Friday, 18 December 2009

Balance and harmony

(continuing the series on the Cross by guest blogger Mick Taylor)

In the context of this debate about penal substitution it is important to note two balancing points:

Firstly, penal substitution is a part of biblical teaching on the cross – it’s not the complete picture. One claim that is made is that the teaching of penal substitution has been taught to the exclusion of other biblical perspectives. So it is asserted that the cross as a model and motivation for discipleship is missed. Or the note of triumph that rings so loudly throughout the New Testament has been drowned out. The danger of one truth being so emphasised that it eclipses other truths must clearly be avoided. Where this is true we should readily agree that distortion occurs. N T Wright has put it like this:

In a musical chord, the ‘third’ (in a chord of C major, this would be the note E) is the critical one that tells you many things, e.g. whether the music is major or minor, happy or sad. That E is vital if the music is to make the sense it does. But if the player plays the E and nothing else, the E no longer means what it’s meant to mean. Likewise, substitutionary atonement is a vital element in the gospel. Miss it out and the music of the gospel is no longer what it should be. But if you only play that note you are in danger of setting up a different harmony altogether... (