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Old Sep 23, '05, 5:51 am
RyanL RyanL is offline
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Join Date: January 30, 2005
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Default Re: Jesus did not pay eternal penalty of hell?

From Robert Sungenis' response to Dr. Horton:
...This issue brings up another major difference between the Protestant and Catholic views of the Atonement. Luther and Calvin believed that, since justification was a purely legal enterprise, this meant that Christ had to suffer the equivalent of the legal punishment of the elect in order to redeem them. In other words, Christ had to suffer the precise punishment they would have sustained in Hell, whatever that punishment is.

Although no Father or medieval theologian had ever entertained the idea that the statement in the Apostles Creed that Christ descended into hell meant more than a release of detained saints, the Reformers saw in the descent an opportunity to buttress their forensic understanding of justification. They interpreted the descent as the infliction of the torments of hell on Christ in order to make a full legal payment for sin. Nicolas of Cusa (1400-1464) and Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) were the first to introduce the idea that Christ sustained agony in the descent into hell. Martin Luther held that Christ, as God and man, literally entered hell to sustain God's wrath, suffering the tortures of the damned.

John Calvin used these concepts and was the first to produce the full-blown interpretation that Christ assumed the legal guilt of the sin for the elect and was justly punished with the torments of eternal damnation. He writes:

" But we must seek a surer explanation, apart from the Creed, of Christ's descent into hell...If Christ had died only a bodily death, it would have been ineffectual. No-it was expedient at the same time for him to undergo the severity of God's vengeance, to appease his wrath and satisfy his just judgment. For this reason, he must also grapple hand to hand with the armies of hell and the dread of everlasting death....By these words he means that Christ was put in place of evildoers as surety and pledge-submitting himself even as the accused-to bear and suffer all the punishments that they ought to have sustained...No wonder, then, if he is said to have descended into hell, for he suffered the death that God in his wrath had inflicted upon the wicked!" INT 2:16:10.

Suffice it to say, this is a thoroughly unbiblical understanding of the Atonement. Christ did not suffer the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. He suffered and died only, and this was sufficient to appease the wrath of God so that grace could be offered to mankind.

For more information on this, see my book Not By Bread Alone, "The Nature of Christ's Sacrifice," pages 37-56, and "Appendix 5, A Critique of Protestant Views of Penal Substitution," pages 333-342...

Sungenis may have his differences with Catholic Answers, but Not By Bread Alone is an orthodox book that I would recommend to anyone who would be willing to read a 700+ page book on one subject.

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