Monday, August 14, 2006
As you might have guessed from the articles, I am predisposed to disagree with Penal Substitution. Lets face it, its yucky. But I also wanted to be true to Scripture and not just arrive at a view of God reflective of what I think is "nice" as tempting as that may be.
I have found lots of Scriptures that speak of the cross in substitutionary terms, and in terms of not just its love, but also of its scandal, blood, and wretchedness. I'd therefore like to introduce two concepts:
penal substitution and vicarious suffering. The former is I think unbiblical, the later the core of the Atonement. Lets examine both:
They both consist of two elements
Penal Substitution means basically "punishment (penal) instead of (substitution). Vicarious Suffering is different in that it is vicarious ("for us") and one could even say in light of the incarnation "as us" (God becomes human and enters into all of that including sin) but it is not "instead of us". On the contrary, Jesus says "anyone who does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me" and Peter and Paul both tell us that we will suffer as we follow. So the first contrast is substitution/vicarious. Jesus died for us, with us, even as us. Not instead of us. In fact his death calls us to come and die with him.
So rather than simply throwing out the ideas of "penal substitution" throughout Scripture, I propose that we think them as "vicarious suffering". I have found that this model makes much more sense and leads to a much deeper insight into the cross that is in keeping with the heart, actions, and teaching of Jesus.
Labels: Penal Substitution