An alternative model of the Atonement?

Regular readers will have spotted that I’ve taken a little time recently to respond to Steve Chalke’s 95 talks and particularly his attacks on two things:

  1. The infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture -that the Bible is God’s Word and without error
  2. The doctrine of penal substitution – that Jesus won the victory by taking our place and bearing the penalty/curse for our sin.

The second point is a return to the theme that first made Steve Chalke controversial in his book, The Lost Message of Jesus.  As Chalke and others have sought to question this teaching, a number of rumours about the doctrine have circulated. One is that it is a new doctrine, that the idea was unknown to the early church and only started to emerge in the middle ages before being properly formulated by John Calvin.  In fact, some people have gone so far as to say that this is a Western Church aberration and considered heresy by the Eastern Orthodox. Continue reading


Two further problems with Steve Chalke’s theology

In Steve Chalke’s latest video, he claims that Christians holding to penal substitution believe in redemptive violence, the idea that might wins and that violence is needed for redemption. He argues that Christians who believe that Jesus had to die to bear the penalty for sin are unable to obey Jesus’ command to forgive our enemies. There’s a simple problem with this. Continue reading

Premier Christianity and acting in the interests of balance

A few times over the years I’ve had contact with Premier Christianity about their editorial policy and particularly about their decision to publish writers who are denying or attacking what the Bible says. The question has particularly arisen in relation to Steve Chalke but also people like Rob Bell. Continue reading

Did Jesus have to be punished for our sin?

One of the push back arguments against Penal Substitution is that it is making God dependent upon something. Why should we say that God “has to punish sin.” God does not have to do anything at all, he is sovereign isn’t he? The accusation here is that Penal Substitution would compromise God’s aseity. God is compelled to act.

It’s a little bit ironic that when you look at those who have aligned themselves against penal substitution that they also tend to be suspicious of classical theism criticising concepts like aseity and impassibility, seeing them as going against a loving God. There’s a leaning towards Open Theism and the God who suffers. Continue reading

Does Penal Substitution make the rest of Jesus’ life meaningless?

There’s been a long running accusation against Evangelicals that goes something like this.

1. The focus on Jesus dying in our place so we can be forgiven and go to heaven makes the rest of Jesus’ ministry pointless. It means his life was just a build up to the real event – The Cross.

2. Christians who believe that Jesus died to take the penalty so they can have eternal life have very little interest in what happens in this life. They are purely interested in what happens after death. This also means that they have little motivation to change. They might as well do what they want now because they are saved by grace. Continue reading

Who is the Servant in Isaiah 53?

1.      The Servant is Israel (ch 41:8). This means that justice comes to the nations through Israel42:1). Israel is robbed and hurt (42:24). Israel will got hrough the fires and waters of exile and Exodus, of death and resurrection (43:1-2). Israel as the servant is chosen and dear (44:2). Israel the servant is to pay attention (42:21). God will not forget her, God has forgiven her sin. Continue reading

Why Penal Substitution Matters

I write first and foremost as a pastor. I’m aware from my own context and from other pastors that day to day ministry means we are looking after people who at any one time may be Continue reading