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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. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    Here are quotations from theologians throughout history, from Augustine to CS Lewis, describing the atonement in biblically faithful terms that are contrary to penal substitution. Notice how they properly build their atonement mechanisms around the injustice of Jesus' death:

    Augustine states that the cross is where the devil lost his right of death over humanity because he unjustly killed the Son of God in whom there was no sin:

    -It is not then difficult to see that the devil was conquered, when he who was slain by Him rose again. It is something more, and more profound of comprehension, to see that the devil was conquered when he thought himself to have conquered, that is, when Christ was slain. For then that blood, since it was His who had no sin at all, was poured out for the remission of our sins; that, because the devil deservedly held those whom, as guilty of sin, he bound by the condition of death, he might deservedly loose them through Him, whom, as guilty of no sin, the punishment of death undeservedly affected. The strong man was conquered by this righteousness, and bound with this chain, that his vessels might be spoiled, which with himself and his angels had been vessels of wrath while with him, and might be turned into vessels of mercy.

    -What then is the justice that overpowered the devil? The justice of Jesus Christ—what else? And how was he overpowered? The devil found nothing in Christ deserving of death and yet he killed him. It is therefore perfectly just that the devil should let the debtors he held go free, who believe in the one whom he killed without his being in his debt. This is how we are said to be justified in the blood of Christ. This is how that innocent blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins.


    John Chrysostom in the 5th century gives a similar cross narrative to Augustine,

    -“It is as if Christ said, ‘Now shall a trial be held, and a judgment be pronounced. How and in what manner? He (the devil) smote the first man (Adam), because he found him guilty of sin; for it was through sin that death entered in. But he did not find any sin in Me; wherefore then did he fall on Me and give Me up to the power of death? . . . How is the world now judged in Me?’ It is as if it were said to the devil at a seat of judgment: ‘Thou didst smite them all, because thou didst find them guilty of sin; wherefore then didst thou smite Christ? Is it not evident that thou didst this wrongfully? Therefore the whole world shall become righteous through Him.’”

    John of Damascus, who according to professor Tom McCall, “often serves as a sort of summary of mature Patristic theology,” in the 8th century says the same thing:

    -Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin (for He committed no sin, He Who took away the sin of the world, nor was there any deceit found in His mouth ) He was not subject to death, since death came into the world through sin. Romans 5:12 He dies, therefore, because He took on Himself death on our behalf, and He makes Himself an offering to the Father for our sakes. For we had sinned against Him, and it was meet that He should receive the ransom for us, and that we should thus be delivered from the condemnation. God forbid that the blood of the Lord should have been offered to the tyrant. Wherefore death approaches, and swallowing up the body as a bait is transfixed on the hook of divinity, and after tasting of a sinless and life-giving body, perishes, and brings up again all whom of old he swallowed up. For just as darkness disappears on the introduction of light, so is death repulsed before the assault of life, and brings life to all, but death to the destroyer.

    Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century, affirms the injustice of Jesus’ death as well:

    “Christ's Passion delivered us from the devil, inasmuch as in Christ's Passion [the devil] exceeded the limit of power assigned him by God, by conspiring to bring about Christ's death, Who, being sinless, did not deserve to die. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, cap. xiv): "The devil was vanquished by Christ's justice: because, while discovering in Him nothing deserving of death, nevertheless he slew Him. And it is certainly just that the debtors whom he held captive should be set at liberty since they believed in Him whom the devil slew, though He was no debtor."

    Martin Luther, in the 16th century, applies the loss of rights to the Law rather than the devil:

    “Thou hearest that Christ was caught in the bondage in which we all were held, was set under the Law, was a man full of all grace, righteousness, etc., full of life, yea, He was even the Life itself; now comes the Law and casts itself at Him and would deal with Him as with all other men. Christ sees this, lets the tyrant perform his will upon Him, lets the reproach of all guilt fall against Himself as one accursed, yea, bears the name that He Himself is the curse, and goes to suffer for this cause, dies, and is buried. Now, thinks the Law, He is overpowered; but it knew not that it had so grievously mistaken itself, and that it had condemned and throttled the Son of God; and since it has now judged and condemned Him, who was guiltless and over whom it had no authority, it must in its turn be taken, and see itself made captive and crucified, and lose all its power, and lie under the feet of Him whom it had condemned.”

    As CS Lewis says, when our Lord was roaming around Narnia in the form of a giant, magical, not-safe-yet-good lion, he said,

    “when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

    Moving on, even John Stott, a staunch penal substitution advocate, agrees that the resurrection was God’s reversal of man’s injustice:

    “The resurrection was the divine reversal of the human verdict.”

    NT Wright, makes a similar statement to John Stott about Jesus’ resurrection:

    “Israel’s God, the creator, had reversed the verdict of the court, in reversing the death sentence it carried out. Jesus really was the king of the Jews; and, if he was the Messiah, he really was the lord of the world, as the psalms had long ago insisted.”
     
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  2. DaveXR650

    DaveXR650 Well-Known Member

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    Arthur. Thank you for that. First. The idea that Christs death was unjust should be shared by everyone. Just reading the scriptural account shows not only the injustice of the trial but that he was actually found innocent anyway.

    What is new to me is that I take it that you are saying that this is the primary purpose of the atonement? And are these the best examples of proper atonement theology? The older ones do show a more vivid consciousness of the cosmic battle going on between God and Satan. I sometimes think we neglect that in modern times.


    Are you saying Lutherans reject penal substitution? I had assumed that some modern Lutheran synods do but are you saying Luther rejected penal substitution? And, while I'm a big fan of C. S. Lewis I don't think I would rely on him for theology except I do find his writing very good in a devotional way.

    You are listed as a Baptist. Are there Baptist churches moving in this direction? Why is this such a hard question? Are there John of Damascus or Churches of Chrysostom in operation or should there be?
     
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  3. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Here is what I said: "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 just plan as God is never unjust."

    I did not say God cannot ordain events in which an injustice takes place. Please address what I did say, as I see no need to endless address false claims and misrepresentations concerning biblical views.

    I do affirm God's sovereignty meaning God causes or allows whatsoever comes to pass.

    Now back to #2 and our difference:

    Here is what you said, "But in the Bible, Jesus suffers death on the cross unjustly as a perfectly innocent party. Justice is satisfied in the resurrection as the reversal of Jesus’ unjust death on the cross, and the fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises."

    So I maintain God's plan to put to death the just for the unjust was not unjust. Note I am referring to God's predetermined plan, and not the actions of the humans treating Jesus unjustly. One place where scripture indicates God is not unjust is Romans 9:13.
     
  4. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Id say the sacrifice was just, but His suffering and death was unjust.

    Same with Joseph being sold into slavery. What his brothers did was wrong. It was evil. But it was also God's plan in saving Israel.

    Egypt's mistreatment of Israel was unjust. But it was within God's plan to deliver Israel from that bondage.
     
  5. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    The letter in which the phrase "the just for the unjust" takes place, 1 Peter, explicitly states that Jesus' death was unjust, and it is the injustice of his death that finds grace with God. Also, a just man by definition does not deserve to die. So the death of a just man must be unjust.

    1 Peter 2
    "For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds grace with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."
     
  6. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    God is never unjust and Christ's sacrifice was the just for the unjust. His suffering and death is the sacrifice, as without the shedding of blood (death) there is no forgiveness of sin.
     
  7. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I agree. But at the same time He died unjustly.

    It was the Just dying unjustly for the unjust.
     
  8. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    First, thank you for addressing my view accurately and supporting your view, at least in your interpretation, from scripture.

    This says Christ is our example of how to act when treated unjustly. We agree Christ was treated by humans unjustly. It does not say, at least as I understand the text, that Christ's sacrifice was according to God's unjust plan. OTOH it does say God judges righteously (verse 23) which reinforces my view from the text you cited.
     
  9. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Again, Christ was put to death unjustly by the humans involved, but God's plan was not unjust, sacrificing the just for the unjust.
     
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  10. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    God's plan was obviously not unjust. God judges justly by raising Jesus from the dead. Even staunch penal substitution advocate John Stott declares "The resurrection was the divine reversal of the human verdict." Jesus was killed by the unjust judgment of humans, and raised by the just judgment of God.
     
  11. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    Would this be(?);

    (1) The Governmental View.

    "This view holds that the purpose of the atonement was to prevent God's pardoning of sinners from encouraging sin.

    "The salvation of sinners requires no bearing of the penalty of their sins.

    "Their turning from sin to God is enough to justify God in saving them.

    "But the pardoning of the guilty, without some exhibition of God's hatred against sin and of His regard for His law, would license sin and rob the law of any authority over the consciences of men."

    Or is this(?);

    (2) The Example View. This view holds in common with the governmental view that Christ's death was not substitutionary. It holds that God did not need to be propitiated in behalf of the sinner; that the only hindrance to the salvation of sinners lies in the sinner's continued practice of sin. Reformation, therefore, is the adequate remedy, and this can be effected by man's own will. To encourage us in this Jesus died as a noble martyr, exemplifying an unselfish devotion that chose death rather than the compromise of His duty to God and man. We are saved, not by trusting Him as our sin-bearer, but by trusting in God according to His example and thus devoting ourselves to righteousness.

    or(?);

    (3) The Moral-Influence View. This view holds in common with both the former that sin brings no guilt that must be removed. It is not the guilt, but the practice of sin that hinders salvation. Christ's death was only an exhibition of love to soften man's heart and lead him to repentance. "Christ's sufferings were necessary, not in order to remove an obstacle to the pardon of sinners which exists in the mind of God, but in order to convince sinners that there exists no such obstacle" (Strong).

    or(?);

    (4) "The Gradually-Extirpated-Depravity View. This view is defined by Strong as follows: "Christ took human nature as it was in Adam, not before the fall but after the fall,-human nature, therefore, with its inborn corruption and predisposition to moral evil;

    "that notwithstanding the possession of this tainted and depraved nature, Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, or of His divine nature, not only kept His human nature from manifesting itself in actual or personal sin, but gradually purified it, through struggle and suffering, until in His death He completely extirpated its original depravity and reunited it with God.

    "This subjective purification of human nature in the person of Jesus constitutes His atonement, and men are saved not by any objective propitiation, but only by becoming through faith partakers of Christ's new humanity."

    or(?);

    "There are two other views of the atonement that theologians commonly discuss under false or inadequate theories of the atonement that we shall not give special treatment here.

    "We refer to the (5) accident view (?) and (6) the commercial view (?). The former holds that the death of Christ was an unforeseen accident and not anticipated by Christ.

    "This view is so manifestly absurd that it does not deserve here the space that it would take to refute it. We do not give special treatment to the commercial view of the atonement here because it embodies so much truth..."
     
    #111 Alan Gross, Jun 21, 2023
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2023
  12. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    But.....It does. That's what it means that He became a curse that we might become the righteousness of God, and not subject to the penalty brought upon our sins in His own body on the tree.

    Agreed. And someday this may become true of your interaction here.
     
  13. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    That is what you believe the Bible teaches. But it is not in the text of Scripture.

    The Bible states that He became a curse that we might become the righteousness of God. The Bible states that in Him we escape the wrath to come, that He is the Propitiation for our sins.

    You believe it means Penal Substitution. But it could mean other theories of Atonement as well. It could even mean what is stated in the text.
     
  14. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    As usual, your rabbis have missed the point, which is why they reject Christ. I've noticed a Judaistic list in your posts. Your earlier assertion that God's desire is to bless the nations through Israel caught my eye. No, the Seed of Abraham is Christ. Not Israel. But that's another discussion.

    LOL. Sez who? That's baloney. Besides, the offerer kills the sin offering only if he is able to bring one from his herds or flocks. The poorer among them brought fowls, and in that case the priest is commanded to kill the offering, and to drain the blood at the base of the altar. Where is the commandment to sprinkle the offerer?

    Alas for the poor folks!

    Not always.
    Leviticus 1:14-15, 5:7-8

    The sacrifices were divided into two main groups, those that were burned on the brazen altar, and those that were not.

    Those that were burned on the altar, or more accurately, those that rose as a sweet savor are the Burnt, Meat (or Meal), and Peace Offerings, and those that weren't were the Sin and Trespass offerings.

    The first group are not offered for sin. This is the devout Isrealite, not a penitent, bringing an offering in worship to Jehovah. Many are confused by the word "atonement" in the description of the Burnt Offering. But it's not atonement for sin. It's the satisfaction of righteousness, not wrath. And so it is wholly burnt on the altar, and rises as a sweet savor, pleasing to God.

    And notice the reason for the laying on of the worshipper's hands. That signifies that the worshipper is identifying with the offering, and it is "accepted for him." In other words, it is accepted in his place. The offering is seen as the offerer. It is his substitute.

    Christ is not only our substitute in judgment, but in service. It is His righteousness that is imputed to us.

    The second group is the group offered for sin. These are not burned on the altar, except for a memorial portion. Again, the offerer places his hands on the head of the offering, signifying, as in the Burnt Offering, it's "acceptance for him." And the offering is killed, then carried outside the camp and burned on the ground, not on the altar of God, and the sins of the offerer are judged.

    According to the cited law, of whom is the one hanging on the tree accursed?
     
    #114 Aaron, Jun 22, 2023
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2023
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  15. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    No, that's what it means.

    Tell me what it means that He "bore our sins in His own body on the tree," without simply repeating the text.
     
  16. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Well-Known Member
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    That is not the argument at hand. 87% on here agree with that statement.

    the fact of Christs Resurrection rests in His sinlessness
     
  17. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    The resurrection of Jesus did not "reverse" or create a just sacrifice. The resurrection provides evidence of the truth of the gospel promise.
     
  18. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    No, the resurrection itself is the fulfillment of the gospel promises. Again, the gospel is exactly what Paul says it is: “the good news that God has fulfilled His promises to our children in that He raised Jesus up from the dead” (Acts 13:32). The gospel is that God’s covenantal promises to restore the world from Adam’s curse (the subject of the Old Testament) are fulfilled in Jesus’ resurrection (the subject of the New Testament).
     
  19. Arthur King

    Arthur King Active Member

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    "and not subject to the penalty brought upon our sins in His own body on the tree."

    Will you physically die? Is physical death a punishment for sin?

    Does work ever become toil for you? Is toil a punishment for sin?

    Are you outside Paradise and the Presence of God right now? Is exile from paradise and the presence of God punishment for sin?

    If Jesus suffered your punishment in your place for your sins as your substitute, then why do you still face any of these punishments? You said you are not subject to them, right? So what gives?
     
  20. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    The issue is the resurrection of Jesus did not "reverse" or create a just sacrifice.
     
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