Mark Dever has written an important piece on the atonement of Jesus Christ, publishedin Christianity Today called, "Nothing But the Blood." CT ditches their typical trendiness - endless stories on Christian celebrities, etc. - and gets serious about the heart of Christian theology. Good for them:
Sunday, May 28, 2006
The Atonement of Jesus Christ
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Scot McKnight has a long discussion of this article in his blog Jesus Creed http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=959
That's an interesting read, Doug. And I certainly agree with both you and with the author that exemplar views have recently come into fashion. One problem I have with the CT article, however, is that it gives the satisfaction theory barely a mention and focuses instead on the penal substitution model. For my money, however, the medievals like Anselm and Aquinas had a much better theory of atonement than did the Reformers who followed them. Rather than seeing the cross as primarily Jesus' being punished in our stead and thus placating the wrath of God, they saw the obedient human life of Christ, even obedience unto death, as paying the debt humanity owed God in the first place. On Anselm's view, had the debt not been paid, then punishment would have had to been meted out. But once the debt is paid, there is no call for punishment proper. And in any event, God's wrath plays almost no role in Anselm's view. By my lights, this allows Anselm's account of atonement to cohere with the general Christian concept of God to a much greater degree than, say, Calvin's does.
The active obedience of Christ our behalf was perfectly obeying the law and render what is due to the Father on that score. The passive obedience of Christ was bearing the penalty and punishment for our sin's on the Cross. Both are necessary for the Father's glory and our redemption.
When a crime is adjudicated, the judge, in rendering his decision, has more than one purpose in mind. There is the need for both restitution and punishment.
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