My essay - I'm not sure whether I have succeeded in writing a defence of 'penal' substitutionary atonement - I have defended substitutionary atonement
I have found David Short's sermon helpful on Exodus 24. I am waiting to hear Stephen Travis speak at college on PSA. Although I must hand in my essay before then.
I feel as though I am not always intellectually grasping the finer points of the argument. (How to defend PSA in light of criticisms). I am wondering, is it right that PSA requires an articulation of God's wrath being propitiated. Substitutionary atonement is presented happily with the expiation, the covering of sin. I argue that the blood sprinkled in the sacrifices of the Old Testament expiate sin, cover the sins of the people - Moses sprinkles the blood on the people. He also sprinkles the blood on the tabernacle to propitiate God's wrath. Jesus' blood both expiates and propitiates.
I am having a bit of trouble with one element of reformed teaching. Christ's "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?": does God really punish his Son in this moment. John Piper et al in their description of 'the scream of the damned' portray God's momentary neglect of the Son here but can a triune God separate at this point - it does something strange to my Nicene Creed foundation. I think if I could be better persuaded on this point, I would be able to understand that this is the moment of punishment, this is the 'penal' moment of the substitution.
I have no problem with a wrathful God - wrath is not to be compared to human anger. Just like we can not compare human love to God's which is agape (steadfast), God's holiness to human morality (always corrupted by sin), human justice (to God's justice - perfect), we need to understand wrath as part of the Holy God's inability to come near to us in our sin. It is in his mercy that he provides a means by which we can enter into his presence - Jesus.
I have learnt a lot but still have such a lot of learning to do. David Short talks about that 'other gospel' which is being preached in our churches. This worries me. I do not want to preach that 'other gospel' and yet at the same time I heed the warnings of those critical of PSA, because if a caricature is being presented, we had better look long and hard at our teaching.
Yes, we have a God who hates our sin, but we have a God, who desires mercy and not sacrifice, who has provided Jesus as a perfect and sufficient sacrifice so that the sacrifices of the Old Testament beome redundant. We live under a New Covenant, purchased for us with Jesus' blood and make now a living sacrifice of praise. We need to make sure that we preach life from death and do not leave people staring up at the cross for too long, meditate on it's glory, yes, but then walk through the sandy soil to the tomb, look inside and see it empty and rejoice!
Ordained Anglican. Thinking out loud about church.