Penal Substitution vs. Governmental Atonement | Jesse Morrell | Theology



Penal Substitution vs Governmental Substitution

The penal view says that Christ is our substitute IN penalty. He took the penalty we deserve.

The governmental view says Christ’s atonement is a substitute FOR our penalty. He didn’t take our exact and literal penalty (eternal hell) but provided a substitute for it.

It’s like if I ask for an orange and you give me an apple.

The penal view says the apple is an orange.

The governmental view says the apple substitutes the orange.

The atonement isn’t hell. It substitutes hell.


Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?

Because if your penalty of eternal hell is going to be remitted by God’s grace, something else had to take its place and fulfill its purpose. The atonement substitutes our penalty of hell and fulfills its governmental purpose.

When I asked, “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” on my Facebook, someone said: “The wages of sin is death.” Blood HAD to be paid since God is not a liar.”

I responded: If that verse is talking about physical death, not eternal death, then why do believers still physically die? If Jesus saved us from the penalty, we shouldn’t have to die ourselves? That would be Christ paying the penalty and then we pay it ourselves too by dying.

Also, if physical death was the penalty then Christ didn’t have to die because we could all just physically die – paying the penalty ourselves – and then go to heaven.

That is why I understand the penalty of the law to be eternal death – eternal hell. That’s the wages of sin.

She said: “It is appointed to man to die once.” Also death is a separation…not an end.

I said, Yes we all must die, even Christians who are saved from the penalty of sin. Christians don’t go to hell though. Hell is the penalty of sin, not physical death. Physical death is a consequence for Adam’s sin, but hell is the wages for our sins.

Some one said that physical death is the result of Adams sin. Yes physical death is a consequence just like pain in child birth. But pain in childbirth is not the penalty of sin. Jesus did not endured pain in childbirth. Even Christian woman who are saved have pain in childbirth. So there is a difference between consequences for Adams sin and the penalty of sin.

The penalty of sin is eternal hell. Jesus didn’t take our penalty. He suffered on the cross as a substitute for it.

  Watch a playlist on The Vicarious Atonement of Christ:


The Scriptural Doctrine of Atonement by Caleb Burge has been said to be the best book on the Governmental Atonement theory.

Burge expounds upon very profound concepts and presents them in a very intelligent and understandable way.

This book was originally published in 1822.

It contains pure theological gold on one of the most important doctrines of Christianity. It will be an absolute treasure in your library.

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