Evangelicals debate inadequacy of penal substitution - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
July 23, 2004

Evangelicals debate inadequacy of penal substitution

-23/7/04

A public debate is set to take place, questioning what some conservative Evangelicals see as the heart of their faith.

The Evangelical Alliance has arranged the event to look at issues raised by Steve Chalke's new book, 'The Lost Message of Jesus', which has provoked outcry from several Evangelical quarters.

In the book, Steve Chalke calls into question the idea that God orchestrated Jesus' death on the cross, causing the newspaper 'Evangelical's Now' to question whether Steve Chalke could be considered an 'Evangelical' any longer.

The concept of ëpenal substitution' - the idea of a wrathful God who can only have his anger at iniquitous sinners appeased through bringing about the violent death of his Son - forms the basis of much Evangelical thinking, although it was not a view held by the early church.

Penal substitution first emerged in ëdraftí form with Anselm in the 11th Century. It was substantially shaped by John Calvinís legal mind in the Reformation and was finalised by the Princetown scholar Charles Hodge in the 19th Century.

Earlier approaches focus on Christís death and resurrection as his victory over all the forces of evil and sin, including the earthly and spiritual powers that oppress.

Steve Chalke said; "In my view, the real problem with penal substitution (a theory rooted in violence and retributive notions of justice) is its incompatibility, at least as currently taught and understood, with any authentically Christian understanding of the character of God or genuinely Christocentric worldview ñ given, for instance, Jesus own non-violent, ëdo not return evil for evilí, approach to life.

"Hence my comment, in The Lost Message of Jesus, about the tragedy of reducing God to a ëcosmic child abuserí. Though the sheer bluntness of my imagery might shock some, in truth, it is only because it is a stark ëunmaskingí of the violent, pre-Christian thinking behind such a theology."

The public debate on the subject has been organised by the Evangelical Alliance and will take place on Thursday 7th October, 7.30pm at Emmanuel Christian Centre, Marsham Street in Westminster, London.

Tickets are £3 and booking is advised, as places are limited.

Contact Julia Murphy on 020 7207 2114 or email acute@eauk.org for more details.

Evangelicals debate inadequacy of penal substitution

-23/7/04

A public debate is set to take place, questioning what some conservative Evangelicals see as the heart of their faith.

The Evangelical Alliance has arranged the event to look at issues raised by Steve Chalke's new book, 'The Lost Message of Jesus', which has provoked outcry from several Evangelical quarters.

In the book, Steve Chalke calls into question the idea that God orchestrated Jesus' death on the cross, causing the newspaper 'Evangelical's Now' to question whether Steve Chalke could be considered an 'Evangelical' any longer.

The concept of ëpenal substitution' - the idea of a wrathful God who can only have his anger at iniquitous sinners appeased through bringing about the violent death of his Son - forms the basis of much Evangelical thinking, although it was not a view held by the early church.

Penal substitution first emerged in ëdraftí form with Anselm in the 11th Century. It was substantially shaped by John Calvinís legal mind in the Reformation and was finalised by the Princetown scholar Charles Hodge in the 19th Century.

Earlier approaches focus on Christís death and resurrection as his victory over all the forces of evil and sin, including the earthly and spiritual powers that oppress.

Steve Chalke said; "In my view, the real problem with penal substitution (a theory rooted in violence and retributive notions of justice) is its incompatibility, at least as currently taught and understood, with any authentically Christian understanding of the character of God or genuinely Christocentric worldview ñ given, for instance, Jesus own non-violent, ëdo not return evil for evilí, approach to life.

"Hence my comment, in The Lost Message of Jesus, about the tragedy of reducing God to a ëcosmic child abuserí. Though the sheer bluntness of my imagery might shock some, in truth, it is only because it is a stark ëunmaskingí of the violent, pre-Christian thinking behind such a theology."

The public debate on the subject has been organised by the Evangelical Alliance and will take place on Thursday 7th October, 7.30pm at Emmanuel Christian Centre, Marsham Street in Westminster, London.

Tickets are £3 and booking is advised, as places are limited.

Contact Julia Murphy on 020 7207 2114 or email acute@eauk.org for more details.

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