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Title: Penal substitution in the construction of British evangelical identity : controversies in the Doctrine of the Atonement in the mid-2000s
Author: Wood, Maxwell Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2710 4416
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the controversy surrounding the doctrine of the atonement and penal substitution which occurred within British evangelicalism as a result of the publication of Steve Chalke and Alan Mann‘s book The Lost Message of Jesus (2003). The primary focus is upon what this controversy can reveal about the function of the doctrine of the atonement and various atonement models, such as penal substitution, in the ongoing construction of British evangelical identity. The doctrine of the atonement is a key theological concept which accompanies crucicentrism, which is a particular focus upon the death and crucifixion of Jesus as salvific events. Religious collectives utilise various aspects of religion, including theological doctrines, in order to mark their corporate identity and distinguish themselves from other collectives. It will be demonstrated that the doctrine of the atonement has been used throughout history as a core marker in the construction of British evangelical identity. Penal substitution, as one model of the atonement, has been of particular significance in further defining the collective identity of one particular group within British evangelicalism, namely conservative evangelicals. For other British evangelical groups, penal substitution has been seen as a less significant aspect of their identity. During the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, contestation concerning the validity of penal substitution intensified and took on an increasingly 'intra-evangelical‘ function; adherence or otherwise to penal substitution contributed to the delineation of boundaries between different types of British evangelicals, particularly between conservative and liberal evangelicals. An analysis of the controversy which occurred during the mid-2000s confirms that this situation has essentially continued into the twenty-first century. This is in terms of both the content and manner of the contestation. The analysis is based upon a review of a wide range of documentary sources, supplemented by new data obtained from a series of semi-structured interviews conducted with some key individuals involved in the controversy. The conclusion is reached that the doctrine of the atonement remains a salient theological concept used by British evangelicals in the construction of their collective identity. Further, that advocacy or rejection of penal substitution also continues to contribute to the delineation of boundaries between different types of British evangelicals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available