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Atonement

Edited by Daniel von Wachter (International Academy of Philosophy)
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Summary Christianity claims that through Jesus Christ's death on the cross a man can receive forgiveness and thus ‘eternal life’. This is expressed by saying that Christ ‘atoned’ for man's sin. The texts in this category discuss whether and how this is possible. Different views of the atonement are for example the penal substitution theory and the reparation view.
Key works Davis et al 2006 is a collection of new articles about the atonement. Swinburne 1989 is a detailed theory of the atonement, arguing that Christ enabled man to pay the debt. Porter 2004 defends penal substitution. Anselm's Cur deus homo? is the most thorough early treaties about the atonement.
Introductions Porter 2004
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  1. Marilyn McCord Adams (2008). Plantinga on “Felix Culpa”. Faith and Philosophy 25 (2):123-140.
    In “Supralapsarianism, or ‘O Felix Culpa,’” Alvin Plantinga turns from defensive apologetics to the project of Christian explanation and offers a supralapsarian theodicy: the reason God made us in a world like this is that God wanted to create a world including the towering goods of Incarnation and atonement—goods which are appropriate only in worlds containing a sufficient amount of sin, suffering, and evil as well. Plantinga’s approach makes human agents and their sin, suffering and evil, instrumental means to the (...)
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  2. Mark D. Baker (forthcoming). Book Review: Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. [REVIEW] Interpretation 56 (2):222-223.
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  3. Johannes Balthasar (1983). Atonement as an Inter-Personal Exercise. Philosophy and History 16 (2):141-142.
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  4. Lee C. Barrett (2013). Kierkegaard on the Atonement: The Complementarity of Salvation as a Gift and Salvation as a Task. Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 2013 (1).
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  5. Anthony Bash (2011). Forgiveness: A Re-Appraisal. Studies in Christian Ethics 24 (2):133-146.
    This paper offers a re-appraisal of traditional Christian views about forgiveness. Many of the widely accepted axioms about forgiveness are found to be wanting. This paper offers a new approach to forgiveness that the writer hopes better accords with the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and with modern discussion of the topic.
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  6. Tim Bayne & Greg Restall (2009). A Participatory Model of the Atonement. In Yujin Nagasawa & Erik J. Wielenberg (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Religion. Palgrave Macmillan. 150.
    In this paper we develop a participatory model of the Christian doctrine of the atonement, according to which the atonement involves participating in the death and resurrection of Christ. In part one we argue that current models of the atonement—exemplary, penal, substitutionary and merit models—are unsatisfactory. The central problem with these models is that they assume a purely deontic conception of sin and, as a result, they fail to address sin as a relational and ontological problem. In part two we (...)
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  7. Christopher Bennett (2003). Personal and Redemptive Forgiveness. European Journal of Philosophy 11 (2):127–144.
    Some philosophers think that forgiveness should only be granted in response to the wrongdoer’s repentance, while others think that forgiveness can properly be given unconditionally. In this paper I show that both of these positions are partially correct. In redemptive forgiveness we wipe the wrong from the offender’s moral record. It is wrong to forgive redemptively in the absence of some atonement. Personal forgiveness, on the other hand, is granted when the victim overcomes inappropriate though humanly understandable feelings of hate (...)
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  8. Christopher Bennett (2002). The Varieties of Retributive Experience. Philosophical Quarterly 52 (207):145-163.
    Retribution is often dismissed as augmenting the initial harm done, rather than ameliorating it. This criticism rests on a crude view of retribution. In our actual practice in informal situations and in the workings of the reactive (properly called 'retributive') sentiments, retribution is true to the gravity of wrongdoing, but does aim to ameliorate it. Through wrongdoing, offenders become alienated from the moral community: their actions place their commitment to its core values in doubt. We recognize this status in blaming, (...)
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  9. J. Todd Billings (forthcoming). Book Review: Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition. [REVIEW] Interpretation 60 (3):352-352.
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  10. Charles E. Brown (1999). The Atonement Healing in Postmodern Society. Interpretation 53 (1):34-43.
    Whether the redeeming activity of God can be an intelligible and compelling reality in a postmodern society represents a profound challenge to the Christian church. By paying attention to evil as an abuse of power, the church may be able to present and embody a rehabilitated Christus Victor view of the atonement to a radically suspicious postmodern society.
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  11. David Brown (2004). Anselm on Atonement. In Brian Leftow (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Anselm. Cambridge Univ Pr.
    A detailed analysis of the argument of ’Cur Deus Homo’ is offered. Particular attention is paid to where the argument might now be thought to be at its weakest, in two unargued assumptions: the relevance of aesthetic considerations, and the presumed connection between the actions of one man and all humanity. The reasons for these assumptions are explored, as also the meaning of the key term ’satisfaction.’ It is argued that for Anselm only Christ’s death constituted a debt not owed, (...)
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  12. Thomas Brudholm & Arne Grøn (2011). Picturing Forgiveness After Atrocity. Studies in Christian Ethics 24 (2):159-170.
    The article addresses the question when the advocacy of forgiveness in the wake of political mass violence can be harmful and immoral. It engages with this question primarily by probing the value of different pictures of forgiveness, most importantly Rembrandt’s painting Return of the Prodigal Son and a photograph from post-genocide Rwanda. The critical examination of the value of particular pictures in the advocacy of forgiveness also involves attention to particularly problematic ‘pictures’ (in the sense of notions, imaginaries, representations) of (...)
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  13. Oliver D. Crisp (2008). Original Sin and Atonement. In Thomas P. Flint & Michael C. Rea (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology. Oxford University Press.
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  14. Richard Cross (2001). Atonement Without Satisfaction. Religious Studies 37 (4):397-416.
    According to Swinburne, one way of dealing with the guilt that attaches to a morally bad action is satisfaction, consisting of repentance, apology, reparation, and penance. Thus, Christ's life and death make atonement for human sin by providing a reparation which human beings would otherwise be unable to pay. I argue that the nature of God's creative activity entails that human beings can by themselves make reparation for their sins, merely by apology. So there is no need for additional reparation, (...)
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  15. D. Crossley (1990). Social Failure and the Doctrine of the Atonement-a Note on Jacob, Anton, K. Ideology, Self-Esteem, and Religious Doctrine. Ultimate Reality and Meaning 13 (4):283-285.
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  16. Amir Dastmalchian (2012). Swinburne on the Atonement: Reflections on Philosophical Theology and Religious Dialogue. Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue (10):49-60.
    This study examines an important part of Richard Swinburne’s case for the plausibility of Christianity, namely his Atonement theory. My examination begins by presenting Swinburne’s theory before alluding to the many criticisms it has attracted. I conclude with some lessons which can be learnt about philosophical theology and its use in interreligious dialogue. My main contention is that if philosophical theology is going to be used for inter-religious dialogue, then it should not be used with the expectation that disagreements will (...)
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  17. Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall & Gerald O'Collins (eds.) (2006). The Redemption. Oxford Up.
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  18. Peter S. Dillard (2009). A Minor Matter? The Franciscan Thesis and Philosophical Theology. Heythrop Journal 50 (5):890-900.
    The Franciscan thesis maintains that the primary motive of the Incarnation is to glorify the triune God in the person of Jesus Christ: though Christ atones for human sins, his coming isn’t relative to our need for redemption but rather has an absolute primacy. The Franciscan thesis is sometimes associated with the counterfactual claim that Christ would have come even if humans hadn’t sinned. In recent work on the Franciscan thesis, an attempt is made to prove the counterfactual claim on (...)
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  19. Nancy J. Duff (1999). Atonement and the Christian Life Reformed Doctrine From a Feminist Perspective. Interpretation 53 (1):21-33.
    Once the prophetic office of Christ is understood as the apocalypse of God's act of reconciliation, employing the threefold office to interpret the atonement preserves the tenets of classical Christian dogma while addressing important issues raised by feminist and womanist theologians.
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  20. Michael Durrant (1990). Responsibility and Atonement. Philosophical Books 31 (3):190-192.
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  21. S. F. (2000). Tommi Lehtonen Punishment, Atonement and Merit in Modern Philosophy of Religion. (Schriften der Luther–Agricola Gesellschaft, 44). (Helsinki: Luther–Agricola Society, 1999). Pp. 292. £15.00 Pbk. [REVIEW] Religious Studies 36 (1):123-125.
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  22. Gordon Graham (forthcoming). Book Review: Redemptive Change: Atonement and the Christian Cure of Souls. [REVIEW] Interpretation 57 (3):338-339.
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  23. Gordon Graham (2010). Atonement. In Charles Taliaferro & Chad V. Meister (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology. Cambridge University Press.
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  24. Matthew S. Harding (2013). Atonement Theory Revisited: Calvin, Beza, and Amyraut on the Extent of the Atonement. Perichoresis 11 (1):51-75.
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  25. John E. Hare (2010). Atonement, Justification, and Sanctification. In A Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Second Edition). Wiley Blackwell.
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  26. John H. Hayes (1998). Atonement in the Book of Leviticus. Interpretation 52 (1):5-15.
    Within the world of Israel's sacrificial system, atonement brought about the restoration of right relations between God and Israel through the cleansing of the sanctuary and between human beings through restitution. Despite its many complexities, the work of atonement had a distinctly pastoral function.
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  27. David B. Hershenov (1999). Restitution and Revenge. Journal of Philosophy 96 (2):79-94.
    The aim of this paper is to provide a broad sketch of the advantages of the debt/atonement approach to punishment. Such an approach is appealing for it can benefit both the victim and the remorseful victimizer. Compared to other theories, it gives a fuller and more unified account of our intuitions about paying debts, doing penance, alleviating guilt, granting forgiveness, and offsetting privileges, pleasures and burdens. The theory also allows us to avoid justifying punishment on the basis of using some (...)
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  28. John Hick (1994). Is the Doctrine of the Atonement a Mistake? In Richard Swinburne & Alan G. Padgett (eds.), Reason and the Christian Religion: Essays in Honour of Richard Swinburne. Oxford University Press. 247.
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  29. Christopher Hrynkow (2012). Forgiveness. By Eve Garrard and David McNaughton. Pp. Xi, 132, Durham, Acumen Publishing, 2010, £9.99. [REVIEW] Heythrop Journal 53 (3):537-538.
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  30. J. Christine Janowski, Bernd Janowski & Hans P. Lichtenberger (eds.) (2006). Stellvertretung: Theologische, Philosophische Und Kulturelle Aspekte. Neukirchener.
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  31. Andrew Kelley (2013). Jankélévitch and Gusdorf on Forgiveness of Oneself. Sophia 52 (1):159-184.
    In this article, I examine the issue of forgiveness of oneself by looking at the writings of two postwar French philosophers: Georges Gusdorf and Vladimir Jankélévitch. Gusdorf believes that forgiving oneself is necessary for being able to forgive others. On the other hand, Jankélévitch sees no possibility of forgiveness for oneself and for similar reasons is very suspicious of traditional views of the role accorded to repenting and penitence. In short, the main view that separates the thinkers is, quite literally, (...)
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  32. Haig Khatchadourian (1982). Just Ethical Punishment. Journal of Value Inquiry 16 (1):3 - 20.
    THE PAPER ANALYZES THE NATURE, FORMS AND PURPOSE OF JUST ETHICAL PUNISHMENT, LAYING DOWN THE NECESSARY CONDITIONS FOR IT. THEY INCLUDE: (1) SELF-ADMINISTRATION OF PUNISHMENT; (2) PROPORTIONALITY OF PUNISHMENT (DEPRIVATION OF VALUES, MENTAL PAIN, ETC.) TO THE VICTIM’S DEPRIVATION OF VALUES AND HIS PAIN; (3) NON-INFLICTION OF PHYSICAL PAIN OR MENTAL CRUELTY; AND (4) THE PUNISHER’S MORAL ENTITLEMENT (AND PROPER EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT) TO PUNISH THE OFFENDER. THE CONCLUDING SECTION CONSIDERS WITTGENSTEIN’S VIEW THAT ETHICAL PUNISHMENT "MUST RESIDE IN THE (...)
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  33. Aurel Kolnai (1973). Forgiveness. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 74:91 - 106.
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  34. John Kronen & Eric Reitan (2004). Talbott's Universalism, Divine Justice, and the Atonement. Religious Studies 40 (3):249-268.
    Thomas Talbott has argued that the following propositions are inconsistent: (1) it is God's redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself; (2) it is within God's power to achieve His redemptive purpose for the world; (3) some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence altogether. (...)
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  35. Brent G. Kyle (2013). Punishing and Atoning: A New Critique of Penal Substitution. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 74 (2):201-218.
    The doctrine of penal substitution claims that it was good (or required) for God to punish in response to human sin, and that Christ received this punishment in our stead. I argue that this doctrine’s central factual claim—that Christ was punished by God—is mistaken. In order to punish someone, one must at least believe the recipient is responsible for an offense. But God surely did not believe the innocent Christ was responsible for an offense, let alone the offense of human (...)
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  36. Brian Leftow (1997). Anselm on the Cost of Salvation. Medieval Philosophy and Theology 6 (1):73 - 92.
    This paper examines Anselm’s reply to this argument in order to shed light on a number of issues in philosophical theology, including the metaphysics of the Incarnation, the relation between perfect being theology and the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement, the senses in which the Christian God might be impassible, and the nature of God’s perfect rationality and wisdom. (edited).
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  37. David Lewis (1997). Do We Believe in Penal Substitution? Philosophical Papers 26 (3):203 - 209.
    If a guilty offender is justly sentenced to be punished and an innocent volunteer agrees to be punished instead, is that any reason to leave the offender unpunished? In the context of mundane criminal justice, we mostly think not. But in a religious context, some Christians do believe in penal substitution as a theory of the atonement. However, it is not just these Christians, but most of us, who are of two minds. If the punishment is an imprisonment or death, (...)
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  38. Thomas G. Long (1998). Bold in the Presence of God Atonement in Hebrews. Interpretation 52 (1):53-69.
    The main goal of Hebrews is the renewal of Christian worship. Following Jesus the pioneer, freed by Jesus the liberator, and perfected by the offering of Jesus the great high priest, the faithful may enter the sanctuary with a clear conscience and stand boldly in the presence of God.
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  39. Patrick Madigan (2006). Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition by Hans Boersma. Heythrop Journal 47 (4):655–657.
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  40. Molly T. Marshall (forthcoming). Book Review: Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts. [REVIEW] Interpretation 55 (4):444-444.
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  41. David Mcnaughton (1992). Reparation and Atonement. Religious Studies 28 (2):129 - 144.
    Richard Swinburne (in his "Responsibility and Atonement") argues for a sacrificial version of the Atonement, in which the individual penitent offers the life of Christ to God in (partial) reparation for his sins. I argue that any version of this account is both conceptually incoherent and morally unsatisfying and offer in its place a version of the exemplary theory of the Atonement which, I claim, meets the conditions he lays down for any satisfactory account.
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  42. Mark T. Miller (2013). Imitating Christ's Cross: Lonergan and Girard on How and Why. Heythrop Journal 54 (2):859-879.
    The article begins with the gospels’ admonition to take up one's cross and asks how Christians might understand Christ's work on the cross so that we might better imitate or participate in it. Using tools from recent advances in literary analysis and systematic theology, the article attempts to provide some answer to this question. It considers contemporary feminist and liberation theologians’ criticism of the common but problematic interpretation of Christ's cross, what is often called ‘substitutionary penal atonement.’ It compares this (...)
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  43. James Montmarquet (2007). Planned Forgiveness. American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (3):285 - 296.
    My argument is that, strictly, forgiveness cannot be planned in advance in part because ’to plan to forgive when X happens’ is already to forgive (as long as one foresees X happening). I go on to argue that if one foresees that X would involve great moral harm to an innocent, it is clearly better to prevent X (if possible) and forgive without it. The main interest of these arguments is their bearing on certain Christian accounts of the atonement for (...)
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  44. Donal E. Mulcahy (2006). Book Review of America's Atonement: Racial Pain, Recovery Rhetoric, and the Pedagogy of Healing. [REVIEW] Educational Studies 39 (3):312-316.
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  45. Richard Oxenberg, The Victims of Totality: Wholism and Totalism in Monotheistic Religion.
    This paper is a reflection on the ethical and spiritual ambiguities of Monotheism. It proceeds through an examination of Thomas Aquinas’ concept of desire and René Girard’s notion of victimage. It is divided into two parts. In the first I examine Thomas’ ideas of desire and goodness in order to develop some key terms and concepts. In the second I employ these terms and concepts in a critique of René Girard’s victimage thesis, in an effort to shed light on the (...)
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  46. W. L. P. (1972). The Absolute and the Atonement. Review of Metaphysics 26 (2):368-369.
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  47. William C. Placher (1999). Christ Takes Our Place Rethinking Atonement. Interpretation 53 (1):5-20.
    Contemporary challenges—feminist and others—force us to rethink traditional doctrines of the atonement. Although René Girard and Jon Levenson open interesting avenues of interpretation, precisely how Christ takes the place of sinners and thereby saves us remains to be explained.
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  48. Steven L. Porter (2004). Swinburnian Atonement and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution. Faith and Philosophy 21 (2):228-241.
    This paper is a philosophical defense of the doctrine of penal substitution. I begin with a delineation of Richard Swinburne’s satisfaction-type theory of the atonement, exposing a weakness of it which motivates a renewed look at the theory of penal substitution. In explicating a theory of penal substitution, I contend that: (i) the execution of retributive punishment is morally justified in certain cases of deliberate wrongdoing; (ii) deliberate human sin against God constitutes such a case; and (iii) the transfer of (...)
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  49. R. Dennis Potter (1999). Did Christ Pay for Our Sins? Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 32 (4).
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  50. Richard L. Purtill (1990). Justice, Mercy, Supererogation, and Atonement. In Thomas P. Flint (ed.), Christian Philosophy. Univ Notre Dame Pr.
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