Sunday, April 9, 2017

Substitutionary Atonement

Over the last few years I have engaged on Facebook's Messenger, with a young man of my acquaintance, on the subject of the Atonement. More specifically with his intense dislike of the Substitutionary view of such.

Here is a sample of his comments:
the satisfaction theory of atonement is wrong since Jesus didn't satisfy god since he didn't get eternal punishment.
in the west around the time of Anselm and especially during the reformation people started to view God as a harsh blood thirsty entity that had to be appeased by the blood of His son
is it just that the wrath of God on Jesus was for a couple minutes while for us it's eternal, I don't think so
the substitution theory is a disgusting theory
He recently posted the following video to which I responded.

The video is designed to incite outrage against the Bible - it shows a white man who raped a black woman, but not just any white man, a neo-nazi, so clearly there is no intention on the part of the artist to accurately represent that which he despises, and he succeeds in his effort.

Let's compare his representation of the atonement with what the Bible teaches on the subject, and it will be evident that the artist is not interested in the truth, and actually despises [the one] who created him:

His version - young white man commits a crime - rape. When brought before the judge, there is no remorse nor punishment for his crime, in effect no satisfaction for his sin. The judge has 2 dudes beat up on his own son, and then sets the rapist free, to leave and continue to rape at his pleasure.

The Bible version:

In 2 Samuel 11 & 12, we have the story of King David's adultery with Bathsheba, who becomes pregnant as a result. David sends for her husband who is on the battlefield, fighting for his king. He hopes Uriah will go home and sleep with his wife so that the child will appear to be his own. But Uriah doesn't go home, so David has him killed in battle, and then marries his pregnant widow. The murder is to cover-up the adultery.

If the repercussion of David's double sins followed the video version, you'd have Jesus beat up and David free to go on with life. But that's not how the story plays out.

The first thing the Bible teaches is that there are no innocents as far as God is concerned.

Romans 3:10-18
As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
In David's story we notice the displeasure of the Judge toward the sinner (that's not in the video).

2 Samuel 11:26-27
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
The prophet Nathan (the judge's representative) comes to David and calls him out on his sin (that's not in the video), via a story that Nathan tells.

There is punishment for David because of the sin (that's not in the video).

2 Samuel 12:11-12
Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun."
David's response to Nathan (repentance) is significantly different than the neo-nazi's in the video!

2 Samuel 12:13
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
David wrote the 51st Psalm after this meeting with Nathan.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
The Bible affirms that repentance is necessary for salvation and that the atoning sacrifice of Christ is only for those who do repent. All mankind is guilty, but Christ is the substitute only for those who recognize that they are guilty and repent of their sin.

You can do a Bible search for the words REPENT, and REPENTANCE using Bible Gateway

Here's some of what you will find:

Job 42:5-6
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Psalm 7:12-13
If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.
Mark 1:14-15
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
Luke 5:32
I [Jesus] have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
Acts 17:30-31
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
There is a judgement coming and only those who repent of their sins will be saved from that judgement, because Christ has been their substitute.

Romans 5:9-10
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Romans 5:12-21 explains substitution. Adam was the substitute that took mankind away from God. Jesus Christ is the substitute that brings those who repent and believe back to God.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned...
For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
The video affirms amnesty with no repentance, and thus encourages the rapist to continue raping, since the judge gave him a free pass.

Clearly, the video does NOT present truth, and you should reject it and embrace the truth of the Bible, repenting of your sin and trusting Christ as the sole mediator between you and God.

1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
For further reading:

What is the substitutionary atonement?

Did Early Christians Believe in Substitutionary Atonement?

Substitution in the Church Fathers

What you can't sing without Penal Substitution

Atonement tweet sparks blood feud on social media

All scripture quotations are English Standard Version
unless otherwise noted.


Paul G said...

Hi Brian, well, I think that the video clip is just how the mainstream preachers present the atonement.
That’s exactly what they are saying, if you repent, believe and accept that Jesus has paid for your sins on the cross, then you can go free.
And if you don’t, then God will burn you to a crisp.

In the video the rapist affirms repentance.
All you must do is, repent and believe and accept, and then you have a free pass.
And it doesn't matter how you rearrange your words, whether you say ‘truly repent’ or whatever, it is still the same.

David did not get a free pass, he paid very much for his own sin, whether he repented, believed and accepted or not.
So then, from where do those preacher get the idea that all you have to do is repent, believe and accept in order for you to have your sins atoned for ?

Well, I think that most preachers today haven’t got a clue what the atonement is all about.

J. Brian McKillop said...

Paul - thank you for posting a comment. I am traveling and will not be able to reply for a few weeks, but will when I return.