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.
- Would full on PSA be compatible with my ministry as a Methodist Minister?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?