The Necessity of Penal Substitution

Gerald O’Collins and many other modern scholars hate the idea of Christ’s death as Penal Substitution. O’Collins states,

“… the way Aquinas adjusted Anselm’s theory of satisfaction helped open the door to a sad version of redemption: Christ as a penal substitute who was personally burdened with the sins of humanity, judged, condemned, and deservedly punished in our place.” [1]

Most people see this atonement model as being too violent. If God would punish his own Son in such a violent way then he must be an inherently angry God. Continue reading “The Necessity of Penal Substitution”


Anselm: Christus Victor?

David Bentley Hart argues for continuity between the Patristic understanding of Christ’s atonement and that of Anselm.

Indeed, in Cur Deus Homo the matter of guilt is somewhat recursed: it is guilt that is set aside, made of no account by Christ’s grace, so that the power of death should be overcome without violence to divine justice. From very early on in the text (1.6-7) Anselm is engaged in answering a single question: If the rights of the devil (who is himself infinitely indebted to God) over humanity are not really ‘rights’ in any true sense (a position of the purest patristic pedigree), why must the overthrow of death proceed in the fashion that it does? For God could have reclaimed his creatures by force, if all that were at issue were the devil’s prerogatives (1.7), but for Anselm the true issue is God’s own righteousness. From which unfolds Anselm’s story of the ‘necessity’ – the inner coherence – of the action of the God-man.[1]  Continue reading “Anselm: Christus Victor?”