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Featured Theories of the Atonement

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by SavedByGrace, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    Out of all these "theories" on the Atonement, or rather Death, of Jesus, only one is Biblically correct. As I have said in other posts here on BB, that I believe that the only possible option, is Penal Substitutionary Atonement.

    Ransom to Satan Theory

    This theory was developed by Origen (A.D. 185–254), and it advocated that Satan held people captive as a victor in war. This theory, which was also held by Augustine, advocated that because Satan held people captive, a ransom had to be paid, not to God, but to Satan.

    In response to this view it should be noted that God’s holiness, not Satan’s, was offended, and payment (ransom) had to be made to God to avert His wrath. Furthermore, Satan did not have the power to free man; God alone had the power.

    This theory is false because it makes Satan the benefactor of Christ’s death. This view has too high a view of Satan; the cross was a judgment of Satan, not a ransom to Satan.

    Recapitulation Theory

    The recapitulation theory, advanced by Irenaeus (A.D. 130–200?), taught that Christ went through all the phases of Adam’s life and experience, including the experience of sin. In this way, Christ was able to succeed wherein Adam failed.

    The element of truth is that Christ is known as the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45); however, Christ had no personal encounter with sin whatsoever (1 John 3:5; John 8:46). The theory is incomplete in that it neglects the atonement; it is the death of Christ that saves, not His life.

    Commercial Theory

    The commercial theory was set forth by Anselm (A.D. 1033–1109), who taught that through sin, God was robbed of the honor that was due Him. This necessitated a resolution that could be achieved either through punishing sinners or through satisfaction. God chose to resolve the matter through satisfaction by the gift of His Son. Through His death Christ brought honor to God and received a reward, which He passed on to sinners. The gift was forgiveness for the sinner and eternal life for those who live by the gospel. Although this view changed the focus from payment to Satan to a proper emphasis on payment to God, there are nonetheless problems with this view. It emphasizes God’s mercy at the expense of other attributes of God, namely, justice or holiness. It also neglects the obedience of the life of Christ, and in addition, it ignores the vicarious suffering of Christ. Rather than emphasizing Christ died for the penalty of sin, this view embraces the Roman Catholic concept of penance, “so much satisfaction for so much violation.”

    Moral Influence Theory

    Abelard (A.D. 1079–1142) first advocated this theory that has since been taught by modern liberals such as Horace Bushnell and others of a more “moderate” liberal stance. The moral influence view was originally a reaction to the commercial theory of Anselm. This view taught that the death of Christ was not necessary as an expiation for sin; rather, through the death of Christ, God demonstrated His love for humanity in such a way that sinners’ hearts would be softened and brought to repentance.

    The weaknesses of the moral influence view are obvious. The basis for the death of Christ is His love rather than His holiness; this view also teaches that somehow the moving of people’s emotions will lead them to repentance. Scripture affirms that the death of Christ was substitutionary (Matt. 20:28), and thereby the sinner is justified before a holy God, not merely influenced by a demonstration of love.

    Accident Theory

    A more recent view, the accident theory, was advocated by Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), who taught that Christ became enamored with His messiahship. This theory saw Him preaching the coming kingdom and being mistakenly crushed in the process. Schweitzer saw no value to others in the death of Christ.

    The deficiency of Schweitzer’s view centers on the suggestion that Christ’s death was a mistake. Scripture does not present it in that way. On numerous occasions Jesus predicted His death (Matt. 16:21; 17:22; 20:17–19; 26:1–5); Christ’s death was in the plan of God (Acts 2:23). Moreover, His death had infinite value as a substitutionary atonement (Isa. 53:4–6).

    Example (Martyr) Theory

    In reaction to the Reformers, the example theory was first advocated by the Socinians in the sixteenth century and more recently by Unitarians. This view, which is a more liberal view than the moral influence view, suggests the death of Christ was unnecessary in atoning for sin; sin did not need to be punished. There was no relationship between the salvation of sinners and Christ’s death. Rather, Christ was an example of obedience, and it was that example of obedience to the point of death that ought to inspire people to reform and live as Christ lived.

    The weaknesses of this view are multiple. Christ is viewed only as a man in this theory; atonement is unnecessary yet Scripture emphasizes the need for atonement (Rom. 3:24). This view emphasizes Christ as an example for unbelievers, but 1 Peter 2:21 teaches that Christ’s example was for believers, not unbelievers.

    Governmental Theory

    Grotius (1583–1645) taught the governmental theory as a reaction to the example theory of Socinus. The governmental theory served as a compromise between the example theory and the view of the Reformers. Grotius taught that God forgives sinners without requiring an equivalent payment. Grotius reasoned that Christ upheld the principle of government in God’s law by making a token payment for sin through His death. God accepted the token payment of Christ, set aside the requirement of the law, and was able to forgive sinners because the principle of His government had been upheld.

    Among the problems with this view are the following. God is subject to change—He threatens but does not carry out (and in fact changes) the sentence. According to this view God forgives sin without payment for sin. Scripture, however, teaches the necessity of propitiating God (Rom. 3:24; 1 John 2:2)—the wrath of God must be assuaged. Also, substitutionary atonement must be made for sin (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).

    Although there are some points of merit in the previously discussed views concerning the death of Christ, the views are incomplete or deficient in their evaluation of His death. The foundational meaning of the death of Christ is its substitutionary character. He died in place of sinners that He might purchase their freedom, reconcile them to God, and thereby satisfy the righteous demands of a holy God. The following terms explain the meaning of Christ’s death.

    Substitution

    The death of Christ was substitutionary—He died in the stead of sinners and in their place. This is also described as vicarious, from the Latin word vicarius, meaning “one in place of another.” The death of Christ “is vicarious in the sense that Christ is the Substitute who bears the punishment rightly due sinners, their guilt being imputed to Him in such a way that He representatively bore their punishment.” There are many passages that emphasize Christ’s substitutionary atonement in the place of mankind. Christ was a substitute in being made sin for others (2 Cor. 5:21); He bore the sins of others in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24); He suffered once to bear the sins of others (Heb. 9:28); He experienced horrible suffering, scourging, and death in place of sinners (Isa. 53:4–6).

    From The Moody Handbook of Theology, by Paul Enns
     
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  2. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Once again the simple fact of Christ's propitiatory reconciliation provision is covered over with nonsense to hide the simplicity of Christ dying for all humankind, those to be saved and those never to be saved. His birth, life, death and resurrection provides fallen humankind with the means of salvation, and for those placed into Christ spiritually by reason of God crediting their faith as righteousness, eternal salvation.
     
  3. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    Van you really don't know what you are talking about :rolleyes:
     
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  4. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    We are not here discussing limited vrs unlimited atonement, but the view on the atonement itself!
     
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  5. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    I still am failing to see how any other held viewpoint allows God to Holy Judge and punish sin, but also free to fully justify now also!
     
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  6. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946 Well-Known Member
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    Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

    5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

    5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

    5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

    5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

    Brother Glen:)
     
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  7. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    There is an error in the OP. There were many "Ransom Theories". The basic theory is Christ ransomed us from the bandage of sin and death.

    The question is ransomed from whom? Who exactly held us in bondage?

    The Ransom Theory of Gregory of Nazianzus regarding this question -

    " To Whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was it shed? I mean the precious and famous Blood of our God and Highpriest and Sacrifice. We were detained in bondage by the Evil One, sold under sin, and receiving pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him who holds in bondage, I ask to whom was this offered, and for what cause? If to the Evil One, fie upon the outrage! If the robber receives ransom, not only from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself, and has such an illustrious payment for his tyranny, a payment for whose sake it would have been right for him to have left us alone altogether. But if to the Father, I ask first, how? For it was not by Him that we were being oppressed; and next, On what principle did the Blood of His Only begotten Son delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac, when he was being offered by his Father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in the place of the human victim? Is it not evident that the Father accepts Him, but neither asked for Him nor demanded Him; but on account of the Incarnation, and because Humanity must be sanctified by the Humanity of God, that He might deliver us Himself, and overcome the tyrant, and draw us to Himself by the mediation of His Son, Who also arranged this to the honour of the Father, Whom it is manifest that He obeys in all things? So much we have said of Christ; the greater part of what we might say shall be reverenced with silence."

    One issue with Penal substitution advocates is a less than honest characterization of other views. But to be fair, their arguments are often misrepresented as well (like the cosmic child abuse stuff which ignores that Christ is God).
     
  8. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    That is because you refuse to consider how any other view allows for a Holy Hod to judge and ounish sinand to also justify sinners.

    Your refusal to put the good eye to the scope does not legitimize your conclusions.
     
  9. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    One of the errors that people seem to make is to suppose that if theologians write in support of 'ransom' or 'Christus Victor' or .moral influence' they cannot also support the Doctrine of Penal Substitution.
    Gregory of Nazianzus wrote:
    'For my sake he was called a curse, who destroyed my curse; and sin, who taketh away the sin of the world; and became a new Adam to take the place of the old, just so He makes my disobedience His own as Head of the whole body. As long then as I am disobedient and rebellious, both by denial of God and by my passions, so long Christ is also called disobedient on my account' [From the Fourth Theological Oration]
    Gregory's argument here is that believers are united to Christ, the 'Head of the whole body,' and that our sin is thereby transferred to Him - ''He makes my disobedience his own.' This is the reason , he argues, that Christ 'was called a curse ... and sin.' He took 'the sin of the world' upon Himself and suffered the curse of God 'for my sake.' He was not Himself a sinner and was not cursed for His own sin, but for 'the sin of the world.' Thus Gregory believed in the Doctrine of Penal Substitution.
     
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  10. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    Semi pelagianism is not the biblical teaching , so why attempt to derail a thread with your failed theory.
     
  11. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    O strong Ram, which hast battered heaven for me,
    Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood, hast marked the path;
    Bright torch, which shin’st, that I the way may see,
    Oh, with thy own blood quench thy own just wrath,

    --Donne
     
  12. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Hey MM ("good morning from my location).

    But we also have to remember that Gregory of Nazianzus did not hold to Penal Substitution Theory.

    I believe everything posted in your quote is correct. Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for me and I am made righteous in Him (His righteousness).

    Gregory of Nazianzus also taught that the belief Christ paid the wages of sin to satisfy the demands of the Father was heresy (that it made the Father the cause of our bondage).

    But advocates of Penal Substitution Theory often take something like your quote to claim early Penal Substitution Theory.

    It depends on how you define the Theory, I suppose.

    If you mean the above (your quote) while rejecting the idea that the Cross was to satisfy the Father (or the demands of the Father) then I suppose we all hold to Penal Substitution Theory.
     
  13. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    I can see nothing in the quote from Gregory of Nazianzus, that offers any Biblical solution on the Atonement. It is not necessary to understand "ἀντί-λυτρον", any more than the "price paid" by Jesus for the sins of all sinners. There is no need to take this to mean, that it was actually paid to another. This is the same error made in how ιλασμος is understood, as not being "an appeasement" by the Son to the Father, but simply as "a sin offering", as it is used in the LXX.
     
  14. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    Isaiah did, Jesus Christ did, and Paul did, etc. This is in the Bible, not the comments of some church father!
     
  15. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I do not believe in continued special revelation. I believe we should rely on what is recorded in the Bible for doctrine. When we start relying on second special revelation we have no true objective standard.

    You say Isaiah, Jesus, and Paul believed it, but this cannot be confirmed by Scripture and is therefore subjective.

    I read a book last year, "Pierced for Our Transgressions". It was the most willfully dishonest book I have read on the topic. The authors lifted quotes, none expressing anything beyond common belief about the cross, and claimed it proved the theory. It was deceptive (given what of the ECF's was omitted,I believe willfully so).

    That is what you are doing. Show ONE verse proving Penal Substitution Theory. You can't because none exist.

    That in itself does not make Penal Substitution wrong. But it does mean it is wrong to add it to Scripture by pretending it is divinely inspired.
     
  16. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    That was only a quote. The theories of Atonement came about centuries after Scripture was completed as Christians tried to work through and develop theology.
     
  17. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    Jon, as you are probably aware, that Penal Substitutionary Atonement basically means that Jesus Christ took the punishment, due to sinners, upon Himself, and thereby became the substitute on the cross, for all mankind. It is only applied to those sinners who truly "repent and believe in the Gospel", who are then born-again children of God.

    I asked you on another thread, how you saw the Atonement, and you quoted from Isaiah 53. Here is is very clear that Jesus Christ's Death on the cross was "Substitutionary", as Isaiah writes, "Surely OUR griefs He Himself bore, and OUR sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for OUR transgressions, He was crushed for OUR iniquities; The chastening for OUR well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging WE are healed.” (verses 4-5). This clearly tells us, that Jesus Christ did not die for His "own" sins, as He never sinned. It is clear that He went to the cross for OUR, that is, the entire human race. 1 Peter 2:24 says, "“and He Himself bore OUR sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds YOU were healed.”. See the great "exchange" here. Jesus Christ the Righteous, took OUR sins in His body on the cross, so that His Righteousness can be "transferred", (imputed), to those who will "repent and believe in the Gospel". Paul says the same in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”. Jesus Christ "became sin", rather "a sin substitute (or, offering)",and when the sinner is saved, Jesus' Righteousness is "imputed" to them. Psalm 103:10 says, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.". As Paul puts it in Galatians 3:13, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us". Of which Dr A T Robertson, says in his Word Pictures, "Having become a curse for us (γενομενος υπερ ημων καταρα). Here the graphic picture is completed. We were under (υπο) a curse, Christ became a curse over (υπερ) us and so between us and the overhanging curse which fell on him instead of on us. Thus he bought us out (εκ) and we are free from the curse which he took on himself. This use of υπερ for substitution is common in the papyri and in ancient Greek as in the N.T. (John 11:50; 2Cor 5:14)"
     
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  18. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    It means more.

    Penal Substitution Theory means that God punished Jesus, that Jesus was punished instead of us with the punishment-wrath due our sins.

    It is what Thomas Aquinas referred to as a high heresy because it corrupts divine justice.
     
  19. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    not from the Holy Bible. You call it a "theory", that Jesus Christ died "in the place of" sinners, but the Bible is against you, as I have shown. You need to get this sorted with the Lord, as it is you who is fighting the Word of God. You have yet to show your view, and when you did, you quote from Isaiah 53, which IS Penal Substitution. The more I read your arguments, the more I see that you really don't understand what Penal Substitution is!
     
  20. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Please provide a passage that states *not what you believe is taught or implied) that God punished Jesus instead of punishing us.

    No comments but JUST the passage you believe exists.

    No "He was pleased to crush Him", "Christ died for our sins" (which was all believe anyway) but a verse stating that God punished Jedus instead of punishing us for our sins.

    You can't because no such verse exists.

    I do not mind people believing Penal Substitution Theory. I did for years. But to elevate the theory to the level of Scriprure is to add to Scripture.

    The problem is you seem to be unable to tell where the biblical text ends and your understanding of the text begins.

    I gave you 2 passages stating my view. So your turn.

    Provide at least one stating that God punished Jeus instead of punishing us.
     
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