Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Friday, October 12

The Cross

I'm having a season of being very passionate about the essential nature of penal substitution.  I wish I had time to write about it.

Other ways of describing the death of Jesus exist, and most of them do add some helpful illumination on the topic.  But none of them really make sense on their own, whereas penal substitution does work on its own.

I feel that the alternative explanations are given more weight than they deserve because people can't handle the truth that God is angry about sin.  We want a nice cuddly God.  But the God of the New Testament is also the God of the Old Testament, and unless you are going to get all Gnostic the loving God is also the angry God.  As CS Lewis would put it: Aslan is not a tame lion.  Hebrews 10:31 "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God".

The angry God is angry not just at the consequences of sin - the devastated creation and the suffering of millions -  he is angry that we rebel against HIM personally.

But the Angry God is also the Loving God.

And in all of his infinity, the point at which his Anger and his Love meet is the cross.  X marks the spot!

In my view any description of the cross that does not acknowledge its role in satisfying the anger of God is inadequate.  It has missed the point.  It is a toothless lion.

You can't have reconciliation unless there has been an enmity.  If we have not been God's enemies (and I don't mean us thinking of him as enemy I mean him thinking of us as enemies, which is the real truth) then we cannot be reconciled to him, and don't need to be reconciled to him, and there is no point in the cross.

So, no Angry God = no need for a crucifixion.

As I said, people don't like the uncomfortable idea of God's wrath. And so they concoct every theory they can as an explanation a crucifixion that is not there primarily to answer God's wrath.

But I say that if they have not understood God's anger, they have not understood their own sin.  And if they have not understood their own sin, they have not understood repentance - in fact they have not repented, because they don't know what sin is or what repentance is. 

In fact a religion that does not have the penal substitution of Jesus as its core is not really Christian at all.

But God is merciful.  Salvation is by faith, not by theological expertise, and I still hope that anyone who puts his mustard seed of faith in Christ in some form no matter how inadequately will still be saved.

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