Presentation on theme: "Understanding Atonement: A New and Orthodox Theory Robin Collins Professor of Philosophy Messiah College."— Presentation transcript:
Understanding Atonement: A New and Orthodox Theory Robin Collins Professor of Philosophy Messiah College
Acknowledgements I would like to thank Rebecca Adams, my spouse, for much helpful insights and input as I have worked to develop and present the Incarnational theory.
Doctrine of Atonement Doctrine of Atonement Traditionally, Christians have asserted that through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection humans are saved from sin and reconciled to God. This simple assertion is known as the doctrine of Atonement, and is one of the central doctrines of the Christian faith. Traditionally, Christians have asserted that through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection humans are saved from sin and reconciled to God. This simple assertion is known as the doctrine of Atonement, and is one of the central doctrines of the Christian faith.
Yet, for anyone who has thought about it, this is a very puzzling doctrine. Several questions immediately arise: Why couldn’t God just forgive us of our sins? And even if God could not just forgive us, how is the bloody death of an innocent victim supposed to reconcile us to God? Indeed, many have asserted that the doctrine is incoherent.
Theory of Atonement A theory of Atonement is supposed to answer these questions; and ideally, it should help make sense of the doctrine. Specifically:
Theory of Atonement --Continued Theory of Atonement --Continued A Theory of Atonement explains how Jesus' life, death and resurrection is supposed to save humans from sin and reconcile them to God and why it made sense for God to use this method. Salvation How?
Doctrine Versus Theory Continued Yet, no theory of the atonement has been officially sanctioned by any ecumenical creed or council. Neither do the Christian scriptures explicitly state any theory. Thus, there has been a variety of theories in Church history.
Purpose of Presentation The purpose of this presentation is: (1) to provide an overview of the major Western theories of Atonement and some prominent critiques of those theories; (2) to present a theory of Atonement based on the Eastern Orthodox understanding of Salvation; and (3) to indicate how the proposed theory promises to provide a philosophically coherent Christian understanding of the doctrine. This should help anyone – whether Christian or non-Christian –to gain a deeper understanding of, and to be able to evaluate the plausibility of, this central claim of the Christian faith.
As with philosophical theology done in any religious tradition -- such as Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism -- the ideas proposed should be compatible with the scriptures of that tradition. So, before considering various theories of Atonement, I will briefly overview the kinds of things the New Testament writings say about Atonement:
Some major New Testament statements and symbols regarding Atonement Jesus is our sacrifice of Atonement Jesus is our scapegoat Jesus' life is a ransom for many Jesus bore our sins Jesus died for us Jesus turned away God wrath against sin Jesus defeated the powers of darkness and death Jesus’ blood washes us from sin Jesus revealed God’s love for the world Jesus gave us a perfect example to follow
New Testament Statements Relating to Atonement and Salvation J esus gave us new life in God Jesus released us from bondage to sin. Jesus made us righteous Jesus justified us Jesus’ death brought forgiveness of sins Through Jesus we are crucified to the world Eucharist and Baptismal Symbols ONE LESSON: The New Testament authors use a wide variety of different metaphors, symbols, and statements to present the salvific significance of Jesus’ life death.
Because of the above diversity of New Testament statements and symbols, from the early centuries Christians have come up with many different theories of Atonement, each emphasizing some of the above statements, symbols, and metaphors.
Ransom/Bargain Theory One of the earliest theories was the Ransom or Bargain Theory. This theory was based on Mark 10:45, where Jesus is recorded as saying that he came to give his life as “a ransom for many.”
God Makes A Bargain with the Devil: “Hand over your claim to humans, and I will give you my only Son in exchange.” Devil is Tricked: He did not realize that God the Son could not be held in the bonds of death. Basic Ideas Basic Ideas
Critique of Theory Almost a thousand years later, Anselm of Canterbury ( 1033-1109) provided what was taken to be a definitive critique of this theory in his book Cur Deus Homo? [Why Did God Become Man?]: Anselm: Devil is an outlaw, and hence has no claim to anything. Anselm: Why would God ever set up the world so that the Devil could gain legal rights over Adam and Eve? This doesn’t make sense!
After critiquing the Ransom theory, Anselm presents his own theory of Atonement, called the Satisfaction Theory. Anselm of Canterbury
Basic Idea of Satisfaction Theory Jesus paid the debt of obedience that we owe God because of our sins.
Centuries later, the Protestant reformers – for example, John Calvin and his followers – championed a similar theory, called the Penal theory: John Calvin
Basic Idea of Penal Theory Jesus took on the punishment that justice demands for our sins.
These theories are based on the idea that the moral order, or God’s honour, demands that sin be punished. When spelled out, they each can be articulated in terms of the following four claims:
Basic Claims Elaborated Basic Claims Elaborated 1.Our sins accumulated a debt of obligation (satisfaction theory) or punishment (penal theory) so large that we could not pay it. 2. The moral order (or “God’s honour”) demands that the debt be paid or the sin be punished. 3. Jesus paid the debt for us or accepted the punishment, thereby satisfying the demands of Divine Justice. 4. Therefore, God no longer needs to punish us but can shower his mercy and blessings on us.
Illustration of Penal and Satisfaction theories
Historical Perspective. Some variation of these theories was dominant among Christians since the time of Anselm in the 11 th Century, though the idea goes back to the early centuries. Some variation of these theories was dominant among Christians since the time of Anselm in the 11 th Century, though the idea goes back to the early centuries. Today, many conservative Christians, both Catholic and Protestant hold this theory. Today, many conservative Christians, both Catholic and Protestant hold this theory. It is embodied in Christian hymns, songs, and liturgy: “He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not Pay” (Grogan) and “He is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin” (Recent Episcopal Liturgy for Easter Vigil) It is embodied in Christian hymns, songs, and liturgy: “He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not Pay” (Grogan) and “He is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin” (Recent Episcopal Liturgy for Easter Vigil)
As prominent as they have been in the West, these theories have always been subject to criticisms. I will present a few of them here.
A Philosophical Critique of Satisfaction Theory: Since according to the doctrine of the Trinity, God the Son is united with God the Father, doesn’t Jesus’ paying our debt simply amount to God’s paying God’s self, and therefore not paying a debt at all? Or who pays the debt we owe God the Son for our sin against him? Does this make sense? God Pays God: God transfers money from one of his accounts to another
Critiques --Continued Penal Theory: How can justice be satisfied by one person accepting the punishment that another deserves, especially given that Christians believe that God the Son (Jesus) is God, and hence the One sinned against? Doesn't this amount to God punishing God’s own self for our sins? Does this make any sense? An analogy: If someone stabs you, does your further flogging yourself pay for the crime they committed against you?
By further hurting themselves, are these men paying for the sins of those who wronged them?
Other Critiques Scriptural: Nowhere do the Christian scriptures explicitly state that Christ paid a debt for us on the Cross or that justice or the moral order requires that sin be punished, yet these are central claims of traditional versions of the theories. This is why it took over a thousand years for these claims to become prominent. At best these theories rely on questionable interpretations of scripture. Historically Contingent: Theories are based on feudal legal system where a “debt of honour” could be paid by another. (At least for satisfaction theory.) Ethically/theologically Inadequate: e.g., turns Atonement into an “economic” or “legal” transaction.
Cultural Critique Overly Western: The critique is that these theories are bound to culturally and historically conditioned modes of thought. For example, the idea that the moral order demands that our sins be punished is foreign to traditional Chinese understanding of reality. This presents a problem of internal coherence for the Christian faith, since the Christian message is supposed to be “good news” for everyone. Yet, to constitute good news, one would already have to be convinced that one deserved an infinite amount of punishment for sin. ??Further, some Christians have asked, Does this sound like “good news” to a starving child in India, that because of her (or Adam and Eve’s) sins she actually deserves much more suffering than she is experiencing in this life?
An alternative to these theories is what is known as the Moral Exemplar or Moral Influence theory. This was first proposed by Peter Abelard in the 12 th century. An alternative to these theories is what is known as the Moral Exemplar or Moral Influence theory. This was first proposed by Peter Abelard in the 12 th century. Peter Abelard
Basic Idea Jesus saves us by providing a perfect moral example of love, obedience, and humility to follow and by revealing the loving character of God.
Common Critique As a complete theory of the Atonement it is claimed to be inadequate since it minimizes the uniqueness and significance of Jesus for salvation. For example, St. Francis, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Buddhists, and many others provide inspiring, though not perfect, moral examples to follow, and thus seem to perform the same sort of salvific function as Jesus. Indeed, the fact that Jesus was perfect makes him harder to relate to, and thus less effective as an example.
Summary: To be fair, there are many variations of the above theories that attempt to circumvent the problems I mentioned. However, except for variations of the moral exemplar/influence theory, the Western theories of atonement and salvation have tended to be based on legal metaphors –e.g., salvation as consisting of being declared “not guilty” by the Great Judge, or Satan having legal rights to human beings.
A Look at Eastern Orthodoxy In the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity, salvation has been conceived differently: in terms of participation in the life of God and being “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), not in terms of a legal transaction or a means of avoiding divine punishment. In their language, salvation in the fullest consists of deification: being fully caught up in the Trinitarian life of God, with God in us and we in God, which is claimed to be supported by scriptures such as John 17: 21-22:
John 17: 21-22 (NRSV) 20 "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 20 "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Basic Idea behind Eastern Orthodox “theory” of Atonement God had to share in what we are in order for us to share in what God is God had to share in what we are in order for us to share in what God is
History of Idea Idea suggested by major early Greek theologians of the Church Idea suggested by major early Greek theologians of the Church Further developed through the centuries by Eastern Orthodox Theologians. Further developed through the centuries by Eastern Orthodox Theologians. Has been implicit in some of the mystics in the West (i.e., Julian of Norwich). Has been implicit in some of the mystics in the West (i.e., Julian of Norwich). To illustrate, consider the following statements made by prominent theologians in the early Church: Eastern Orthodox Church
Irenaeus (around 200 AD): "the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself." (Against Heresies, Book 5, Preface) Irenaeus (around 200 AD): "the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself." (Against Heresies, Book 5, Preface) Irenaeus Athanasius of Alexandria(293 – 373 AD): "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." (On the Incarnation, 54:3). Athanasius of Alexandria (293 – 373 AD): "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." (On the Incarnation, 54:3). Athanasius of Alexandria Athanasius of Alexandria St. Maximus the Confessor (580-662 AD): "A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to deification of human nature is provided by the incarnation of God, which makes man god to the same degree as God Himself became man." St. Maximus the Confessor (580-662 AD): "A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to deification of human nature is provided by the incarnation of God, which makes man god to the same degree as God Himself became man." St.Maximus the Confessor St.Maximus the Confessor
Here I will present one way of developing this idea of salvation and atonement in a philosophically and theologically careful way Then I will show how it fits in with important passages and symbols relating to Atonement in the Christian scriptures.
I originally came to the basic idea behind the theory by reading and re-reading the Apostle Paul, especially Romans 6. Only later was it pointed out to me that the core idea was the same as that of the early Church fathers and the Eastern Orthodox understanding of salvation. I felt it would be helpful to attempt to articulate this idea in as philosophically careful way as possible, which led to what I have called the Incarnational Theory. Let’s look at two key Pauline passages first: How I Came To Idea
Romans 8: 6 - 7: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?... For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin.” (NRSV)
Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in [OF] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (NRSV) Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in [OF] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (NRSV) In these and other passages, Paul seems to adopt a participatory model of Atonement in which being united with Christ in his death does away with our “sinful desires” while giving us new life through his resurrection. This is consistent theme in Paul, and has become a significant emphasis of many in the so-called “New Perspective on Paul” in Biblical Studies. (See also Galatians 6:14, and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
I developed the Incarnational Theory to attempt to understand these passages of Paul, and to understand how Christ’s atonement could have the sort of direct transformative power that Paul attributes to it.
Given these Pauline passages, several key questions arise. First, what does it mean to be united to Christ in his death and resurrection? First, what does it mean to be united to Christ in his death and resurrection? Second, how is this supposed to save us from sin? Second, how is this supposed to save us from sin? And third, how does this fit with other things said in the New Testament about salvation and atonement? And third, how does this fit with other things said in the New Testament about salvation and atonement?
Basic Claims of Theory The Incarnational Theory attempts to answer these questions. The next several slides will offer the basic claims of the theory. I will present it in two different versions: a more general version based on analogies and metaphors, and one that is more specific and philosophically precise.
Incarnational Theory Version #1 Basic Claims: Step 1: Salvation involves sharing in the life of God. Example: Jesus in John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches”
Is this supported elsewhere in the New Testament? Yes. Consider: Paul's analogy of the body of Christ. 2 Peter 1:4: “Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.” (NRSV) Colossians 3:4: “When Christ who is your life is revealed...”(NRV)
Basic Claims: Step 2: Apart from the Incarnation and Passion, God's life would be too alien from ours for this sharing to occur. Analogy: An apple tree branch cannot be grafted into a horse; the horse is too alien for it. Correct Incorrect
Basic Claims--Step 3: Through the Incarnation and Passion, God entered as deeply as possible into our human life-situation of death, suffering, and vulnerability and thereby overcame the alienation between God's self and us. Peter Paul Rubens. Christ on the Cross. 1620
Basic Claims Step 4: A fully human/fully divine life was created in Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection.
Basic Claims – Step 5 By partaking of this life through being grafted into the true Vine, we are saved from sin and reconciled to God. This allowed for us to share in a new fully human, fully divine life, thus saving us from sin and bringing us into unity with God.
Specific Theory: Basic Claims --Step 1 During the Incarnation and Passion, God the Son enacted the sort of courage, faith, and love of a kind that we need for our present human life-situation of vulnerability, alienation, uncertainty, and the like. Sophia and her three daughters, Faith, Hope, and Love. (From a Russian Icon)
Basic Claims --Step 2 Basic Claims --Step 2 In order to enact the kind of virtues we need, God the Son must have experienced human vulnerability, unjust persecution, alienation from God, and the like. To see this, consider the virtue of courage:
Example: Courage Courage = a commitment to one’s values in the face of danger, fear, and personal injury. To exercise courage, one must believe that he/she is vulnerable to being harmed (or at least have the experience of such vulnerability)
Basic Claims--Step 3 Especially during his Passion and death, Jesus fully experienced human vulnerability, fear, injustice, unjust victimization, and even alienation from God. (Jesus’ cry in Mark’s gospel, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (15:34) is often cited as evidence of the latter.) Jesus nonetheless acted in complete faith and love towards God and others, thus enacting the virtues of faith hope and love while having a fully human experience of fear, unjust persecution, alienation from God and others, and so forth.
Final Step By identifying with and partaking of Jesus’ giving over his life in complete faith, hope, and love to God and others, we are saved from sin and reconciled to God. This is what it means to partake of the new resurrected life that Paul talks about.
That is, we are saved from sin and reconciled to God by partaking of the new fully human/fully divine life in Christ. Branch (US) partaking of New Life in Vine (Christ)
Some Analogies and Key New Testament Symbols Next, I will present some analogies to help in understanding the theory and show how it fits in with two key New Testament symbols for salvation/atonement.
A Memory Analogy As an analogy, imagine a future society in which one person acts with tremendous courage, with any person who needs courage being able to “tap into” (and appropriately adapt) the memory of the desires and “willings” exercised by the single highly courageous individual. One could imagine members of the future society saying “as one is courageous for all, all our now courageous,” in parallel to similar statements by Paul (e.g., Romans 5:18 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
Parent/Child Analogy A more mundane analogy the common occurrence of a parent’s desires, views of, and orientation towards the world being transferred to the child, whether intentionally or not. In analogy, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, the new, fully human/fully divine faith, hope, and love enacted by Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection are progressively transferred to us, thus saving us from sin.
Blood Transfusion Analogy In John’s gospel, Jesus says “Truly, Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life…[they] abide in me and I in them” (John 6:54-55) This otherwise very puzzling passage makes a lot of sense under the Incarnational Theory:
Incarnational Theory Understanding of this Passage Jesus’ blood represents his life completely given over to God in love, trust, and self-sharing in his Passion and Death. We are saved from sin by partaking of this life given over in perfect love and trust
Last Supper. Leonardo da Vinci The Eucharist This fits with Paul’s understanding of the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians 10:16 -17: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?”
Blood Transfusion Analogy: By entering fully into the human life situation of alienation, suffering, vulnerability, and uncertainty, and yet acting in complete trust and love, Jesus created a new “antibody” for sin. By partaking of this new antibody, the disease of sin is progressively wiped out in our lives. ** Note: In a blood transfusion, the blood types must be compatible. Likewise, for us to share in God’s life of righteousness.
Blood Transfusion Analogy Fully Divine/Fully Human Courage LOVE in the face of fear, suffering, alienation, and unjust victimization Faith and Trust In the Face of Fear Doubt, and Uncertainty
How does this theory understand the ancient Jewish ritual of the sacrificial lamb, which the New Testament authors claim is type of Christ? The Sacrificial Lamb
The Ritual Explained This ritual involved the worshiper laying hands on the head of an animal (e.g., a lamb or bull) and then slaying the animal. The priest then took the blood and poured it on the altar as a sacrifice to God. Many Christian commentators claim that laying on of hands that occurs in this ritual is best interpreted as an act of identification with the one on whom hands are laid. **Note: Nowhere does the Bible state that the Lamb is “punished” for our sins, or that punishment of the Lamb makes atonement. Rather, Leviticus 17:11 says “it is the blood that makes atonement”; and “the life is in the blood” (NRSV)
The Incarnational Theory’s Understanding of the Ritual According the Incarnational Theory, the lamb is symbolic of Christ, the offering of its blood is symbolic of Christ's offering his life over to God and others in love, hope, and trust. Thus the laying on of hands can be seen as representing our identification with, and thus sharing in, that love, hope and trust expressed by Christ on the Cross--a sharing that results in our redemption.
Note Sacrifice is understood as a giving over of something to God – as for example in Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Conclusion – Short Version The Incarnational Theory of Atonement provides one way of developing the basic Eastern Orthodox understanding of Salvation and Atonement. Further, it is a participatory model of Atonement that not only fits with the Pauline emphasis on the participatory and transformative nature of the Atonement along with other key New Testament symbols, but promises to be philosophically coherent way of understanding one of the most central claims of Christianity.
How This Theory Understands Baptism “All who were baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death.... and if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5) Only by partaking of his death can we experience his resurrection life.
As I State Elsewhere: “being united with Christ during his death involves sharing in Christ’s experience of true human vulnerability and brokenness during his death, and hence becoming “crucified” to the world-system of status and psychic and spiritual bondage. Yet, at the same time, to partake of Christ’s death is to also to share in the perfect love, hope, and trust that Christ exercised during his life and passion, a love, hope, and trust that in turn overcomes our alienation towards ourselves, others, and God, thereby resulting in resurrection life.”
Eating the Bread Among other things, the broken bread could be thought of as representing Jesus' entering into human brokenness and vulnerability. Partaking of the bread, therefore, could be thought of as representing our fully experiencing our own vulnerability through Christ and thus “dying” to our false illusion of invulnerability that we construct to protect ourselves. This in turn allows us to partake of the resurrection life. (Is this why eating the bread comes before taking the cup?) “While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." Mark 14:22
Parent/Child Analogy Children pick up their desires, how they view the world, and their orientation from the world unconsciously from their parents. The parents virtues or vices “rub off” or are transferred to the child. The new, fully human/fully divine virtues are progressively transferred from Christ to us, thus saving us from sin.
Makes Sense of Many Other Scriptures: 1. We are a “new creation” in Christ (1 Cor. 5:17) 2. Jesus was tempted in every way as we are (Hebrews 4:15) 3. St. Paul tells us to “put on Christ” or the “new Man” (Ephesians 4:24; see also Col. 3:9-11) 4. Makes sense of our being crucified with Christ and Crucified to the world (Gal. 2:19, 6:14).
Implications for Scriptural Exegesis Galatians 2:16: “We know that a person is justified not by the works of the law, but through the faith of Jesus Christ” Galatians 2:22: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”** Philippians 3:8-9: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through the faith of Christ” **Typically translations use “faith in the Son of God” instead of the “faith of the Son of God.” However, A. A. Just claims that because of Richard Hays book on the topic, the tide is starting to turn towards the “of” translation in these and several other passages.
What Difference Does it Make? The “faith in” tends to make one think that faith is something one must generate, with the righteousness of God being granted by God to us based on our having faith The “faith of” Christ view makes it clear that faith is not something generated by ourselves. **Perhaps, however, both translations contain complementary elements of the truth
Practical Implications Encourages us to acknowledge our own vulnerability and weakness by “uniting ourselves to him in his death” (Provides a safe place, in Christ, for us to do that.) Encourages us to acknowledge our own vulnerability and weakness by “uniting ourselves to him in his death” (Provides a safe place, in Christ, for us to do that.) Encourages us to recognize the solidarity that Christ had with our pain and suffering during his death. Encourages us to recognize the solidarity that Christ had with our pain and suffering during his death. Yet, it stress our ability to partake, through Christ, in virtues such as courage, faith, and love that are empowering forces in human life. Yet, it stress our ability to partake, through Christ, in virtues such as courage, faith, and love that are empowering forces in human life.
Implications for interreligious and intercultural dialogue 1. Almost all cultures have recognized that there is something wrong with human desire that cannot be fixed by self-effort. 2. Many of these cultures – e.g., Chinese, Buddhist, and Hindu – have recognized that humans need a new source of desire. 3. Jesus offers this new source of desire that is completely geared towards our actual life-situation of vulnerability, alienation, and sin. We can be fully ourselves – and face our own vulnerability, etc. -- and yet partake of this new source. Therefore, this understanding of the Christian message directly addresses a need that recognized in all cultures, making it universally available. [This is the issue of internal coherence.]
For Those Who Are Oppressed It says Jesus suffers with them “outside the gate” (Hebrews 13:12), yet at the same time gives them the love, courage, and faith they need.
Possible Critiques 1. Is not able to adequately account for all the understandings of Atonement found in scripture and is thus incomplete.
N Notes for improvement Girard’s theory as example of Christus victor God as the author of salvation idea Anselm’s theory fits with mine if mine is read as a merit (virtue) transfer from Christ to us. Fits with Porter, Stephen., 2001, “Substitution Reconsidered,” in Philosophy of Religion: A Contemporary Reader, W.L. Craig (ed.), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002. [Punishment of Christ as demonstration.] Use Susanna’s painting of resurrection to illustrate victory over death and powrers as pat of Christus victor. Put in implications for intercultural/interreligious dialogue, with separate slide for problem of chinese earlier in critique of penal and satisfaction. Put in how theory understands sacrifice (modeled after Romans 12).
Notes for Improvement Ernest becker and scott peck material about undercutting illusion of invulnerabiltiy, and thus power of sin (first step in 12 step program). Link with Christus victor motif Ernest becker and scott peck material about undercutting illusion of invulnerabiltiy, and thus power of sin (first step in 12 step program). Link with Christus victor motif Show how my theory makes sense cross culturally – need new source of desires. Show how my theory makes sense cross culturally – need new source of desires.
Understanding of Atonement An understanding of Atonement goes beyond the Doctrine of Atonement in making additional claims regarding what Christ accomplished for us through his life, death, and resurrection and what it means for us to be saved from sin and reconciled with God. Often, understandings are expressed in terms of metaphors or images.
Understandings Found in Church Tradition but not (directly) in Scripture Jesus paid our debt Jesus paid our penalty for our sin.
Theories of Atonement -- Continued A theory of Atonement usually makes one or two of the scripatonement primary, and then attempts to explain the other understandings of atonement found in scripture by means of the primary understandings. We will see this below.