Erickson (1998) says there are a few theories on the atonement depending on how your read certain scripture, the theories are as follows: The Socinian Theory (1998:801); This theory speaks of Christ on the Cross as a perfect example of what kind of dedication followers of God must do, there is no connection to a sacrificial death whatsoever. The moral influence theory (1998:802); This theory believes the cross was an example of God’s love and not much more. The Governmental theory (1998:806); This theory sees the death of Christ on the Cross as atonement and also as a picture to the believer as to how serious sin is, and it must not be taken lightly. The Ransom Theory (1998:810); In this theory it is proposed, and quite popularly so, that as slaves to the world of Satan, humanity needed saving, Jesus’ death became our ransom, his death took our place. With this theory, the identity of Jesus was concealed from Satan, so he would accept the ransom. Finally the Satisfaction Theory (1998:813); This theory speaks about Christ’s death as satisfaction in place of all man-kinds sin, it also speaks against the fact Satan needed a payment of any kind, and it isn’t centred on man.
Without even blinking we can say that today the most common theory that most believers hold to even though they do not know it is a certain theory of the atonement is the Moral influence theory, slightly mingled with the Socinian theory, the death of Christ was an example of how to live and an example of how God loves more than anything.
3. WHY IS THE ATONEMENT CENTRAL TO THE GOSPEL?
“The atonement made our salvation possible” (Erickson 1998:799). I think this line cements the centrality of the atonement to the Gospel, we could even say from the above statement that atonement is the work that happens for the Good News of Christ to be Good News.
“In a general sense, of course, the atonement cancels all the effects of the fall. But some of the benefits will not be realised until the end of time” (Erickson 1998:858). So the atonement is the act of Christ on the cross; “The perfect life and the atoning death of Jesus Christ accomplished righteousness. God presented His Son as a sacrifice to suffer the just punishment that sin deserves” (Robertson 2003:97), and as Robertson says, takes the punishment we as humans were meant to bear, so we would come into a justified relationship with God.
This had to happen this way as Murray Explains: “In a word, while it was not inherently necessary for God to save, yet, since salvation had been proposed, it was necessary to secure this salvation through a satisfaction that could be rendered only through substitutionary sacrifice and blood-bought redemption” (Murray 1978:12). How can we not see the atonement as central to the Gospel if the Gospel, being the good news, is all about Jesus making a way for sinful humans to come to God blameless because Jesus took the punishment for our sin, satisfying God’s holy and perfect law?
“It is clear...