Friday, February 18, 2022

Mike Bird and Andrew Rillera on penal substitutionary atonement

Every day for the next 7 days I will be posting my way through an essay written by a brilliant up and coming NT scholar, namely Dr Andrew Rillera. I interviewed him here on OnScript, which will give you a taste of his razor sharpness and verve. 

This essay, which will come in 7 parts, emerged from a discussion Andrew, myself and a few other friends had having read my friend Mike Bird’s recent blog post, titled “Myth Busting Penal Substitutionary Atonement”. 

In it, Mike presented the sentence “There is no PSA in the New Testament” as a myth. 

Mike instead defended the proposition “I believe that PSA is broadly affirmed in the New Testament”, with reference to Romans 8, Galatians 3 and 1 Peter 2 (please do check out Mike’s brief blog post – to be clear: Mike’s post is short and not intended as an extended defence of PSA). 

I must admit, I was surprised by Bird’s claim. Not because someone might affirm PSA. After all, plenty do think it is possible to present a biblical theological case for PSA by drawing together various Scriptures from the four corners of the canon in a particular manner, namely by justifying isolated building blocks required to uphold PSA. Bracketing the question as to whether this is a convincing procedure or whether it treats the Bible sufficiently as Holy Scripture (which would have to present a reading under christological control – something required if it is to be “theological” in any Christian sense), my surprise was based on the fact that I simply do not see penal substitutionary atonement in Paul (or 1 Peter), key texts in Mike’s short argument. This may be my problem; I am just registering my reaction, which is why we discussed matters!

As we debated wider issues spinning away from Mike Bird’s original claims, Andrew’s comments were particularly thought-provoking, and so I asked if I would allow me to post his exegetical thoughts.

This is what follows: 

Pt 1 The language of “atonement” 

Pt 2 Romans 8:3

Pt 3 Galatians 3:13–14

Pt 4 Peter 2:24

Pt 5 Inadequacies of the concept of “Substitution”

Pt 6 Resurrection and “substitution”

Pt 7 Response to Discussion and a Conclusion


Pt 8 Closing thoughts on the PSA series, Jon Depue and "penal" problems


I’d love to hear what people think of Andrews rebuttal of Mike’s (and wider) claims about PSA as these are important topics touching on foundation blocks in many theological and ecclesial identities. 

They are not easy to critically dissect, in other words.

So what do you think needs to be accepted as devastating critique of PSA? Or what in Andrew’s argument needs to be tweaked or perhaps even binned?

You can bookmark this post as I will update it with the links as we go through the whole essay over the next week.



At 10/13/2022 2:27 AM, Blogger Talmidim said...

I just read the posts, all 8 parts of 7. Chris and Andrew have taken Penal Substitutionary Atonement from me. Thankfully they left me with a substitute, a Biblical one at that. Great job.


Post a Comment

<< Home