As we continue to reflect on the blessings of Easter, it is interesting to note that the debate surrounding the doctrine of Penal Substitution (PS) rumbles on in the UK.
An almost tabloid headline in the Sunday Telegraph (Christ did not die for sin) trumpeted a strongly anti-PS sermon by Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans.
This was followed by a lengthy piece, The Cross and the Caricatures by NT Wright, the Bishop of Durham, who criticises both Jeffrey John’s position, and also Pierced for Our Transgressions (a book strongly arguing for PS).
The authors of PFOT have responded in turn here (and include links to a number of other responses to NT Wright’s article).
It is deeply upsetting to see the way this issue seems to be dividing ‘brothers’ – and it is sad to reflect on how poorly we measure up to the evangelistic challenge of John 13:35:
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
But then, it is not as though these kind of arguments should surprise us. As Paul wrote (2 Timothy 4:4):
“For the time will come when men will not put up with shound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
And the solution, then as now, is to “Preach the Word.” So I will leave the final word to Jesus (Mark 10:45):
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”