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The God I Don't Understand: Reflections on Chapter 8

Categories Theology

In case you missed it, there has been considerable debate recently over the nature of atonement. We published at least one book on the topic, The Atonement Debate. Other recent important publications include In My Place Condemned He Stood and A Community Called Atonement.

There is a simplicity to Wright’s chapter here that I find really refreshing.

First, regarding substitutionary atonement . . . Wright says it all boils down to one question, a question that most of us answer in the affirmative:

Does sin have consequences?

If not, then huge portions of the Bible make no sense or are clearly in error.

If not, then we would seem "adrift in a universe of ultimate moral indeterminacy.

If not, then the very concepts of grace and mercy are empty of meaning.

Wright sees in the cross God in Christ bearing the pain of the just consequences of sin, bearing them such that we need to never to bear them ourselves.

It’s commonsense, Wright argues, however, that we need a balanced approach to atonement that is not solely focused on penal substitutionary atonement alone, but rather takes in the widest biblical perspective from the whole biblical narrative.

How do you see the relationship between penal substitutionary atonement, a central NT concept, with other types of atonement/sacrifice that figure into the grand story?

- Jesse Hillman, Associate Marketing Director, Academic & Reference

Every Wednesday, Zondervan editorial and marketing staff discuss chapters from The God I Don't Understand. Please make plans to join us in the conversation. If you would like to use The God I Don't Understand in a book discussion or small group, there is a free Study Guide available, as well as videos of the author discussing each chapter at

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