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. …
Tim Challies has helpfully drawn together some ways in which the Bible can guide our prayers for unbelievers.
Here’s a summary:-
1. Praying for them
We begin with prayers for salvation. Each of these prayers seeks the same thing, but in a different way or from a different angle or using different language. Each of them is grounded in a specific text of Scripture.
‘Pray that God would circumcise their hearts,‘ Deut 30:6.
‘Pray that God would give them a heart of flesh,‘ Ezekiel 11:19.…
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. …
Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) famously defined preaching as ‘the bringing of truth through personality’.
I have long considered this definition to be pregnant with meaning, for it seems to suggest a number of important corollaries. It suggests that in addition to the non-negotiable truth content that is fundamental to the preacher’s message:-
the preacher is not ‘anonymous’, but is a real person, speaking to real persons
each preacher should have something distinctive (unique, perhaps) to offer by way of style and emphasis that arises from the distinctive (unique, perhaps) aspects of his own personality
it is proper (desirable, perhaps) for the preacher to draw on his person characteristics and life experiences while shaping his message
Christian truth which has not been, and cannot be, ‘lived’, is mere theorising
this seems to confirm John Owen’s dictum that, ‘no man preaches that sermon well to others that doth not first preach it to his own heart.’
But how did Brooks himself view preaching, and what did he mean by his celebrated definition?…
I rather like how Jeremy Linn has captured some of the most popular atheist arguments against Christianity, and hinted at where some of its weaknesses might lie.
Moreover, says Linn, ‘for each of the arguments, we give an example question you can ask to better understand where the person who gave the argument is coming from. The goal is to listen and understand, rather than to dominate and tear down.’
1: Who created God?
This question is asked under the assumption that God needs a creator.…