Does Isaiah 53 Support Penal Substitutionary Atonement? (A Response to the Progressive Christian Interpretation of the Suffering Servant)
In light of my recent podcasts on penal substitutionary atonement (PSA), I'm thrilled to welcome Clark Bates to guest post on the blog today about Isaiah 53, a scripture that is often used to support the idea that Jesus took the punishment for our sins on the cross. Often referred to as "Cosmic Child abuse," many progressive Christians believe that Isaiah 53 is mis-used and wrongly interpreted to support this doctrine. Clark is well qualified to answer this claim, and does so thoroughly and thoughtfully. Enjoy!
Since the time of the apostles, a foundational doctrine of the Christian church is the atonement of Jesus Christ, made by means of his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. The fact of the atonement is an essential part of the gospel message. However, over the years, the purpose of the atonement has been something of an inside theological debate. A predominant theological perspective of the atonement within Protestant Christianity is known as Penal Substitutionary Atonement (hereafter PSA). Although the idea that Jesus took the punishment for our sin is found directly in Scripture and the church fathers, the official doctrine of PSA was made popular by St. Anselm in the 11th century with his writing Cur de Homo. Anslem wrote, “Everyone who sins ought to pay back the honor of which he has robbed God; and this is the satisfaction which every sinner owes to God.”(1.11)This perspective was carried into the Reformation by Martin Luther and John Calvin, and it has predominated for some time since.
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