Since many of the comments on my last post expressed interest in my dissertation topic I will use my next couple of posts to talk a little bit more about my work and research in that area. When we talk about theories of the atonement we are trying to describe a narrative structure of what took place within the Christian cross event. Generally speaking, Christians believe that atonement serves at the reconciliation between God and humanity and that this reconciliation is realized through the person of Jesus Christ. The three primary theories that try to explain this event are Substitutionary/Satisfaction, Moral Influence, and Christus Victor.
The Substitutionary/Satisfaction theory of atonement suggests that Christ takes on the guilt and punishment that humanity deserves because of our sinfulness and so becomes our substitute, paying the debt we owe for our sins. Because of humanity’s sinfulness we deserve death, but instead of giving us what we deserve God instead offers God’s son as a sacrifice to pay our debt, to atone for our sinfulness, and to save us from the eternal punishment of death.
The Moral Influence theory of the atonement focuses primarily on the life and ministry of Christ rather than on his suffering and death. This theory is centered on the belief that God loves God’s creation so much that God would hold back nothing from us, God would even give God’s own Son in order to save us and remain in relationship with us. As a result this theory encourages Christians to live as Christ lived and focuses on imitating his life and ministry in order to bring about justice in our own world.
Continue reading “A Beginning: Atonement Theology and the Feminist Critique by Katie M. Deaver”