Faith in  Christ   leads to action



Atonement page 4 of 14

Over the centuries, Christians have interpreted Scripture in the context of their own cultural understanding and concern. The result has been a rich, albeit sometimes confusing, doctrine. Each view, however, intends to present the best way in which to think about the atonement.”[7]

          This section focuses on the two views which are most widely held today: the Christus Victor view and the penal substitution view. In fact, contemporary preaching often combines aspects of these two views to explain the meaning of the atonement. Another view, Anselm’s satisfaction model, is reviewed because it served as a precursor to the penal substitution view, while continuing to offer its own perspectives. The moral influence view, attributed to Anselm’s contemporary Abelard, is also reviewed. Finally, recognizing some questions with aspects of the penal substitution theory, the significance is a substitutionary view of the atonement is affirmed. Each view of atonement is reviewed for how it enlightens the idea of unlimited atonement. 


The Christus Victor view

            The development of this view, which Gustaf Aulen has called the classic type, can be traced back to Irenaeus, a late 2nd century theologian. In fact, Irenaeus is the theological starting point for Aulen’s book Christus Victor. “Our choice of Irenaeus may, then, be justified on the ground of his general theological importance, as well as of the undoubted fact that he is the first patristic writer to provide us with a clear and comprehensive doctrine of the Atonement and redemption.”[8] Aulen demonstrates that Martin Luther used the classic type in his teaching on the atonement. However, Luther’s followers did not maintain his understanding on this subject. Although it was never completely absent from theological thought, the Christus Victor view was revived by Aulen’s work. His book was first published in 1931.

[7] Thorsen, Exploration, 205.
[8] Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of the Atonement, trans. A. G. Hebert (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003), 17.

2Co 5:18-19  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

The Atonement