OK, I guess there are a number of good blogs that I am reading today. Greg Boyd has always been one to so clearly state the things that I have questions about, and I really appreciate his questions regarding this quite popular theory regarding what Jesus did on the cross (Penal substitution). (For readers who wouldn’t call themselves Christians, maybe this will serve to add some variety to you feelings on what various followers of Jesus are thinking) I know this post is getting pretty deep regarding things I don’t really post on, but I think its good. Greg just got back from a conference called the Non-Violent Atonement Seminar. His reflection follows:
The one thing all of us have in common is a concern about the dominance of the Penal Substitutionary theory of the atonement. This is the view that the way Jesus reconciled us to God was by becoming the object of God’s wrath against sin. We don’t deny that Jesus “died in our place” and “as our substitute.” Nor do we deny that we’re reconciled to God only “through the blood of Jesus” or that Jesus died as our “atoning sacrifice.” We just have serious reservations about the Penal Substitutionary interpretation of this substitutionary and sacrificial language.
For example, if God punishes Jesus for our sin, does God really forgive anybody? If you owe me a hundred dollars and I won’t let you off the hook till someone pays me, did I really forgive your debt? Why does God frequently forgive people in the Bible without requiring a sacrifice? So too, are sin and guilt the kind of things that can literally be transferred from one party (us) to another (Jesus)? Where is the justice in God killing his innocent Son because of what we humans did? Does Jesus reveal God’s love for us, or placate God’s wrath towards us? And doesn’t this way of thinking presuppose that you can attain a good, loving result through violence? Does the end justify the violent means? Isn’t this the sort of thinking that has fueled the endless cycle of violence that’s characterized human history? (I address other concerns in the Q &A section of my website).