Monday, February 11, 2008

Kim: The Atoning Death of Christ on the Cross

Fuller Seminary's Seyoon Kim pens a helpful article on The Atoning Death of Christ on the Cross.

Here's the conclusion:
Thus, when the doctrine of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement on the cross—and the doctrine of justification that issues from it—is properly expounded, it can integrate the Christus victor motif in itself and provide the adequate basis for sanctification or imitatio Christi. Hence Paul uses penal substitutionary atonement for his moral exhortation not to sin against brethren, especially the “weak” ones (“the brother for whom Christ died,” Rom 14:15; 1 Cor 8:11), and not to sell one’s body into slavery either of sexual lust or of a human master (“You were bought with a price,” 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23). Above all, in expounding the missionary and social implications of the doctrine of justification, Paul makes the most revolutionary declaration: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28; cf. also Rom 3:30; Eph 2:11-22; Col 3:11). Since justification does not depend on any innate quality or merit of human beings, but it is only by God’s grace manifested in Christ’s substitutionary atonement, and solely through our faith-appropriation of it, racial, gender, or social differences do not count any more. There is no doubt that this gospel has exerted its liberating force over against the still mightily raging diabolic force of discrimination and oppression in the dialectical history of the Christian world. What an irony it is then that the basis of such a liberating doctrine is now made the target of abuses by some “postcolonial” and “feminist” theologians! Evangelicals, if they are to be true to their historic identity, should not succumb to any polemics based on distorted versions of the Biblical doctrine of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement, nor yield to the attempts to marginalize it for the sake of the (independent) Christus victor theory or the (biblically questionable) moral influence/example theory. Rather, they must uphold the doctrine, expounding it fully and celebrating the grace of God that it highlights.

HT: James Grant