Tuesday, August 14, 2007

100 Posts & something to argue about

This is my 100th Post on this blog! What better way to celebrate than a discussion of the cross and as always something for us to argue about! *Warning* The rest of the post is a bit theological/boring depending on your point of view

The death and resurrection of Jesus is the most important doctrine in our faith and that is why the temperature rises on this more than anything else, more 'lines in the sand' are drawn here than anywhere else.

The authors of 'Pierced for our Transgressions' (PFOT), reviewed, then interviewed and endlessly debated over at Adrian Warnock's blog, have certainly drawn their lines in the sand on this issue. For them the Penal Substitution Atonement (PSA) view and in the way they view it is a line that cannot be crossed. Disagree on this and you may be in danger of preaching another gospel. For these guys the stakes are at their highest.

I was expecting to really dislike this book but credit where it's due, the authors have written a thorough, readable and engaging book. They've attempted to deal with their critics and largely the tone is open rather than defensive. What was hugely irritating though was the impression that 'this is the last word' on the subject, which just wound me up, what can I say?

Anyway, for what it's worth here are some things I disagreed with see what you think:
1) This is one of the big ones. When answering their critics they find themselves relying on the doctrine of limited atonement to defend their views (p268-278). They admit that without this they 'struggle to see how the criticisms can be answered'. To me the idea that God has two wills, God's moral will, which He tells us about ('I want to save everyone') and His sovereign will, which He keeps to Himself ('I'll only save some') is unbiblical, but is easily solved by allowing mankind real freedom of choice. Anyway pull the rug under this one and a lot of their other arguments fall.

2) They provide good evidence that the wrath of God on the last day can be averted by faith in Christ but provide poor evidence (other than Is 53) to suggest that Christ bore that wrath ie that God actively poured out His wrath and anger on His Son who was hanging on the cross. These guys really, really like wrath. Anyway I'm uncomfortable with them being clearer on this than the writers of the New Testament.

3) The resurrection is a bit more important than they make out - without it we would still be dead in our sins (1 Cor 15/17).
4) The 'cup' Jesus referred to may not necessarily be that of wrath, there are other options
5) The link between wrath and sacrifice is not proven which undermines a massive part of their theory
6) We need to forgive without satisfaction, God needs satisfaction before He can forgive. Eh?

And I could go on but we should be able to bash this one around for a while. I should point out that I believe Jesus was my substitute on the cross, he offered himself as a perfect sacrifice, is the great High Priest, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, did what I could not do, paid a price I was unable to pay, by faith alone in this can I be saved and forgiven and avoid God's eternal judgement. On the cross Christ defeated sin, death, the devil and all evil. Therefore God exalted Him to the Highest Place. Sadly despite all of this because of the disagreements above I may be believing a false gospel. It's this lack of nuance in PFOT that is hard to swallow, we're right (100%) and anything else is just wrong.


ianjmatt on 14 August 2007 at 19:51 said...

Great post Phil. I agree with your last paragraph - pretty much where I am at. My problem with the book (and the approach that Mike Ovey at the Marsham Street debate) is the idea that PSA is the litmus test for the 'soundness' of the gospel.

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