The Atonement – Should We Disagree With John Stott?

In a helpful article which seeks to put the current atonement debate into context, Mark Meynell introduces a quote from John Stott in the following way:

“. . . the Bible surely causes us to say that at the cross, God is saving us from himself by himself. The Cross is a Trinitarian endeavour driven by God the Trinity’s righteousness and justice, and his merciful desire to justify (cf Romans 3:25-26). To paraphrase John Stott, the cross is God’s self-satisfaction by his self-substitution. Consequently, as Stott also notes: ‘We must never make Christ the object of God’s punishment or God the object of Christ’s persuasion, for both God and Christ were subjects not objects, taking the initiative together to save sinners.’”

Strikingly, in the current debate many would take issue with John Stott’s comment. When I read the book from which it is taken, I didn’t take it as a denial of the idea of God punishing sin in Jesus, just a desire to stress the fact that both God the Father and God the Son were united in the act of the atonement.

I think that this paragraph certainly hits on the heart of the disagreements that many have with penal substitution as we often explain it. Should we, in fact, be saying that Jesus was punished by God as we often do? Was Stott wrong to say what he did? Or are we missing a nuance in our popular presentation of this doctrine?

Continues with “The Atonement – Wrong Ideas About the Cross”

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