27 February 2006
Board statement on the atonement
Beginning in 2004 there was much controversy surrounding the publication of The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann. In the book Chalke and Mann challenged the traditional evangelical doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement by criticising what it branded as the ‘crude and distorted imagery of a vengeful father wreaking punishment on an innocent son’. The Alliance held a public debate on this topic in October 2004 and a symposium with London School of Theology in July 2005, in which proponents of the penal substitutionary atonement acknowledged that such a portrait was unhelpful but maintained that this was not an accurate theological reflection of the doctrine. In February 2006, five months after the revised Basis of Faith was published, the Alliance’s Board published a statement re-affirming the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement as a valid model as laid out in declarations 4 and 6: that ‘all people' have been 'corrupted by sin', that this sin 'incurs divine wrath and judgement', and that on the cross Jesus sacrificially atoned for sin by 'dying in our place' and 'paying the price' of such sin.