Au Contraire James McGrath

Good old James McGrath, who is something like the Lady Gaga of the biblioblogosphere if  blog rankings are anything to go by, has been preaching against some sacred evangelical relics.

First, James has a post comparing the defence of the inerrancy of the Bible with the tactics used to defend Sarah Palin’s recent blunder on Paul Revere (though I think Stephen Colbert has proved beyond all reasonable doubt that her case is faultless!). My default setting is to adhere to the “infallibility” (WCF/1689 LBC) and “sufficiency” (39 Art.) of Scripture according to the historic Protestant confessions. “Inerrancy” is a robust assertion of biblical authority, though I’m fully aware that it can also go “a bridge too far” if not qualified and conformed to the phenomenon of Scripture. I should say that I’m also down to contribute to a book on 5 Views of Inerrancy in the future which will be one to watch out for. A response to James is made by Colin Hansen over at the Gospel Coalition website.

Second, James reposts some stuff he’s done about penal substitution. These objections have been all heard before. These are not new arguments and need no new counter response. Let me say this, I confess that in reading Gal 3:13 and Rom 8:3, I simply have no idea how you can come away without thinking of Jesus’ death as substitutionary sacrifice.  Substitution and representation are not antithetical and they go together. The correction that is needed, I think, to many PSA theories, is to relate it to the story of creation, Israel, discipleship, and consummation. On that see Scot McKnight’s A Community Called Atonement and his more technical book Jesus and His Death.

  • Nick Norelli

    I think it should be noted that one can hold to a substitutionary atonement without necessarily holding to a penal substitutionary atonement (i.e., an atonement in which Jesus suffers in our place without being punished in our place [because punishment implies guilt and Jesus was without guilt]).

    • http://profiles.google.com/kylpitts Kyle Pitts

      Nick, but we were not without guilt, in fact we were very guilty. This is why it is a propitiation for our sins, that He was “pierced through for our transgressions” and that it “pleased the Father to crush Him” (Isaiah 53). Although He was not guilty of any transgression He took upon Himself our punishment and thus appeasing His own nature. We must keep in mind that God is above all and does not need to “appease” His own nature but could if willed, do what is contrary to His nature but that would be imperfect and He is perfect in all He is and does.

      • Richard

        That he was “crushed” need not imply punishment and to hold such a notion requires that the High Priest in the OT was punishing the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement in addition to offering it as a substitute.

        There’s a reason why the “penal” aspect of PSA wasn’t developed until the reformation. Not even Anselm articulated the notion of God (Triune, of course) being punished for our sin – merely that he was satisfying the offense against himself.

        • 1abacabb Abacabb1

          “…he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” – Isaiah 53:12

          Death is the punishment for sin–thus the High Priest in the OT was both punishing the sacrifice as well as offering it as a substitute.

          There would be no reason for a substitute if there was no punishment.

          We call it a substitute because it substitutes for our sins, and thus merits the punishment of death.

          • Richard

            Death is the fruit/wages of sin, not the punishment of sin. The atonement was Christ conquering death and sin, not death conquering Christ.

            The issue is not regarding substitution. The issue is positing that the Father was punishing the Son on our behalf rather than the Son conquering Sin and Death on our behalf.

            Re: punishing the animals; the goat that had the sins of the people laid on it was driven out, not slain.

  • Nick Norelli

    I think it should be noted that one can hold to a substitutionary atonement without necessarily holding to a penal substitutionary atonement (i.e., an atonement in which Jesus suffers in our place without being punished in our place [because punishment implies guilt and Jesus was without guilt]).

    • http://profiles.google.com/kylpitts Kyle Pitts

      Nick, but we were not without guilt, in fact we were very guilty. This is why it is a propitiation for our sins, that He was “pierced through for our transgressions” and that it “pleased the Father to crush Him” (Isaiah 53). Although He was not guilty of any transgression He took upon Himself our punishment and thus appeasing His own nature. We must keep in mind that God is above all and does not need to “appease” His own nature but could if willed, do what is contrary to His nature but that would be imperfect and He is perfect in all He is and does.

      • Richard

        That he was “crushed” need not imply punishment and to hold such a notion requires that the High Priest in the OT was punishing the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement in addition to offering it as a substitute.

        There’s a reason why the “penal” aspect of PSA wasn’t developed until the reformation. Not even Anselm articulated the notion of God (Triune, of course) being punished for our sin – merely that he was satisfying the offense against himself.

        • 1abacabb Abacabb1

          “…he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” – Isaiah 53:12

          Death is the punishment for sin–thus the High Priest in the OT was both punishing the sacrifice as well as offering it as a substitute.

          There would be no reason for a substitute if there was no punishment.

          We call it a substitute because it substitutes for our sins, and thus merits the punishment of death.

          • Richard

            Death is the fruit/wages of sin, not the punishment of sin. The atonement was Christ conquering death and sin, not death conquering Christ.

            The issue is not regarding substitution. The issue is positing that the Father was punishing the Son on our behalf rather than the Son conquering Sin and Death on our behalf.

            Re: punishing the animals; the goat that had the sins of the people laid on it was driven out, not slain.

  • http://twitter.com/JeremiahBailey JeremiahBailey

    I think the best context for substitutionary atonement is found in relating it to apocalyptic judgment. It fits the scheme within the meta-narrative without allowing it to become overly narrow or individualistic.

  • http://twitter.com/JeremiahBailey Jeremiah Bailey

    I think the best context for substitutionary atonement is found in relating it to apocalyptic judgment. It fits the scheme within the meta-narrative without allowing it to become overly narrow or individualistic.

  • http://www.nearemmaus.com Brian LePort

    I am interested to know what James thinks of being like Lady Gaga.

  • http://www.nearemmaus.com Brian LePort

    I am interested to know what James thinks of being like Lady Gaga.

  • Pingback: Not Born This Liberal: Further Thoughts on Inerrancy | Exploring Our Matrix

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath
  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath
  • Guest
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  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Guest, I could definitely do with shoes like those

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Guest, I could definitely do with shoes like those

  • Pingback: Galatians 3:13 and Romans 8:3 Without Penal Substitution? | Exploring Our Matrix

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I have posted some further thoughts about those passages, but I still don’t have the high platform shoes. Alas.

    Can you please update your blogroll so that it reflects Exploring Our Matrix’s current location here on Patheos? :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I have posted some further thoughts about those passages, but I still don’t have the high platform shoes. Alas.

    Can you please update your blogroll so that it reflects Exploring Our Matrix’s current location here on Patheos? :)

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