Atonement: Nontransferable

Ken Hamrick

Active member
The most difficult problem for penal substitution, whether Limited or Universal, is the nontransferable nature of criminal liability. A man’s crimes are his own; and while it may be easily stated that God punished Jesus in my place, it is not easily explained how this is just and right. Justice demands more than merely that a particular sin have an appropriate punishment happen. Justice demands that the one who sinned be punished.
Deut. 24: 16 ESV
“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.
Most parents would be willing to die in place of their child, and as Rom. 5:7 tells us, “…perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die,” but there was no provision for human substitution within the Law. Every man must die for his own sin. That said, every OT sacrifice pointed to the cross of Christ. But those pictures of God-provided substitution did not establish that substitution is just. They merely pictured what Christ would one day accomplish, without addressing the mechanics. The Levitical sacrifices were patterned after the cross, and not the reverse.

Andrew Fuller also emphasizes the misunderstandings that come from taking the metaphor of payment of debt to an unwarranted extreme:
I apprehend, then, that many important mistakes have arisen from considering the interposition of Christ under the notion of paying a debt. The blood of Christ is indeed the price of our redemption, or that for the sake of which we are delivered from the curse of the law; but this metaphorical language, as well as that of head and members, may be carried too far, and may lead us into many errors… Sin is a debt only in a metaphorical sense; properly speaking, it is a crime, and satisfaction for it requires to be made, not on pecuniary, but on moral principles…
The reason for this difference is easily perceived. Debts are transferable, but crimes are not…[1]
“Debts are transferable, but crimes are not.” Gordon Clark calls this “a major problem:”
The distinction is this: If Mr. X owes Mr. Y a hundred dollars, financial justice is completely satisfied if Mr. Z pays the debt for Mr. X. But if Mr. X robs a bank or murders someone, Mr. Z cannot satisfy justice by taking his punishment. Criminal justice requires that the criminal himself, and no one else, must suffer the penalty. Now, since sin is a crime, not a financial debt, the satisfaction of divine justice without the penalty being imposed on the sinner himself constitutes a major problem.[2]
This “intensely personal nature of guilt” is also acknowledged by Leon Morris:
An objection to this view arises from the intensely personal nature of guilt. My misdeeds are my own, and all the verbal juggling in the world cannot make them belong to someone else…
…If atonement consists simply in ignoring this, and putting the punishment arising from my yesterdays upon someone else, then a grave wrong has been done. Sin is not to be regarded as a detachable entity which may be removed from the sinner, parceled up, and given to someone else. Sin is a personal affair. My guilt is my own.[3]
Christ must do more than die in my place. God must find a way that Christ’s death and righteous life can be made mine just as if I had done them. William Shedd tells us, “When a particular person trusts in this infinite atonement and it is imputed to him by God, it then becomes his atonement for judicial purposes as really as if he had made it himself, and then it naturally and necessarily cancels his personal guilt…”[4] How then does God make Christ’s atonement to become mine as really as if I had made it myself?

In and of itself, the shedding of the blood of the Sacrifice does nothing to satisfy the claims of justice upon the individual sinner. There must be a connection established between the Sacrifice and the sinner if the former is to affect the latter. While sovereignty is free from the exigencies of substantial reality, justice has no such license. God may sovereignly declare that a mere nominal connection between the Sacrifice and sinner is sufficient to free him from wrath, but He cannot justly do so.

There are two ways in which justice must be satisfied: 1) justice must be satisfied that the penalty has been fully suffered within substantial reality; and 2) justice must be satisfied that the Substitute and sinner are so joined as to become one within substantial reality. Neither of these two can be mere choices within God’s mind to view them as if they were true (in contradiction to substantial reality). Justice demands more than that the sin be punished—justice demands that the one who sinned be punished. The Substitute and the sinner must become one man in reality.

Ken Hamrick

[1] Andrew Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, (Harrisonburg: Sprinkle, 1988), Vol. II, “Conversations,” p. 688
[2] Gordon Clark, The Atonement, (Jefferson: Trinity Foundation, 1987), pp. 84-85
[3] Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2006), p. 415
[4] William Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3rd. ed., p. 725
 

Stephen

Active member
There are two ways in which justice must be satisfied: 1) justice must be satisfied that the penalty has been fully suffered within substantial reality; and 2) justice must be satisfied that the Substitute and sinner are so joined as to become one within substantial reality. Neither of these two can be mere choices within God’s mind to view them as if they were true (in contradiction to substantial reality). Justice demands more than that the sin be punished—justice demands that the one who sinned be punished. The Substitute and the sinner must become one man in reality.

There is the 3rd way. The debt is forgiven. The requirement that God be bound by some rule that demands he gets paid or satisfied somehow is unbiblical.

As Jesus explains in Matthew 18:

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


Or as Paul further explains in Colossians 2

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.


According to Jesus and Paul, there is no intent to satisfy justice. God forgives his children their errors, corrects them, and encourages them to do better, just as any good parent does.
 

praise_yeshua

Well-known member
Wow--this group is really serious about thinking things through before responding! I like that!

The Penal Substitutionary Death of Jesus Christ is an essential part of Orthodox Christianity. The fact you reject this teach puts your Eternity in jeopardy.

The arguments you make are overly simplistic and rooted in man made judiciary systems. You only provide a single Scripture that you misunderstand whereby to "establish" your position.

There is so much wrong with what you've said it is difficult to know where to begin.

How about....

Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
 

Stephen

Active member
The Penal Substitutionary Death of Jesus Christ is an essential part of Orthodox Christianity. The fact you reject this teach puts your Eternity in jeopardy.

I don't think he is rejecting it. I think he is trying to explain how the theory overcomes the problem of God punishing the innocent and letting the guilty go free.



(however, I reject the Penal Substitutionary Atonement doctrine)
 

Ken Hamrick

Active member
There is the 3rd way. The debt is forgiven. The requirement that God be bound by some rule that demands he gets paid or satisfied somehow is unbiblical.

As Jesus explains in Matthew 18:

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
The entire OT teaching on sin, the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, and the propitiation of God's wrath is presupposed in Jesus' teaching here. My goodness! Jesus knew that the cross was the purpose for which He was sent into the world--to lay down His life for the sheep and to be a ransom for many.
Or as Paul further explains in Colossians 2

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

According to Jesus and Paul, there is no intent to satisfy justice. God forgives his children their errors, corrects them, and encourages them to do better, just as any good parent does.
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Either the substitute or the sinner will suffer the wrath of God. One or the other.
 

Ken Hamrick

Active member
The Penal Substitutionary Death of Jesus Christ is an essential part of Orthodox Christianity. The fact you reject this teach puts your Eternity in jeopardy.
I do not reject it. What I teach is a further development of the doctrine.
The arguments you make are overly simplistic and rooted in man made judiciary systems. You only provide a single Scripture that you misunderstand whereby to "establish" your position.

There is so much wrong with what you've said it is difficult to know where to begin.

How about....

Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Is there a point you're trying to make?
 

praise_yeshua

Well-known member
I do not reject it. What I teach is a further development of the doctrine.

I read your post and didn't get this from what you wrote.

Is there a point you're trying to make?

That you are wrong... IF you're reject the Penal Substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.

The way you try to establish the doctrine is poor at best. You're using arguments rooted in man made justice systems.
 

Stephen

Active member
The entire OT teaching on sin, the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, and the propitiation of God's wrath is presupposed in Jesus' teaching here. My goodness! Jesus knew that the cross was the purpose for which He was sent into the world--to lay down His life for the sheep and to be a ransom for many.
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Either the substitute or the sinner will suffer the wrath of God. One or the other.

Those are all true things, but what do they have to do with substitution, i.e. the topic of this thread.

  • Did Jesus take your place by going to the cross, and therefore you don't have to take up our cross and follow him?
  • Did Jesus take our place as slaves to sin by becoming a slave to sin himself while we go free?
To answer your question as to whether the substitute or the sinner suffers the wrath of God: All available evidence suggests that everybody dies. Therefore "the sinner" is the appropriate answer.
 

praise_yeshua

Well-known member
I know.

Therefore what he endured on the cross was not as our substitute. And as such, the penal substitutionary atonement doctrine is utterly and completely false.

No. Jesus did die in our place. The Cross is a specfic form of death.

You must be extremely accurate in what you say concerning the death of Jesus Christ. I try to choose my words wisely.

So how do you see the Atonement.....Ransom theory? I can somewhat tolerate the Ransom Theory....
 

Stephen

Active member
No. Jesus did die in our place. The Cross is a specfic form of death.

I'm pretty sure that I'm going to die, like every generation before me. So the idea that Jesus died in my place seems to fly in the face of all available evidence.


You must be extremely accurate in what you say concerning the death of Jesus Christ. I try to choose my words wisely.

So how do you see the Atonement.....Ransom theory? I can somewhat tolerate the Ransom Theory....

It seems pretty straightforward. The atonement was God reaching out to us and showing us the way back to him. Just like it was in the garden.
 
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