An interesting admission from a man who was a strong defender of the penal substitution theory of the atonement:
The demand that the Atonement shall be exhibited in vital relation to a new life in which sin is overcome… is entirely legitimate, and it touches a weak point in the traditional Protestant doctrine. Dr. [Thomas] Chalmers tells us that he was brought up — such was the effect of the current orthodoxy upon him — in a certain distrust of good works. Some were certainly wanted, but not as being themselves salvation, only, as he puts it, as tokens of justification. It was a distinct stage in his religious progress when he realized that true justification sanctifies, and that the soul can and ought to abandon itself spontaneously and joyfully to do the good that it delights in… An atonement that does not regenerate… is not an atonement in which men can be asked to believe.
1. O Love divine, what has thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son
bore all my sins upon the tree.
Th’ immortal God for me hath died:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!
2. Is crucified for me and you,
to bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true,
ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood.
Pardon for all flows from his side:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified! (more…)
Here is a nice quote from Scot McKnight’s book A Community Called Atonement. This appears on page 69, at the end of Chapter 9 on the Crucifixion theme in the New Testament account of atonement. I changed the formatting so that the first part appears as a list.
I suggest that we see the achievement of the cross in three expressions:
- Jesus dies “with us” — entering into our evil and our sin and our suffering to subvert it and create a new way;
- Jesus dies “instead of us” — he enters into our sin, our wrath, our death; and
- Jesus dies “for us” — his death forgives our sin, “declares us right,” absorbs the wrath of God against us, and creates a new life where there once was only death.
Not only is this death saving, this same death becomes the paradigm for an entirely new existence that is shaped, as Luther said of theology and life, by the cross. A life shaped by the cross is a life bent on dying daily to self in order to love God, self, others, and the world. And a life shaped by the cross sees in the cross God becoming the victim, identifying with the victim, suffering injustice, and shaping a cruciform pattern of life for all who follow Jesus. The cross reshapes all of life.
Guest blog by Morgan Guyton. Morgan is the associate pastor of Burke United Methodist Church and lead pastor for their Lifesign contemporary service. He blogs regularly at Mercy Not Sacrifice. His writings have also been known to appear at Red Letter Christians, and HuffPo and elsewhere on the web.
Morgan says about himself: “I’m a broken person whose brokenness is what qualifies me to love and serve other broken people. I’m learning to be less ideological and subordinate everything else that I believe to trusting in God’s love. I’m very passionate which can turn into arrogance when I don’t have enough loving friends around to call me out. Above all, I seek to be saved from the prison of self-justification that Christ died to help me overcome. The more that Christ liberates me from the need to be right all the time, the more that I grow capable of love.”
Morgan is also the author of a book entitled: How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity.