That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post.
That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good quotes of a distinctly "Lutheran" flavor that encourage prayerful consideration and a deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and our Lutheran Confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).
Plus, it certainly helps me in my on-going journey from American Evangelicalism to becoming a Confessional Lutheran.
Here's the latest...
One often hears that penal substitution is merely one model or theory of the atonement and thus should not be elevated as central to defining the way in which we are saved and reconciled to God.
However, in most instances where I’ve heard this proposal the motive eventually becomes clear. In conceding that penal substitution is “a” legitimate model for the atonement, but not the central or controlling one, while simultaneously pointing to a variety of theories, it soon becomes evident that the purpose is to minimize the wrath of God, the concept of propitiation, and the idea that in order to redeem us Christ voluntarily endured the penalty that sin incurred.
Whenever I’m asked about this question I immediately agree that all of the many theories or models of the atonement are in some sense, and to some degree, true and relevant. But my reason for agreeing to this point is different from those just noted.
Yes, the death of Jesus exerts a “moral influence” on us insofar as his selfless sacrifice in the face of unjust suffering motivates us to endure the same (1 Peter 2:21ff.).
Yes, the voluntary suffering of Jesus is an “example” of God’s love for fallen mankind and devotion to the purpose of peace, as well as a paradigm for the way we should identify with the weak and oppressed.
Yes, we see in the death of Jesus his humble submission to weakness and concern for the outcast and marginalized of society.
Yes, God is the supreme “moral governor” of the created realm whose commitment to the interests of public law and order was vindicated and displayed in the death of Jesus (cf. Romans 3:25-26).
Yes, the death of Jesus conquered evil and was designed to undo the works of Satan (cf. 1 John 3:8) and liberate those held captive by him.
Yes, the death of Jesus was designed to restore in mankind the imago Dei (image of God) so horribly defaced (but not destroyed) by the fall into sin.
But all of these things are true only because his death was preeminently a dying in the place of sinners, enduring in himself (body and soul) and thereby propitiating (1 John 2:1-2; Romans 3:25) the wrath of a righteous God.
Satan was defeated and his power vanquished because the guilt of mankind by which he held us in his clutches was imputed to Christ and its penalty endured and exhausted by Christ (Colossians 2:13-15). We are profoundly moved and stirred by the example of his sacrifice because therein “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). The imago Dei is restored and the effects of Adam’s fall were reversed and God’s righteous rule was vindicated (Romans 3:21-26) because Jesus, as an expression of the incomparable love of God for sinners (Romans 5:8), voluntarily suffered the penal consequences of the law of God, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18), and died our death “by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
So long as the penal substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus is retained as foundational and fundamental to what happened on Calvary, we should joyfully celebrate and give thanks for all else that it accomplished. But without penal substitution, or even if it is merely marginalized or placed on the same plane of importance with these other theories, nothing of any benefit is obtained.
If Christ did not suffer and satisfy the wrath of God in the place of sinners, I simply have nothing to say to a lost and dying world that could even remotely be regarded as “good news” (gospel). I can offer them spiritual therapy, wisdom for living, and a measure of psychological and emotional encouragement. But I have nothing to say that will serve them, much less save them, when they come to stand before the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:11-15).
Praise be to God that Christ “suffered once for sins . . . that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18)!
Now, I know that Sam Storms is not a Lutheran, but we can and should always affirm those things espoused by faithful Christians from other denominations that are most certainly true.
What can we say about the preeminence of propitiation?
In a Lutheran layman's terms, the importance of keeping the penal substitution in its proper Biblical perspective is that it is central and saving!
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!