The Ever Humble, Ever Less Orthodox Paul Owen…UPDATED

   While believers were attempting to explain the concept of substitutionary atonement, penal satisfaction, etc., to an atheist, good ol’ Paul Owen, former (sorry, not enough room to fill this list in anymore), pops in to help out:

I don’t agree with “penal substitution” because God would simply not punish His Son for the sins of others. Christ was given up to evil men and the devil to suffer on the cross and to die to appease God’s offended holiness, but He was not punished for the actual sins of the people. That post-Anselm view of the atonement is hogwash. You need to study harder…

   I guess if we all just study harder, we will be able to have as impressive a list of former beliefs as Owen! Excuse me while I get back to studying!
   BTW, “God would simply not punish His Son for the sins of others” is a line I have heard many times before…from Muslims. You think there’s a chance?
   According to Paul Owen, he did not write the above commentary found at Triablogue. If so, then surely he cannot be held accountable for what someone else would say in his name. But I am a bit confused here. The “Paul Owen” on Triablogue does not agree with penal substitution. Yet, on 3/19/07, Owen wrote, “None of this language requires a penal model. We just disagree.” He also wrote,

In my opinion the problem with many of the Reformed orthodox (and Calvin too often speaks this way as well) is they took an unbiblical model of penal suffering which was derived from the medieval doctrine of the Mass and purgatory, and applied it rather uncriticially to the logic of the atonement. Anselm and the earlier church understood that satisfaction for sin was precisely a means of avoiding punishment. If God still demanded that Christ be punished in our stead on the cross, not only does this rob his obedient life of its compensatory value, but it makes meaningless the very idea of “satisfaction” itself. The reason a Judge or Monarch demands a punishment is precisely because he has not been satisfied by any compensatory gift. What I am arguing is that Christ’s obedience unto death was a pleasing gift to the Father which negated the necessity of punishment. It is “propitiatory” in the sense that the need for punishment was done away with, not propitiatory in the sense that the demand for punishment was fulfilled.

   Now, is the above substantively different than the comment left at Triablogue? If it is, how? Owen even concluded that particular portion of his commentary with these words: “Sorry you can’t bring yourself to think a little more open-mindedly about an issue that is not nearly as straightforward as you seem to wish.” Isn’t that very much like what the “Paul Owen” on Triablogue said as well? If I have “blundered” I am more than happy to admit my error. I was deceived, as Steve Hays was, by a person writing on Triablogue under Paul Owen’s name who…presents the very same viewpoint as…Paul Owen. So if the comment left there represents the same viewpoints as Owen, just where is the ground for offense? Shouldn’t Owen simply be upset with the person using his name, and yet be thankful that that person has accurately represented his own views?
   Finally, as to why I noted this. Simple: I had seen Owen’s comments on this topic a few weeks ago. I didn’t mention them. Why then mention the Triablogue commentary? Well, first, Steve sent it to me. But more to the point, it is one thing for Owen to spread his views on the oxymoronic website. By now, anyone who goes there knows what they are going to be getting when they do so. But when he leaves that realm and starts promoting those views elsewhere, as it appeared he had done so here, that’s what prompted the discussion.
   So to Paul Owen, if you did not write the comments on Triablogue, then I apologize for being fooled like everyone else. But more so, I would be happy to apologize if you could demonstrate how the comment left in your name is substantially and fundamentally different in theological perspective and assertion than what you have actually posted on your blog, and in particular, in the link cited above, the infamous “#1035” which garnered, as far as I can see, 151 comments. Indeed, your words in your first paragraph found there are just as liable to the opprobrium I heaped upon the comment at Triablogue:

Nowhere does the Bible say that God sent his Son “to die,” as though God would be the one who would put Jesus to death as some sort of substitute punishment. Instead, the death of Jesus is put squarely on the shoulders of sinners (Acts 2:23b; 4:10-11) and the powers of darkness (1 Cor. 2:8). Rather than seeing the logic of the atonement in terms of a substitute punishment to satisfy the strict justice of God, it seems better to see Jesus’ death in terms of the hostility of sinful powers.