Jesus Saves, But How?
A Few Visions of Atonement

I. Christians Dispute the Details of Atonement
Christians agree on the victory, but not the battle plan
Why no authoritative soteriology (account of salvation)?
Eucharist was the "Nicene" soteriology
Soteriology suffered from distorted sacramental practice

II. Atonement as Reparation/Sacrifice

Jesus is the sacrifice that repairs the divine-human relationship

Sin becomes guilt, grace becomes forgiveness
Illustration: The Passion of the Christ
Popular in evangelical and Reformed Protestantism
Hilastêrion (Heb. 9:5, Rom. 3:25) as expiation or propitiation
Variation: Satisfaction (Anselm) (Heb. 2:14-17)
Variation: Penal/vicarious substitution (Calvin; The Fundamentals)
Weaknesses: Is the cross a lawful sin offering? What is just about Jesus suffering? Is God a sadist? Are all redeemed? Is atonement limited? Is resurrection significant?

III. Atonement as Christus Victor
Jesus won! (Col. 2:14-15, Rev. 5:5, Gustav Aulén's Christus Victor)
Sin becomes oppression, grace becomes liberation
Illustration: Prince of Egypt, Gran Torino
Popular in the early Church, Lutheranism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism
Variations: Ransom theory; Christ the healer; Christ the liberator
Weaknesses: If all but Christ are sinful, aren't all defeated?

IV. Atonement as Moral Influence
Peter Abelard: Jesus evokes our love (Ro. 5:5-8, Acts 2:36-38, Heb. 12:1-12)
Sin becomes ignorance, grace becomes revelation (John 1:18, Rom. 12:2, Phil. 2:5)
Illustration: Spitfire Grill
Popular in liberal Protestantism; increasingly popular in revivalism
Variation: Jesus encounters us with saving revelation (dialectical theology of Barth, Bultmann)
Weaknesses: What "love" would crucifixion alone express? Is salvation just a feeling?

V. Is Salvation Coherent?
Is there harmony? Or is harmonization a cop-out?

VI. Soteriologies in the Story of Jesus Christ (and the Liturgical Year)
1. Incarnation (Christmas): assumption, divinization
2. Baptism (Epiphany): identification, penance, empowerment
3. Temptation (Lent): obedience, conformation
4. Itinerant ministry (Ordinary): following, discipleship
5. Crucifixion (Passover/Good Friday): intercession, reparation
6. Burial (Holy Saturday): surrender; ransom?
7. Resurrection (Easter): victory
8. Ascension (Ascension): delegation, mission
9. Session (Pentecost): revelation/moral influence
10. Return (Advent): judgment, glorification