First off, I need to lay some foundational ground work before I finalize an atonement theory. To begin with I will acknowledge that there are several atonement theories that have been presented over the history of the church. I will provide a link that will give you a concise overview of atonement theories. Please keep reading this post before you go to the link which will take you to Theopedia.
If we want to be able to present Christ to the world, especially the generations coming, we must find a coherent compelling atonement theory that gives meaning to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It should be a unified theory that makes sense of the biblical data. I think it should be a theory that will show the benefit of trusting in Christ even if one thinks that all paths lead to God.
Don't blow an aorta, I did not say that all paths lead to God, rather I said that the atonement theory should give compelling meaning, significance and benefit to ALL *even if* one believes all paths lead to God. If you believe that all paths lead to God, don't get all riled up as I am not saying that they don't. In other words, whether you do or don't I want to make clear that this atonement theory will show the benefit of believing in Jesus either way.
It is also imperative that the atonement theory acknowledges the facts that I have shown to be overwhelmingly true in this blog. For example, it must fit with the writer of Hebrews assertion that sin and unbelief are synonymous and that the original sin is unbelief. To add to this I must fit with Paul's teaching that faith is obedience and that obedience equals faith. The writer of Hebrews boldly states that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6.) Likewise, the atonement theory must square with the assertion of the problem found in Genesis chapter three. Death and the knowledge of good and evil are the source of all of humanities problems. The fear of death makes us want to survive and therefore develops greed, and the knowledge of good and evil allows us to have judgment and judge others as wrong when they do not agree with us and thereby we are provided with a reason for justification of our own actions.
Further, the atonement theory must take into consideration the fact that according to Paul et. al., we are in reality justified by our faith in the atoning force of Jesus of Nazareth and his death, burial and resurrection, and that this event has some spiritual cosmic significance. It is very important to consider Romans 5:1; "therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." According to Paul's premise, the reason for peace with God is the fact that we have been justified by faith alone.
Finally for this first post, it is important to realize that atonement is only mentioned a few times in the New Testament and the bulk of those mentions happen in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Therefore it is safe to say that this passage is very important in our understanding of an atonement theory. Atonement and reconciliation are interchangeable. The definition of atonement includes reconciliation because the word really comes from Middle English, and is literally at-one-ment. In other words atonement is to be put at one with something and that something is God the Father. If one is made at one with the father it means they are reconciled.
Reconciliation is going to be very important as I move forward with this series. We will look at how Paul speaks of the flesh as being similar in nature to what we would now call the ego. Being in the flesh is ego-centric and atonement will specifically help with that in a mystical, spiritual, supernatural way.
A little hint for where this is going. This will closely resemble the Christus Victor atonement with a caveat. But, essentially, Christ's victory is over the ego and He accomplishes it by faith in the Father. More to come... stay tuned.
Here is a link to Part 2