As part of my commitment to a theological approach to leadership, today, guest blogger Mick Taylor begins a series of 7 blogs on the Cross.
Crucifixion has always been controversial. Barbaric and shameful as a means of capital punishment, it was eventually abandoned even by the Romans. It was therefore staggering to the ancient world that a ‘new’ religion would declare that salvation had been achieved through a crucified messiah. How could a message so utterly ridiculous and a saviour so pathetically weak achieve anything? Yet though the cross was a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 1:23) to many it proved to be the very power of God. (1 Cor 1:18) Throughout the history of the church the message of the cross has not lost its power to offend or to provoke - or, praise God, to save.
And it is not just outside the church that the cross has caused controversy. Within the Christian community there have always been seasons of wrestling with how best to understand the true significance of Christ’s death. In recent years this has recurred again but this time within the evangelical community. The debate has focused on what is called the doctrine of penal substitution. That is the teaching that, on the cross, Christ died in our place as our substitute and took the penalty for our sin for us.
Wayne Grudem defines penal substitution in this way: Christ’s death was “penal” in that he bore a penalty when he died. His death was also a “substitution” in that he was a substitute for us when he died. (Wayne Grudem – Systematic Theology p 179)