The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Was the wrath of God "satisfied"?

I’ve had issues with that song for a while now as well!

Not being convinced by Penal Substitution, I went through a phase of finding the line, “The wrath of God was satisfied” hard to sing. It implies that God tortured Jesus until He was “satisfied” that sin had had its comeuppance. However, after lots of consideration, I find find myself able to sing the line comfortably… under a slightly different interpretation:

God has declared and end to His wrath. If God really does hate sin so much that the only justice is torment for all eternity, this line of the song effectively says, “God decided to do something about this and has declared His wrath ‘satisfied’ so that no more need to suffer.” Which sits comfortably with Hosea 11:8-9, where God shows His love in such a way that His heart is changed and His wrath withdrawn. Therefore His wrath is satisfied.

Does that understanding work?

Gem, I’m so convinced that on the cross it’s God’s love that was satisfied, not wrath. I get somewhat distressed when I come across songs like these, sometimes quite frequently, in church. Sometimes I have to take creative liberties and change the words. If I just switch a few things around I can usually redeem it quite well. :smiley: (And nobody seems to notice :laughing: )

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The song is written by ETC advocates, and so it is not dealing with remedial wrath - but the “wrath is gone, salvation offered” deal.

The song can still carry good meaning, though the wrath of God being satisfied would be (like many hymns and songs these days) be rendered poetic, but inaccurate.

Well, biblically speaking the concept of God’s wrath being satisifed has to do with propitiation.

Romans 3:24-25
“and are justified by his grace as a gift, ithrough the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

1 John 2:2
“And He Himself is the propitiationfor our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

So as I understand it, God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice in place of the transgressors. He died for the ungodly. They now receive justification. Am I missing something?

Maybe, maybe not :slight_smile: You might find these interesting:
Commentary on NT usage of “propitiate” (JRP)
Penal Substitution & Universalism
Is Penal Substitution a dangerous doctrine?

The thing I find hard to understand is if God is almost out of control with rage when it comes to sin, why did He create us, why does He sustain us, why does He get His hands dirty by coming into our creation through Jesus? Also the bible tells us blood sacrifices & burnt offerings aren’t what really makes God happy, so why is the Cross an exception? :confused: There are other ways of understanding the Cross & Substitutionary Atonement, which might be better e.g. Christus Victor

I hadn’t read this thread yet, but we happened to have this song at church yesterday morning (best song of the morning by far); and at the time I thought, yep–God’s love was satisfied on the cross, not His wrath.

So I made a note to look up this thread and, yay, someone beat me to it! :smiley:

Edited to add for Tillerman: I’m who wrote the commentary on the NT usage of “propitiate” that Alex linked to. The short answer is that the Biblical usage (in the NT at least) has nothing even remotely to do with God’s wrath; although usage of the term outside the Bible does reflect the natural religious expectation on this topic (namely that the deity does not love us, is at best indifferent to us, and may even naturally hate us, so has to be propitiated to smile on us or to lean in our direction.)

Well if God’s wrath was not satisfied, then it abides on us. By John 3:36 (He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him) we know that it does not “abide” on us who believe. To me that means it was taken away. We use the word “satisfied” because God is just and he must punish sin, He doesn’t just sweep it under the rug. So somewhere God has rectified our account (those who are being saved); we do not have to suffer His wrath for our sin. Christians believe that Jesus is the one who suffered in our stead(paid our debt). There therefore remains no more wrath to him who believes and is being saved.

Hi Kim,
I think where I would disagree with you is in the assumption that each sin necessitates a “payment” of wrath. That is the “eye for an eye” philosophy. On the contrary, our Lord tells us to turn the other cheek to the one who strikes us, to give to the one who asks of us, to lend without expectation of repayment, to freely forgive those who trespass against us, that love “covers” a multitude of sins. The Way of the Lord of Life is the way of love.

I don’t say that God will not punish sin – He certainly does! Not to equalize a balance of wrongs, but to bring about righteousness – because that is justice.

Welcome to the forum!

:laughing: I change the words of songs all the time. After all, that melody probably belonged to a perfectly good pub song when the Wesleys (or whomever) stole it. Why should I let it go to waste? :wink:

What sin do you think was satisified? What do you think sin is, the evil we do? Is sin based on right and wrong?

Sorry to butt in ‘AUniversalist’ - we don’t know when kimmykimko will reply (but she will pick up your questions when she does). I just wanted to share some relevant thoughts as they occur to me.

Hi Kimmykimko. I’d agree that we Christian’s believe that Christ died for our sins – but not all Christians at all times have believed that this means Christ died to pay a debt of wrath owed by us to God the Father. This view of the atonement was not the view of the Eastern Fathers of the Church and has never been the view of the Eastern Church - and they were reading the same Bible (but had the advantage of reading it in the original language).

Even amongst the more legalistic Latin Fathers the idea of Christ as substitute for God’s just vengeance is not found in exactly the form that some – but not all – Christians nurtured in the Western tradition believe today. We first find it in the writings of St Anslem (10th century) and it is not until the 16th century, in the writings of John Calvin, that we find it in its modern form.

One lesson I draw from this is we need to be tolerant of each other and give each other space to disagree . :slight_smile:

I agree with you completely here Sonia :slight_smile: – but I also think there is some continuity between ‘an eye for an eye’ and 'turning the other cheek:

As I understand it the ‘eye for an eye’ philosophy is actually an improvement upon other ancient Near Eastern Codes of law. For example, in the Babylonian Code Of Hammurabi the equivalent law states that if a nobleman takes out the eye of a nobleman he should pay with his own eye, and if he takes out the eye of a peasant he should pay a fine; however, if a peasant takes out the eye of a nobleman he should pay with his life. So the law as stated in the Pentateuch is an improvement on Hammurabi since it introduces the concept of equality before the law. (It strikes me as notable that forms of substitutionary atonement theory that argue that an infinite God being infinitely good and infinitely just, takes infinite offence at our finite sins etc, have more in common with the Code Of Hammurabi than Biblical principles of Justice.

Also ‘an eye for an eye’ introduces the principle of proportionality into law (‘no more than an eye for an eye’) and curbs the excesses of vengeance as it escalates into vendetta. We see this escalation in Genesis where Lamech, Cain’s descendant says: “I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy sevenfold” (Genesis 4: 23 – 24 RSV). Jesus words that Peter should forgive his brother not seven times but seventy times seven (Matthew 18: 22 ) must be alluding to Lamech. Therefore they are a fulfilment of the spirit of the law of ‘an eye for an eye’ - going even further to resolv

e the problem for vengeance - rather than its abolition. It seems to me that if this is the law of God then something has lost balance when we speak of Divine justice that needs to be satisfied through substitute or retributive punishment.

Thanks for that Cindy. I read it when the sky was grey and it cheered me up :smiley:

Good wishes to all


I sang this song at a funeral today and had the same questions at these words. Ended up not singing various phrases of many of the songs that were sung. It occurred to me that we might needs some new songs–songs that say “All will be well.”


Here’s the only one I know -

Loud are the bells of Norwich and the people come and go
Here by the tower of Julian I tell them what I know
Ring out bells of Norwich and Let the winter come and go
All shall be well again I know

Love like the yellow daffodil is coming through the snow
Love like the yellow daffodil is Lord of all I know
Ring out…

Ring for the yellow daffodil, the flower in the snow
Ring for the yellow daffodil and tell them what I know
Ring out…

(sung as chorus)
All shall be well I’m telling you Let the winter come and go
All shall be well again I know.

Sydney Carter

Yes! Love it!

Concerning the question in the original post, we find that the “heathen” nations throughout the world offered sacrifices to appease their gods so that the people wouldn’t be harmed. The sacrifices were a substitute for the people so that their gods would be satisfied with these sacrifice so that it wouldn’t be necessary to punish the people with whom they were angry.

For example, the Sumerians who originated from the cradle of civilization between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, offered appeasing sacrifices to gods, even substitutionary sacrifices.

Here is an extract from their liturgy:

“The lamb is the substitute for humanity; he has given up a lamb for his life; he hath given up a lamb’s head for the man’s head.”

The portion of the Sumerian liturgy quoted above was taken from C. Leonard Woolley’s book The Sumerians, page 126. Woolley added, “and here we have a relic of human sacrifice such as was actually found in the graves of the prehistoric kings at Ur.”

It seems that when a Sumerian person was chosen as a sacrifice of appeasement to the gods, he could substitute a lamb, and thereby escape death himself.

The Israelites were notorious for imitating the ways of the nations round about them! God frequently warned them with words such as “Learn not the ways of the heathen!”

I began to write a booklet entitled The Supreme Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The booklet is unfinished, but I posted some of the chapters on other forums. If you are interested you can read chapter 3 called Offerings and Sacrifices by clicking on the link below:

** Offerings and Sacrifices**

I love this, it would be great up here, especially in the winter.

I never encountered the song that started this topic.

Lets see, I think there is one like :

                                                Oh the love that drew salvation's plan
                                                 Oh the Grace that bought it down to man
                                                  Oh how great  the gulf that God did span
                                                  At Calvary.

                                                Mercy was there and grace flowed free
                                                 Pardon there was sanctified for me
                                                 There my burdened soul found liberty
                                                  At Calvary

Its been awhile, so thats the most I can remember. But I like it better than the topic one.

Excellent article, Paidion. Thanks for sharing it! I didn’t read all the comments because there were just so many, but I’ll bet they would have been good also. :smiley:

Hi Lizabeth and Kelli

Glad you like the Julian lyrics (Sydney Carter also wrote ‘Lord of the Dance’)

The Julian song is so very simple – but I guess its power is in its simplicity. I’ve just done a Google search for Julian of Norwich stuff and have come up with the following -

It seems that there have been a number of recordings of Sydney Carters song – and you can here excerpts from the MP3 catalogue of these here - … Submit.y=0

The version by John O’Connor, Shusha and others from Lovely in the Dances is my favourite.
The only version I can find of the song on Youtube is a bit plodding and ponderous to my mind, and the recording isn’t great - but you can still hear the melody OK. You can find it here -

And I really like the charming video on YouTube of a an enthusiastic and affectionate young American woman interviewing sweet and shy Sister Pamela in Julian’s cell in Norwich Cathedral (about Julian) – which you can find here … re=related



Yes, but I believe this is down to a mistranslation and reading too much into an Old Testament prophecy.

This is a fantastic study of Isaiah 53

Also, be sure to read the first comment by Fr. Stephen De Young