Steve Jeffery et al (reviewed by Alan White), March 2007
This is an important new book from IVP, co-authored by Mike Ovey, Steve Jeffery and Andrew Sach. Mike is, of course, a member of the Cambridge Papers Writing Group.
In some ways, it’s a shame that the book had to be written. The authors remind us that “the doctrine of penal substitution states that God gave himself in the person of his Son to suffer instead of us the death, punishment and curse due to fallen humanity as the penalty for sin”. Although this is the historic Christian view (they demonstrate), it has recently been challenged, not just in the rarified atmosphere of theological departments but also in more accessible Christian books and magazine articles.
In response, Pierced for our Transgressions presents a clear and indeed enthusiastic affirmation of penal substitution. Very helpfully, the book is arranged to enable us both to grasp the argument as you read through, and also to be able to quickly refer back later as a reference. In part one they set out the positive case for penal substitution, biblically, theologically, pastorally, and historically. The way they draw together passages from God’s Word, both Old and New Testament, is not just comprehensive and readable – it exudes their wonder at God’s salvific plan. In part two they outline every objection they have been able to find against penal substitution, and respond to each in turn, marshalling specific and appropriate material from part one. The book is thus designed to be useful for all thinking Christians and will be of particular help to pastors and theological students.
The authors have put up a website at www.piercedforourtransgressions.com which not only gives those interested in the book the table of contents but also some of the early church documents that they cite (and even a very helpful table of appropriate worship songs and hymns).
The authors say of the book, that they “hope it will prove a useful resource for those who believe in penal substitution yet find themselves assailed by some of these objections”. They have, I believe, succeeded admirably: readers do rediscover the glory of penal substitution.