09 September 2011

Inclusive and Exclusive Place-taking

In his study on atonement in Mark in the NSBT series, Peter Bolt makes a very helpful distinction, a distinction not always clearly kept in mind in theological discourse on the work of Christ.
The debate whether Jesus' death is a penal substitutionary atonement often includes discussion of whether Jesus died as a substitute as well as a representative. [Daniel P.] Bailey has suggested that, since both these terms are now heavily loaded, often with theological prejudice, a way through the debate might be to follow the German usage of the word Stellvertretung, or 'place-taking.' The Messiah is involved in both inclusive and exclusive place-taking.

He inclusively takes the place of Israel, in that he is one of them and shares in their distress in solidarity with them. When the nation suffers under God's wrath, he suffers with the nation. But the fate of the nation is also tied up with the Messiah. Just as the tribes of Israel participated 'in David' and benefited from God's promises attached to him and his line (2 Sam 7) and the blessing that flowed from them (2 Sam 19-20), so the people of the Messiah participate in him and benefit from the blessing of God attached to him. In other words, drawing upon this conception of his role as Messiah, when Jesus suffers he takes the place of Israel exclusively in that, he, the one, suffers for the many, as their substitute so that they do not need to suffer.
--Peter G. Bolt, The Cross from a Distance: Atonement in Mark's Gospel (NSBT 18; IVP, 2004), 70; also 132, 141

Seems to me that several defective views of atonement, historically, are due to emphasizing one of these, the inclusive or the exclusive, to the neglect of the other.

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