The very form of the death embodies a striking truth. The cross was cursed not only in the opinion of men, but by the enactment of the Divine Law. Hence Christ, while suspended on it, subjects himself to the curse. And thus it behoved to be done, in order that the whole curse, which on account of our iniquities awaited us, or rather lay upon us, might be taken from us by being transferred to him. This was also shadowed in the Law, since the word by which sin itself is properly designated, was applied to the sacrifices and expiations offered for sin. By this application of the term, the Spirit intended to intimate, that they were a kind of kaqarmavton (purifications), bearing, by substitutions the curse due to sin. But that which was represented figuratively in the Mosaic sacrifices is exhibited in Christ the archetype. Wherefore, in order to accomplish a full expiation, he made his soul a propitiatory victim for sin (as the prophet says, Is. 53:5, 10), on which the guilt and penalty being in a manner laid, ceases to be imputed to us. The Apostle declares this more plainly when he says, that “he made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” (2 Cor. 5:21). For the Son of God, though spotlessly pure, took upon him the disgrace and ignominy of our iniquities, and in return clothed us with his purity. To the same thing he seems to refer, when he says, that he “condemned sin in the flesh,” (Rom. 8:3), the Father having destroyed the power of sin when it was transferred to the flesh of Christ. This term, therefore, indicates that Christ, in his death, was offered to the Father as a propitiatory victim; that, expiation being made by his sacrifice, we might cease to tremble at the divine wrath. It is now clear what the prophet means when he says, that “the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all,” (Is. 53:6); namely, that as he was to wash away the pollution of sins, they were transferred to him by imputation. Of this the cross to which he was nailed was a symbol, as the Apostle declares, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth 440on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ,” (Gal. 3:13, 14). In the same way Peter says, that he “bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” (1 Peter 2:24), inasmuch as from the very symbol of the curse, we perceive more clearly that the burden with which we were oppressed was laid upon him. Nor are we to understand that by the curse which he endured he was himself overwhelmed, but rather that by enduring it he repressed broke, annihilated all its force. Accordingly, faith apprehends acquittal in the condemnation of Christ, and blessing in his curse. Hence it is not without cause that Paul magnificently celebrates the triumph which Christ obtained upon the cross, as if the cross, the symbol of ignominy, had been converted into a triumphal chariot. For he says, that he blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross: that “having spoiled principalities and powers he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it,” (Col. 2:14, 15). Nor is this to be wondered at; for, as another Apostle declares, Christ, “through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God,” (Heb. 9:14), and hence that transformation of the cross which were otherwise against its nature. But that these things may take deep root and have their seat in our inmost hearts, we must never lose sight of sacrifice and ablution. For, were not Christ a victim, we could have no sure conviction of his being ajpoluvtrwsi”, ajntivlutron, kai; iJlasthvrion, our substitute-ransom and propitiation. And hence mention is always made of blood whenever scripture explains the mode of redemption: although the shedding of Christ’s blood was available not only for propitiation, but also acted as a laver to purge our defilements.
Tag: Penal Substitution
Penal substitution is under fire, has been for quite some time. But not just from the PCUSA. HT @Mheerema.
The Alabama Baptist (Bob Terry): “Why Disagree About the Words of a Hymn?” http://www.thealabamabaptist.org/print-edition-article-detail.php?id_art=28401&pricat_art=10
Some popular theologies do hold that Jesus’ suffering appeased God’s wrath. That is not how I understand the Bible and that is why I do not sing the phrase “the wrath of God was satisfied” even though I love the song “In Christ Alone.”
One well-known Baptist theologian said it clearly: “Reconciliation is not the appeasement of God. It is God’s own work in restoring man to proper relationship with Himself.”
- J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism, Ch. 6, pg. 110 in PDF: http://reformedaudio.org/audio/machen/Machen%20-%20Christianity%20&%20Liberalism.pdf
- Albert Mohler’s talk at T4G 2008 (MP3) – Why Do They Hate It So? The Doctrine of Substitution: http://media.t4g.org/t4g2008/audio/t4g2008-session6-mohler.mp3
- Pierced for our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution – http://www.amazon.com/Pierced-Our-Transgressions-Rediscovering-Substitution/dp/1433501082
If your overarching (or inadvertent) goal is to be liked by the world as a believer, you will inevitably have to pare off the rough edges of truth, as Spurgeon called it, and do massive editing to make the message more acceptable.
The gospel is an offense, in particular, that blood would be required by God for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22) and at that, His own Sons’ blood. This doctrine, penal substitutionary atonement, has been called “divine child abuse” from some within evangelicalism (Steve Chalke in particular, though many seem to agree with his assessment). This heart-truth of the gospel is absolute sacrilege to the secular mind.
There’s no way around it: what we believe about the truth of God’s Word, and actually, the fact we believe it speaks truth at all into the world, is itself an offense, let alone the doctrines contained within that it speaks to.
There are so many reviews that have done a fine job of explaining the pros and cons of this book that I don’t feel I need to go into this for very long.
First, I’ll just say that after reading it, the picture of God’s sovereignty and reasons for ordaining that suffering be are attractive, though in my view, insufficient (see the book of Job or Romans 8 or John Piper for a better explanation). Also, the concept that God the Trinity is eternally happy in Himself (see Jonathan Edwards’ works) is refreshing. The emotional tug of the book (which made me cry at points, it really is a heart breaking story) gives great weight to its attractiveness in a culture absorbed in emotional appeal and presuppositions. Those emotional aspect of the book really caught my attention and I thought Young did a good job of making Mack’s situation enrapturing. I was really able to put myself in his shoes. And it is overwhelming considering the weight of that pain.
I want to quote people anonymously from The Shack Facebook group and add some commentary to each to show that this book is not viewed as a mere work of fiction. I believe these quotes are very instructive as to what the book is actually doing in culture and how it is indeed changing people’s understanding of who God is and how He relates to us. It seems many people’s understanding is actually changing based on Young’s understanding and portrayal of God.
Emotional responses aside to the story itself (not critiquing that at all), if it is an unbiblical portrayal of God and His work to save us in Christ, is that really and truly a good thing? Is that true spiritual progress in terms the Bible prescribes? If people become more religious and emotionally struck as a result, is that necessarily conversion by the Gospel work of Christ, or is it merely becoming religious and “dead in trespasses and sins?” I’m not talking in any way about the story’s plot line being good or not and loving the story in itself and/or identifying with it to some degree. I’m asking, is an unbiblical picture of God a positive thing? What do you think?
Many Christians hear the phrase limited atonement and just cringe. “What a repulsive idea! How could you even propose such an idea?” The term “limited atonement” within Calvinism is very misleading though. I instead prefer the term definite redemption, or definite atonement. First of all, many against Calvinism imply we are stating Christ’s death couldn’t have saved everyone, that we are “limiting” it’s power by making this assertion. This is just wrong. Christ’s blood possesses infinite value because He is God and He is infinite, eternal. His blood has infinite worth, able to cleanse trillions upon trillions, infinite numbers of sins and sinners. Could His death and resurrection have saved everyone? Absolutely! What are we talking about though in terms of the limit? It’s very simple. It’s not talking about the worth of Christ’s blood, but the scope of who it’s applied to. What was the intention of the cross? To make everyone savable (a possible salvation if the hearer adds a response of faith to the call of the Gospel (a faith produced by their unregenerated human nature)), or to render certain the salvation of specific people, namely His children, the chosen, the elect? Was it to cover all sins except unbelief or to cover all sins including unbelief (i.e. rendering certain faith and repentance)? IF our doctrine of Unconditional Election is true, stating that God, from eternity, from before the foundation of the world, chose specific individuals without regard to their future works, faith, repentance, looks, smartness, or any other thing (hence the word unconditional), but that He chose them simply because of His eternal love (to which we humbly, undeservingly, and contritely answer, “Praise God!”), then what was the intention of the death of Christ? To make salvation merely possible or to make it certain? That is what this doctrine is about. I believe John Piper is very helpful on this …
“The term ‘limited atonement’ addresses the question, ‘For whom did Christ die?’ But behind the question of the extent of the atonement lies the equally important question about the nature of the atonement. What did Christ actually achieve on the cross for those for whom he died? …
… Which of these statements is true?
1. Christ died for some of the sins of all men.
2. Christ died for all the sins of some men.
3. Christ died for all the sins of all men.
No one says that the first is true, for then all would be lost because of the sins that Christ did not die for. The only way to be saved from sin is for Christ to cover it with his blood.
The third statement is what the Arminians would say. Christ died for all the sins of all men. But then why are not all saved? They answer, Because some do not believe. But is this unbelief not one of the sins for which Christ died? If they say yes, then why is it not covered by the blood of Jesus and all unbelievers saved? If they say no (unbelief is not a sin that Christ has died for) then they must say that men can be saved without having all their sins atoned for by Jesus, or they must join us in affirming statement number two: Christ died for all the sins of some men. That is, he died for the unbelief of the elect so that God’s punitive wrath is appeased toward them and his grace is free to draw them irresistibly out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
(Taken from “What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism” – John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church Staff – This sums up what I believe pertaining to Calvinism as well)