A pet peeve
I have been reading The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views today. There are contributions and responses to the position papers from G.A. Boyd (Christus Victor view), Joel Green (kaleidoscopic view), B.R. Reichenbach (healing view), and Thomas Schreiner (penal substitution view). Thus far I have read Schriener's and Boyd's chapters, together with responses. The essay's are very well written, as are most of the responses - especially those by Green. It is a very enjoyable book and I recommend it most highly to those wishing to think through their doctrine of atonement.
To be honest, I am still working out my thoughts on the atonement and so remain open minded, but here is a line of reasoning that I occasionally come across and that really ticks me off. Schreiner writes:
'The wisdom of God displayed in the cross is rejected by the wise of this age. Penal substitution is an object of indignation and regularly pilloried by many of the educated class' (70)
Schreiner qualifies himself a page or two later, but I still cannot stand it when such reasoning is even hinted at. 'You think penal substitution is a problematic doctrine? The message of the cross always was a scandal'.
Nonsense! When Paul writes of the 'offense of the cross' in Gal 5:11, or of the foolishness of the message of the cross in 1 Cor 1:18, he does not say these things because people are disturbed by the proclamation of a penal substitutionary view of atonement. The skandalon of Gal 5:11 was probably simply the notion of a crucified messiah (cf. Dunn, Galatians, 281), not because people were offended that an angry God satisfies his wrath through a sacrifice (an idea known in the pagan world). The 'foolishness' in 1 Cor 1:18 also has nothing to do with a reaction to penal substitution. Rather, the 'Christian proclamation of a crucified malefactor was moronic to persons weaned on a love of learning, virtuousness and aesthetic pleasure … The message of the cross calls for a worldview shift of colossal proportions because it subverts conventional, taken-for-granted ways of thinking and knowing' (Green and Baker, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, 14).
To all writers: if you want to defend a penal substitutionary view of the atonement, please stop relating modern consternation towards the doctrine with Paul's skandalon statements. It is exegetically unsound and an irresponsible use of rhetoric.