Tag Archives: forgiveness

Not Penal Substitution But Vicarious Punishment

The following is a summary/notes of Mark Murphy’s article, “Not Penal Substitution but Vicarious Punishment.” (Faith and Philosophy, 26.3, 2009)

Summary: PSA fails for conceptual reasons. Punishment is an expressive action so it is not transferable. A relative of PSA, VP, is conceptually coherent. Under VP, the guilty person’s punishment consists in the suffering of an innocent to whom he or she bears a special relationship. Sinful humanity is punished through the death of Jesus.

Section 1

Human beings on account of their sins deserve to be punished, but that JC was punished in our place so that we no longer bear ill-desert. (253-4)

Ill desert is removed by punishment. Christ is punished for our sins, and thus a necessary condition for unity with God is realized.

There is a conceptual problem w/PSA

Punishment = an authoritative imposition of hard treatment upon one for the failure to adhere to some binding standard.

This definition is not sufficient for punishment. A fourth condition is necessary, namely that punishment expresses condemnation of the wrongdoer.

If this is right then punishment will be non-transferable. Then PSA doesn’t work.

Section 2

What happens in PSA: A deserves to be punished; but B is punished in A’s place; so A no longer deserves to be punished. A’s ill-desert is removed by B’s personally substituting for A.

What happens in VP: A deserves to be punished; B undergoes hard treatment, which constitutes A’s being punished; and so A no longer deserves to be punished. (260)

Example: A criminal has his spouse killed. This deprives him of a significant good, namely having a wife. The hard treatment condition is met, except it is not in propria persona.

Section 3

Is VP morally objectionable? After all it has an innocent party suffering.

Reason why it is not morally objectionable: The suffering is willing.

Obj: It is still cruel to do this.

Resp: Yes, cruel, but not unjust.

Obj: There is injustice b/w the wrongdoer and the innocent sufferer.

Resp: This isn’t a criticism of the view itself, rather, the fact that the wrongdoer committed a bad action.

Retribution= depriving the wrongdoer of a significant human good.

This also deters further wrongdoing.

Section 4

Summary: “We human beings have sinned, having violated the divine law, in egregious ways. We thus merit punishment; and until this ill-desert is requited, there is an obstacle to proper union with God. In order to exact retribution and requite this ill desert, God chose to punish vicariously. Because Christ accepted this scheme freely, and with awareness that he would indeed be called upon to undergo the suffering constitutive of the punishment, it does Jesus neither injustice nor cruelty that he was to suffer in the carrying out the punishment of sinful humanity. So on this view the way that each of us is punished for our transgressions of divine law is that his or her Lord is killed. Each of us, for his or her sins, is subjected to hard treatment of having his or her Lord made to suffer and die. What makes this hard treatment imposed on us sinners is that the relationship of being Lord of is a special relationship that makes the misfortunes of the Lord constitutive of bad for the subject. This is a very hard treatment indeed. (265)

Section 5

It makes sense of biblical language & addresses other puzzles.

Section 6

Is punishment compatible with forgiveness? Yes.

One might compensate for one’s failures but still be at odds with the wronged. Forgiveness brings unity.


Grace Is…

What is Grace?

Grace is more than being lucky to be on God’s side.

Grace is God’s goodness showered on people who have failed.

Grace is God’s love on those who think they are unlovable.

Grace is God knowing what we are designed to be.

Grace is God believing in us when we have given up.

Grace is God unleashing his transforming power.

Grace realigns and reroutes a life and a community.

Grace is when you turn your worst enemy into your best friends.

Grace takes people as they are and makes them what they can be.

Grace ennobles; grace empowers.

Grace forgives; grace frees.

Grace transcends, and grace transforms.

Grace turns God-fighters into God-defenders.

Grace turns Jesus-haters into Jesus-lovers.

Grace turns Spirit-resisters into Spirit-listeners.

-Scot McKnight (From A Fellowship of Differents, p.38-39)

10 Statements About the Gospel

Gospel this, gospel that, gospel here, gospel there, gospel everywhere! Now a days it seems like everything is “gospel,” but if everything is the gospel then nothing is the gospel. However, this does not mean that the gospel does not have breadth, the gospel might be a lot more multifaceted than we think….

The word “gospel” or to “preach the good news” is used a total of 128 times in the New Testament. Its used in many context and in may ways, so naturally we should want to get a clear grasp on what this word means.

In his book Understanding Christian Mission: Participation in Suffering and Glory, Scott Sunquist list out ten statements about the gospel which he thinks should help us in thinking about how we proclaim the message of the Messiah:

  1. The Gospel is a summary of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
  2. The Gospel is what Jesus taught.
  3. The Gospel is the message from God to all people or, more precisely to all ethnic groups.
  4. The Gospel is the message preached by the apostles.
  5. The core message of the Gospel is about the grace of God offered for all of humanity.
  6. The Gospel of grace is centers on the meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ.
  7. Because the Gospel is a Gospel of grace, it is also a gospel of judgement.
  8. The Gospel is to be preached in a manner that reveals its nature: The gospel is truth, and so it must be preached truthfully.
  9. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has supreme value.
  10. The Gospel has its own power to transform individuals.

So those are Sunquist’s 10 statements on the gospel. I would love to hear whether you would add any other statements or whether you would take away some of his. I would also love to hear the reasons behind your decision.

Which statements would you add? Subtract? Why?

The Cross + Guilty Feelings = Forgiveness!

The truth is that often we feel as though beating ourselves up and dwelling on our sin pleases God. You probably won’t admit this but if you really stop and think about it, you see the grain of truth in it. Its as though we think that God needs to be reminded of our sin.

But here is the problem with that….

 The problem with dwelling on “Sinner” as our identity is that it diminishes Jesus’ work on the cross.

Focusing on how broken and messed up you is basically saying that Jesus’ work on the cross wasn’t enough to rescue you. When you focus on your sin, and beat yourself up over it you are saying that Jesus’ work to forgive me wasn’t enough. You are saying that what I really need is:

The cross + guilty feelings

  That will earn my forgiveness!

But Christianity isn’t a guilt-laden religion. If you think part of what it means to be a Christian is to constantly live with feelings of guilt well I have got news for you. You got it all wrong.

Christianity isn’t a guilt-laden religion. Chrstianity is a freeing religion. It’s a religion that says that there is no more guilt. There is no more condemnation.

Christianity says that you have God’s full acceptance. It says that God is eternally pleased with you. The reason why is because you have been justified in the name of Christ and you are being sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit.

These are My Confessions

Here is another confession of sin and assurance of forgiveness that I took and revised/contextualized for Soma:

Confession of Sin
Leader: Loving Father our lives fall short of your glory. We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed;
People: We have not loved you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
Leader: Our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to ignore.
People: Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear.
Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, and the good we have left undone.
Leader:  Lord, We privately confess to you the sins of our hearts.
Individuals: [Privately Confess Your Sin to the Lord.]
All: Lord, you are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy; Forgive us!
Leader: Restore to us the joy of your salvation;
People: Speak to each of us, and let your truth live with us!
Leader: Strengthen us to walk in the Spirit and to depend on the Spirit,
People: Strengthen us to abide in Christ, and to be conformed to Christ.
All: Give us an experience of your grace that makes us bold for others, that we might joyfully tell our friends and neighbors of your beautiful mercy.

Assurance of Forgiveness
Leader: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, abounding in love and forgiving our sins. He has taken away our sins as far as the east is from the west!
Leader: What has washed away our sins?
All: Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Leader: What can make us whole again?
All: Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Leader: Be assured, The Lord has forgiven our sins and made us clean. He has given us his righteousness! He has taken away our shame!
People: Thanks be to God!