Penal Substitutionary Atonement: Critique of a Critique (Part 2)
Green & Baker's second paragraph against Charles Hodge's presentation of penal substitutionary atonement:
Because Hodge read the Bible through the lens of the criminal justice system of his era, the Bible appeared to support his explanation. In other words, if readers come to the biblical text with the presuppositions Hodge has about justice, God's wrath and judgment, and the mechanics of biblical sacrifice, then indeed his model seems biblical. If, however, we attempt to allow the Bible itself to shape the way we think about those same terms, his model appears fundamentally flawed because it operates with an understanding of these terms that is foreign to the Bible.
In other posts I hope to further examine whether Hodge's understanding of the issues raised above- "justice, God's wrath and judgment, and the mechanics of biblical sacrifice"- is indeed biblical; obviously, Hodge thought he was being biblical whereas Green & Baker disagree.
In this post, I would like to simple raise a question never addressed by Green & Baker in their presentation.
When Green & Baker see similarities in God's justice according to traditional Evangelical interpretation and the Western criminal justice system, they consistently attribute this similarity to an influence of the Western understanding of criminal justice upon biblical exegesis that is illegitimate, at least in our post-modern age. What they never seem to consider is the following question: What if the traditional understanding of criminal justice in the West was actually influenced by the biblical presentation of God's justice? In other words, if the Western criminal justice system was actually shaped by a biblical understanding of justice, might the similarities between the criminal justice system and the traditional Evangelical interpretation of God's justice be legitimate after all?
Labels: Reformation Theology