Firstly, I am not convinced that Steve really has answered the plethora of key biblical texts dealing with the relationship between wrath, judgement and punishment. (Isaiah 53:1-11 and Romans 5:8-11 and the book of Hebrews for starters.) Apart from the concept of punishment, what can it possibly mean to say “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,”? (Isa 53:5) These passages simply cannot be waved away by an emphasis on love.
By insisting that Penal Substitution is pagan and therefore unorthodox, he makes himself a theological policeman and as much an excluder as anyone else I know. Ironic. Evangelical unity is threatened here, not by open theological debate but by theological intolerance.
Secondly, it’s one thing to question the place of penal substitution as an appropriate model of atonement but it’s quite another to dismiss it and anathematise those who do. Steve’s exclusion clause disqualifies the majority of Christians like me around the world who hold to a doctrine of Penal Substitution. I haven’t yet worked out if Steve recognises the implications of his position.
But I also wonder what this means for the emerging generation of Christians who may be happy with the sentiments without grasping the theological implications, and for whom the experience of church is limited to their immediate circle of friends. Will someone take time to ensure that they embrace the Scriptures as well as they have happily welcome these ideas? We are in this for the long run and in the long run, happy Christians don’t necessarily make the most effective disciples.
Joel also expresses a concern that those on “the other side” be gracious loving and seek “the truth in love”
This isnt going to go away.