The end of Adrian Warnock on Penal Substitution

So today we have (at last) reached the end of another series by Adrian Warnock that attacks Steve Chalke.

you start critiquing a series that is in progress there is always the
worry that the best arguments will come last, that you will look a fool
for standing against the start of the series because the end is totally

I want to thank Adrian for not embarrassing me in that way.

has been very careful to save no arguments of any substance at all for
the last two posts of this series. So if you were expecting Steve Chalke's Further Arguments Against Penal Substitution
to actually contain a rebuttal of a range of extra arguments by Steve
then you are going to be disappointed. In fact it reminds my of a large
firework display set to music where the fireworks run out just as the
most dramatic music for the climax to the show starts.

I would rebute the arguments in Adrians post, but there aren't any to rebute. Just waffle and an amusing misreading of Steve Chalke. Steve apparently wrote:

So, whilst I applaud these
attempts to manufacture a kind of “penal substitution theory lite”—some
of which will, no doubt, be presented in other contributions to this
book—in my view, what we need is not a reworking but a renunciation”

Adrian seems to struggle with the meaning of applaud as he writes:

Chalke and I do agree on at least one thing. PSA should not be softened.

No Adrian, read the sentence again, look up applaud in a dictionary and realise that Steve does not believe that PSA should not be softened. He believes that it should be completely rejected as while people are doing good work to reform it the job is impossible.

Adrian's other post is Steve Chalke and Neglect of the Resurrection
which could be titled "Steve is right on the neglect of the
resurrection by all evangelicals except me (Adrian), so buy my new
book".  Of course you need to remember that this book on the resurrection is being written by someone who stands almost entirely alone in believing that God killed Jesus: "Did God Kill Jesus?" Am I Really Alone?.

I will be getting a copy of Zondervan's The Atonement Debate so hopefully we can get a fuller picture of the other chapters and pick out a little more balanced view of Steve's chapter.

4 thoughts on “The end of Adrian Warnock on Penal Substitution

  1. Andrew

    I think Adrian’s main problem is that he just isn’t very good at basic logic. He seems to struggle to derive logically accurate conclusions from premises. As a result his argumentation is all over the place, and his reading comprehension of biblical texts just isn’t very good. People like that shouldn’t really be trying to study theology and especially not writing about it for others.
    A lot of his arguments seem to be of the form “well, I don’t understand how stuff would all work if what I’d been taught wasn’t true, therefore what I’ve been taught must be true and essential”.

  2. Andrew

    Yes, that sentence is a good example.
    Adrian assumes in it that Jesus’ death was ‘so absolutely necessary’. Now a lot of advocates of PSA think that God choose for the atonement to work that way because it was the best way of doing it, but think that it wasn’t absolutely necessary that God did it that way – they think God had a choice. The bible doesn’t say it was absolutely necessary that God make the atonement work in this way, it never implies God didn’t have a choice. So Adrian’s initial assumption that Jesus’ death was so absolutely necessary strikes me as bizarre.
    Adrian then treats this speculative assumption as if it were a criteria that the true atonement theory must meet. Such a step seems totally logically unjustified and completely indefensible.
    At that point he asserts his ignorance and says he doesn’t know of any other atonement theories that meet his arbitrary criteria other than PSA. Offhand I can think of the atonement theories Recapitulation, Ransom from Satan, and Satisfaction all of which are consistent with Jesus’ death being absolutely necessary.
    Thus, Adrian ends up with an argument from ignorance based on an entirely unjustified assumption and an invalid logical step.


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