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Saturday, December 8, 2007

The classical theory of the Atonement

The classical theory of the Atonement is also called by different names by different groups.

Some call it "the Ransom Theory", while others like the it "the Christus Victor" theory of the Atonement.

Some would like to believe Origen started this theory but that's not true. Anyone who read the Early church Fathers would know this.

The theory basically states Jesus paid the devil to free us from the captivity of death.

Some who don't like this view would state that Jesus paid the Father and not the devil, but I would Object to this for scripture plainly states in Revelations that Jesus Purchased men for God.

Revelation 5:9
"And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the
scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you
purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and

Assuming the word "you" means Jesus/Son and the word "God" means the Father.

If this is the case then this scripture seems to be saying that Jesus bought men for the Father. He can't be paying the Father if He is buying people "FOR" the Father.

Hewbrews chapter 2 shows a link between the one who holds the power of death with the one who freed us by destroying the one who held the power of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15

"14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too
shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the
power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were
held in slavery by their fear of death."

1.) According to Hebrews, who held the power of death? "The devil"

2.) According to Hebrews, who were the ones who were held in Slavery by their fear of Death? . "children/mankind"

3.) Who was the one who held them in slavery? . "the devil"

4.) Who freed them? . "JESUS"

5.) How did HE free them? . "by destroying the one who held the power of death by dying himself"

Thus, according to Hebrews chapter 2. It would seem as if Jesus freed mankind by paying the devil His life(His blood) so that we could live.

In order for us to be free, Jesus had to be captive to death. But by dying, Jesus destroyed the one who held the power of death.

And this is why Scripture says

Revelation 1:18
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am
alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell(Hades) and of death."

What would be the point of saying you got the keys of Hades and death if Hades and death never took you captive? He destroyed the devil's power over us by dying and this is why He has the keys of Death and Hades.

Scripture also says:

1 Corinthians 15:55
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is
your sting?"

Acts 2:24
"24Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of
death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it."

Acts 2:27
"27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell(hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see

So In regards to death, Jesus paid the devil. In regards to sin, Jesus became a sacrifice for us to purge our sins in order to reconnect us to the Father.

And this is why both the DEATH and Ressurection are crucial to Salvation. Jesus's death counters the problem of sin ...... while Jesus's ressurection counters the problem of death.

However, I would like to add that My Orthodox Priest/Prespytere/elder believes Jesus paid it to Death........... Or paid the ransom to death itself. He didn't seem to like the idea of Jesus paying it to Satan. When he explained it to me. He began with God's Providence and spoke of how the only power that Satan really have was only so because it was first givin to him by God in the first place. So he wanted me to understand the payment to the devil doctrine in a more symbolic sense.....Or at least with an understanding that is filtered through God's Divine Providence.

I still hold to the payment to Satan view while contemplating the idea of Jesus paying it to death. The Orthodox view of the Atonement starts with the Incarnation of God. ......And it flows from there.

I know that alot of the early & later Church Fathers used Matthew chapter twelve verse twenty nine.

"How can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his
goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his

They used this verse to talk about what Jesus did to the devil. They believed that Jesus binded the strong man(the devil) and plundered his house(freeing us from his captivity)

But as far as Reformed Protestants go I would say it would be a safe bet to assume they followed some form of the theory that came from Anselm. It's been a while since I read Anselm(the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 11nth century) , but from the top of my head I would say he believed in an Honor which Adam violated God's honor when he sinned. So Jesus had to pay for our sins in order to restore that Honor.

It is said by some that Charles Hodge molded that into a court room modal.

The basic Reformed view seems to be the court room and banking modal.

I could be wrong about when the court room modal started. I know it started in the western Church, but I'm not sure when.

Some Lutherans seem to be going back to the Classical modal theory. They call it by a different name. They call it "Christus victor" or something like that.



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