Penal Substitution - Did Jesus Experience Our Punishment?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. JonC

    JonC
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    I have been trying to work through the idea that on the cross Jesus was paying our individual sin debt by taking upon himself our individual punishment for our individual sins. I emphasize “individual” in order to separate it from the historical church view that on the cross Jesus suffered as an atonement for human sin. I am questioning the origin surrounding our adherence of the Reformed position (here by Reformed I mean product of the Reformation, the Protestant position, as this is also a position held strongly by John Wesley) that Jesus actually took our individual punishments.

    This is expressed in many ways. In Calvinistic churches, this is probably most visible in the theological motif of the divine ledger system (were the heavenly courtroom or divine justice takes the place of the OT sacrificial system) and expressed vividly in defenses for limited atonement. In non-Calvinistic churches, this is expressed in the idea that on the cross God was separated from Christ as Jesus took upon himself our sins. Sometimes it is just left as a vague idea (e.g., every sin that I commit adds to the punishment Christ experienced on the cross).

    J.I. Packer introduced a lecture with the observation that Reformed theologians “in their zeal to show themselves rational, became rationalistic. Here as elsewhere, methodological rationalism became in the seventeenth century a worm in the Reformed bud, leading in the next two centuries to a large-scale withering of its theological flower.” His charge is that these scholars viewed God’s work of reconciliation to be “exhaustively explicable in terms of a natural theology of divine government, drawn from the world of contemporary legal and political thought.” (J.I. Packer, “The Logic of Penal Substitution,” 1973).

    What I am addressing is this worldview that places the atonement within the scheme of divine justice. I am leaning towards the idea that the theological worldview of the Reformation, heavily influenced by the RCC (in both acceptance and rejection), is the egg through which the worm has hatched. I am questioning why we come to certain conclusions (not necessarily interpretation, but commentary).

    If anyone is willing, and I understand if no one is (this is sometimes the case when dealing with tradition), I would like to discuss the issue of Jesus taking our actual punishment individually. I understand that this view is necessary in some’s interpretation of “limited atonement.” I understand the arguments from a heavenly legal courtroom perspective. What I am trying to gather is why exactly we hold this scheme when it is neither itself biblical per se, nor is it necessarily contemporary.
     
  2. JonC

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    Looking at the development of protestant penal substitution theory:

    The earliest formal theory is the ransom theory, which reflects the doctrine of the early church in terms of Christ’s atonement reflecting the OT sacrificial motif. The understanding is that Jesus died as a “ransom sacrifice” to redeem us from sin and death. An atonement is made and God’s wrath is turned. This theory developed into a few variants. Origen believed this was a payment to Satan. Others believed it was a payment to death. Cyril of Jerusalem believed it a payment to God with God’s wrath in view. The theory, however, does not need an object to receive payment as it is based on the OT sacrificial system and not a legal courtroom setting.

    Irenaeus and Justin Martyr focused on human obedience. The Atonement was interpreted in terms of Christ succeeding where Adam failed and undoing the wrong that Adam did. Instead of taking our punishment, the focus was Jesus’ perfect obedience even to death on the Cross with the reliance on the Father towards resurrection.

    Expounding on the ransom theory, Athanasius believed the that God put forth Christ to die not as fallen man’s substitute , but as man’s perfect prototype and Jesus eliminated death through His own death.

    Ansalem of Canterbury, an early eleventh century theologian, developed from the ransom theory what has become the foundation of reformed atonement theories. He objected to what the ransom theory had become, that is the idea that a ransom was actually paid to Satan (remember, this was not necessarily original to the theory). Ansalem determined that the atonement was a debt paid on the behalf of sinners. Jesus’ death was substitutionary as he paid honors to the Father in our stead because when honor is taken it must be repaid to avoid punishment.

    A couple of centuries later Thomas Aquinas determined that one man can justly take punishment for another if the offender is willing. He concluded that punishment is the moral response to sin and therefore Christ bore a punishment for our sin. Aquinas draws on Christ’s merit as Jesus does penance for us. Thus far, while the theme that Christ was a substitute for us has been fairly consistent in history, the idea that the punishment of the cross was our punishment vicariously exhausted on the Son is foreign to the Church.

    A few centuries later Calvin rejected the need to condign merit, and sought to rework satisfaction theory. His solution is that the price paid on the cross is not a general penalty for human sins (the historical definition of Christ “condemning sin in the flesh”) but a specific penalty owed by a specific people individually. Calvin altered Aquinas’ idea of divine penance and changed it to the idea of satisfying divine wrath. Justice demands that God is unwilling or unable to forgive sins without requiring a satisfaction for it. Christ is our substitute, taking on our punishment and satisfying God’s wrath against us.

    Historically, I understand how Calvin came to his conclusions. But we are not in his shoes. I do not understand why we automatically divert to reformed catholic doctrine as an explanation of the atonement, or why we find it necessary to view the atonement through a sixteenth century or contemporary lens rather than a first century lens (or at least try). Why do we take for granted Calvin’s conclusions (even John Wesley strongly held to Calvin’s interpretation here) when centuries of Church history did not?
     
  3. evangelist6589

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    Do we know you? Your name is that of another user here.
     
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  4. JonC

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    I was reincarnated.

    I couldn't get into my old account, so I started a new one. You know me.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. agedman

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    Personally, I bantered with myself and a select few on the "limited atonement" question for a number of years. Eventually, it was all resolved with how one takes the matters of these items:
    1) The OT is a picture that portrays the atonement sacrifice as forward looking.
    2) In the OT sacrifice the purity and innocence of the sacrifice was extremely specific, as well as the placement of the blood. Not just the blood letting, but the sprinkling had to take place, too.
    3) Turning to John's writing, there are expressions of hyperbole, and expressions of fact.
    4) Hyperbole (unless I am mistaken) only occurs as used by the religious righteous who are self scheming and motivated.
    5) No hyperbole is expressed by Christ in any of John's writing. Luke, Mark and Matthew have Christ saying words as a comparison of loving Him to the point of hating mothers and fathers; however, I view that as not using hyperbole either, but again a statement of comparison.
    6) The places in John's writing, in which he records that the cross was the "propitiation," is placing propitiation in terms (imo) that are very specific to the blood and the atonement application of blood upon the mercy seat.
    7) There was never a "payment due" other than the wages of sin. So there was never some payment made of obligation either to the enemy of believers or to the God of Heaven.
    8) The atonement blood was not "limited" but complete, or sin would condemn one to the Lake of Fire and not unbelief.
    9) All die, that is the wages of sin, and AFTER that the judgment. Those who do not believe are condemned ALREADY, and those that believe are not condemned.
    10) The NT presents that Christ is given by the Father those who shall believe. THAT is what is limited, not the atonement, but those given to believe.
    11) The blood is not applied over and over for each person who "accepts" or scrubbed off for each that "rejects" as some in both camps must conclude. But just as the OT, the blood was once offered.​

    Now the question must be resolved, how is it that the Father makes that choice of who is or is not to be His? Again, reliance upon John is crucial. For throughout John's Gospel, he is using pictures of contrast. That is one of the major elements of distinguishable character in his writing. He carries that same element into much of what he is about in the three letters, but not the Revelation (imo).

    In the book of John, he opens with the the Light. That the Light is shown to all. That the light is rejected by most. BUT, those that do not turn away from the light, who embrace, and accept the light it is to them that God gives the power to become His own. It is nothing of merit or work on any humankind, but the fact that a person basks in the light as one would without covering or shading bask on a beach. ALL have are given such light, but most purposely and actively turn away. Other places in John specify why they do turn away.

    So, I (though understanding the typical teaching) reject BOTH sides of the argument of limited atonement - be it arminian or calvin based. They both place the emphasis on the blood rather than the rejection of man which caused the need for atonement at Eden.

    How does such a view of atonement fit in with the typical Docrines of Grace? Far better than what I consider Calvin and other have taught. For it is based upon taking a more literal approach to the rendering of Scriptures.
     
  6. JonC

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    You have covered a lot of ground, so I may have missed something. But I believe that I agree with you, insofar as I can tell, completely.

    At one time I would have considered myself Reformational/Classical Arminian. I moved towards Calvinism because of certain truths of scripture, but I have realized that Calvinism and Arminianism share a deep theological kinship. Calvin’s rework of Aquinas’ theory of atonement is one error that transcends their division. I don't think many realize just how far their model is from the OT sacrificial theme and from the first thousand years of Church theology. But the Doctrines of Grace do fit better when we allow Scripture to define our terms.

    I realized that the doctrines that drew me to Calvinism (the doctrines of grace) were not actually at home within the system. I can tell you my favorite word when I considered myself Reformed was "mystery" (said with a great sense of awe). When I started questioning the judicial view and started looking at the atonement by allowing Scripture explain the terms, much of that "mystery" changed to understanding as revealed in God's Word.
     
  7. Martin Marprelate

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    I wrote this on one of the open forums earlier today when I was challenged to find anything from the Church fathers on Substitutionary Atonement:

    I could offer you Justin Martyr, Eusebius, Hilary of Poitiers, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus and quite a few more.
    Here is Eusebius of Caesarea, just because his quote is short. From Proof of the Gospel, vol. 2:
    I am no great fan of the Church Fathers, and would not normally use them were it not for this myth going about that Penal Substitution was invented by Anselm. If you'd like a few more I can certainly provide them along with plenty of Scriptural evidence.

    There is an excellent book on the subject, Pierced for our Trangressions: Recovering the Glory of Penal Substitution by Steve Jeffrey, Mike Ovey and Andrew Sach, IVP Books, 2007 (ISBN: 978-1-84474-178-6). It has a foreword by John Piper and is endorsed by many other well-known evangelicals (Jim Packer, Don Carson, Mark Dever, Sinclair Ferguson et al.). I think anyone who reads it will find it entirely convincing.
     
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  8. Martin Marprelate

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    I also like the beautiful references to substitution in the Epistle to Diognetus. Although the word 'ransom' is used, substitution is very clear and there is even a reference to Luther's 'Great Exchange.'
     
  9. agedman

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    There is not an either or position.

    One may subscribe to what Isaiah states ("...wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities...") yet hold to the comments on the thread in the recent posts.

    Imo, there has been a great over exuberance to appeal to emotionalism as to the physical suffering without regard to that same suffering or more was not only typical of that Roman death sentence but of other modes by governments to put to death before and after the Cross. The suffering in itself is not special other than to whom it was done.

    That is what Isaiah is clearly stating by saying that the people viewed the suffering as appointed by God, and not human generated evil.

    It is very important to remember that the lamb of the OT sacrificed was "pierced" and blood gathered for the mercy seat. The lamb wasn't beaten, wasn't bruised, wasn't deformed with the vision marred or bones out of joint. The lamb was pierced, so was the Lord Jesus Christ. The blood was shed and sprinkled before the Father.
     
  10. JonC

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    I am familiar with the “myth of the myth” theory. For quite some time my goal was to work towards a PhD in church history. I love the topic. Unfortunately, too many take for granted what is easily disproved.

    I agree that it is poor scholarship to attribute penal substitution to Anselm. In truth, I am unaware of any scholar who has done so, but you are right that Anselm did not invent penal substitution theory.

    Anselm, like the centuries of scholars before him, did not look upon Christ as taking our punishment. Anselm viewed mankind as taking from God a sense of honor which must be restored or God’s wrath visited upon men. He believed that men could not render to God more than what was due to him, and the satisfaction due God is greater than all created beings are capable of doing. God therefore had to make satisfaction for himself. In Anselm’s view, Christ’s death is substitutional but that substitution is not penal. I am actually amazed that people publish books assuming otherwise when we have overwhelming evidence of Anselm’s teachings (I suppose it sells, and most are not going to bother to read Anselm, Aquinas, Calvin, etc. on the topic….in general we are too lazy for that when we can get our theology handed to us).

    Even Thomas Aquinas (pretty much the last link towards Calvin’s theory) refuses to go as far as penal substitution (divine penance may seem close, but when you understand the consequences involved in that wrath actually being punishment for our sin the divide is of eternal significance). But substitution, and even penal aspects in terms of Aquinas, does not make "penal substitution theory."

    Perhaps you would do better to develop an appreciation of the Early Church Fathers instead of strawmen authors, even if they are endorsed by well known evangelicals. Penal Substitution does not mean merely that Jesus died in our place.

    Penal Substitution states that Christ bore the penalty for our sin in place of those sinners who are by faith redeemed. Can you name a theologian before the fifteenth century that even suggested Jesus bore the penalty for our sins (our punishment)?
     
  11. JonC

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    Oh….reading my post I need to point out something. The first part sounds to me arrogant, and I apologize if it is perceived that way as it was not my intent. What I mean to convey is that I love the topic of Church history, I wanted to make a career within the topic, and I find the development of theology throughout the centuries both enlightening and fascinating. My goal was to pursue post-graduate work but time and money ran out. I am under no delusion of having some sort of enlightenment or above average intellegence (hence my distrust of “truths” based on human reasoning merely supplemented with scripture…when it comes to doctrine I am a bit more “sola scriptura” than some would allow). And thankfully, lest I should forget my place, God gave me a wonderful wife to remind me of my flaws.
     
  12. Iconoclast

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    agedman
    I am not sure I understand how you mean this. If we are bought with a price it suggests a payment was in fact due. The word redemption has to do with
    NOUN
    1. the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil:
      "God's plans for the redemption of his world"
      synonyms: saving · freeing from sin · absolution
      • a thing that saves someone from error or evil:
        "his marginalization from the Hollywood jungle proved to be his redemption"
    2. the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.
    20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.


    If you are going to enter into a discussion on this topic......for clarity's sake you should not use theological terms in such a loose fashion .
    What I mean is theologically "limited" is not saying that the shedding of the blood on the cross was in anyway limited or in any way defective. It is a once for all time perfect work, 100 effective for those it was intended to redeem, save, secure, atone for.
    Everyone limits the atonement. It is just a question of if we follow the biblical teaching or not.

    The limit is on the extent of the atonement. It was not intended for everyone.
    It was intended for a multitude given by the Father to the Son.
    This is the point of contention. What does the biblical evidence teach.


    http://www.the-highway.com/atonement_Woodruff.html

    http://thirdmill.org/newfiles/cha_bronson/cha_bronson.Extent.Atonement2.pdf

    All those elected will at a point in time believe. The way you have worded this is vague. Christ is given all who He is to be mediator and surety for. There is no qualification before hand that He is given...{Those who shall Believe}...as if some will believe in and of them selves. This is nowhere found in scripture.
    Those given to the Son...were given while sinners...romans 5:8
    8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

    10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

    Sounds like error is on the way ...right here...

    This is going down the wrong path.....
    5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
    It does not say most rejected it here...It says the darkness comprehended it NOT.
    NO...this is full blown error.
    10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

    11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    The world received Him NOT
    His own received Him NOT......

    That is everyone.......

    The only reason anyone receives any truth is God himself enables the person.

    12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

    13 Which were born,

    not of blood,
    nor of the will of the flesh,
    nor of the will of man,

    but of God.

    This could not be clearer...vs 12 takes place not because any man turns in the strength of his own flesh, or his own fallen will...never ...it does not happen.....if anyone turns it is;
    BUT OF GOD




    .
    [/QUOTE]

    Sorry, this false idea suggests man is not fallen but a blank slate with full ability and can not get it done.
     
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  13. JonC

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    Hey Icon – it’s been awhile.
    I’m going to butt in a moment because this is exactly what I was speaking of.

    No, actually being bought with a price does not suggest a payment was in fact due. This was one thing that stood out when looking at pre-Reformation atonement theories. The ransom theory in general viewed a purchase but not an object to receive payment. Some held a more specific view, a purchase from Satan, or death, or God. But the point is it was always within the OT sacrificial system. It was a purchase, not a debt payment. It would be an error to assume the purchase to be our sin debt. Going forward, Anslem taught we were purchased in terms of making satisfaction, but it was still not a debt paid in the form of penal substitution. Aquinas taught it was a payment in the form of penance, but not a payment due. It is not until Calvin that we get the notion that the purchase price was the payment due. You are not looking at scripture within its own context.

    Again, you have left scripture behind and ventured into explanation. You are examining the issue within a sixteenth century worldview, not a biblical one. The rest of the post continues in this mode. “Everyone limits the atonement” is a false statement because everyone does not use the judicial system motif to understand the atonement. Many use the OT sacrificial system and view it as foreshadowing our redemption. The scope of the atonement is primarily a discussion between Reformed kindred – Calvinists and Arminianians. In reality, the scope of the atonement does not have anything to do with men. Biblically, it is the Father offering the Son as a guilt offering for humanity, and the Son laying down his own life and bearing sin in the flesh for humanity. It isn’t “God atoned for these sins, or these people, and not these sins or these people.” That misses the who meaning of atonement.

    Have you ever wondered why you cannot say that God forgives men in the normal sense of the word? You can say that divine justice has to be satisfied, so on the cross God demanded payment in full for those being saved, and Jesus paid that debt in full. Then and only then, with payment received, did God forgive our debt. Yet the meaning of forgiveness is to pardon a debt, to dismiss what is legitimately owed. This is not what God does within the Reformed scheme.

    Have you ever noticed the hoops that are there when you start defending the idea that Jesus suffered our punishment for our sin? Our punishment is the spiritual death, the second death (the future judgment when death and Hades is cast into Hell). You, however, say that this is what Jesus suffered. He died spiritually. Separated from God. But all of scripture cries out against this….Jesus is God. What the Bible says about the nature of God it says about Jesus. Here’s where most just cry out “mystery!” But it’s no mystery. You’ve ripped out the atonement, brought it into a sixteenth century worldview, and worked out a theology around it.

    I don’t know if agedman takes this to be a blank slate, and I don’t intend to speak for him. But his statement is correct and does not mean a blank slate at all. The doctrines of grace are more intact within scripture than they are within the false dichotomy between God the Father and God the Son that the Reformation created.

    Agedman and I may disagree here, but all have been given such light (John is very clear on that point). But all reject Christ because we are fallen men. God, however, draws some to himself. For my part, while I reject TULIP I do affirm the Five Points of Calvinism (as expressed at the Synod of Dort) so we do have quite a bit in common. But your conclusion here is not out of scripture but your own presuppositions and what you theology has read into scripture.

    You will find nowhere in the Bible a passage stating that Jesus experienced our punishment for our individual Sin/sins on the cross. You can’t say that it is “implied” because it is also absent from church doctrine for centuries.




     
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  14. Martin Marprelate

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    I'm not sure why you think that I need the authority of the Church of Rome for my theological views. If these men were in possession of anything like the full truth, there would have been no need for the Reformation.

    However, since you seem to be a Thomas Aquinas fan, here he is from his from his Summa Theologiae:
    I can probably dig out another quote or two if you want them. However, 'To the law and to the Testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.' The question is, does the word of God teach Penal Substitution? The answer is yes, and I will see if I can put a post together over the next few days to prove it, unless someone more able than I, and with more time, would like to do it.
     
  15. Martin Marprelate

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    Since the authors of the book are British, you may be pardoned for not knowing of them (what is a 'strawman author'?). Mike Ovey is the Principal of Oak Hill Theological College, one of the leading evangelical institutions in the country. The others are two of his PhD students who are now in pastoral ministry. Since you were so eager to let us know of your qualifications, perhaps this will be of interest to you.

    My experience of the Church Fathers, limited as it is, has shown me that it is possible to find almost any doctrine somewhere within them if one looks hard enough.
     
  16. JonC

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    I'm actually asking why you allow Rome & the Reformation to dictate your view. That's why I am showing you how penal substitution evolved. It is not the view of the early church but a modification of RCC doctrine.


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  17. Martin Marprelate

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    Well I have given you two ECFs and Thomas Aquinas. What more do you want?
    You seem to keep shifting your ground. Penal Substitution is a Biblical doctrine (which is all that really matters). It was known and written of in the early Church and all through Church History until it reached its fullest form at and after the Reformation.
    BTW, Doctrines do not evolve; they develop, though not always for the better.
     
  18. JonC

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    A reference where they actually denounce what they had taught and stated a penal substitution belief would do. You can't say they were close enough. Even Aquinas falls short of penal sub. Can you even provide one quote of actual penal sub.?

    (Sorry for the abbreviations - I'm in a blind and will get back to this later )


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  19. Martin Marprelate

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    You asked me:
    You have had quotations from the writer to Diognetus, Eusebius and Aquinas.
    Each of these do more than 'suggest' it- they proclaim it! . '......for as man was unable to make sufficient satisfaction through any punishment he himself might suffer, God gave him One who would satisfy for him.'

    I am not saying that these men had the doctrine as fully as the Reformers and Puritans- that is why we had a Reformation- but Substitutionary Atonement was alive and reasonably well all through Church History.
     
  20. JonC

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    Brother, no one is denying substitutionary atonement. Heck, no one is even denying that Jesus suffered for us to purchase with his own blood. But this is not penal substitution. That little difference you speak of (the notion that on the cross Jesus suffered our punishment) is a huge difference. It is a redefinition. Until Calvin the atonement was seen as a guilt offering which bought us in some form. Through all the theories this remained. a propitiation, an atonement - not a purchase in terms of paying our sin debt by taking on our punishment.

    And no, that is not why we had the Reformation. Churches throughout history have rejected not only the RCC view but also the Reformed modification of that view. We need to be a bit more honest. It is one thing to say your view is right. It is another to say it is biblical and has existed in some undeveloped form all along. Penal Substitution is not seen before the sixteenth century, and it is an arrogant error to suggest the Church held the view just undeveloped. The closest is Aquinas, but his actual position denies penal substitution atonement. Augustine's position denies penal sub. Cyril of Jerusalem's position denies penal sub. Every theory before Calvin denies penal sub. You can't simply denounce the fact that penal substitution did not exist for over a thousand years by saying substitutionary aspects did. That is a poorly played shell game and it's dishonest.


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