Affirmative of Penal Punishment
I attempted to address Pastor George Fifield’s sermon in answering the points you’ve posted through Bible texts and their exegesis. It would have been more apparent if they received some pertinent replies. Anyway, here are 2 excerpts from his sermon that I think highlight his message:
(1) “How am I going to act out the acts of love? Try real hard to love somebody? It does not come that way. Did you ever try it? No, sir; you cannot make it that way. But if somebody acts loveable, you love him. And so the reason God can love everything, and thus act out the acts of love, is because God is love. He has manifested himself to beget his love in us, and that love flows out in righteousness. Then the power of God is the power of love.”
(2) So the Methodist Discipline uses these words: “Christ died to reconcile the Father unto us;” that is, to propitiate God so that we could be forgiven – paganism straight out. Why, brethren and sisters, it is the application of the pagan conception of sacrifice to the sacrifice upon the cross, so that that wonderful manifestation of divine love, which God intended should cause all men, all beings in the universe, to wonder and adore, has been turned around and made a manifestation of wrath to be propitiated in order to save man.
The first excerpt is soundly Biblical (Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 5:14; 1 John 4:19). The second denies the Biblical teaching on God’s wrath and the God-given propitiation through Christ. He misunderstands the Biblical paradox and though he is right in what he affirms, he is wrong in what he denies.
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10). This is the context of loving Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died” (2 Cor. 5:14) Note the context of Christ’s representative and substitutionary death.
“knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4) Paul wrote this in the context of God’s wrath (Rom. 2:5, 8 )
Pastor Fifield’s argument is a straw man. As we’ve covered in our lesson this quarter, the main difference between the pagan and Scriptural sacrificial systems is the source of the sacrifice. To the heathen it is man’s device to appease an angry God. In our sanctuary doctrine, it is God’s gift to make atonement for our souls (Lev. 17:11).
Pastor Fifield’s main criticism of the penal substitutionary atonement doctrine (PSA) is that it declares that only through the cross can God iabandon his wrath and forgive sinners. No responsible advocate of PSA takes this position. There is not a hint in the New Testament that Jesus died to persuade God to forgive sinners. On the contrary, his death is part of the way in which God himself acts in his grace and mercy. Jesus was not sent so God can loves us. He was sent because God so loved the world.
Therefore, why should Pastor Fifield deny the penal substitution metaphor of salvation when its proper Biblical understanding is nowhere near his “straw man” concern?
Negative of Penal Punishment