A taxonomy of contemporary versions of penal substitutionary atonement

Visk, Matthew David (2020) A taxonomy of contemporary versions of penal substitutionary atonement. Masters thesis, Middlesex University / London School of Theology. [Thesis]

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Penal substitutionary atonement is understood to be a central tenant of conservative evangelicalism’s understanding of the cross. However, what is understood to be ‘penal substitution’ is not as straightforward. Theologian, Oliver Crisp, has noted the variations of this doctrine amongst its adherents by calling the doctrine a “family of views.” This thesis surveys a range of contemporary and recent theologians’ different versions of penal substitution in order to compare and contrast their similarities and differences. By asking a series of fives questions, it identifies some of the variations found within penal substitution. The questions asked of each theologian are, 1) What model of necessity do they employ in their doctrine of penal substitution? 2) What role does God the Father have in the Son’s sufferings on the cross? 3) What is the nature of the penalty and the suffering that Christ experiences? 4) How is the active obedience of Christ understood and what role does it play in comparison to the passive obedience? 5) In what sense do they understand and utilize the concept of satisfaction? The focus has been narrowed to a few influential and popular conservative theologians, namely: J.I. Packer, John R.W. Stott, I. Howard Marshall, Garry Williams (including a response by Michael Lynch), Steve Jeffery/Mike Ovey/Andrew Sach (authors of Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution), and R.C. Sproul. This thesis examines the variety of answers given to these five questions towards the end of displaying the rich complexities of the doctrine. In turn, the hope is that this will open a dialogue for future exploration of penal substitutionary atonement’s place in history. By highlighting how leading theologians differ on some of these issues, this thesis demonstrates that future work needs to be done on penal substitutionary atonement, which may include historical retrieval into some of Christianity’s foundational theologians.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > London School of Theology
Item ID: 35917
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2022 14:51
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:12
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/35917

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