Emir Rishawi, ex-Muslim Christian, rejects penal substitution

Good quote here:

I have read some explanations on the death of our Redeemer and Saviour that represent it as a work that Christ did to appease the wrath of God, or as a ransom that Christ paid for man to free him from the bondage of Satan. But I believe that the wrath of God upon sinners and their bondage to Satan are moral images that aim at manifesting the true dimension and the deep contradiction between sin and God. The animal sacrifices that the Children of Israel offered to God expressed man's realisation of the distance that sin creates between him and God, and his conviction that death only can atone for sin, since sin is an uttermost offence against God.

This is from Rishawi's book A Struggle that led to Conversion. It is interesting to note how an Egyptian Christian, from an ex-Muslim background, accepts the doctrine of vicarious atonement, while rejecting the evangelical theory of penal substitution. Good for him!

Comments

Jewel said…
Abu, could you explain the difference between the two doctrines? I grew up in an evangelical church, and I'm not familiar with both doctrines and their differences. I'm in the process of converting to Catholicism.
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Jewel, the question is a bit complex, but in a nutshell here it is: Vicarious atonement is the Christian doctrine that Christ's death and resurrection reconciles us to God. It is a doctrine held by all Christians, whether evangelical or Catholic or Orthodox.
Abu Daoud said…
Penal substitution is a theory about how that actually works. So it offers an explanation of HOW. Vicarious Atonement simply states WHAT. Penal substitution proposes that Jesus took our punishment (pena) which a just God must dispense to someone. But he took that punishment for us (hence, substitution). Rishawi is advancing something quite different from Penal Substitution which is what most evangelicals believe, or are supposed to believe. I don't think penal substitution is as popular in Catholicism, though you would need to check in the CCC, which would have information.
Jewel said…
Thank you. I come from a somewhat fundamental denomination which tends to have an exclusive point of view about itself. The Church of Christ believes (at least the church I grew up in, it may have changed) that they were the only true church. I left after repeatedly falling from 'grace'. Silly, I know, but I had a hard time with understanding basic belief. Most of the evangelization seemed centered on emotional manipulation. It's a tiresome thing.
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Jewel, I think a lot of people who come from fundamentalist backgrounds enjoy the greater freedom they find in Catholic or Anglican Christianity, and the way the Episcopal Church is in the USA right now (I'm guessing you are there, but maybe I'm wrong) you are better off with the Catholic Church by far.
Jewel said…
I was actually hoping to go into an Orthodox congregation, but I find them more ethnically oriented. I left the Church of Christ as a teenager, and went into a Church of the Brethren type of congregation. But these denominations tend to be light on imparting Church history to the flock. I found a copy of The Imitation of Christ in the box of rejected donated books and read it. It was at a time when the health and wealth gospel was doing great harm in evangelical denominations, and our church was really no exception. This little book was so opposite of anything we were learning. I asked the assistant pastor about it, and he dismissed it as being too Catholic.
We learn a lot of untrue things about Catholicism, things my family still believes, and for me, it isn't the trappings of Catholicism which attracted me. It was the preservation of history and truth. I ask myself why I would go into a church that is infested with so many wolves, but then I remind myself that all of Christendom is, and Christ will purify us before we are presented to Him on Judgment Day.
Samn! said…
Penal substitution actually has a fairly long history among Arabic-speaking Christians. If you can find it, there's a fair bit of information about this in:

Mark Swanson, Folly to the Hunafa': The Cross of Christ in Arabic Christian-Muslim Controversy in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries A.D., extract from doctoral dissertation, Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Rome, 1992 (Cairo: 1995)

Also, here's a translation from an excerpt of the 10th century Coptic writer Severus ibn al-Muqaffa's Kitab al-Ida7, where he combines elements of penal substitution with a Christus Victor model:

http://miaphysitism.blogspot.com/2012/11/severus-ibn-al-muqaffa-iii-redemption.html
Abu Daoud said…
Impressive Samn! Thanks for these leads...

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