I’ve just read a great article by the Bishop of Durham, Dr N T Wright. It’s a response to Jeffry John’s Easter message, and also “Pierced for Our Transgressions” (a book which I mentioned recently – still haven’t started to read though). I think the response to Jeffry John is excellent. His is quite critical of “Pierced for Our Transgressions”, without having read the book I think he raises some good points. You’ll have to read the article to find out what they are though!
One thing I did want to mention was a quote he gives at the end of his response to Jeffry John:
God is love, say [some], and therefore he does not require a propitiation. God is love, say the Apostles, and therefore he provides a propitiation. Which of these doctrines appeals best to the conscience? Which of them gives reality, and contents, and substance, to the love of God? Is it not the apostolic doctrine? Does not the other cut out and cast away that very thing which made the soul of Godâ€™s love to Paul and John? . . . Nobody has any right to borrow the words â€˜God is loveâ€™ from an apostle, and then to put them in circulation after carefully emptying them of their apostolic import. . . . But this is what they do who appeal to love against propitiation. To take the condemnation out of the Cross is to take the nerve out of the Gospel . . . Its whole virtue, its consistency with Godâ€™s character, its aptness to manâ€™s need, its real dimensions as a revelation of love, depend ultimately on this, that mercy comes to us in it through judgment.James Denney, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Expositorâ€™s Bible, Hodder, 1894, p. 221f.
I really like that quotation, and in fact I think it sums up the idea of ‘penal substitution’ (as it were).
I’ll post up my own thoughts on ‘Pierced for Our Transgressions’ when I’ve read it – it’s quite a weighty tome though, so it might be a while…