Penal substitutionary atonement

Well I'm going for the biggie - I want to write a defence of Penal Substitutionary Atonement in the light of current criticism as an academic exercise, do I hold to this doctrine? I don't know yet. But I'll know soon. So I aim to read Mike Ovey et al 'Pierced for our Transgressions' and 'Consuming Passion' by my Ekklesia buddies Bartley and Barrow - the Mennonites. I also want to read 'The Mystery of Salvation' which I should read before seeing the DDO, anyway. I'll also read 'The Atonement Debate: Papers from the London Symposium on the Theology of Atonement' by David Hilborn (Editor), Justin Thacker (Editor) and Derek Tidball. I'll also read 'The Wondrous Cross: Atonement and Penal Substitution in the Bible and History' By: Stephen R. Holmes. I also better read Tom Wright's reply to Mike Ovey's book at Fulcrum

So it's all going to be fairly intense and it's taking me into territories, church thinking and approaches to the gospel which seem to be at odds with each other - it is the conservative evangelicals and the open evangelicals in debate again and that is partly, I'm sure why I find the whole topic interesting.

Making some progress with the Barth (Pronounced Bart) not Simpson, just a little more profound.

Thinking of giving up TV for Lent but at this rate, I'm going to have to give it up anyway so might have to find another challenge. I'm not 'religious' about Lent but I like to see what with prayer, my will power/prayer power I can achieve. So last year I gave up tea and coffee for 40 days and suffered a three day headache as a result. This year I'm after a challenge and it needs to be the 'giving up' rather than the 'taking on' variety of challenge. Giving up TV might be too easy but then again I would seriously miss Eastenders. I'll have think of something.


DaveW said...

I blogged a fair bit about PFOT. Worst book I have ever forced myself to read.

See all my posts via the special category.

I would suggest you need to read what NT Wright wrote and the response to that (use Surprised by Pierced for our Transgressions as a jumping off point).

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel, just to remind you, that it often happens that the process of trying to understand a point of view can make the student come to believe it. The intellectual exercise requires the student to get inside the mind-set of the argument first, before moving on to the critical phase. Please don't get stuck on admiring the elegance of the theory. It is wrong, and it's cruel, and it has a debased view of God. Good luck. Madeline.

Rachel said...

Thank you Madeline and Dave for your advice and the links.
It is all going to be quite challenging. I have lots of presuppositions to deal with first, conscious as I am of a very real hermeneutic of suspicion in approaching PFOT, coloured as it is by my research into Oakhill and Mike Ovey and their self-referencing website links see: http://hrht-revisingreform.blogspot.com/2008/07/tick-here-here-and-here-please-well.html

By 'getting inside their heads', I might better understand the mindset and become more confident in an articulation of my own views - thus is the aim


David Rudel said...

Just a note on PFOT.

In addressing Eleonore Stump's argument [page 268], Jeffery, Ovey, and Sach more or less admit that Penal Substitution [or, rather their version of it] really only works if you assume Limited Atonement.

There are, of course, many problems with Limited Atonement and OSAS [once saved always saved], but I do think it is worthy to note two biggies:

i) Paul's model of salvation absolutely requires the reconciliation of ALL creation under Christ. One example showing this is Colossians 1:15-20, though there are others, including those in the "everyone-agrees-Paul-wrote-them" corpus.
If atonement through propitiation is the method by which that reconciliation occurs, then Limited atonement seems dead in the water.

ii) OSAS [Once Saved Always Saved] stands in obvious contradiction to so many of Paul's letters that I don't understand how it was ever allowed into the catechism of any major church.
The specific problem in the case of the type of penal atonement held by the reformed church is that the forgiveness/grace/propitiation takes place more or less outside of anything the believer does. You cannot lose this salvation because it would require Christ to "un-die."

In any event, this type of claim makes no sense of many passages, in particular 2nd Peter 2:20-21.

In a world where Christ's death erases all the sins of certain people, and those certain people are the only ones who receive the benefit of that death, and there is nothing those certain people can do to lose that benefit, this passage from 2nd Peter (as well as many others) is ludicrous. The person in question "has been freed" and is somehow "in a worse state than their first state."

The warning in Romans 14:15 is, if anything, even more damning. Paul is concerned of someone being "destroyed" for whom "Christ has died."

If it is someone for whom Christ has died, then she or he is one of the elect, but in that case how can that person possibly be "destroyed" by sinning?

there are others, of course, since Pauls declaration that some have "fallen from grace" and warnings against being "subject again to the yoke of slavery" [which would make no sense at all unless Christ had already freed you through the Spirit, but then would be impossible by OSAS theology since you could never lose that grace.]

I do believe in Christ's death as a penal atonement, but not in any way like what the Reformed Church holds.

Peter O said...

You might also want to consider Stott's "The Cross of Christ" and Morris' "The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross" as classical defences of the PSA position.

Rachel said...

Thanks Peter
Will do.


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions