Tuesday, April 13, 2010

John R. W. Stott on Substitution: Reality-Based Theology

The heart of John R. W. Stott's classic, The Cross of Christ, is chapter 6 "The Self-Substitution of God." He begins with these words:
"We have located the problem of forgiveness in the gravity of sin and the majesty of God, that is, in the realities of who we are and who he is. How can the holy love of God come to terms with the unholy lovelessness of man? What would happen if they were to come into collision with each other. The problem is not outside God; it is within his own being. Because God never contradicts himself, he must be himself and 'satisfy' himself, acting in absolute consistency with the perfection of his character. 'It is the recognition of this divine necessity, or the failure to recognize it,' wrote James Denney, 'which ultimately divides interpreters of Christianity into evangelical and non-evangelical, those who are true to the New Testament and those who cannot digest it." (p. 133).
There is a problem of forgiveness because of the (metaphysical) reality of sin and the character of God. These two realities cannot be ignored or forgotten or fudged. Any doctrine of salvation must deal honestly with them. Evangelical theology takes the metaphysical realities of human sin and Divine holiness seriously; other theologies refuse to face up to reality.

In other words liberal Christianity is not reality-based theology.

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