Garry J. Williams has a thoughtful paper here in response to some criticism.
He writes, “An author can be held to teach the Penal doctrine if he plainly states that the punishment deserved by sin from God was borne and dealt with by Jesus Christ in his death on the cross.” He then works through quotes from Justin Martyr, Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ambrose, and Augustine to show that they did indeed hold to the penal doctrine of the atonement.”
Here is his conclusion:
How then should we read the fathers?
My plea is not for Christus Vicarius to the exclusion of all other language and concepts. Again, let Aulén have his prize. Certainly the themes of restoration and victory were present, and in some writers they were the primary categories.
But that does not mean that they excluded retributive notions. Rather than adducing general evidence of restoration or victory and using it to trump specific retributive vocabulary, we should maintain the integrity of all of the descriptions in the passages in question and allow the richness of patristic views of the cross to stand out.
Proper exegetical attention to the details of their writings, which I have begun to set out here, demonstrates that for Justin Martyr, Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ambrose, and Augustine, this richness included penal substitutionary atonement.
HT: Carl Trueman