The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I have, as evidenced by Saturday's post, been working at coming to terms with the Atonement. It's a difficult doctrine to come to grips with, as we are, in our modern world, unclear what to make of God's sparing us, but at the terrible price of the Crucifixion. In that post, I described the help I'd found in the writings of Charles Gore with this issue.

Over at Stand Firm, Fr. Matthew Kennedy has posted a "Very Brief Thought on Penal Substitutionary Atonement in which he asks:
What do we call a judge who acquits a guilty person on the basis of a loving personal relationship?


Justification is given to us through the vehicle of repentance and surrender to Christ's Person and full trust in his Work--or "faith" alone.

But justification is only possible through Christ alone--because Christ has borne hell in our place.

We are not acquitted on the basis of a personal relationship...God cannot simply "forgive" without compromising his impossibility
Without meaning to be disagreeable, I think this is a singularly inapt analogy. Fr. Kennedy misses the reason that we would call such a judge as he hypothesizes a corrupt judge, i.e., that the judge would be sacrificing the rights of other parties for his own benefit. That simply isn't the case with sin; God is both the wronged party and the judge; the wrong is His to forgive. And God, in forgiving sin, is enacting in perfect form what we are bidden to do for each other--forgive wrongs not seven times, but seventy times seven.

The better analogy is what would we call a parent who, seeing his beloved child break a cherished family memento, forgives? Whatever the answer may be, it isn't corrupt.

Gore's notion may not be comprehensive, but I think it leads in a better direction.

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