Penal Substitutionary Atonement: Critique of a Critique (Part 4)
Within a penal substitution model, God's ability to love and relate to humans is circumscribed by something outside of God- that is, an abstract concept of justice instructs God as to how God must behave.
With the above statement, Green & Baker present their readers with a straw man. If Charles Hodge and others who hold to penal substitutionary atonement actually argued that God is "circumscribed by something outside of God," then the "penal substitution model" would OBVIOUSLY be false for the Bible clearly teaches that NOTHING is greater than God.
In studying Charles Hodge's actual writings about the justice of God (from a section of his Systematic Theology titled "Satisfaction Rendered to Justice") it becomes clear that the justice that informs God's actions and with which sinners must deal is not an "abstract concept" but comes about due to God's own character. For God is a just God and has revealed His own intention to reward the righteous and punish the wicked- this is not something that is forced upon God from outside, but is in accordance with His own will.
In order to both fulfill the intention just mentioned above- to reward the righteous and punish the wicked- and to also fulfill His intention to save sinners, God provides a righteous substitute who takes the punishment due to the wicked and who covers the wicked in His own righteousness, thereby saving sinners. This act of salvation in Christ is, again, not something imposed on God, but which flows from His own purposes and character.
Labels: Reformation Theology