Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Did Christ Suffer the Punishment for Sin?

Hence we repudiate in the interest of sound ethical philosophy and clearness of thought, the following proposition of Dr. Bishop: —

"If the sin of the believing sinner is taken from his shoulders and laid upon the Son of God, then justice, still following after sin, must strike through sin and the person of the Son of God beneath it."

It is a moral axiom that only the guilty can be rightfully punished. If Christ was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, to punish Him would be, not only contrary to all human law, but it would outrage all those God-given moral sentiments on which human law rests. It is in vain that Dr. Bishop seeks for analogies to sustain the monstrous injustice of punishing innocence. He says, "When a father commits a crime, his whole family sink in the social scale, though innocent." Here he confounds the natural consequences of sin with the punishment of sin. Dr. Bishop should show that society universally hangs the innocent family on the same gibbet with the guilty husband and father. Then the case would be analogous.

Many persons use the expression "Christ in the stead of the sinner suffered the punishment of his sin," without subjecting this proposition to that rigid analysis which theological accuracy requires. While it is true that Jesus is our substitute, He is our substitute truly and strictly only in suffering, not in punishment. Sin cannot be punished and pardoned also. This would be a moral contradiction. Sin is conditionally pardoned because Jesus has suffered and died. There is no punishment of sin except in the person of the sinner who neglects so great a Saviour. Sin was not punished on the Cross. Calvary was the scene of wondrous mercy and love, not of wrath and penalty.

Says Dr. Whedon, "Punishment in the strict sense implies the guilt of the sufferer as its correlative. Whenever the sinner and the sufferer are not the same, it is only by an allowable inaccuracy that the suffering can be called punishment. It follows that it is not strictly accurate to say that Christ was punished, or that he truly suffered the punishment of sin."