Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Atonement: The Incompleteness of the Penal Substitution Model

There have been discussions around the 'net of understanding our atonement. Particularly, the discussion has centered around the place which penal substitution should play in our understanding of atonement. Here is a brief overview of why penal substitution cannot stand alone as a theory of atonement:
  • "Transaction theology" at its worst ends up taking the holiness out of our redemption;
  • Focus on atonement-as-substitution removes or displaces the discussion of our transformation;
  • Focus on the "transaction" aspects also obscures the active role of Christ in being the agent of our redemption not just the price tag needed for some other effective agent;
  • Focus on substition also turns the cross of Christ into an event at which we are spectators or beneficiaries but not participants


These are not minor points of the atonement, and we cannot afford to have them displaced by giving center stage to a theory which pushes these things onto the sidelines. As important as it is to understand that Christ died for us, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us back to God, we must not forget that "atonement" is not fully satisfied until our fellowship and communion with God Himself is restored.

1 comment:

Ariel said...

I appreciate your thoughts here. There was more than mere law code logistics involved at the cross.

Thanks for your comment re:humility. If you'd like to think some more about the topic (and ideally do something about it :), you might want to jump in on the Blogger Limelight discussion.

See you around.