God Doesn’t Forgive?

OK, this is shocking.

Peter Kirk reports that:

I interrupt my normal programme to bring you this shocking quote. Yes, the news is going round that Richard Cunningham, director of UCCF, said

      God never forgives – he punishes.

Apparently he said this during a talk at the recent Word Alive conference, the same one which is separating from Spring Harvest.

Go to Peter’s blog and read his discussion on this.

This looks to me like an example of the problem we get into when we regard a metaphor as the actual core of the truth. Substitution, even penal substitution is a good metaphor, but it remains one metaphor. When you put it at the center of your doctrine of the atonement and then build everything else around that, oddities like this result.

At the center of our doctrine of the atonement should be the amazing love of God who became human in order to redeem us, and made such a complete and thorough job of it that he died like one of us. Then you can build on why with various metaphors, but perhaps keep a better balance.

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  1. Thanks, Henry. It looks as if Fouad ElBayly’s Islam is more merciful than Cunningham’s Christianity, for Islam seems to allow that God forgives the mentally unstable, children and disabled, but Cunningham’s God seems to make no exceptions to his unforgiveness.

  2. I’m not sure that is quite a fair characterization, though I deplore the phraseology that was used. I think proponents of the theory would say that God had made a substantial exception by taking the punishment himself in Jesus. I may be giving too much benefit to too little doubt, but at least I hope they would say that.

  3. Well, Henry, my previous comment was not meant too seriously, but only to make people think what “Christianity” would really be like if God did not forgive and “Christians” didn’t either. I can only hope Cunningham didn’t mean what he said. I have asked UCCF for a response but have received nothing attributable so far.

  4. In view of the reports here for 24th April, I would like to withdraw even my not so serious suggestion that radical Islam is in any way merciful. It certainly cannot be if Christians, two of them apparently converts from Islam, can be tortured to death in this way. Now Fouad ElBayly presumably had nothing to do with the murders in Turkey. But to avoid any misunderstanding he does need to clarify whether he would approve of this kind of death for someone like Hirsi Ali.

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