Today I am teaching my students in the historical theology class about the Atonement. I wanted to find some different opinions surrounding the doctrine of the Atonement. I found a few, and I will warn you, these are some pretty strong words. I chose clips that purposefully conflict with each other.

Dean Taylor

As seen in the video compiled by brother Dean Taylor above, debates around atonement theory in the Christian world are perhaps filled with as many polemics and rhetorical absolutes as Reformation-era writings. Today we share an essay by Dean Taylor, President of Sattler College, that he has graciously shared with regarding his thoughts on the atonement debate within Kingdom Christian circles.

Here’s his brief comment on the article:

When it comes to the doctrine of the Atonement, I would consider myself a “Christus Victor” guy. What I mean by this is that I believe that the story of what Jesus accomplished on the cross includes the bigger picture of His victory of Christ over Satan and all of Satan’s kingdom. However, in saying that, I do not believe that this view excludes the traditional Penal Substitutionary view of the Atonement.As a historical theologian, I feel that many in the neo-Anabaptist world are going way too far with Ransom Atonement theories of the Atonement. In general, in the academic world, I see too many people today throwing Penal Substitutionary Atonement under the bus. In my humble opinion, I believe that we are losing something by doing this. I call this loss “Kingdom Reductionism.” In this paper, I discuss one possible reason why this “Kingdom Reductionism” occurred. In doing so, I take a look at several critical early Christian passages related to the Atonement. In this section, I argue that the current rhetoric among neo-Anabaptist scholars that Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) started centuries after the early Church with Anselm in the middle ages is, from a historical perspective, complete nonsense. Please understand that in this paper, I do not try to claim that PSA was the *exclusive* view of the early Church. All that I am trying to demonstrate in this paper is that PSA was very clearly *one* of the metaphors used by the early Church to describe the miracle of the Atonement. Finally, I suggest that this distorted historiography may have come into Anabaptist circles following Gustaf Aulén’s book, Christus Victor.

Leave a Reply