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Substitutionary Atonement-Is It True?

We recently saw this article on the web about the Atonement Doctrine - whether it is true or not. Here are the opening thoughts on it, written by Michael Brown:

"Did Jesus really pay for our sins on the cross, taking our punishment for us? Did He really die as an atoning sacrifice on our behalf?

"In recent years, this doctrine, known as penal substitutionary atonement (PSA), has come under increasing attack, with some Christian leaders claiming that for God to punish His Son for our sins would be an example of "cosmic child abuse" (Steve Chalke).

"This past Saturday, I was able to debate this important issue with pastor Brian Zahnd, who was eloquent in his arguments against PSA, claiming that it made our Father into a "monster god" and a "pagan deity."

"Are these charges true?

"As I stated in the debate, I find it highly offensive when anyone characterizes my heavenly Father, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, as a "monster" who engaged in "cosmic child abuse."

"This is a perverse description of the glorious gospel, since the doctrine of PSA describes the greatest act of love the world has ever seen: The Father sending His Son to die in our place, and the Son willingly laying down His life to save us from our sins and to make us holy. What love!

"We sinned; He died. We were guilty; He took our punishment."

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.


In the view of this writer, the author of the article cited has pretty well put the issue in a very understandable context.

This matter of the atonement doctrine (known in this article as “penal substitutionary atonement (PSA)” is one that is going to be raised more and more by those who love God and know him as a loving Father. Once accepted as fact by so many of us, the idea of this kind of "ransom" being a necessary element of winning God's love is making less and less sense, as the idea of a loving, forgiving God is becoming more popular through the individual's experience with the God of Love.

Is God a "Monster?"

The author of this article, while certainly well­-meaning, takes great offense at God being characterized as a "monster" and a "cosmic" child abuser; one has to see, though, that if this kind of "substutionary" behavior by a human father were to happen, child abuse would be a mild accusation; that father would spend time in prison for a long time!

The idea of a human father offering one of his innocent children as a death sacrifice in order to pay for the sin of an erring child would be unthinkable...and yet, we are expected to believe that the Universal Father of all is so offended at what his created children have done, that he offered Jesus in just the same way that, in a human father, would certainly constitute abuse of the worst kind. Can human beings have more compassion than God? Is God's ability to control his own emotions less developed than a human father's? This is what the atonement doctrine expects us to believe.

The Urantia Book Reveals the God of Love

One of the cardinal themes throughout The Urantia Book is the loving character and merciful nature of the heavenly Father. In its pages, the atonement doctrine is roundly rebutted and logically dismantled so that by the time one grasps the GOODNESS of God, the so­-called "wrath of God" that must be appeased by killing an innocent in place of a sinner becomes unthinkable; it is totally uncharacteristic of this new and healthy picture of God that we see in The Urantia Book.

Here are few Urantia Book passages that speak to this issue:

Righteousness implies that God is the source of the moral law of the universe. Truth exhibits God as a revealer, as a teacher. But love gives and craves affection, seeks understanding fellowship such as exists between parent and child. Righteousness may be the divine thought, but love is a father's attitude. The erroneous supposition that the righteousness of God was irreconcilable with the selfless love of the heavenly Father, presupposed absence of unity in the nature of Deity and led directly to the elaboration of the atonement doctrine, which is a philosophic assault upon both the unity and the free­willnes of God. ~ The Urantia Book, (2:6.5)
When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all­-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature. ~ The Urantia Book, (188:4.8)

Remember, Jesus of Nazareth was the embodiment of God; he said more than once that "he who has seen me has seen the Father." Did we ever see Jesus being unloving? Did we ever see Jesus exhibiting behavior that placed one person in jeopardy for the sins of another? Jesus was the new revelation of God that was to replace the Old Testament picture of God as judge, as wrathful, as punishing. He did a great job of it, but his message was distorted by subsequent generations of believers. The true mission of Jesus to our world has been grossly misunderstood. Now comes The Urantia Book to right that misconception.

Did Paul Do More Harm Than Good?

In the article above, the author is liberal with quotes from the NT and especially Paul. But Paul did not even know Jesus; his conversion experience was what brought him to God, but he was a man of his time, and was desirous of making converts like himself. He worked within the parameters of his time; and, atonement was a common belief in those days, as was the belief in a wrathful deity.

Here’s more about Paul from The Urantia Book:

The Apostle Paul, in his efforts to bring the teachings of Jesus to the favorable notice of certain groups in his day, wrote many letters of instruction and admonition. Other teachers of Jesus' gospel did likewise, but none of them realized that some of these writings would subsequently be brought together by those who would set them forth as the embodiment of the teachings of Jesus.
And so, while so­-called Christianity does contain more of the Master's gospel than any other religion, it does also contain much that Jesus did not teach. Aside from the incorporation of many teachings from the Persian mysteries and much of the Greek philosophy into early Christianity, two great mistakes were made:

The effort to connect the gospel teaching directly onto the Jewish theology, as illustrated by the Christian doctrines of the atonement—the teaching that Jesus was the sacrificed Son who would satisfy the Father's stern justice and appease the divine wrath. These teachings originated in a praiseworthy effort to make the gospel of the kingdom more acceptable to disbelieving Jews.Though these efforts failed as far as winning the Jews was concerned, they did not fail to confuse and alienate many honest souls in all subsequent generations. ~ The Urantia Book, (149:2.2)

It is difficult to translate an act of barbarism such as was suffered by Jesus into an act of love on the behalf of a supposedly loving Father. Love for whom? It does not seem very loving to Jesus.

Jesus certainly did lay down his life, and he did it willingly, but not to appease some fictitious wrath of his Father’s. Jesus made it plain that mankind is not inherently evil - that man is not born under forfeit of sin, and so, again, the atonement becomes even more fictitious a theory.

What Was Jesus' True Mission To Our World?

In order to understand Jesus’ mission, one has to understand who he was, and why he came here; all of this is detailed in The Urantia Book...but one reason Jesus came is so that he could truly live the life of a typical human being. Jesus needed this experience so that he could regain sovereignty over this world as an understanding and compassionate ruler - a ruler who understands firsthand how human beings live; completing this mission gave him the right to take our world back from the archdeceiver and rebels who were holding it hostage. A typical life includes death. Jesus had to die, yes, but the manner of his death was determined - not by God - but by wicked and evil men, who were threatened by Jesus’ religion of personal spiritual experience with God which was anathema to the rulers of that time.

Click to read more about the Meaning of Jesus’ Death on the Cross

In The Urantia Book, we are given a new restatement of the Life and Teachings of Jesus...a restatement that is gleaned from the eyewitnesses who were there, and who recorded every movement of the Master as he walked our earth. It should make perfect sense to anyone who understands the importance of the Son of God’s incarnation as a human being that this record was preserved. For 2000+ years, all that we have had as records are the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; now, we have the complete story; week by week, and oftentimes day by day, we see the Master - as an infant, a toddler, a schoolboy, an adolescent, a young man, and finally, as the self-conscious Son of God, establishing the Kingdom on earth. His mission and his purposes are stated...his true identity is revealed...and his loving nature (which is also the same nature of God) is outlined in every page of Part IV of The Urantia Book.

Of great importance is the knowledge that God himself was revealed by this God/man...a LOVING God. Atonement cannot be part of his nature, and Jesus never taught such error. Instead, Jesus reveals a loving parental Father who loves all of his children with an eternal love that would never require violence upon an innocent to be realized and appreciated.

Link to External Source Article

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