Substitutionary Atonement

Mon, 03 Jun 1996 10:53:24 -0700 (PDT)

Dave Koerner wrote:

> Despite Jonathan Edward's rantings to the contrary, the atonement theory
> of LITERAL substitution (or "vicarious" atonement) isn't really Biblically
> justifiable. I would add that a LITERAL Adam is also unnecessary
> theologically.

I believe that the doctrine of the substitionary atonement is in fact
a rather late development in the history of the church. No doubt
there were seeds of the doctrine present earlier, but it really only
became elaborated and widespread after the 11th century. Earlier
beliefs about atonement included (as Dave mentions) Jesus as ransom
(often a ransom paid to Satan), Jesus as representative of humanity,
and Jesus as victor in a struggle with death and Satan. I believe
judicial metaphors are still a fairly minor component of Eastern
Orthodox thought about the atonement.

One good place to look for details and references is Jaroslav
Pelikan's multi-volume history of the development of Christian

Steve Schaffner
'Conseille me, Kynde,' quod I, 'what craft be best to lerne?'
'Lerne to love,' quod Kynde, 'and leef alle othere.'
_Piers Plowman_