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What is Your View of The Atonement By Jesus Christ?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & Arminianism Debate' started by Saved-By-Grace, Nov 28, 2017.

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  1. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    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).

    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, Paul Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology)
     
  2. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I believe that each of these theories look at one aspect of the atonement and provide their own context through which the Cross is understood. Many of these can be used to examine the aspects of the atonement.

    The Ransom Theory highlights a ransom that was paid in Christ’s own blood. There have been examples of this theory that supposed a ransom paid to death itself, to God, and to Satan (Origen). Others spoke of the Atonement as a ransom in general (not paid to someone or something). I believe this the most biblical as it reflects Paul’s words that Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6). Origen’s error was removing the focus from Christ (He gave Himself as a ransom) and placing it elsewhere (Satan), but this became the dominant view for centuries.

    Recapitulation Theory (Irenaeus) highlights the reconciliation of mankind to God and the importance of Christ taking humanity (being found in the likeness of sinful flesh) upon Himself by becoming the “last Adam”. The focus, I believe, is too narrow a narrative. It focus on Christ undoing what Adam did and uniting divinity with humanity leading to eternal life.

    Substitution/Satisfaction Under this heading there are a few positions. Just as the seeds of Recapitulation are found in Martyr, this theory began with Anselm (in what you have as the “Commercial Theory”). Christ’s death satisfied the honor that had been robbed God.

    Thomas Aquinas refined this theory to mean that Christ’s death satisfied by merit the demands of sin and wrath. He viewed Christ as undergoing punishment in our place and thereby supplying the merit, as our substitute, that we lacked. But Aquinas viewed this punishment as “satisfactory punishment”, distinguishing it from “simple punishment for sin”. Martin Luther held to Aquinas’ substitution/satisfaction theory, that the Atonement satisfied the demands of the Law by Christ’s merit “outweighing sin and wrath”. From this, John Calvin developed the Substitution Theory called Penal Substitution Theory. God punished Jesus with our punishment for the sins that we have committed as our substitute, Jesus descending into Hell as punishment but arising in victory. This view is often modified in regards to what, exactly, Christ experienced as "Hell". I believe that PSA is the furthest from Scripture itself (having been built upon several theories), and is probably the most damaging in terms of faithfulness to Scripture as so much has been interpreted through the theory itself.

    Like the Ransom theory, this one starts off focusing on a biblical aspect of the Cross – the just for the unjust. It highlights valuable truths of Christ’s work. Christ represented mankind and took upon Himself the consequences (the wages) of sin. God vindicated Him and raised Him on the third day. But like Origen, this theory is flawed as it removes its focus from Christ and places it on man, man’s sin, and God’s anger.

    I believe a more general approach is needed. Each of these theories chooses one aspect of Christ’s work and contextualizes that aspect into a framework that suits the theory itself. Alone this is simply studying one aspect of the cross. But the problem is that the contextualization becomes doctrine upon which other things are interpreted and built (e.g., PSA). I believe that the best approach is the Christus Victor Motif, the general idea that (insofar as man is concerned) Christ came to free mankind from the bondage of sin and death.
     
  3. thatbrian

    thatbrian Well-Known Member
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    Why was Jesus baptized?
     
  4. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Because it was proper to fulfill all righteousness.
     
  5. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    Why do you think?
     
  6. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    My own view is, that the last of "substitution" is the only possible from Scripture. One of the worst is the "ransom", especially that of Origen, which was followed by a few of the early Orthodox Church, who also sadly also adopted Origen's heresy of the "eternal generation of the Son out of the Father", which I equate with blasphemy!
     
  7. thatbrian

    thatbrian Well-Known Member
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    Did Jesus have anything to repent of?
     
  8. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    The Bible clearly says that Jesus Christ is completely sinless, in thought, word and deed. He as the God-Man could never have sinned. He alone is impeccable. As His life is an example for all of us, He submitted to water baptism, as we ought to, though His reason is not the same as ours, as it was not the outward witness for any forgiveness of sin. We cannot read too much into what happened in Jesus' Baptism, but work with the Gospel data.
     
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  9. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    No. He was baptized because it was proper to fulfill all righteousness, not as an act of repentance.
     
  10. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I agree that Origen's view is one of the worst (because he identified a specific entity to whom God paid a ransom). I don't have as much of a problem with the way some others have articulated the Ransom Theory.

    Which view of substitution do you hold?

    (Like the Ransom Theory, I think it depends on how far you take the theory as to how far it strays from Scripture).
     
  11. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    That would be the primary atonement view!
     
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  12. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    ANY view of it would have to include the wrath of God being satisfied!
     
  13. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    You assume that God is a child controlled by anger to the point of tantrum, whose anger must placated before anything meaningful can occur.
     
  14. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    You mean "that would be MY primary atonement view". PSA is and has thus far been the minority position. While this may change at some point in the future, as it stands at this present time your statement is false.
     
  15. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    I would say that-the PST would be the primary view of reformed and calvinist Baptist since time of the reformation....
     
  16. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I agree that PST has been the primary view of Reformed Baptists and Calvinistic Baptists, and Presbyterians since the time of the Reformation. But the Church did not begin at the Reformation, and Calvinistic theology does not comprise the majority view of Christians today. Your statement was false, period. The most common view (historically and at present) is Christus Victor. This is, of course, subject to change as centuries roll by (if they do).
     
  17. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    As in Jesus Died in the place of sinners, who are pardoned only when they repent and accept His salvation. Paul puts it quite well, when he says, "Christ died for (ὑπέρ) our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3).
     
  18. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I agree. Christ did die for our sins according to the Scriptures. I'm not sure that this is very distinct, however, as Origen also believed that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (he believed that Christ's death was a ransom paid to Satan because of our sins, as a purchase). Martyr, Irenaeus, Anselm, Aquinas,Grotius, Aulén, Luther, Calvin....they all believed that Christ died for our sins, became a curse for us, and by His stripes we are healed.... according to the Scriptures.

    Another interesting substitutionary theory is "ontological substitution", or what Torrance called "total substitution".
     
  19. thatbrian

    thatbrian Well-Known Member
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    Could you unpack, "fulfill all righteousness" for me, please?
     
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  20. thatbrian

    thatbrian Well-Known Member
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    Was Jesus' main purpose in the incarnation to be an "example" for us?

    Why would a sinless man need to be baptized with a baptism of repentance?
     
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