Jesus paid the debt we owed to God for our sins. This is the Bible doctrine.
Some say he endured divine wrath for our sins. That is the penal theory of the atonement.
Others say he simply did the loving of God for us so that God could give us a fresh start for we have sinned against him.  That is the ethical satisfaction theory.
If God will not punish sin then he is not being serious when he condemns it. A law that prescribes no penalty for breaking it is no law at all. So God cannot be just if he forgives sin without punishing it. It is not vindictive of him to punish because he has to do it to be really good for his holiness demands that he punish (page 105, A Summary of Christian Doctrine). We can forgive without demanding compensation or atonement. Know What You Believe explains that God cannot forgive this way because God is not a private person. It is because his will which is just and loving is part of himself that he has to get atonement (page 47). He wishes he could simply forgive but he cannot. So basically it is because God is God, that is ruler and protector and one who is the law he preaches that he cannot simply forgive. What this really means is that because God is not a human being he cannot simply forgive. This is rubbish for if humans with power and who look after others, humans who are not private persons, and who have the virtues of justice and love and who are them in a sense can simply forgive there is nothing to stop him either.
Some say it is nonsense to say that God is not being serious when he condemns sin if he doesn't punish it when it happens. They say that though it is right one way to punish it is wrong another. They say the sinner should not be punished for it is only the future that matters now. So God not punishing sin would only mean he has a purpose for not punishing not that he is encouraging sin or not taking it seriously.


The punishment of a man in your place is an example of punishment going too far especially if that man is sinless.  If I murder that does not mean I can get the judge to execute somebody else in my place for it even if that person consents.


The Bible says that we should not fear Satan or sin or evil but fear God.  Jesus said that.  Christians argue then that though God opposes sin it does not really hurt or upset him.  So sin is a problem for us that God wishes to save us from out of his self-disinterested love.  This turns sin not into a crime but a tort.  If I rob a bank that is a crime that only I can be called accountable for but if I steal a chocolate bar that is a tort and somebody else can make amends for me.  Some say that tort is the key to understanding how Jesus could be sentenced to death by God for our sins.  Yet the Bible is clear that sin is a crime.


If you are punished by God with crucifixion for some sin such as stealing a loaf of bread or masturbating that is going too far too. It's worse if somebody else has to die for it.  The idea that God demands death, especially when it is not your death though you committed the sins!, or everlasting damnation for any sin because he has such high moral standards is therefore sick.

The atonement is an expression of God’s justice and his mercy. It demands the price of sin, which is justice, and that we get off, which is mercy. But if punishment is for making opposition to sin serious and meant then mercy whitewashes evil and is soft on it. It is denying that it is as serious as it should be considered. All who believe that there was something unique about the death of Jesus hold that it speaks to us of God’s mercy. But mercy is really sugar-coated hatred so all Jesus’ death would have shown is that he was the Devil’s secret weapon against real goodness and love.

Many Christians say that God punished his Son in our place for our sins so that he could forgive us. “Jesus, though innocent, took the punishment due to our sins to satisfy divine justice so that we can get off like somebody paying a fine for us. God punished Jesus for our sins just like A being found guilty of a crime and B being sent to jail in his place”.

If Jesus paid the debt to divine justice then there is no mercy and yet Christians say we are pardoned because of the blood of Christ. So which is it? They cannot believe in their stupid dogma themselves. The Church wants split personalities for nobody can accept such a doctrine unless they are really two persons.

The fact that the law allows people to pay fines for criminals does not prove that this is fair. It is not fair unless the person who pays will get the money back from the criminal. And besides, there is a huge difference between paying a fine for somebody and going to jail for them in their place. If the first is justified the second certainly is not. The idea that Jesus had to pay for us in any sense is immoral and blasphemous.

This doctrine of the atonement boasts that it contains no notion of God’s mercy being in opposition to his justice. The two are in harmony. In being just, he is being merciful. What a terrible price people have to pay to enjoy the thought of a merciful God!

Christians argue that there is no injustice in God having Jesus executed for what other people did for Jesus consented to this voluntarily (page 47, Know What You Believe). Philippians 2:6-8 sanctions this view for it praises Jesus for freely and willingly obeying God to die on the cross. It would be unjust if it were done to him against his will. But it is plain that this is no excuse. If your mother is forced to pay your fine for you the judge will still have no problem taking it.
No law has the right to knowingly punish X for the offence of Y for X did not commit the crime. It would be unjust to consent to being flogged for the sin of another so that he or she will go unpunished. The Bible is insistent that God will not simply overlook sin and forgive for he is fair and righteous and holy (page 105, (A Summary of Christian Doctrine) so Jesus had no choice. But the reply to that is that God could have left us all unsaved for he owed us nothing and we deserved to be lost so what Jesus did was voluntary. Some think that if you hold that love is better than justice you will have to agree that it was not voluntary. Then because love is the best thing and it was loving for Jesus to die Jesus had no choice but to die to be loving. So it seems that Jesus didn't do it voluntarily. How could it be voluntary for one who cares about people? If it was voluntary then Jesus was not very worried about us!
Religion says, "God knew that we could sin if he voluntarily made us. He agreed beforehand that he was going to help if things went wrong. That is why the atonement and its benefits can be described as an act of grace, that is, a free gift to us from God. It would not be gratuitous if God had to give it. But it was gratuitous for God didn't have to make us." That is nonsense. It is like saying that you don't have to jail your son for murder simply because you could have put a condom on and didn't.

It is logically impossible to justly punish somebody for another’s sins. It is not punishment and cannot be. It is revenge at most.

Some say that the penal theory really denies divine mercy because if Jesus has been punished instead of us then we are not forgiven. Forgiving sins means letting them go unpunished. The Bible promises forgiveness. This exposes another contradiction in the theory. If we have been forgiven then this is admitting that Jesus was not punished for our sins. And if he was not then we have to be punished. A real Christian could not accept such a theory for it is a barrier to true belief in forgiveness. It prevents forgiveness. It makes prayers for mercy insincere.

Supporters of the penal theory ignore reason and that makes them deadly. If they ought to believe such a dire and absurd theory then everybody else has the right to advocate similar doctrines and kill the sons for the crimes of their fathers. What good is evidence if such an absurd theory is true? All barriers to chaos have to be removed.

It is alleged by supporters that God can miraculously make A guilty of what B did. If I have to hurt anybody for a good reason he should make that person deserve it. If he wants me to have the power to sin by harming others then he could not do this. But I know that I do not need to harm others to have free will therefore he could and should. God would be evil if he did not do these things. But the Bible says he doesn’t when it declares that he commands compassion.

Some advocates of the penal theory seem to go completely mad and assert that Jesus Christ took our guilt on the cross! Jesus took the responsibility for sin from us on himself. He became guilty of our sins. This is an outrageous blasphemy. It is calling the Son of God evil. And it is calling him insane for nobody can be to blame for what they have not done. A sin is an act against God not some kind of substance that anybody can remove from you and put on themselves.
A sceptic about Jesus might wonder if Satan engineered Christianity so that it would worship a man as God and thus blame God for sins and thus blaspheme God.

If the penal theory were true then it would be right to assume that anybody you meet will get saved and put all their sins on Jesus in case they will. It would be right to hate Jesus if they hurt you for he was to save them and yet they are still sinning. It would be a sin not to put the blame on Jesus if he has rightly taken it.

Some say, "If Jesus expiated our sins, it would be our response to him that saves us and not him." The correct view is that a person can be asked to save you but that does not mean they are not a saviour. It means they are if they save you.  A person who saves you because you asked him to is your saviour. He has done something to save while the Jesus who dies as an example and a demonstration of God’s wrath does nothing and has no need to die at all.

Despite itself, the penal theory implies that God is vindictive. Or is despite itself the right expression? It is not the only nasty doctrine that pretends to be well-meaning. If Jesus came to save us by dying then he was not needed and his death was suicide. We could pay the punishment ourselves if God is merciful and will devise an easy payment plan. It is mercy to do a person who deserves only pain a favour. A smart of pain once every billion years forever would still add up to infinite suffering. The punishment of Jesus was not necessary therefore he committed suicide by getting crucified and was cruelly treated by a tyrannical God. If God would not take the smarts instead but had to send Jesus to take our punishment for he needs us to be punished constantly and for forever then God is being spiteful. To go to his Heaven to be with him forever would be condoning his evil. The true saints would go to Hell.
Us forcing God to penalise Jesus for our sins means that sin is extremely serious indeed. It is murder pure and simple. It is torturing Jesus. If I were the one and only sinner Jesus would still have had to die for me that way.

Some say that the penalty for sin was death and not torment. If so then why did Jesus have to suffer so badly? Death is nothing in a sense and torment is worse. One death cannot atone for many deaths or murders. To those who say that death is the ultimate penalty of the law I say that it is not. The ultimate penalty is being tormented to your dying day. Why execute when we are going to die anyway? And if Jesus needed to suffer then why is it that there were thousands of people in this world who suffered more than him? Would it not be disgusting for the Son of God to come and suffer and not be the person who suffers most? This is the person who claims that God is right to let us suffer and if he or God cares he should be with us in extreme suffering so that it is like he suffers with us in complete support and empathy. Is it not insulting and callous to refuse to hold that if a saviour was needed the saviour was some anonymous man or woman who was very good and who suffered the most?


We conclude that the notion of Jesus dying for our sins and bearing our penalty is more about channelling the spiteful side of us into some kind of religious outlet.


A SUMMARY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, Louis Berkhof, The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1971
APOLOGETICS AND CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, Most Rev M Sheehan DD, M H Gill & Son, Dublin, 1954
DOCUMENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, edited by Henry Bettenson, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1979
ESSENTIALS, David L Edwards and John Stott, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1990
JESUS THE ONLY SAVIOUR, Tony and Patricia Higton, Monarch Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 1993
KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE, Paul E Little, Scripture Union, London, 1973
OXFORD DICTIONARY OF PHILOSOPHY, Simon Blackburn, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996
PROFOUND PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY, Rev George Jamieson BD, Simpkin, Marshall, & Co, London, 1884
RADIO REPLIES 3, Frs Rumble and Carty, Radio Replies Press, St Paul, Minnesota, 1942
THE BIBLE TELLS US SO, R B Kuiper, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1978
THE CROSS OF CHRIST, Christadelphian Publishing Office, Shaftmoor Lane, Birmingham
THE CROSS THE VINDICATION OF GOD, DM Lloyd Jones, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh
THE LIBERATION OF PLANET EARTH, Hal Lindsey, Lakeland, London, 1975
THE METAPHOR OF GOD INCARNATE, John Hick, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1993
THE POWER OF THE CROSS, Tony Ling, CMI Publishing, Coventry 1995
THE SACRED EXECUTIONER Human Sacrifice and the Legacy of Guilt Hyam Maccoby Thames and Hudson, London, 1982
WHO WILL DELIVER US, Paul Zahl, Fount Original, Collins/Fount, London, 1983
WHY DID CHRIST HAVE TO DIE? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986
WHY GOD PERMITS EVIL, Dawn Bible Students, East Rutherford, New Jersey


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