Folks have been debating for about a week now on the whole issue of the wrath of God and how this co-exists with the love of God. Mark Driscoll's preach in Edinburgh on Friday touched upon this theme as a small part of a larger sermon on the atonement of Jesus. Many who were not present but read Adrian's synopsis have attempted to understand what Mark was actually saying. I have perhaps confused matters by putting in my thoughts, as I was also present at this meeting.
But rather than throw around opinion, what I offer now to help steer the debate is an almost word-for-word transcript of the controversial section of Mark's preach. I've cut out a few jokes and verbal slip-ups, but apart from that this is what Mark said. Please note that much of this was said with humour, which does change the way some of it is interpreted.
Jesus is our Propitiation
This word appears four times in the Greek New Testament. Most translations don’t include it, they say “people don’t know what the word propitiation means”, so they put in other words like “sacrifice of atonement.” People don’t know what that word means either! So I don’t think it helps. Use the word, it’s a good word.
1 John 4:10 is one example
“This is love, not that we have loved God”
- see that’s why I hate freakin’ religion – religion tells people, if you are a good person then God will love you. The gospel says, God has loved you, look at the cross, now you can live a new life. You don’t obey so that God will love you, you obey because God already does!
The gospel is so much better than religion. “This is love, not that we have loved God” – not that we went first, not that we initiated, but that God has loved us and sent his son to be a propitiation for our sins.
Stupid people – stupid theologians – but they say things like
“I don’t believe in propitiation because how can a loving God…”
Propitiation is how God demonstrates his love. Come on! We know God loves us because he propitiated our sin!
Here is what propitiation is: GOD HATES SINNERS. You’ve been told that God loves the sinner but hates the sin. No he doesn’t: Ghandi says that, just so you know, he’s on a totally different team than us.
14 times in the first 50 Psalms God says he hates somebody. Says he hates group like the Nicolations. Hates dudes like Esau. Hates those in Proverbs with haughty eyes. He hates all kind of people! When someone says “I hate the sin but love the sinner” that’s dumb because we are sinners. I hate the essence sum total of what you are, but I really like you!” What the! We do what we are: we have an old nature and we commit old acts of sin.
It says it in Psalm 5:5 “I hate -- or it says, You hate all who do evil”. Now let this settle. People say things like “God doesn’t hate anybody!” Yes he does! He hates tonnes of people! He does. Some people say “that’s not fair”. Course its fair! You hate people! And God’s far better than you and he knows a lot more people!
God hates sinners and he hates their sin. I preached this doctrine of propitiation. The third time I preached this … a guy pulled a knife and tried to get up on the stage to kill me. So people will respond to this doctrine … we grew the next week by 800 people [after preaching this doctrine…]
GOD HATES SINNERS. He works it out through his wrath. God wrath is mentioned more than 600 times in the bible. If you have a bucket of verses that say love, and a bucket of verses that say wrath, wrath is a bigger bucket.
The whole “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” -- that’s the wrong place to start. “God hates you and its going to go really really bad forever!” – hey now that is true…
What happens with propitiation is that Jesus stands in our place and the wrath of the Father is poured out on the Son. I want you to see the masculine suffering of Jesus. He is dying by suffering the wrath of God. And the wrath of God is poured out on Jesus and is thereby propitiated, diverted, taken away, from sinners who are in Jesus Christ.
I love this! People come up to me and say “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” My question is, “How can a holy God take anyone to heaven?”…
People need to know how good God is, how angry God is, so that they understand how significant Jesus is. “I’m under the wrath of God? I need to go to Jesus and I need to be propitiated.”
This is shown in the Passover, when literally the wrath of God was going to visit every home except those who were covered literally by blood – substitution. And as they were covered by blood, so the wrath of God passed over them. Just as we are covered by the blood of Jesus. 1 Cor 5:7 “Jesus Christ the Passover lamb has been slain.” He is the blood that covers us, so that the propitiating work of God is accomplished, so that the wrath of God passes over.
If I may add a brief observation of my own, its clear that Mark is espousing a particular model of penal substitutionary atonement (PSA), a model which I have described in the past as "hard" penal substitution. I don't think I can fully agree with this, as it goes beyond what scripture actually says. I'm more comfortable with soft PSA, a somewhat more subtle model that theologians across the board can agree with, including Wright and possibly even Steve Chalk, although no-one really understands what he believes about substitutionary atonement these days!
UPDATE: Peter Kirk offers his revised response to this message, given the accurate transcript above.
UPDATE AGAIN: If you want to hear Mark's Friday and Sunday night preaches, you can can get them courtesy of Destiny Church Edinburgh: [ Sunday 10am | Sunday 12noon | Friday - leaders meeting]