Talk:Atonement in Christianity

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2003-2004 discussion[edit]

I have tried to expand the bit on Judaism a bit. Someone better informed than me about Judaism specifically might want to change and add more information to that section.

Does Islam have a doctrine of atonement, specifically? This might be another useful addition here. ---Ihcoyc

Wouldn't it be better to move all this material to the article on sin? These two topics (sin and atonement) really should be discussed together. We could then redirect this title to sin. RK

I began an article on atonement here because "atonement" showed up in a list of requested articles. It probably does make sense to treat them together. ---Ihcoyc
I object to the merging of these two articles Sin and Atonement. While these two subjects may go hand in hand with each other (maybe even more so for Judaism), these subjects also go hand in hand with many other religious subjects. And other Wikipedia article-subjects also go hand in hand with other article-subjects, but Wikipedia generally doesn't merge articles merely because they go hand in hand. There needs to be a compelling reason demonstrated first why subjects each with their own unique concepts should be merged before they actually are merged. That has not been done. I could agree that maybe a separate article called Sin and Atonement is needed IN ADDITION to articles for each subject, but as it is, even the Sin article is not properly titled for its subject matter! B 18:19, 4 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I object to merging because I now have a problem with article on ACIM. I will remove the redirect.Andries 21:34, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)

2005-2007 discussion[edit]

Most of the following dicussion is now obsolete: Simon (talk) 16:06, 24 April 2008 (UTC)


This article needs attention. There is much which can be borrowed from the pages Substitutionary atonement and Atonement (Governmental view), but other theories need elucidation...such as the Ransom theory, for starters. This is obviously an important topic. I'd be happy to expand the article, but thought I'd invite others to participate as well. Any takers? Thoughts? KHM03 23:35, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

July 2005 formatting[edit]

I added four theories of atonement in Christian theology, leaving them primarily blank, for future elucidation by myself and/or other editors. These are not written in stone, obviously; I took the four from Miley's classic work. The categorization of the four seems fair to me, but, as always, I'm open for discussion. Hope this helps us develop an excellent article. KHM03 3 July 2005 21:35 (UTC)


This article has been greatly improved, but it's an outline for a history of systematic theology, for Christ's sake. It'll be too long (just the outline alone is too long, by wiki-standards). For myself, in my more Christian moments, I follow Paul that Jesus was a new human being, the New Adam, and why this sinless immortal being of the flesh died gets very complicated, and does not make much sense anymore.

I suggest a strong (but brief) thesis statement be made, indicating the centrality of the Atonement to Christian doctrine.

Oops, left out my sig. --FourthAve 06:20, 15 July 2005 (UTC)

Christus Victor, in benedicition[edit]

I have heard a pastor say for benediction, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Christus Victor." So I looked under Christus Victor. What do I find? Nothing of any use to me here. Can anyone tell me briefly why he would say that? D. F. Schmidt 01:36, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

Christus Victor means "Christ is the Victor", or perhaps "Christ Wins". It refers to Christ defeating Sin and Death on the cross. Fieari 04:41, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
I figured that much, but I was wondering if there's a deeper meaning somewhere. D. F. Schmidt 01:14, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Anonymous User Attacks?[edit]

It appears as if there's a few people anonymously deleting entire sections from this article, perhaps as an attack to LDS beliefs. My intention is to raise awareness of this. Thanks to Baseballbaby for reverting the latest attempt --Piewalker 23:06, 5 July 2006 (UTC).

I felt the LDS discussion is indeed too long relative to the rest of the content on this page and tried to edit it down to the main points (and I tried to add signposts to make it easier to skim...). --RobertC 12:48, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
RobertC, excellent summarization of the untidy LDS discussion about the atonement. I didn't realize how messy it was until you added those formatted bullets. As a result, I believe the LDS perspective seems to be represented somewhat more coherently and lends accessibility to these beliefs. I do have to say, as bulleted, "God's limited omnipotence" sounds paradoxical. I understand where you're going with this...meaning that God the Father couldn't atone for us, so He sent a messenger, Christ, and thus God's power is really not "all-powerful", but pretty much as powerful as you can get given delegation and free agency...which I think if I read you right, you intimated that the inherent limitations to omnipotence begin at personal choice (free agency), obviously of which God cannot change except by persuasion. I think it's important to note that God not only created agency/autonomy for humanity, but that He respects and universally protects it as well (most likely by the power of the atonement) as a means to eternal progression. Overall, I'm surprised LDS views of the atonement have not yet been challenged on this discussion page. I think an inter-faith discussion of the atonement would be healthy. --Piewalker 17:51, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree - good job Robert! --Trödel 20:55, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
I came across this article for the first time the other day and was surprised by the partisan nature of it - too much was written with one or another obvious predisposition to the topic. I tried to tidy it a bit so that opinions on each theory were instead kept to the appropriate pages on each theory (although I admit these need a bit of work). I also removed the LDS section as this did not relate directly to the bare bones of the definition of atonement, and secondly represents a fairly minor off-shoot of the Christian faith. Thus I didn't see the justification of having an LDS section if there wasn't a JW section, Scientology section etc.--Simon 13:14, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm happy an interfaith discussion has begun. I'm okay with your rewording of the first paragraph. The essentials are there. My concern was that Christ should be in the very first sentence for obvious reasons, and He is. I'm afraid, Simon, that your deletions of LDS perspectives of the atonement are unwarranted for many reasons (bulleted below). You opened a can of worms there. The religions you mentioned—or any others that advance particular concepts of the atonement—bear the responsibility of including their own particular beliefs. Exclusion on the basis of a failure of other faiths to balance out the LDS perspective is, well, exclusionary, and it's not right. I see other sections on varying theological perspectives of the atonement waiting to be grown! If it gets too big, we can spin off faith-specific articles as direct links. Justification for keeping the LDS section:
  1. These views of the atonement exist.
  2. The LDS section was—before you hastily and cavalierly deleted it—well-documented with scriptural reference and published commentary from LDS authorities and experts.
  3. Provides an interesting take on the atonement.
  4. Deletion does not need to satisfy your arbitrary criterion to be "bare-bones" or to "slim-down" the article. That's why other people, like me, exist to keep you in check.
  5. Wikipedia exists to immerse ourselves in knowledge—granted not in an environment of information anarchy or overload.
  6. The LDS Church is not a "minor off-shoot" of the Christian faith. In fact it's not an off-shoot of anything.
    • See restorationism.
    • It is the fourth largest religious body in the United States[1].
    • Two sources claim the LDS Church is the most prosperous American religion, a 1991 report by the Arizona Republic and a 1997 report by Time Magazine. The Church has holdings in real estate, as well as for-profit businesses managed through Deseret Management Corporation. Time estimated assets in 1996 at more than $30 billion. I know of no other religion with such an agressive building program or missionary program (~55,000 missionaries), and is one of the "fastest-growing" religious organizations, not only in the US, but globally.[1]
  7. LDS perspectives of the atonement are interesting. And it's interesting to quite a few people, evidenced by that section's content evolution (see the edit history).
If it's not interesting to you, discuss it here first instead of getting trigger happy with the delete button or you'll have continued community reprisal like this. Piewalker 15:33, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

How should a doctrine be represented?[edit]

Firstly I'm sorry if my editing was perceived as "trigger happy". Secondly, I am fully aware that the atonement has been the source of much debate in the past, and as such I think any "encyclopedia" should represent the most neutral, hostorically based account possible. As such, in my earlier attempt to edit, I tried to remove the parts that I thought were related to individual theories, and thus just leave the most general definition. As an example, saying that the atonement in THE central doctrine of Christianity is actually far more Anselmian than Abelardian. Similarly I think many would argue that doctrines such as the trinity are as equally important as atonement, and thus calling atonement A central doctrine of Christianity is far more justified. Similarly references that mankind is in need of "physical repair", or to be "reunited to God" are again based on individual theories rather than the central concept. Thus I do actually think my editing of the initial paragraph was entirely justified in order to remove doctrinal bias to the initial definition. (For the record I take a Girardian view on the whole issue but figured if people wanted to read about Girard they can find the Girard page themselves!).--Skolstoe 10:45, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Regarding my deletion of the LDS points. Firstly you actually say that LDS doctrine is based on an "expansion of the substitutionary atonement concept". Surely this means that the whole section should be included on the substitutionary atonement page rather that the top atonement page? Secondly, although many Americans may think so, the USA is not the entire world! Infact if I hadn't of actually grown up in Lingfield in the UK (the site of one of the few Mormon temples in Europe) I wouldn't have even heard of them. As such, and despite what you say about the popularity of Mormonism in the US, it IS historically and currently a rather small spin-off of Christian tradition . Again I have no problems with you including your beliefs on the appropriate page, however having a whole section on mormonism on the top atonement page sounds an awful lot like an attempt to proselytise rather than give a good general explanantion of atonement.--Skolstoe 10:45, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Further to the above, I have asked for the mediation cabal to look into this before we get into a fight --Skolstoe 11:56, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I think requesting mediation is premature - as there hasn't been any kind of revert war here or even significant discussion that would establish that concensus can't be reached. But I am on principle against employing dispute resolutions preemptively --Trödel 13:15, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I have had fairly bad experiences in the past talking about doctrine/religious issues with people who find it difficult to recognise the difference between their own personal view AND the context within which that view is held. This was the original reason why I attempted to edit the atonement article; simply because I could perceive strong bias in some of what was written. Now granted everyone is guilty of not understanding enough about their own background most of the time, however the distance between a post-modern approach and that from a late-modern philosophical background (which Mormonism reprsents) is such that right from the start misunderstandings can be had. For instance, Piewalker says above that his reversion constitutes a "community reprisal", immediately suggesting that his point of view constitutes the dominant narrative. Similarly since only a relatively few (mostly mormon) people have contributed to this page, again we find bias towards a dominant view. Now do not get me wrong, I think dominant views are important, HOWEVER I do not see the purpose of a general article on atonement to be that of specifically spelling out one viewpoint. As I said before, lets put that in the relevant sub-article.--Skolstoe 13:49, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I think you will find most of the participants in the LDS WikiProject to be respectful. As to the merits of the discussion. The expanded view of the atonement should be summarized here as it is a notable miniority view - I add the complementary after reading the substitutionary atonement article - and agree that the details could be fleshed out there. However, I think the dominant view reflects the interests of those editing the article, and there would be no objection to adding more information to give the article more interdenominational balance, and their limited knowledge of other views of the atonement. --Trödel 14:53, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Skolstoe: I can imagine that my narrative comes across as "dominating." So does yours. Articulate people usually come across that way, and I've been dealing with that my whole life. And so we find ourselves in a debate. Our senses are most certainly shaped from our scripting, moral development, academic cultivation, and how we choose to respond to others. We are poised to expose flaws in each other's defenses. It's natural. My community reprisal comment was a cautionary note to you to expect resistance with edit jobs like yours. Deletion, the sweeping away of an entire section, not to mention minimizing the LDS Church as an "off-shoot," as if it is an anomolous irrelevancy in the grand scope of religious consequence, is not a good-faith action. Your argument is that this article seems biased. There are many other viewpoints present in the article. The LDS one is the most fleshed out. You have chosen to focus on its prominence, not its accuracy and relevance to the topic and how it advances our understanding of the Atonement. You have certainly not emphasized the importance of developing competing viewpoints, as have I. I very much look forward to others, and plan to contribute to them. We need more competent thinkers here. You are one of them. I ask you kindly to contribute to this article and relax your antagonism, else we find ourselves within the war of words, a maze of meanings, a dark labyrinth. It is best to rely on scripture, from which the doctrine of Atonement solely originates, though other sources are extraordinarily illuminating. I'm sure you have some now waiting to be appended faithfully. The doctrine presented in this article and the scriptures originates not from me or you. Our interpretation of it is certainly of consequence. Competing interpretations must have a forum for expression. This article (and this very talk page) is the perfect place for engendering such a discussion. Deleting entire sections of text that has been carefully developed by our community over the course of months and years is not the answer to the unambiguous goal of progressing this article. Nonetheless, I respect your good-will opinions and drive to make it better. We are the Argonauts, the seekers of the priceless fleece, the Truth. Piewalker 15:10, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
In that case, how about putting the LDS section in its own heading to distinguish it from the more "general" use of the word atonement. Then I'll write a contribution on Girard's Anthropological interpretation of atonement theology so that more than one minority viewpoint is represented!
As for the start of the article, I still maintain that the paragraph I wrote is a fairer take on the subject because not everyone agrees that a) atonement was initiated by Jesus Christ, b) that atonement was needed at all in a mechanistic sense c) that it is indeed the central doctrine of Christianity, d) what exactly the phrase "come to Christ" means, and e), that atonement is THE central doctrine of Christianity. Secondly, the whole paragraph relating to "Need for a Redeemer" is straight out of the Anselmian satisfaction view and would not be accepted by more liberal scholars, so thus should be under the satisfaction heading, NOT the main atonement heading.--Skolstoe 15:22, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I would say that the "Need for a Redeemer" paragraph is unnecessary. The information there could be presented in the introduction, and under relevant sections where the content represents views held only by some christians Lurker talk 17:24, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I like the section, not just because I created it, but because it attempts to approach the rationale for Atonement and the need for a redeemer. This is probably described in other articles, so if anyone can find a link, say to the Fall of Adam or something similar, then we could dichotomize the content, abbreviate the remainder, and let it be absorbed by the other sections in this article. That is, of course, there isn't an overwhelming move to keep it. If so, speak now. Piewalker 17:37, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

This is an encyclopedia, not a religious text.[edit]

Atomement is first and foremost a word that means nothing to two thirds of the worlds population and should be introduced from a neutral perspective.

It does not seem correct to state something like "was initiated and accomplished by Jesus Christ as a means for members of the human family to reunite with God, as documented by the Bible and testified by other Christian scripture."

This is not a religious text and matters of faith should not be touted as fact. The religious particulars of the concept of Atonement belong in the "The Atonement in Christianity" section. The "Need for a Redeemer" section should be merged with the Christian section as it is singularly relgious as well. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

New Introduction[edit]

I've made a start on a more neutral introduction. This combines material from the original introdduction and the "need for a redeemer" section. Feel free to expand it Lurker talk 17:41, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm about to have another go at the introduction simply because I do not think it is accepted by all that there is only ONE way for reconciliation with God (hence A reconciliation rather than THE reconciliation) and also because many other people disagree that the atonement is only available to SOME people (hence removing "some of the human race").--Simon 11:29, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
My original version said "some or all", I have no idea why this was changed Lurker talk 11:32, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Seeing as there is now quite a lot in the article from a Jewish perspective, could I suggest combining the "atonement in Judaism" section with the initial introduction, so that it reads something like:

The Atonement is a doctrine found within both Christianity and Judaism. It describes how humankinds sin can be redeemed before God. In Judaism Atonement is said to be the process of forgiving or pardoning a transgression. The Holiest day in the Jewish year is the Day of Atonement known as Yom Kippur. In Christianity Atonement refers to the redemptive death of Jesus Christ making possible a reconciliation between God and creation. Within Christianity there have been numerous theories of Atonement put forward by theologians, with the most popular including the ransom theory, the Anselmian theory and the Abelardian theory.

--Simon 15:04, 18 August 2006 (UTC)


Could someone create a new article on the LDS view of the atonement? This would perhaps relieve some of the argument that has been happening here Lurker talk 17:51, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

I would suggest the material in the perspectives section specific to the LDS beliefs belongs in a separate article. To create this article click here. This will create a page titled Atonement (Latter Day Saints view) Or create another article if you think of a better title Lurker talk 17:56, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

I disagree. The perspectives section looks good as is and provides room for growth and discussion to take place. If it gets significantly larger, only then should we spin it off. Piewalker 18:06, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

I think we don't need a seperate article on the LDS view until there is significant enough text to warrant splitting the article - in which case it will still need to be summarized and use the {{main}} template to direct readers to additional information - currenlty there just isn't enough material to warrant all that. --Trödel 18:51, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm not going to do this now as I imagine others will have something to say, however could I suggest removing the entire section "The Atonement in Christianity" in favour of just keeping the later section entitled "Atonement theories in Christianity" which has the relevant links. Then, perhaps someone can perhaps take Lurkers suggestion of adding a new page called something like Atonement in Mormonism etc. I'll then add a page (or perhaps edit the page on Rene Girard) to include his particular atonement theory--Simon 11:38, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your suggestion Simon. The Atonement in Christianity section is not theory-based that requires a hypothesis to be tested. It's a belief system. Theories come from the academic realm, and we're not in school here. A host of Christian beliefs here are simply stated, although they are certainly not complete, but it's an adequate overview nonetheless. If we remove the section as you propose, I believe the overall meaning of the Atonement according to the Christian world would be improperly diluted because it would not be represented within the very topic it's addressing. So again I petition you and others: please contribute. I find it disconcerting you'd like to delete the entire thing all over again, just as you did before. The section you speak of, which you had previously removed on your own (and from your intentions cited above overtly indicate you'd still like to), frankly doesn't require removal, merging into another article, or the creation of another article because this content is appropriate for reasons I have extensively argued above. I really wish we had more voices on this issue representing still other positions other than myself, Trödel, Simon, and Lurker. Piewalker 14:34, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't see much point in a split at present; there's not the material at present to justify it, and everything here seems to be reasonably related to the root concept. OTOH, it could do with considerable reworking. Can I suggest for one thing that the Judaism section be placed earlier, and better-connected with the discussion of Hebrew terminology as related to the etymology of the Christian terminology? Alai 17:49, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Just because the article is short does not mean that material that is best placed on another page deserves to be where it is. I agree that perhaps the whole thing should be re-worked to take into account the Jewish view, and thus maybe citing atonement as a "Christian" doctrine could be slightly misleading in the introduction.
Either way, the section entitled "Atonement in Christianity" is a biased POV based section, and until Piwalker can come up with answers to my criticism voiced below, I am going to revert it.--Simon 17:30, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I've noticed there hasn't been much editing in this article recently. Does that mean everyone is satisfied? Lurker oi! 15:57, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Why? Are you not satisfied? Piewalker 18:01, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
No I'm not satisfied, however I have been a bit tied up with other things at the moment to keep working on this article. I am doing a bit of reading on the topic and will attempt to edit the article a bit more, perhaps including the Jewish perspective right from the start, and then follow with a better overview than the "Atonement in Christianity" section. I still think that piewalker is extremely biased towards the penal substitution position, and does not seem to realise the context of his position. But I will contribute some more when I have time...--Simon 14:13, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

A critic of the "Atonement in Christianity" section[edit]

  • The paragraph:

"The Atonement was necessary to compensate and reverse the fall of Adam, as noted in Christian scripture. In 1 Corinthians 15:22, Paul wrote: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Christ therefore submitted voluntarily as the mediating representative for both humanity and God to answer the ends of the law previously transgressed by Adam. Paul taught that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; … this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:50–53)."

... has a strong bias towards Anselmian theory, and thus is NOT general to the subject of atonement. Furthermore the passage is also ambiguous regarding whether or not "the fall" is an allegorical representation of the human condition (as Abelardians would contend), or is something to be taken literally. Thus this paragraph does not belong where it is.

You need to declare why there is a "strong bias" toward that theory and not others. Plus, you didn't explain away the 1 Cor substantiation of that position.
"Mediating representative"??? Similarly the need for a "literal Adam" is entirely necessary for the logic that if one man caused the fall, one man is needed to redeem the fall (hence the idea of substitution!!).
  • In the next paragraph, the phrase:

"The Atonement is a perceived to be a crowning doctrine in Christianity that also attempts to answer why God the Son condescended to live upon Earth as a human man, born to the virgin Mary as the human baby Jesus, and the need for an intercession for the human family."

... would also not be agreed by all people. Again a large number of liberal scholars would suggest that Jesus' example was as much a revelation as his death, and indeed that some branches of Christianity have become too "death orientated". Thus it is not universally agreed that soteriology and the atonement act are entirely the same thing.

It is perceived by the majority of Christians. If it is not "agreed" by "all people", explain their position instead of deleting it.
I just did explain the alternative position by saying "...would suggest that Jesus' example was as much a revelation as his death, and indeed that some branches of Christianity have become too "death orientated"..."
  • Again:

"As a preamble to the Atonement, Christ ministered to organize His church, taught love, faith, hope, kindness, forbearance, pacifism, to bear one another's burdens, repentence, forgiveness, baptism, and endeavored to overcome the sins of the world through the Atonement by fulfilling the ends of the laws of heaven, which Christ is said to have established with direction from the Father. This was summarily accomplished through his preeminant example of perfection, overcoming temptation, descending below all things (including the Crucifixion), and overcoming the the world by making all things new physically (resurrection) and spiritually (salvation)."

...this is a specific faith position about Jesus himself rather than being specifically relevant to atonement per se.

Jesus enabled the atonement. One cannot have a conversation of the atonement without mentioning Who accomplished it. Christ was (and is) the atonement in Christianity, and the Bible does not disentangle Christ from the atonement; He is the atonement personified—they're inextricably connected.
If we are going to expand the article to consider the Jewish definition of atonement then Jesus is clearly not entirely necessary for ALL accounts of the atonement. Again you are letting your personal theology get in the way of this being a balanced article.
  • Finally:

"Many Christian denominations believe the Atonement was finished with the suffering and execution of Christ on the cross, and still others believe it was finished with the resurrection. Nevertheless, Christians largely believe the infinite Atonement is considered to be accomplished, forever unlocking the gates of heaven to the human family."

...Although this is the only section of the paragraph I think is OK, I might want to replace the reference to heaven with perhaps a reference to reconciliation, and perhaps include the idea in the opening paragraph of the article.

So why did you delete the whole thing if you thought this part was "OK"? Additionally, reconciliation is not a synonym for heaven. Heaven is used in the Bible. Let's stick to that. Piewalker 16:05, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
Reconciliation is the definition of what the "heaven" state is! Indeed the scholar Tom Wright is quite famous for his escatological work in explaining the concept of heaven not as some "place that you go when you die" but rather as a spiritual position before God. --Simon 18:23, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

--Simon 16:05, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

From the Resurrection of Jesus Page[edit]

I'm currently editing down the new Death and Resurrection of Jesus article, and I'd like to move a substantial part of the material here. Rather than pasting it directly into the article (ie, intruding on an article which you've been working on), I'll leave it here for someone to add in at their own leisure, in a way that the editors of this article are comfortable with.A J Hay 02:40, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Roman Catholic view[edit]

Held by the majority of Christians, the Catholic view is that Jesus willingly sacrificed himself as an act of perfect obedience (the Gospels show him struggling with this in the Garden of Gethsemane), atoning for the disobedience of Adam, and thus cleansing Mankind of the stain of original sin. Jesus's sacrifice was an offering of love that pleased God more than man's sin offended God, so now all who believe in Jesus and keep his commandments may receive salvation in his name, see also Great Commission and Sermon on the Mount.

Catholics believe one can fall from grace again if one continues to sin after being saved. One can be restored to grace through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (Confession).

Judicial view[edit]

By contrast, the Catholic view off-shoot titled the judicial view was held by Martin Luther, and a major cause of the Reformation. It is held by the majority of Protestants.

This view emphasizes God as Judge. Humanity had sinned and God was therefore required, in His justice, to punish humankind. However, God sent His Son, who was sinless, to take the sin of the world on his shoulders, so that anyone who accepted the gift of Jesus's act could be freed from the consequences of his sin, without violating God's judgement.

The result is that through Christ's death, the Old Covenant passed away and all things became new in a New Covenant. The veil separating man and God was torn, and the people were free to work out their own salvation through the only true Mediator, Jesus Christ, rather than seeking salvation through rituals, rules, or an exclusive priesthood. People who hold this view generally believe that only acceptance of Christ's sacrifice is necessary for salvation, not a ritual or a sacrament. See also Antinomianism.

This view of the theological significance of Jesus's resurrection is analogous to the Jewish Day of Atonement, by which the sins of the Israelites were put onto a flawless scapegoat, who was then released into the wilderness, taking the sins of the people with him.

Christus Victor[edit]

The Christus Victor view, which is more common among Lutherans (see, e.g. G. Aulen's book Christus Victor), and Eastern Orthodox Christians, holds that Jesus was sent by God to defeat death and Satan. Because of his perfection, voluntary death, and Resurrection, Jesus defeated Satan and death, and arose victorious. Therefore humanity was no longer bound in sin, but was free to rejoin God through faith in Jesus.

In contrast to the Judicial view, the Christus Victor model emphasizes a spiritual battle between good and evil. This battle is on a cosmic scale. The Judicial view would require Christians to believe that God voluntarily punished Jesus for their sins, whereas the Christus Victor view sees humanity as formerly in the power of Satan, who was defeated by Jesus; and God, through Jesus, broke us out of Satan's power.

The Christus Victor sometimes has also been used to argue that Jesus defeated sin and death for everyone, whether or not they hear of Jesus, granting non-Christians the chance of eternal life (or a guarantee thereof, depending on the particular theology in question).

First Man view[edit]

The First Man view, held by a small minority of Christians, especially Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, states that Jesus was a person just like the rest of humanity, but due to his remarkable faith, purity, sinlessness, and perfection, he earned eternal life, and was resurrected because Death could not hold him. They also believe that by following his teachings and example others may also ultimately earn eternal life.

The First Man view can be compared with the Old-Testament stories of Enoch and Elijah, who walked with God to such a degree of faithfulness that they were not required to die. Enoch 'was no more,' and Elijah was carried in a whirlwind. In the same way, Jesus was faithful to such a degree, that even though he was killed, his Faith earned him Eternal Life. And in the same way, if we are faithful to the same degree, we can also be free from death.

Thanks for this text. You provided it at a very useful time.
Would anyone disagree if I incorporated this into the atonement article as the "atonement in Christianity" section as a compromise to our above discussion?--Simon 11:43, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

CJC Theory of the atonement[edit]

The theory of the atonement as understood by the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS - is so differnt it should be listed as a seperate theory rather than a "perspective" - any thoughts? --Trödel 21:56, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

I will admit a certain level of ignorance on this one as my knowledge of the Mormon doctrine of atonement is based solely on the section in the article. However, I do not see how the Mormon doctrine described in the article does actually differ from other views already expressed in other theories. To take the four bullet points under the LDS section already in the article:
  • Suffering in Gethsemane - I do not think this is an important enough point to even merit a mention.
  • The relationship of justice, mercy, agency, and God's unconditional love. - this is exactly the same as the substitution view.
  • No need for infant baptism - this is a separate issue and should perhaps be discussed elsewhere.
  • Empathetic purpose - this is similar to Robin Collins "Incarnational theory" which is variation on some of the Girardian thought. For example, in an essay published on Collins says:
We will begin by examining some aspects of Christ's subjectivity that are particularly associated with his death. First, as the kenosis hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 reminds us, during his death on the Cross Jesus experientially entered into the depths of the human life-situation of vulnerability, dependence, death, suffering, brokenness, and alienation, even the depths of our alienation from God the Father as evidenced by his cry on the Cross "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?" (Mark 16:34).
In fact I think the LDS section is more a chance to squeeze in references to LDS scripture then say something new about the subject.--Simon 10:07, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
It is precisely because the view incoprorates different theories into a single view of the atonement that I am proposing it be listed seperately - the combination is unique, the individual items are not necessarily unique. --Trödel 10:14, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
In which case why not sum up the whole LDS view within the perspectives section but using a paragraph sich as:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expands the doctrine of the atonement complementary to the substitutionary atonement concept but also including an incarnational element (or empathetic purpose). Thus Christ is perceived as suffering pain and agony not only for the sins of all men, but also to experience their physical pains, illnesses, anguish from addictions, emotional turmoil and depression, "that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Book of Mormon | Alma 7:12) (see also Isaiah 53:4)--Simon 12:08, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Thx - I'll think more about the best way to present this information --Trödel 13:07, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Mediation still active?[edit]

Does this case require further mediation or can I close it? --Ideogram 09:48, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

IMHO, not really --Trödel 17:43, 7 November 2006 (UTC)


I deleted (It is questionable whether Abélard himself taught this model of atonement) from the list of links. This isn't an appropriate comment in a list even if it is accurate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:51, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Should these deletions by User:Skolstoe be restored or somehow reincorporated? --Flex (talk|contribs) 15:57, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

I deleted those sections because they are essentially a repeat of the previous sections regarding the Catholic and Protestant views. That part of the article has been bugging me for a good few months! Simon 16:02, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually further to the above I think the originally deleted text WAS better than the text in the original section so have swapped things around a bit more Simon 16:17, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I like the text that was deleted and restored with one exception: "To consistently emphasize only one aspect of the Atonement is dangerous." Why is it "dangerous"? We need a valid argument for why it is indeed "dangerous", or we need to remove this because it's purely opinion. Everything else you added was a good summation. Piewalker 22:16, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Judicial (Protestant) view[edit]

No offense to anyone, but the Judicial (Protestant) view section is just awful, IMHO. This view basically pidgeonholes all protestants into one model, without sources... and then it dogs on them for being confused and mentions the "exception" of liberal scholars. The kicker is this seciton doesn't even say what the Judicial view is. Unacceptable. I slapped a NPOV sticker on it. Please fix because I don't know what the view is supposed to be so I can't fix it myself. MPS 18:21, 29 May 2007 (UTC)


I have finally got around to looking at this article again and putting together a slightly better summary of all the main theories. I propose getting rid of the "The atonement in Christianity- General themes" and "Need for a Redeemer" sections and replace it with the following text under the heading "Atonement in Christianity". From here readers can follow links to the other atonement pages if they are interested. I do not propose any changes to the "Other denominations perspectives section. We can also get rid of the neutrality flag.

Atonement in Christianity[edit]

Christians have used three different metaphors to understand how the atonement might work. Churches and denominations may vary in which metaphor they consider most accurately fits into their theological perspective, however all Christians emphasise that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and through his death the sins of mankind have been forgiven.

The first metaphor, epitomised by the “ransom to Satan” theory, was used by the fourth-century theologian Gregory of Nyssa based on verses such as Mark 10:45 – "the Son of Man came … to give his life as a ransom for the many". In this metaphor Jesus liberates mankind from slavery to Satan and thus death by giving his own life as a ransom. Victory over Satan consists of swapping the life of the perfect (Jesus), for the lives of the imperfect (mankind). A variation of this view is known as the “Christus Victor” theory, and sees Jesus not used as a ransom but rather defeating Satan in a spiritual battle and thus freeing enslaved mankind by defeating the captor.

The second metaphor, used by the eleventh century theologian Anselm, is called the “satisfaction” theory. In this picture mankind owes a debt not to Satan, but to sovereign God himself. A sovereign may well be to forgive an insult or an injury in his private capacity, but because he is a sovereign he cannot if the state has been dishonoured. Anselm argued that the insult given to God is so great that only a perfect sacrifice could satisfy and Jesus, being both God and man, was this perfect sacrifice. A variation on this theory is the commonly held protestant “penal substitution theory” which instead of considering sin as an affront to God’s honour, sees sin as the breaking of God’s moral law. Placing a particular emphasis on Romans 6:23 (the wages of sin is death), penal substitution sees sinful man as being subject to God’s wrath with the essence of Jesus' saving work being his substitution in the sinner's place, baring the curse in the place of man (Gal. 3:13). A third variation that also falls within this metaphor is Hugo Grotius’ “governmental theory”, which sees Jesus receiving a punishment as a public example of the lengths to which God will go to uphold the moral order.

The third metaphor is that of healing, associated with Peter Abelard in the eleventh century, and Paul Tillich in the twentieth. In this picture Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates the extent of God’s love for us, and moved by this great act of love mankind responds and is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. This view is favoured by most liberal theologians as the moral influence view, and also forms the basis for Rene Girard’s “mimetic desire” theory (not to be confused with meme theory).


Kohler, K. (1997) Atonement from the Jewish Encyclopedia,

Ward, K. (2007) Christianity – a guide for the perplexed. SPCK, London, p. 48- 51

Let me know what people think. I'll make the change in a weeks time if there are no objections.

Simon 17:43, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Still to do[edit]

Atonement in Hinduism[edit]

Does someone want to write a section on this if the concept is similar? i have to admit knowing very little about the idea in this religion. Simon 15:06, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

I would love to write a section about this. Few people know that Buddhism and Hinduism believe in Hell, whether metaphorical or not. There is already an article in Wiki about the their different levels of hell. This is where beings go to suffer for poor karma before they are reincarnated. Perhaps just including a link to that page? It is very important though, because that is partially where early western religion borrowed the concept of hell from. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:19, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Atonement controversies[edit]

Should we have a section on controversies where we can include the CS Lewis quote and then talk about the recent "Steve Chalke" affair in the UK?

Simon 15:06, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

There are always fringe views and controversies. Chalke's case is as fringe as they come. It can certainly be mentioned, but should be qualified as such with suitable references. However, we should also keep a balance by limiting the size of the controvesies, for if one were to list them all, they are often larger than the main topic, but each fringe has 8000 followers at times. History2007 (talk) 16:52, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

The claim that Chalke's views are "as fringe as they come" is false and is simply not borne out by a critical review of the idea of atonement throughout the history of Christian thought. This is a very narrow, ahistorical, sectarian view that ignores the rich history of Christian thought on this issue. Wikipedia has to decide whether or not it will allow its content to be hijacked by apologetically motivated sectarian Christians with little or no historical or academic knowledge, and who completely ignore a vast store of scholarship on this topic. --Dogyo (talk) 20:58, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Christ as Holocaust[edit]

Hasn't the word Holocaust ever been used when describing the atonement ? It was certainly used in ancient Jewish ritual, but I think some writers have also used the term Holocaust when describing Jesus's sacrifice on the cross. Furthermore, the doctrine of the unique sacrifice would mean that there is only one legally valid Holocaust, which is Jesus Christ / Jesus Holocaust. The term notably appears in Catholic eucharistic doctrine when refering to the holy host in divine liturgy. ADM (talk) 21:43, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Atonement central[edit]

Thank you for this article. The doctrine of atonement (Christ the Lamb of God slain for the sin of the world) is what seperates Christianity from all other religions.

Please will you help, based on the reliable sources you have read (that is acceptable to wikipedia), to emphasise the importance of this in concluding whether something is truly Christian. Paganism always denies atonement. I refer spesifically to an incorporation of the essential truths highlighted in the atonement article within the article Christian mysticism and all the seperate articles on the Christian mystics as listed in that article.

The concept of Atonement is under attack by mysticism. Who will help defend it? (Torchrunner (talk) 02:10, 13 September 2009 (UTC)) This is how atonement is described by Christian mystics: (Torchrunner (talk) 07:35, 13 September 2009 (UTC))

You are correct that atonement is a very central part of Christian dogma. It is also true that the tenet "Christ the Lamb of God slain for the sin of the world" is indeed defining of Christianity. In fact, as you can learn at Agnus Dei, the text of John 1:29 has entered liturgy in the 7th century, but the gist of it is present in the Apostle's Creed already. So yes, we agree this is central.

However, I fail to see how Christian mysticism is supposed to be "attacking the doctrine of atonement". To the very contrary, Christian mystics have very often focussed on the "lamb" image, visualizing bleeding lambs etc. You will need to cite excellent references in support of your claim. It also isn't true that "atonement" is unknown in paganism. Indeed, the concept is what links Christianity to its pagan predecessor myths, especially Greco-Roman mysteries, most explicitly, as we discuss at Life-death-rebirth deity and Jesus Christ in comparative mythology. Jesus' death, descent to the underworld and resurrection for the salvation of the believers is exactly parallel to Dionysus' death, descent to the underworld and resurrection for the salvation of the believers in Orphic tradition. Of course there are even earlier recensions of the same myth, as in the "Marduk Ordeal Text", but naturally the "ideology" associated with it becomes more alien to Roman era theological speculation the farther back you go in history.

I am not saying Orphic tradition is indistinguishable from Christianity. Christainity does have its own peculiar notions of "sin" and "salvation", but these are essentially theological tweaks to the Orphic myth. Relevant and extremely influential tweaks, but tweaks that had become just waiting to be made by the Roman empire period. --dab (𒁳) 13:32, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Atonment Doctrine in History[edit]

This article needs to develop a more balanced historical view of how the atonement has been viewed throughout the history of Christian thought. There is a long history of questioning the atonement doctrine within Christianity, and that history is relevent if this article is going to be more than just a source for a certain narrow sectarian Christian apologetics. Hardly the stated purpose of wikipedia.

A perfect example of this kind of apologetics is Torchrunner's comment above:

"The doctrine of atonement (Christ the Lamb of God slain for the sin of the world) is what seperates Christianity from all other religions.
"Please will you help, based on the reliable sources you have read (that is acceptable to wikipedia), to emphasise the importance of this in concluding whether something is truly Christian. Paganism always denies atonement. I refer spesifically to an incorporation of the essential truths highlighted in the atonement article within the article Christian mysticism and all the seperate articles on the Christian mystics as listed in that article.
"The concept of Atonement is under attack by mysticism. Who will help defend it?"

According to such narrow sectarian (and ahistorical) apologetics those Christian's who questioned the atonement doctrine throughout history are not "truly Christian." Of course, anyone the least familiar with religious studies on this topic knows this is simply erroneous. In fact, this kind of sectarian theology itself has a historical origin that can be traced, and does not represent the diversity of views that existed on the subject in either the early church or throughout history. This statement by Torchrunner reveals a total ignorance of the entire Eastern Orthodox tradition and how it approached the idea of atonement.

The historical evidence reveals that there are various ways of understanding the atonement, including the many metaphors used by Paul himself, right up to todays controversial British evangelical leader Steve Chalke. At the center of a major controversy sparked by a popular British evangelical leader was the characterization of the atonement doctrine as a “twisted version of events,” “morally dubious,” and a “huge barrier to faith.” He goes on to characterized it as a “form of cosmic child abuse” that is a “total contradiction of the statement ‘God is love’”, which “makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teachings to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil.”(Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003. Cited in Tidball et. al. 2008.)

The full quotation reads:

John’s Gospel famously declares, “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). How then, have we come to believe that at the cross this God of love suddenly decides to vent his anger and wrath on his own Son?
The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse — a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement “God is love.” If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teachings to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil.
The truth is, the cross is a symbol of love. It is a demonstration of just how far God as Father and Jesus as his Son are prepared to go to prove that love." (Chalke 2003: 182-183)

To ignore this long history of debate on the atonment doctrine undermines the purpose of wikipedia. Dogyo (talk) 20:28, 19 December 2009 (UTC) Dogyo

I was not even aware of Steve Chalke. I wonder if he even knows about Emanuel Swedenborg. Excellent reference Dogyo. Doug Webber (talk) 21:01, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
I don't know if Chalke is aware of Swedenborg's teachings, but the attempt above to claim his views are "fringe" is simply silly. Actually, Chalke draws upon and is part of a long tradition of critical thought within Christianity regarding the atonement doctrine. One excellent source is Gary Dorrien's ground breaking trilogy on the history of liberal Christian thought: The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism and Modernity 1900-1950, and The Making of American Liberal Theology: Crisis, Irony, & Postmodernity 1950-2005. --Dogyo (talk) 21:11, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
Feel free to continue your heated agreement on talk pages Dogyo and Doug Webber, however based on WP:UNDUE the space and attention given to these admittedly obscure figures has exceeded its limits and must be trimmed back. History2007 (talk) 21:24, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

There is nothing heated in the conversation above. The fact that this article (at least in the Talk section) is ignoring a large body of academic scholarship and current reliable and published sources on the history of the atonement doctine in Christian thought is being pointed out. The deletion by History2007 of published and reliable sources from the "External links and Bibliography" section and his characterization of these references as "semi-spam" is a violation of Wikipedia's own polices:adjunct professor

WP:NPOV states

Neutral point of view (NPOV) is a fundamental Wikimedia principle and a cornerstone of Wikipedia. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. This is non-negotiable and expected of all articles and all editors.

Stepen Finlan is a PhD professor of Biblical Studies who has published extensively on the history of the atonement doctine. To characterize references to his work in an article on Wikipedia that is supposedly about the Atonement as "semi-spam" it ironic given fact that such published sources are exactly what Wikipedia requires of its editors.

To characterize any critique of the atonement doctrine by Christian scholars, past and present, as a "minority view" is to ignore a large body of scholarship and literature that disproves such a characterization. This is not a "earth science" vs. "flat earth" issue, but rather whether or not relevant scholarship (and a large body of it exist) it going to be ignored when it is very relevant to the article. Dogyo (talk) 22:10, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

You mean that was not heated? Where is your thermometer? Mentioning an idea in one thing, undue length is another. History2007 (talk) 22:14, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

It seems you are prone to using subjective term like "heated" as though they convey factual meaning, when it doesn't. Perhaps your are feeling "heated," but I assure you I am not and the issue is simply stated: there exists a large body of reliable, scholarly, published work on the atonement doctrine that is relevant to this article. As for you claim that the cited references are somehow of "undue length" I note you make this claim without any consideration of the published sources or their content. If this article is not going to reflect a sectarian and biased view of the atonement doctrine than the history of the idea of atonement throughtout the history of Christian thought is relevant. Dogyo (talk) 22:27, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Start counting. Eastern Christianity gets 10 lines, the obscure idea gets 41 lines. That is easy to see. That is Undue weight. The idea is so obscure even Chalke has not heard about it, per the discussion above, so it is getting undue weight. And the user page for Doug Webber starts by saying:

As Swedenborg is relatively unknown I decided to include topics addressed in his writings in Wikipedia.

That is a clear admission that this article is being used to promote an obscure set of ideas beyond due proportion. Period. History2007 (talk) 22:52, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

For the record, I did not introduce any information about Swedenborg, so please do not continue to make false accusations or cloud the issue as you do below. That post was from someone other than myself, and I do not off hand think Swedenborg is relevant to this issue. So, when in response to our discussion you post the following I wonder why you are confusing anothers comment with my own:

As Swedenborg is relatively unknown I decided to include topics addressed in his writings in Wikipedia.

That is a clear admission that this article is being used to promote an obscure set of ideas beyond due proportion. Period. History2007 (talk) 22:52, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

You are confusing someone else’s post with mine. I made no such statement, and it therefore has nothing to do with the point I am making. Are you always so careless in attributing quotes to others? Please, let us at least speak to each other and not incorrectly attribute words others have said to each other.

You say:

Start counting. Eastern Christianity gets 10 lines, the obscure idea gets 41 lines. That is easy to see. That is Undue weight. The idea is so obscure even Chalke has not heard about it, per the discussion above, so it is getting undue weight. History2007 (talk) 22:52, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

I find it rather ironic that you characterize Eastern Christianity as "obscure" yet Wikipedia itself refutes this claim:

The Orthodox Church, also officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church,[note 1] and commonly referred to in English-speaking countries as the Eastern Orthodox Church,[note 2] is the world's second largest Christian communion, estimated to number 225 million members.... Based on the numbers of adherents, Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic Church.... The numerous Protestant groups in the world, if taken all together, outnumber the Eastern Orthodox, but they differ theologically and do not form a single communion

Clearly, Wikipedia itself does not characterize Eastern Christianity as "obscure," and one can simply review the recent books published on the subject on Amazon to see this is hardly an "obscure" topic. As I note, you seem to be of the idea that there is one correct viewpoint regarding the atonement doctrine ignoring the fact there is a body of evidence that refutes this idea. No one is arguing this article should replace or repeat the material on Wikipedia already published about Eastern Orthodox Christianty; but if Wikipedia is going to at a minimum be self-consistent than it is self-contradictory to characterize the relevance of Eastern Orthodox Christianity or for that matter the history within Christianity itself of ideas about the atonement doctrine as irrelevant or "obscure" a prior before even examining the evidence. Dogyo (talk) 23:23, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Nope. I did say Eastern Christianity (10 lines) vs the obscure idea (41 lines), which is clearly Swedenborg. The obscure idea (Swedenborg) is getting undue attention, more than the well known Eastern Church. And he is obscure, that is why he is getting promoted per that user page admission. Yours or someone else, it is a fact that he is obscure. History2007 (talk) 23:28, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

For the record, I think I have made myself clear I did not introduce any information about Swedenborg, so please do not continue to make cloud the issue as you do above. That post was from someone other than myself, and I do not off hand think Swedenborg is relevant to this issue. So, when in response to our discussion you post the following I wonder why you are confusing anothers comment with my own.

You are confusing someone else’s post with mine. I made no such statement, and it therefore has nothing to do with the point I am making. Are you always so careless in attributing quotes to others? Please, let us at least speak to each other and not incorrectly attribute words others have said to each other.

I think we might just be in agreement that Swedenborg is not of major relevance to this article. But that has nothing to do with my point. So, are you determined to confuse someone else's comment with my own, and if so, why? Dogyo (talk) 23:34, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

I don't know what your point is, my point is that Swedenborg is getting undue attention and needs to be trimmed way back. History2007 (talk) 23:37, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

It is really very simple; the history of the idea of the atonement doctrine within Christianity is relevant to this article. Dogyo (talk) 23:39, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

That is not only simple, but obvious. So what is the big deal there? My big deal is the undue promotion of Swedenborg. If there is no objection, I will trim it way back in a day or two. History2007 (talk) 23:54, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
I object. I hardly consider what I wrote as imbalanced, or as "undue promotion" whatever that is - there was already a section on non-Trinitarian views, and the only view expressed in there was the one of Mormonism, of all things. So that to me, was an invite to include other views, since left alone, the non-trinitarian section is very imbalanced. And if you look carefully, Swedenborg is largely in agreement with the Eastern Orthodox view of the atonement. If you cut it back, you will probably start to misrepresent the view of atonement. The preceding paragraphs lead up to the conclusion, and show the relationship of atonement with the work of Jesus Christ. Just because a view is contrary to what others believe does not mean its imbalanced. And there is a church which adheres to this viewpoint. If you have a suggestion for improvement, please be specific, or try to beef up the other sections of this article. I had no intention of confusing this with the views of Steve Chalke, though Swedenborg did say the work of Jesus was primarily an act of Divine Love, which I did not even address.Doug Webber (talk) 06:58, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

Why then did you delete a perfectly valid reference by an established biblical scholar that supports statement that "Christians have used ... different metaphors to understand how the atonement might work"? Finlan has devoted an entire career to studying the history of these "metaphors" used by first Paul, then the early church, and later Christian theologians in their effort to "understand how the atonement might work." His work is professional, reliable, verifiable, and current. In fact, the very focus of one of his books (The Background and Content of Paul's Cultic Atonement Metaphors), as the title states, is the metaphors used by Paul in articulating his understanding of the atonement doctrine. To call Chalke "fringe" without any consideration of the long history of the discussion and critique of the atonement doctrine within Christianity (i.e., without any evidence), which is after all the scholarly sources he cites, is to ignore a very relevant history. Chalke has said nothing that a long line of eminent Christian leaders and theologians have not already said. Ironically, even if Chalke's views are only a "minority" (which is debatable, when one considers the scholarship going on within the seminary vs. popular understanding). Given the fact Chalke was such a well known British evangelical leader that his comments caused such a controversy that an entire symposium in London was held and later published by Zondervan Press as The Atonement Debate: Papers From the London symposium on the Theology of Atonement; and further given the fact that his views on the atonement caused a split between “three of Britain’s most prominent Christian groups,” his views, which represent a sizable number of Christians today, can hardly then be characterized as those of a “tiny minority” or “extremely small (or vastly limited) minority.” To make this claim requires a gross distortion of historical facts, past and present, and raised serious issues regarding the actual implementation of Wiki polices. It would be ridiculous to compare Chalke’s views to the pseudoscience of “flat earthers.”

Wikipedia policy states:

Neutrality requires that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each. Now an important qualification: In general, articles should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more widely held views; generally, the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all. For example, the article on the Earth does not mention modern support for the Flat Earth concept, the view of a distinct minority….
If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents.

It indeed is easy to name “prominent adherents” who share Chalke’s views, and it is indisputable that Chalke as an evangelical Christian leader is a “prominent adherent” even if one describes his views as those of a “significant minority.”

WP:RS "Wikipedia articles should rely on reliable, published sources, making sure that all majority and significant-minority views that have appeared in reliable, published sources are covered."

WP:SOURCES "The most reliable sources are usually peer-reviewed journals; books published by university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers. Electronic media may also be used, subject to the same criteria. Academic and peer-reviewed publications are highly valued and usually the most reliable sources in areas where they are available, such as history, medicine, and science." --Dogyo (talk) 01:40, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

That was a different story. Those needed to be in "Further Reading" and that one author is also being singled out. In any case, why don't you just write a nice and sweet paragraph about the history instead of a dissertation on policy. I know the policies. I have been around here for a while. History2007 (talk) 06:15, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification and appreciate your input. I will work on a short bit about the history of the atonement and then run it by you (in the Talk section?). I would agree keeping it short is best, the goal being balance in the overall article, which is good over all I think. The reason I listed all of Finlan's works was so others could see the trend and focus of his work over the years. He has become a leading scholar on the history of the atonement within Jewish/Christian history. Given it is his field of expertise it seems his works are a good source for Further Readering. Dogyo (talk) 15:31, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

Fine. The way these things work, it can start with a few paragraphs, then in 9 months will be a whole section and in 2 years will be an article on History of attonement in Christianity. But that was how Wikipedia got here. History2007 (talk) 16:16, 20 December 2009 (UTC)


I think Swedenborg can be mentioned, but how much. Suppose we write 20 pages on him. Is that too much? Obviously. How about one sentence? Probably too brief. Given that the Eastern church has 10 lines, Swedenborg (admittedly an obscure item by your own user page) is getting undue weight. So as I said, to gain balance it needs to be trimmed back. Question 1: Do we agree that Swedenborg is an obscure item? History2007 (talk) 07:12, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

It seems the relevance of Swedenborg to this article would be his views on the atonement, so why not put together a brief summary of his views, with a brief description of his influence on those religious groups he influenced, and leave it at that, perhaps pointing to the Wiki article on him (here) and the movement that formed based upon his teachings--Swedenborgianism. That should take only a few sentences at most, or perhaps a short paragraph. That would make this a balanced article it seems and consistent with already existing Wiki information. Dogyo (talk) 15:40, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

I have a question about Wiki policies in the Talk/Discussion section. First, I didn't even know Doug posted the comment below until I looked at the "history" tab and realized his comment was deleted (i.e., "undone") by History2007. I would like know the reason based upon a Wiki policy that Doug Webber's comment was deleted? If comments that express a view, including one that doesn't necessarily agree with one's own, are deleted, how is it possible for "dicussion" to take place. I note that while I may differ on certain issues with Doug's viewpoints below, he is expressing them without ad hominen.

I object. I hardly consider what I wrote as imbalanced, or as "undue promotion" whatever that is - there was already a section on non-Trinitarian views, and the only view expressed in there was the one of Mormonism, of all things. So that to me, was an invite to include other views, since left alone, the non-trinitarian section is very imbalanced. And if you look carefully, Swedenborg is largely in agreement with the Eastern Orthodox view of the atonement. If you cut it back, you will probably start to misrepresent the view of atonement. The preceding paragraphs lead up to the conclusion, and show the relationship of atonement with the work of Jesus Christ. Just because a view is contrary to what others believe does not mean its imbalanced. And there is a church which adheres to this viewpoint. If you have a suggestion for improvement, please be specific, or try to beef up the other sections of this article. I had no intention of confusing this with the views of Steve Chalke, though Swedenborg did say the work of Jesus was primarily an act of Divine Love, which I did not even address.Doug Webber (talk) 06:58, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

It seems that it is important to allow individuals to express their views in the dicussion section, and I find some useful information in his comment which I will consider carefully before I reply. Given the deletion by History2007 I might not have even had a chance to view it if I had not stumbled into the history Tab. So, what are the Wiki policies that led to this immediate deletion of his comment in the section for just such comments? --Dogyo (talk) 21:37, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

Exactly where and when did I delete from the talk page? Please provide a deletion record. That would be news to me. That comment is already on the page above here, so is here twice now. I think this page needs to be renamed "atonement and confusion". History2007 (talk) 21:44, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

History2007, I owe you an apology. I was wrong. I overlooked the quote above and became confused by the history page. Sorry about my careless failure to note his post above. --Dogyo (talk) 02:25, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

No worries, no problem. It just takes time to get used to these things. Cheers. History2007 (talk) 07:10, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Structure of the article[edit]

I think this article needs major help in that it starts by saying there are 3 main views, then just lists other articles with no connecting text. It just does not have any summary flow. And the section on "other perspectives" has no relation to the main categorization. And references are a luxury here, it is mostly reference free. Please provide suggestions, else I will try to restructure it myself. Thanks. History2007 (talk) 04:31, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

Title of this article[edit]

The recent move, with no discussion, of Atonement to Atonement in Christianity, I just noticed is a bit troublesome. Firstly, many people outside of the LDS or The New Church (whose theory of atonement is actually more Judaic than Christian) would not consider those groups to be Christian. Secondly, it leaves no room for the notion that there are almost certainly theories of atonement that are outside of Judaism or Christianity. Perhaps we should consider having an atonement stub that points to Atonement in Judaism and Atonement in Christianity as the main articles.

Any thoughts on this? Webbbbbbber (talk) 06:39, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Musical titles[edit]

A recent unilateral series of moves by user srnc moved Atonement (ransom view) and Atonement (satisfaction view) as well as Substitutionary atonement. Please comment on Talk:Substitutionary_atonement#Article_title thanks. History2007 (talk) 01:11, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Etymology Section is Incorrect[edit]

William Tyndale did not invent the word "atonement," contrary to the one source cited (which in turn does not cite its sources). The other two citations listed are either irrelevant to Tyndale's contribution, or else broken links.

The OED clarifies the subject here:

The etymology is incorrect, casting sufficient doubt on the commonly held myth that the word is derived from the phrase "at-one-ment." I plan to remove it shortly, unless someone can come up with more and better sources that are not in contradiction with the Oxford English Dictionary (which is considered by most scholars to be the definitive source for etymology). Neal Locke (talk) 17:41, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

This agrees with you. This does not. But why not dig up the real root, instead of just deleting it? I am busy with other things now, but feel free to do it. History2007 (talk) 19:00, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
My larger issue is with the attribution to Wycliffe, which formed the bulk of the section I removed. Whether or not the word derives from "at-one-ment" is a lot more complicated of a question, and quite possibly impossible to prove one way or the other (there may be no single "real root" to dig up, as much as a convergence of semi-related ones). I do think there should be a section on the etymology of the word, and I don't mind contributing to it as soon as I can find the time to do so. I just wanted to remove patently incorrect information immediately, and without that, there wasn't much left to retain a worthwhile etymology. Neal Locke (talk) 03:30, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Ok. History2007 (talk) 08:14, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Arminius did not hold to the governmental theory of atonement[edit]

Jacobus Arminius certainly did not hold to the governmental theory of atonement. I quote from Roger E. Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006), "Myth 10: All Arminians Believe in the Governmental Theory of the Atonement," p. 224:

Another misconception is that all Arminians hold to the governmental theory of the atonement rather that the substitutionary atonement. In many books of Calvinist theology the governmental theory, first articulated by early Remonstrant leader Hugo Grotius, is called the "Arminian theory." It is not. Arminius did not believe in it, neither did Wesley nor some of his nineteenth-century followers. Nor do all contemporary Arminians.

So I have removed his name from that section. TuckerResearch (talk) 22:00, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

Larger scope[edit]

I'm thinking of creating an Atonement in religion article, which would describe atonement in Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism; and even in Islam. It's not just a Christian concept, as I've mentioned at Talk:Atonement.

I'm not planning on doing much actual writing. My special niche is using Wikipedia:Summary style to reorganize related topics. Sometimes, it's breaking a large section out of a main article, and leaving behind a shorter description with a {{main}} link to the break-out article:

I figure the present article should stay where it is, and a larger article should have summary sections:

However, there is already a structure or convention in place for disambiguation of the term "atonement". Some articles have an interwiki link to wikt:atonement, although that may not always be the best choice in each case. Quite a few article link to Atonement in Christianity as they should, but there may be room for a link to Atonement in religion (in general).

Quite a few of the links to the Atonement disambiguation page might serve the reader better by pointing to Atonement in religion, if and when it's created. I'd be happy to do all the heavy lifting, but I won't go against consensus. --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:57, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

It doesn't appear that Calvin held the view attributed to him.[edit]

I am not convinced that Calvin held the view attributed to him here. There is one citation to the Institutes, John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.15.5-8, but the section cited doesn't say what the citation implies it says. I wonder if this is a typo for 3.16.5-8. However it doesn't say that either, though at least it's talking about the atonement. The main treatment of the atonement in the Institutes, starting at 3.16.5, starts out with a theory very similar to Romans 6: Through participation in Christ, we receive his obedience, which comes not just from his death but from his entire life. Calvin certainly used a wide range of images and metaphors, as the NT does, some of which are substitutionary, but at least in the Institutes I don't see the development of penal substitution that this article says I should expect to find.

I haven't made any edits, because I'm basing this on actually reading Calvin, and not secondary sources, and that doesn't seem to be permitted. As I understand it, the prohibition of original research means I can use Calvin as a source for understanding the atonement, but for Calvin's own view, I have to find someone else that quotes him. I'm not that familiar with the secondary literature on Calvin, at least on this topic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hedrick (talkcontribs) 14:56, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Roman Catholic View[edit]

It needs a lot of work I think. It has to incorporate points from the Catholic Catechism:

And from the International Theological Commission:

Outline of the Catechism: II. CHRIST'S REDEMPTIVE DEATH IN GOD'S PLAN OF SALVATION "Jesus handed over according to the definite plan of God" "He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" "For our sake God made him to be sin" God takes the initiative of universal redeeming love


Christ's whole life is an offering to the Father "The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world" Jesus freely embraced the Father's redeeming love At the Last Supper Jesus anticipated the free offering of his life The agony at Gethsemani Christ's death is the unique and definitive sacrifice Jesus substitutes his obedience for our disobedience Jesus consummates his sacrifice on the cross Our participation in Christ's sacrifice — Preceding unsigned comment added by [[User:{{{1}}}|{{{1}}}]] ([[User talk:{{{1}}}|talk]] • [[Special:Contributions/{{{1}}}|contribs]])

In the Bible[edit]

A major oversight in this article is the complete lack of discussion of atonement in the Bible, e.g., the use in Latin of reconciliatio or in Greek of catallages in 2 Cor 5:19. Rwflammang (talk) 17:15, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

not enough basic information in the lead[edit]

This lead jumps right into competing explanations of how atonement works but doesn't explain what it means in the first place. What are its roots in Judaism? Where does the doctrine of atonement come from? There's no mention of baptism, through which the believer participates in Jesus death and resurrection. Nothing about repentance, or what happens to you if you don't atone. And the lead is too long, I might jump in here and rework the lead. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 23:30, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

Atonement in Christianity is NOT appropriate[edit] (talk) 20:34, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

Unfortunately, ‘atonement’ is a widely-accepted word. Set emotional attachment aside. NO ONE before 1500 used that word -- no OT or NT Scripture, no stone tablet, no papyrus, no prophet, no apostle, no disciple, no translator, no commentator, no preacher, no scholar.

FACT: The atonement-label for Old & New covenant, vicarious-substitution was invented around 1510 AD when “at-one-ment” was coined.

- Greek Septuagint (132 BC) = hemera exilasmou (Lev.23:27,28)

- Latin Vulgate (425 AD) = dies expiationum (Lev.23:27) / dies propitiationis (Lev.23:28)

- Some English translators wrongly superimpose “Day of Atonement” into these ancient texts.

- The Apostles’ Creed (120-250 AD) / Nicene Creed (325 & 381) / Chalcedonian Creed (451) / Athanasian Creed (500) could not & do not mention the word atonement.

- There are zero Greek words that = atonement / expiation / propitiation / satisfaction / reparation in the NT.

- The “Doctrine of Christ’s Atonement” label is NOT true-to-SCRIPTURE -- it's a modern man-made marquee.

Non-Trinitarian Views?[edit]

Why is there a special section on "Non-Trinitarian" views on atonement? None of the main doctrines of atonement rely explicitly on the doctrine of Trinity, yet the organization of the articles strongly suggests such. Each of the preceding doctrines of atonement has Trinitarian and Nontrinitarian proponents, and there are plenty of Nontrinitarian groups mentioned in the detailed articles for those views. The views in this Nontrinitarian section (as they pertain to atonement) are almost completely covered in the existing sub-articles.

If there are groups with distinct thoughts on atonement (Mormons?), at the very least, these views should be listed under "Other Christian Views." To create a completely separate category makes no sense and confuses the issue considerably.

Biased, unfair deletion by Editor2020[edit] (talk) 03:39, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

My contributions are neutral, relevant, significant, verifiable, reader-empowering, perspective-balancing, intelligent-summary facts, & should be added to the article. This is vital-to-full-understanding info. It is extremely relevant to learn Atonement is not supported by original Scripture or the LXX or the Vulgate. I will take this further if we can't resolve things.

An encyclopedia a type of reference work or compendium holding a comprehensive summary of information.... ~ My contributions fill a major fundamental-hole in this article. ~ My contributions are given in good faith & are cited (in sharp contrast to the article -- which contains a citation-lacking warning, since Dec 2009.)

Atonement / Expiation / Propitiation in original manuscripts[1] ~ No occurrences in original OT Hebrew Scriptures, or in original NT Greek Scriptures. ~ Also, the word "Atonement" was invented around 1510 AD,[2] so no occurrences in Greek Septuagint LXX Pentateuch (282 BC),[3] or in Jerome's Latin Vulgate (405 AD).[4]

Expiation in Latin Vulgate ~ Enter expiat* in VUL at

36 OT occurrences ~ No NT occurrences

Propitiation in Latin Vulgate ~ Enter propit* in VUL at

61 OT occurrences ~ 6 NT occurrences {Lk.18:13; Rom.3:25; Heb.8:12; 9:5; 1Jn.2:2; 4:10}.

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  1. ^ 2005 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, National Council of Churches. See article by Information Please® Database, Pearson Education, Inc.