Faith in  Christ   leads to action


          The moral influence view lacks significant illumination on unlimited atonement. By emphasizing the significance of love (God’s and human) and failing to address the seriousness of sin, it sets up an unrealistic model of how the world works. Genuine love, while certainly in need of Jesus Christ as our model, also requires the elimination of sin, which is achieved by the work of Christ. This more comprehensive concept is better framed in other atonement models.

The penal substitution view

            This view grew out of the Reformation, although its roots originated from Anselm’s satisfaction view. Anselm’s view was “adapted . . . to fit the legal systems of a different era than his. The shift away from feudal obligations to criminal law changed markedly the character of the satisfaction Christ provided.”[21] Both Martin Luther and John Calvin contributed to this shift in thought, especially Calvin. Later theologians developed the idea further. “When Calvin built a theory of atonement upon the principle of divine justice, he therefore concluded that ‘the guilt, which held us liable to punishment, was transferred to the head of the Son of God’.”[22]

            The influence of the penal substitution view became widespread, so that even today evangelicals commonly use the concepts of this view to explain the atonement. Although waning

[20] Stott, Cross, 220.
[21] Green and Baker, Recovering, 142.
[22] Fiddes, Past Event, 97-98.

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 ‘moral influence’ theory offers a superficial remedy [for sin] because it has made a superficial diagnosis. It appeals to Enlightenment man because it has boundless confidence in human reason and human ability. It entirely lacks the profound biblical understanding of man’s radical rebellion against God, of God’s wrath as his outraged antagonism to human sin, and of the indispensable necessity of a satisfaction for sin which satisfies God’s own character of justice and love.[20]


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demonstration of God’s love, eliciting a response of love from people. Although Abelard did not ignore the problem of human sin, his emphasis on love lessens the effect of the atonement.

The Atonement