Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where Does Wright Stand on Penal Substitutionary Atonement?

Lee Irons looks at the issue. The bottom line, according to Lee, is that Wright uses traditional terms with untraditional definitions.

Here's his conclusion after looking at the evidence from Wright's own writings:
  • sin is an impersonal evil force, not personal rebellion against God;
  • sin has bad consequences, but does not elicit God's punitive wrath against the sinner; and
  • the cross is to be understood as some version of the Christus Victor theory in which Christ defeats evil by letting it do its worst to him, not as a penal satisfaction of divine justice.
HT: Denny Burk

Update: Andrew Cowan, who has been reading Wright carefully for years, writes: "I think that these claims are hard to justify in light of Wright's comments on Romans 1:18-32 and 3:21-26 in his NIB commentary where he seems to affirm what Irons claims he denies." See Andrew's full comment. Andrew concludes:
I think that Irons' concern about Wright's statements in popular books is a good instinct. Wright is not always as clear in every context about penal sustitutionary atonement as I would like for him to be. Nevertheless, I don't think that the claim that he is using traditional terms with untraditional definitions is accurate. His work in the Romans commentary (and other places that I don't have time to track down) seems to indicate otherwise, and these statements need to be taken into account.