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Archive for February 3rd, 2011

In The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views, Thomas Schreiner presented the Penal Substitutionary Atonement view.  After Schreiner’s essay, the other views wrote their respective responses including Gregory Boyd representing the Christus Victor perspective (specifically, his view was that Christ death was a part of the larger spiritual warfare against Satan which Jesus had victory over).

Boyd believes there is “a host of insurmountable difficulties that plague the penal substitutionary view”, which Boyd “frankly found nothing in Tom Schreiner’s essay that assuaged or even seriously addressed these problems.” (The Nature of the Atonement, 104).  Two shall be looked at here.

  1. “How are we to reconcile the idea that the Father needs to exact payment from or on behalf of his enemies with Jesus’ teachings (and example) that we are to love unconditionally and forgive without demanding payment” (104)?

Response:

  • One is obligated to hold that the Father will demand payment from or on behalf of sinners’ sin, since this is taught in the Bible.  Hebrews 9:22b teaches concerning blood payment for forgiveness of sins: “And without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
  • If a tension exists with this question, it perhaps is a result of failing to take into account the Creator-Creature distinction.  That is, there is a real difference between God (“Father”) and His creatures (“we”).  There is a discontinuity between the two, with how ethics that applies to creatures does not apply to God and vice versa. One can think of the example of God being the source of moral norms while creatures are not, as an example of the Creator-creature distinction.  Therefore, one should be cautious in applying morals for humans unto God.

 

  1. “Along these same lines, how are we to reconcile the idea that God cannot be reconciled with sinners without his wrath being satisfied with blood with the pervasive scriptural depiction of God forgiving people without needing his wrath appeased (e.g., Luke 15:11-32)?” (104)

Response:

  • Again, one must assumes that the Father will demand payment from or on behalf of sinners.  This is according to Hebrews 9:22b, which teaches concerning blood payment for forgiveness of sins: “And without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
  • Luke 15:11-32 is the parable of the two sons.  There are limits in parable illustrating every truth in the Bible, as every illustrations break down or are limited to illustrating the main point at hand.  The main point of the parable of the two sons can be gleamed from the rest of the context in chapter 15 in which Jesus was talking about the joy of sinners repenting (cf. vv. 7, 10, 22-24).
  • Since the main point of the parable was to illustrate the joy one should have at sinners repenting, the issue of God’s wrath need appeasing is not the main subject and therefore it’s absence as a subject here should not be taken as an evidence of absence from the rest of the Bible’s teaching.  Rather, one should focus on Biblical passages which main point is about the nature of the atonement instead.
  • One can also turn the same argument from Luke 15:11-32 that Boyd uses against Penal Substitution, and apply it against his Christus Victor position:  How are we to reconcile the idea that Jesus death was about spiritual warfare victory over Satan with with the pervasive scriptural depiction of God forgiving people without warfare against Satan in Luke 15:11-32?  It is self-refuting against his own view.

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