Did God pour out his wrath on his own Son to satisfy his own need for justice?
Or did God-in-Christ forgive the world even as it unleashed its wrath on him?
Was Christ's sacrifice the ultimate fulfilment of God's demand for redemptive bloodshed? Or was the cross God's great "No" to that whole system? The church is asking these questions afresh. And from every stream of Christianity, answers are coming.
Stricken by God combines twenty essays (over 500 pages) from such authors as N.T. Wright, Rowan Williams, Richard Rohr, Miroslav Volf and Marcus Borg. Other contributers include Tony Bartlett, J. Denny Weaver, Sharon Baker, James Alison and Mark Baker. Anglican, Catholic, Anabaptist, Evangelical and Orthodox writers come together to revisit the question of the atonement. Together, they share and develop perspectives of the cross with implications for restorative justice, nonviolence and redemptive suffering. The following is an excerpt from Brad Jersak's chapter, "Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ":
I. Why gather?
Across virtually every stream of Christian faith, the doctrinal ground is shifting under our theology of the Cross and the atonement. Tectonic plates of understanding are sliding and grinding—long-standing assumptions concerning sin, wrath, judgement, salvation and the very nature of God are triggering theological tremors in every quarter.
Some perceive a dreadful crisis surrounding “the faith once delivered.” Others feel a deep resonance to a fresh revelation of our first truths. Such core issues as why Christ died and how Christ saves are begging new questions. The current theological earthquake did not arise from mere boredom in seminary ivory towers. Experts and lay people alike are digging deep to such bedrock queries as, “Who is God?” and “What is the Gospel?” Very few givens remain. We might wonder, “Is nothing sacred?” That is exactly the question.
More specifically, a recent surge of literature, conferences and debates has re-opened the question of the meaning of Christ’s death at varying depths of strata. What do these shifts say about God? About God’s love? About God’s justice? What is the “good news” and how do we proclaim it? What is the preaching of the Cross? In fact, what is the Cross? What is “the blood”? One might wonder whether this buckling, holy ground will once again yawn and swallow those who dare trespass.
In the midst of our wondering, we run into the relatively recent(1) dogmatization of penal substitution as the evangelical atonement creed. No longer content to call it a theory, many preach it as the required content of belief in order to be “saved.” Yet in these days, penal substitution is being reconsidered. Some are carefully cleansing it of misrepresentative accretions and defending its central position. Others feel it should be nuanced and relativized as one among a cluster of metaphors. Still others feel it needs to be renounced and bid good riddance. In the latter case, what alternatives do the dissenting voices propose? Are common themes rising to the surface that are truly rooted in the Scriptures and church tradition? That is the major question this book seeks to answer.
II. Who is at this table?
Included in this discussion are representatives of Anglican, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anabaptist and Evangelical traditions. They range from bishops to prison chaplains to novelists, all of whom have given significant thought to the meaning of the Cross of Christ.
While the members of these many traditions offer alternative readings of the atonement—even disagreeing sharply on a number of points—they have gathered around this table with a number of shared convictions.
A. They recognize that a shift in our understanding of the atonement is both necessary and well under way. A sense of urgency and inspiration is developing around our proclamation of the Cross.
B. Each author presents an alternative to the dominant theory of the atonement known as penal substitution. Most do not believe that the Cross saves us through the satisfaction of God’s wrath by the punishment of Jesus Christ.
C. While these authors bring a variety of approaches to “Cross-talk,” three common themes serve as an umbrella under which we might all gather:
1. God’s nonviolence in Christ at the cross. I.e. While the Cross was a violent episode, we are not witnessing God’s violence; the atonement is non-penal. Good Friday was not the outpouring of God’s violence upon Christ to assuage his own wrath. That day was God’s “No!” to wrath and “Yes!” to love and forgiveness in the face of our violence and wrath.
2. Christ’s total identification with humanity in his incarnation and his call for us to identify with him in his life, death, resurrection and glorification. His solidarity with us draws us into the new humanity he is creating.
3. The victory of Christ over Satan, sin and death as he confronts and defeats them through his resistance, obedience, and resurrection.
III. Speaking of the Atonement
Historically, the question to which theories of the atonement addressed themselves was, “How does the Cross save us?” This question assumes that it is specifically the Cross (i.e. the death of Christ) that saves—a fair assumption based on Paul’s commitment to preaching nothing but “Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). He referred to the gospel as “the message of the Cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18) or “preaching salvation through the Cross” (Galatians 5:11). We’re said to be “saved by his blood” or “by his death” (Romans 5). Indeed, the Cross seems to be the focus of Christ’s mission and the central symbol of his incarnation.
The significance of the Cross raises further questions. Our authors will investigate the following:
• Why did Jesus die? (Both historically and theologically speaking. From the Jews’ and Romans’ perspective? From the apostles’ perspective? From God’s point of view? And specifically, from Jesus of Nazareth’s point of view?)
• Did Christ have to die? (I.e. Did he have to be killed? Was it inevitable? Was it necessary?)
• Did he intend to die? (Or did he simply intend to obey, even unto death? In either case, why? What was he attempting to do? How did Christ understand his path to the Cross?)
Yet we mustn’t collapse the whole Gospel narrative nor our entire soteriology into Good Friday. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that apart from the resurrection, we would be of all people most pitied. Further, we ought not to divorce the events of Passion Week and Easter weekend from the life and ministry of Christ. The incarnation of Christ—the sending of God’s Son in toto—is what makes our salvation possible.
Chris Hoke, a member of the Tierra Nueva (an international faith and justice community), put it to me this way:
The key to my own thesis is that atonement precedes the Cross. The Cross is not the key event that saves us, but the portrait par excellence of the God we believe in. The Cross is God’s climax—the living out of his type of power and love.
For a careful theology of atonement, we might more precisely ask, How does Christ save us? From who or what does he save us? And what does “save” mean? Secondarily, “What part did his death play in that salvation?” From there, we ask in what sense Jesus’ death was (i.) necessary, (ii.) inevitable, and (iii.) intentional.
According to the apostolic tradition, Jesus knew that he would die,(2) and that it was necessary(3) in that it was the inevitable result of ultimate obedience to his Father and the wickedness of mankind. Anselm rightly identifies the atonement question as, “Why did God become man?” One reason the Word became flesh was in order to die.(4) In becoming fully human, Christ gained access to death so that he could confront death on our behalf and defeat the tyranny of death through his own death and resurrection.
In the physical realm, his death proves inevitable as he confronts imperial and religious systems with the nonviolent message of God. In the spiritual realm, his death is intentional in that he confronts the forces of death and hades and defeats them through his resurrection.
IV. My journey
I grew up believing that one must believe in penal substitution to be a Christian. I fully gave myself to the doctrine out of gratitude and love for Christ. In seminary, I fed my passion for the Cross by writing as my thesis, “The Nature of Christ’s Substitution and Suffering.” Assuming penal substitution, my question was this: If Christ paid in full the penalty for all humankind’s sin, and if the penalty for humanity’s sin is eternity in hell, then how can one person’s relatively brief suffering and temporary death be considered full payment? Especially if the punishment should be eternal in duration and universal in scope? So many assumptions! I proposed that both the nature of the person (Christ) and the nature of the suffering (God-forsakenness) were eternal, amounting to just payment... something to that effect.
I had read my theology back through early church history and into the Bible as if the apostles and church fathers had authored my views. I confess to proof-texting in ways that did not allow Scripture to speak for itself. I imported the premises of penal substitution back into phrases like “Christ died for (anti) us” and words such as “propitiation” (the hilasmos and hilasterion word group). I read the theory retrospectively into the Old Testament sacrificial system and “Servant songs” like Isaiah 53.
However, I did learn along the way that penal substitution was just one of many atonement theories. I saw its initial development from Anselm’s “satisfaction” theory(5) in the 11th century to its codification as “penal substitution” in the 1500s under the Reformers. But there were a number of other, earlier theories: Irenaeus’s “recapitulation theory,” the “moral influence theory,” and “the ransom-paid-to-Satan theory.” Then I read of modern expressions like Gustaf Aulen’s “Christus Victor,” René Girard’s “mimetic theory” and the “nonviolent atonement” espoused by the Anabaptists.(6) This was a revelation: admitting that penal substitution in its modern form represents the Reformed theory and not the Christian dogma of the atonement. The so-called doctrine was really a debate.
THE ATONEMENT DEBATE
I. Charges against penal substitution
For those who subscribe to penal substitution, some very wise and influential authors remain in that court. The best essay that I’ve read from this point of view is J.I. Packer’s “What Did the Cross Achieve? The Logic of Penal Substitution.”(7) Packer believes that penal substitution is “at the very heart of the Christian gospel” and “a distinguishing mark of the world-wide evangelical fraternity.” The essay attempts to clarify the doctrine in order to avoid needless caricatures. Packer argues from logic and exegesis that the atonement is both penal and substitutionary while acknowledging and explicating the aspects of faith-knowledge and mystery with respect to the Cross.
More recently, Hans Boersma’s Violence, Hospitality and the Cross attempts to integrate the major theories (including penal substitution) by minimizing our tendency to overextend atonement metaphors (e.g. ransom). I have written a review(8) that explains why, in the end, I wasn’t sold.
These fine examples notwithstanding, some common charges against penal substitution through the centuries have included the following:
• It pits Father against Son—or the Father’s wrath against the Son’s forgiveness, even though behind this there is a pact rooted in love’s search for a solution that honours justice (so that God can both justify and be just—Romans 3:26).
• It makes God beholden—to his own sense of honour (Anselm), law and/or justice (the Reformers), anger and wrath. In effect, God is under the law. To be more charitable, we might say that he must act consistently with his perfectly just character, which cannot minimize the seriousness of sin by letting it go unpunished.
• It requires the debt of sin to be paid back—there is no free gift. This type of God must be reimbursed—even if by proxy and with consent—before he can forgive or show mercy. Technically, the debt of sin must be paid back in full rather than cancelled or forgiven.
• It says sin must be paid back by punishment—the torment of the sinner satisfies God’s need for wrath. The justice he requires is specifically retributive. Since no one can ever satisfy such wrath or repay the eternal debt for themselves—let alone for third parties—the punishment for mankind’s collective sin-debt could only be extracted by someone of eternal nature and divine purity. Hence, the incarnation.
• It paints God as retributive—the picture of God derived from penal substitution looks vindictive and untrustworthy, repulsed by sinners and rather different than the Father’s heart as portrayed perfectly by Jesus. For some, it reflects an angry and unbending facet of God’s character that is inconsistent with the compassionate Father of the prodigal son who exacts no fee for re-entry into the family.
• It distorts divine justice—such a God shows us a form of justice that requires an eye for an eye and spawns a retributive penal system, incites domestic violence, and failed experiments in parental “tough love” (nothing like the prodigal father).
• It creates atheists—authors like Steve Chalke see in penal substitution a caricature of God who would be guilty of “cosmic child abuse.”(9) Orthodox Archbishop Lazar Puhalo explained it to me this way: “A god who demands the child-sacrifice of his own son to satiate his own wrath? That is not Jehovah; that is Molech. God was not punishing Christ on the Cross; he was IN Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.”
II. The Rebuttal
Some very fine theologians have debated many of these difficulties throughout the centuries. To mention just a few spikes in the controversy, we have Abelard’s “moral theory” versus Anselm’s “satisfaction theory” (11th century), the Socinians’s attempt to rebuff the Reformers (16th century), John Owen’s answer to Hugo Grotius’s “governmental theory” (17th century) and a host of alternatives that arise in the 20th century (most notably Gustaf Aulen’s “Christus Victor” and René Girard’s mimetic theory).
Finding such challenges to penal substitution unpersuasive, Edwin Tay, writing after the Westminster Conference 2006 claims, “The history of criticism with respect to the penal doctrine is, interestingly, a history of the degeneration of criticism.”(10)
For a fresh defence of penal theory, Garry Williams’ essay “Justice, Law, and Guilt” was presented at the EA (Evangelical Alliance) Symposium on Penal Substitution. He addresses many of the charges against penal theory thoughtfully and succinctly. While Williams’ responses may provide an adequate defence for those who want to hold that ground, those who have already abandoned penal territory will not likely be compelled to return home.
Earlier, I mentioned “alleged refutations,” because even after listening to the proffered answers from Owen to Williams, not all of us are as convinced in our minds or satisfied in our hearts that their counter-arguments are valid. The best theological syllogisms complete with cross-referencing simply do not ring true to the God that Christ made known in the Gospels through word and deed and continues to make known in our experience of him today.
However, Williams’ essay reminded me that when we speak of the Cross of Christ, we are on holy ground. We stand in a place of mystery that requires humility. We ought not violate the very love that Christ demonstrated by firing cannon balls over Golgotha at one another. We do well to present our proposals with genuine meekness, with generosity for our rival theorists, renouncing contempt wherever it lurks. Let us not tread, through lack of charity, upon the very Cross we proclaim.
Above all, while I feel it is time to wrestle again with our understanding of Christ’s death, I would grieve the irony of breaking fellowship over it. Williams, in terms that evoke despair, warns that this might be called for:
It is no escalation to say that proponents of penal substitution are charged with advocating a biblically unfounded, systematically misleading, and pastorally lethal doctrine. If the attack is simply on a caricature of the doctrine, all well and good. Then the way forward is simple: the critics need to say that they do believe in penal substitution itself and just not in warped forms of it. But if the accusation is indeed an accusation against penal substitution itself, as I suspect it is, then I fear that we cannot carry on as we are. As much as I would like to, and mindful of the injunctions of the Lord Jesus Christ himself to seek peace, I find it impossible to agree that this is just an intramural, within-the-family dispute, when it has been acknowledged by all parties that we are arguing about who God is, about the creedal doctrine of the Trinity, about the consequences of sin, about how we are saved, and about views which are held to encourage the abuse of women and children. So long as these issues are the issues, and I believe that they have been rightly identified, then I cannot see how we can remain allied together without placing unity above these truths which are undeniably central to the Christian faith. I say this with a heavy heart.(11)
If I hear Williams aright, then he is saying that he must break fellowship with all those who knowingly reject penal substitution as their doctrine of the atonement. I hope that I am misreading him. For my part, I believe we kneel in the shadow of the same Cross, allied not by doctrinal agreement but by the same blood that makes us siblings of God’s grace.
Yet Williams is at least right that this is a central issue concerning the very nature of the God we claim to worship. What does it mean to disagree about the nature of God and the Gospel on such a fundamental level? This issue will divide us if it essentially creates two very separate and distinct faiths that worship two quite different gods. I’m hoping for better things as we keeping listening to each other.
III. Unanswered questions
Having nearly drowned in the depths of written theological debate—having pored over the Scriptures, the doctrinal treatises, the charges, the rebuttals and the counter-arguments umpteen-hundred times—and having said my prayers—I lay down my weary head. And I’m still left with unanswered questions. Oh, I’ve read the “answers,” but in the night-watch, before sleep overtakes me, I ask myself and God:
• Does sin separate us from God? If so, how?
• Must sin be punished? And does punishment really restore justice?
• Does punishment of a sinner truly satisfy God’s wrath? Does sin agitate God in a way that is only rectified through violence and retribution?
• Does punishment pay for forgiveness? How? Why?
• Can or must God’s wrath against sin be satisfied by punishment before he can forgive what he otherwise could not? Can’t he forgive without it? Would that truly make him unjust?
• Is a guilty person’s offence really erased by the punishment of yet another substitute victim? Rather than eye for an eye, why would taking the perfect eye of an innocent third party absolve me of sin?
• If it was God’s will that Christ should die, did Christ endure suffering as punishment for God’s sake or was it, rather, out of costly love for our sake?
• “Father, forgive them…” Was it God’s will that we sacrifice Jesus for him? Were we being forgiven by sacrificing Jesus so that we could be forgiven for killing him? (This is dizzying.)
• Are the guilty agents of their own atonement as God allows them to commit the very act of sin for which they are being punished and by which they are being saved? If my sin crucified Jesus, then didn’t my sin pay for my sin? This seems like circular reasoning to me… or simply nonsensical.
IV. Jesus’ take
Aside from these compulsive nocturnal questions, a more straightforward, stubborn fact niggled away at my system. As a penal theorist, I unconsciously ignored or evaded Jesus’ own understanding of the Cross. Since we acknowledge all atonement theories as metaphorical, why dismiss Jesus’ parabolic take on His coming crucifixion?
I hear Jesus Christ quietly challenging us, “I appreciate your efforts to understand my death, to explain its meaning and significance. I really do. Quite clever, too. But since I’m the one who came, who suffered and died—since it was my mission that led to the Cross—might I offer my views on what happened? Would my perspective be welcome at the table of atonement talk?”(12)
Jesus’ version of his mission included the Father sending and anointing him to:
• Announce the good news of the kingdom (Luke 4);
• Demonstrate God’s compassionate love for the world (John 3); and
• Seek, find and save us, ultimately giving his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
A ransom implies that we are being set free from someone or something that is holding us in bondage. Our rescue, salvation and redemption are from captors and prisons. Question: Who is the captor, prison warden or slave owner? Is it God? He is never treated as such in Jesus’ message. Instead, God-in-Christ is the Redeemer, the Rescuer, the Saviour.
Further, Jesus proclaims the Father and prays to the Father as the one sending him on this love mission, never as the one crucifying or punishing him. Jesus’ references to radical service and his missionary martyrdom are extended in the parable of the wicked tenants of Matthew 20. He presents himself as the final prophet in a series of missionary attempts by a loving God to deliver his message of salvation. The King sends his Son, the tenants reject and kill him, and the Father-King is furious at their violent response (there’s the wrath we might expect). In explaining the parable, Christ says,
We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life! (Matthew 20:18-19)
In this scheme, where does the Father fit in? Is he behind it? Inspiring them? No, Jesus and the Gospel writers point to Satan and wicked men as those who inspired the betrayal and murder of Jesus. What is the Father’s role? He commissions Jesus to endure in love and then raises him up, thus conquering Satan, sin and death. Christ calls us to love, trust and obey his Father as he did, even unto death. He urges us to unite with him through death, resurrection and ultimate fellowship with God. In Jesus’ own understanding of the Cross, the element of substitution appears when Jesus humbly endures the wrath of mankind instead of invoking the wrath of God upon us. He says as much to Peter(13) and to Pilate.(14)
This is not the whole story, but it illustrates how the Gospel text itself challenges satisfaction theology by sheer omission. The satisfaction of the Father is in his Son’s obedience and faithfulness to the mission, expressing God’s love and forgiveness to the uttermost. The Father’s foreknowledge and willingness to overturn our wicked intentions through forgiveness and resurrection is neither an endorsement of our murderous act nor divine complicity in it. Rather, it testifies to God’s power to redeem.(15)
Only by stretching its meaning to encompass God’s “giving over (paradidomi)(16) of the Son” (in whom he dwelt bodily!) to our defiant “No!” could we speak of the Cross as God’s wrath. But in that case, wrath has nothing to do with penal satisfaction. Andre Harden, a member of the Agora newsgroup, explains:
While there is a lot of talk about God’s wrath in the Bible, I see no evidence of it on Good Friday. There was no lightning bolt to strike the Son, no pestilence descended to harrow him, no plague of boils.
As I just look at what really happened in the physical realm on Good Friday, I don’t see God’s anger. If police were called to the scene, they would have found no evidence to suggest a “second shooter.” There was a loud and clear series of events that led to the death of Jesus. People were threatened by him. People betrayed him. People crucified him. Even most non-believers can agree that Jesus was mistreated and wrongly killed under Pontius Pilate.
People killed him out of hate, spite and fear—plain and simple—really. Whatever theological theory we overlay, we must remember that the historical act was plain and simple and that humanity is fully responsible for it.
I don’t sense any affinity with the Father when I look at Good Friday. I see myself holding a smoking gun. I see the Father holding a weeping virgin.(17)
According to Jesus of the Gospels and the Gospel writers themselves, God sent his Son with good news of love, and then we responded by killing him. Something about giving his life (which includes more than dying) in this cause sets us free and gives us life. How so and from what, according to Jesus? I hear three answers from his mouth:
• We are set free through his death, because rather than replying to our vengeance and violence in kind, Jesus lives out his own message of love by forgiving us for his murder.
• He sets us free from death and the fear of death when we join him in a kind of death that nullifies death. The first time Jesus talks about the Cross, he does not yet reveal that he would be crucified, but uses it as a symbol of ultimate commitment to following his Way. It is a call to lose our lives (i.e. death to self) for his sake (cf. Matthew 10:38-39).
• Jesus sees his death as an hour of glory for the Son of Man (fulfilling Daniel 7), a cup of suffering leading to glorification (Luke 24:25; John 12:31-32). He becomes the first seed of many in a harvest movement that finds eternal life by giving our lives to God’s kingdom-dream:
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:23-25).
As with Jesus, “giving our lives” includes but exceeds the hour of our death. It is dedicating our whole lives to love (Matthew 13:31).
1. By “relatively recent,” I refer first to the birth of “satisfaction theory” in 1097 (Anselm, Cur Deus Homo) and formalized as Protestant dogma in Calvin’s Institutes 2.16.2 in 1559 and the Westminster Catechism (Question 49) in 1643. We might also see it finally embedded in the New World via the theological works of Charles Hodge at Princeton through the mid-1800s.
2. Cf. Mark 8:31-32; 9:31; 10:33-34.
3. Cf. “must suffer” in Matt. 16:21; Luke 24:25-27 and the above texts.
4. Other reasons include: (i.) to give us a revelation of the Father and his love; (ii.) to model the
ways of God and his kingdom; (iii.) to offer us salvation through belief in his name and his way;
and (iv.) to destroy the works of the devil.
5. Greg Richards, Agora newsgroup (November. 7, 2006): I re-examined Anselm’s Curs Deus Homo, since he either tends to get blamed or praised in discussions on the atonement. The picture of God as wrathful or vengeful is not incredibly strong, but the picture of God as wronged (or “injusticed”) came out very clearly. The Cross is still all about justice—not as wrath or vengeance but rather as a gift. This comes out most clearly in Anselm’s strong Trinitarian language, in which he couches his whole discussion. Anselm argues that all men were created to live lives of ceaseless praise to God, but through our lack of praise (or thanksgiving), we incur a considerable debt before God. Thus, if one were to live a life of ceaseless praise to God one would do no more than was required of all humans. This raises the question of how one pays off the debt owed to God, and for Anselm this requires “an extraordinary gift.” Thus Anselm’s famous statement: “This debt was so great that, while none but man must solve the debt, none but God was able to do it; so that he who does it must be both God and man.” In one sense then, the Cross is not a necessity, because Jesus did not have to die, [the Reformers deny this] but chose to die as this amazing gift, amazing precisely because of his innocence. For a fuller picture: “Since he [Jesus] is very God, the Son of God, he offered himself for his own honor, as well as for that of the Father and the Holy Spirit. That is, he gave his humanity to his divinity, which is one person of the Triune God... For thus we plainly affirm that in speaking of one person we understand the whole Deity to whom as man he offered himself.” Not much talk of wrath or vengeance, but it is quite telling that the Cross is gift, from God for humanity to God. This also sounds like eschatology to me. Christ creates a spotless bride (humanity, his church) and hands them over to the Father to sing ceaseless praise to God forever. The Cross is the place where humans are liberated to praise.
6. Willard Swartley, in reviewing this essay, made this important point: “You tend to associate the left wing of the Reformation, Anabaptism, with ‘nonviolent atonement.’ This is certainly eisegesis into sixteenth century writings. Cf. The Complete Writings of Menno Simons, pp. 428-30 and 581-82. Menno is rich in his description of God’s compassion and love shown in the cross, but he is also quite forthright about the violence of the cross—not God’s, but ours as humans. He does use the term ‘satisfy the guilt’ on p. 430, but there is no signal of God’s violence—hence, far from a penal theory. Nor is there ever any separation between God and Jesus during ‘cross time.’” (Email from Willard Swartley, May 17, 2007)
7. J.I. Packer, “What Did the Cross Achieve? The Logic of Penal Substitution,” The Tyndale Bulletin 25 (1974) 3-45.
8. Brad Jersak, “Review of Violence, Hospitality and the Cross by Hans Boersma,” Clarion Journal of Spirituality and Justice (http://clarionjournal.typepad.com).
9. Steve Chalk, The Lost Message of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 182.
10. Edwin Tay, “Westminster Conference 2006: Some Reflections” (http://theconventicle.blogspot.com/search/label/Trinity).
11. Garry Williams, “Justice, Law, and Guilt,” EA Symposium on Penal Substitution, 2005.
12. Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright will share more in their chapters on why Jesus came and died from the perspective of the Gospels and of Jesus himself.
13. Matthew 26:52-54.
14. John 18:36.
15. In asserting that God was neither punishing Jesus, nor in need of a wrathful death, I may appear to absolve God of any responsibility for Christ’s death. When the evangelists of the early church preached the Gospel, they repeatedly laid the blame squarely on Jesus’ crucifiers (Acts 2:23; 3:14-15; 4:10; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28; etc.), while asserting “but God raised him up” (Acts 2:24; 2:32; 3:15; 4:10; 10:40; etc.). However, as Dr. Robert Seale reminded me, the Scriptures also reveal that this all happened according to God’s sovereign plan and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23, 3:18). This is a mystery that stalls us by design into a posture of repentance, wonder and gratitude. Ultimately, God “delivered up/handed over” Christ and Christ “gave/delivered” himself (paradidomi) to and for us. Christ himself stated boldly, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:17-18). God did indeed purpose to offer his Son in love to us for our salvation, and this included the foreknowledge of our violent rejection of him. God did this, not because he required penal satisfaction, but because our redemption would require Jesus’ journey through the valley of suffering and death (at the hands of wicked men) that he might emerge in resurrection and victory (by God’s power).
16. paradidomi - “[He] was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25 NASB); “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32 NASB); “Delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20 NASB); “Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:32 NASB); “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NASB). Cf. Isaiah 53:12 (LXX) - “delivered because of their iniquities.” The pattern in Acts (every time) is (i) God delivered him, (ii) you/they killed/crucified him, (iii) God raised him to life.
17. Andre Harden, Agora newsgroup (Nov. 2, 2006).