Thursday, September 20, 2007

Limited atonement?

“So I conclude that the Bible does teach penal substitution: Jesus identified with us so far ‘all the way down’ that he died our death, so that we, being incorporated into him, might partake in his glorious, life-giving resurrection to new life. He died instead of us (substitution); he died a death that was the consequence of sin (penal). But, here again, this is not enough; it is just not enough to express atonement through the category of penal substitution.

“If we limit atonement to this category, we have an atonement that is nothing more than an important theodicy: it explains how God can eliminate sin justly, but it only explains the wrath-to-death problem, and that is not all there is to atonement.”— A Community Called Atonement, p. 113

<idle musing>
OK, I know the title of this post is misleading...but I did it on purpose. I figured it might get people to read the quote, and it is worth reading. Atonement is far more than a legal fiction, far more than a "wrath-to-death problem." Atonement is Christ for us; Christ in us...
</idle musing>


Alan Knox said...


I have enjoyed your quotes from A Community Called Atonement. In fact, I have been talking about these quotes and emailing them around so much that a friend of mine bought me the book today! I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you for whetting my apetite!


Anonymous said...

Since all theories of atonement are metaphoric anyway, I doubt any one theory can do it justice. That said, you ought to pick up Gane's 2005 Eisenbrauns book, which I know is sitting arm's reach behind you, and read chap. 14. It is a very persuasive (summary) account of the place of the Day of Atonement in God's relationship with Israel.


jps said...


I'm glad you are enjoying the quotes. It is a great book.

You are correct. No one theory can do the atonement justice, which is Scot's basic thesis (as well as the thesis of Saving Power by Schmiechen). As for Gane's book, nope, it is sitting at home, but I will look at it (it's on my list to read)