Question on atonement Theories

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ReformedChristian

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I had a question concerning the atonement, when discussing the death of Christ we often speak of it from the view of penal substitution, but of course there are other theories as well. From my understanding Biblically the death of Christ is multifaceted ie Christus Victor etc. The only one that would be heresy is the ransom to Satan concept. Any thoughts and help would be appreciated.
 
There's nothing wrong with saying Christ is a Victor in the atonement, per se. But EO apologists tend to juxtapose Christus Victor to penal substitution in order to deny the latter. The usual claim is that the fathers didn't teach penal substitution, which is false (not to mention it's crystal clear in the bible).
 
There are aspects of truth in other theories of atonement, but penal sub is the bedrock. Other theories cannot stand without the assumption of penal sub.

A similar phenomenon is a Wesleyan using the governmental theory to deny penal sub. When you take a serious look at it, governmental theory is about the most unjust thing there is.
 
I had a question concerning the atonement, when discussing the death of Christ we often speak of it from the view of penal substitution, but of course there are other theories as well. From my understanding Biblically the death of Christ is multifaceted ie Christus Victor etc. The only one that would be heresy is the ransom to Satan concept. Any thoughts and help would be appreciated.
Similar to what others have said, there are a number of other "theories" of the atonement that give helpful partial explanations of the work of Christ, but they are all meaningless if nor founded on the bedrock of penal substitution.
 
Wesleyans deny it?
No whole sale, but many of them do, especially those whose theology can only be described as a mix between Finney and Wesley. Wesley certainly didn’t deny it.

For example, the Church of the Nazarene Manual seems to leave the manner of atonement ambiguous:

“We believe that Jesus Christ, by His sufferings, by the shedding of His own blood, and by His death on the Cross, made a full atonement for all human sin, and that this Atonement is the only ground of salvation, and that it is sufficient for every individual of Adam’s race. The Atonement is graciously efficacious for the salvation of those incapable of moral responsibility and for the children in innocency but is efficacious for the salvation of those who reach the age of responsibility only when they repent and believe.”

Article 6
 
For example, the Church of the Nazarene Manual seems to leave the manner of atonement ambiguous:

“We believe that Jesus Christ, by His sufferings, by the shedding of His own blood, and by His death on the Cross, made a full atonement for all human sin, and that this Atonement is the only ground of salvation, and that it is sufficient for every individual of Adam’s race. The Atonement is graciously efficacious for the salvation of those incapable of moral responsibility and for the children in innocency but is efficacious for the salvation of those who reach the age of responsibility only when they repent and believe.”

Article 6
In other words, you make the atonement effectual by exercising your moral capability?
 
One of the problems I have with respect to the idea of "theories" is that it is mistaken as encompassing atonement.

The error of many kinds of heresies and orthodoxies is often not in what they affirm but what they prioritize to the distortion or elimination of other aspects of salvation.

Biblically, Christ not only pays the penalty for sin in substitution for sinners but this also entails that He has done so for the elect. The Christus Victor aspect encompasses the idea that He has not only borne the penalty but has also broken the power of sin to rule. Other aspects are that He has purchased the faith by which we believe and are united to Him. There are other facets that can be drawn out.

The ransom theory that Jesus paid a ransom to Satan is a gross error.

The moral example theory is typically supposed in opposition to objections about the idea that mankind is so sinful that He needs both atonement and rescue from death. The idea is that Jesus died to show us how much He loved us. The error is not so much in the idea that Christ (and the Father) loved sinners, but that it ends there. The love that Christ showed was sacrificial in the sense that the Godhead loved us even while we were, by nature, objects of just wrath. There is no grace in a pure moral example theory because no grace is needed.

The problem with Chursitus Victor is not (as noted) that it isn't an important facet but is typically accompanied by a neo-orthodox theology in which what Christ is doing is defeating the forces of darkness so that all Creation can be redeemed. Not that Creation longs for the redemption of the elect, but in many schemas (e.g. N.T. Wright) God is in the business of redeeming culture and redeeming all of humanity (if we just let him).


The bottom line for many today, in the end, is that they don't like to think of themselves as sinners and modern sensibilities don't allow for the idea that something as gross as the Cross was necessary for the salvation of sinners. They imagine themselves altogether different from the Pharisees, whom Jesus called the sons of the devil. They think that because they imagine the Pharisees were uniquely bad and that Christ was trying to bring about social justice and was hated because He cared for the socially oppressed. He was hated by the religious because "He gets us".
 
The bottom line for many today, in the end, is that they don't like to think of themselves as sinners and modern sensibilities don't allow for the idea that something as gross as the Cross was necessary for the salvation of sinners. They imagine themselves altogether different from the Pharisees, whom Jesus called the sons of the devil. They think that because they imagine the Pharisees were uniquely bad and that Christ was trying to bring about social justice and was hated because He cared for the socially oppressed. He was hated by the religious because "He gets us".
This is a really helpful bottom line - I have a friend who is very opposed to fluffy theology but is also close to converting to Eastern Orthodoxy. Identifying this disconnect, and the reality of sin over victimhood is really helpful!
 
What you speak of is Agnus Victor: Christ's Victor against the Accuser through his death by expiating the guilt.
Henri Blocher has an article on this too somewhere.
 
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