Saturday, April 4, 2009

More Thoughts On The Atonement

Yesterday, I was going to start my post series on the Atonement, but last night we found out my grandfather Jack had another heart-attack and had to go to the hospital. He seems to be ok now that they gave him some blood last night. My mom went to stay with my grandparents today. Also, yesterday I gathered up some more books for my upcoming series on the Atonement. Anyways, here are some thoughts on the Ransom Theory Of Atonement which I shared on Christian's post:
I never said that I disagreed with the idea of the penal substitution theory of the atonement. What I disagree with is those that believe it is the only theory of the atonement. Limiting the atonement to any one flawed and manmade theory of the atonement does a disservice to ourselves and others. Instead I propose that when one looks at all the theories of the atonement a more holistic approach to the atonement emerges as each flawed theory corrects the flaws of the others. For example, the Ransom theory is flawed in the fact that it makes God out to be a deceiver but it’s scripturally supported in1 Timothy 2:5-6:

5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, (NKJV)

And when one reads the Jewish Exile as a metaphor for human slavery to sin, so that the Ransom theory is one that emerges from the picture of the marketplace with the Gospel accounts' use of λύτρον (lutron) and more accurately a slave market with the theory’s metaphorical use of Exilic literature.

Since my first post in the series will be on the Passover and it's connection with the Ransom theory, the above comment is pertinent. See also: Ransom Theory--Blasphemy or Misunderstood?

My last post in the series will deal with the Christus Victor view of the atonement. Here is my comment on Christian's post pertaining to that:
Interesting post… sounds like one that I’m going to post soon on the Christus Victor theory of the atonement. Similar to your post—I found this interesting essay: EXCERPTS ON THE IDEA OF PUNISHMENT AND PAYMENT IN THE ATONEMENT while looking up links for my future post—although I don’t agree with everything that essay says—it does make valid points. See also: The Meaning of the Atonement—here is a summary of that:

In my judgment, Satisfaction/Penal Substitution runs contrary to Scripture at many points:

Penal Substitution declares that salvation must be earned by perfect, perpetual obedience;5 the Scriptures declare that God saves us “in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Eph. 1:5, NIV).
Penal Substitution declares that “God must visit sin with punishment”;6 the Scriptures declare that God “does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Psa. 103:10, NIV).
Penal Substitution declares that in the Atonement, God is reconciled to humankind;7 the Scriptures declare rather that humankind is reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18,19; Col. 1:20).
Penal Substitution declares that Christ dies instead of the sinner; the Scriptures declare that sinners must die with Christ (Rom. 6:1-14).
This is not to say that Satisfaction/Penal Substitution has no positive features. Indeed, it emphasizes the cross and the uniqueness of Christ’s death. However, I fear it “proves too much” by negating God’s forgiveness and excluding other aspects of the Atonement. Other theories of the Atonement have been articulated to take these other elements more seriously.

Penal substitution does have it’s flaws, but fundamentalists especially of the more Calvinistic type ala Todd Friel and John MacArthur won’t hear of it. Personally I believe that we should look at all the different theories of the atonement flaws and all and accept them as humans trying to make sense of what we see through a glass darkly. However that said—I lean more towards the Christus Victor view myself as being more consistent with God’s self-revelation in Christ.

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