reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Monday, May 14, 2007

The PS debate, things to reflect on:

posted by Little Mo | Permalink |
I guess it's always been my experience in life that when someone criticises you, you want to defend yourself.

So you do.

But after a little time, you can see that, even if they were being very unfair there was maybe a grain of truth in what they said. And maybe it's like that with what people say about penal substitution.

To say that we believe in cosmic child abuse is a cruel, nasty unpleasant and vitriolic thing to say. We need to defend ourselves against that accusation. We don't believe in that.

But Chalkey and lots of other people I have come across who don't like PSA, the reason for their criticism of the doctrine is (they say) because of the people who teach PSA. Those people don't love well, according to the criticism. They don't love each other or the world well. They don't seek the good of those around them. And that's because, according to the critics, they believe that God hates the world; God feels violently towards the world, and it's only sweet little innocent Jesus who stands in the way of us being smashed by God's uncontrollable violent feelings towards us.

Well, we've managed to (or at least some people have like these peopledefend the doctrine theologically) to show that we do believe God loves the world, and that's why PS is so important.

But has the Chalkemeister got a point about our actions? I think he might do. Most of the Christians I know spend most of their time with...Christians. Me included. Which doesn't model brilliantly that God loves the world. Most of them, and by them I mean us, spend the time we are with Christians complaining about each other and allowing the way they do things to wind us up. When they, and really I mean we, engage with the world, maybe we often are all about winning converts, rather than loving the world like God does. Maybe we do, as I was challenged about in church yesterday, think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, rather than thinking that the point of the cross and PS is so that God can start reinvading the world with his glory, recreating it through the church. Through me. Through us.

Steve Chalke and your friends, wrong diagnosis, but good one for spotting the symptoms.

Thing is, it's a deep belief in PS that makes me think this stuff is important, if I really let it sink in to me. There is my God taking on himself the result of my sin, the result of the world's sin. How he must love the world. There he is humbling himself to the weakest and lowliest place for our sake. How he must care about the weak and lowly. There he is making a statement that justice must be done, that sin must be identified as sin, that the victoms of sin, caught up in it by their own guilt should be shown compassion. How he must love justice and long to see compassion.

You know, I can't speak for anyone else. But when I think about me, I think that maybe those PSA critics, wrong as they are about theology, might be right that there is some sickness in my spiritual life. Even after PS is, rightly, defended to the hilt, maybe there's still some things to think about.


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