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The Substitute 6. A Ransom Paid 7. The Redeemer 8.

Christ's Atonement: More Than Just Payment for Humanity's Sin

The Curse of the Cross 9. For Whom Did Christ Die? Questions and Answers. Teaching Series Overview 1. The Meaning of the Cross. The Atonement of Jesus A growing number of professing Christian theologians in our day are questioning the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. Your Progress. Fix that problem!


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  • You may listen to this entire Teaching Series online for free. Playlist: Select a Lecture to Play 1. Christian hamartiology describes sin as an act of offence against God by despising his persons and Christian biblical law , and by injuring others. According to the classical definition of Augustine of Hippo , sin is "a word, deed, or desire in opposition to the eternal law of God".

    Your Progress

    Christian tradition has explained sin as a fundamental aspect of human existence, due to original sin , also called ancestral sin , [note 2] the fall of man stemming from Adam's rebellion in Eden by eating the Forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Total depravity also called "radical corruption" or "pervasive depravity" is a Protestant theological doctrine derived from the concept of original sin.

    It is the teaching that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man , every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin as a result of their inherent fallen nature and, apart from the efficacious or prevenient grace of God , is utterly unable to choose to follow God , refrain from evil , or accept the gift of salvation as it is offered. In Christian theology , justification is God 's act of removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time making a sinner righteous through Christ's atoning sacrifice.

    The Atonement of Jesus Christ

    The means of justification is an area of significant difference among Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Broadly speaking, Eastern Orthodox , Catholic , and Methodist Christians distinguish between initial justification, which in their view ordinarily occurs at baptism ; and final salvation, accomplished after a lifetime of striving to do God's will theosis c. Theosis , is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God , as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches. As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis purification of mind and body and theoria 'illumination' with the 'vision' of God.

    According to Eastern Christian teaching, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through a synergy or cooperation between human activity and God's uncreated energies or operations. Theosis and divinization are to be distinguished from sanctification , "being made holy," which can also apply to objects; [29] and from apotheosis , also "divinization," lit. Catholics believe faith as is active in charity and good works fides caritate formata can justify man.

    Forgiveness of sin exists and is infused, but justification can be lost by mortal sin.

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    In the Protestant doctrine, sin is merely "covered", and righteousness imputed. In Lutheranism and Calvinism , righteousness from God is viewed as being credited to the sinner's account through faith alone , without works. Protestants believe faith without works can justify man because Christ died for sinners, but anyone who truly has faith will produce good works as a product of faith, as a good tree produces good fruit.

    For Lutherans justification can be lost with the loss of faith. The word "atonement" often is used in the Old Testament to translate the Hebrew words kipper and kippurim , which mean 'propitiation' or 'expiation'. A number of metaphors and Old Testament terms and references have been used in the New Testament writings to understand the person [web 2] [37] [note 4] and death of Jesus. Over the centuries, Christians have held different ideas about how Jesus saved people, and different views still exist within different Christian denominations.

    According to C. Marvin Pate, "there are three aspects to Christ's atonement according to the early Church: vicarious atonement [substitutionary atonement], [note 5] the escatological defeat of Satan [Christ the Victor], and the imitation of Christ [participation in Jesus' death and resurrection]. In the Hebrew writings, God is absolute righteousness, and only pure and sinless persons can approach him. These traditions of atonement offer only temporary forgiveness, [47] and korbanot offerings could only be used as a means of atoning for the lightest type of sin, that is sins committed in ignorance that the thing was a sin.

    Marcus Borg notes that animal sacrifice in Second Temple Judaism was not a "payment for sin," but had a basic meaning as "making something sacred by giving it as a gift to God," and included a shared meal with God. Sacrifices had numerous purposes, namely thanksgiving, petition, purification, and reconciliation.

    None of them were a "payment or substitution or satisfaction," and even "sacrifices of reconciliation were about restoring the relationship. James F. Clearly there were ideas that existed in the Judaism of the time that helped make sense of the death of the righteous in terms of atonement. Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.

    After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Soon after his death, Jesus' followers believed he was raised from death by God and exalted to divine status as Lord Kyrios "at God's 'right hand'," [54] which "associates him in astonishing ways with God.

    The meaning of the kerygma of 1 Corinthians for Paul is a matter of debate, and open to multiple interpretations. For Paul, "dying for our sins" gained a deeper significance, providing "a basis for the salvation of sinful Gentiles apart from the Torah. Traditionally, this kerygma is interpreted as meaning that Jesus' death was an atonement or ransom for, or propitiation or expiation of, God's wrath against humanity because of their sins.

    The Atonement: A Bible Story for Children

    With Jesus death, humanity was freed from this wrath. More recent scholarship has raised several concerns regarding these interpretations. The traditional interpretation sees Paul's understanding of salvation as involving "an exposition of the individual's relation to God. According to E. Sanders , who initiated the New Perspective on Paul , Paul saw the faithful redeemed by participation in Jesus' death and rising. McGrath notes that Paul "prefers to use the language of participation. One died for all, so that all died 2 Corinthians This is not only different from substitution , it is the opposite of it.

    Observance of the Law is needed to maintain the covenant, but the covenant is not be earned by observing the Law, but by the grace of God. Several passages from Paul, such as Rom. According to Richard B. Hays , [81] who iniated the " Pistis Christou debate," [82] [note 18] a different reading of these pasagges is also possible. In the Gospels, Jesus is portrayed as calling for repentance of sin, and stating that blood-sacrifices cannot substitute repentance.

    Accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ

    Christians assert that Jesus was predicted by Isaiah, as attested in Luke , where Jesus is portrayed as saying that the prophesies in Isaiah were about him. The classic paradigm entails the traditional understandings of the early Church Fathers , [43] [44] who developed the themes found in the New Testament. The ransom theory of atonement says that Christ liberated humanity from slavery to sin and Satan , and thus death, by giving his own life as a ransom sacrifice to Satan, swapping the life of the perfect Jesus , for the lives of the imperfect humans.

    It entails the idea that God deceived the devil, [86] and that Satan, or death, had "legitimate rights" [86] over sinful souls in the afterlife , due to the fall of man and inherited sin. During the first millennium CE, the ransom theory of atonement was the dominant metaphor for atonement, both in eastern and western Christianity, until it was replaced in the west by Anselmus' satisfaction theory of atonement.

    In one version of the idea of deception, Satan attempted to take Jesus' soul after he had died, but in doing so over-extended his authority, as Jesus had never sinned. As a consequence, Satan lost his authority completely, and all humanity gained freedom. In another version, God entered into a deal with Satan, offering to trade Jesus' soul in exchange for the souls of all people, but after the trade, God raised Jesus from the dead and left Satan with nothing. Another idea is that Jesus came to teach how not to sin and Satan, in anger with this, tried to take his soul.

    The ransom theory was first clearly enunciated by Irenaeus c. Yet, humans have a spark of the true divine nature within them, which can be liberated by gnosis knowledge of this divine spark. This knowledge is revealed by the Logos , "the very mind of the supreme God," who entered the world in the person of Jesus.

    Nevertheless, the Logos could not simply undo the power of the Demiurg, and had to hide his real identity, appearing as a physical form, thereby misleading the Demiurg, and liberating humankind. Origen — introduced the idea that the devil held legitimate rights over humans, who were bought free by the blood of Christ. The recapitulation view, first comprehensively expressed by Irenaeus , [95] went "hand-in-hand" with the ransom theory.

    In the 11th century, Anselm of Canterbury rejected the ransom view and proposed the satisfaction theory of atonement. He allegedly depicted God as a feudal lord [99] [note 22] whose honor had been offended by the sins of humankind. In this view, people needed salvation from the divine punishment that these offences would bring, since nothing they could do could repay the honor debt. Anselm held that Christ had infinitely honored God through his life and death and that Christ could repay what humanity owed God, thus satisfying the offence to God's honor and doing away with the need for punishment.

    When Anselm proposed the satisfaction view, it was immediately criticized by Peter Abelard. In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformers reinterpreted Anselm's satisfaction theory of salvation within a legal paradigm. In the legal system, offences required punishment, and no satisfaction could be given to avert this need.

    They proposed a theory known as penal substitution , in which Christ takes the penalty of people's sin as their substitute, thus saving people from God's wrath against sin. Penal substitution thus presents Jesus saving people from the divine punishment of their past wrongdoings. However, this salvation is not presented as automatic. Rather, a person must have faith in order to receive this free gift of salvation. In the penal substitution view, salvation is not dependent upon human effort or deeds.

    The penal substitution paradigm of salvation is widely held among Protestants, who often consider it central to Christianity. However, it has also been widely critiqued, [] [] [] [] and is rejected by liberal Christians as un-Biblical, and an offense to the love of God. The "moral government theory" teaches that Christ suffered for humanity so that God could forgive humans without punishing them while still maintaining divine justice. It is traditionally taught in Arminian circles that draw primarily from the works of Hugo Grotius.