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HolyGround >> Views on the Atonement


10/17/10 11:56 PM
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Grakman
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As I understand it, there are found within Christendom four views regarding the crucifixion as an atonement for mankind:

1) Christus Victor, in which Jesus as seen as having defeated sin and death, and Satan, purchasing our lives with his;

2) Substitionary atonement, in that Jesus died in our place as a sacrifice to appease God's honor;

3) Vicarious atonement, in which Jesus died on the cross as punishment for our individual sins;

4) Exemplary atonement, in which Jesus life and death are viewed as examples for us, a model for us to follow.

I believe #1 was the earliest view, and #4 the more recent. 

Regarding substitutionary atonement, in ancient Europe among the pagan peoples, the king or chieftain of a tribe would sometimes be sacrificed to the gods if the tribe had been faring poorly, i.e. poor crops, lost battles, etc. The king was seen as a representative of the tribe, and if the gods were displeased with the tribe, it fell on his shoulders to be the sacrifice and make amends on behalf of the people. I don't know if this custom had anything to do with the development of substititionary atonement, but I thought it was interesting to compare.

I was wondering if any of you had ever come across the theory that the atonement was for man, and not for God. I know we speak of God reconciling man to Himself, but what I'm getting at is man's psychological need for atonement. In other words, if we commit heinous acts or believe ourselves unworthy of forgiveness, we need punishment in order to accept, or feel forgiven; we can't accept forgiveness without believing we, or our proxy, were punished for what we did. 

It's as though God set up every conceivable means by which we can reach him, depending on the needs of the individual person. He forgives if we ask; if we require more, if we require judgment, he says "Ok, I have become the judged;"  if we complain that a god doesn't understand us, he says, "Ok, I have become one of you."

Your thoughts?


10/18/10 9:57 PM
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reverend john
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Interesting thoughts

I don't think the last one needs to be separated from any of the others. So I would say that I am a 1. with a 4. on the side. I think Jesus makes it clear that picking up our cross means following him to die in some instances, the martyrs obviously lived that out

rev
10/19/10 9:42 AM
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Grakman
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 Thanks for the reply rev.

I know these different views of the atonement were developed separately, hundreds of years apart, but there is a part of me that wonders if they're not all true in some respect.  Jesus said that he would draw all men to himself; and perhaps, as I alluded to earlier about the psychology of forgiveness and atonement, each of us is able to find in him what we need to find that forgiveness.  Whether it is one who stood in our place, a righteous leader, a moral example, a revolutionary, a healer, a hero, a king, a beggar... no difference. All of us find something in his example for us to emulate in our own lives.

Interesting isn't it, all these different views we have of the same person who lived 2000 years ago.
10/19/10 3:34 PM
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reverend john
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Not sure I agree w you there bro those atonement theories actually radically effect the perception of gods nature

Rev
10/19/10 5:23 PM
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Grakman
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reverend john - Not sure I agree w you there bro those atonement theories actually radically effect the perception of gods nature

Rev
I'm thinking more of the psychological effect each of these views of the atonement would have on bringing a person to God rather than the ultimate character of God. God's fundamental nature doesn't change, but our explanation of events and the lens through which we view things can be different. I realize what I'm saying is heretical of course, and that in some ways it means that we don't have a concrete view of God's nature. It might even be considered the ends justifying the means - if a person can turn to God through any view of the atonement, does the view that brought him to God really matter?
10/19/10 7:32 PM
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reverend john
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well luckily God's love and grace covers our stupidity, as well as our sins :)

rev

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