Thursday, May 04, 2006

Penal Substitution

I was blessed today to go to a Christology class at Bethel College with a friend who presented a lecture on his view of Christ's Atonement, penal substitution (which I affirm also). Though it may come as a surprise to you, there are various views on Christ's atonement. J.I. Packer says of penal substitution:
The notion which the phrase penal substitution expresses is that Jesus Christ our Lord, moved by a love that was determined to do everything necessary to save us, endured and exhausted the destructive divine judgment for which we were otherwise inescapably destined, and so won us forgiveness, adoption and glory. To affirm penal substitution is to say that believers are in debt to Christ specifically for this, and that this is the mainspring of all their joy, peace and praise both now and for eternity.
I agree.

Lord willing, I will return to the same classroom next week to hear Greg Boyd articulate his view of Christ's atoning work, Christus Victor. You may recognize Boyd's name as one of the leading proponents of Open Theism (with which I totally disagree). Open Theism is built on a very faulty premise, such as:
It is the teaching that God has granted to humanity free will and that in order for the free will to be truly free, the future free will choices of individuals cannot be known ahead of time by God.
Here are a few excerpts from the Christus Victor article linked above:
Jesus life and death was not the fulfillment of a legal system, it was the fulfillment of the relational model of love.
God did not require Jesus' death. Hate killed Jesus when he stood up for love. But God used this tragedy to bring about life.
Sin was not overcome through a payment to satisfy the Powers, but by God triumphing over the Powers.
My question is not, "Is there some truth in what the Christus Victor view purports?" Of course there is some truth. Jesus was loving. Hateful people killed Jesus. God used the death of Christ to bring about life. God triumphed over the "powers." Ok, but what else? How about, Jesus DID fulfill the legal system (Matthew 5:17-19); God DID require Jesus death - and more, He planned it! (Acts 2:23); Sin WAS overcome through a payment to satisfy God (Romans 3:21-27).

The question pertains to what is central to Christ's atoning work. For a great article on this subject I again commend to you Mark Dever's recent article from Christianity Today Magazine.

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