Atonement Theology

Very good piece (emphasis added):

In 1098 Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury summarized the theological propaganda of the crusades. Anselm claimed the crucifixion of Jesus was willed by God to save the world. His idea, now called “substitutionary atonement theology,” claimed that the only purpose of the incarnation was for Jesus to die. Humanity’s sinfulness had dishonored God and carried a magnitude of debt from sin that was impossible to pay. God sent Jesus to be tortured and murdered as the only way to deliver salvation. Anselm also taught a piety of stark terror of hell to drill the point home.

Anselm’s opponent Peter Abelard asked who would forgive God for murdering his own son. Abelard thought Anselm’s God was unworthy of worship. He proposed an idea based on the love that Jesus demonstrated in his willingness to die to reveal human sin. Jesus reconciled humanity to God by revealing our sins that killed him. He forgave us, his killers, unto death.

In recognizing this, our hearts are changed, and we come to love God as deeply as Jesus loved us. We are united in self-sacrificing love.

Such interpretations of the crucifixion assert that God requires violence to save the world. If people believe that God uses torture and murder, what is to stop them from doing the same or believing experiencing the same sanctifies them?

Christian atonement theory in all its forms is WAY too focused on the last week of Jesus’ life. If the state terrorism tactic of crucifixion has to be the gateway to salvation, it keeps Christians obsessed with sin, punishment, suffering, self-sacrifice, and self-righteously denouncing sin and injustice or with escape to self-deceptive innocence. Keeping people divided into the saved and the damned, the righteous and the sinful, illustrates to believers how to stay on the right side of salvation.

As someone comments, this theology didn’t arise in a vacuum: Romans 3:25 “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.”

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