As a Licensed Reader within the Church of England, it is of some interest and importance to me to know whether the doctrine of penal substitution is an Anglican doctrine.
Well, the doctrine is not clearly espoused in the Prayer Book of 1662, to which all clergy must assent. The nearest it comes to it is this:
‘…who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.’
But in the Homilies (which are commended in the 39 Articles as containing ‘godly and wholesome doctrine’), penal substitution comes through loud and clear:
‘God sent his only son our Saviour Christ into this world … and by shedding of his most precious blood, to make a sacrifice and satisfaction, or (as it may be called) amends to his Father for our sins, to assuage his wrath and indignation conceived against us … ‘… whereas all the world was not able of themselves to pay any part towards their ransom, it pleased our heavenly Father of his infinite mercy, without any our desert or deserving, to prepare for us the most precious jewels of Christ’s body and blood, whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and his justice fully satisfied.…
I guess that most people who claim to be evangelicals would affirm the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) – the belief that Christ died in our place, bearing the penalty for our sins.
What is less clear is how many of these would argue that PSA is just one of a number of equally important images of the atonement, and how many think that it is the central, dominant, or controlling image.
Of course, more important than such a head-count would be investigating the reasons why people do, or do not, consider PSA to be central. …
One of the frustrations of reading Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, by Joel Green and Mark Baker, is that although they claim to be criticising the doctrine of penal substitution in some of its more popular (and cruder) expressions, they actually tend to train their artillery on other targets.
So I appreciated the opportunity to read this post by Morgan Guyton, who discusses ‘four cringeworthy claims of popular penal substitutionary theology’. (Guyton says that he was motivate by listening to a sermon by Steven Furtick, but I have been unable to track down that particular sermon).…
‘Must we imagine the atonement in penal substitutionary terms?’
This is the question addressed by Joel Green in his contribution to The Atonement Debate. I summarise some of the main points before adding a few comments of my own at the end.
Green begins by quoting the Apostles’ Creed, noting that in it the early church testifies to both the historicity and the centrality of the crucifixion of Jesus, but does not address the question of how Christ’s death is salvific. …
‘In Christ alone’ (Stuart Townend and Keith Getty) is a fine Christian song.
But what about the words that stick in the throats of many:-
Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied.
Please don’t tell me you won’t sing these words because you unwilling to think or speak of God’s wrath, and wish to sing only of his love. The song as a whole does a great job in exploring the various dimensions of Christ’s death and resurrection. …
‘With God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26). ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ (Luke 1:37)
So why doesn’t God simply forgive sinners, without need of any atonement? Why can’t he just let bygones be bygones?
After all, he can do anything, can’t he?
Well, setting aside the obviously absurd (God cannot create a two-sided triangle), we note with Puritan Thomas Brooks that there are three things that God cannot do:- he cannot die; he cannot lie; and he cannot deny himself.…
Taking I.H. Marshall’s suggestions in Aspects of the Atonement as our starting point, we set out some of the questions that need to be asked about the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (PSA):-
Is the doctrine of PSA taught in Scripture? How does it cohere with scriptural teaching on related matters, such as the love of God, the Trinity, the nature of Old Testament sacrifices and meaning of expiation/propitiation? And does it cohere (and if so, how) with the life, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ?