Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who Pays? A Clarification

Sometimes an advocate of Penal Substitutionary Atonement will try to tell you, or at least will try to leave the impression with you, that paying the debt for our sins, or taking the punishment for them, was a matter of God paying God. God absorbs the cost Himself. I’m not sure why they tend to do this, but it is a good deal less than perfectly candid. There was also a Man involved.

Jesus, besides bearing the whole, entire, complete Divine Nature, also bears whole, entire, complete human nature, which means there was a real, actual MAN involved in the atonement! A innocent man suffered, a man unjustly died. God was not simply extracting His payment from Himself. In fact, as believers in the penal and debt models of atonement know, these theories specifically require it to be a human being who pays or who is punished. It was mankind, after all, who sinned and it is mankind who must pay.

Furthermore, most proponents of Pen-Sub and the debt theory know and understand that God is impassible, cannot suffer, and certainly cannot die. This is another reason the Atonement cannot possibly be a purely intra-God affair. Divine nature doesn’t die. (Neither does human nature. “Natures” don’t die at all; they just BE.) Persons die. Jesus died, bearer of two natures. It's in His manhood Jesus died, and in His divinity He rose again. That's the whole point of God having become flesh: to enable Him, as Man, to enter death, and as God to conquer death on its home turf.

No, God isn’t so bent upon getting His payment that He is even willing to take it from Himself rather than forgive it; or so bent upon punishment that He is willing to punish Himself rather than that nobody should be punished. That would be pathological and nearly everybody knows God isn’t. Even in Pen-Sub, that’s not what He is doing. He is punishing a human being and more than that, He's vicariously punishing all human beings. That’s the teaching, just to be clear.


Just Mairs said...

thanks for the clarification...lol