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Featured 5 Biblical Corrections to Penal Substitution

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Arthur King, Jun 19, 2023.

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  1. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Amen.

    I'll add that nobody actually believes Christ became literal sin (even those who argue against using "sin" to mean "sin offering" provide a less than exact meaning for the word).

    And it really does not matter in terms of the argument at hand.
     
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  2. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    1) My argument is simply that "with" excludes "instead of." So the consistent and repeated statements of us dying with Christ, and participating in his death, exclude "instead of." Substitution is just not an accurate word to summarize the biblical data.

    Many penal substitution advocates want to emphasize substitution out of an effort to avoid works-righteousness, that is, the idea that we can earn or achieve our salvation by our own good works. Emphasizing that Jesus has won our salvation for us in our place guards against this notion of self-attained works righteousness, so they say. But the problem is, when Paul argues against works-righteousness, he does not appeal to substitutionary language. He says that fellowship in Christ’s sufferings and conformity to Christ’s death is the key to avoiding works righteousness. Look at what he says in Philippians 3:

    If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

    But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.


    Again, what Paul is describing here is simply not substitution. Rather, we are called to suffer the loss of all things, so that we may have fellowship with His sufferings and conformity to His death. It is appropriate to call Jesus our forerunner, in that he dies first the death that he calls us to die, but that is very different than a substitute.

    2) Regarding the words of Caiaphas, John's commentary says that Caiaphas words describe two impacts of Jesus' death, one historical and the other spiritual. Historically, Jesus' death and resurrection proved Jesus' words and prophesies to be true, and so Christians fled the city when they saw the Romans coming and were spared the ghastly treatment that Jerusalem received (see Josephus). So yes, Jesus died at the hands of the Romans but the Christians, as far as the Roman armies go, did not. But spiritually, John says that Jesus' death would also gather the nations into one people. Point being that neither of these impacts support the soteriological claims of penal substitution.
     
  3. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    There are some pretty wild claims in line with the phrase of Jesus "becoming sin." Televangelist Benny Hinn actually says that Christ “became the nature of Satan”:

    “He [Jesus] who is righteous by choice said, ‘The only way I can stop sin is by me becoming it. I can’t just stop it by letting it touch me; I and it must become one.’ Hear this! He who is the nature of God became the nature of Satan when he became sin!”

    And prosperity-preacher Kenneth Copeland agrees that Christ “accepted the nature of Satan”:

    “The righteousness of God was made to be sin. He accepted the sin nature of Satan in His own spirit. And at the moment that He did so, He cried, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’
     
  4. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    Propitiation means wrath reversal or wrath aversion. It means that a punishment currently implemented is reversed/alleviated, or that a future punishment that is threatened is averted. The reason the wrath is reversed is because something has happened so that there is no longer a purpose for the wrath. For example, if I crash into your car and do $1,000 of damage, you will be angry. Your anger threatens me with punishment unless I do certain things, namely pay you restitution and apologize. So when I tell you my insurance company will pay you $5,000 and tell you that I will drive better in the future, your anger will be gone. You will be propitiated. There is no longer a purpose for the wrath because resources were provided to fix what was broken.

    But penalty substitution demands a different definition and different mechanism regarding propitiation. Penalty substitution defines propitiation as “wrath exhaustion via displacement.” This means that the threatened wrath must be exhausted either on the offender or a substitute standing in for the offender. On penalty substitution, it is not enough for the anger to simply be averted. The anger must be vented. It must be carried out, or there is an injustice. Punishment must be carried out for punishment’s sake. It would be as if I came to you with $2,500 to fix your car and you said, “Nope, call up the insurance company and have them instead provide me with a car of equal worth to my own, that I can do $1,000 worth of damage to. I need to exhaust my retributive anger, and justice will not be satisfied until my anger is exhausted. Only then will I be propitiated.” This is ridiculous, but it is exactly how the penalty substitution advocate understands the cross. God has wrath against humanity because our sin has damaged His infinite worth, and His wrath must be satisfied either on us or on Jesus to an infinite degree. Jesus stands in place of humanity and suffers his wrath, exhausting it via displacement, thus achieving propitiation. But this mechanism of wrath displacement is nowhere in Scripture.
     
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  5. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    I quoted what he cited to support his argument. I embolden what Jesus did.
     
  6. DaveXR650

    DaveXR650 Well-Known Member

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    Authur. It's scripture that sets up God's holiness and wrath ful attitude about sin. The fact is it can't be fixed in any way we can understand. The whole point I think, is that Jesus is uniquely qualified to bear our sin in a way that satisfies the wrath sin justly deserves. The Father can be just and still forgive by His standards. And this is real. Not just to demonstrate something, although it does do that too.

    Using terms like displacement from psychology I would not recommend. If you and Jon can get through Romans and Hebrews and not see penal substitution there is nothing I can say.

    One question. Is there a movement or denomination or seminary responsible for this? I'm having trouble finding where this is coming from. I need names. Just please don't say Torrance or Barth.
     
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  7. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Wow....that's out there.

    I've seen (several times) Christians claim that God looked upon Christ on the cross as the vilest of sinners.

    I guess Hinn and Copeland took it one more step. It's crazy....but to their credit at least they maintained the integrity of the Father (they didn't say the Father looked upon His Son as if He were a sinner).

    That is the problem when we get away from Scripture. The extra-biblical narrative just gets worse as people try to fill in errors with more error.
     
  8. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    In the Sin offerings we see Him receiving the judgment due our sins.
    Paul didn't say Christ suffered a curse with us. He said He became a curse for us.
     
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  9. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Dave,

    I think you are taking penal and substitution as aspects as if it was Penal Substitution.

    I know where you are coming from because most of my life I believed Penal Substitution. I also read it throughout the Bible.

    I also had difficulty understanding how the Early Church held their views, missing Penal Substitution all together when I saw it all over God's Word.

    But it s really not in the text of Scripture.

    You say God's wrath is against sins. I say God's wrath is against the sinner. There is a gulf between you and I on this point.

    There is a movement responsible for the view against Penal Substitution. It is Christianity prior to the 16th century. Even prior to this time there were different views, but Penal Substitution was not one of them (the mode of substitution, the type and origin of punishment were different than Penal Substitution allows).


    You never did answer my question.

    If we die physically then what part of Jesus' death (physical death) do you believe necessary for our salvation?
     
  10. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Yes. Became a curse for us, shared in our infirmity.

    Where does Scripture say Jesus became a curse instead of us becoming a curse, or dying instead of us dying?
     
  11. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    No. Became a curse. Received our judgement.

    In the very passage you're wresting.
     
  12. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I understand your argument. I simply disagree with it. Isaiah 53:5-6 seems to demolish it. 'The chastisement [NIV, ESV: 'punishment'] that brought us peace was upon Him' et cetera. He was chastised or punished, and we weren't. Again, 1 Peter 2:24. 'Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree......' The emphasis 'He Himself,' hos ....autos, shows that it was He alone who bore our sins. As I have said earlier, it is through our union with Christ, that His righteousness becomes ours and our sinfulness is laid upon Him.
    With respect, I think you are waffling here. John 11:49-50. 'and one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for [Gk. huper] the people, and not that the whole nation should perish."' Christ should die, the nation should not. He dies instead of the nation. The word 'for,' when it means 'on behalf of,' usually contains the meaning of 'instead of.' For example:

    I write a letter for you. I write it on your behalf. I write it, you don't. I write it instead of you.
    I pay a debt for you. I pay it on your behalf. I pay it, you don't. I pay it instead of you.
    Christ dies for you. He dies on your behalf. He dies, you don't. He dies instead of you. I
     
  13. DaveXR650

    DaveXR650 Well-Known Member

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    Jon. I do not say that God's wrath is not against the sinner. Those who do not repent and believe are still under wrath personally. The sense of God's wrath being against sin and not the sinner is just a way of saying that God has a way to save us from his wrath because of his love for us and yet not compromise his justice against sin. This is exactly where heavy duty theologians get off into the weeds. That is because this does not look like a plan designed by men. The way God looks at guilt and the ideas of imputation and union with Christ are very difficult for sure. Which is why an understanding of all this is not mentioned as a requirement for salvation. A denial of it after much study I would be concerned about though.

    Jesus death is necessary for our salvation. If you can't come along that far you are involved in a different faith. And yes. Penal substitution is made up of the aspects of penal substitution.

    Apparently there is no real active group of reformed or evangelical Christians who are doing this. I don't see where this was unknown before 1600 but we've been over that. Would someone please show me a website or list a church that does what you guys are doing to penal substitution? And don't tell me penal substitution is a minority position. I concede that that is true but it's also true that the Roman Catholic,Eastern Orthodox,Coptic and most mainline protestants are apostate or moving in that direction.
     
  14. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    1) See my previous post on sin offerings and the sacrificial system. A sin offering is a ritual in which sinners slay an unblemished sacrifice, and then the innocent shed blood purifies the offerer from sin. Just as the cross is an event in which sinners slay the innocent Jesus, and then his innocent shed blood purifies sinners.

    2) What do you think Daniel 9:11 means? “Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.”

    And what do you think Isaiah 51:17 means, when the prophet says to Jerusalem, “Arise, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk from the LORD’S hand the cup of His anger; The chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs.” Did Israel drink the cup of God's anger down to the dregs, yes or no?

    And what do you think Jeremiah 44:22 means, "So the Lord was no longer able to endure it, because of the evil of your deeds, because of the abominations which you have committed; thus your land has become a ruin, an object of horror and a curse, without an inhabitant, as it is this day." Did Judah's land become a curse, yes or no?

    And what do you think Zechariah 8:13 means "It will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing. Do not fear; let your hands be strong." Was Israel a curse among the nations, yes or no?

    Clearly, Israel became a curse, suffered the curse, was under the curse. So when Jesus becomes a curse, does he become a curse along with Israel, or does he become a curse instead of Israel, in her place, so she never has to suffer the curse?

    The narrative of Galatians 3 is this: God wants to demonstrate His righteousness by blessing all nations through Israel, but the curse stands in the way. Paul identifies the righteousness of God mainly with the blessing, not the curse. The question of God’s righteousness is “How is God’s blessing going to flow from Israel to the rest of the nations, given that Israel is wicked and under a curse?” God’s punishment upon Israel, though just and necessary, is becoming an obstacle to the demonstration of His justice in keeping His promise to bless all nations through Israel. Jesus’ death demonstrates God’s righteousness in that his death removes the curse by redeeming Israel from the curse, so that the blessing can flow from Israel to the Gentiles.
     
  15. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    1) Isaiah 53 is clearly not substitutionary. Look at the state of those for whom the Servant suffers:

    We are "grieved" and "in sorrow" (v.4)
    We are in "transgression" and "iniquity" (v.5)
    We lack "peace/well-being" and we are "wounded" (v.5)
    We have "gone astray" and "turned to our own way" (v.6)

    When the Servant poured himself out to death, he was numbered "WITH the transgressors" not INSTEAD of the transgressors. Again, the Bible does not see us sinners as having transgressed but yet unpunished. We are already dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-10). Jesus can't die in place of people who are already dead. Since Genesis 3, humanity is exiled from Paradise and the Presence of God, spiritually dead, consigned to physical death and suffering God's judgments. Paul says we are "children of wrath," meaning we are born into a world that is already under his judgments.

    The logic of Isaiah 53 is not "by his wounds we avoid being wounded" but "by his wounds we are healed from our wounds." We are already wounded and in need of healing—dead and in need of resurrection. Penal substitution does not take our plight seriously enough.

    2) I agree Caiaphas' statement applies "for" in a substitutionary way here, but that substitution does not refer to eternal salvation. That refers to the historical fact that Christians were saved from destruction by the Romans. Jesus died under the Romans, and many Christians did not, because they listened to Jesus' words and fled for the hills.

    I agree that "for" can be used to refer to substitution, obviously. But not in conjunction with "WITH." The NT talks about us dying with Christ over and over and over again. Furthermore, it describes the state of humanity as already dead, and already under God's wrath (Romans 1, Ephesians 2). Lastly, I think the penitent thief crucified next to/with Jesus is a type for all believers. And his logic is not "in my place condemned he stood," but "we are under the same sentence of condemnation, me justly and Jesus unjustly." That is the exact logic I am defending.
     
  16. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Comments on the OP:
    1) " Problem: deserving wrath / Solution: avoiding wrath "
    Here the idea is that the consequence imposed by God for failure to think and act according to God's will is (a) separation from God - thus "dead in sin" and (b) obtaining a "sin burden" - what God holds against the individual thus incurring divine punishment.

    But I do agree with the "corrected view" of "Problem: dead in sin / Solution: resurrection in Christ.
    Here the idea is that when God transfers an individual from the domain of darkness (in Adam) into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son (in Christ) the individual is made alive (no longer dead in sin) together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5) and having undergone the "washing of regeneration" which makes the person alive and removes the "sin burden" resulting in those born anew being holy blameless and forgiven.

    2) Jesus death was unjust and this was corrected by His resurrection. I disagree. Jesus was treated unjustly, but His sacrifice, the just for the unjust, was according to God's plan just plan as God is never unjust.

    3) The problem with Penal Substitution is that it limits Christ's provision of the means of salvation to preselected individuals, rather than Christ provides the means of salvation for all of humanity, the whole world. 1 John 2:2

    4) Jesus bought everyone, those to be saved and those never to be saved (2 Peter 2:1) such that He became the means of salvation for everyone, but only those God transfers into Him spiritually receive the reconciliation He provides.

    5) Christ's substitutionary death provided justification to life for all humanity, Romans 5:18. Or justification for life from death to all humanity, thus providing the opportunity for all, and the actuality for those who receive the reconciliation.
     
  17. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    -It seems like on (2) you are saying that God cannot ordain an event in which an injustice takes place. Is that what you are saying? That if we want to affirm God's sovereignty, then we cannot say any act is unjust?
     
  18. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    The sin offering is a ritual in which the sins of the penitent are laid on the head of the sacrifice, and the sins are judged in the body of the offering, and not in the penitent, for whom the offering is a substitute.

    Just as the Cross is the event in which God offered His Son for our sakes, and placed our sins on His head, and judged them in His body, and not in us, for whom the Son is a substitute.

    Wow. Not even close.

    But it doesn't matter. According to the very law Paul used to make his point, the tree is a penalty.
     
  19. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    This is how the sacrificial system works:

    When a person sins, he becomes corrupt, and he therefore threatens to pollute the surrounding community and environment with his corruption (In a sense, he becomes dead, and therefore threatens to pollute the community with death). There are two options to get rid of the corruption: (1) cut off the corrupt person from the community through exile or execution, or (2) purify the person from corruption. The agent of purification given by God is the shed blood of an innocent sacrifice. There is something about the innocent blood that reverses, cleanses, heals, covers over, purifies or undoes the corruption in God’s creation. This is why the priests would sprinkle all of the holy objects with blood in order to purify them. As Jewish scholar Robert Alter says, “blood has a purifying function, serving as what Jacob Milgrom calls a “spiritual detergent.” (The Five Books of Moses. P.778) In fact some scholars vigorously argue that the offering generally designated as a “Sin Offering” in English translations is better translated “Purification Offering.”(The Five Books of Moses. P.556, IVP Old Testament Commentary). It is important to realize that after an offerer would slay his sacrifice, he would be completely covered in blood. If blood is a purifying agent for corruption, that corruption would definitely be washed away!

    The sacrifice does NOT suffer the wrath of God in place of the offerer as a substitute. Furthermore, God’s motives for carrying out His wrath or restraining His wrath are different. In the Bible, God’s motive for exercising wrath is to purify and protect His good creation, not simply to carry out a legal duty to punish, or defend His honor. His goal is to “destroy those who destroy the earth (Rev 11:18)” in order to protect the earth and its inhabitants. God’s reason for withholding wrath from the offerer is not that He has exhausted His wrath on a substitute, but that the corruption His wrath would eliminate has been purified, and so His wrath is no longer necessary. The offerer’s avoidance of wrath is secondary to the offerer’s transition from a state of corruption to purification, and by analogy, from a state of death to a state of resurrection.

    Furthermore, if a ritual sacrifice was supposed to communicate vicarious punishment, we might expect that the priest or another third party, as representative of God’s justice, would be the one to slay the sacrifice to demonstrate God’s wrath punishing the animal instead of the sinner. But this is not what happens. It is always the sinner himself that slays the sacrifice, before the anointed priest sprinkles the blood and arranges the pieces.

    In every sacrifice, the offerers/sinners slay the sacrifice. Take a look at the list:

    In a Burnt Offering (Lev 1:5, 1:11) the sinner slays the sacrifice.

    In a Peace Offering (Lev 3:2, 3:4, 3:13) the sinner slays the sacrifice.

    In a Sin Offering (Lev 4:4, 4:14, 4:24, 4:29, 4:33) the sinner slays the sacrifice.

    In a Guilt Offering (Lev 7:2) the sinners slays the sacrifice.

    On the Day of Atonement, the sinners (represented in the priest) slay the sacrifice.

    In the Ordinance of the Red Heifer (Num 19:3) the sinners slay the sacrifice.

    In the Passover (Ex 12:6), the sinners slay the sacrifice.

    In the Declaration of Innocence (Deut 21:4) the elders who could be charged with sin slay the sacrifice.

    That is 15 examples - a lot of data, representing nearly every sacrifice. There is a clear pattern here. The priest only slays the animal if it is a corporate sacrifice, in which he sums up the congregation in himself; he is the community of sinners. And he only does this after slaying a sacrifice for his own sins. The priest slays the animal as a representative of sinners in need of redemption, not as a representative of the one offended by sin or of the justice system.

    As N.T. Wright notes, “the old idea of sin being transferred to the sacrificial animal seems not to work either; sacrificial animals had to be pure, and the one time that sins are clearly placed on an animal’s head the animal in question (the second goat on the Day of Atonement) is not sacrificed, but driven off into the wilderness. (N.T. Wright. The New Testament and the People of God. P.274.)

    Regarding Galatians 3: Yes, the tree is a penalty, but the question is whether or not (1) Jesus suffers the penalty justly or unjustly and (2) whether or not Jesus suffers it in humanity/Israel's place as a substitute so they don't have to suffer it.
     
  20. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    But.....It doesn't.

    Often it is better to read rather than wrestle with Scripture.

    Read God's Word. Take Him at His Word. Wrestle with your own understanding and bend that to Scripture (not the other way around).
     
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