God's wrath or God's honor?by Darrin W. Snyder Belousek, Raleigh, N.C.
In his "First Things First" column on the message of the cross (July), Ervin Stutzman states: "Anselm understood Christ's death as a penal substitution—a spiritual transaction by which God vented on Jesus the wrath deserved by others, releasing them of their guilt." Stutzman, however, has cited Calvin's theory and attributed it to Anselm.
An unfortunate aspect of the recent debate over atonement theology among Mennonites has been the tendency to conflate Anselm and Calvin. While sharing some assumptions, their respective theories frame the need for atonement in different terms. Whereas Calvin thinks in terms of a divine requirement to punish sinners to propitiate God's wrath, Anselm thinks in terms of a human obligation to repay honor to God on account of sin. Sin "robs" God of his "due" as Creator and so offends God. What is thus needed is not retribution against human sinners but restitution of God's honor. There is nothing here concerning God's wrath or of God punishing Jesus in our place. Anslem understands the satisfaction made by Christ on our behalf as an alternative to divine punishment. And what satisfies God is Christ's perfect obedience, in life and death.
Anselm's theory, for sure, is not adequate to Paul's message. But conflating Anselm and Calvin obscures two important elements of Anselm's theory that may well be of interest to Mennonites: God's desire is for our whole-lived obedience; and God's justice, although premised on the principle of retribution and accomplished by means of a transaction, has a restorative purpose, to repair the relationship between God and humanity and so restore the order of creation.
Associated Issue: Love, sex, marriage - July 2010
Associated Article: First things first: A message of first importance
- A singer for peace
- Eastering in the rubble
- The Great Commandment and the Great Commission
- Thomas the man who was honest to God
- Being still
- Following Jesus into Starbucks
- Coffeeshop church
- Fulfilling commitments
News stories, digests and Meno Acontecer
- Newton, Kan., office won't close
- Activist groups strategize for Pittsburgh 2011
- Unexpected blessing changes career path
- Heggen presents 'healing the wounds of war'
- Delegation of 21 goes to Arizona to 'listen'
- Mourners gather for Lapp's memorial service
- Program changes the way leaders lead
- MCC worker killed in Afghanistan
- Four CPT members arrested in Chicago
- Due to ruling, chance of meeting in Phoenix may increase
- More than 200 people gather for ground blessing
- Partners aid earthquake relief in Chile
- 'Martyrs Mirror' marks 350th anniversary
- MC Canada giving problems
- First fruits from Ukraine project
- EMM prayer team visits Czech Republic
- MHS Alliance told that change is way of life
- Mennonite Brethren reconcile with German Mennonites
- Lutherans ask forgiveness from Mennonites
- ¡Bienvenidos al Meno Acontecer de Agosto, 2010!
- Cinco razones a favor de la educación Menonita
- Madeline Maldonado es ordenada
- Por qué la Iglesia Menonita USA debe boicotear Arizona
- Notas de la reunión de la Junta Ejecutiva
- Hablando de libros
- Iglesia Menonita Hispana (IMH) Declaración sobre inmigración
- La pastora Esther ... Parte 1
- De New Holland, PA
- Convención Pittsburgh 2011
- Bautismos en Arca de Salvación
- Carta sobre inmigración
- Directiva de MMA se reúne
- Del doctor Nuñez ....
- Fruit of the vine
- The courage to lead
- First things first: God first sent apostles
- The sound of time passing
- What a playhouse and church have in common
- Being somebody
- How many children?
- Elderly need lots of church
- Senior living ministries important
- Meet in a border town?
- Appreciates articles
- Bethel College selection
- Burkholder was a gift to the church
- Need more transparency
- God's wrath or God's honor?
- Stutzman responds
- Energize, not enervate
- Can't put God in nonviolent box