Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Is Penal Substitution Biblical?

I have written an entry for the Methodist church’s Lenten blog.  In it I claim that Penal Substitution is a biblical idea. I am aware that such a blanket statement, which I have only backed up with a few references, is bound to be questioned by some. I also realise that I have neither the time nor the ability to mount a fully argued case for this doctrine. So I thought I would answer this question by turning to some people who know there Bibles far better than I do.

Is Penal Substitution biblical?
Don Carson claims that those who criticise Penal Substitution ‘are not listening very carefully to what either Scripture or history says.’
John Frame refers to Penal Substitution a ‘biblical and historical’ doctrine.
Tremper Longman calls it a ‘crucial doctrine.’
I. Howard Marshall defends this doctrine.
Roger Nicole writes, ‘Atonement is the central doctrine of the Christian faith, and penal substitution is the heart of that doctrine.’
Mike Pilavachi calls it a ‘magnificent doctrine.’
Rico Tice says that Penal Substitution is ‘the most reasonable and honest way of making sense of the Bible.’
David Wells says that Penal Substitution is ‘the message of the gospel down the ages because this is the message of the gospel as Scripture reveals it.’

Now of course I realise that there will be those who argue the opposite (that Penal Substitution is not biblical). I suppose one thing that has to be asked is, ‘what presuppositions do people bring with them when they come to reading the text?’ For example if people cannot relate to the biblical teaching on divine wrath they will inevitably reject the doctrine of Penal Substitution.

Further, for those who want to read a defense of this model of the atonement you might enjoy this.