Does N. T. Wright Hold to Penal Substitution?

Lee Irons has an interesting post on N. T. Wright’s view of the atonement. You need to read the whole thing, but here’s the conclusion:

“It looks more like a case of using orthodox labels to refer to a position that is not orthodox. At the end of the day, for Bishop Wright, sin is an impersonal evil force, not personal rebellion against God; sin has bad consequences, but does not elicit God’s punitive wrath against the sinner; and the cross is to be understood as some version of the Christus Victor theory in which Christ defeats evil by letting it do its worst to him, not as a penal satisfaction of divine justice.”

34 Responses to Does N. T. Wright Hold to Penal Substitution?

  1. Michael Metts August 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    The answer is, of course, yes — so long as we agree that Jesus had no idea of his atonement vocation, and we further agree that the entire discussion of atonement with respect to the historical person, Jesus, is entirely anachronistic. We should not “put the cart before the horse”.

    (Cf. JVG pgs 592-593)

    Michael Metts

  2. Luke Britt August 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Isn’t kind of silly to assume that only one view of the atonement is orthodox?

  3. John Holmberg August 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    This is a classic false dichotomy. It works under the assumption that one either has to believe Christus Victor OR penal substitution, while in reality there are truths in both of them (as well as other theories on the atonement). Is Mr. Irons aware that “penal substitution” was not even formulated until the 11th century A.D., while Christus Victor was the dominant view for the first 1,000 years of church history? Maybe people who claimed to be “Christians” for the first 1,000 years after Jesus were not so b/c they didn’t believe in “penal substitution.” This is absurd, and is naive at best.

    Penal substitution is not synonymous with the “Gospel,” it is only a part. The atonement cannot be wrapped up into one theory. The problem with penal substitution is that it pictures a God who by necessity has to vent his wrath on his Son, a God who is pissed off and has to take it out on somebody. Many would not deny Jesus being some type of “substitute” for us, but the “penal” word is where some take issue. If you think “penal substitution” is synonymous with the Gospel (as many reformed individuals do), then you have an astoundingly reductionistic gospel where many genuine followers of Christ throughout history are condemned. That is absolutely tragic, and this post is evidence of a reductionistic gospel, a false dichotomy, and making “Christianity” conform to and synonymous with one’s subculture’s conviction. There is no spirit of ecumenism.

  4. Michael Metts August 27, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    John I find your vernacular to be very inappropriate and your history lesson very questionable.

  5. Charlie Albright August 27, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    This is a very saddening fact to learn about N.T. Wright. Though, this is just a blog post against him and not enough to outrightly convict him of such a denial. But the evidence has been presented and demands further investigation.

    Luke and John. Let me bring in Dr. Seyoon Kim to answer your objections,

    “It is true that in the NT there are views represented that Christ has wrought salvation by
    bringing the “revelation” of God or by overcoming the evil forces through his death
    and resurrection. The presence of these interpretations of the atonement in the NT
    certainly means that we cannot insist on the penal substitutionary theory as the sole
    legitimate biblical mode of interpreting the Christ-event. We may employ these other
    modes as well to suit our particular audience or purpose, just as, e.g., the Gospel of
    John effectively employs the category of divine “revelation/knowledge” for his
    Hellenistic audience. At times it may be necessary to stress Christ’s salvation through
    overcoming the evil forces. But the NT allows us to play off neither the “Christus victor”
    theory nor the “revelation” theory of the atonement against the penal substitutionary
    theory. For these three theories not only coexist but are often coordin-ated with one
    another. Take Colossians 1:13-20, for example; there Paul celebrates the result of
    Christ’s atoning sacrifice (“the blood of his cross,” v. 20) not only in terms of
    “reconciliation” to God but also in terms of “deliverance from the dominion of darkness
    and transference into the kingdom of [God’s] beloved Son,” the preeminent head of
    all things, including “thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities,” as well as of
    the church. Then he identifies this “deliverance” or “redemption” from the kingdom of
    Satan into the kingdom of God’s Son explicitly with “the forgiveness of sins” (v. 14).
    Likewise in Colossians 2:13-15 he identifies Christ’s atonement for our “transgressions” on
    the cross with his “disarming” of “principalities and powers.” If sin is transgression of
    God’s rule, it is submission to the devil’s rule. Therefore, Christ’s atonement for sin
    through which we are restored to the rightful reign of God is an event of his
    overcoming Satan and rescuing us from Satan’s grip. That is why at the climax of his
    argument for justification of the ungodly on the basis of Christ’s (penal substitutionary)
    atonement (Rom 8:31-39), Paul declares his confidence in the final triumph of believers
    over all the Satanic forces at the last judgment through the atonement and
    intercession of Christ (esp. vv. 32-34; cf. Isa 53:10-12), who died and was resurrected
    and exalted to the right hand of God as God’s viceroy, overcoming all evil forces. See
    how in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 also Paul speaks of “the victory through our Lord Jesus
    Christ” in terms of victory over sin, the law, and death. This correlation of Christ’s
    atonement for sin and his victory over the devil (and his forces) is also made in the
    Gospel of John and the Revelation of John (cf. also Acts 10:38, 43; 26:18), and it
    corresponds to Jesus’ own teaching about his gathering of sinners into the kingdom of
    God as his victory over Satan, as his redemption of them from the kingdom of Satan.
    Those who ignore this NT teaching and try to uphold the Christus victor theory of the
    atonement at the exclusion of the penal substitutionary theory run the risk of falling into
    a mere shamanistic soteriology (“spiritual warfare”) or a mere political soteriology
    (liberation from an imperial and despotic Caesar).” From the Article The Atoning Death of Christ on the Cross By Seyoon Kim

    And another thing John, you should read the chapter from “Pierced for our Transgressions” on the historical holds of penal substitution.

  6. Charlie Albright August 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    wow! sorry for the way the quote came out.

  7. Darius T August 27, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    I’m sorry, John, but you’re just plain wrong on almost everything.

  8. John Holmberg August 27, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    Michael,

    Well, can you validate your claims? I can say I think you’re a half human, half ostrich monster that likes to eat butter sandwiches but I can’t validate those claims.

    Charlie,

    I agree with Kim. Was that not what I communicated in my first post (i.e. we can’t reduce the atonement to one view, because all views have truths in them)?

  9. John Holmberg August 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    Darius,

    Thanks for the intelligent and gracious remark. You’re such a scholar. . .

  10. Scott August 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    What has John said that is so blatantly wrong? And please tell me how is vernacular was “very inappropriate.” There are words of truth in what he said. There are words of truth in Wright as well. The problem, sadly, is that reformed folks put their fingers in their ears and scream out loud whenever this discussion occurs. They’re so eager to go after Wright (and by extension, anyone who agrees in the slightest) that they utterly fail to enter meaningful debate.

  11. Darius T August 27, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    Ok John (and Scott), how’s this?

    “This is a classic false dichotomy. It works under the assumption that one either has to believe Christus Victor OR penal substitution, while in reality there are truths in both of them… The problem with penal substitution…”

    You start by claiming there is truth in both theories, then later deny the truth in penal substitution. In so doing, you completely rebut your own point (the false dichotomy issue). No one here disagrees that Christus Victor is a significant part of the atonement (if anyone does, please speak up now). We’re just pointing out that it’s not the HEART of the atonement, penal substitution is. You cannot have the Gospel without PSA. Where Wright goes off base is when he implies that sin is primarily an impersonal force and that the heart of the Gospel is the CVA theory.

    “Penal substitution is not synonymous with the “Gospel,” it is only a part. The atonement cannot be wrapped up into one theory.”

    You actually got this right. There are many correct atonement theories. But the one upon which every other one rests or at least the one without which there would be no salvation is penal substitution.

    Lastly, as others have pointed out, your grasp of Church history leaves much to be desired. The early Church took penal substitution for granted, that may be true, but it’s clear from the writing of Church leaders that even then it was a widely held belief.

  12. Michael Metts August 27, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    The free gift — formerly yours by grace — now yours by vindication (cf. N T Wright)!!! God has to do it — his righteousness is his covenant faithfulness!!!

  13. Andrew Cowan August 27, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    I apologize for those of you who visit Between Two Worlds because I am going to post a comment here that I have already posted there, but I wanted to make available my response to Irons’ claims for the readers of this blog as well. Thus:

    I think that these claims are hard to justify in light of Wright’s comments on Romans 1:18-32 and 3:21-26 in his NIB commentary where he seems to affirm what Irons claims he denies.

    On p. 431, he explains the wrath of God in Rom 1:18 as God’s execution of the death sentence on individual humans at the final judgment in Rom 1:32. He goes on to state, “Paul’s basic charge…is that humans, in their ungodliness and injustice, supress the truth, and do so precisely by means of that injustice” (p. 432) This is the “ungodliness” and “injustice” that he claims God’s wrath is revealed against. I could be misreading Wright, but I think that these statements contain a punitive (involving punishment) understanding of wrath and a personal understanding of sin.

    In his explanation of 3:21-26 in the NIB Romans commentary, Wright states, “Dealing with wrath or punishment is propitiation; with sin, expiation. You propitiate a person who is angry; you expiate a sin, crime, or stain on your character. Vehement rejection of the former idea in many quarters has led some to insist that only ‘expiation’ is in view here. But the fact remains that in 1:18-3:20 Paul has declared that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and wickedness and that despite God’s forbearance this will finally be meted out” (p. 476).

    He goes on to discuss the word often translated “propitiation” in 3:25, and concludes, “Paul’s context here demands that the word not only retain its sacrificial overtones…, but that it carry the note of propitiation of divine wrath–with, of course, the corollary that sins are expiated” (p. 476). These two statements together seem to express a very traditional understanding of Jesus’ death in terms of penal substitution.

    I think that Irons’ concern about Wright’s statements in popular books is a good instinct. Wright is not always as clear in every context about penal sustitutionary atonement as I would like for him to be. Nevertheless, I don’t think that the claim that he is using traditional terms with untraditional definitions is accurate. His work in the Romans commentary (and other places that I don’t have time to track down) seems to indicate otherwise, and these statements need to be taken into account.

  14. Bill V August 27, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    In Wright’s own words, from an interview prior to the release of “Justification” – God called Abraham and his family, in biblical theology, as the means of putting the whole
    world right. And the question is, but how can you do that if the whole world is in the wrong?
    Paul explains that the covenant has been fulfilled because Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, has
    done what God always intended Israel to have as its goal, namely, to take the weight and the
    shame and the penalty of the sin upon himself and thus to make it possible for God to justify
    people who, as they stood, were completely sinful.

  15. Charlie Albright August 27, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    John, and my reply was that those of us who have grasped the issue of penal substitution and affirm it NEVER, NEVER, NEVER(!!!) reduce the atonement to only the aspect of penal substitution. We firmly hold to all the Biblical aspects. So when you came out and say “false dichotomy” you are creating a straw man. No serious holder(and don’t miss this. of course you can find some guy somewhere that would say “only the one model!” but that guy or guys does not represent the whole of penal substutionary holder) to penal substitutionary atonement rejects the other aspects.

    The problem we have is when someone rejects penal substitution. that is when we cry foul!

    It would be the same as if someone rejects the the existence of one person of the trinity. Say that Bob states, “there is no Son in the Godhead.” When Biblical Christians object to this and say, “NO! the Son is essential too sound theology.” are we then denying the existence of the Father and the Holy Spirit since we are rising in defense of the Son? The way I see you and others treat penal substitutionary holder, they answer would be “yes!”

    Just because we rise in the defense of penal substitutionary atonement does not mean we reject the other aspects.

  16. Charlie Albright August 27, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

    Thanks for the digging and the work Andrew! I will take them into account.

    But do you think that this may be a situation of moving theological positions or not? Could it be that Wright is becoming more lax on his views of penal substitution and sin? Do the commentaries precede the date of Iron’s findings by several years or not?

  17. John Holmberg August 27, 2009 at 6:54 pm #

    Darius,

    I oftentimes question your hermeneutics & reading ability. I never denied PSA. I just said where I believe people take issue with it because it speaks of divine necessity. Can you quote me where I denied it and said the whole thing was bogus? Also, I said there are truths in both of them (PSA & CVA). A major truth in PSA is the substitution aspect, while I just don’t think the “penal” aspect is very clear and I’m not ready to jump on board with it (I didn’t even mention this earlier, I just left it neutral and explained where I think many people take issue with it). That’s a far cry from saying I deny all truth in it. You can build a good straw-man though.

    Also, if PSA were the “heart of the Gospel,” then tell me Darius, why did it take so long for it to be focused on? The resurrection and deity of Christ have been preached heavily since day 1, but PSA took a seat on the back-burner for 1,000 years and now all of a sudden it’s the heart of the gospel because that’s what the reformers emphasized.

    You can’t have the Gospel without PSA? Well, you can’t have it without liberation either. You also can’t have it without Christ defeating the evil powers, or without the belief that we are to follow Christ’s example and be morally influenced by him. Many of the theories work in concert, and when we emphasize some to the disappearance of the others, then we have an incomplete and reductionistic gospel.

    My “grasp of church history,” Darius, have you even read ANY church history books? I actually got that information from the golden standard in church history books, Justo Gonzalez’s “Story of Christianity.” Don’t quibble with me, brother, quibble with him. You want me to quote it for you. . . okay. Here ya go: in speaking about Anselm of Canterbury (the one given credit for PSA, like Augustine with original sin), who became Archbishop of Canterbury in AD 1093 (read: over 1,000 years after Christ, which was a claim I made) on pp. 313-314 of “The Story of Christianity” volume 1, Gonzalez writes

    “This view of the work of Christ (i.e. penal substitution), which was by no means the generally accepted one in earlier centuries, soon gained such credence that most western Christians came to accept it as the only biblical one.”

    So “my” grasp of church history is also shared by a man considered by many to be the most authoritative living voice on church history.

  18. John Holmberg August 27, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    Charlie,

    Brother, I’m not the one making this up. I got it from the conclusion of Iron’s post above. Look at the wording:

    “the cross is to be understood as some version of the Christus Victor theory in which Christ defeats evil by letting it do its worst to him, not as a penal satisfaction of divine justice.”

    Notice how for Irons it can’t be both ways, it has to be either/or. I wouldn’t have even mentioned this had Irons not used this language, so for you and Darius and whoever else takes issue with me saying what I said, I only said it because Irons adopts this very personality. Also, this is how I hear most PSA guys speak. Look at the “4 views” book for crying out loud and see Schreiner’s piece. It’s the rhetoric that’s troubling. The systematic theology books are set up in such a way that creates an “either/or” situation (look at Grudem, and also look at Demarest’s “Cross & Salvation”). This isn’t something I’m making up to create a straw-man, brother, this is something that’s real and something I’ve perceived for a long time.

  19. Andrew Cowan August 27, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    Charlie,

    Irons cites Wright’s commentary (2002) within his article in order to establish this point. I don’t think that Wright has changed on this issue, but as I said, in some of his statements, he doesn’t say as much as I wish he would. I think that his ordinary way of telling the story of Christianity doesn’t emphasize all of these points like it ought, but if you pressed him, I think that he would still affirm them pretty heartily, especially if you asked about the particular texts within Romans.

  20. Trevin Wax August 28, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    I wrote an essay on this subject back in 2006. http://trevinwax.com/2007/04/24/dont-tell-me-nt-wright-denies-penal-substitution/ The best thing one can do when it comes to Wright’s view is to actually read Wright and not what others say he says. I’m all for solid critique, but let’s do justice to what he has actually written.

  21. Darius T August 28, 2009 at 9:41 am #

    Actually, John, even Tony Jones admits that the Apostle Paul wrote about penal substitution. So it was there from the “day one.”

  22. Darius T August 28, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    I’ve read Grudem, I never noticed any either/or atonement rhetoric.

  23. Larry S August 28, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    In #18 John wrote:

    “The systematic theology books are set up in such a way that creates an “either/or” situation (look at Grudem, and also look at Demarest’s “Cross & Salvation”).”

    I’m wondering if at a deep level this is a foundational difference between systematic theologian(s) and a biblical theolgian (Wright: historian)? A times the 2 disciplines talk past one another.

    And to make things more complicated we also seem to have modern Reformers who don’t appreciate the differences between the two disciplines.

  24. John Holmberg August 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    Darius,

    I am not advocating a view which states that Anselm made up the doctrine out of thin-air. I am not saying it was never around under 1,000 years after Jesus. I am not saying that there are not hints of it in Scripture. I’m simply saying, as Gonzalez states above, that until Anselm it was by no means the generally accepted one in earlier centuries.

    The point I am trying to establish by this is that if for over 10 centuries, Christians throughout the world generally taught and preached other views of the atonement (mainly Christus Victor), then how important does that make the penal substitutionary view in historical perspective? When we take this historical evidence into account, it should cause us to loosen up and quiet down the rhetoric for those who do not want to sign on to it because it is obviously not essential for salvation.

    Throughout the entirety of church history we can see essential doctrines such as the resurrection of Christ, the deity of Christ, and the Trinity taught and accepted by nearly all. When there was a controversy about them (which happened a few hundred years after the NT era), they had councils to sort all of it out because of the importance of the matter. Penal substitution received nothing like this. The atonement is important for Christian theology, particularly acknowledging the fact that Christ died on the cross & rose again from the grave, but to claim that one has to adopt the view that says he took on God’s wrath because humans are the worst sinners ever and deserved it, while also alluding to this being a necessity of how it HAD to happen since God was so angry at people, is myopic at best and does not account for the evidence. There are hints of it in Scripture, but if it were so crucial it would be explained in further detail and mentioned in many more cases. So the lack of both scriptural & historical evidence makes the case for the penal substitutionary atonement being an essential to the gospel, one is which no gospel or salvation would exist without it, completely unfounded.

    What you are saying is that Wright does not preach the gospel & is not saved. I know how much you love to judge people’s salvation & everything Darius (something you’ve done on numerous occasions, the most recent being Senator Kennedy), but this is just a claim that I’m not willing to make because there are many, many others besides Wright who do not accept PSA, and the countless other Christians throughout history that either never heard of it or didn’t believe in it make this claim the height of ethnocentrism where one raises there subculture’s beliefs to the center (like Denny with egalitarianism) and then claims that without believing exactly as they believe (no matter how anachronistic it may be), one cannot be a Christian. It is an absolute tragedy all too common for conservative, particularly reformed, individuals, churches, & institutions. I could only speculate the remarks Jesus would have, but if I were a betting man I would say they would be similar in tone & content to his words for a popular Jewish sect during his day.

  25. Charlie Albright August 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    John, not to sound rude, but you are reading into what Lee Irons is saying. Where did Irons say that Christus Victor is not an aspect of the atonement? In the context of the post, Iron is confronting Wright’s supposed denial of penal substitution. He is saying that Wright is wrong for reducing the atonement to Christus Victor. He is not saying it is wrong to hold to Christus Victor. It is good to hold to Christus Victor while holding to penal substitution.

    As for Grudem, once again you are wrong. No where does Grudem deny Christus Victor. The reason you may have not seen it in His Sys. Theo. is because he puts it under the category of Redemption (old book, 579-580). There Grudem affirms the meaning of Christus Victor while not using the terms.

    As for Schreiner, “Christ’s work on the cross not only broke the power of sin but also spelled the defeat of evil and demonic powers.” (New Testament Theology, 369. And a whole section is devoted to this topic in the following pages)

    Once again, no true holder to penal substitution denies Christus Victor as an aspect. You are only going to cause problems in the Christian community when you read into these guys what you want them to believe instead of what they have clearly stated.

    and I couldn’t help but notice that you “missed” Seyoon Kim’s article that I quoted above when you gave your list of supposed Christus Victor deniers. His article is a good representative of those who hold to penal substitution.

    thus, the problem here is not with Iron, Schreiner, myself, or any other holders to penal substitution. The problem is that you want us to believe what you want us to believe. Meaning, you want us to hold to a either/or distinction, thus no matter what we say, in your mind, we will deny Christus Victor. Yet the reality remains, we don’t hold to a either/or! We hold to both/and!(I refer you to Kim’s article if you want to argue about this point.)

  26. Michael Metts August 28, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    I really feel like my #12 merits a response.

  27. John Holmberg August 28, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    Charlie,

    I think you want me to believe that all advocates of penal substitution do not hold to CV, which I do not believe. My only point is that, whenever an apologetic is given about PS, or whenever PS is discussed in a systematic textbook, the views are often presented as, “Okay, I’ve given you these four views, not you have to pick ONE, and that ONE should be penal substitution.” One instance of this is in Bruce Demarest’s “Cross & Salvation,” while another is in the “4 views on the Atonement” book. The very nature of that book advocates that the author only holds to one view, and only one is correct. I would personally like to see an eclectic approach expounded, because the atonement is so deep & complex it cannot be reduced into a few short sentences & emphases. Agreed?

    I couldn’t point you to a book that explicitly denies CV. I believe, when pressed, nearly 100% of the advocates of penal substitution would agree with CV. However, just because they would agree with it does not mean that they ever mention it in their teaching or preaching. Seldom have I ever heard a pastor/teacher teach on CV, while I’ve heard PS expounded upon hundreds of times. As I said above, for many PS is the Gospel, nothing more, nothing less. Do you not agree with me that CV was the dominant view of the atonement held for the first 1,000 years of church history, while PS was almost non-existent? If this is the case, then should we not focus on CV in our gospel & our preaching/teaching much more than we (read: conservative evangelicals) do?

    The only reason I brought this up is because the way Iron’s final paragraph reads. Do you not see it? He sets it up like Wright has to believe either/or, not both/and. That’s my only point. I wish more proponents of PS would concede to other views & incorporate them into their teaching & their Gospel. In my opinion, a Gospel that is exclusively PS portrays the most pessimistic view of humanity possible while giving a picture of a God who is an arbitrary & cruel dictator who is pissed off and needs to take his anger out on somebody. I believe God judges, and I believe God’s wrath will be poured out on evil-doers, but there is a lot more to God than that. And an exclusively PS God is a God who looks a lot like Allah or the ancient gods, but not the God of Jesus Christ.

  28. Charlie Albright August 29, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    “I think you want me to believe that all advocates of penal substitution do not hold to CV, which I do not believe.”

    Sure, no where have you said that all holders of PSA deny CV. But you did say “most.” which is where I disagree. Most holders of PSA do not deny CV.

    “The only reason I brought this up is because the way Iron’s final paragraph reads. Do you not see it? He sets it up like Wright has to believe either/or, not both/and.”

    Once again, you are reading your on views into the context. The accusation against Wright is that HE holds to a either/or distinction! It is not that Iron is telling Wright that He has to chose between one view of the other or that it is wrong for Wright to hold to CV. Iron’s case is that Wright’s view of sin leads him to only hold the CV view of the atonement to the exclusion of PSA. So do you see the problem with your reading? Irons is not saying, “Wright is wrong in holding CV and must choose which one to hold” It is, “Wright is wrong is saying that CV is the only aspect of the atonement.”(You can disagree with the charge that Irons is bringing against Wright if you want to. I am not fully convinced of the charge myself.) but it is wrong to read into Irons a position that He does hold.

    But that is just repeating what I stated before.

    as for the other things you brought up,

    “My only point is that, whenever an apologetic is given about PS, or whenever PS is discussed in a systematic textbook, the views are often presented as, “Okay, I’ve given you these four views, not you have to pick ONE, and that ONE should be penal substitution.””

    Completely disagree from my experience. Read Schreiner’s “New Testament Theology” where he gives a whole section to the CV aspect of the atonement (though, he calls it something else). As for the “pick one” idea, Schreiner was asked to give the PSA doctrine for that book. If it presents a “pick one” mentality the blame is to be with the editor of the book, not the authors.

    “however, just because they would agree with it does not mean that they ever mention it in their teaching or preaching. Seldom have I ever heard a pastor/teacher teach on CV”

    Once again, another experiential argument. And how are we to know that you have listened to countless hours of sermons by PSA holders to witness all of them never mention CV? From my experience, I have heard Dr. Russell Moore (Dean of SBTS) integrate CV in his preaching countless times.

    “Do you not agree with me that CV was the dominant view of the atonement held for the first 1,000 years of church history”

    It might have been, but here is the problem for you, what is the view from God’s revelation? once again let me quote Dr. Seyoon Kim to give an introduction to the Biblical testimony for PSA,

    If you want more you can read his article (http://sujetosalaroca.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/atonement.pdf)

    “In my opinion, a Gospel that is exclusively PS portrays the most pessimistic view of humanity possible while giving a picture of a God who is an arbitrary & cruel dictator who is pissed off and needs to take his anger out on somebody.”

    And that is your opinion, but it shows that you have little understanding of the true PSA. I believe that you need to do more reading from our side if you want to correct your distorted view of the doctrine.

  29. Charlie Albright August 29, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Okay…something happen at the end of the post :/. The quote from Dr. got erased and the ending paragraphs were made into the quote. So here is the true quote from Dr. Kim,

    “This understanding of Christ’s atoning death is also represented in 1 Peter (1:18-19; 2:22-25; 3:18). The Gospel of John focuses on the death of Jesus as the lifting-up of the Son of Man or the glorification of the Son of God, interpreting it in terms of vicarious atonement for sins (1:29; 3:16-17; 6:53–56; 8:24; 10:11, 15; 11:45-52; 13:1–11; 18:14; 19:34; 20:23), as well as the supreme revelation of God and his victory over Satan (16:33). The understanding of Christ’s death as a vicarious atonement is also reflected in 1 John (1:7; 2:2; 4:9-10) and Revelation (1:5-6; 5:6-12; 7:14; 12:10-11). Especially significant are the three powerful images of Jesus in the Johannine literature: “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), who as the paschal lamb and the servant of Yahweh (Isa 53:7, 11) is duly offered as a sacrifice by the High Priest (John 11:45-52; 18:14) on the Passover eve with blood pouring out from his side (John 19:34) for the eschatological atonement and redemption; “the lamb who was slain” sitting on God’s throne, having “ransomed [a people] for God by [his] blood” and so “freed us from our sins” (Rev 5:6-12; 1:5b); and the Son of God sent by God to be “the expiation/propitiation [hilasmos] for our sins” (1 John 2:2; 4:9-10). Hebrews focuses on Christ’s death as the covenant-establishing and atoning sacrifice as well as on his exaltation as the heavenly High Priest, with perhaps some faint echoes of penal substitution (cf. 2:9, 17; 9:15, 28).”

  30. David Rogers August 29, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    Darius and Charlie,

    Just wondering if you read Trevin Wax’s article (link in # 20) and whether you have any responses to it.

  31. Charlie Albright August 29, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    David, thanks for pointing out the post by Trevin Wax. He does a welcomed search of N.T. Wrights works on this topic. And thus presents more confirmation that N.T. Wright does not deny penal substitution.

  32. Darius T August 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    David, I never posted about NT Wright… I’ve read Evil and the Justice of God and never thought that he denied penal substitution, but rather focused more heavily on CVA.

    Primarily, I was only addressing John’s comments, because on one hand he says both are valid, but then spends the rest of his commenting complaining about the problems of PSA.

  33. David Rogers August 29, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    Darius,

    You did post about Wright
    in your comment # 11.

    “Where Wright goes off base is when he implies that sin is primarily an impersonal force and that the heart of the Gospel is the CVA theory.”

    I just wondered if you had read the Wax article.

    Blessings,

    David

  34. Darius T August 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    Oh yeah, true, I did. I agree that Wright doesn’t deny PSA, but I disagree with him that CV is the main underpinning idea in the atonement.

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