Thursday, June 12, 2008

Atonement and 1 Peter

Chris Tilling offers a beautiful quote from M. M. Thompson's THNT commentary on Colossians and Philemon, about what the cross accomplishes. He then notes that his "inner jury is still out on the whole 'penal' issue. If you were to recommend any book on the penal substitution issue, what would it be?"
Well, the best book on the whole issue of the "atonement" that I've ever read is: The Nature of the Atonement (IVP, 2006), which is a "Four Views" book, so it has contributions by Greg Boyd (Christus Victor), Joel Green (Mixed Models), Bruce Reichenback (Healing) and Tom Schreiner (Penal Substitution).
Joel Green's offering has the following quote on 1 Peter, which is worth pondering:
Jesus' suffering is exemplary, providing a model for his followers of innocent suffering (1 Pet 2:19-20; 3:16-17; 4:1-2, 13-16); redemptive, providing a model for his followers of effective suffering (1 Pet 2:12, 15; 3:1-2); and anticipatory, providing a model for his followers of how God will vindicate the righteous who suffer (1 Pet 2:20; 4:13-14; 5:1, 10). This means that although it is true that Peter draws heavily on Israel's Scriptures, it is equally true that the biblical story is now fundamentally branded by the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus' execution functions for Peter as the conceptual scheme by which life is lived and the world is made to make sense. The cross of Christ provides a way of comprehending life, orients a community around its identifying beliefs and values, and guides the actions of those whose lives carry its brand. [pg. 183]
If one has to categorize 1 Peter's model of the atonement, it is surely Christus Victor, as 1 Pet 3:18-22 demonstrates. Jesus, though seemingly defeated at the cross, is vindicated into new life by the Spirit of God. This victory is then triumphantly announced to the demonic underworld, which signals their imminent demise. [For an interesting proposal of "how" the Spirit announces this victory see here].
On the whole "penal substitution" view, I still have one dangerous question: Show me a single verse that teaches the idea that God poured out his wrath on Jesus at the cross. This is my only objection to this view. It lacks biblical support. It sounds good, and theologically a good argument can be made for it, but where is the biblical support?

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