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Understandings of Atonement 1. What is atonement? 2. Seven models of atonement.

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Presentation on theme: "Understandings of Atonement 1. What is atonement? 2. Seven models of atonement."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understandings of Atonement 1. What is atonement? 2. Seven models of atonement.

2 Axis interpretation At-one-ment: the restoration of unity between God and estranged humanity: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.” (2Cor 5: 19).



5 Analysis 1.Model description. 1.The larger picture: God, world, human condition. 2.Decisive action. 3.Main images. 2.Problems & questions. 3.Solutions & observations. 4.Chief Protagonists. 5.Biblical references.

6 Sacrifice of Isaac Typology “Abraham in faith followed the command of the word of God, and with a ready mind gave up his only- begotten son as a sacrifice to God; that it might also be the good pleasure of God, on behalf of all his seed, to give up His beloved and only-begotten Son as a sacrifice for our redemption.” –Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. IV. 5. 4.

7 Polycarp’s last anaphora: “May I be received among [the martyrs] in your presence today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as you have prepared and revealed beforehand, and have now accomplished, you who are the undeceiving and true God. For this reason, indeed for all things, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom to you with him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now and for the ages to come. Amen.” The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14. 2-3.

8 Christus Victor “Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” 1Jn 3: 8. “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.” Jn 12: 31.

9 Ransom “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mk 10: 45, cf. Mt 20: 28. Ransom CHRISTUS VICTOR “[God] forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.” Col. 2: 13-15.


11 obedience Godman comes and pays humanity’s debt: he is the first human to lead a life of perfect obedience to God and does not owe to die. Yet he chooses to give his life to God. His voluntary death accrues merit in God’s eyes. The believers become participants in Christ’s merits by means of the sacraments. GOD Moral Order disobedience punishment death debt Satisfaction = paying the debt + compensating for the offence Our efforts to pay the debt:  repentance  works of charity  works of piety  asceticism All of these are inadequate, because we already owe them to God as a part of our total obedience Anselm of Canterbury. Unknown. Flemish, Belgium 1140.

12 Penal Substitution “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5: 21. “For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us.” 1 Thess 5: 9 Who is this?

13 Exemplarism “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1Cor 11: 1. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Pet 2: 21. “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” 1 Jn 3: 16.

14 Patristic Exemplarism “The Lord of the prophets and Apostles himself lived on this earth as though he had forgotten his divine glory. He was made an example for us. In great mockery he wore a crown of thorns on his head. He bore the spittings, the buffets, and the cross. If God so lived on earth, then it will become you to imitate him… You must be crucified with the Crucified (Rom 8: 17), to suffer with him that suffered, so that you may be glorified with him glorified. The bride must suffer with the Bridegroom and so become partner and co-heir with Christ.” –Pseudo-Macarius, Spiritual Homilies, 12. 4-5.

15 Medieval Exemplarism



18 “[O ]ur redemption through Christ’s suffering is that deeper affection (dilectio) in us which not only frees us from slavery to sin, but also wins for us the true liberty of sons of God, so that we do all things out of love, rather than fear.” --Abelard, Commentary on Romans.

19 Crucifixion (1310). San Francesco, Assisi.

20 Liberal Protestant Exemplarism “Indeed Christ’s highest achievement consists in this, that He so animates us that we ourselves are led to an ever more perfect fulfillment of the divine will.” --Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, 456. F. Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

21 Deification

22 2 nd Century Christianity According to Irenaeus Creed Unity with Rome Old Testament Mk Mt Lk Jn Bishops, Apostles Sacraments: Baptism, Eucharist Teaching of Christ No Creed Luke Paul No Creed John Simon Magus Cerdo Marcion Simon Magus Valentinus Ptolemy, Secundus Marcionites Valentinians No Creed Matthew Cerinthus (?) Judaism Ebion (?) Ebionites The Catholic Church Marcion is expelled No Creed Simon Magus Basilides, Saturninus Basilideans Nicolaitans Carpocratians


24 Relation Between Theodicy and Atonement Standard modern approach: answers to the problem of evil are drawn from natural theology; atonement theories are drawn from revelation. Traditional Christian view: atonement concerns predominate Postmodernity: theodicy concerns predominate Accurate picture: two interlocking circles TheodicyAtonement

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