Clarification to Bob Terry’s Aug. 8 editorial

Editor’s Note — The editorial “Why Disagree About the Words of a Hymn?” published in the Aug. 8 issue received thousands of responses via Twitter, email, the website and phone calls in less than 24 hours. Because of the questions raised by the responses, the following clarification is offered.

By Bob Terry
Editor, The Alabama Baptist

Before I arrived at the office on the morning of Friday, Aug. 9, I received a phone call telling me the editorial “Why Disagree about the Words of a Hymn?” had generated a lot of response overnight. I was shocked when the caller added that I was being accused of not believing in penal substitutionary atonement — the teaching that Jesus paid the price for sin when He died on the cross in our place.

That anything I write would call into question the atoning work of Jesus Christ is inappropriate and to those who read this editorial that way, I apologize.

Let me be clear. I believe in and unapologetically preach: 1. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23); 2. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life (Rom. 6:23); 3. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19); 4. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8); 5. If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9); 6. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13).

Consistent with that belief I wrote in the editorial “…it is God’s grace that initiated the sacrifice of Jesus to provide covering and forgiveness for our sin and that His sacrifice satisfied the holy demands of God’s righteousness for sin to be punished.” I believe that is an affirmation of the penal substitutionary atonement understanding of salvation.

Again, sin separates us from God. Sin has a price that has to be paid before sinful man can be reconciled to a holy God. Jesus paid the price for our sin on Calvary and only because of what was done for us on the cross can we be reconciled to God. I understand that to be bedrock Christian beliefs.

For those interested in my writings about the atonement, let me suggest two examples: March 25, 2010, and April 5, 2012. Other references to the atonement can be found in numerous editorials over the years and most can be found on this website. But let me emphasize again, the Aug. 8 editorial was not about the atonement.

I am beginning to wonder if part of the confusion surrounding the Aug. 8 editorial relates to different meanings of the word “wrath.”

If the meaning is that on Calvary God’s punishment for our sins was poured out on Jesus, then that is certainly biblical and something I would never question. That is my understanding of penal substitutionary atonement and is what I have written through the years.

If the meaning of “wrath” is that God is vindictive and took joy in punishing His Son then that is not how I find God described in the Bible. As I understand the Bible, it was because “God so loved the world” that He was willing “to crush him and cause him to suffer” and become a guilt offering (Isaiah 53:10 NIV). Sin had to be punished to satisfy the righteous justice of a Holy God and only the Son of God could satisfy that demand.

The editorial in question was intended to call us to see the love of God at the cross and not a vindictive God.

To read the Aug. 8 editorial, visit

About thealabamabaptist

State Baptist newspaper serving Baptists in Alabama, providing information, inspiration and interpretation as well as challenging readers to serve and find opportunities for ministry that further the kingdom of God.
This entry was posted in Home and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Clarification to Bob Terry’s Aug. 8 editorial

  1. Pingback: The Wrath of God, the Death of Jesus, and the Alabama Baptist -

  2. Jodey Hogeland says:

    Dr. Terry,

    I understand that there has been an overwhelming response to your article and I am grateful that you attempted a clarification instead of remaining silent. However, there were several statements that cause concern, not just the overall theme of the piece. For example, the statement, “Some popular theologies do hold that Jesus’ suffering appeased the wrath of God” is not just a popular theology it is right theology. Your clarification seems to indicate that you recognize this view but is this “your” view? Theology matters and although there might be many theological understandings true theology will only ever be the proper study of God through what has been revealed in Hi Word.

    I recently lead our fellowship through a 16 week study on the atonement and here are some points of realization:

    God grants the forgiveness of sins based on the exclusivity of Himself and His own personal sacrifice of Himself. God paid the penalty for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14)

    God Himself became our atonement in the person of Jesus Christ. However, the cross was not a compromise it was a substitute.

    Dr. William C. Robinson – “The cross is not a compromise, but a substitution; not a cancellation, but a satisfaction; not a wiping off, but a wiping out in blood and agony and death.”

    Man is guilty of violating the law of God therefore it is man that has to stand before God and man who God’s wrath must be taken out on. The penalty is due to man…

    The answer to this dilemma is this – God took on flesh and became a man – He took on the nature of a man and stood in the place of man – man’s guilt was placed upon Him and the He suffered the full penalty of the law in place of man. This is all of grace.

    Till on that cross as Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied. God’s love and God’s wrath are two characteristics of God’s divine nature that must be balanced – one having no weight over the other. To exalt love over wrath is to nothing more than what Rob Bell does in his book God Wins. In the end it is not love that wins nor is it wrath that wins… God wins. And this will be made evident in both His love for those who repent and believe and His wrath against those who continue to rebel and only seek the desires of their sinful hearts.

  3. Pingback: “In Christ Alone” One Baptist’s Perspective–By Tim Rogers - Southern Baptist in NC

  4. Wally Barber says:

    I find it very strange, and in fact a misleading issue, when people claim Jesus as their personal savior and yet never quote His words, especially when speaking on redemption, it is always Paul who is quoted and in many cases their interpretation of what Paul said is a contradiction of what Jesus said, especially in Matthew 5:17 to 20.
    For 17 weeks I jotted down all the scriptures mentioned in sermons in the church I attended and although the name Jesus came up fairly often His words were only quoted on 3 occasions, all three from the beatitudes. In all 17 sermons Paul’s words were quoted extensively, especially Romans and Galatians. How does one claim Jesus to be their savior and reject, or at the very least ignore His words? I would imagine that a person truly grateful for what was done for him, especially the huge deed of love that Jesus performed, the person would not be able to stop speaking about what his ‘savior’ did and said. My impression is that these people are not really
    tuned in to Jesus but hang on the words of Paul. Is Paul then the savior?
    Let’s hear more of what Jesus said and less of Paul from preachers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s