Note to Nick: Nick, this is in no way an attack on you but is a defense in gentleness and reverence using both Scripture and logic to destroy the speculations that you have raised against the knowledge of God. I pray that you will be able to see and comprehend that Penal Substitution is the only way that God can justify the ungodly while He remains just.
I am going to take three quotes from Nick’s article to show that he fails to expose Penal Substitution as contrary to Scripture, blasphemous, and heretical:
Morally and rationally, the view fails because it entails an innocent
individual, Jesus, receiving a punishment. Punishment, especially one coming
from a just God, cannot be inflicted on the innocent, nor can a punishment be
transferred. A just judge can rule that a guilty individual either be pardoned
or punished, but the guilt can never be transferred. Because sin is first and
foremost a personal offense to God, the option to pardon or punish is entirely
The view would fail morally and rationally if an innocent individual received a punishment in the place of the guilty if that innocent individual was unwilling to receive that punishment as a means of releasing the guilty from the punishment he rightly deserves. However, there would be no moral or rational failure if an innocent individual was willing to receive a punishment in the place of the guilty and ANY judge would be just to transfer the guilt of the law-breaker to the innocent law-keeper and to transfer the innocence of the law-keeper to the guilty law-breaker. No one forced Jesus Christ to receive the punishment of the guilty in order to release them from their punishment but He willingly laid down His life for His sheep – “No one has taken it [His life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18).
You said, “A just judge can rule that a guilty individual either be pardoned or punished, but the guilt can never be transferred.” Actually a just judge who is sworn to uphold the law cannot rule that a guilty individual be pardoned and that judge remain just. An unjust judge could rule that the guilty be pardoned but not a just judge. A just judge could only rule that the guilty be punished. God is a just Judge and will not arbitrarily pardon the guilty – if He did then He would be unjust! So in actuality in your scheme of things God would not be just if He justified or pardoned the guilty without upholding His own law against those who offend Him. Also if all that God has to do in order to remain just in justifying the guilty is to exercise His option to pardon then Christ died needlessly. Penal Substitution is the only way that God can justify the guilty because it is the only way that His law is upheld and He remains just.
What God reveals as unacceptable behavior for men is likewise unacceptable
behavior for God. Man should not tell lies, God does not tell lies. Man should
not murder or punish an innocent person, God cannot and would not murder or
punish an innocent person.
Let’s take this quote in two sections: “What God reveals as unacceptable behavior for men is likewise unacceptable behavior for God. Man should not tell lies, God does not tell lies.” Precisely the point and reason God does not have the option to pardon apart from His sentence of condemnation being fulfilled either against the sinner or against a substitute on the sinner’s behalf. Even the Old Testament saints were pardoned based their faith that their sins would be paid for by another – the whole sacrificial system and the Word of God witnessed to this truth (see Romans 3:21-26).
Next you said, “Man should not murder or punish an innocent person, God cannot and would not murder or punish an innocent person.” There is no law against an innocent substitute willingly paying the debt or the penalty of another. As long as there is an agreement between the judge and the willing substitute that the debt or penalty incurred by the substitute will completely satisfy the demands of the law and the court against the guilty party then the judge remains just and has upheld the law while the guilty goes free. Even if the penalty paid by the willing innocent substitute is capital punishment then the substitute has freely given his life as a ransom and has not been murdered.
Also the law of non-contradiction applies here – if the option to pardon or punish is entirely God’s then God also has the option of punishing a willing and able substitute in the place of others. If God does not have the option to punish the innocent then neither does He have the option to pardon the guilty.
Also, those passages do not clearly teach penal substitution: 2
Cor 5:15 and 1
Pt 3:18 are some very weak attempts to garner credibility, they don’t come
53 is the closest to such a notion, but when read carefully does not result
in Penal-Substitution either, especially considering the few direct NT
references to Is 53 (53:4,
Mat 8:14-17; 53:5-6, 9, 1 Pt 2:18-25; 53:7-8, Acts 8:30-35; 53:12, Lk 22:37, Mk
15:27-29*) don’t teach Penal Substitution at all, quite the opposite in
fact. The NT is abundantly clear the cross was an act by wicked men, NEVER is it
said to be a point where Jesus suffered Divine Wrath.
Actually those passages and others do clearly teach Penal Substitution and a careful reading of Isaiah 53 establishes the absolute fact of Penal Substitution – Jesus did suffer Divine wrath – “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10).
The New Testament is also abundantly clear that not only was the cross an act by wicked men but that it was also an act of a holy God – “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23). What men intended for evil, God intended for good.
And here is the beauty and grandeur of the wisdom, ways, and power of God – not only was God right to punish a willing innocent man in the place of the guilty, He was also right to raise that Man from the dead because the punishment and death He endured was not for sins that He committed but was as a substitute for those whose lawless deeds would be forgiven on the basis of faith in Christ and not by works of the Law. “But God raised Him up again putting and end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24).
Now what do you think would be the response of a guilty person who deserved the death penalty be to a willing substitute who took his deserved punishment and then that substitute was raised from the dead because he was in fact innocent? Would not the proper response be that the guilty man would no longer live for himself but for him who loved him and gave himself up for him? – see 2 Corinthians 5:15.
Penal Substitution is God's plan of salvation and it is God's Gospel - 1 Corinthians 15:3!