Is the Penal Substitution Theory the most common theory throughout history?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & Arminianism Debate' started by JonC, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    That's the KJO folks mentality. What about 15 centuries of Church history without an articulated Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement?

    Do you really think it is fair to say that Polycarp, Origen, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, John Chrysostom, Tertullian, Augustine, Jerome, Erasmus, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, John Wycliffe, Conrad Grebel, Hugo Grotius….just to name a few….did not have the atonement??? That the Church existed for so long simply understanding fragments of penal and substitution along side or within their theories until the Reformation?

    Your arrogant conclusion that the Church was without the atonement until the Reformation is nothing more than belief in your theological system over God's Word.
     
  2. The Archangel Well-Known Member

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    I have made no such statement or drawn no such conclusion. It is you who think that penal substitution is the "invention" of the reformation, but you are simply wrong. Clement I and Hermas both reference propitiation in similar understanding to that of the reformers. Also, there are many instances of the word in the LXX, and many of them demonstrate a penal substitutionary understanding.

    You really are some piece of work--calling me "arrogant" and then proceeding to put words in my mouth.


    Wrong. You should have read Bruce's footnote #8. Bruce conveys several incorrect things in his footnote, but he does show that, by my count, there are 6 uses of the ἱλασμός word group in the New Testament. However, there are many more in the Old Testament and, at least, 11 of them have God as the object of the propitiation (see: Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 157). The passages of John's epistles cannot use the word in contradiction to the rest of scripture.

    You seem to want to divorce lexicon from context, insisting on one or the other, but certainly rejecting both informing each other. The word ἱλασμός does not come to 1 John 2 in a vacuum. It means to "avert the wrath of the deity." Since it is the case that Jesus is "put forth as a propitiation" (see: Romans 3:25) and since Jesus "is the propitiation for our sins" it is Jesus that must "do" something. The definition of ἱλασμός, which includes "appeasement" and turning God's disposition toward us from unfavorable to favorable means that it is God that is changed, not man.

    It is clear from Psalm 51 that all sin is, ultimately, against God. It is clear from Romans that God has wrath against sin. It is clear from the entirety of scripture that God's wrath is our ultimate foe. Therefore, what Christ does--changing the disposition of the Father--is done by bearing His just and righteous wrath against sin.

    Since you saw fit to quote Bruce, I shall quote Stott commenting on 1 John 2:2:

    If what John had in mind was in reality an expiation, of which our sins were the object, the construction would surely have been a simple genitive, 'the expiation of our sins'. Instead he uses the preposition peri. The need for a hilasmos is seen not in 'our sins' by themselves but 'concerning our sins', namely in God's uncompromising hostility towards them... The need for propitiation is constituted neither by God's wrath in isolation nor by man's sin in isolation, but by both together. Sin is 'lawlessness' (3:4), a defiant disregard for the law of God which deserves the judgment of God. It is this divine judgement upon human rebellion which constitutes the barrier to fellowship with God; and there can be no expiation of man's sin without a propitiation of God's wrath. God's holy antagonism to sin must somehow be turned away if sin is to be forgiven and the sinner restored.

    ...Both verses indicate that the nature of the propitiation is Jesus Christ himself. God 'sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins' (4:10). "He (autos) is the atoning sacrifice...' (2:2). No direct mention is made in either verse of his death, but John has already written that what cleanses from sin is the blood of God's son (1:7), that is, the virtue of his sacrificial death. He died the death which was the just reward of our sins. And the efficacy of his death remains, so that he is today himself the propitiation.

    ...The source of the propitiation is clearly taught in 4:10, namely the love of God. This was so in Old Testament days since the propitiatory offerings were divinely instituted and the prescribed as the means by which the sinner might be forgiven... The sacrifices were not a human arrangement, but a divine gift. So with the sacrifice of Christ. God gave his Son to die for sinners.

    There can, therefore, be no question of human beings appeasing an angry deity by their gifts. The Christian propitiation is quite different, not only in the character of the divine anger but in the means by which it is propitiated. It is an appeasement of the wrath of God by the love of God through the gift of God. The initiative is not taken by us, nor even by Christ, but by God himself in sheer unmerited love. His wrath is averted not by any external gift, but by his own self-giving to die the death of sinners. This means he has himself contrived by which to turn his own wrath away. (John R. W. Stott, The Letters of John in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol 19, 91-93).
    Very early on, Stott remarks that the use of peri with hilasmos is the key to understanding 2:2. The "baggage" of the hilasmos in the Old Testament makes it quite clear, as Stott argues, that Jesus is bearing the wrath of God due to us for our sin.

    Now, I'm sure you'll have some reason for dismissing all this, as you've dismissed everything I've written thus far. I'm sure you'll prefer the comfort of your presuppositions and desires to reject penal substitution while blaming me or accusing me for something. What is clear, however, is that you can be presented with evidence intended to disabuse you of your error, and you will totally dismiss it. You would be like the student doggedly holding on to his belief that 2+2=5 simply because he wishes it to be so and thinks himself infallible.

    The Archangel
     
  3. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    There are facts and there are theories. The fact is that the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement was not articulated until the Reformation. There are penal and substitution aspects throughout history and Scripture (as JI Packer put it, the "elements" were there) , but not articulated as the Penal Substitution Theory. I understand this somehow hurts your feelings, but you need to realize that antiquity has no bearing on the legitimacy of one theory over another. You don't need to invent a history.

    The majority view (the classic view) is the Christus Victor Theory (even larger if you consider it as a motif, as many do). The second most prominent is the Satisfaction Theory (to include variants from Anselm to Aquinas to Luther). Then you have the Ransom Theory (general and Origens), but this is obsolete now. You have Recapulation, Moral Government Theory, Example Theory, Penal Substitution Theory....and so on.

    If you become interested in examining historical theology and what influenced these theories I would enjoy journeying with you. But if you ate more comfortable with historic fiction I understand.

    Just remember that you do not have to be dishonest for Penal Substitution Theory to be correct. Elements are historical, but Scripture and not antiquity form our doctrine.
     
  4. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    You still do not understand.

    I am not arguing that these people rejected that Christ propitiated our sins by experiencing God's wrath. Don't you get It? I am saying neither the word or context necessitates that meaning.

    The idea that God punished Jesus by being wrathful to him comes from systematic theology incorporating an understanding of divine judgment, sin, atonement, the sacrificial system, ...to name afew. To claim the context of the three passages in question (tossing in Romans) or word itself demands that theory is ignorant and demonstrates a severe lack of understanding about what constitutes biblical and systematic theology.
     
  5. The Archangel Well-Known Member

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    After nearly insisting that I make my case, which I did, you dismiss it out of hand without engaging with any of the substance, just as I predicted you would do.

    See... it's just as I said... you accuse me of being dishonest. Again, you are making assumptions of my intellect, my understanding of historical theology and, perhaps the most preposterous of all, my "feelings." Are you accusing me of dishonesty simply because I disagree with you? God complex much?!

    You are worth neither the time, effort, or energy... And, notice, it is not because we disagree, but because you have shown yourself to be a person of no substance by accusing me of dishonesty. You are indeed a piece of work. My pearls shall no longer be cast before you. Good riddance.

    The Archangel
     
  6. HankD Well-Known Member
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  7. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    First, I never asked you to "make your case". I asked you to go through the two passages and show where John uses "propitiate" to mean "bearing wrath". Instead you regurgitate commentary on Jesus propitiating by bearing wrath. I am interested in reading a theory I know very well. I wanted to stick to the passage and the context. You couldn't stay in the passage.

    Second, I never called you dishonest. I believe you do not recognize your failure to objectively examine the passage. I believe you do not know the history and development of these theories. I think you are ignorant to the material, not dishonest in character. This does not change the fact that your posts ate not honest to the biblical text itself or history (your posts are not honest to what is objective in this discussion, you seem not to see rhis, therefore you are not qualified to an opinion).
     
  8. Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    This is exactly the argument which Arius used at the Council of Nicaea. How easy it is to quote, say, John 14:28, "The Father is greater than I" and then demand that people stick only to that verse and its immediate context.

    Just sayin'.
     
  9. Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Absolutely untrue!
     
  10. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I'm not even talking about the immediate context. The context of the passage allows for the interpretation of "propitiation" because it is discussing sin (although this is one issue where some prefer "expiate", so it could be discussed). But the context is not "bearing wrath". This is nowhere in the epistle.

    What I hope for in discussion is an honest dialogue about Scripture, about the context, and even about historical positions. But what @The Archangel is doing is simply introducing his conclusions into one text where it is completely absent. He could take "propitiation" here and then look to Paul's explanation about Christ bearing our sin and walk through his theory. But he doesn't. He simply declares John meant something that, even if he believed it, is not discussed in the text itself. This is being dishonest with the material, not a character issue but one of ignorance.

    Read the verse, expand it to the entire epistle. That's great. But don't insist on something that is not actually there to "prove" a point.

    My comment is not that he is wrong (although I believe he is) but that he is not proving his point with the text provided. He needs to incorporate much more than he is at this time.

    Would you like to walk through 1 John and show me where John declares that Jesus bore God's wrath?
     
  11. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    For you I need to rephrase this (because of your view of the theory).

    Before the Reformation it has never been stated that God punished Jesus by pouring out his wrath upon Jesus to satisfy justice by punishing Jesus with the punishment that is due our sins, this punishment being in our stead.

    From our other discussion, you believe that anything mentioning penal substitution proves the theory existed. All theories can be called "Penal Substitution Theory" based on your definition of the term. This is simply not the definition I'm using.

    Like J.I. Packer observed - Penal Substitution Theory was not articulated as we have it, but the elements were there. My disagreement is with the philosophy going into the development of the theory (that's where I believe it failed), not with the passages it affirms.
     
  12. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Oh....that's a good color.
     
  13. thatbrian Well-Known Member
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    A Conservative a Liberal and a Moderate walk into a bar. Bartender says, "Hey Hank!"
     
  14. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Here is an example of what is going on between a couple of us:

    We need to finish a fence and today is a good, sunny day.

    Me: Today is sunny, let's put in two hours and finish this thing.

    You: So you are saying today is sunny but tomorrow it might rain.

    Me: No, I think it might rain a little tomorrow, but I am saying that today is sunny.

    You: But you are implying that it might storm tomorrow.

    Me.: I’m just saying that today is sunny. I’m not talking about tomorrow.

    You: But you think it might rain tomorrow.

    Me: Yes, light showers, but that’s not what I’m talking about now. I’m saying that today is sunny, we can finish the work.

    You: So you are saying you want to finish the work because it might storm tomorrow and the high winds may damage the fence if the concrete hasn't set?

    Me: No, tomorrow is Saturday and we are off. I’m saying that today is sunny, let's finish the job.

    You: But you mean tomorrow might rain, because you said you believed it might.

    Me. No. I mean today is sunny, let’s get this work done.


    Regardless as to the validity of Penal Substitution Theory, or any other theory, we need to look at what Scripture says. The topic here is about history. While we can look through history and declare that everyone believes Penal Substitution Theory (to include yours truly) because they believe Christ died for our sins, was bruised for our transgressions, and by his stripes we are healed, we can still consider their differences (none believed that God was inflicting wrath on Christ as a punishment for our sins as individuals).
     
  15. Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    The first problem I have is that you are talking out of two sides of your mouth at the same time. In the same breath you are saying that the historic understanding of Penal Substitution doesn't matter, and also that it does. You need to make your mind up which you believe and then let us know.

    Penal Substitution is absolutely clear in Justin Martyr and numerous other ECFs. In the Middle Ages the Doctrine of Justification as a whole was obscured. That's why there needed to be a Reformation. Please note that it is entirely possible to believe in Penal Substitution and Christus Victor at the same time. Who actually believes in Christus Loser?

    In our previous discussions I provided great rafts of evidence for Penal Substitution and you entirely failed to interact with it. I can paste it all here if you like.
     
  16. Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Yes they did.
     
  17. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    The history doesn't make the doctrine correct. But it is the topic of the thread (some enjoy looking at the history).

    And don't start the "But you didn't interact" nonsense. I posted the entire context from which your quotes were extracted.

    Penal Substitution is there, but what was missing? God punishing Jesus for our sins, in our stead, with our punishment. That isn't in Martyr as it is in Penal Substitution Theory.

    I'm not arguing that penal substitution was absent, just that the Penal Substitution Theory as articulated in the Reformation was absent.
     
  18. JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I'll rephrase: They did not write down that they did.

    Don't forget that given your view of Penal Substitution Theory (from a previous discussion) I also believe in that theory. But that's not what I'm talking about.
     
  19. HankD Well-Known Member
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  20. HankD Well-Known Member
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    What is the object of God's wrath at the crucifixion?
    Jesus or sin?

    If sin then penal substitution stands:

    2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.