day of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul put it this way:

I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

So in the day of Jesus Christ, the process will be complete for all those in whom the process has begun, and who continue in it, coöperating with the enabling grace that God made available through the death of His Son.

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)

Maybe Christ died as the ox or the bull or the dove? So maybe the God of Israel in what he demanded from his people, said okay, I will trump you, and send my son as the perfect sacrifice. I love you so much I will do what I did not let Isaak do.

This is pretty deep.


#39

According to the following site:

“Jesus’ death was an infinite death, paying our infinite sin debt so that we would not have to pay it in hell for eternity (2 Corinthians 5:21).”

“Hell is perhaps a primary reason why God sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins. Being “extinguished” after death is no fate to dread, but an eternity in hell most definitely is. Jesus’ death was an infinite death, paying our infinite sin debt so that we would not have to pay it in hell for eternity (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we place our faith in Him, we are saved, forgiven, cleansed, and promised an eternal home in heaven. But if we reject God’s gift of eternal life, we will face the eternal consequences of that decision.”


#40

During the first half of the twentieth century, under the influence of social scientists, retributive theories of justice were frowned upon in favor of consequentialist theories. Fortunately, there has been, over the last half-century or so, a renaissance of theories of retributive justice, accompanied by a fading of consequentialist theories, so that we need not be distracted by the need to justify a retributive theory of justice. ~~ William Lane Craig, The Atonement pp. 68-69


#41

Just a footnote here. While I really like Got Questions…and they claim to be, a non-denominational site…They still have definite theological opinions - on various theological topics. I do side with Paidion’s position…Which is also the Eastern Orthodox position, from my understanding of it…in that we cooperate, with the process of redemption.

Of course, we will have various positions here. Some are pretty orthodox…and some would be minority and non-orthodox…but ALL based upon sound reasoning - for the most part.

I also made reference to this discussion, on another thread here:

And sometimes the Patheos Catholic and Evangelical newsletters, carry articles more controversial than those here. Take these - for example - from today’s Panteos, Evangelical newsletter.