“Penal substitutionary atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.”
I had a chance to look over the relevant scriptures to this doctrine – not surprisingly – none of them actually come out of the Torah (law).
Isaiah 53:6 “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
Isaiah 53:12b “Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.”
Roman 3:25 “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed”
II Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”
Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”
Hebrews 10:1-4 “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”
The idea sounds groovy – because we all hate justice and would hate to have to answer for our own stupid decisions in life. It’s rather ideal a theory like this exists to help calm what we usually refuse to deal with – our personal guilt for hurting others. So God made someone to be guilt for us – well ‘sin’ as how they put it.
Isaiah 53 is prophetic – no doubts – but to build a theory about this person becoming a sacrificial ‘lamb’ to God (on behalf of all of humanity) to fulfill a law that doesn’t exist – is really quite the stretch (theologically). It’s not even clear from Isaiah 53 this is not more symbolic language than literal when dealing with ‘iniquity falling on him’. It’s the kind of imagery that lends itself to a leader standing up for the people – and ‘going down with the ship’ per se.
By the time we reach the NT letters (all written by Paul – or some other later persona from Hebrews) – the theory of propitiation appears.
“The word propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement, or satisfaction, specifically towards God” (Theopedia – propitiation)
A few theories arise about this idea – was the appeasing about sin or righteousness? It seems either way you look at this – God is very mad. Not only is He demanding absolute perfection to the law – but he also condemns those who cannot live up to it…with no mercy. Online dictionaries define wrath as ‘Forceful, often vindictive anger’. This is not the kind of God you really want to be dealing with.
Enter Jesus. This is where it all gets kind of strange.
On one side we have a wrathful God (Father) and on the other hand a loving messiah (also the Son of God – or God). Anyone who ever discusses the issue of atonement will see this dualistic set-up – God’s wrath appeased by God’s Son (both God somehow – yet they display oddly different emotions on the same subject).
Early Christianity picked up on this problem – because it is one – and had to continually re-define the meaning to atonement. Even up until the Reformation this was still being defined. Today, it is also being re-defined. Why? Because this idea makes little to no sense and creates as much theological issues as it seeks to answer.
I don’t know if their was a propitiation for our sins – seems pretty irresponsible that we would not bare our own guilt and make things right with the people we wronged (bearing our own responsibility for our actions). Also seems to re-write how justice works and overly allows choice (good or bad) to have no consequence.
My biggest qualm with this idea is – where did Jesus teach this?