PFOT Being changed by Penal Substitution

I could not sleep for a while when I went to bed after writing 42: PFOT: The Introduction and 42: PFOT: Reflections on God’s Wrath. Why? Well I was thinking about a comment I wrote on the Coffee Bible Club Blog a few days ago. I wrote:

"Of course if through my searching (eg reading PFOT) I discover the Bible does teach that PSA is decisive over all other models then I will accept that." Link: The Coffee Bible Club Blog: Mark my words.

You may remember that I first found and linked to the Coffee Bible Club blog in 42: Aarrgghhh!

So what about this was keeping me awake? Well I started to worry about whether I was being entirely honest. Am I really open to the possibility of a switch to full on Penal Substitution if PFOT convinces me?

So here I want to acknowledge that I may have been over optimistic in my assertion that I would accept PSA as decisive over all other models of atonement if I discover the Bible does teach that. Now that needs to be read in the light of 42: PFOT: My starting position on Penal Substitution. So it is not that I deny Penal Substitution now, just that I do not accept it full on as both essential and central to the gospel.

Why this concern? I sincerely place scripture as the highest authority for my Christian faith, so why would I struggle to accept PSA in a full on way. The answer lies in a series of questions.

  1. Would full on PSA be compatible with my ministry as a Methodist Minister?
  2. Would I still be able to support and encourage women as equals in ministry as in the rest of life? Are there any examples of full on PSA supporters who believe in equality by gender?
  3. Would I still be able to be (moving towards being) a pacifist? Scripture has convinced me of the centrality of non violence to the teaching of Jesus and the early Church. But I don’t know any full on PSA supporters who are pacifists?
  4. Would I have to change my attitudes to people who are LGBT?

I would be really interested to know of people who hold these positions and find them compatible with full on support of PSA. For me all these positions have come (at least to some extent as a change to what I once believed) from scripture and the teaching of other people. Abandoning them would be a huge issue for me and I honestly don’t think I could do it. But then there is the supremacy of scripture. It is just that so far I have not met anyone who holds to full on PSA and who a) is a British Methodist minister b) supports women as equals in ministry as elsewhere c) is a pacifist and d) shows love and acceptance to people who are LGBT. Anyone willing to stand up and be counted?

If not then can PSA really be so central and essential to the gospel if holding it fully means abandoning so much that scripture, tradition, reason, experience and community has taught me so far?

5 thoughts on “PFOT Being changed by Penal Substitution

  1. PamBG

    Not that I want to encourage you to accept PSA :-)
    But I don’t see how PSA itself as a theory means that one has to discriminate against women or gay people. On the “women” issue, at least, I’m fairly certain that Fulcrum types in the C of E (which I think are roughly equivilent to Methodists) would probably support a mild version of PSA and they definitely support women in ministry. Some are even supportive of gay people, but this is rarer.
    I honestly think that there is, however, a huge problem with PSA and pacifism. PSA is, in my opinion, totally antithetical to pacifism and that’s my main objection to it.
    I’m also really not convinced that PSA is Arminian; I think it works a lot better with the Calvinist set of presuppositions.

  2. John Meunier

    I commend you for your honest self-analysis and reflection.
    I am not an expert on PSA, so cannot help you answer your questions.
    My much less informed impression is that Scripture is not of one voice on the meaning of Christ’s death. Even if some parts can be read in support of PSA, I don’t think those of the only verses or passages in the Bible that are important.

  3. sally

    I would find myself agreeing with Pam on this one Dave, I believe that you are dealing with several different questions.
    As to PSA itself- I don’t see that it is particularly Arminian, and again would agree with Pam that it fits more easily with a Calvanistic stance.

  4. Ollie Harrison

    Nice blog
    PSA fails to atke three things into account:
    1.) Punishment (‘P’) and forgiveness (‘F’)are mutually exclusive alternatives. The “Pierced” book is predicated on the asumption that F is contingent on P fist being met. Not so.
    2.) Um . . . Jesus IS God. So how can he save us fro the wrath of God? Jesus gets angry at sin, too. He is the Second Person (of teh Trinity) not the Third Party (who takes the punishment and wrath).
    3.) Er . . . the resurrection. If the punishment is eternal/everlasting separation from God (hel) and Jesus takes the punishment then he should still be in hell.
    With that in mind, two quotes.
    “Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who ‘forgives’ you – out of love – takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done. Forgiveness, therefore, always entails a sacrifice. The price you must pay for your own liberation through another’s sacrifice is that you in turn must be willing to liberate others in the same way, irrespective of the consequences to yourself.”
    (Dag Hammarskjold, Easter 1960 from Markings)
    Do we believe that, or this, by C. J. Mahaney?
    “Who killed Jesus? The Father. The Father killed the Son. Feel God’s love for you revealed in Isaiah 53:10. He crushed his son. For you. He crushed him. He bruised him. He punished him. He disfigured him. He crushed him, with all of the righteous wrath that we deserved. That’s what the Father did.”


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