Purpose

The purpose and intent of this site is twofold:

1. Share the Word of God as found in the Bible.

2. Comment on current events as they relate to Bible prophecy


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Atonement Theory



THE ATONEMENT THEORY

The website named “The Religious Vortex” (https://thereligiousvortex.com) recently had a post entitled The Atonement Theory which attracted my attention.  Not because I was concerned but due to the idea there were and are several different theories and concepts of the atonement which have been promulgated throughout the church age.

I have never given much thought to the atonement concept.  After my initial comment on the website, I mulled the idea and come up with the following whether right or wrong I don’t know.

The author lists six of the apparently well-known historical versions of the atonement theory which are listed below.
  • The Ransom Theory: God deceitfully pays off Satan with a bribe.                       
    • Introduced by Origen in the third century CE.
    • The earliest of all, originating with the Early Church Fathers, this theory claims that Christ offered himself as a ransom to Satan, not God.
  • The Satisfaction Theory: Jesus appeases God by being a ritual human sacrifice.   
    • Introduced by Anselem, in the late 11th century CE in his book, Cur Deus Homo (lit. ‘Why the God Man’).
    • Jesus Christ suffered the Crucifixion as a substitute for human sin, satisfying God due to Christ’s infinite merit.
  • The Moral Theory: Jesus’ death is an example for the rest of humanity to emulate.
    • Introduced by Abelard in the 12th century CE.
    • Christ’s death was to influence mankind toward moral improvement. This theory denies that Christ died to satisfy any principle of divine justice.
    • Teaches instead that His death was designed to greatly impress mankind with a sense of God’s love, resulting in softening their hearts and leading them to repentance.
  • The Acceptance Theory: Atonement comes from the arbitrary choice of God   
    • Introduced by Scotus circa 1300 CE and William of Occam (Occam’s Razor).
    • God could have decided of his own free will to save humanity through the work, and perhaps the death, of an angel, of Adam, of any other human being, or even an animal. But he decided, for his own reasons, to achieve atonement through the torture-death of Jesus
  • The Penal (a.k.a. Penal-Substitution) Theory: God’s mercy replaces his wrath after the infinite sacrifice of Jesus
    • Introduced by Reformation theologians like John Calvin circa 1520 CE.
    • Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve.
    • This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.
  • Christus Victor Theory: Jesus voluntarily allowed himself to be executed.
    • Introduced by Gustaf Emanuel Hildebrand Aulén in 1930 in his book Christus Victor.
    • The atonement is viewed as divine conflict and victory over the hostile powers that hold humanity in subjection – a rescue or liberation of humanity from the slavery of sin.
    • It is a drama, a passion story of God triumphing over the powers and liberating humanity from the bondage of sin. As Gustav Aulén writes, “the work of Christ is first and foremost a victory over the powers which hold mankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil.
From the Word Study Hebrew & Greek Dictionary
katallagḗ; gen. katallagḗs, fem. noun from katallássō (G2644), to reconcile. Reconciliation, restoration, exchange. A change or reconciliation from a state of enmity between persons to one of friendship. Between God and man it is the result of the apolútrōsis (G629), redemption, the divine act of salvation, the ceasing of God's wrath. In the NT, it means reconciliation, i.e., restoration to divine favor by bringing about a change in man, conversion (Rom_5:11; Rom_11:15), the means or occasion of reconciling the world to God.
Syn.: apokatástasis (G605), restoration.

From an online English dictionary
atonement[ uh-tohn-muhnt]
noun
1.  satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.
2.  the doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humankind, especially as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.
3.  the experience of humankind's unity with God exemplified by Jesus Christ.
4.  reconciliation; agreement.
synonyms

From various word studies and dictionaries I have come to the conclusion that atonement essentially defines as:  to restore or to reconcile.  I disagree with the idea of a ransom.

The Word Study Dictionary contains the following definition:  A change or reconciliation from a state of enmity between persons to one of friendship. Between God and man it is the result of the apolútrōsis (G629), redemption, the divine act of salvation, the ceasing of God's wrath. In the NT, it means reconciliation, i.e., restoration to divine favor by bringing about a change in man, conversion. 

It appears obvious to me that the death and resurrection of Jesus was the plan of God from the very beginning of creation.  The blood of the Passover lamb smeared on the doorways of the Hebrew’s houses in Egypt was a sign the death of the first born would be passed over.  Later with the laws of God given to Moses, the sacrificial system required the death of a lamb (or another animal) for the forgiveness of the corporate and individual sins of the people.  This, of course, was a sign, or symbolism, or a form of typology of the death and shed blood of the Lamb of God or Jesus.

Eve was tricked (or duped) to sin against God and Adam willfully followed the action of his helper, Eve, by imitating her act which was contrary to the will of God.  Their punishment consisted of eventually death from natural causes.  As a result, the entire world being a descendant of the original two people also die from natural causes.  In my opinion, even though all die, all will eventually live. 

The overcomers will either not die if they are alive at the return of Jesus Christ and the dead overcomers will be resurrected to life at that time.  The remainder of the dead will be resurrected at the White Throne Judgment.  Some of the resurrected will be given a few stripes and others given many stripes.  Some will be given a short sentence of servitude and others with a much longer servitude sentence according to the laws of God.

Luke 12:47-48 KJV  And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  (48)  But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

All people born of a human woman must die and all will be resurrected (in my opinion).  Jesus was born of a human woman, although sired by the Holy Spirit, and He was also required to die, although He was without sin.  His resurrection, occurring three days after death, gave evidence to the believers (and the world) that although death is required of every person, a resurrection to eternal life is also guaranteed to every person (although many disagree with this particular theology).

It could be said that certain Biblical passages are misunderstood by theologians and Bible teachers and people.  Isaiah 53:5 (and other passages) appear to indicate that it was the cumulative sins of the earth’s historical population that required the death of Jesus.  The death of Jesus could be the act of God presenting the ultimate sacrifice, of Himself as a man, for the forgiveness of sins.  It a certain way, I suppose it was a requirement of God but not in a sense that the debt was paid in full for evermore with no human response needed, and people are now free to go their own way and do as they please.  There is a requirement of action and faith.

Isaiah 53:5 KJV  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Many claim they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died and was resurrected.  But do they truly believe that?  Do they attempt to live like Jesus and follow His examples?  Do they have the heart and mind of a Christian or just occasionally go to Church and claim to be a Christian?  John the Baptist said, “the Kingdom of Heaven (or God) is at hand”.  Jesus later said, “Follow Me, for the Kingdom of Heaven (or God) is at hand”.

The death of Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was necessary for the forgiveness of sins by God to the human beings in a similar but ultimate manner as the sacrificial system given by God to the Israelite people through Moses.  By having faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and by living one’s life in a manner of the Son of God a person must submit to being a servant of the Kingdom of God with Jesus as the King of the Kingdom and their sins will be forgiven by God.

This allows us to be restored or reconciled to God the creator and be eligible for eternal life at the return of Jesus or it may require restoration with stripes (a few or many) or servitude and teaching through an overcomer (Saint of the Most High) who will be an agent of Jesus the King.  It is my opinion the Lake of Fire and the Fire of God is simply judgment and not eternal suffering in a fiery hell.


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