The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is often taken by western churches (and most atheists) as being the only view of salvation. This is far from true – something I will explore as I attempt to define the topic.
Overview of substitutionary atonement
This form of atonement starts with the idea that God is both just and angry at us for our sin. Therefore he punishes Jesus to satisfy his anger and we get the benefits – if we believe. In many cases, if we forget to believe, fail to believe, or just don’t hear about it then we still get the punishment of his anger for all time.
Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, ‘instead of’ them.
There are different theories that come under the umbrella term “substitutionary atonement”. Four of the more well known are:
- Ransom theory.
- Christus Victor.
- Satisfaction theory.
- Penal substitution.