Shults & Stackhouse on Violence and God

I don’t know that I have met Dr. LeRon Shults, but he is a highly respected American theologian who recently took a job in Norway. He has recently posted some “work in progress” regarding the influential anthropologist René Girard and the implications of his views for Christian theology, especially of the atonement.

Many of you are about to stop reading now, and that’s fine! But for those who are interested, your servant took exception to one or two things in Professor Shults’s post and we engaged in what became a rather extended to-and-fro that the theologically-minded might find interesting here.

0 Responses to “Shults & Stackhouse on Violence and God”

  1. Brendon Gibson

    Professor Stackhouse,

    Thanks for pointing me to your gracious conversation with LeRon Schults. It was stimulating and illuminating and incredibly instructive, both in content and tone. I wish more Christians (theologians especially, but not exclusively)were able to engage in such conversations with such grace and generosity, as well as candour. Blessings on you brother!

    BTW, Thanks for your blog. I check it frequently and appreciate it greatly.


  2. Terry Tiessen


    Thank you for so excellently engaging Shults in regard to penal substitutionary atonement. I had read his post yesterday and was equally dissatisfied with its dismissal of divine violence and the rejection of penal substitionary atonement that often goes along with this revision of God’s just and holy action in a sinful and rebellious creation. Even if I had found the time, however, I could certainly not have addressed his position with the expertise (or rhetorical flourish) that you brought to the conversation.

    In short, a hearty thank you for speaking on behalf of a wonderful truth. I’m looking forward to Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (forthcoming from IVP-UK and likely to be picked up in North America shortly).

    Blessings on your continued theological ventures and adventures,

  3. David Worley

    John- I wanted to close off our conversation by sincerely sending you my thanks for your thoughtful and thought provoking posts on LeRon’s site. While I am not won over to seeing Substitutionary Atonement as a net benefit for us in 2007 you have sharpened my thinking on the subject. Furthermore, the way in which you have discussed the topic has been a good model for me of humility and conviction on a theological topic. Much thanks!

    Best wishes on your forthcoming book and in life in general.

    Your brother in Christ,
    David Worley

  4. Jon Coutts

    I read with keen interest the debate over on the other web site and appreciate the way you dialogued on these issues. the old cliche of the baby and the bathwater came to mind, as it often does. I see the penal substitution of Christ is a beautiful thing, convinced as I am that this is a good world gone bad and that I am no better. I’d love to hear you elaborate sometime on how you think this particular peice of theology is badly preached in evangelicalism. this could be enlightening. perhaps I just need to read more of you to find where you’ve already said it.

    I am greatly enjoying your blog and am thrilled to have someone in evangelicalism who gives hope to those of us who wish to dialogue humbly and honestly with Scripture (without losing its vitality) and with those who disagree (without hiding behind jargon or in enclaves). you are a breath of fresh air, thank you.

  5. Andrew Lunau Smith

    I really appreciated reading the dialogue between you and Prof. Shults. Thanks for pointing to it.

    For anyone who might be interested, I see that Dr. Clark Pinnock is teaching a “summer” course on this subject at MacDiv, evenings April 30 – May 11. The course is called “He Died to Save Us All: The Atoning Work of Jesus Christ (CI 2XA3)”.


  6. John Stackhouse

    Thanks for these various kind words, friends. I quite understand how the sight of theologians arguing in public with actual respect and even affection for each other might be a novelty–alas!

  7. Cheryl Barnetson

    Hello Dr. Stackhouse!

    I happily came across your blog while surfing through the Regent website (something I do when stuck with post-Regent-itis, which for Alum’s is the chronic condition of missing the environment and community that is Regent and wishing to re-enter somehow vicariously through various media : )

    I also came across your discussion with LeRon Shults and must admit I was fascinated. It is as you say, a bit of a novelty : ) … much like eavesdropping on your parents and their company I guess although much more so … but also something that we (the regular folk) do not often get to participate. I learned much and it gave me much to consider.

    Thank you for openly sharing your thoughts, as always, we can always count on you to do so.

    I noted what you said, here in particular:

    “But your remark about “dead, white guys” is a little too flip for me in this context. It implies a view of doctrinal development that I find shockingly reductive of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Church throughout the last two thousand years.

    And do we really want to lump together, say, 1st-century Jewish Christians with 4th-century North African Christians with 10th-century Russian Christians with 13th-century Italian Christians with 16th-century Saxon Christians with 18th-century English Christians with 20th-century American Christians–and call the fruit of their collective reflection merely the work of “dead, white guys”? That seems a little indiscriminate–not to mention ungrateful–to me.”

    As a person who’s calling is to seriously and theologically engage the culture of a particular people, the Indigenous people of North America, I cheered at your clarification.

    Peace to you and your family,
    Cheryl Barnetson

  8. Theodore A. Jones

    Some, it has been said, “swallow a camel and strain at a gnat.” Time has not lessened their number. Substitutionary atonement might have had a chance to fly but according to Jesus, even tho he might be wrong, guilt relative to sin is still the outstanding issue on God’s mind AFTER Jesus crucifixion. Jn. 16:8. Jesus plucked substitutionary atonement’s wings.
    The question you guys need to find the answer for is what is the sin that is necessary to repent of to obey the command Repent in Acts 2:38. There is only one sin relative to this command.


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