Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921)
I. SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE
The replacement of the term "satisfaction" (q.v.), to designate, according to its nature, the work of Christ in saving sinners, by "atonement," the term more usual at present, is somewhat unfortunate. "Satisfaction" is at once the more comprehensive, the more expressive, the less ambiguous, and the more exact term. The word "atonement" occurs but once in the English New Testament (Rom. v. 11, A. V., but not R. V.) and on this occasion it bears its archaic sense of "reconciliation," and as such translates the Greek term katallagē. In the English Old Testament, however, it is found quite often as the stated rendering of the Hebrew terms kipper, kippurim, in the sense of "propitiation," "expiation." It is in this latter sense that it has become current, and has been applied to the work of Christ, which it accordingly describes as, in its essential nature, an expiatory offering, propitiating an offended Deity and reconciling Him with man.
1. THE NEW TESTAMENT PRESENTATION
In thus characterizing the work of Christ, it does no injustice to the New Testament representation. The writers of the New Testament employ many other modes of describing the work of Christ, which, taken together, set it forth as much more than a provision, in His death, for canceling the guilt of man. To mention nothing else at the moment, they set it forth equally as a provision, in His righteousness, for fulfilling the demands of the divine law upon the conduct of men. But it is undeniable that they enshrine at the center of this work its efficacy as a piacular sacrifice, securing the forgiveness of sins; that is to say, relieving its beneficiaries of "the penal consequences which otherwise the curse of the broken law inevitably entails." The Lord Himself fastens attention upon this aspect of His work (Matt. xx. 28, xxvi. 28); and it is embedded in every important type of New Testament teaching - as well in the Epistle to the Hebrews (ii. 17), and the Epistles of Peter (I. iii. 18) and John (I. ii. 2), as currently in those of Paul (Rom, viii. 3; I Cor. v. 7; Eph. v. 2) to whom, obviously, "the sacrifice of Christ had the significance of the death of an innocent victim in the room of the guilty" and who therefore "freely employs the category of substitution, involving the conception of imputation or transference" of legal standing (W. P. Paterson, article "Sacrifice" in Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible," iv. 1909, pp. 343-345). Looking out from this point of view as from a center, the New Testament writers ascribe the saving efficacy of Christ's work specifically to His death, or His blood, or His cross (Rom. iii. 25; v. 9; I Cor. x. 16; Eph. i. 7; ii. 13; Col. i. 20; Heb. ix. 12, 14; I Pet. i. 2, 19; I John i. 7; v. 6-8; Rev. i. 5), and this with such predilection and emphasis that the place given to the death of Christ in the several theories which have been framed of the nature of our Lord's work, may not unfairly be taken as a test of their Scripturalness. All else that Christ does for us in the breadth of His redeeming work is, in their view, conditioned upon His bearing our sins in His own body on the tree; so that "the fundamental characteristic of the New Testament conception of redemption is that deliverance from guilt stands first; emancipation from the power of sin follows upon it; and removal of all the ills of life constitutes its final issue" (O. Kirn, article "Erlösung" in Hauck-Herzog, "Realencyklopadie," v. p. 464; see "Redemption").
2. DEVELOPMENT OF THE DOCTRINE
The exact nature of Christ's work in redemption was not made the subject of scientific investigation in the early Church. This was due partly, no doubt, just to the clearness of the New Testament representation of it as a piacular sacrifice; but in part also to the engrossment of the minds of the first teachers of Christianity with more immediately pressing problems, such as the adjustment of the essential elements of the Christian doctrines of God and of the person of Christ, and the establishment of man's helplessness in sin and absolute dependence on the grace of God for salvation. Meanwhile Christians were content to speak of the work of Christ in simple Scriptural or in general language, or to develop, rather by way of illustration than of explanation, certain aspects of it, chiefly its efficacy as a sacrifice, but also, very prominently, its working as a ransom in delivering us from bondage to Satan. Thus it was not until the end of the eleventh century that the nature of the Atonement received at the hands of Anselm (d. 1109) its first thorough discussion. Representing it, in terms derived from the Roman law, as in its essence a "satisfaction" to the divine justice, Anselm set it once for all in its true relations to the inherent necessities of the divine nature, and to the magnitude of human guilt; and thus determined the outlines of the doctrine for all subsequent thought. Contemporaries like Bernard and Abelard, no doubt, and perhaps not unnaturally, found difficulty in assimilating at once the newly framed doctrine; the former ignored it in the interests of the old notion of a ransom offered to Satan; the latter rejected it in the interests of a theory of moral influence upon man. But it gradually made its way. The Victorines, Hugo and Richard, united with it other elements, the effect of which was to cure its onesidedness; and the great doctors of the age of developed scholasticism manifest its victory by differing from one another chiefly in their individual ways of stating and defending it. Bonaventura develops it; Aquinas enriches it with his subtle distinctions; Thomist and Scotist alike start from it, and diverge only in the question whether the "satisfaction" offered by Christ was intrinsically equivalent to the requirements of the divine justice or availed for this purpose only through the gracious acceptance of God. It was not, however, until the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith threw its light back upon the "satisfaction" which provided its basis, that that doctrine came fully to its rights. No one before Luther had spoken with the clarity, depth, or breadth which characterize his references to Christ as our deliverer, first from the guilt of sin, and then, because from the guilt of sin, also from all that is evil, since all that is evil springs from sin (cf. T. Harnack, "Luthers Theologie," Erlangen, ii. 1886, chaps. 16-19, and Kirn, ut sup., p. 467). These vital religious conceptions were reduced to scientific statement by the Protestant scholastics, by whom it was that the complete doctrine of "satisfaction" was formulated with a thoroughness and comprehensiveness of grasp which has made it the permanent possession of the Church. In this, its developed form, it represents our Lord as making satisfaction for us "by His blood and righteousness"; on the one hand, to the justice of God, outraged by human sin, in bearing the penalty due to our guilt in His own sacrificial death; and, on the other hand, to the demands of the law of God requiring perfect obedience, in fulfilling in His immaculate life on earth as the second Adam the probation which Adam failed to keep; bringing to bear on men at the same time and by means of the same double work every conceivable influence adapted to deter them from sin and to win them back to good and to God - by the highest imaginable demonstration of God's righteousness and hatred of sin and the supreme manifestation of God's love and eagerness to save; by a gracious proclamation of full forgiveness of sin in the blood of Christ; by a winning revelation of the spiritual order and the spiritual world; and by the moving example of His own perfect life in the conditions of this world; but, above all, by the purchase of the gift of the Holy Spirit for His people as a power not themselves making for righteousness dwelling within them, and supernaturally regenerating their hearts and conforming their lives to His image, and so preparing them for their permanent place in the new order of things which, flowing from this redeeming work, shall ultimately be established as the eternal form of the Kingdom of God.
3. VARIOUS THEORIES
Of course, this great comprehensive doctrine of "the satisfaction of Christ" has not been permitted to hold the field without controversy. Many "theories of the atonement" have been constructed, each throwing into emphasis a fragment of the truth, to the neglect or denial of the complementary elements, including ordinarily the central matter of the expiation of guilt itself (cf. T. J. Crawford, "The Doctrine of Holy Scripture respecting the Atonement," Edinburgh, 1888, pp. 395-401; A. B. Bruce, "The Humiliation of Christ," Edinburgh, 1881, lecture 7; A. A. Hodge, "The Atonement," Philadelphia, 1867, pp. 17 ff.). Each main form of these theories, in some method of statement or other, has at one time or another seemed on the point of becoming the common doctrine of the churches. In the patristic age men spoke with such predilection of the work of Christ as issuing in our deliverance from the power of Satan that the false impression is very readily obtained from a cursory survey of the teaching of the Fathers that they predominantly conceived it as directed to that sole end. The so-called "mystical" view, which had representatives among the Greek Fathers and has always had advocates in the Church, appeared about the middle of the last century almost ready to become dominant in at least Continental Protestantism through the immense influence of Schleiermacher. The "rectoral or governmental theory," invented by Grotius early in the seventeenth century in the effort to save something from the assault of the Socinians, has ever since provided a half-way house for those who, while touched by the chilling breath of rationalism, have yet not been ready to surrender every semblance of an "objective atonement," and has therefore come very prominently forward in every era of decaying faith. The "moral influence" theory, which in the person of perhaps the acutest of all the scholastic reasoners, Peter Abelard, confronted the doctrine of "satisfaction" at its formulation, in its vigorous promulgation by the Socinians and again by the lower class of rationalists obtained the widest currency; and again in our own day its enthusiastic advocates, by perhaps a not unnatural illusion, are tempted to claim for it the final victory (so e.g. G. B. Stevens, "The Christian Doctrine of Salvation," New York, 1905; but cf. per contra, of the same school, T. V. Tymms, "The Christian Idea of Atonement," London, 1904, p. 8). But no one of these theories, however attractively they may be presented, or however wide an acceptance each may from time to time have found in academic circles, has ever been able to supplant the doctrine of "satisfaction," either in the formal creeds of the churches, or in the hearts of simple believers. Despite the fluidity of much recent thinking on the subject, the doctrine of "satisfaction" remains to-day the established doctrine of the churches as to the nature of Christ's work of redemption, and is apparently immovably entrenched in the hearts of the Christian body (cf. J. B. Remensnyder, "The Atonement and Modern Thought," Philadelphia, 1905, p. xvi.).
II. THE FIVE CHIEF THEORIES OF THE ATONEMENT
A survey of the various theories of the Atonement which have been broached, may be made from many points of view (cf. especially the survey in T. G. Crawford, ut sup., pp. 285-401; Bruce, ut sup., lecture 7; and for recent German views, F. A. B. Nitzsch, "Lehrbuch der evangelischen Dogmatik," Freiburg, 1892, part 2, §§ 43-46; O. Bensow, "Die Lehre von der Versöhnung," Gütersloh, 1904, pp. 7-153; G. A. F. Ecklin, "Erlösung und Versöhnung," Basel, 1903, part 4). Perhaps as good a method as any other is to arrange them according to the conception each entertains of the person or persons on whom the work of Christ terminates. When so arranged they fall naturally into five classes which may be enumerated here in the ascending order.
1. Theories which conceive the work of Christ as terminating upon Satan, so affecting him as to secure the release of the souls held in bondage by him. These theories, which have been described as emphasizing the "triumphantorial" aspect of Christ's work (Ecklin, ut sup., p. 113) had very considerable vogue in the patristic age (e.g. Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Basil, the two Gregories, Cyril of Alexandria, down to and including John of Damascus and Nicholas of Methone; Hilary, Rufinus, Jerome, Augustine, Leo the Great, and even so late as Bernard). They passed out of view only gradually as the doctrine of "satisfaction" became more widely known. Not only does the thought of a Bernard still run in this channel, but even Luther utilized the conception. The idea runs through many forms - speaking in some of them of buying off, in some of overcoming, in some even of outwitting (so e.g. Origen) the devil. But it would be unfair to suppose that such theories represent in any of their forms the whole thought as to the work of Christ of those who made use of them, or were considered by them a scientific statement of the work of Christ. They rather embody only their author's profound sense of the bondage in which men are held to sin and death, and vividly set forth the rescue they conceive Christ has wrought for us in overcoming him who has the power of death.
2. Theories which conceive the work of Christ as terminating physically on man, so affecting him as to bring him by an interior and hidden working upon him into participation with the one life of Christ; the so-called "mystical theories." The fundamental characteristic of these theories is their discovery of the saving fact not in anything which Christ taught or did, but in what He was. It is upon the Incarnation, rather than upon Christ's teaching or His work that they throw stress, attributing the saving power of Christ not to what He does for us but to what He does in us. Tendencies to this type of theory are already traceable in the Platonizing Fathers; and with the entrance of the more developed Neoplatonism into the stream of Christian thinking, through the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius naturalized in the West by Johannes Scotus Erigena, a constant tradition of mystical teaching began which never died out. In the Reformation age this type of thought was represented by men like Osiander, Schwenckfeld, Franck, Weigel, Boehme. In the modern Church a new impulse was given to essentially the same mode of conception by Schleiermacher and his followers (e.g. C. I. Nitzsch, Rothe, Schöberlein, Lange, Martensen), among whom what is known as the "Mercersburg School" (see "Mercersburg Theology") will be particularly interesting to Americans (e.g. J. W. Nevin, "The Mystical Presence," Philadelphia, 1846). A very influential writer among English theologians of the same general class was F. D. Maurice (1805-1872), although he added to his fundamental mystical conception of the work of Christ the further notions that Christ fully identified Himself with us and, thus partaking of our sufferings, set us a perfect example of sacrifice of self to God (cf. especially "Theological Essays," London, 1853; "The Doctrine of Sacrifice," Cambridge, 1854; new edition, London, 1879). Here, too, must be classed the theory suggested in the writings of the late B. F. Westcott ("The Victory of the Cross," London, 1888), which was based on a hypothesis of the efficacy of Christ's blood, borrowed apparently directly from William Milligan (cf. "The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of our Lord," London, 1892), though it goes back ultimately to the Socinians, to the effect that Christ's offering of Himself is not to be identified with His sufferings and death, but rather with the presentation of His life (which is in His blood, set free by death for this purpose) in heaven. "Taking that Blood as efficacious by virtue of the vitality which it contains, he [Dr. Westcott] holds that it was set free from Christ's Body that it might vitalize ours, as it were by transfusion" (C. H. Waller, in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review, iii. 1892, p. 656). Somewhat similarly H. Clay Trumbull ("The Blood Covenant," New York, 1885) looks upon sacrifices as only a form of blood covenanting, that is, of instituting blood-brotherhood between man and God by transfusion of blood; and explains the sacrifice of Christ as representing communing in blood, that is, in the principle of life, between God and man, both of whom Christ represents. The theory which has been called "salvation by sample," or salvation "by gradually extirpated depravity," also has its affinities here. Something like it is as old as Felix of Urgel (d. 818; see "Adoptionism"), and it has been taught in its full development by Dippel (1673-1734), Swedenborg (1688-1772), Menken (1768-1831), and especially by Edward Irving (1792-1834), and, of course, by the modern followers of Swedenborg (e.g. B. F. Barrett). The essence of this theory is that what was assumed by our Lord was human nature as He found it, that is, as fallen; and that this human nature, as assumed by Him, was by the power of His divine nature (or of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him beyond measure) not only kept from sinning, but purified from sin and presented perfect before God as the first-fruits of a saved humanity; men being saved as they become partakers (by faith) of this purified humanity, as they become leavened by this new leaven. Certain of the elements which the great German theologian J. C. K. von Hofmann built into his complicated and not altogether stable theory - a theory which was the occasion of much discussion about the middle of the nineteenth century - reproduce some of the characteristic language of the theory of "salvation by sample."
3. Theories which conceive the work of Christ as terminating on man, in the way of bringing to bear on him inducements to action; so affecting man as to lead him to a better knowledge of God, or to a more lively sense of his real relation to God, or to a revolutionary change of heart and life with reference to God; the so-called "moral influence theories." The essence of all these theories is that they transfer the atoning fact from the work of Christ to the response of the human soul to the influences or appeals proceeding from the work of Christ. The work of Christ takes immediate effect not on God but on man, leading him to a state of mind and heart which will be acceptable to God, through the medium of which alone can the work of Christ be said to affect God. At its highest level, this will mean that the work of Christ is directed to leading man to repentance and faith, which repentance and faith secure God's favor, an effect which can be attributed to Christ's work only mediately, that is, through the medium of the repentance and faith it produces in man. Accordingly, it has become quite common to say, in this school, that "it is faith and repentance which change the face of God"; and advocates of this class of theories sometimes say with entire frankness, "There is no atonement other than repentance" (Auguste Sabatier, "La Doctrine de l'expiation et son evolution historique," Paris, 1901, E.T. London, 1904, p. 127).
Theories of this general type differ from one another, according as, among the instrumentalities by means of which Christ affects the minds and hearts and actions of men, the stress is laid upon His teaching, or His example, or the impression made by His life of faith, or the manifestation of the infinite love of God afforded by His total mission. The most powerful presentation of the first of these conceptions ever made was probably that of the Socinians (followed later by the rationalists, both earlier and later, - Töllner, Bahrdt, Steinbart, Eberhard, Löffler, Henke, Wegscheider). They looked upon the work of Christ as summed up in the proclamation of the willingness of God to forgive sin, on the sole condition of its abandonment; and explained His sufferings and death as merely those of a martyr in the cause of righteousness or in some other non-essential way. The theories which lay the stress of Christ's work on the example He has set us of a high and faithful life, or of a life of self-sacrificing love, have found popular representatives not only in the subtle theory with which F. D. Maurice pieced out his mystical view, and in the somewhat amorphous ideas with which the great preacher F. W. Robertson clothed his conception of Christ's life as simply a long (and hopeless) battle against the evil of the world to which it at last succumbed; but more lately in writers like Auguste Sabatier, who does not stop short of transmuting Christianity into bald altruism, and making it into what he calls the religion of "universal redemption by love," that is to say, anybody's love, not specifically Christ's love - for every one who loves takes his position by Christ's side as, if not equally, yet as truly, a saviour as He ("The Doctrine of the Atonement in its Historical Evolution," ut sup., pp. 131-134; so also Otto Pfleiderer, "Das Christusbild des urchristlichen Glaubens in religionsgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung," Berlin, 1903, E.T. London, 1905, pp. 164-165; cf. Horace Bushnell, "Vicarious Sacrifice," New York, 1865, p. 107: "Vicarious sacrifice was in no way peculiar"). In this same general category belongs also the theory which Albrecht Ritschl has given such wide influence. According to it, the work of Christ consists in the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the world, that is, in the revelation of God's love to men and His gracious purposes for men. Thus Jesus becomes the first object of this love and as such its mediator to others; His sufferings and death being, on the one side, a test of His steadfastness, and, on the other, the crowning proof of His obedience ("Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung," iii. §§ 41-61, ed. 3, Bonn, 1888, E.T. Edinburgh, 1900). Similarly also, though with many modifications, which are in some instances not insignificant, such writers as W. Herrmann ("Der Verkehr des Christen mit Gott," Stuttgart, 1886, p. 93, E.T. London, 1895), J. Kaftan ("Dogmatik," Tübingen, 1901, pp. 454 ff.), F. A. B. Nitzsch ("Lehrbuch der evangelischen Dogmatik," Freiburg, 1892, pp. 504-513), T. Häring (in his "Ueber das Bleibende im Glauben an Christus," Stuttgart, 1880, where he sought to complete Ritschl's view by the addition of the idea that Christ offered to God a perfect sorrow for the world's sin, which supplements our imperfect repentance; in his later writings, "Zu Ritschl's Versöhnungslehre," Zurich, 1888, "Zur Versöhnungslehre," Göttingen, 1893, he assimilates to the Grotian theory), E. Kühl ("Die Heilsbedeutung des Todes Christi," Berlin, 1890), G. A. F. Ecklin (" Der Heilswert des Todes Jesu," Gütersloh, 1888; "Christus unser Bürge," Basel, 1901; and especially "Erlösung und Versöhnung," Basel, 1903, which is an elaborate history of the doctrine from the point of view of what Ecklin calls in antagonism to the "substitutional-expiatory" conception, the "solidaric-reparatory" conception of the Atonement - the conception, that is, that Christ comes to save men not primarily from the guilt, but from the power of sin, and that "the sole satisfaction God demands for His outraged honor is the restoration of obedience," p. 648). The most popular form of the "moral influence" theories has always been that in which the stress is laid on the manifestation made in the total mission and work of Christ of the ineffable and searching love of God for sinners, which, being perceived, breaks down our opposition to God, melts our hearts, and brings us as prodigals home to the Father's arms. It is in this form that the theory was advocated (but with the suggestion that there is another side to it), for example, by S. T. Coleridge ("Aids to Reflection"), and that it was commended to English-speaking readers of the last generation with the highest ability by John Young of Edinburgh ("The Life and Light of Men," London, 1866), and with the greatest literary attractiveness by Horace Bushnell ("Vicarious Sacrifice," New York, 1865; see below, § 7; see also article "Bushnell, Horace"); and has been more recently set forth in elaborate and vigorously polemic form by W. N. Clarke ("An Outline of Christian Theology," New York, 1898, pp. 340-368), T. Vincent Tymms ("The Christian Idea of Atonement," London, 1904), G. B. Stevens ("The Christian Doctrine of Salvation," New York, 1905), and C. M. Mead ("Irenic Theology," New York, 1905).
In a volume of essays published first in the Andover Review (iv. 1885, pp. 56 ff.) and afterward gathered into a volume under the title of "Progressive Orthodoxy" (Boston, 1886), the professors in Andover Seminary made an attempt (the writer here being, as was understood, George Harris) to enrich the "moral influence" theory of the Atonement after a fashion quite common in Germany (cf. e.g. Häring, ut sup.) with elements derived from other well-known forms of teaching. In this construction, Christ's work is made to consist primarily in bringing to bear on man a revelation of God's hatred of sin, and love for souls, by which He makes man capable of repentance and leads him to repent revolutionarily; by this repentance, then, together with Christ's own sympathetic expression of repentance God is rendered propitious. Here Christ's work is supposed to have at least some (though a secondary) effect upon God; and a work of propitiation of God by Christ may be spoken of, although it is accomplished by a "sympathetic repentance." It has accordingly become usual with those who have adopted this mode of representation to say that there was in this atoning work, not indeed "a substitution of a sinless Christ for a sinful race," but a "substitution of humanity plus Christ for humanity minus Christ." By such curiously compacted theories the transition is made to the next class.
4. Theories which conceive the work of Christ as terminating on both man and God, but on man primarily and on God only secondarily. The outstanding instance of this class of theories is supplied by the so-called "rectoral or governmental theories." These suppose that the work of Christ so affects man by the spectacle of the sufferings borne by Him as to deter men from sin; and by thus deterring men from sin enables God to forgive sin with safety to His moral government of the world. In these theories the sufferings and death of Christ become, for the first time in this conspectus of theories, of cardinal importance, constituting indeed the very essence of the work of Christ. But the atoning fact here too, no less than in the "moral influence" theories, is man's own reformation, though this reformation is supposed in the rectoral view to be wrought not primarily by breaking down man's opposition to God by a moving manifestation of the love of God in Christ, but by inducing in man a horror of sin, through the spectacle of God's hatred of sin afforded by the sufferings of Christ - through which, no doubt, the contemplation of man is led on to God's love to sinners as exhibited in His willingness to inflict all these sufferings on His own Son, that He might be enabled, with justice to His moral government, to forgive sins.
This theory was worked out by the great Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius ("Defensio fidei catholicae de satisfactione Christi," Leyden, 1617; modern edition, Oxford, 1856; E.T. with notes and introduction by F. H. Foster, Andover, 1889) as an attempt to save what was salvable of the established doctrine of satisfaction from disintegration under the attacks of the Socinian advocates of the "moral influence" theories (see "Grotius, Hugo"). It was at once adopted by those Arminians who had been most affected by the Socinian reasoning; and in the next age became the especial property of the better class of the so-called supranaturalists (Michaelis, Storr, Morus, Knapp, Steudel, Reinhard, Muntinghe, Vinke, Egeling). It has remained on the continent of Europe to this day, the refuge of most of those, who, influenced by the modern spirit, yet wish to preserve some form of "objective," that is, of God-ward atonement. A great variety of representations have grown up under this influence, combining elements of the satisfaction and rectoral views. To name but a single typical instance, the commentator F. Godet, both in his commentaries (especially that on Romans) and in a more recent essay (published in "The Atonement in Modern Religious Thought," by various writers, London, 1900, pp. 331 ff.), teaches (certainly in a very high form) the rectoral theory distinctly (and is corrected therefor by his colleague at Neuchatel, Professor Gretillat, who wishes an "ontological" rather than a merely "demonstrative" necessity for atonement to be recognized). Its history has run on similar lines in English-speaking countries. In Great Britain and America alike it has become practically the orthodoxy of the Independents. It has, for example, been taught as such in the former country by Joseph Gilbert ("The Christian Atonement," London, 1836), and in especially wellworked-out forms by R. W. Dale ("The Atonement," London, 1876) and Alfred Cave ("The Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice," Edinburgh, 1877; new edition with title, "The Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice and Atonement," 1890; and in "The Atonement in Modern Religious Thought," ut sup., pp. 250 ff.). When the Calvinism of the New England Puritans began to break down, one of the symptoms of its decay was the gradual substitution of the rectoral for the satisfaction view of the Atonement. The process may be traced in the writings of Joseph Bellamy (1719-1790), Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803), John Smalley (1734-1820), Stephen West (1735-1819), Jonathan Edwards, Jr. (1745-1801), Nathanael Emmons (1745-1840); and Edwards A. Park was able, accordingly, in the middle of the nineteenth century to set the rectoral theory forth as the "traditional orthodox doctrine" of the American Congregationalists ("The Atonement: Discourses and Treatises by Edwards, Smalley, Maxcy, Emmons, Griffin, Burge, and Weeks, with an Introductory Essay by Edwards A. Park," Boston, 1859; cf. Daniel T. Fisk, in the Bibliotheca Sacra, xviii. 1861, pp. 284 ff., and further N. S. S. Beman, "Four Sermons on the Doctrine of the Atonement," Troy, 1825, new edition with title "Christ, the only Sacrifice: or the Atonement in its Relations to God and Man," New York, 1844; N.W. Taylor, "Lectures on the Moral Government of God," New York, 1859; Albert Barnes, "The Atonement, in its Relations to Law and Moral Government," Philadelphia, 1859; Frank H. Foster, "Christian Life and Theology," New York, 1900; Lewis F. Stearns, "Present Day Theology," New York, 1893). The early Wesleyans also gravitated toward the rectoral theory, though not without some hesitation, a hesitation which has sustained itself among British Wesleyans until to-day (cf. e.g. W. B. Pope, "Compendium of Christian Theology," London, 1875; Marshall Randles, "Substitution: a Treatise on the Atonement," London, 1877; T. O. Summers, "Systematic Theology," 2 vols., Nashville, Tenn., 1888; J. J. Tigert, in the Methodist Quarterly Review, April, 1884), although many among them have taught the rectoral theory with great distinctness and decision (e.g. Joseph Agar Beet, in the Expositor, Fourth Series, vi. 1892, pp. 343-355; "Through Christ to God," London, 1893). On the other hand, the rectoral theory has been the regnant one among American Methodists and has received some of its best statements from their hands (cf. especially John Miley, "The Atonement in Christ," New York, 1879; "Systematic Theology," New York, ii. 1894, pp. 65-240), although there are voices raised of late in denial of its claim to be considered distinctively the doctrine of the Methodist Church (J. J. Tigert, ut sup.; H. C. Sheldon, in The American Journal of Theology, x. 1906, pp. 41-42).
The final form which Horace Bushnell gave his version of the "moral influence" theory, in his "Forgiveness and Law" (New York, 1874; made the second volume to his revised "Vicarious Sacrifice," 1877), stands in no relation to the rectoral theories; but it requires to be mentioned here by their side, because it supposes like them that the work of Christ has a secondary effect on God, although its primary effect is on man. In this presentation, Bushnell represents Christ's work as consisting in a profound identification of Himself with man, the effect of which is, on the one side, to manifest God's love to man and so to conquer man to Him, and, on the other, as he expresses it, "to make cost" on God's part for man, and so, by breaking down God's resentment to man, to prepare God's heart to receive man back when he comes. The underlying idea is that whenever we do anything for those who have injured us, and in proportion as it costs us something to do it, our natural resentment of the injury we have suffered is undermined, and we are prepared to forgive the injury when forgiveness is sought. By this theory the transition is naturally made to the next class.
5. Theories which conceive the work of Christ as terminating primarily on God and secondarily on man. The lowest form in which this ultimate position can be said to be fairly taken, is doubtless that set forth in his remarkably attractive way by John McLeod Campbell ("The Nature of the Atonement and its Relation to Remission of Sins and Eternal Life," London, 1856; ed. 4, 1873), and lately argued out afresh with even more than Campbell's winningness and far more than his cogency, depth, and richness, by the late R. C. Moberly ("Atonement and Personality," London, 1901). This theory supposes that our Lord, by sympathetically entering into our condition (an idea independently suggested by Schleiermacher, and emphasized by many Continental thinkers, as, for example, to name only a pair with little else in common, by Gess and Häring), so keenly felt our sins as His own, that He could confess and adequately repent of them before God; and this is all the expiation justice asks. Here "sympathetic identification" replaces the conception of substitution; "sodality," of race-unity; and "repentance," of expiation. Nevertheless, the theory rises immeasurably above the mass of those already enumerated, in looking upon Christ as really a Saviour, who performs a really saving work, terminating immediately on God. Despite its insufficiencies, therefore, which have caused writers like Edwards A. Park, and A. B. Bruce ("The Humiliation of Christ," ut sup., pp. 317-318) to speak of it with a tinge of contempt, it has exercised a very wide influence and elements of it are discoverable in many constructions which stand far removed from its fundamental presuppositions.
The so-called "middle theory" of the Atonement, which owes its name to its supposed intermediate position between the "moral influence" theories and the doctrine of "satisfaction," seems to have offered attractions to the latitudinarian writers of the closing eighteenth and opening nineteenth centuries. At that time it was taught in John Balguy's "Essay on Redemption" (London, 1741), Henry Taylor's "Apology of Ben Mordecai" (London, 1784), and Richard Price's "Sermons on Christian Doctrine" (London, 1787; cf. Hill's "Lectures in Divinity," ed. 1851, pp. 422 ff.). Basing on the conception of sacrifices which looks upon them as merely gifts designed to secure the good-will of the King, the advocates of this theory regard the work of Christ as consisting in the offering to God of Christ's perfect obedience even to death, and by it purchasing God's favor and the right to do as He would with those whom God gave Him as a reward. By the side of this theory may be placed the ordinary Remonstrant theory of acceptilatio, which, reviving this Scotist conception, is willing to allow that the work of Christ was of the nature of an expiatory sacrifice, but is unwilling to allow that His blood any more than that of "bulls and goats" had intrinsic value equivalent to the fault for which it was graciously accepted by God as an atonement. This theory may be found expounded, for example, in Limborch ("Theologia Christiana," ed. 4, Amsterdam, 1715, iii. chaps. xviii.-xxiii.). Such theories, while preserving the sacrificial form of the Biblical doctrine, and, with it, its inseparable implication that the work of Christ has as its primary end to affect God and secure from Him favorable regard for man (for it is always to God that sacrifices are offered), yet fall so far short of the Biblical doctrine of the nature and effect of Christ's sacrifice as to seem little less than travesties of it.
The Biblical doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ finds full recognition in no other construction than that of the established church-doctrine of satisfaction. According to it, our Lord's redeeming work is at its core a true and perfect sacrifice offered to God, of intrinsic value ample for the expiation of our guilt; and at the same time is a true and perfect righteousness offered to God in fulfillment of the demands of His law; both the one and the other being offered in behalf of His people, and, on being accepted by God, accruing to their benefit; so that by this satisfaction they are relieved at once from the curse of their guilt as breakers of the law, and from the burden of the law as a condition of life; and this by a work of such kind and performed in such a manner, as to carry home to the hearts of men a profound sense of the indefectible righteousness of God and to make to them a perfect revelation of His love; so that, by this one and indivisible work, both God is reconciled to us, and we, under the quickening influence of the Spirit bought for us by it, are reconciled to God, so making peace - external peace between an angry God and sinful men, and internal peace in the response of the human conscience to the restored smile of God. This doctrine, which has been incorporated in more or less fullness of statement in the creedal declarations of all the great branches of the Church, Greek, Latin, Lutheran, and Reformed, and which has been expounded with more or less insight and power by the leading doctors of the churches for the last eight hundred years, was first given scientific statement by Anselm (q.v.) in his "Cur Deus homo" (1098); but reached its complete development only at the hands of the so-called Protestant Scholastics of the seventeenth century (cf. e.g. Turretin, "The Atonement of Christ," E.T. by J. R. Willson, New York, 1859; John Owen, "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" (1648), Edinburgh, 1845). Among the numerous modern presentations of the doctrine the following may perhaps be most profitably consulted. Of Continental writers: August Tholuck, "Die Lehre von der Sünde und vom Versöhner," Hamburg, 1823; F. A. Philippi, "Kirchliche Glaubenslehre" (Stuttgart and Gütersloh, 1854-1882), IV. ii. 1863, pp. 24 ff.; G. Thomasius, "Christi Person und Werk," ed. 3, Erlangen, 1886-1888, vol. ii.; E. Böhl, "Dogmatik," Amsterdam, 1887, pp. 361 ff.; J. F. Bula, "Die Versöhnung des Menschen mit Gott durch Christum," Basel, 1874; W. Kolling, "Die Satisfactio vicaria," 2 vols., Gütersloh, 1897-1899; Merle d'Aubigné, "L'Expiation de la croix," Geneva, 1867; A. Gretillat, "Exposé de théologie systématique" (Paris, 1885-1892), iv. 1890, pp. 278 ff.; A. Kuyper, "E Voto Dordraceno," Amsterdam, i. 1892, pp. 79 ff., 388 ff.; H. Bavinck, "Gereformeerde Dogmatick," Kampen, iii. 1898, pp. 302-424. Of writers in English: The appropriate sections of the treatises on dogmatics by C. Hodge, A. H. Strong, W. G. T. Shedd, R. L. Dabney; and the following separate treatises: W. Symington, "On the Atonement and Intercession of Jesus Christ," New York, 1853 (defective, as excluding the "active obedience" of Christ); R. S. Candlish, "The Atonement: its Efficacy and Extent," Edinburgh, 1867; A. A. Hodge, "The Atonement," Philadelphia, 1867, new edition, 1877; George Smeaton, "The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by Christ Himself," Edinburgh, 1868, ed. 2, 1871; idem, "The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by the Apostles," 1870; T. J. Crawford, "The Doctrine of Holy Scripture respecting the Atonement," Edinburgh, 1871, ed. 5, 1888; Hugh Martin, "The Atonement: in its Relations to the Covenant, the Priesthood, the Intercession of our Lord," London, 1870. See " Satisfaction."
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The more important treatises on the Atonement have been named in the body of the article. The history of the doctrine has been written with a fair degree of objectivity by Ferdinand Christian Baur, "Die christliche Lehre von der Versöhnung in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung," Tübingen, 1838; and with more subjectivity by Albrecht Ritschl in the first volume of his "Die christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung," ed. 3, Bonn, 1889, E.T. from the first edition, 1870, "A Critical History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation," Edinburgh; 1872. Excellent historical sketches are given by G. Thomasius, in the second volume of his "Christi Person und Werk," pp. 113 ff., ed. 3, Erlangen, 1888, from the confessional, and by F. A. B. Nitzsch, in his "Lehrbuch der evangelischen Dogmatik," pp. 457 ff., Freiburg, 1892, from the moral influence standpoint. More recently the history has been somewhat sketchily written from the general confessional standpoint by Oscar Bensow as the first part of his "Die Lehre von der Versöhnung," Gütersloh, 1904, and with more fullness from the moral influence standpoint by G. A. F. Ecklin, in his "Erlösung und Versöhnung," Basel, 1903. Consult also E. Ménégoz, "La Mort de Jésus et le dogme de l'expiation," Paris, 1905. The English student of the history of the doctrine has at his disposal not only the sections in the general histories of doctrine (e.g. Hagenbach, Cunningham, Shedd, Harnack) and the comprehensive treatise of Ritschl mentioned above, but also interesting sketches in the appendices of G. Smeaton's "The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by the Apostles," Edinburgh, 1870, and J. S. Lidgett's "The Spiritual Principle of the Atonement," London, 1897, from the confessional standpoint, as well as H. N. Oxenham's "The Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement," London, 1865, ed. 3, 1881, from the Roman Catholic standpoint. Consult also: J. B. Remensnyder, "The Atonement and Modern Thought," Philadelphia, 1905; D. W. Simon, "The Redemption of Man," Edinburgh, 1889; C. A. Dinsmore, "Atonement in Literature and Life," Boston, 1906; L. Pullan, "The Atonement," London, 1906. An interesting episode is treated by Andrew Robertson, "History of the Atonement Controversy in the Secession Church," Edinburgh, 1846.
Taken from The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by Samuel Macauley Jackson, D.D., LL.D., i. pp. 349-356 (copyright by Funk and Wagnalls Company, New York, 1908).