Debunking Postmodern Liberal Theology: The Doctrine of Atonement

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A really helpful article from Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio (and the excellent discernment program Fighting for the Faith), in which he biblically refutes one of the many false teachings of the emergent church movement:

Debunking Postmodern Liberal Claims That Penal Substitutionary Atonement Didn’t Exist Until 1,000 Years After Christ

 

Excerpt from original article:

“Liberal theology is a funny thing. While claiming to be engaging in Christian theology, modernist liberals and postmodern emergent liberals both appear to be very busy deconstructing, denying and destroying the central doctrines of the Christian faith. One doctrine that is particularly offensive to liberal theologians is the doctrine of Christ’s vicarious penal substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world.

Early adopters of postmodernity and recognized thought leaders in the Emergent Church Movement, Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, in their 2003 book The Lost Message of Jesus succinctly explain their disgust with the thought that Jesus’ death on the cross was the punishment for our sins:

The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement: ‘God is love’. If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil. [1]

Describing the belief that Christ died for our sins as a ‘form of cosmic child abuse’ pretty much captures their repulsion at the thought that Jesus death was vicarious. It ‘s hard to find a more vitriolic description of that doctrine. Along with the vitriol, the postmodern liberals have developed a sophisticated explanation for the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement that includes claims that it is a man-made doctrine developed over a thousand years after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

This paper will examine the veracity of the claims of Emergent postmodern liberals that the understanding that Jesus’ death was a vicarious and penal substitutionary atonement was unknown to the early church and was a late theological development as an explanation of Jesus death on the cross. It will do this by evaluating Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Song in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and how the Church Father’s understood this passage.”

Read the rest of this article here.

Further reading from Pastor Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel:

Atonement Wars – Part 1

Atonement Wars – Part 2