I do believe...

...in Penal Substitutionary atonement. The atonement is multifaceted. The Bible testifies to Christ's triumph over evil - he is victor. His sacrifice is also exemplary, in that we too are to take up our cross and become Christ-like and the resurrection is still for me the central event of the gospel, for herein lies our hope but I do believe that penal substitution is at the heart of the atonement. God's wrath is not in opposition to God's love. Hatred is the opposite to love not wrath. Righteous anger is powerful and surely all of the most marvelous acts of liberation and justice would not have happened without righteous anger being a part of the spectrum of emotions which motivate people to do great things for the betterment of their fellow men and women. I believe that a caricature of penal atonement has been created. I believe that PSA has been championed too often as the only way of looking at the cross and I believe that PSA has become associated with a larger doctrinal package which also on many occasions is anti-women's ordination and pro-preaching depravity and wrath at the expense of hope and love. It is time to rescue PSA from itself, shake it free of the negatives with which it has become associated. This is not child-abuse - how can it be when we behold the beauty of a triune God. This is God sacrificing himself in the Son so that all our sin can be wiped away. If Christ did not exchange my sinfulness for his righteousness on that cross and take the punishment in my place, then how am I ever, by myself, going to be able to stand in God's presence. If God looks at me and sees the righteouness of his Son, what amazing grace is this. If he doesn't then my works will never make me righteous enough to approach him - I might as well give up now.

Because Christ submitted in obedience to his father's will, we are not required to submit to suffering when it is unjust. We should not be women trapped in violent relationships, we should not be children who accept abuse, we should not allow others to marginalise us. We should rise up just like Christ. We should turn that righteous anger we feel into something beautiful and life-giving, just like God did. Through Jesus' suffering we have life to the full, this is the life we should lead.


Crunch said...

I am one hundred percent in agreement with you Rachel. The wrath of God against sin is an entirely right response. I would be worried if my God wasn't angry about the atrocities which are committed (sometimes in his name). Righteous anger is indeed totally different to hatred and the two should never be confused. In Jesus, God sacrificed himself out of love for AND because of his abhorrence of sin. The sacrifice was made by him for us and he was victorious because the price was paid and the way was opened to God for us! I am so grateful for this, his victory and for the grace which is mine because of it!

Lucy said...

Amen to that. Love this post - and agree. the atonement is a beautiful thing - multi-faceted just as you say. At times one aspect has been overemphasised and caricatured; recognising that, it is still important not to throw out the whole concept. It is, as you say, essential to what Jesus accomplished for us. And it was accomplished as part of his mysterious one-ness with the father - unified in purpose, God acting on our behalf.

May he bless you this Easter and the coming year :)

Rachel said...

Love and happy Easter to you both - it was with a little fear that I wrote this post because I've become rather sensitive to the controversy. Thank you for your affirmations.

Nick said...

I dont know if my post went through, so here Ill try again:

I respectfully disagree here. I don't believe Penal Substitution has any Scriptural basis, and I had a debate with a Reformed apologist demonstrating this:


That doctrine has led many respected Protestant authors to say things like God the Father condemned Jesus to hell in our place. That is a disturbing thought to me.

Rachel said...

Thank you Nick

I will look up your debate. I still find the issues around PSA thought-provoking and I continue to be challenged by arguments in opposition. What a consideration of it has done is make me more God-fearing than I was before, which for me is actually a good thing because it helps to develop my prayer-life and faith. I am beginning to understand more a God who is grieved by the way we live, and feel more convicted of my own sinfulness which is rather painful, I must admit but interesting. The fact that God loves me despite my weaknesses and because of his Son reveals his grace.

Thanks for your contribution.


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