Surveying the Wondrous Cross: The Atonement in Church History

Article by   November 2008
As we come to the third and final segment in this series on the atonement, it would be good to remind ourselves where we have been.  In this way we will have some idea of where we are going and of how to assess the way that the church has understood the cross of Christ.  We saw how the atonement made the most sense when it was understood as an integral part of covenant theology.  In other words, Christ's death on the cross was not a mere happenstance, but was the outcome in history of God's eternal plan.  Christ came to undo the damage done by Adam and he did this by obeying his Father's will in all of its varied facets.  He also came to offer his life as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of his people.  In the second segment we surveyed the five word-pictures used by the New Testament to describe the cross work of Christ, which included redemption (with its associated concepts of ransom and substitution), reconciliation, victory, propitiation (and expiation), and justification.  These words, we discovered, are not contradictory.  Rather, they are mutually reinforcing and enriching.  Each of these words contributes to a full orbed understanding of the atonement as penal substitution.  Our understanding of our Lord's redemptive work would be impoverished if we denied any of these angles from which to view the cross on Golgotha's hill.

As with so many aspects of theology, the church has had to wrestle with the doctrine of the atonement.  While the elements for a proper and full understanding of the atonement were readily at hand for theologians in the early church, it would take maturity and sometimes even controversy for the church to come to a clear grasp of just what it was that Scripture told us about the atoning death of Christ.  In this segment we will consider five perspectives on the atonement. [1]  I do not intend to suggest that these are the only views held or inculcated in the church, but they are the most prominent and I think a good case can be made that they represent not only detailed views in their own right, but can serve as categories or classifications for other variations on atonement doctrine. [2]  We will take a chronological journey through church history as we look at the ransom, satisfaction, moral influence, penal substitutionary, and governmental perspectives on the atonement.  What we will discover is that even the views we deem deficient have an element of truth to them.  However, it will often be the case that there is (1) a reductionism at work and (2) an assumed contradiction between penal substitution and the other views. [3]   

The Ransom View of the Atonement
Perhaps the most popular perspective for understanding the atonement in the early church was the ransom view. [4]  It was dramatic and could preach well.  It has gone by various names, including the "fish hook" and the "mouse trap" views.  H. D. MacDonald tells us that three elements united to make the ransom theory attractive:  the recorded words of Christ, the prevailing outlook of the times, and the living experience of believers. [5]  The view can be summarized as follows:  When Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, the Devil gained proprietary rights over the fallen human race.  Human beings were therefore enslaved in sin to Satan.  In order to rescue the fallen human race, God had to provide a ransom to the Devil so that he could gain the freedom of an enslaved people.  In the fish hook and mouse trap versions of this perspective, Satan had to be tricked into taking the bait.  Rather than it being an open and above board transaction, God fooled Satan into thinking that God the Son was his own possession.  The Devil, fooled into taking the bait by Christ's human flesh, overreached his "rightful" possession of fallen humanity and therefore had to forfeit his ownership of the race.  The reader can see how this would be an attractive way of presenting the central message of the gospel.

What could possibly lead people to understand the atonement in this way?  As I have already noted, MacDonald points out three elements.  First the words of Christ do speak of his death in terms of a ransom.  For instance, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45 ESV; cf. Matt. 20:28).  Here Christ clearly speaks of his death in terms of the payment of a ransom.  Our Lord also spoke of his ministry in terms of setting captives at liberty.  At the synagogue in Nazareth he announced the beginning of his public ministry in the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed..." (Luke 4:18 ESV).  The combination of thinking about his death as a ransom that would obtain the liberty of the oppressed is pretty clear here.  On top of that you add the apostle Paul's testimony and you have a pretty strong basis for some kind of ransom theory: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time" (1 Tim. 2:5-6 ESV).  We also need to consider the prevailing outlook of the times and the living experience of believers.  Slavery and superstition was a matter of course in the ancient Greco-Roman world.  And Christians had been set free from slavery to sin and Satan.  There was no doubt about that.  

However, while the Bible does speak of Christ's death as a ransom, it never once suggests that the payment is made to the Devil.  Satan had no proprietary rights over fallen humanity.  Yes, Satan is called the "prince of the power of the air" by Paul (Eph. 2:2) but nowhere is it suggested that he rightfully possessed those under his thrall.  While it is understandable that sooner or later someone was bound to ask who the ransom of Christ's death was paid to, the idea that it was paid to Satan is highly dubious.  Better is the idea that the ransom was paid to the Father. But the Scriptures never actually reveal to whom the ransom of Christ's life was paid.  The ransom theory in its fish hook and mouse trap varieties also called God's integrity into question with its notion that Satan had to be tricked into falling for the trap.  But all was not lost with the ransom view of the atonement.  It had the merit of showing that the atonement was a strong objective work in that it did not merely change our attitude to God and sin.  And this view clearly connected Christ's death and the reality of sin.  And the ransom view of the atonement reveals the costliness of salvation.  It also points out that it was God who saves.  This would be the reigning paradigm for understanding the atonement until Anselm of Canterbury came along in the eleventh century and offered an alternative, to which we will now turn.
    
Anselm of Canterbury and the Satisfaction Perspective on the Atonement
Anselm, the 11th century archbishop of Canterbury, was clearly not pleased with the popularity of the ransom perspective of the atonement.  To address the question of the necessity of the incarnation and atonement, he wrote his Why God Became Man? [6]  Anselm ostensibly attempted to provide an argument for the incarnation and atonement based upon reason alone without recourse to special revelation. [7]  In a conversation with his interlocutor Boso, Anselm reasons about the necessity of God becoming man.  He begins by noting that God is the moral governor of the universe and that man as his creature owes him absolute obedience.  Anselm goes on to say that the Fall involved a particular number of angels and men and that it would make no sense for God to create mankind only to allow the Fall to destroy his handiwork.  When discussing the Fall Anselm draws out as an implication of the absolute obedience that man owed God: the fact that sin is in its essence the withholding of honor due to God. [8]

Since man has withheld honor due to his maker, he has offended God.  Anselm comments that if one has a problem with this idea he has not seriously enough considered the seriousness of sin.  God, we are told, cannot merely forgive sin without consideration for his own offended honor.  Therefore, for Anselm, the atonement is necessary.  According to the archbishop, God's honor can either be satisfied or it can be punished. [9]  God opted not to pursue punishment as that would have spelled ruin for his creation.  So we find ourselves in a major dilemma.  How will God in fact deal with sin?  Understand the problem.  Man owes to God both continual honor and satisfaction for God for his offended honor. [10]  To render this satisfaction to God requires that man render to God more than he originally withheld.  Anselm goes on to remind us that sin is infinitely heinous because it is committed against an infinitely holy God. [11]  The rub comes when we consider the fact that man as a finite creature can never repay an essentially infinite debt.  Anselm stresses that only an infinite being could offer the requisite satisfaction.

We have come down to this fact.  Finite man owes God (1) continued honor plus (2) an infinite satisfaction.  The conundrum is that only an infinite being can in fact offer this satisfaction.  We can sum up Anselm's argument for the atonement in this manner:  What only man should pay and what only God can pay (as the only real infinite being), only the God-man, Jesus Christ, could and did pay. [12]  You may ask yourself, How does this work?  As man, Jesus Christ owed perfect and continual obedience.  But as a sinless man he was not under obligation to suffer and die.  And so his death was voluntary and it was an act of supererogation. [13]  This voluntary satisfaction brought infinite honor and glory to God.  In other words, Jesus merited a reward.  But as a sinless man Jesus had no need of such a reward and so his merit accrued to sinful man.  According to Anselm, Christ's death merited a reward that involved forgiveness of sins and gained a title to eternal life for all those who obey the commandments of God. [14]

What do we say about all this?  Anselm has been extremely influential in the church and not without good cause.  But he has also been subject to scathing criticism.  Let's give some thought, then, to the strengths and weaknesses of Anselm's influential argument.   Agreeing with Louis Berkhof, we would have to say that Anselm offers the first major explanation of how the atonement was necessary and how Christ's death achieved salvation. [15]  Anselm succeeds in presenting an objective account of the atonement that stems from God's immutable nature. [16]  However, while we appreciate Anselm's accomplishment, it is not without its defects.  First, consider that Anselm sets up a false dichotomy when he suggests that atonement comes through either satisfaction or punishment.  The Protestant Reformers will later tweak Anselm and point out that satisfaction, in fact, comes through punishment.  Related to this, Anselm has no sense that Christ's sufferings are endured as a penalty since he has set up the discussion as a choice between satisfaction or punishment.  Christ's sufferings are rather seen as a voluntary gift offered up to God whereby he merits an unneeded reward which he then passes on to a sinful human race. [17]  Lastly, Anselm fails to treat Jesus Christ as the true representative of his people, who undergoes the necessity of obedience to the law and suffers punishment for the sins of his people.  By doing this, he one-sidedly stresses the death of Christ without real consideration of the death as the culmination of a life of obedience.  In other words, Anselm gives short shrift to Christ's active obedience.  However, it should be said that without Anselm's honest-to-goodness breakthrough in understanding the atonement, it would be hard to envision the Reformers later building on his insights to formulate the penal substitutionary understanding of the atonement.

Peter Abelard and the Moral Influence Perspective of the Atonement
Before we get to the Protestant Reformers we need to consider the reaction of Peter Abelard to Anselm's satisfaction view of the atonement.  Abelard flourished around 1141 AD [18] and rejected the satisfaction view of the atonement formulated by Anselm.  Abelard suggests that the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion has a purely subjective effect on sinful man.  In other words, building upon such biblical texts as Luke 7:47 and Romans 5:1-11, Abelard argued that the atonement is a demonstration of God's love that so moves sinners that they realize their sinful rebellion and repent and respond in love to God.  All that is required is penitence.  God himself does not have to be satisfied or placated.  He wants to forgive men their transgressions.  There is no objectivity to the work of atonement with Abelard's view.

How do we assess Abelard at this point?  We can say this much.  There is a biblical basis for the notion that the cross was a true demonstration of God's love toward sinners (Rom. 5:1-11).  There is no argument about that.  However, Abelard erred in thinking that was the sum total of what could be said.  It appears as though Abelard assumed that the only attribute of God that was of any significance was love.  Where is a consideration of God's righteousness, justice, and holiness in this view?  What must Abelard think of sin?  If the cross was only a demonstration of God's love, why did the Son have to die such an utterly vile death? [19]  I would argue that the cross was a real demonstration of God's love toward his own because in the atonement Christ took our place.  How else could it be construed as an act of love?  Otherwise the atonement is reduced to the equivalent of those heroic acts of bravery we have heard about where a man falls on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers.  Even those truly brave acts can only be understood as brave in the context of actually saving or intending to save specific lives.  In Abelard's scheme our Lord becomes a moral teacher and is not a savior.  It should not surprise us that this view was resurrected by classical Liberalism and may gain new life in our day with those who reject penal substitutionary atonement.

The Reformers and Penal Substitutionary Atonement

Many assume that the Reformers merely repeated Anselm's satisfaction view of the atonement. [20]  While the Reformers did appreciate the great advance in the understanding of the atonement offered by the great archbishop of Canterbury, the truth of the matter is that they [21] built on and corrected Anselm at several points.  Martin Luther and John Calvin, among others, also tied the work of the cross to the doctrine of justification in a way that Anselm had not done.  So how do the Reformers both build on and improve upon Anselm?

The Reformers agree with Anselm that the atonement is dependent upon God's own initiative.  And they agree with him that the God-man is the only one to make atonement.  However, they recognize that God did not have to save his fallen creation, but once he committed himself to doing that, the death of Christ on the cross was the only way to go.  They also agreed with Anselm that Christ's death perfectly satisfied the justice of God.  One area where the Reformers reframe the discussion is by changing the language of sin as insult to God's honor to sin as the breaking of God's law.  In this way they stress the guilt that results from the transgressing of the law.  The Reformers also avoided Anselm's false dilemma of the atonement occurring by means of either satisfaction or punishment by pointing to the biblical teaching that Christ was a penal substitute for or representative of his people.  Jesus Christ took upon himself the punishment that the sins of his people deserved.  In other words, the Reformers understood that the atonement was a satisfaction by means of punishment. 

Another improvement that the Reformation makes on Anselm is not to see the atonement as a work of supererogation that interprets the work of Christ in the context of the medieval Roman Catholic penitential system.  As one reads Anselm on the way Christ's obedience to the Father benefits sinful man one can't help but see correspondences with the practices of the church of his time.  For the Reformers, Christ's work comes to be seen as ensconced within a covenantal framework much like what we discussed in the first segment of this series. [22]  Additionally, unlike Anselm, the Reformers did not abstract the work of Christ on the cross from his life of obedience to the Father.  Christ's obedient death was but the culmination of his whole life of obedience.  And the sufferings of his incarnate life reached their telos in the crucifixion.  And, as already noted, the Reformers connected the work of Christ in his life and death to the experience of the believer, especially with the doctrine of justification.  In justification, both Christ's active and passive obedience accrue to the believer by faith. 
   
One area of the doctrine of the atonement that developed after the first and second generation of the Reformers was the question of the extent of the atonement.  Or, to put it in other words, for whom did Christ die? [23]  Did Christ die to make salvation possible for all men or did he die for specific people?  The discussion is often cast in terms of limited atonement (the "L" in the acrostic "TULIP" which stems from the response of the Synod of Dordt to the Arminian Remonstrance).  While Reformers such as Calvin may not have been explicit on this question, it seems to me that the best sense can only be made of Calvin's discussion of the atonement if we see his view entailing limited atonement or particular redemption or, even better, definite atonement.  The use of the term "limited" can be misleading.  After all, the Arminian limits the atonement to those who exercise faith in Christ.  They do not, as a rule, embrace universalism.  Christ's death makes it possible for sinful men and women to turn to Christ in order to complete the work of salvation.  On this view, Christ does not actually obtain salvation for anyone.  The Reformed perspective is that Christ died for the elect and actually achieved salvation for them.  So while the Reformed limit the extent of the atonement, the Arminian limits its efficacy.  The Reformed (i.e., Calvinists) believe that the atonement was for those upon whom God set his love in eternity past.

So out of the Reformation and its aftermath we find a full-orbed doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement with its concomitant doctrine of definite atonement.  Christ died for his own people and he actually achieved salvation.  That, I believe, is amazing grace!

The Governmental View of the Atonement

To my understanding, we reached the highpoint of the church's understanding of the atonement with the Reformation penal substitutionary view.  However, we should consider one further formulation that has taken hold within Arminian circles, and that is the view known as the "governmental" view.  This view was first formulated by the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) who was also known for his writings on international law, just war theory, and Christian apologetics.  Grotius, who was an Arminian, first formulated the governmental view in response to the heretical views of Faustus Socinus [24]  in his book Defense of the Catholic Faith Concerning the Satisfaction of Christ Against Faustus Socinus of Siena.

Grotius' governmental view of the atonement can be summarized in this way: [25] Grotius agreed with the Reformers that satisfaction was necessary for God to justly exercise mercy.  Against Socinus Grotius argued that God could not merely wave his hand and forgive sinners.  However, Grotius agreed with Socinus that justice is not an inherent necessity of God's nature, but that it is an effect of his will.  In other words, God exercises justice for the good ordering of society.  Grotius held that God is above his law and rules over it (he is ex lex rather than the law being a reflection of God's own nature).  Grotius also conceives of God as a sovereign ruler over the universe rather than a judge.  As ruler he can set aside his law at his own discretion.  As a judge he would have to enforce the law in the strictest terms.  According to Grotius, man's fall into sin constitutes a major reason for God to relax his law.  If God did not relax his law, says Grotius, man's reverential piety toward God would disappear altogether and so too would God's wonderful benevolence towards man.  It is in this context of a relaxed law that sin is punished.  It is essential that sin be punished but it is not equally essential that the punishment be inflicted on the sinner him or herself.  Grotius believed that all punishment presupposed the common good, the preservation of a moral order.  It would be immoral for God as a judge to inflict punishment on anyone other than the one who committed sin, but as sovereign ruler God may overrule this expectation. 

So much for the context or background for understanding the atonement.  How does all this impinge upon the atonement itself?  Grotius tells us that Christ died to satisfy the necessities of a relaxed law.  In other words, Christ's death is not a matter of his suffering penalties that are the exact equivalent of what would fall to us.  Since the law is relaxed this is not an insurmountable problem.  If the law was completely abrogated its authority would be nullified and the forgiveness of sin would be regarded as a light affair.  However, God cannot maintain the government of his universe if his law is not highly esteemed.  Christ's death, therefore, serves as a public notice or demonstration of how seriously God takes sin and that his law ought to be highly regarded.  If I may put it another way, Christ's death occurs to maintain public order.  In the end, Christ's death satisfied the requirements of God's relaxed law.  In many ways, this is a modified form of the moral influence view of the atonement with the added feature of a concern for the government of the universe.  It is this view of Hugo Grotius that becomes standard in Arminianism and especially within Methodism, although many within Methodism would not necessarily recognize this as their view of the atonement whatsoever. [26]

What does one say to this?  Certainly we would agree with Grotius that God is the moral governor of the universe. [27]  However, I would have demur at the point where Grotius thought the atonement was simply about maintaining moral order in the universe.  I also find his discussion about punishing someone other than an offender fairly weak.  Grotius also errs in thinking that the law is something outside of God and subject to his will without any consideration of the fact that the law may in fact reflect God's own nature.  The law in this view becomes a third thing that comes between God and the human race.  And, regardless of what Grotius thought, God is both sovereign ruler and judge of the universe (Gen. 18:25, Psalm 7:11, Acts 17:31).  And I would ask Grotius how he thinks his view of the atonement actually deals with sin in a just way?  As Berkhof reminds us, an atonement that does not satisfy violated holiness will hardly satisfy a sinful heart and an offending conscience any more than it satisfies an offended God. [28]

Conclusion
Having come to the end of a consideration of the highpoints of atonement thinking in the church and to the end of the series, what can we say about the wondrous cross we set out to survey?  Have I spoken to every aspect of the doctrine?  By no means!  What I had hoped to do was whet your appetite to study the glorious reality in more detail.  We have examined the setting of the atonement within covenant theology.  We have considered the five word pictures for the atonement found in the New Testament, and we have looked at five representative views of the atonement in the history of the church.  I trust that I have shown that penal substitutionary atonement is the teaching of the Bible and the best of the teaching of the church.  At the end of the day, any view of the atonement that does not see it as overcoming the sin that brings guilt and pollution and that alienates us from God and that does not understand it in terms of God's attributes of justice and mercy does not do justice to the cross.  As for me, I am glad that there is a wondrous cross that I can survey.  And I am glad we can do more than that!  We can plunge into the fountain that flows from Golgatha's hill and there our sins can be washed away.  As William Cowper reminds us, "There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains."

Jeffery Waddington is a PhD candidate at Westminster Theological Seminary and a teaching elder at Calvary OPC Church in NJ.
________________________________________________
[1] I am using the word perspective instead of the more loaded term theory.  My purpose for doing this is fairly straightforward.  I do not happen to think that the penal substitutionary understanding of the atonement is a mere theory.  I believe it is the teaching of the Scriptures when we collate all that the Bible has to say on the atonement, both from the Old as well as the New Testament.  So while I agree that the other four views can rightfully be called theories, inasmuch as they either misconstrue the teaching of Scripture or fail to bring out the full depth of the richness of biblical teaching on the atonement, I will not extend that term to the teaching of the Protestant Reformers on the subject.  In this I am taking an opposing view to all the ministers who signed on to the infamous Auburn Affirmation of 1924.

[2] For a much fuller, if not completely exhaustive treatment of the history of the doctrine of the atonement with its bewildering variety of perspectives, see H. D. MacDonald's The Atonement of the Death of Christ:  In Faith, Revelation, and History (Grand Rapids:  Baker, 1985).  Unfortunately this volume is currently out of print.  It would be great if a publisher would bring it into circulation.

[3] I should note that the supposed contradictions seem to disappear once the element of truth that resides in the other perspectives on the cross is properly understood and formulated.

[4] Church Fathers could hold to more than one perspective on the atonement.  A sampling of the fathers who held to some form of the ransom theory of the atonement would include Origen of Alexandria in his Commentaries on Matthew 16:8, 20:28 and Romans 2:13; Gregory of Nyssa in his Oratio Catechetica Magna; Gregory the Great; Cyril of Alexandria in his Opera; and John of Damascus in his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.

[5] MacDonald, Atonement of the Death of Christ, 138.

[6] The original Latin title is Cur Deus Homo? which can be translated as I have it here or as Why the God-Man?  This work can be found is several editions.  I am using the edition found in The Basic Writings of St. Anselm (S. N. Dean, tr.  LaSalle:  Open Court Press, 1998).  For an interesting discussion of Anselm, see Robert Strimple, Anselm and the Theology of the Atonement: A Study of the Man and His Message (Th.M. Thesis.  Philadelphia:  Westminster Theological Seminary, 1964).

[7] It is, of course, debatable whether he succeeded in this enterprise.  Does he argue purely from reason, or have Scriptural principles entered in unawares?

[8] This is typically where critics will complain that Anselm shows his medieval context in that he attributed a feudal mindset to God.  I am not convinced that this criticism is altogether fair.  Cur Deus Homo, 1.11.

[9] Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 1.15

[10] Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 1.24.

[11] Jonathan Edwards will argue in much the same way in his "Miscellanies" on the subject and in his treatise on original sin.

[12] Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 2.6.

[13]That is, it went far above and beyond the call of duty.

[14] If this looks to you like the medieval penitential system, you would be right.

[15] See Louis Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines (Carlisle:  Banner of Truth, 1937), 173-174.

[16] This should not be at all surprising as Anselm is considered a prime exemplar of an advocate of "perfect being" theology.

[17] Berkhof also notes that Anselm begins his discussion of the atonement in the realm of private law where an injured party may set the terms of satisfaction and imperceptibly passes over into public law in an effort to argue for the necessity of the atonement.  History of Christian Doctrine, 173-174.

[18] This is when Bernard of Clairvaux brought charges against Abelard at the Council of Sens.  His views can be found in his Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans and The Epitome of Christian Doctrine both of which can be found in the rare Patrologia Latina edited by J. P. Migne and published in Paris in the 19th century.  Logos software has announced plans to publish Migne in stages, with the Patrologia Graeca first.  You can currently access this multi- volume set online at http://pld.chadwyck.co.uk for a monetary fee.

[19] The atonement has been described as the mors turpissima crucis, the "utterly vile death of the cross".

[20] See Robert Strimple's response to that error in his ThM thesis, p.96ff.

[21] "They" refers primarily to Martin Luther and John Calvin, but much of the same could be said for others of the Reformers.  We are greatly mistaken if we think Luther and Calvin are the only Reformers of significance.  Readers can find discussions of the atonement in Luther's Epistle Sermon, Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Trinity (J. N. Lenker, ed.  Minneapolis:  The Luther Press, 1903-1910) and in Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (Ford Lewis Battles, tr. John T. McNeill, ed.  Louisville:  WJKP, 1960).  I should also note that I am over simplifying for the sake of clarity and brevity.  What is presented here as the Reformation position on the atonement also reflects theological development beyond the time of the first and second generation of Reformers.  In other words, I am also reflecting some of the insights of the Reformed Scholastics.

[22] Once again let me note that I am blending discussions that occurred over many years and involved many theologians within the Reformation (Reformed churches, especially) and its afterglow.

[23] There is no way to discuss this issue without saying something about the "Calvin versus the Calvinist" historiographical debate.  Suffice it to say that I hold to the unity-with-development view articulated most clearly in the work of Richard A. Muller.  See his Unaccommodated Calvin (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2001) and After Calvin (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2003)for examples of his stellar research.

[24] Faustus and his nephew Lelio Socinus (Sozzino in Italian) were the forerunners of contemporary Unitarianism.

[25] I am happy to note my reliance upon, among other resources, H. D. MacDonald's Atonement of the Death of Christ, 203-207 and Louis Berkhof, History of Christian Doctrines, 186-188.

[26] As a former Wesleyan-Arminian  I can tell you I never embraced this view of the atonement.  I was convinced of penal substitution on the reading of it in the pages of John Stott's The Cross of Christ.  It eventually dawned upon me that penal substitution entails election.  And so now I am Reformed.

[27] Read Isaiah 40-44 for a clear reminder of God's sovereign rule of his creation.

[28] Berkhof, History of Christian Doctrines, 186-188.

AskWebBanner-Miracles.jpg

reformation21 is the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting reformation21 and the mission of the Alliance. Please donate here.
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc. © 2005-2014   |   Privacy Policy   |   800.956.2644   |   Frequently Asked Questions   |   Login