Some of my favorite commenters (like Annie) have accused me of “straw man” arguments this past week. I disagree. That would mean that I had overinflated the arguments of my theological opponents and then popped their balloons. But, in fact, I have used actual blog posts and quotes — their very serious charges of heresy about me — in my responses. Anyone who has actually dealt, face-to-face, with persons like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Justin Taylor, and Kevin DeYoung knows that they are not straw men. I am responding to things they have actually said and written — and things, I imagine, that they actually believe. (In all honesty, I don’t believe that they treat my arguments as fairly.)
For evidence, just peruse my comment section. Never once does one of them or their posse write that I’ve misunderstood their arguments or “created the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a
superficially similar proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it,
without ever having actually refuted the original position.” No, they usually just quote Bible verses or tell me that I leading people to hell. Or both.
I imagine that if I had misrepresented the PSA proponents in my attempt to rebut them, they’d let us know.
However, I do see how some readers understood my Good Friday post to be an outright rejection of PSA. I did not intend it that way.
Of course, I was having a conversation with myself, not with my readers, as I wrote that post. In that post, I wrote,
Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic
Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God’s wrath
burned against his son instead of against me. I find that version of
atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually
compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.
However, that does not lead me to reject it outright. Why? Because I can still see the merits of PSA. I can still understand the theological arguments behind it. I can still see how it is justified by some Pauline writings.
As I have said and written elsewhere, I consider the crucifixion-resurrection to be the pivot point in cosmic history. It is ultimately more immense and beautiful than any human words can describe or explain.
Every atonement theory proffered by theologians over the past two millennia has shone a spotlight on that event. And I, for one, think the more spotlights shining on the cross and empty tomb, the better.