Some Theories of Atonement (Reblogged)
This ties in with some of the themes I’ve been exploring in my “Legends of the Fall” series, and so I’m reblogging it and placing it in that series. I especially like the emphasis that the idea of satisfying God’s wounded honor is peculiarly Western and is not based on Scripture. Also, I, like Father O’Halloran, am rather appalled at how Substitutionary Penal Atonement has crept into Catholicism, to which it is actually quite alien. Kudos to Fr. O’Halloran for this post.
Part of the series Legends of the Fall.
Today is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Yet many of us have no idea what that triumph means, or what exactly the mechanism of that triumph was. Without going on too long, I want to lay out briefly some theories of atonement. But first I want to say one thing quite clearly: The New Testament never speaks of God’s anger in the context of the passion of Christ. Never. So nor should we. The motive for God’s action in Christ was love, not anger. More on that later.
Let me lay out three positions.
The first theory is that of Christus Victor. This is an ancient theory, found particularly in the Fathers of the Church. Here the dialectic is between Christ/Life and Satan/Death. According to this theory, the Resurrection is the real salvific moment, the soteriological moment par excellence. This made more sense in the early…
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