Tom Wright's comments on the cross, and particularly his attack on Pierced for our Transgressions, are inevitably being blogged about elsewhere. Here are some links:
"[...] Jeffrey John was given the benefit of the doubt whenever possible; at times Tom even seems to bend over backwards to be warm and receptive. And though there appeared to be little or no common theological ground found with Jeffrey John in relation to the issues surrounding penal substitution and related matters, it did not seem to matter. Tom made his case and made it well.
As I read the first part I kept thinking that it sounded magisterial, grand and glorious. I was thus not expecting what I encountered in the second part of the essay. The mood swing was almost palpable; even the terminology governing the use of proper names was telling. From grand and glorious the tone became at times shrill, sour and ad hominem. Steve Chalke remained ‘Steve’ or ‘Steve Chalke’—you can feel the friendship, warmth and affirmation—but Steve Jeffrey, Mike Ovey (what happened to his PhD?) and Andrew Sacks became ‘J, O and S’. Hmmm."
There are few things that frustrate me more than evangelical debates about penal substitution. I am convinced, with Wright, that, whilst they capture something of the Scriptural teaching of the atonement, most evangelical penal substitution accounts are woefully sub-biblical. All too often they consist of some decontextualized prooftexts loosely strung together by a rather abstract theological theory and fall far short of the rich and multifaceted story that the Scriptures present us with. Although I am persuaded of the truth of penal substitution, I usually feel that such theories are not a whole lot better than many of the accounts given by those who deny penal substitution altogether. I have also come to realize that evangelical rhetoric often merely masks a lack of receptive engagement with Scripture. It may seem strange to some, but I am increasingly coming to the conviction that, if receptivity to the Scriptures is what I am looking for, I might be better off reading some good Roman Catholics as, somewhat ironically, they are often less invested in the perfect truth of their tradition than many evangelicals are."
"It seems to me that in some of this Wright is narrowing and narrowing his definitions to such a precise point and then claiming that they all err who don't see it this way. Again, I like Wright and am not calling him a heretic, but I do think Carson has a point about the Elijah syndrome. " Read more
D P Cassidy
"Sadly, NT Wright, the able NT scholar and Bishop of Durham, goes on endorsing Chalke's work, and criticising (in vociferous terms) those who disagree with Chalke. The Bishop is not on the side of the angels on this one, and I can only hope that he corrects course. Chalke's provocative teachings are fragmenting British evangelcials in ways not seen since the early days of charismatic renewal there. There is a great deal to stand for here."
"Wright seems to want to expound a somewhat subtle and nuanced view, the likes of which some people believe Packer and Stott themselves hold — where we are allowed to say that God punished sin in Jesus, but not that Jesus Himself was punished for sin. To me, at least, that kind of statement seems to be trying to have your cake and eat it. This is certainly what Wright seems to do when he then turns to discuss Pierced for Our Transgressions."
Authors of Pierced for our Transgressions
"Wright accuses us of ‘sifting’ the Gospels for material relevant to our subject, and indeed that is exactly what we were trying to do! That does not mean that we are free to abstract ‘proof-texts’ from their contexts, but we took pains to avoid that. But Wright censures us for failing to hit a target we were not aiming at. We did not profess to answer the question, ‘What do the gospels teach about Jesus?’ nor even, ‘What picture of the atonement emerges from the gospels as a whole?’ Our aim, as we explain in the introduction to our exegetical section (pp. 33–34) was more modest. We were trying to establish simply that penal substitution has a place in this bigger picture."
"There seems to be a very charitable reading of Revd Steve Chalke’s position in Wright’s article and a lumping together of Drs Jeffrey, Ovey and Sach with a lot of other bad stuff Wright has come across.
It seems from Wright’s discussion that The Lost Message of Jesus wasn’t as “clear” as Wright’s initial endorsement suggested. However, from Chalke’s subsequent writings and from the Evangelical Alliance symposium at London School of Theology, it seemed clear to me that Chalke was repudiating any doctrine of penal substitution, not just a caricature of it."
"I wish that the good bishop had got out of bed the other side that morning and that instead of saying (I paraphrase),
"There are some good things here but the book is deeply unbiblical, sub-biblical, foolish etc"
he had said what he could and should have said - something like,
"What these fellows say is splendid and true and important and courageous. Oh, and I wish they'd taken a different approach here and here and said a great deal more about this and that.""
"The really strong language from Wright is reserved for the men from Oak Hill, and this is where things get really weird -- "almost funny," "Go and read the book," "hopelessly sub-biblical," "it becomes embarrassing," and so on. This is because (as I take it from this distance) they offered a case for penal substitution in the language of systematic theology and not biblical theology. I don't know (not having seen the book) if I would even agree with Wright's point. But what I can say, from this distance, is that Wright has a wildly skewed view of who needs to be praised, who placated, and who challenged."