A Devastating Critique of the Penal Substitutionary Model for the Atonement

[Edited for Pulliam's newest post today where he comments on the discussion in my book]. Dr. Ken Pulliam is providing this on his blog (read his posts from the bottom up). Link.


Chris said...

The (IMHO) incoherency that is inherent in the various atonement models is a large part of what got me on the track to deconversion a decade or so ago. I still enjoy reading critiques such as this one, and perhaps I even more enjoy reading the futile efforts on the part of numerous theologians to forge a coherent argument for one atonement model or another. This whole notion is one gigantic train wreck, and mental gymnastics won't rescue it.

By the way, check the spelling on the word "devastating" in the title to this blog post.

John -- Thank you for arranging for another printing of your book. I had put off ordering a copy before and am now availing myself of this second chance.

John W. Loftus said...

Fixed it Chris, thanks. Let me know what you think of my book.


Conor Gilliland said...

Calling logic "mental gymnastics" does not defeat the logic. The critique was anything but devastating.

Pulliam's whole argument hinges on the idea that it wasn't necessary for God to absorb humanity's debt through the death of Christ.

First, even if it wasn't necessary for God to absorb humanity's debt in the way that he did (through Christ), it is how he absorbed it. This doesn't deny the possibility of absorbing the debt in another way. For example, if you owe me $100 and I decide to forgive your debt, I could absorb it in several different ways. I could work really hard to earn the money, I could sell off some of my possesions, etc...

It is also important to note that our debt to God isn't simply quantitative but qualitative. Certainly, if our debt to God was purely quantitative, then it would be of no consequence to God to forgive any debt we could incur.

However, the point of the fall, the incarnation, the death, and resurrection of Christ is that by sinning, humanity incurred a metaphysical debt. A debt that God (staying consistent with his nature) could only absorb metaphysically.

Suppose for a moment that I am attacking you with a knife. You know that the only way to avoid absorbing the attack (taking a blade in the gut) is to destroy me. Out of love for me, you choose to absorb the attack.

I am suggesting that perhaps, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the necessary manifestation of humanity's attack on His metaphysic.

Corky said...

Conor, that made about as much sense as tits on a boar hog.

Conor Gilliland said...

Corky, if you read the supposed "devastating critique" you would see that my argument shows God didn't have to absorb the humanity's debt in the way that he did. The "devastating critique" relies heavily on the idea that God HAD to absorb the debt in the way he did. My last bit about necessity may not work, and that's fine, it doesn't have to, because my first argument works just fine. I just thought it might be an interesting way to see it.