The objectivity of teaching

We are seeing some analysis of Wright that is every bit as amazing as Wright’s defense of Chalke. Just to point out the obvious, the fact that Wright has a long track record of teaching a vicarious penal substitutionary atonement is not a question that is dependent on anything he said in the last week. He may have apostatized (I don’t believe it, but it is logically possible) and he may not privately believe what he teaches publicly (don’t believe that either), but the question of his public teaching is to be settled by his public teaching. And for years thousands of readers (many of whom, like me, probably only recently heard the name “Chalke” and have read nothing by him) have learned that Christ died under the judicial wrath of God that we deserved so that for us who entrust ourselve to him there is now no condemnation.

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Finally, I will point out the interesting fact that the defenders of penal substitution in replying to N. T. Wright, never implied nor hinted that he did not believe the orthodox position. If they are the great defenders of orthodoxy which Wright’s critics claim they are (and which I agree they are) then maybe we could all follow their example? Does it make sense to side with them and then attack Wright as a false teacher? Isn’t such an attack an implicit claim that the authors of Pierced for Our Transgressions have compromised the doctrine they are supposed to be defending? If Wright is such a notorious false teacher, then why didn’t they ever warn us…?

To repeat the main point here: Wright’s record as a teacher is a public fact not a subjective impression. He can start a new record if he wants, or he can teach things he doesn’t believe, but what he has taught is outside of his or anyone else’s control. It is simply there. He has taught the penal substitutionary view as clearly as anyone.

5 thoughts on “The objectivity of teaching

  1. Denny Burk

    Dear Mark,

    I am happy to be corrected, but I have yet to find any place in Wright’s writings in which he affirms that God poured out his personal wrath on Jesus the Son at the cross. Of course there is more to be said about penal substitution than this, but it’s certainly not less than this. Where do you see Wright affirming that God the Father poured out His personal wrath against sin on Jesus at the cross?


  2. pduggie

    Denny, it seems the first link Mark included “Wright and propitiation” deals with God personally bringing wrath to bear on Jesus.

    Or is you problem with it that it is expressed in terms of Jesus taking the wrath of God onto himself, without God imposing the wrath on the Son?

    I do think though, Denny, that your criticisms of the current remarks are cogent. I’m bothered by the easy perjortivising (is that a word) of the “medieval model”)

    ” model of a vengeful father being placated by an act of gratuitous violence against his innocent son.”

    How about an anrgy Father being propitiated by an act of freely submitted pain against his innocent Son.

    I find it hard to say that that is “deeply, profoundly, and disturbingly unbiblical”.

  3. mark Post author

    Yes, I thought it vindicated him but (I suspect) shows he has misjudged Chalke and been harsh and severe with people he agrees with. The authors of Pierce for Our Transgressions wrote a stellar reply.


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