Must God punish sin? It is clear from the Bible that God does punish sin. But to say that God must punish sin is a much more contentious claim.
The necessity of God’s ‘vindicatory’ justice was debated ferociously in the seventeenth century, especially between John Owen and the Socinians. Since then, however, the issue has received surprisingly little attention. It is an important question, because our understanding of divine justice has direct implications for our understanding of the atonement, especially the doctrine of penal substitution. It also forces us to ask whether the widespread emphasis within today’s church on the over-arching love of God is pastorally responsible.
This helpful study examines the Bible’s teaching on divine punishment against the background of secular understandings of punishment. What can we learn about the character of God? What does the Bible say about the purpose, and necessity, of divine punishment? After a clear and insightful analysis of the biblical data, the study concludes by presenting four logical arguments that God must punish sin.
Ben Cooper is the Minister for Training at Christ Church Fulwood in Sheffield, and a member of the Latimer Trust Council.
ISBN: 978 0 946307 55 5