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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. Steven S. Aspenson (1996). Anselmian Satisfaction, Duns Scotus and The Debt of Sin. Modern Schoolman 73 (2):141 - 158.
    I assess Anselm’s claim that the debt of sin is "infinite" by examining the thought-experiment used to illustrate it. The claim crashes due to a conflict with Anselm’s implied (and plausible) view of God’s obligations and due to interesting errors in his thought-experiment. Nevertheless, I defend his "Union-of-Obligation-and-Ability (UOA) strategy and his "Provision-of-Satisfaction" mechanism for explaining atonement, which relied functionally on sin’s infinite demerit, by changing them a bit. I also defend Anselm’s UOA and "Disorder-Avoidance" strategies from objections from Duns (...)
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  3. Steven S. Aspenson (1996). Swinburne on Atonement. Religious Studies 32 (2):187 - 204.
    I criticize Richard Swinburne's account of the need for and means of atonement in his "Responsibility and Atonement." I offer objections to his understanding and use of the notion of 'the gift of life' in his account of the need for atonement; and closely related to that, I show that his conclusions about duties to God as a benefactor do not follow from his reasons. Furthermore, when examined closely, these conclusions seem false. In relation to his account of the means (...)
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  4. Steven S. Aspenson (1990). In Defense of Anselm. History of Philosophy Quarterly 7 (1):33 - 45.
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  5. Steven Scott Aspenson (1996). An Anselmian Theory of Atonement: A Defense of Elements of Anselm's "Cur Deus Homo". Dissertation, The University of Iowa
    I offer a development and defense of an Anselmian theory of atonement modeled on Anselm's Cur Deus Homo and De Casu Diaboli. I offer an interpersonal, transactional, ethical atonement theory. The theory is interpersonal as estrangement depends on personal relations between those to be reconciled; it is transactional since between those to be reconciled it poses states of affairs--external to the psychological states of the estranged--that require production or change. Qua ethical theory it subsumes Christian atonement under moral requirements and (...)
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  6. Mark D. Baker (forthcoming). Book Review: Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. [REVIEW] Interpretation 56 (2):222-223.
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  7. Johannes Balthasar (1983). Atonement as an Inter-Personal Exercise. Philosophy and History 16 (2):141-142.
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  8. 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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  9. Anthony W. Bartlet (2003). Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 59 (2):607.
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  10. Vernon Bartlet (1921). Robert Mackintosh, Historic Theories of Atonement, with Comments. [REVIEW] Hibbert Journal 20:391.
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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. Robert Brown (1857). The Philosophy of Evangelicalism Evolved From the Relations Between Conscience and Atonement [by R. Brown].
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  19. 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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  20. Vincent Brümmer (2005). Atonement, Christology and the Trinity: Making Sense of Christian Doctrine. Ashgate.
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  21. Vincent Brümmer (1992). Atonement and Reconciliation. Religious Studies 28 (4):435 - 452.
    Atonement (at-one-ment) means reconciliation, i.e. restoration of a broken relationship with God. The nature of this reconciliation depends on the kind of relationship which has to be restored, and the variety of theories of atonement in Christian theology derive from the variety of conceptual models on terms of which this relationship has usually been interpreted in the Christian tradition. In this paper three basic relation models are analyzed and their implications for the theory of atonement are traced.
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  22. R. J. Campbell (1906). The Christian Doctrine of Atonement as Influenced by Semitic Religious Ideas. Hibbert Journal 5:329.
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  23. Anselm of Canterbury (1098). Why God Became Man (Cur Deus Homo).
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  24. 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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  25. R. Nicol Cross (1951). Leonard Hodgson, the Doctrine of the Atonement. [REVIEW] Hibbert Journal 50:204.
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  26. 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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  27. 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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  28. David Crossley (1990). Social Failure and the Doctrine of the Atonement. A Note on Anton K. Jacobs' 'Ideology, Self-Esteem, and Religious Doctrine: Toward a Socio-Psychological Understanding of the Popularity of Evangelicalism in Modern, Capitalist America. Ultimate Reality and Meaning 13 (4):283.
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  29. 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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  30. Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall & Gerald O'Collins (eds.) (2006). The Redemption. Oxford Up.
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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. Michael Durrant (1990). Responsibility and Atonement. Philosophical Books 31 (3):190-192.
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  34. 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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  35. Eugene R. Fairweather (1961). Incarnation and Atonement: An Anselmian Response to Aulen's Christus Victor. Canadian Journal of Theology 7:167 - 175.
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  36. Ronald J. Feenstra (ed.) (1989). Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement. Univ Notre Dame Pr.
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  37. Nigel Foxcroft, In the Maelstrom of Malcolm Lowry's Romantic Imagination: The Atonement of La Mordida.
    This paper investigates the various literary influences (e.g. Russian, Anglo-American, Nordic, and German) on Malcolm Lowry, tracing back the roots of his bizarre, Romantic imagination. The influence of Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt School is considered in the vortex of the forthcoming cataclysm of the Second World War. Lowry's La Mordida is analyzed as a way of seeking redemption from crime and punishment and also as a form of atonement for the debts of the past.
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  38. Gordon Graham (forthcoming). Book Review: Redemptive Change: Atonement and the Christian Cure of Souls. [REVIEW] Interpretation 57 (3):338-339.
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  39. 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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  40. Colin Gunton (1992). Universal and Particular in Atonement Theology. Religious Studies 28 (4):453 - 466.
    The unique philosophical problems of Christianity derive from the fact that it is not a philosophy, but a gospel. That is to say, its teaching and institutions are distinctively what they are by virtue of their relation to particular divine acts rather than because they are primarily a general teaching or philosophy. Whatever general teaching there is is rooted in particularities. It is not, then, difficult to come to a provisional understanding of the reference of the ‘particular’ in the title. (...)
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  41. 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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  42. John E. Hare (2010). Atonement, Justification, and Sanctification. In A Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Second Edition). Wiley Blackwell.
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  43. 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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  44. Douglas Hedley (2011). Sacrifice Imagined: Violence, Atonement, and the Sacred. Continuum International Publishing Group.
    ’Sacrifice Imagined’ is an original exploration of the idea of sacrifice by one of the world’s pre-eminent philosophers of religion. Despisers of religion have poured scorn upon the idea of sacrifice as an index of the irrational and wicked in religious practice. Nor does its secularised form seem much more appealing. One need only think of the appalling cult of sacrifice in numerous totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Yet, sacrifice remains a part of our cultural and intellectual ’imaginary’. Hedley (...)
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  45. 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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  46. 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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  47. Morna Hooker (1978). Interchange And Atonement. Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 60 (2):462-481.
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  48. 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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  49. J. Christine Janowski, Bernd Janowski & Hans P. Lichtenberger (eds.) (2006). Stellvertretung: Theologische, Philosophische Und Kulturelle Aspekte. Neukirchener.
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  50. 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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