Penal Substitution and it's scriptural support


#1

Hi! I come from a Presbyterian background, and I've recently been having trouble with the Reformed doctrine of penal substitution. The go-to verses that they cite are:

-Romans 3:23-26 - "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus." (NRSV)

-2 Corinthians 5:21 - "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (RSV)

-Galatians 3:10, 13 - "All who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.' ... Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, 'Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree'" (RSV)

-1 Peter 3:18 - "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God" (RSV)

There are a few more, too, but these seem to be the big ones. The doctrine of penal substitution is one of the main things that drove me away from Calvinism in the first place, mainly because it doesn't make sense. However, I still can't answer anybody who brings these verses up as "proof" that the reformers were right. Any ideas?

Thanks!


#2

This is the area in intra-Christian apologetics that I really have to work on. I’m going to watch this thread.

There are two passages of critical importance that I’d like to add to your list–Isaiah 53:1-12 and Matthew 27:46. No refutation of penal substitution can overlook these prooftexts.


#3

Good catch!

-Isaiah 53:1-12 "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

Matthew 27:46 "About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)"


#4

[quote="smp501, post:1, topic:317472"]
There are a few more, too, but these seem to be the big ones. The doctrine of penal substitution is one of the main things that drove me away from Calvinism in the first place, mainly because it doesn't make sense. However, I still can't answer anybody who brings these verses up as "proof" that the reformers were right. Any ideas?

[/quote]

I'm disappointed to see that no one spoke up to help us defend against penal substitution.

Fortunately, a Catholic apologist--a member of this forum, in fact, going by the handle Catholic Dude--came out yesterday with a blog post which looks very useful in this area.

What do you think?


#5

Please define Penal Substitution for me.


#6

[quote="Chesster, post:5, topic:317472"]
Please define Penal Substitution for me.

[/quote]

According to the CARM site:

Penal Substitution is a theological viewpoint within Christianity that maintains Jesus was legally punished in place of the sinners. That is, he took the place of the sinner. It is "penal" in that Christ suffered the penalty of the Law, taking the "penalty" of the Law. It was substitutionary in that Christ took our place on the cross when he bore our sins (1 Pet. 2:24) and became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21).

As regards to the "proof texts",
catholicnick.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/the-third-most-important-passage-in.html

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=379148

catholicnick.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-biblical-teaching-on-bearing-sin.html

calledtocommunion.com/2010/04/catholic-and-reformed-conceptions-of-the-atonement/

Hope you find them useful =)


#7

[quote="smp501, post:1, topic:317472"]
Hi! I come from a Presbyterian background, and I've recently been having trouble with the Reformed doctrine of penal substitution. The go-to verses that they cite are:

-Romans 3:23-26 - "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus." (NRSV)

-2 Corinthians 5:21 - "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (RSV)

-Galatians 3:10, 13 - "All who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.' ... Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, 'Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree'" (RSV)

-1 Peter 3:18 - "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God" (RSV)

There are a few more, too, but these seem to be the big ones. The doctrine of penal substitution is one of the main things that drove me away from Calvinism in the first place, mainly because it doesn't make sense. However, I still can't answer anybody who brings these verses up as "proof" that the reformers were right. Any ideas?

Thanks!

[/quote]

I would read the following from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
newadvent.org/cathen/02055a.htm
It's quite well balanced and shows how the various theories on the Atonement are, well, theories, while all containing a degree of truth.


#8

[quote="smp501, post:1, topic:317472"]
Hi! I come from a Presbyterian background, and I've recently been having trouble with the Reformed doctrine of penal substitution. The go-to verses that they cite are:

-Romans 3:23-26 - "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus." (NRSV)

-2 Corinthians 5:21 - "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (RSV)

-Galatians 3:10, 13 - "All who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.' ... Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, 'Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree'" (RSV)

-1 Peter 3:18 - "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God" (RSV)

There are a few more, too, but these seem to be the big ones. The doctrine of penal substitution is one of the main things that drove me away from Calvinism in the first place, mainly because it doesn't make sense. However, I still can't answer anybody who brings these verses up as "proof" that the reformers were right. Any ideas?

Thanks!

[/quote]

I think it is really difficult to convince someone who has embraced the heresy of penal substitution that it is not a concept believed or taught by the Apostles. The problem is that all the above verses are written by Catholics, for Catholics, and represent Catholic faith. We believe that He did die for our sins, was punished for our initquities, and became sin for us. However, the manner in which this occured is a mystery to us. How did He bear our sins in His body? How did He make atonement? It is a mystery of our faith.

We reject the concept of penal substitution because:

1) It violates the divine perichoresis, or integrity of the Trinity, where the Son can ever be separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit

2) a true penal substitution would require that Jesus endure an eternity in hell, which is our just punishment


#9

[quote="guanophore, post:8, topic:317472"]
I think it is really difficult to convince someone who has embraced the heresy of penal substitution that it is not a concept believed or taught by the Apostles. The problem is that all the above verses are written by Catholics, for Catholics, and represent Catholic faith. We believe that He did die for our sins, was punished for our initquities, and became sin for us. However, the manner in which this occured is a mystery to us. How did He bear our sins in His body? How did He make atonement? It is a mystery of our faith.

We reject the concept of penal substitution because:

1) It violates the divine perichoresis, or integrity of the Trinity, where the Son can ever be separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit

2) a true penal substitution would require that Jesus endure an eternity in hell, which is our just punishment

[/quote]

Well ... Christ said "I must return to the Father". ... to sit at his rt. Hand.

And, why would it require an eternity in hell ? ...with God, time as we know it doesn't apply.

The Father is allowed to let the 6 hrs on Cross serve as sufficient time punishment ... if He so desired to measure time by our time-frame.

Certainly, scripture speaks of Christ suffering for the many ... to win our redemption before the Father. We say Christ died "once for all" ... based on scripture.

Now, I do understand that this redemption is not open-ended .... it doesn't carte blanche cover our post-justification sinning, committed after our initial redemption .... if we walk away back into former sins. These must be dealt with, via the Church ... our priestly confessions, and daily confessions to Christ. But, even so .... Christ can forgive them, from the standpoint of Calvary, provided we confess/repent/and desire grace from Christ for them.

Regarding the Trinity, and how Jesus can't be separated from the Father & H.S. ..... how could we possibly understand this ? The Trinity is way beyond our intellects. So, in a simple way ... we can understand redemption via Penal Substitution.

Would God be mad at us .... for using this idea to explain redemption ? I'd be happy to reject it ... and accept another idea ... if it made more sense.


#10

a good discussion. St. Augustine’s MOUSE TRAP THEORY … and St. Anselm’s SATISFACTION THEORY.

Yes, if Satan was responsible for death of Christ [via temptation of man to do it for him] … then no Penal payment is due Satan. He is now guilty of death & w/o ability to collect payment for our sins [paid by Christ].

On the Satisfaction Theory … still would require a payment, a satisfaction of shed blood by Christ. … don’t see how it differs from Penal Sub.


#11

[quote="Trebor135, post:4, topic:317472"]
I'm disappointed to see that no one spoke up to help us defend against penal substitution.

Fortunately, a Catholic apologist--a member of this forum, in fact, going by the handle Catholic Dude--came out yesterday with a blog post which looks very useful in this area.

What do you think?

[/quote]

This is exactly what I was looking for!

Thanks for resurrecting this thread btw.


#12

[quote="brb3, post:10, topic:317472"]
a good discussion. St. Augustine's MOUSE TRAP THEORY ..... and St. Anselm's SATISFACTION THEORY.

Yes, if Satan was responsible for death of Christ [via temptation of man to do it for him] ... then no Penal payment is due Satan. He is now guilty of death & w/o ability to collect payment for our sins [paid by Christ].

On the Satisfaction Theory ..... still would require a payment, a satisfaction of shed blood by Christ. .... don't see how it differs from Penal Sub.

[/quote]

The satisfaction theory, however, doesn't specify in legal terms or otherwise why/how satisfaction is made. It simply says that God was satisfied. And, if we think of what actually occurred on the cross, it must be admitted that God was satisfied that He, Himself, underwent an excruciatingly humiliating and painful death. God was satisfied. The radical nature of sin had been addressed by a radical response-one none of us would've anticipated. The Creator of the universe hung on a cross erected by His very own creation-as an act demonstrating His unconditional love in the face of the most immense sin. Sin, including the original sin and all that followed including the crucifixion of Christ, is taken for granted in this world- committed cavalierly as often as not. But it's so absurdly wrong that it could even seek to rid the world of the one thing truly worth our attention-of our love and worship-the most precious and beautiful thing in existence. That's what Jesus demonstrated on the cross-that's what we're guilty of-and that's what needs to be changed/reconciled in us. God did what needed to be done. The cross continues to stand on the landscape of human history now for all to see and navigate to- if and when we're willing. And that's where we'll find what we've needed all along. God was satisfied with that act. And that's very different from PS.


#13

The problem I see with penal substitution -- it can be used by some to support OSAS understandings.
Christ taught, we too must suffer, bearing our Crosses ( with his help ...admittedly). Nevertheless, we must run the race, like Paul. We must persevere, like Paul. We can't simply claim Christ's death on Cross as all the satisfaction needed to get us to glory. We must cooperate with grace given us. We must desire to serve Christ & neighbor. The last shall be first ...said Christ...in reference to our actions / Cross-Bearing.


#14

Also,…the Cross enabled the Eucharist, the Chief Sacrament…needed by the Baptized/Confirmed/Reconciliated.

The frequent receipt of it, helps preserve us. It is food for the journey, the race we must run.


#15

The problem I see with the penal substitutionary atonement it presents an angry, offended blood-thirsty God.


#16

i DON'T see what there is to argue about. Jesus paid the price for our sins. By his stripes or his torture, we are healed.

Perhaps it's an issue of what is more offensive to God? My sin or the torture and murder of his son for no just reason.

So he's paid for us to have our sins forgiven if we ask for it. He's also paid for us to be healed of our infirmaties, illnesses, diseases or anything wrong with us. we can have perfect health in this life if we just take it. We can have our sins forgiven making us richeous enough to enter Gods presence. Jesus won back the authority over all things on the earth and he's given us 'power of attorney' over his authority to cast out any evil spirits and have total victory here and now on the earth. All we have to do is ask God in His name. AND YET WE DON'T. The devil stays for the most part hidden. he's convinced most people that he doesn't really exist.

we're not supposed to understand exactly why it works. it just does. Leave it to God.


#17

Jesus did something for us that we could never for do ourselves. He paid the ransom price by dying on the cross redeeming us from the curse of the law, a death we deserve. He is our Redeemer King.

In the act of Christ's death there is no thought of placating a vengeful God, but of fulfilling the righteuos requirements of the law. Through the sacrifice of Christ's death He makes it possible for the Father to righteously show mercy (receiving something we don't deserve) toward us. Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. The Father's righteous vengence is directed towards those who reject the free gift of salvation.


#18

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