In debates about penal substitutionary atonement, one of the occasional charges against the doctrine is that it fails to serve justice. Guilt, some argue, is not transferable. If an innocent man takes the punishment for someone who actually committed a crime, it isn’t justice. The criminal hasn’t paid his due. That the innocent man has … Continue reading "Repentance and Atonement: Making Substitution Work"
If you talk about C. S. Lewis in theological circles for more than 30 seconds, you are bound to run into talk of his views on the atonement. I myself have written an essay on the subject. But most of the material (my essay included) is about one of two things: either Aslan’s death in … Continue reading "Lewis on Atonement: Christ as Perfect Penitent"
I just finished N. T. Wright’s book on atonement, The Day the Revolution Began. As with every Wright book, it’s about 60% stuff he’s said a dozen times over, 25% helpful and enlightening ideas for reading and understanding the New Testament, and 15% things that you just end up unsure about. And as always, that … Continue reading "The Evangelical Heart of Wright's Atonement"
The classical Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement is problematic in several ways, even if it does contain a nugget of truth. One of these problems is simply bad exegesis, which in turn results from an unbiblical hermeneutic. A key place where this problem manifests itself is in limited atonement prooftexts like this one: She will … Continue reading "He Died for His People, Not the Elect"
My last post on the anthropology of justification, much to my pleasure, received some noteworthy criticisms. There were basically two objections: The proposed anthropology seems to solve the anthropological dualism in a technical, pedantic sense, but the solution is purely nominal. Now there is simply an alternative dualism, between the newly-conceived ontological self and the … Continue reading "More on the Anthropology of Sola Fide: Enfleshed Forensics"
One of the most common claims Catholic and Orthodox critics make of Protestant theology is that the doctrine of forensic justification by faith alone amounts to a legal fiction. God calls us righteous, but we really aren’t righteous. God cooks the books, and the whole atonement is a clever gambit by which God uses Christ’s … Continue reading "The Anthropology of Sola Fide"
Honestly, as much as I strenuously oppose the doctrine of limited atonement on logical and theological grounds, my most confident and compelling reasons are simply Biblical. I don’t think Scripture supports the doctrine in any way, shape, or form, but in fact entirely and completely contradicts it. I think T. F. Torrance was altogether correct in … Continue reading "The Backward Hermeneutic of Limited Atonement"
My series on the Apostles’ Creed must now move on to perhaps what might be regarded as the central section, the section on Christ’s humiliation. This part is gold: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. … Continue reading "The Apostles' Creed: I Believe in Jesus Humiliated"
When I originally ran into Calvinism, limited atonement was the most frightening doctrine to me, and it almost sounded heretical. Even when I was a Calvinist, I originally and in the end found it awfully stretchy in relation to what Scripture actually says, and for that reason I was quite happy to abandon it when the … Continue reading "The Bible, Limited Atonement, the Church, and the World"
This is an essay that I wrote for my British literature class last semester. I figure someone might find it interesting. Or a good laugh. Either way. I Lay Down My Life for Edmund: Atonement Theology in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe “When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in … Continue reading "Narnia and the Cross (An Essay for British Lit)"