Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Mar 5, 2020.
I am in no position to make an authoritative response to this question, but our rector has stated that there's room in Anglicanism for a number of good theories, and that one need not pick just a single one because there's validity to several of them. I think he means there are different aspects, like different facets of a diamond.
XI. Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.
XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
I believe @Rexlion is absolutely correct in the suggestion of his rector that there are a number of theories that are acceptable within Anglicanism, and that it is reasonable to think that all of them contribute to our understanding of the work of atonement, which none of them completely describes no can be used to deny the truth of other theories. Perhaps my biggest problem with penal substitution is that generally it is espoused in a manner than denies the validity and contribution that the others use. Holy Scripture certainly outlines ideas of Justification, Redemption, Restoration, Sacrifice, Liberation, Victory, because we are dealing with profound mysteries.
The biggest problem, in my view is the wrong assumptions that seem to be made surrounding the Substitutionary Sacrifice theory of atonement. It is actually the only theory contained in Scripture itself, in the Epistle to Hebrews, but conclusions reached from that are often beyond what scripture actually records.
All of the following assumptions are blasphemously wrong, but are regularly trotted out either explicitly or impliedly in many sermons and religious worship songs.
(1) That God's Righteous Wrath was required to be appeased by an unblemished victim, so God demanded Christ's death.
(2) That a human Sacrifice was demanded by God BEFORE He, would or could, forgive.
(3) That the punishment laid upon Christ came entirely from God, and not from the sinful humanity it redeemed.
In fact the death of Christ was inevitable from the very moment of the incarnation, if Christ was to truly live a human life in common with the whole of mankind he had to die somehow. What was not inevitable though was the manner of His death. That resulted entirely from human sin and human godless, injustice in the face of God's Grace.
Christ agreed to go to the cross in obedience to LOVE, not out of the dictates of a cruel and vengeful Father. WE were entirely responsible and culpable for his humiliation and death, not His Heavenly Father.
I very much agree with yours and Rexlion’s post. You have made excellent points. One thing I might add is your criticism of the penal substitution theory might not be with the theory itself but with those who hold it and their “puritan” disposition. I personally have been blessed by my study of other views, and Eastern Orthodoxy especially. If anything, my view of the penal substitution theory has been so much broadened and made deeper by challenging it with an open mind, exploring other views, and interpreting the theory from a catholic (universal and historic Christian) perspective.
In fairness, I think that is a long bow. In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
My signature, of course.Substutionary Sacrifice though is the only theory of atonement actually postulated as such in scripture. There are references however to other explanations for Christ's death which are not formally expounded as THE only possible theory.
I did say though that it was the assumptions associated with Substitutionary Sacrifice that are wrong, not the theory itself. We can't deny God's wrath at the injustice perpetrated by sinners, as found in scripture, but we must also recognise that God was in Christ to RECONCILE the world to himself, not to pour His unjust wrath on faithful, substitutionary, Christ. That would be a strange form of justice.
I think the people who think the Father poured out His wrath on Christ rely upon this verse:
Mar 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? They say that the Holy Spirit fled from Christ at that hour. What would you say to them? (Not arguing, but wondering.)
I always say: "Read Psalm 22, especially verses 22-31. It finishes with Jesus' last words. "It is finished". (He has done it).
He did it for US. ALL of US. And He Acomplished it, just as he always said he would. John 3:14, John 8:28, John 12:32.
You don't have a lot of breath to spare during crucifixion. He was saying to his followers, "Read Psalm 22" if you want to know what this is all about. "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabathani" is the Aramaic opening of Psalm 22.
HE most certainy is, most excellent.