Atonement without satisfaction

Religious Studies 37 (4):397-416 (2001)
Abstract
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, and the satisfaction theory of the atonement is otiose. Following an insight of Swinburne's, I argue that satisfaction is not sufficient for forgiveness, since satisfaction does not place the wronged party under any obligation to forgive the wrongdoer. Christ's death merits the forgiveness of those sins for which human beings have made satisfaction. It does this in virtue of a divine promise to reward Christ's meritorious life with the forgiveness of such human sin.
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