On http://www.theologyweb.com/, I have had some good interchange with Dr. Glenn Peoples, a scholar from New Zealand (http://www.beretta-online.com/CV.html), on the subject of whether or not PST eliminates the need for forgiveness.
I am going to post some of our interaction here as I think he raises some good points around the subject.
Ken Pulliam: However, there are some other problems with PST as well.For example, on pages 263-265 in the book Pierced for Our Transgressions, the authors deal with the objection: Penal Substitution implicity denies that God forgives Sin . IOW, true forgiveness does not require payment or punishment. If the penalty for man's sin is extracted from Jesus Christ, then it is not forgiven, its paid for by Christ. If, I owe someone a $1M and my friend pays that debt for me, the debt is not forgiven, its paid. If the person I owe the money to forgives me the debt, then no one has to pay it.The authors of Pierced response to this objection is: The reason why Penal Substitution does not deny that God forgives sin is precisely because it is God himself , in the person of his Son, who pays the debt we owe. (p. 264).
I fail to see how that resolves the problem. No matter who pays it, it is paid and not forgiven.
Glenn Peoples: I am pleased that you call this your failure. ;) This point - that Christ is God himself - is actually significant in a way that you haven't appreciated, unless you're using the word "forgive" (what I take to be) a rather idiosyncratic way. I think in a "normal english" way of speaking, it is people who are forgiven. According to this normal usage, to forgive a person is to choose not to pursue that person for what they owe you (already you will see where this is going and why this idea of forgiveness is compatible with penal substitution). Now imagine that God is a moneylender, to whom we all owe one hundred trillion dollars (I had to pick a sum high enough so that nobody on earth can pay it). Now imagine that God apprehends a third party, neither the guilty party nor the wronged party, and forces that person to pay. There's a contrived sense, I suppose, in which this is forgiveness of sorts, since God would not be pursuing us for what we owe. But it's still unjust, because a person who was not a party to the misdeed is dragged in and made to pay. So people are let off the hook (forgiven), in an unjust way, with an immoral price. But now consider the Christian view: Jesus is fully God, and as such he is the wronged party. God (Jesus), out of his own wealth, places his own money against our account, paying it off. Now, we no longer have the issue of injustice, because nobody is being wronged in the process (God is morally entitled, after all, to offer his own goods, or even himself), and we have forgiveness (again, in the normal english sense: God no longer pursues us for what we owe, our debt is not payable by us etc). This seems to me to preserve the ideas of justice and forgiveness, and if this just boils down to a standoff with you insisting that I must construe justice or forgiveness in another way, I will merely decline. I have no reason to do so.
Ken Pulliam: Yep, I have failed at a lot of things in my life but I keep moving and trying to learn. :)
This is how I understand PST. 1) God is holy. 2) God's holy nature demands that sin(ners) be punished. 3) Christ bore that punishment as a substitute, in the place of, sinners. 4) Christ's death propitiated God (satisfied his holy nature) and expiated (removed completely) sin. 5) Therefore, God can now justify (declare righteous) sinners. If these 5 points are accurate, then there is nothing to forgive. It was paid for and eliminated.
If I owed someone $100 trillion and President Obama and Speaker Peolosi decided that the US Taxpayers should cover that debt for me :), and then I went back to the person to whom I owed the debt, after Obama paid them, and said: "Will you please forgive me this huge debt of $100 trillion because there is no way I can pay it?" How do you think the person would respond? I think he would say: "There is nothing to forgive, someone else has already paid it for you." That is how I am looking at this matter and what I mean when I say that PST eliminates the need for forgiveness. I look forward to your comments.
Glenn Peoples: The way you start with holiness there actually makes this a blend of Anselm's satisfction theory and the penal substitutionary view, but there's much in common.
Do you see how that is fundamentally different from a case where the person to whom you owe the money themself covers your debt? This is why, as I noted in my previous post, it makes a difference that Jesus is God, so Jesus is the party who is initially wronged. You owed Joe Smith $100 triliion, and the taxpayer footed the Bill, then - and again I stress this - in the ordinary english usage of the word "forgive," Joe would forgive you, because the ordinary English usage of Joe forgiving you just means that Joe will no longer pursue his entitlement from you. That's how, in our normal everyday language, we use the word "forgive." However, this would not do, because it is unjust - a third party (well, millions of them actually) has been compelled to pay what you owed Joe. Penal substitution has Joe taking the money from his own resources, thereby absorbing the loss himself. By absorbing the loss himself and still not pursuing you for what you owe, you have been forgiven in an ordinary English sense of that word, and no injustice is done (since Joe has the right to absorb the loss Himself). I don't think I could put it more clearly.
Ken Pulliam: Okay I follow you. Here is how I would respond. A person really does not pay themselves back, rather, they absorb the loss. IOW, if I owe you $100 (a more reasonable sum) but I don't pay it back and you choose to forgive me. You just absorb the loss. You don't necessarily go to the bank and withdraw $100 and place it back in your wallet. My point here is that why did Jesus have to die (in my illustration, withdraw the money from the bank) to pay the price for my sin? Why couldn't he just choose to forgive (absorb the loss) without dying? PST maintains that God could not just forgive (absorb the loss) because "sin must be punished" in order for justice to be served. In addition, there are some problems relative to the Trinity and the relationships involved. The Bible seems to portray Jesus as propitiating God (presumably the Father who sent Jesus to die) for man's sin. So you have one person of the Trinity paying (propitiating) another person of the Trinity.
Thanks for the dialogue and I look forward to continued discussions.
For the entire thread, see http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=132703
(I post under the name FormerFundy and Dr. Peoples under the name Dr. Jack Bauer)