I don't believe it!

so, whilst studiously trying to ignore the debate on Penal Substitution, I have found that this is nigh on impossible, especially as my fav blog and forum have ongoing debates going on about it.

but mainly because the release of this book
and this article regarding that book have left me with an unavoidable conclusion.

I don't believe it.

I trust and respect Tom Wright to the highest degree, but I find myself in the slightly discomfiting position of disagreeing with him. It brings me out in a cold sweat, to be honest. It's not that I disagree with anything he has said - ha, that would be too easy - no, I just disagree that what he is talking about is penal substitution, even if he is very insistent that it is penal and not just substitutionary atonement that he is affirming.

you see I totally affirm that Christ died in my place, that he bore the consequences of sin for me, that he soaked up all that might consume me when I am purged of all that is in me that militates against me being perfected in Christ. I totally affirm that God must judge evil and sin and eradicate it from all of Creation in order to bring it to its full potential and purpose - to enjoy God and be enjoyed by Him. And that in Christ's flesh all sin has been judged and triumphed over. My individual sin, collective sin and institutional sin. I affirm all of that.

but none of this necessitates a penal view of substitution.

penalty, as I understand it, means the Father exacting a penalty from the Son, because the exacting of that penalty in and of itself brings justice.

now picture Aristotle's scales of justice. On one side is your 'crime' and on the other side is your 'punishment' in order to 'balance' the scales of justice. A thoroughly pagan idea that needs not to be imported into Biblical theology.

now 'justice' as a biblical concept is much more about restoration than retribution. The punishment, or the better translation, chastisement, of Israel was in order to restore that relationship - the end was the transformation and restoration of the people, not the exacting of the penalty

all this leads me on to the conclusion that the above book is, in fact, doing exactly what it says on the tin - rediscovering the glory (bleuch) of penal substitution.

and in this, I totally agree with Tom Wright - the atonement theory defended in this book is unbiblical.

I can feel the heat as they stoke the fire to burn the heretic, as I write this. gulp.

I can't believe I've disagreed with Tom Wright, think I need to go and lie down....oh hang on, the Spanish Inquisition have just turned up....

1 comment:

Karen said...

I've been a bit disappointed by that which has been stirred up. I'm not sure that PS is Christian. In fact I'll go as far as saying that I think it is most definitely pagan, as is predestination of the Reformed variety.

I wonder how much of the content of article in question is fuelled by politicking? How much of it an exemplar of fence sitting; of appearing to hold cards in your hand that aren't there?