Source: (2010) Evangelical Quarterly. 82(2): 142-159.

One of the most significant claims of the recent book Pierced for Our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach,1 is that the doctrine of penal substitution did not originate with Calvin, but was taught by the church fathers. As the authors state, ‘It has been claimed that penal substitution is a relative newcomer to the theological scene and in particular it was not taught by the early church. These claims have no historical foundation whatsoever and we hope to lay them to rest.’2 This claim is quite significant because it would contradict a significant amount of patristic scholarship. To back up their assertion, they cite a number of passages from patristic authors such as Justin Martyr, Athanasius, and Augustine. This paper will examine these quotations cited in Pierced for Our Transgressions in the context of each patristic author’s larger soteriology. From this it is concluded that the statements of the church fathers cited have been taken out of their contextual framework, and placed in one foreign to their thought. It will be concluded that while the church fathers do clearly teach substitutionary atonement, they do not teach penal substitution as understood by Jeffery, Ovey, and Sach. Rather, the dominant pattern found in these patristic writers is substitutionary atonement understood within the conceptual framework of restorative justice. (Author's introduction).