Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Fr Jeffrey John and Penal Substituionary Atonement

The Dean of St Albans, The Very Rev'd Jeffrey John has been criticised by the Bishop of Durham over a radio broadcast where he criticised Penal Substituionary Atonement (PSA). There is a discussion thread on Ship of Fools.

I think it is right during Holy Week when our thoughts turn to the Cross that Fr Jeffrey is raising these points and asking us to consider them.

I don't see what the problem is. PSA is not a defining Christian belief sespite the fact that many people believe it to be so.

My major problem with PSA is that it leaves you with a bloodthirsty Father who requires the spilling of blood for justice to be served. That is not in line with the image of a loving God.

So what was the the purpose of the Passion of Our Lord? It was of course so that we might all have eternal life - but that does not necessarily imply PSA. Christ defeated death upon the cross so that we might all live. I find that this (Christus Victor rather than PSA) is a much clearer logical explanation of that what and where by of the death of Christ and implies more grace than legalism. Of course we can never be fully aware or fully understand all the implications of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Lord as the events themselves are so awesome.