This is a list of the article on this website that discusses the meaning of “atonement.” The question is, how did Christ atone for our sins?
Atonement has come to mean to make amends to propitiate wrath, but when the word “atonement” was put in the first English Bible, it did not describe a process but meant to be in a state of unity: to be AT ONE. The Greek word in the Bible that is sometimes translated as “atonement” means ‘reconciliation’; to establish a friendship. It was the doctrine that presents God as angry and the death of Christ as a sacrifice to pacify God, that slowly changed the meaning of “atonement” over the course of the centuries.
THEORIES OF THE ATONEMENT
If Jesus did not die to atone for our sins, we could not be saved. On this, we agree, but there is much disagreement on HOW His death atoned for the sins of God’s people. We have to define the problem which His death solved. Was it God’s anger, or the demands of Justice or was it that sin gave Satan ownership of this world?
THE TRUE THEORY OF THE ATONEMENT
To understand the meaning of Christ’s death, we have to consider the bigger picture. Evil originated in heaven and was transplanted to the earth. God did not reject mankind and sent prophets to earth to turn people to Him. But God did condemn Satan. Satan responded by accusing God of unfair judgment, pointing to the sins of God’s people. Satan is extremely talented, and the angels were unable to determine whether Satan is telling the truth. Christ’s sacrifice cleared up the confusion in heaven and showed the rightness of God’s judgments.
METAPHORS OF SALVATION
Paul used a very rich variety of metaphors and symbols, including many metaphors of salvation, such as redeemed, reconciled, justified, reconciled and made alive. We must not interpret his metaphors literally.
WHY CHRIST HAD TO DIE
Why did Jesus have to die to save people? What problem did His death solve? Did He die to pacify an angry God? HOW did His death reconcile all things to God? To know why Jesus had to die, we need to understand the origin of evil, as well as Satan’s accusations.
For general discussions of theology, particularly the concept of atonement, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.