Atonement

Edited by Daniel von Wachter (International Academy of Philosophy)
About this topic
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. Plantinga on “Felix Culpa”.Marilyn McCord Adams - 2008 - 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 (...)
  2. When Responsibilities Conflict: A Natural Law Analysis of Debt Forgiveness, Poverty Reduction, and Economic Stability.S. Alkire - 2001 - Studies in Christian Ethics 14 (1):65-80.
  3. The Reconciliation of Jñāna and Bhakti in "Rāmacaritamānasa".F. R. Allchin - 1976 - Religious Studies 12 (1):81 - 91.
    Rāmacaritamānasa is a truly remarkable work, and the celebration of the fourth centenary of its composition calls for some recognition. Consider the artless guile of its author: at the start he protests that he is no poet, without skill in letters, lacking in all arts and sciences, lacking in all literary skills; and yet he has presented us with a creation of extraordinary skill and beauty, revealing, within the Indian context, a broad grasp of learning and a zeal to reconcile (...)
  4. Anselmian Satisfaction, Duns Scotus and The Debt of Sin.Steven S. Aspenson - 1996 - 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 (...)
  5. Swinburne on Atonement.Steven S. Aspenson - 1996 - 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 (...)
  6. Swinburne on Atonement: STEVEN S. ASPENSON.Steven S. Aspenson - 1996 - 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 (...)
  7. In Defense of Anselm.Steven S. Aspenson - 1990 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 7 (1):33 - 45.
  8. An Anselmian Theory of Atonement: A Defense of Elements of Anselm's "Cur Deus Homo".Steven Scott Aspenson - 1996 - 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 (...)
  9. Convenient Redemption: A Participatory Account of the Atonement.Anthony D. Baker - 2014 - Modern Theology 30 (1):96-113.
  10. Book Review: Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. [REVIEW]Mark D. Baker - forthcoming - Interpretation 56 (2):222-223.
  11. Atonement as an Inter-Personal Exercise.Johannes Balthasar - 1983 - Philosophy and History 16 (2):141-142.
  12. Kierkegaard on the Atonement: The Complementarity of Salvation as a Gift and Salvation as a Task.Lee C. Barrett - 2013 - Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 2013 (1).
  13. Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement.Anthony W. Bartlet - 2003 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 59 (2):607.
  14. Robert Mackintosh, Historic Theories of Atonement, with Comments. [REVIEW]Vernon Bartlet - 1921 - Hibbert Journal 20:391.
  15. Forgiveness: A Re-Appraisal.Anthony Bash - 2011 - 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.
  16. A Participatory Model of the Atonement.Tim Bayne & Greg Restall - 2009 - In Yujin Nagasawa & Erik J. Wielenberg (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Religion. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 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 (...)
  17. Remembering Guilt as a Social Project: Some Reflections on the Challenge of Working Through the Past.Michael Beintker - 2011 - Studies in Christian Ethics 24 (2):210-231.
    In light of the atrocities of National Socialism, the challenge of working through the past has become a crucial issue. The end of Communism has reinforced the urgency of this challenge. Coming to terms with an ethically problematic past takes place at several levels (jurisdictional/legal, political, mental). A central challenge is to keep memory alive and thereby to gain appropriate insights. However, the demand for constructive forms of remembrance should not be overloaded with expectations that are impossible to meet. The (...)
  18. Forgiveness and the End of Economy.D. M. Bell - 2007 - Studies in Christian Ethics 20 (3):325-344.
    This paper considers the economic effect of the Christian practice of forgiveness. In particular, the argument is that the gift of divine forgiveness in Christ, as articulated by Anselm, interrupts `economy' (with its logic of scarcity, debt, and finally death) and puts in place an aneconomic order (with its theo-logic of abundance, ceaseless generosity, and resurrection) that is full of the promise of deliverance from the affliction of capitalism. Also addressed here is the way that the human reception of divine (...)
  19. Personal and Redemptive Forgiveness.Christopher Bennett - 2003 - 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 (...)
  20. The Varieties of Retributive Experience.Christopher Bennett - 2002 - 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, (...)
  21. Melting the Icepacks of Enmity: Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.Nigel Biggar - 2011 - Studies in Christian Ethics 24 (2):199-209.
    The virtue of forgiveness is controversial. Christianity’s affirmation of it is unusually pronounced. Nevertheless, common experience teaches that self-preservation requires the moderation of resentment; and Christian anthropology, self-reflection and history teach that compassion for perpetrators requires it too. This inner, psychological work of forgiveness is unilateral and unconditional, and I call it ‘forgiveness as compassion’. Some of the work of forgiveness is relational, however, and this should be reciprocal and conditional, refusing to open the door to reconciliation before repentance is (...)
  22. Book Review: Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition. [REVIEW]J. Todd Billings - forthcoming - Interpretation 60 (3):352-352.
  23. C.S. Lewis on Atonement: A Unified Model and Event, the Drama of Redemption—Understanding and Rationalizing the Tradition.P. H. Brazier - 2015 - Heythrop Journal 56 (2):285-305.
  24. The Atonement Healing in Postmodern Society.Charles E. Brown - 1999 - 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.
  25. Anselm on Atonement.David Brown - 2004 - In Brian Leftow (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Anselm. Cambridge University Press.
    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, (...)
  26. The Philosophy of Evangelicalism Evolved From the Relations Between Conscience and Atonement [by R. Brown].Robert Brown - 1857
  27. Picturing Forgiveness After Atrocity.Thomas Brudholm & Arne Grøn - 2011 - 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 (...)
  28. Atonement, Christology and the Trinity: Making Sense of Christian Doctrine.Vincent Brümmer - 2005 - Ashgate.
  29. Atonement and Reconciliation.Vincent Brümmer - 1992 - 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.
  30. Review of Linda Radzik, Making Amends: Atonement in Morality, Law, and Politics[REVIEW]Cheshire Calhoun - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (8).
  31. The Christian Doctrine of Atonement as Influenced by Semitic Religious Ideas.R. J. Campbell - 1906 - Hibbert Journal 5:329.
  32. Why God Became Man (Cur Deus Homo).Anselm of Canterbury - 1098
  33. “What Could Possibly Be Given?”: Towards an Exploration of Kenosis as Forgiveness—Continuing the Conversation Between Coakley, Hampson, and Papanikolaou1.Carolyn A. Chau - 2012 - Modern Theology 28 (1):1-24.
    This article engages the conversation between Sarah Coakley, Daphne Hampson, and Aristotle Papanikolaou on the appropriateness of kenosis as a theological trope for women and deeply oppressed and vulnerable others. It affirms Coakley's and Papanikolaou's stance, which maintains that kenosis is a necessary or at least distinctively valuable category in Christian theology for understanding the transformation and redemption of all persons. The paper expands on Papanikolaou's analysis of the kenosis involved in the healing and recovery of personhood, arguing that the (...)
  34. Stump on the Nature of Atonement.E. J. Coffman - unknown
    In “The Nature of the Atonement”, Eleonore Stump explores the problem of human sin that the atonement is meant to solve, helpfully uncovering important adequacy conditions for theories of atonement. She then uses those conditions to critically evaluate Anselmian and Thomistic theories of atonement, arguing (among many other interesting things) that the Thomist has a leg up on the Anselmian when it comes to the atonement-motivating problem of human sin (pp.11-12 of ms.). I argue for two claims in what follows. (...)
  35. Forgiveness and its Healing Effects in the Face of Suffering and Death.Mariano Crespo - 2007 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 81 (4):579-594.
    To consider that the nature of forgiveness consists in its healing effects on the forgiver overlooks the distinction between the nature of forgiveness and the question about its desirable effects. What I suggest is that the curing effect of forgiveness is an indirectly intended consequence of forgiveness. To forgive mywrongdoer only because this is the way to gain inner peace or to “heal my soul” shows a somewhat utilitarian view on forgiveness. By forgiving the wrongdoer, thevictim extends an attitude of (...)
  36. Original Sin and Atonement.Oliver D. Crisp - 2008 - In Thomas P. Flint & Michael C. Rea (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology. Oxford University Press.
    The atonement is one of the central and defining doctrines of Christian theology. Yet the nature of the atonement – how it is that Christ's life and death on the cross actually atone for human sin – remains a theological conundrum. This article offers a new argument for an old theory of the atonement, namely, penal substitution. First, it sets out the theological context for the argument. This involves giving some account of alternative theories of the atonement in the tradition, (...)
  37. Locating Atonement.Oliver D. Crisp & Fred Sanders (eds.) - 2015 - Zondervan.
  38. Leonard Hodgson, the Doctrine of the Atonement. [REVIEW]R. Nicol Cross - 1951 - Hibbert Journal 50:204.
  39. Atonement Without Satisfaction.Richard Cross - 2001 - 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, (...)
  40. Social Failure and the Doctrine of the Atonement-a Note on Jacob, Anton, K. Ideology, Self-Esteem, and Religious Doctrine.D. Crossley - 1990 - Ultimate Reality and Meaning 13 (4):283-285.
  41. 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'.David Crossley - 1990 - Ultimate Reality and Meaning 13 (4):283.
  42. Swinburne on the Atonement: Reflections on Philosophical Theology and Religious Dialogue.Amir Dastmalchian - 2012 - 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 (...)
  43. The Authority of God and the Meaning of the Atonement.Ryan W. Davis - 2014 - Religious Studies 50 (4):405-423.
  44. The Redemption.Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall & Gerald O'Collins (eds.) - 2006 - Oxford Up.
  45. A Minor Matter? The Franciscan Thesis and Philosophical Theology.Peter S. Dillard - 2009 - 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 (...)
  46. Merciful Justice.Jeanine Diller - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (3):719-735.
    I offer a solution to an old puzzle about how God can be both just and merciful at the same time—a feat which seems required of God, but at the same time seems impossible since showing mercy involves being more lenient than justice demands. Inspired by two of Jesus’ parables and work by Feinberg, Johnson and Smart, I suggest that following a “principle of merciful justice”—that persons ought to receive what they deserve or better—delivers mercy and justice simultaneously, certainly in (...)
  47. The Nature of God's Love and Forgiveness.Douglas Drabkin - 1993 - Religious Studies 29 (2):231 - 238.
    God, a being who is good in the best possible combination of ways, loves us. But does he feel sorrow on our behalf? Thomas Aquinas argues that: every passion is specified by its object. That passion, therefore, whose subject is absolutely unbefitting to God is removed from God even according to the nature of its proper species. Such a passion, however, is sorrow or pain, for its subject is the already present evil, just as the object of joy is the (...)
  48. Atonement and the Christian Life Reformed Doctrine From a Feminist Perspective.Nancy J. Duff - 1999 - 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.
  49. Responsibility and Atonement.Michael Durrant - 1990 - Philosophical Books 31 (3):190-192.
  50. En Torno a la Legitimidad y El Sentido Del Castigo Por El Delito.Xabier Etxeberria Mauleon - 2014 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 70 (4):765-786.
    Resumo O plural e conflituoso entendimento da legitimação da pena no Direito, tem origem nas diversas intencionalidades que lhe conferem sentido. Neste artigo são analisadas as intencionalidades mais relevantes, destacando os seus modelos justificativos: retribuição, reparação, prevenção, expiação, reabilitação e restauração . Para melhor análise destes são também consideradas a variável da temporalidade e a variável dos sujeitos, que protagonizam a dinâmica do castigo . Depois, num momento comparativo, destacam-se críticamente as confluências e as oposições. Assim será possível concluir que (...)
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