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Featured Theories of atonement

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by David Neos, Apr 16, 2019.

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  1. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Sleep is for the weak

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    I suppose I know PSA more than others, but other passages comes to mind as well....

    "For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse...Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us...so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:10, 13-14).
     
  2. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Sleep is for the weak

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    Again, I keep thinking of more...

    "...he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressor" (Isa. 53:12).
     
  3. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Sleep is for the weak

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    I agree with this...

    "All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them." - Second London Baptist Confession Ch. 1, Para. 7.
     
  4. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Sleep is for the weak

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    Again, another passage comes to mind out of nowhere...

    "Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code" (Rom. 7:4-6).

    In our mystical union with Christ by faith, we died to the legal demands of the law that held us captive through his death. He suffered for what sin deserved, though he was innocent, so that we being united with him are seen as if we underwent such penalties. Our union with him in his death for sin and resurrection for righteousness is the gospel message. We are clothed with his righteousness and blood, and it makes us whole before God by faith - the sole instrument of all his benefits.
     
  5. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Sleep is for the weak

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    "This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which that he might discharge he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it, and underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered, being made sin and a curse for us; enduring most grievous sorrows in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, yet saw no corruption: on the third day he arose from the dead with the same body in which he suffered, with which he also ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world."

    (Psalms 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:5-10; John 10:18; Gal 4:4; Matthew 3:15; Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Matthew 26:37, 38; Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46; Acts 13:37; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; John 20:25, 27; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24; Acts 10:42; Romans 14:9, 10; Acts 1:11; 2 Peter 2:4)

    "The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him."

    (Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:14; Romans 3:25, 26; John 17:2; Hebrews 9:15)

    - Chapter 8, Paragraph 4 and 5.
     
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  6. Mark_Sam

    Mark_Sam Newbie

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    The basic problem of PSA is how it understands sacrifice. According to satisfaction theory, the sacrificial system in the Bible consisted of offering up something of value in order to make atonement or propitiation for sins and wrongdoings. So Christ, on our behalf, offered up the most valuable thing ever - his own life - which was wll-pleasing to the Father. And this sacrifice then becomes the source and fount of forgiveness, whereby God can forgive us.

    PSA on the other hand, primarily understands the sacrificial system in the Bible as the imposition of punishment. This is a seemlingly small, but crucial difference. Christ's sacrifice then becomes a legal fiction, where Christ is punished as if he had been us, so that we go unpunished.

    You can proof-text all you want, but PSA and (Anselmian) satisfaction theory have a fundamentally different understanding of what sacrifice is.
     
  7. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    They all have their uses and their limitations, and that is as far as I take any of them.
     
  8. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother?

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    That and the other passages you cite lack any specific statement saying that God the Father considered Our Lord juridically guilty of our sins and punished Him accordingly.

    However, I should say that if such a passage exists (and good luck finding it), it could very easily contradict other passages which say that our sins are forgiven. Forgiven, rather than having their guilt imposed upon somebody else so that they can take our punishment for us.
     
  9. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother?

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    You seem to want to narrow your focus to Anselm. And that's not a criticism; just an observation.

    My question is why that is. Thomas Aquinas developed Anselmian Satisfaction Theory so I'm a bit curious as to why you're not mentioning him. It's cool either way, just thought I'd ask.
     
  10. Mark_Sam

    Mark_Sam Newbie

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    It's just because I'm most familiar with Anselm's version of the theory. I know the Angelic Doctor developed the theory, but I'm simply not well-versed enough in it to invoke his name :)
    Also, PSA can be regarded as a type of satisfaction theory, so it's just to add clarifiers that I'm refering to the Anselmian-Thomistic tradition of understanding atonement.
     
  11. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Sleep is for the weak

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    This is really good for the Passion week! :)

     
  12. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    "God's sympathy for our misery", that's my dominant perspective. Not sure what is the technical term for that exactly.

    I also am OK with a satisfactionary or exchange POV to some extent, I sort of have to be as a Lutheran and recognize its place in our history. As our Lenten hymn goes, "though his nature is holy, yet Christ was made sin / so that we might inherit, the holiness of God".
     
  13. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

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    There is a reason all these explanations are called and remain theories. A theory is only as good as its explanation of the exceptions. All these “theories” have huge unexplainable “exceptions” in their conclusions.

    No one even mentioned the “Moral Example” which it is, but so is everything Christ did an example for us. There is much more to it.

    Yes, there is a form of substitution in that all mature adults should be crucified like Christ was crucified for their sins we have personally committed, but it cannot be Penal Substitution, since for one reason it would go against the definition of justice and injustice God/Christ have given us throughout scripture.

    Yes, God was satisfied and pleased with Christ’s obedience to the cause even to the point of being tortured, humiliated and murdered, but that does not mean God is blood thirsty, or needing some “condition” to provide unconditional forgiveness to humans. Yes, Penal Substitution also makes God out to be blood thirsty being required for some unjust form of justice.

    Yes, it is literally a ransom scenario since Christ said he was literally a ransom payment for all, but that does not mean it is the “Ransom Theory of Atonement”, with God “paying” satan to have His Children released.

    Yes, “Christus Victor” is true in that Christ was victorious over satan, death, hell, sin and evil, but the “Victory” is happening throughout Christ’s live culminated with his resurrection. It is saying: “Christ had to die (some how some way) so he could rise. When it comes to explaining the atonement sacrifice the supports of “Christus Victor” will go back to the Ransom Theory of atonement, since it does not explain atonement itself.

    There are six other “theories” of atonement I have studies and looked at, but all have similar huge issues.

    Trying to combine “theories” just adds to the issues, since the conclusions do not cancel each other’s issues out.

    There is good reason to develop a better response, since Muslims heavily depend on their internet “Bible Scholars” to point out all the contradictions in all the common Christian “theories” of atonement. Christ crucified is “foolishness to the unbeliever” (Muslim), but Christians come out looking like fools with such contradictory to scripture explanations.

    Let’s just begin with just one truth:

    Christ said: “to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    Christ did not say: “Give my life like a ransom…”

    Paul, Peter, John and the Hebrew Writer all refer to the atonement process as a ransom scenario, so it is.

    I think we all agree:

    Christ’s torture, humiliation and murder are the unbelievable huge payment.

    God/Christ (Deity) is making this huge sacrificial payment.

    A Child of God being set free to enter the Kingdom is the child within the unbeliever, since we all enter the Kingdom as children.

    What we do not agree on is:


    Who is the underserving kidnapper accepting or rejecting this huge ransom payment?

    1. The “Ransom Theory” support will go to great length showing it could not be God or some intangible and yet it has to be paid to someone so they conclude it must be satan.

    At the time this theory was developed many believed there was a continuing war going on in heaven (like there was always wars going on here on earth), so satan took captive, yet God would be victorious in the end. Ransoms were common and frequently paid to the enemy (most remember Caesar at 21 was ransom with a huge payment, but later came back and destroyed the pirates). The problem is: It would actually be wrong for God to pay a “ransom” to satan to have satan set His children “free” since God can just as easily and safely take His children from satan without paying a ransom. God does not “owe” satan anything and satan is not going to change with a payoff.

    2. The Satisfaction and Substitution Theories have the ransom being paid to God, but God is not an undeserving kidnapper. If a payment was being made to God, it would be a “earned” by God payment, so not a ransom. God is not holding His own children back from the Kingdom Home and setting them free to go to Himself, that is an almost silly idea.

    Most believers in God being the receiver of the ransom payment call the ransom scenario a very limited analogy and this part is outside the ransom analogy, yet without a receiver of the ransom it is a very poor “analogy”, so Christ, Paul, Peter, Jon and the Hebrew writer would be misleading us and even more so those of the first century.

    3. Some say: “The ransom is paid to an intangible like death, sin, or evil”, yet intangibles do not need to be “paid” and do not change with payment. Again, it makes a very poor ransom scenario to have an intangible as the underserving kidnapper.



    4. There is another party whom the supporters of the Ransom Theory do not consider, even though they do an excellent job of showing how it is a ransom and God is not the kidnapper. (there are books on line for free, explaining this theory.)



    You have to think about it:

    When you go up to a nonbeliever what are you trying to get Him/her to accept; (A book, a theology, a community, a church, a doctrine) or Jesus Christ and Him crucified?

    Jesus Christ and Him Crucified is literally the ransom payment, so you are trying to get him/her to accept the ransom payment. If they reject this huge ransom payment, a child will not be set free to enter the kingdom and this will upset God. If they accept Christ and Him crucified a child is set free to enter the Kingdom. So, who is the kidnapper holding this child back from the Kingdom?

    The unbeliever is certainly underserving of any ransom payment and is a criminal (kidnapper of God’s child) holing a child out of the Kingdom.

    Atonement is not un-participative, but very participative. The sinner has a part to play which is often left out (this is also how the atonement sacrifice can be for every sinner and yet atonement only takes place for those who accept it).

    Ro. 3:25 explains a lot and understanding the Greek words for the English translated “for” helps. There are lots of scripture on atonement and we can start wit Lev. 5 and go through them all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  14. Chesster

    Chesster Junior Member

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    I think the answer to this question depends on how we understand the word ransom; is it to be understood metaphorically or literally?

    1) If metaphorically, then we need not identify a payee because the NT authors never said to whom the ransom price is paid. We would be overextending the metaphor like saying, "That insight is worth a king's ransom." No one asks to whom the king's ransom is paid.

    2) If literally, then it would make sense to point to the captors as the payees, after all, ransoms are paid to captors. Scripture tells us in a number of places that sin, death and the devil are the ‘forces’ that held mankind captive or in bondage. Jesus in assuming human nature vanquished these ‘forces’ on their own territory, which is the sinful flesh. The ransom or price Jesus paid was to be tortured and killed by evil men, acting as Satan's tools. The basic idea is that Jesus delivers Himself into the power of these forces so that He can vanquish these powers on their own turf, so to speak. His power proves greater than theirs. He is a conquering Hero. To use a sports analogy, Jesus is the one that we put on our shoulders and carry off the field in victory.
     
  15. Rubiks

    Rubiks armchair linguist

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    The Bible isn't really concerned with how the atonement works. When reading Romans I've been increasingly intrigued by the lesser known recapitulation theory of atonement, but I'm still thinking about it.
     
  16. Rubiks

    Rubiks armchair linguist

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    The issue with most substitutionary-esque proof texts is that they fail to show it is precisely a penal substitution in view here.
     
  17. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    I believe they believed all of the above including penal substitution and imputed righteousness:

    Mathetes to Diognetus
    As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for those who are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious concerning clothing and food.

    (From The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus Chapter 9. Why the Son was sent so late)

    CHURCH FATHERS: Epistle to Diognetus (Mathetes)


    Eusebius of Caesarea
    "Whom, though he knew no sin, God made sin for our sake, giving him as redemption for all, that we might become the righteousness of God in him."

    [...]

    But since being in the likeness of sinful flesh He condemned sin in the flesh, the words quoted are rightly used. And in that He made our sins His own from His love and benevolence towards us, He says these words, adding further on in the same Psalm: "Thou hast (b) protected me because of my innocence," clearly shewing the impeccability of the Lamb of God. And how can He make our sins His own, and be said to bear our iniquities, except by our being regarded as His body, according to the apostle, who says: "Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members?" And by the rule that "if one member suffer all the members suffer with it," so when the many members suffer and sin, He too by the laws of (c) sympathy (since the Word of God was pleased to take the form of a slave and to be knit into the common tabernacle of us all) takes into Himself the labours of the suffering members, and makes our sicknesses His, and suffers all our woes and labours by the laws of love. And the Lamb of God not only did this, but was chastised on our behalf, (d) and suffered a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins, because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the scourging, the insults, and the dishonour, which were due to us, and drew down on Himself the apportioned curse, being made a curse for us. And what is that but the price of our |196 souls? And so the oracle says in our person: "By his stripes we were healed," and "The Lord delivered him for our sins," with the result that uniting Himself to us and us to Himself, and appropriating our sufferings, He can say, "I said, Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, (468) for I have sinned against thee," and can cry that they who plot against Him, not men only but invisible daemons as well, when they see the surpassing power of His Holy Name and title, by means of which He filled the world full of Christians a little after, think that they will be able to extinguish it, if they plot His death. This is what is proved by His saying: "My enemies have spoken evil of me, saying, When shall he die and his name perish?"

    - Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica, X.1

    Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 10

    Chrysostom, Homily on Galatians 3:3 (ACD, vol. 3, p. 108)

    The people were liable to punishment since they had not fulfilled the whole Law. Christ satisfied a different curse, the one that says, “Cursed is everyone that is hanged on a tree.” Both the one who is hanged and the one who transgresses the Law are accursed. Christ, who was going to lift that curse, could not properly be made liable to it, yet he had to receive a curse. He received the curse instead of being liable to it, and through this he lifted the curse. Just as, when someone is condemned to death, another innocent person who chooses to die for him releases him from that punishment, so Christ also did.

    In reality, the people were subject to another curse, which says, Cursed is every one that continues not in the things that are written in the book of the Law. Deuteronomy 27:26 To this curse, I say, people were subject, for no man had continued in, or was a keeper of, the whole Law; but Christ exchanged this curse for the other, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree. As then both he who hanged on a tree, and he who transgresses the Law, is cursed, and as it was necessary for him who is about to relieve from a curse himself to be free from it, but to receive another instead of it, therefore Christ took upon Him such another, and thereby relieved us from the curse. It was like an innocent man's undertaking to die for another sentenced to death, and so rescuing him from punishment. For Christ took upon Him not the curse of transgression, but the other curse, in order to remove that of others. For, He had done no violence neither was any deceit in His mouth. Isaiah 53:9;1 Peter 2:22 And as by dying He rescued from death those who were dying, so by taking upon Himself the curse, He delivered them from it.


    CHURCH FATHERS: Homily 3 on Galatians (Chrysostom)

    Augustine


    “This, the catholic faith has known of the one and only mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who condescended to undergo death—that is, the penalty of sin—without sin, for us. As He alone became the Son of man, in order that we might become through Him sons of God, so He alone, on our behalf, undertook punishment without ill deservings, that we through Him might obtain grace without good deservings. Because as to us nothing good was due so to Him nothing bad was due. Therefore, commending His love to them to whom He was about to give undeserved life, He was willing to suffer for them an undeserved death.” (Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Book 4, chap. 7)




    CHURCH FATHERS: Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Book IV (Augustine)

    Hilary of Poitiers


    He blotted out through death the sentence of death, that by a new creation of our race in Himself He might sweep away the penalty appointed by the former Law. He let them nail Him to the cross that He might nail to the curse of the cross and abolish all the curses to which the world is condemned.” (On the Trinity, Book One, chap. 13)


    CHURCH FATHERS: On the Trinity, Book I (Hilary of Poitiers)

    Cyril of Jerusalem

    If Phinees, when he waxed zealous and slew the evil-doer, staved the wrath of God, shall not Jesus, who slew not another, but gave up Himself for a ransom, put away the wrath which is against mankind?…Further; if the lamb under Moses drove the destroyer far away, did not much rather the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, deliver us from our sins? The blood of a silly sheep gave salvation; and shall not the Blood of the Only-begotten much rather save?…Jesus then really suffered for all men; for the Cross was no illusion, otherwise our redemption is an illusion also…These things the Saviour endured, and made peace through the Blood of His Cross, for things in heaven, and things in earth. For we were enemies of God through sin, and God had appointed the sinner to die. There must needs therefore have happened one of two things; either that God, in His truth, should destroy all men, or that in His loving-kindness He should cancel the sentence. But behold the wisdom of God; He preserved both the truth of His sentence, and the exercise of His loving-kindness. Christ took our sins in His body on the tree, that we by His death might die to sin, and live unto righteousness.--St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XIII

    CHURCH FATHERS: Catechetical Lecture 13 (Cyril of Jerusalem)



     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  18. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    Yes, the Apostles spent a lot of ink concerning their epistles on the atonement.
     
  19. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    I think you got both wrong.
     
  20. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    You jumped over justification. There is no forgiveness of sins without Justification established.
     
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