Atonement, Wrath of God, Love of God

Here is a nice excerpt from David P. Scaer’s Christology, pp. 77-78 on the tension between God’s wrath toward sinners and His loving nature, and how they are balanced in the Cross:

“God does not offer up Jesus only out of His love with no thought of His wrath. It is precisely because God sets His wrath aside through His Son that we are able to know its extent. In spite of God’s justifiable wrath and anger He reaches out to fallen man in the person of Jesus Christ who is offered up as the atoning sacrifice for the world’s sin and thus satisfies God’s holy wrath. Theologians who find the Scriptural teaching of God’s wrath distasteful to their delicate sensitivities dismiss the notion of Christ’s death as vicarious satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. The eighteenth century rationalists along with their successors such as Schleiermacher, Ritschl, von Harnack, and what is generally identified as early twentieth century Liberalism emphasize the moral example set by Christ’s death. The exemplary or moral theory of the atonement, as it is called, found a much earlier expression in the medieval theologian Peter Abelard who located the atonement in the believer, since Christ’s death involved no change in God, but resulted in a change in man. On the other hand, those who understand the death of Christ in terms of Sovereignty, as does strict Calvinism, see in Christ’s death a powerful demonstration of God’s wrath against sin. His death is an example of how God will deal with the reprobate. In Lutheran theology, the death of Christ may be used for preaching both the Law and the Gospel, so that man can see how great God’s love was for man in overcoming His wrath. The cross as divine act in itself is a manifestation of God’s love. A Scriptural and Confessional understanding of Christ’s death balances God’s wrath against sinners with His persistent love for them.”


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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2 Responses to Atonement, Wrath of God, Love of God

  1. Rev. Benjamin Mayes says:

    Amen! Thanks for this great quote.

  2. Pastor Beisel says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I thought it might be helpful.

    Scaer has a whole section on “Wrath of God…” in that book.

    I have yet to read another theologian that I think is more right than Dr. Scaer, on pretty much any given issue.

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