Thursday, July 5, 2007

"For God so loved the world...."

At Against Heresies, an interview with Tom Schreiner about the importance of understanding aright what the cross means:
How significant is the denial of penal substitution?

I think it is very significant, for penal substitution is the heart of the atonement and the basis of forgiveness of sins.

Should we speak of "God punishing Jesus" on the cross?

It depends upon what we mean. If we mean that God is angry and forces his Son to bear his wrath, the answer is clearly no. But the biblical view is that a loving Father sent the Son (who voluntarily gave his life) to satisfy his wrath. Hence, the Father did punish the Son, but he did so because of his great love for sinners. ....

How would you help someone to understand that penal substitution is central to understanding the atonement?

I would take them step by step through the scriptures showing 1) God's matchless holiness; 2) the sin of human beings; 3) the eternal judgment that is deserved; and 4) and the sin-bearing death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sinners. ....

How do you account for the recent resurgence of opposition to penal substitution within (of all places) mainstream Western evangelicalism?

The cross is always an offense, and today any notion of punishment is alien to our world-view where love "swallows up" for many the biblical teaching on God's holiness. .... [the interview]

At one point in the interview Dr Schreiner recommends several "must read" books about the atonement. One of them is the recent Pierced for Our Transgressions the writing of which was inspired by a controversy among evangelicals in Britain about the doctrine.

And, at Reformation21, J.I. Packer on "Penal Substitution Revisited."

Against Heresies: In My Place Condemned He Stood: an interview on penal substitution with Dr. Tom Schreiner, Reformation21: J.I. Packer on Penal Substitution Revisited

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