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Expressing the Multifaceted Nature of the Atonement

Peter Kirk has a post, The personal relevance of the atonement, that expresses what I have been trying to say about the atonement much more precisely than I have managed to do it. I commend it strongly.

At the same time, Adrian has posted again regarding a review of Pierced for Our Transgressions. Since I haven’t gotten hold of a copy of the book yet, I’m not going to comment on the review itself, but Adrian said one thing that has left me wondering.

It is ironic that the more inclusive the evangelical movement in the UK aims to be – by including people who attack or minimize PSA the more they seem to exclude those who hold a more traditional evangelical position.

I don’t call myself evangelical, but after talking to a few evangelicals from the UK I probably could. (I’m absolutely not going to fight over labels.) I’ve even encountered a few folks on this side of the pond who call themselves evangelical and appear to be even more liberal than I am.

But even from my more liberal perspective I have no desire to exclude those who hold a “strong view” of PSA from any tent. They believe that God has provided redemption through Jesus Christ. I know of none of them who reject the incarnation. The feel I get from Adrian’s post is that if one doesn’t join in excluding the more liberal elements on this issue one must be excluding the more conservative.

It would be a total denial of my view of the importance of non-essential doctrines (and I regard the specific metaphor used for atonement as a non-essential) for me to deny someone the one expression of the atonement that best brought the message of God’s reconciling grace home to them.

I’m wondering if it’s really true that any evangelicals in the UK want to exclude advocates of PSA from their big tent. Could any of my UK readers help me with this?

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  1. Henry, thanks for the link. From my perspective, no one wants to exclude advocates of PSA from the big tent, but we feel decidedly uncomfortable about this minority claiming the entire tent for themselves and throwing around all sorts of hints (well at least Adrian does) that the rest of us should be excluded, complete with accusations of blasphemy (from John Piper across the pond, but repeated by Adrian). We are happy to accept them, but we expect some acceptance in return.

    But, the question I am asking myself is, is there in fact a groundswell of opinion that some of us who are less passionate about PSA should be excluded, or is it just coming from Adrian, with a few cheers in his comments?

  2. I can see the discomfort with a group of people who want to exclude you. But based on what you have said there are no grounds to complain about the big tent. I have seen people complain about being excluded simply because people refused to give them the whole tent!

    In my experience there’s very broad support for the statement that Jesus “died for our sins.” Once you get very specific about just how that works, there is much less agreement. That is as it should be. Your post that I linked above makes that point very well.

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