The Evangelical Universalist Forum

"NT conception of the atonement is defeat of dark powers"


Dave I very much hear you. I can tell you reject penal theory and are closer to a Christus Victor model. Of the words you listed propitiation is the only word incompatible with your definition of God’s wrath. This is why Leon Morris ends up with a penal theory in his critique of C.H. Dodd. He based it on propitiation and read the sacrificial language through this lens. I was not implying that one word solves everything doing with atonement (I apologize if that sounded pompous). I would agree that Jesus redeemed us from sin, the curse of the law etc. I see Bob just also discussed N.T. Wright book. I think your passage by passage approach is the way to go. The biggest problem I had when I was studying this issue was how many of our translations directly assumed a penal theory.


FWIW, I have a copy of the 8 translation Evangelical Parallel New Testament. Here we go on Ro. 3.25

NKJV - whom God set forth as a propitiation in his blood
NIV - God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement
ESV - same as NKJV
Holman - same
TNIV - same as NIV
NLT - God sent Jesus to take the punishment of our sins
NCV - God gave him as a way to forgive sin through faith in the blood
The message - gotta love it - He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He wanted us to be, by means of Jesus Christ

ds- I just saw your msg re: translations. Great minds run together? You didn’t sound pompous btw. You didn’t say the one word ‘solved’ anything, just that it was the core of the issue and I think you’re right.


On a more personal note, I cannot tell how much I have enjoyed discussing atonement theory with Christian brothers that are informed on the subject. My heart is warmed by both the charity in these conversations and how much they have reminded me of God’s love…


I see tendencies in evangelical translations to confirm its own traditional readings, and what stands out to me in the more literal translations, is the NIV choice to go with a very broad term like atonement for hilasteriion rather than propitiation. The respected co-chairs Doug Moo and Gordon Fee had to agree for this team of evangelicals to decide this, and it seems clear that they are swayed by the evangelical words studies and discussion of the mercy seat background that they felt compelled to depart from the KJ tradition.


I see. Is it at all important that they chose the ‘sacrifice’ of atonement for the translation?
I’ve read a bit by both of those gents but only as a layman.
I only quoted those translation because I found it very interesting to see the differences. This matter has not been settled, I take it? I’ll try to find a copy of TW’s work on atonement and see if I can slot through that 40 pages. Gads.


Yes, it is curious 'translation, since the only original words here are that “God presented him as a hilasterion.” I suspect the divided committee chose multiple words for this one word as a compromise to appease those who insisted on the translation “propitiation” and those who opposed it. But did you notice that they added a footnote to appease those that argued for the growing lexical trend: “The Greek for sacrifice of atonement refers to the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant (see Lev. 16:15,16)”? It had a little something for all the different preferences.

The RSV tradition similarly revised it from “expiation” to “sacrifice of atonement,” but of course the English word “atonement” contains no particular meaning that especially supports any of the traditional ‘atonement’ interpretations.


Does anyone know what TW’s NT translation does with Ro 3.25? What about DB Hart’s translation?


Wright renders it, “God put Jesus forth as the place of mercy, through faithfulness, by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his covenant justice, because of the passing over (in divine forbearance) of sins committed beforehand.”


This maybe belongs in a separate thread, if so let me know.
There is, it seems to me, a level of understanding that is slightly more general than the down-and-dirty exegesis of individual verses. (I mean that in a good way). When I start to get boggled, wrestling with things above my pay grade, I defuse my frustration by re-reading these snippets from Channing. I think they capture the import of concise dogma. Do you?

I wish to regard myself as belonging not to a sect, but to the community of free minds, of lovers of truth, of followers of Christ, both on earth and in heaven. I desire to escape the narrow walls of a particular church, and to live under the open sky, in the broad light, looking far and wide, seeing with my own eyes, hearing with my own ears, and following Truth meekly but resolutely, however arduous or solitary be the path in which she leads. I am, then, no organ of a sect, but speak from myself alone ; and 1 thank God that I live at a time and under circumstances which make it my duty to lay open my whole mind with freedom and simplicity. I began with asking, What is the main design and glory of Christianity ? and I repeat the answer, that its design is to give, not a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. In this its glory chiefly consists. In other words, the influence which it is intended to exert on the human mind constitutes its supreme honour and happiness. Christ is a great Saviour, as he redeems or sets free the mind, cleansing it from evil, breathing into it the love of virtue, calling forth its noblest faculties and affections, enduing it with moral power, restoring it to order, health, and liberty. Such was his great aim. To illustrate these views will be the object of the present discourse.

2 Timothy i. 7: " For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
Why was Christianity given? Why did Christ seal it with his blood? Why is it to be preached? What is the great happiness it confers? What is the chief blessing for which it is to be prized? What is its pre-eminent glory, its first claim on the gratitude of mankind? These are great questions. I wish to answer them plainly, according to the light and ability which God has given me. I read the answer to them in the text. There I learn the great good which God confers through Jesus Christ. " He hath given us, not the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." The glory of Christianity is the pure and lofty action which it communicates to the human mind. It does not breathe a timid, abject spirit. If it did it would deserve no praise. It gives power, energy, courage, constancy to the will; love, disinterestedness, enlarged affection to the heart; soundness, clearness, and vigour to the understanding. It rescues him who receives it from sin, from the sway of the passions; gives him the full and free use of his best powers; brings out and brightens the divine image in which he was created; and in this way not only bestows the promise but the beginning of heaven. This is the excellence of Christianity.

Channing, William Ellery, 1780-1842. Complete works, including The perfect life and containing a copious index and a table of Scripture references (Kindle Locations 9317-9327). London, christian Life Pub. Co…
@maintenanceman - Chad I think you’ll like this.


If you’re asking whether my personal “concise dogma” is understood just from exegesis of individual verses, I say, “No.” since I see other sources of understanding in addition to the Scriptures, as well as not seeing all of its’ authors and texts always saying the same thing.

But if the question is what a particular author intended to say in a passage, then my sense is that we’re reduced to the down and dirty.


I wasn’t really directing that to you or to anyone here. Just 'splaining that I (just me) get mired down sometimes in technicalities I have no real training for, and for peace of mind I have to occasionally step back and remember the big picture. It was all about me lol
That’s it. I really enjoy reading exegesis from you and others that actually know what they are doing.


Amen, I was agreeing that my own ‘dogmas’ that give me peace rest on remembering the big picture.


An amazing thing, to me: the same Paul who was at home with the most intricate, mind-bending theological niceties, is also the same guy who reported:
“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.(OMG!!) 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches”
ALSO wrote the tenderest and deepest chapter - 1 Cor 13.
A formidable man, a force of nature, actually awesome.