...actually lessens sin and lessens the God who has been sinned against."
So says Tim Keller at the beginning of a round table discussion on, you guessed it, Love Wins.
This begs the question, what punishment did Jesus take on the cross? If eternal punishment is the just counterbalance for a sin/sins, then wouldn't we expect Jesus to suffer eternal punishment in our place? To anyone more familiar with atonement theology than I am, how is this worked out? Perhaps the same line of reasoning is used as when people say that a sin against an eternal being is worthy of eternal punishment: punishment meted out on an eternal being is eternal punishment...??
I hate to turn the atonement event into a mathematical equation where one side must equal the other, but I would be interested to hear how eternal punishment is understood in relation to the cross as an occurrence of the wrath of God. If the wrath of God that we deserve is eternal, how can it ever be satisfied by a historical event?
My initial reaction is that Keller's statement is faulty and needlessly dismissive. It seems to make the wrath of God co-ultimate with the love of God, whereas I'm inclined to side with Barth who views wrath as penultimate and love as ultimate.
It's always smart to side with Barth, right?