Theories of the Atonement

Riley and Jack Neal join us as we tackle all the ins and outs of the differing atonement theories. Ransomed, redeemed, victorious, and paid in full. Buckle up, this could get rough.

Atonement Theories

Atonement – The price of the cross to be “at one” with God

Cross Metaphors seemed to point at some sort of commercial transaction:  Act of Redemption, Redeeming (purchasing), Tetellesti,


  • – Ransom to Satan – A ransom was paid to Satan to redeem us.  Fishhook theory is an offshoot of this.
  • – Christus Victor – Aulen – Mortal blow to the power of Satan in this fallen earth. Cosmic conflict began at Genesis 3:15
  • – Ransom to the Father (The Bride-Price)
  • – Governmental – God’s illumination of the law and sin.  Jesus paid for sin on the cross and gave God ability to forgive on a per sin basis.
  • – Recapitulation – Reversed obedience obtained at the cross
  • – Mystical – We have a God-nature awakened by Christ (Heb 4:15)
  • – Moral Influence – The cross demonstrated God’s love for us and softens our hearts to follow him in love
  • – Example – Christ was an example to be followed
  • – Commercial – Christ was obedient to the cross was given a reward by God he did not need and passed it to us
  • – Satisfaction Theory – Anselm – God’s Justice – Righteousness demands payment
    • – God is Just and is the Justifier.  Pecuniary Debt is monetary debt which can be satisfied without discernment but a moral debt requires the acceptance of the one sinned against.
    • Detailed from Adam on that sin must be atoned for with blood.

The bottom line is that the work of the cross is bigger than our need to compartimentalize and categorize. Each of these theories are strands in a beautiful tapestry and none of them are the entire work of the cross. Problems arise when we think we can fit God and His work into our little boxes of metaphors.

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