stead of sinners. Christ?s suffering in and with sinners, though it is a most important and affecting fact, is not the suffering in their stead in which the atonement consists. Though suffering in and with sinners may be in part the medium through which Christ was enabled to endure God?s wrath against sin, it is not to be confounded with the reason why God lays this suffering upon him. It should not blind us to the fact that this reason is his standing in the sinner?s place to answer for sin to the retributive holiness of God.
(b) It rests upon false philosophical principles. Righteousness is identical with benevolence instead of conditioning it, that God is subject to an eternal law of love instead of being himself the source of all law and that the aim of penalty is the reformation of the offender.
Hovey, God with Us. 181-271, has given one of the best replies to Bushnell. He shows that if God is subject to an eternal law of love, then God is necessarily a Savior. He must have created man as soon as he could, that he makes men holy as fast as possible. He does all the good he can and that he is no better than he should be. But this is to deny the transcendence of God and reduce omnipotence to a mere nature power. The conception of God as subject to law imperils God?s self-sufficiency and freedom. For Bushnell?s statements with regard to the identity of righteousness and love and for criticisms upon them, see our treatment of the attribute of Holiness, vol. I, pages 268-275.
Watts, New Apologetic, 277-280, points out that, upon Bushnell?s principles, there must be an atonement for fallen angels. God was bound to assume the angelic nature and to do for angels all that he has done for us. There is also no reason for restricting either the atonement or the offer of salvation to the present life. B. B. Warfield, in Princeton Review, 1903:81-92, shows well that all the forms of the Moral Influence theory rest upon the assumption that God is only love and that all that is required as ground of the sinner?s forgiveness is penitence, either Christ?s, his own or both together.
Ignoring the divine holiness and minimizing the guilt of sin, many modern writers make atonement to be a mere incident of Christ?s incarnation. Phillips Brooks, Life, 2:350, 351 ? ?Atonement by suffering is the result of the Incarnation; atonement being the necessary and suffering the incidental element of that result. But sacrifice is an essential element, for sacrifice truly signifies here the consecration of human nature to its highest use and utterance and does not necessarily involve the thought of pain. It is not the destruction but the fulfillment of human life. Inasmuch
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