Archive for the ‘Death of Christ-Cross-Atonement’ Category.

N.T. Wright’s Non-Traditional Theory of Substitutionary Atonement

N.T. Wright’s Sweet-Sour Cuisine
Reading N.T. Wright (NTW) is like eating delicious Sichuan cuisine – a unique blend of sweet and sour flavors enhanced by hot and spicy pepper that only a master chef could produce. We begin by savoring the sweet flavors.
First, NTW provides a skillfully crafted narrative of the history of God’s salvation from Adam, through the tragic history of Israel until the coming of the messiah. NTW suggests that Adam in Genesis and Israel in biblical history were entrusted with a “covenant of vocation” to be image bearers of God’s glory on earth. The failure of the first Adam brought the Fall. Israel was to resume this mission as the new Adam to reverse the consequences of the Fall by her obedience to the Torah. Instead, Israel’s apostasy resulted in the exile. NTW emphasizes that the mission of the messiah and the cross must be anchored in this tragic history. NTW’s vision of the “covenant of vocation” emphasizes that God’s redemption involves the restoration of creation is an important corrective of some forms of popular Christianity which narrowly view salvation as saving souls which NTW denigrates as a platonized, paganized version of escaping from fallen earth to go to heaven. Continue reading ‘N.T. Wright’s Non-Traditional Theory of Substitutionary Atonement’ »

Penal Substitution as the Heart of Christ’s Work on Atonement on the Cross

As an evangelical who has been actively involved with the VCF-IFES movement since my varsity days in the 1970s, I am conscious of standing in the spiritual tradition of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Stott, J.I. Packer, Carl Henry and Leon Morris. The VCF (or CICCU as it was known during John Stott’s time) was formed when evangelical leaders felt disillusioned by the liberal tendencies of the major student movement at that time, the Student Christian Movement (SCM). The SCM was championing social justice while the VCF was focusing on  proclaiming and preaching the gospel based on the final and sufficient authority of the Bible. It was the CICCU-VCF’s insistence on the centrality of the atoning work of Christ on the cross that led to final separation between the two Christian movements.

John Stott narrates a fascinating account of the unsuccessful attempt to keep the two movements together. Continue reading ‘Penal Substitution as the Heart of Christ’s Work on Atonement on the Cross’ »

N. T. Wright Reconsiders the Meaning of Jesus’s Death: An Appreciative but Critical Review

It comes as no surprise to me when Scott McKnight adds a punch when he gives an unqualified recommendation of NT Wright latest book, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. McKnight writes,

One glaring weakness Wright observes with fierce clarity — that most atonement theories both build on one another in a kind of inner-dogmatic history discussion and at the same time ignore what Jesus said and did about atonement. Here are his important words:
Right away we meet something very peculiar. You might suppose that if Christian theologians were going to trace the meaning of Jesus’s death, they would begin with Jesus himself. Mostly, they do not. I possess many books on the “atonement.” Few give much attention to the gospels. None, as far as I recall, starts with Jesus himself. [Ahem, sir.] They may sooner or later highlight one famous saying, Mark 10:45 (“The son of man . . . came to be the servant, to give his life ‘as a ransom for many’”), but they do not normally go much beyond that. They seldom if ever link the meaning of Jesus’s death with Jesus’s announcement of God’s kingdom coming “on earth as in heaven.” They seldom highlight the fact that Jesus chose to go to Jerusalem and (so it seems) force some kind of a showdown with the authorities not on the Day of Atonement, not at the Festival of Tabernacles, the Festival of Dedication, or any other special day on the sacred calendar, laden with meaning as they were, but at Passover (170).

Once again seminary students are led to believe that the “Mc-‘Knight’ in W(b)right armor” has come to the rescue in ridding tradition of its theological distortions, in this case, the reductionist and crude theory of penal atonement.

However, students who are better informed about the depth and richness of the Reformation covenant tradition would take issues with the caricatures of the “Knight in W(b)right armor.” Continue reading ‘N. T. Wright Reconsiders the Meaning of Jesus’s Death: An Appreciative but Critical Review’ »