Penal-Substitutionary Atonement–It has God’s Role Wrong

Posted by Dan Martin | Posted in atonement, warfare world view | Posted on 27-04-2009

I want to highlight a thought my friend Ben just posted over at his blog, that I think adds an additional dimension to the (mis)understanding of atonement which we have been discussing. This is the role of God the Father in the whole process.

As Ben proposes the analogy, we look at atonement in an (appropriately) law-court setting. In classic PSA, God is both plaintiff bringing the accusation against humanity, and judge deciding the case. God proposes and finds man guilty, and as he is pronouncing sentence, Jesus volunteers to accept the sentence in our place. In CV, as Ben proposes it, God is judge, but not plaintiff. That role is the role of Satan and the Powers (appropriately, as Satan is named the “accuser” in scripture). It is the accuser who seeks the death penalty for the defendant (humanity), and the accuser is all-too-glad to accept the judge’s son in place of the defendant. When the judge then trumps the sentence by raising Jesus from the dead, the enemy’s design is foiled.

Like all analogies, this one can be carried too far (and we have yet to unpack the loaded terms of “sin” and “atonement” so we still have a long way to go. But I think Ben is correct in re-directing our attention to who, after all, is the accuser and who, after all, is demanding the sentence.


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