Posted by: jadanzzy | April 13, 2009

Asherah, Ba’al, PSA, and Reformed Theology

** I do not speak for all of Merging Lanes. I am solely responsible for this post. Other writers here at ML affirm the reformed tradition as their own. **

Over the weekend, Tony Jones had posted two entries, Why Jesus Died, and Why Jesus Rose in remembrance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I will admit here that I am a fan of Tony’s writing and thoughts and it has consequently influenced my theology. Reading these posts, I left feeling thankful, worshipful, and amazed at the beauty of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as the centerpiece of my life.

Today, while going through my Google Reader, I stumbled upon a new post that Tony had written today with quotes by those in the Reformed blogosphere attacking him for denying the theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Regardless of how his tone on his post, the statement is clear. The “Young, Restless, Reformed” movement views him as speaking heteredoxy.

I am appalled at the level of their insistence that the PSA theory is centrally orthodox to the Christian faith. It amounts to idolatry. In fact, it is pure idolatry. It is one thing to affirm the PSA theory as narrative of your soteriology. It is another for it to be the sole means of understanding the work of the cross, if not assuming it as factual. Now, I am in no way making a claim that PSA is unorthodox or un-Christian. But it is merely one, viable atonement theory that may work well with all the other atonement theories.

Herein lies the problem with this New Calvinist movement. They fail to take into account the complexity and depth of theological history, cultural embeddedness, and humanity of the theology they espouse as divine. Their Christianity starts with a modernist, Enlightement-infused Christianity created by Europeans.

All I’m asking for is theological humility. How are they any different from the leaders of the law that Jesus was so frustrated with?



  1. Totally agree about not taking into account the whole of theological history. The fact is, he does affirm a surprisingly orthodox understanding of Christ’s death and resurrection, and anyone who can’t see that is operating with a very peculiar set of blinders. Since when did TJ claim to be reformed? Since when is penal substitution synonymous with orthodoxy?

  2. Agreed.

    I am a member of a PCA church. They are unashamedly reformed. But they aren’t trying to shove it down people’s throats. How do I know? b/c I am a member and admittedly unreformed/undecided.

    Armenian & Calvinist. Disciples of Apollo & Paul. Catholics & Protestants. I wonder what people think about church unity when presented with all this?

  3. well put

  4. I understand the whole idolatry issue here. However, just as equally dangerous as the setting up of one idol in place of the one, true God is the problem of syncretism and just including God as one of many gods that you follow.

    arguing for PSA theology as synonymous as orthodoxy is certainly something a very difficult argument to make, but there has to be some lines drawn somewhere. Not all theories on the death and resurrection of Christ can coexist peacefully, because most of them are reactionary to each other and exclude each other. The answer to which theory/theories work best does not necessarily have to be a mixing or amalgamation of them. Else how is that any different from worshiping Baal and Asherah along with Yahweh as just a multitude of gods and as a way of “hedging your bets” so to speak?

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