The notion that Christ died as our sin-bearing substitute who bore the curse for our sakes is considered, by some, too primitive, too violent, and too narrow. Penal substitution is only a theory of the atonement, just one idea among many, maybe not even a good theory, at the very least not the best or the most important once. I would argue that texts like Isaiah 53, Mark 10, Romans 3, 2 Corinthians 5, Galatians 3, and Philippians 3 demonstrate that Christ is not only our wrath-sustaining Savior, he is also the Lord our Righteousness. The Son’s propiatory sacrifice for sinners is the best news of the good news, the biblical truth that holds the gospel together.
The cup and the crucifixion
HT: Joe Thorn
Jesus paid it all
King’s Kaleidoscope’s rendition of this song is very nice:
R.C. Sproul in an excerpt from The Truth of the Cross:
When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words.
One of the central tenets of the Christian faith is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Another is that Jesus was divine—Jesus was fully God. What is to keep us from putting these two things together in a particular way and saying, “God died on the cross”?
Actually, there is a way of saying this that would be quite appropriate, as we shall see in a moment. But there is another way of saying it that would quickly lead (within minutes) into various bad heresies. God is immortal (1 Tim. 1:17), for example, and the definition of immortal is “incapable of dying.” Wouldn’t this mean that, if we say God died, are we saying that God ceased to be God?