Response To J. Matthew Pinson’s “Thomas Grantham’s Theology Of The Atonement And Justification” -- By: James M. Leonard

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 08:1 (Spring 2011)
Article: Response To J. Matthew Pinson’s “Thomas Grantham’s Theology Of The Atonement And Justification”
Author: James M. Leonard

Response To J. Matthew Pinson’s “Thomas Grantham’s Theology Of The Atonement And Justification”

James M. Leonard

Rev. Leonard is Visiting Scholar, H. Milton Haggard Center for New Testament Textual Studies and PhD. Candidate at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge and Vice President of the Society of Evangelical Arminians.

Thank you Dr. Lemke for inviting me to be a respondent, and thank you Dr. Pinson for your commendable paper outlining the differences and similarities between Arminian Baptists and Wesleyan Arminians.

When we biblical theologians and exegetes are confronted with the language and thought patterns of systematic theology, when we hear terms such as penal satisfaction or governmentalism, or passive and active obedience, or imputed righteousness, we sometimes experience a physical affliction called the heebie geebies.

However, as a biblical theologian and exegete, I’d like to suggest that Grantham’s soteriological urgencies are not far removed from that of Scripture, even if systematics and biblical theology speak in different tongues. In this response, I would first like to do some translating between the two so that Grantham’s systematics is more firmly undergirded by biblical theology, and then to invite Dr. Pinson to distinguish further Grantham’s view of continuance in salvation as an Arminian Baptist from the Wesleyan Arminian view of continuance.

To show the intersection between systematics and biblical theology, I would like to use one of the four Gospels, Matthew in particular since this is my own area of specialization.

The urgencies for penal satisfaction are 1) God’s holiness as innate and essential to his being, and not something which he merely possesses; 2) the necessity of the satisfaction of God’s wrath—God does not simply decide to forgive sinners without sin being punished; 3) the sinfulness of man, and therefore his need to be saved from the coming wrath; 4) God’s love, mercy, and eagerness to provide salvation; 5) Jesus as the substitutionary sacrifice who pays the sinner’s sin debt; and 6) the believer’s union with Christ whereby Christ’s passive and active obedience is imputed to the believer. The question is whether

these urgencies are also the urgencies of the gospel in general, and of the Gospel of Matthew specifically.

Regarding the first two urgencies about God’s holiness and the need for his wrath to be satisfied, Matthew’s Gospel has as part of its narrative world the God of Israel as reflected in Jewish scripture. And so there is no need for Matthew to emphasize the holy character of God or t...

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