Every Easter the Protestant blogs are full of posts about the Resurrection, and rightfully so. One thing about the Protestant view of the Resurrection of Our Lord has always bothered me though: their view that the Resurrection was essentially nothing more than a 'sales receipt' to show that the Father accepted Jesus' sacrifice. Last year I wrote a brief article on why the Protestant view of Imputation makes the Resurrection of Jesus superfluous, but over the last few days I came to realize another troubling feature about the Protestant view.
In the Protestant view of Penal Substitution, Jesus was receiving the punishment our sins deserved (eternal physical death and eternal damnation). So if the Protestant view is correct, then the Resurrection really makes no sense, because if Jesus simply came to take our punishment, then why should Jesus be 'rewarded' or 'awarded' with a Resurrection? Really, He should not have been. And this leads to the main problem at hand: saying the Resurrection was a 'sales receipt' to show that the Father accepted the sacrifice of Jesus. Consider these quotes from Protestant sources around the web:
- Kevin DeYoung (Reformed): "The resurrection means the death of Jesus was enough—enough to atone for sin, enough to reconcile us to God, enough to present us holy in God’s presence."
- Jerry Bridges (Reformed): "It was God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11), and by that act God declared that Christ’s atoning sacrifice had been accepted. The penalty for our sins was paid in full. The resurrection was God’s declaration that He had cancelled the record of debt that stood against us"
- Got Questions? (popular Protestant apologetics website): "Jesus’ resurrection proved that His death was accepted by God as the atonement for our sins. If He had simply died and stayed dead, that would indicate His sacrifice was not sufficient."
- Grace To You (Reformed apologetics): "Christ did rise, and when He rose from that grave, He proved that He had completed salvation. He had paid the price. He had conquered the enemy, which is sin. He had broken the bands of its executor death, and He was free. And then when God lifted Him to His right hand and exalted Him, God accepted His death. God accepted His substitution."
- Matt Slick (Reformed): "Jesus' resurrection is the proof that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father who had promised, "For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay," (Psalm 16:10). Because Jesus offered a perfect sacrifice for sin, He was guaranteed a physical resurrection."
What's wrong with saying the Resurrection "shows that the Father accepted the sacrifice"? Everything! If the model of Atonement is Penal Substitution, then the Father isn't accepting a sacrifice in the first place! In Penal Substitution, the Father is the one Who killed Jesus in the first place, and Jesus ending up dead at the end of the day is proof that the Father's Wrath was satisfied. So the Protestant is really stuck at that point, and their "sacrifice accepted" comments reveal a sort of cognitive dissonance.
The very talk of "proof of acceptance" of Jesus' sacrifice indicates the sacrifice could not have been that of Penal Substitution. Rather, it means the sacrifice had to be of a different nature, one which the Son offers up and the Father accepts. This is the Catholic and Biblical view of Satisfaction, where Jesus' love and obedience unto death (Phil 2:8) were of such immense value in the Father's sight that it atoned for all sins