09 May 2007

Thinking about Penal Substitutionary Atonement

I've not blogged about all the controversies that have been happening recently around the subject of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA). I have, however, been having some rather lengthy conversations on the 'Ship of Fools' Christian discussion board with individuals who support PSA.

As a result of these conversations, I have developed a theory about one central point of disagreement between supportors of PSA and non-supporters of PSA. I throw it open here for any comment anyone might want to make. (And I speak as a non-supporter of PSA.)

I think that one of the central points of controversy is whether forgiving a wrongdoing actually names the wrongdoing as wrong. I say that it does; PSA supporters seem to say that it does not. A related point of controvery from the other direction is whether a wrongdoing needs to receive a punishment in order to be ontologically 'wrong'. PSA supporters seem to think that 'without punishment, wrongdoing has not been named.' I disagree.


crystal said...

PSA means that Jesus is punished by Gos in place of us?

I don't like atonement at all.

I read that Dr. Jeffrey John's Holy Week sermon about atonement - that it was a sacrifice by God, not to God, drew a lot of heat - link

Interesting subject :-)

PamBG said...

Crystal, yes it drew a lot of heat. About 2 years ago a moderate Baptist minister named Steve Chalke wrote a book for the "person in the pew" which was essentially about the idea that "Christianity isn't just about private religion" In it, Chalke also criticised the expression of "The Gospel" as being "The Son had to die in order to satisfy the Father's wrath". This book drew a lot of attention and disagreement in evangelical circles and the Jeffrey John talk seemed to have stirred things up again. I thought John's talk was quite moderate. It wasn't a sermon per se; it was given on the Radio in a programme called "Thought for the Day". It's generated quite a lot of attention here in the UK.

Beyond Words said...

i'm with you, Pam. I think we are the ones demanding punishment, not God. Maybe we're confusing punishment with judgment of those who don't repent. But God is quick to forgive. When someone comes to us for forgiveness, do we punish them? We all need discipline, but is that the same as wrath and punishment? I don't think so.