Daniel R. Chadwick, Ph.D.
Christ as the subject of judgment is often depicted in his status as ruler, or king, of the world. As king, with an otherworldly, monarchial authority he will supersede humanity and civilization, the object of judgment, with his kingdom. Various sermons or essays on this topic of the judging Christ have titles such as “the coming King,” or the “return of the ruler.” Their emphases is on Christ as the rightful heir who returns for his inheritance of his domain (Matt. 21:33-44, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 19:9-19 and the parable of the tenants). Now this portrayal is certainly scriptural (Rev. 19:16) but it does not exhaust the religious meaning of Christ to either the Christian or the non-Christian in judgment.
Since the atonement of Christ is a judgment upon the sin of humanity and because, according to 1 Cor. 1:18, the world stands under the cross until the second advent, the extent of the atonement is a topic that bears meaning for the eschatological consummation of things. Admittedly, the extent of the atonement is a topic that seems to have drained much energy from theologians on all sides of the issue; to others it may be an arcane, if not useless, issue. Because it is usually distributed under the rubrics of either Christology or Soteriology I am sure that theologians may question its significance for a discussion in judgment, and even more so for a discussion about eschatological judgment.
I believe that this look at the extent of the atonement and its bearing on judgment will help the Christian theologian understand the Calvinist and Arminian portrayals as legitimate profiles of Christ. The corollary to this is the fact that there is a unity in the body of Christ between these two members; it is an intra-Protestant debate founded upon the epistemological ground of Sola Scriptura. Although this does not demonstrate a union of denominational confession, these two points should demonstrate its significance as a singular Christian vision. Further, this look at the diverse depictions of Christ through the extent of the atonement will also help the Christian gain an empathetic understanding of the non-Christian view.
THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT AND JUDGMENT: METHOD
This first glance at the issue of the extent of the atonement dismisses the theme as relevant for understanding judgment. But I think it requires another look, however, in order to perceive and understand its worth for a lesson about eschatological judgment. I would like to look into the Calvinist-Arminian debate on the matter of the extent of the atonement, as well as get at the essentials of the atonement of Christ, and its extent, through Scripture. I have taken the historical-phenomenological view of the topic. The use here is that of thematic phenomenology rather than exploratory; that is, the categories of the host science will determine the aim of the historical-phenomenological approach.
The intentionality of this view is “historical” insofar as it constitutes the historical situation of the text and the interpretation of the text (which aids the apperception); it is “phenomenological” insofar as it constitutes the text as an object of extrospection. Some writers may call this a “theology of disclosure,” or even a “theology of revelation.” One studies what is revealed through the appearances without the help of natural sciences; appearances do not deceive, only presuppositions. This approach consists of the following four stages:
1. The epoche, alike to the Skeptical use in which the personal opinions are set aside. I am doing this, however, not in order to gain ataraxia and peaceful unperturbedness (although that is not such a bad thing!), but I am doing it in order to gain theological certitude.
2. The empathetic depiction of the appearances that will build a description of their history and meaning of the extent of the atonement. This outlook is extrospective, not introspective, as some might think.
3. The phenomenological reduction that exposes the essentials of the extent of the atonement. I have included within this the “eidetic reduction” that is usually thought to be preliminary to the phenomenological reduction. That is, the eidetic vision directs the observer to see the universal qualities of the object, whereas the phenomenological vision shows the observer the interaction between the perception and the object under investigation. Ideally, both reductions show the phenomena prior to scientific interpretation or theorizing.
4. The taxonomy of the results that the essentials need to be distributed under the categories of the host science; in this case, the science of Dogmatics, or Systematic Theology.
In these four stages the three kinds of phenomenological research will be uncovered. The first is the descriptive stage in which the religious phenomena are classified–this involves the epoche and the empathetic description. Next are the typological traits that make the data of the extent of the atonement stand out from other phenomena, which involves the phenomenological reduction. And lastly, the look at the essential structure of the phenomena themselves. This last stage could be further divided into three important components of theoria or religious meaning, the logos or the constant or irreducible forms are shown, and the entelecheia, or the way the phenomena actually are revealed in everyday life. This procedure is a bridge from the reduction to the taxonomy, in which the phenomena may be understood as to their relevance within the host science of theology.
THE DEBATE IN THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT
A review of the Calvinist-Arminian debate over the extent of the atonement ultimately presents three different perspectives, each of which I have called the “Solution of the Election and the Atonement,” or the acronym, SEA. This is due to the fact that advocates of many positions may be understood as, essentially, determining the extent of the atonement by their understanding of the relationship between atonement and election. Therefore, each of the three viewpoints are numbered according to their stand on this relationship. For example, as a Lutheran I know that theologians from my own confessional stance have determined that there is no relationship between the two that can be discerned as a solution to the extent of the atonement. So I have labeled the Lutheran position as SEA 0, the “0” showing the understanding of that relationship. Further, I have labeled the Calvinist side as SEA 1, where the election (the “E”) determines the extent of the atonement. Consequently, I have called the Arminian argument holding to the position of SEA 2, where the atonement (the “A”) determines the understanding of election.
Of course, there have been various solutions within the debate and they have supplied dichotomies such as the Dordt sufficiency-efficiency, Moses Amyraut’s theory of the divine conditional-irresistable will, or A. H. Strong’s subjective-objective notions of the atonement. These dichotomies are substantial and logical, and need to be mentioned as important if only because they are creative attempts to explain the extent of the atonement. Even these, however, tend to fall within the SEA 1 position. But I should also note here that unlike them I am not trying to explain the issue as much as I am trying to understand it through Scripture.
By doing this I have tried to suspend (but not obliterate) my Lutheran beliefs, putting them in brackets. But in a true, apperceptive manner, I may be able to look back on myself and see what has happened to my own essential comprehension of the disputation. That is, interestingly, the Lutheran position of SEA 0 which promises no solution actually seems to point to a way that may aid in realizing a perception of the extent of the atonement and judgment. It is the promise of reading by the epoche.
In this sense, the Lutheran position of SEA 0 is closer to the naive, pre-critical look that the theologian using this method needs to attain. A Lutheran position will, typically, repudiate other positions as “rationalistic.” Beginning with an outlook that there is often a paradoxical tension among the verses of Scripture, the Lutheran scholar may only define this not as a contradiction but as that which goes beyond the expectation, or opinion, of the theologian. The paradoxical nature of some of written revelation is not so much a problem to be resolved but acknowledged as a mystery, a divine secret beyond which the theologian dares not presume to go. So, again, SEA 0 points outside itself towards the epoche outlook.
That is, we cannot go beyond what is commonly called, “what Scripture says.”
By stating “that is what Scripture says,” I may be able to go back and see what it is that Scripture says through an empathetic reading with either the Calvinist or Arminian position. I know that this “hermeneutical circle” may give rise to objections of eisegetical reading, but it is this kind of reading that is necessary for knowledge of the extent of the atonement through two different theological systems which have, nonetheless, a similar ground of epistemology in the Scripture as the Word of God. Because of this similar epistemological ground (though each has its own peculiar landscape), the two perspectives provide us with a different profile of the extent of the atonement.
But one should note well, however, that I did not state that the Lutheran position is that to be attained, but that it points to the desired stance of the subject using epoche. On the other hand, because of this proposition one may think that I have violated the Lutheran belief which demands that the theologian allows not only Scripture to be Scripture, but also forbids any tampering with the text and its unknown relations to other parts of the sacred Word. Here, it is important to point out that the Lutheran position need not be transgressed. Rather, it is not so much that one has “advanced” beyond the Lutheran stance, but it is the fact that the epoche may open the eyes of the observer to the written disclosure.
THE APPEARANCE OF THINGS
What is the disclosure of the Scripture concerning the extent of the atonement? The New Testament reveals the crucifixion of Jesus as the sum of all preceding atonement phenomena of the Old Testament. The New Testament writers epitomized the Old Testament understanding of the atonement in their comprehension of the crucified, divine Son by the imageries of both the High Priest and the sacrificial lamb. (Again, this is neither contradictory nor a retreat into subjective mysticism, but as said by the ancient Greeks as that which goes beyond human opinion.) It would be wrong to say that it is a contradiction for the simple reason that the New Testament does, indeed, use both images. It would also be wrong to state that the phenomenological appropriation is one of subjective mysticism; instead the vision of the crucified Christ was not subjective but intersubjective and even a public spectacle. The Christian theologian need do no better than to have drawn upon this rich content of the Christian atonement as given in Scripture as well as other theological approaches.
The appearance of the extent of the atonement illustrates both the universal and the particular features. These features are psychical, as well as theological and philosophical. Through the eyes of early interpreters the New Testament atonement (which necessarily includes within it and surpasses the Old Testament atonement; Heb. 7-10) yields several facets of the extent of the atonement. These include the participation of the divine person as the High Priest “after Melchizedek.” Indeed, the work of the preexistent Logos before the foundation of the world, who is the prototypical and archetypal High Priest in the heavenlies, was presenting the Law written by his finger through his dibbur, or Word, so that it would radiate among all the nations (Is. 2:3, 11:10). He promotes access to the “tree of life.” This divine High Priest represents God before man. God does not need representation, but from the human point of view that is precisely the activity of this figure, who works on behalf of the chosen, or elect.
The other portrayal of the lamb of God is hinted at through the sacrificial goats on the Day of Atonement. This itself was a picture of judgment of sin. The pain and suffering of sacrifice is one that brings the finitude of creaturehood to a reality in full force beyond any theological speculation. The voluntary act of the “Passover lamb” was a personal one. This personal aspect, the fulfillment of the 613 mitzvot, and the prophetic realization of the Word in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, are the distinctly concrete manifestations of the divine Messiah. The genealogy of Jesus and his role as the sacrifice lamb demonstrate that his life was a representation of humanity. But also, living as a human servant, more aware of the tension between infinity and finiteness than any human being who ever lived, and as a willing victim of human wickedness and sin, show that He was an existentialist long before Kierkegaard. The fulness of human sin culminated in the world’s judgment and the execution of the cosmic lamb, who not only died for the world, but himself judges the world (Rev. 5:6).
THE PHENOMENOLOGICAL REDUCTION
What do the two portrayals of Christ as the High Priest and Christ as the lamb say to the Christian or to the non-Christian? One may tend to imagine that these are persons or things of the atonement. First, however, these portrayals are not limited to titles or roles, but they do entail acts. Atonement may be a noun, but it is the activity of Jesus as shown by the New Testament, and specially shown in the books of John, Hebrews, and Revelation. This does not mean that this circumscribes Jesus to a “function”; his ontology determines the function–no human could fulfill them but only a divine human (Ps. 49:7-9). Secondly, these divine acts are those of an “offerer” and an “offering.” The atonement of Christ is not a static thing that happened “back then,” but it is the act of divine love directed for his elect and towards humanity; it happened once, but for all time. Now, the world can no longer be as it was before the death of Christ (Acts 17:30). What is disclosed by the profiles of the Christ as High Priest and Lamb in judgment?
One essence of the extent of the atonement features the metaphysical. It is seen in the figure of the High Priest. It is this character of Jesus Christ that expresses all those things that have marked Christian theology in its understanding of the Godhead from earliest times until the 19th century. Argumentation about the divine nature took precedence in early Christian thought. And it is his divine nature, as well as his sacerdotal position, of Jesus Christ that show he is able to mete out right judgment. The divine character and ontological infinity of this heavenly High Priest are certainly qualities of his all-encompassing grasp of the knowledge of the world that make him a righteous judge. And, of course, it is this act of potential universality for good or ill towards humankind that has been emphasized by the Christian church.
Ironically, however, these actions of the heavenly priest’s work are not universal, since his efforts are only actualized toward the elect (Rom. 8:34, Eph. 5:2, 1 Jn. 2:1). It is in the perspective from the Calvinist constellation of verses which one may understand the judgment from within the Church, the very body of Christ (Jn. 10:11, 15, 11:51-52, 17:9, etc.). Christ as the High Priest presents the mercy of God for his chosen people for “all time” (Ps. 110:4, Heb. 5:6, 7:17). The community of the saved have passed through their existential predicament to the presence of the mercy of God as it is extended to them (Acts 17:28, 1 Cor. 8:4-6, Eph. 4:3-6). They have accepted the divine objectification of the crucifixion in their lives. They have transcended the contingent things of this world. Their “being” is dependent upon the divine charity of the priestly intercession (Heb. 7:25). Consequently, the Religion of Christianity is a participant in this transcendent act as it is extended into the particular lives of those within the religious community of a new priesthood (Matt. 10:38, Mk. 8:34, Lk. 9:23, Acts 1:8, 1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:6).
Another essence is the existential meaning of the extent of the atonement, seen through Christ as the lamb. It is not the display of great power (Matt. 20:25-28, Luke 22:27), but it is the “power” of the crucified that may attract the person who is drawn to the cross (John 12:32). This is surprising since the “offering” act of Christ is not heroic in the sense of either the Homeric or Hindu epics (though it may be called tragic). The crucifixion is, rather, an act that challenges the individual who may now see the reversal of worldly things in the Gospel proclamation. This role reversal of the presupposed powerful Messiah is now seen in the divine, empathetic compassion of the sacrificial lamb. It is a depiction of the sacrifice that happened at once, and was manifested concretely in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Here Christianity is a Person insofar as it accents the relationship of God to an individual soul.
Unexpectedly, it is this particular manifestation that presents the universal witness of the crucifixion against a sinful world. This may best be understood in the Arminian constellation of the verses pertaining to the extent of atonement (Jn. 1:29, 3:16-17, 12:32, 2 Cor. 5:14-15, etc.). A crucified Christ identified as the lamb displays both the mercy and wrath of God to each individual who rebels against his/her own created state and the Creator. In fact, it is this finitude and creaturehood of Jesus that tempted him against his decision of self-surrender. This loss of self to the Godhead, the individual subjection to the divine, was the greatest act of Christ (Phil. 2:6-11). This act condemns humankind as Christ in his alienation pleaded in agony, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”–the cry of the doomed sinner. The world has judged itself by judging Christ (Acts 4:27-28). The crucifixion of the Lamb may be the “aim of the law,” but it is also the end: the end of natural hope, the end of natural joy, the end of natural self-satisfaction (Matt. 24:35, 1 Pet. 4:7). The existential encounter brings despair or meaninglessness as the judgment of God is extended to humanity through the celestial lamb of Revelation 5 (Acts 2:37, 16:30, 17:32, Rom. 7:24). That persons either try to de-objectify the atonement by excuse, or to subjectify it by legalistic measures, demonstrate how they wish to “extend themselves” into divine grace (Rom. 2:15). The non-Christian is still beset by the vagaries of the contingent things of this world as their “becoming” remains an uncertain doom for them. Thus, the Person of Christ is a testimony to the sin of humanity as it is directed to them as a universal mirror, showing them their incompleteness because of sin (Matt. 5-7, Acts 2:23, 4:27, 7:52-53). Here, Christianity is a community of saved persons bound together in the one person of Christ.
The non-Christian may see the profile of Christ as the High Priest as odd insofar as the atonement took place with Jesus on the cross as a criminal of the state. Further, Christ as the lamb is the naked Christian God who is displayed to the world as the weak, humiliated victim. These conflicting portrayals may easily confound the non-Christian who may not take the priestly or sacrificial roles of Christ for granted. A confusion of this sort may do little to stimulate the non-Christian to investigate the Scripture presentation of Jesus, and in some cases s/he may dismiss the Gospel proclamation. Although an understanding of the extent of the atonement may shed some light on this seeming confusion, the Christ-profiles gained from the extent of the atonement are more helpful. Christ in judgment as either the High Priest and an advocate for his people, or as the lamb and a symbol of the incompleteness and finality of sin (Rom. 6:23), are more likely to bring a person to the essential point of the crucifixion and the judgment of his very being. These are the symbols of both the sentence upon the world and also the hope for the other world. Once this is understood, it will be easier to see that it is just this paradox that gives birth to other paradoxa in the message of Jesus, and therefore, actually makes them consistent with the Gospel.
The revelation of the Christ as both the bearer and the burden of the sacrifice is a dichotomy that was a given as perceived from the Scripture instead of given through speculation. It was this suspension of speculation that, perhaps, may show how the historical-phenomenological method is a “middle way” between the positive theology of biblical scholarship and the speculative theology of dogmatic study. Again, this does not mean that I did not use speculative thought in the method. True, there is not supposed to be speculative or “creative” thought while the epoche is maintained. But there is a need to engage in speculative thinking after the results are found so that they may be distributed in terms of the host science. For example, concerning this issue of the extent of the atonement I have noted that the Calvinist thinker tended to group the verses dealing with Christ as the High Priest as applying to the topic. At the same time, I have mentioned that the Arminian teacher inclined to employ the collection of passages that stressed Christ as the lamb as relevant to the extent of the atonement.
But there is a concord that may be seen in the person of Christ. This does not mean that the experience of the theologian is held above the objective ground of Sacred Scripture. Nor does it mean that it is Christ as experienced but it is the Christ as perceived in the Word of God. Indeed, the vision of the Christ was understood through what Scripture tells the reader about him and his atonement. The categories of the perspective were those as given by Scripture. It is necessary to state the scope was not complete–as if one theologian could do so–but there was a grasp of other observations, or profiles, of the atonement, as the Scripture presented it. The “experience” was one that was constituted by an object outside of the self; this was the text of Scripture. Lest one mistake this experience with that of the Pietists, or the ultimate expression of Pietism as illustrated by the work of Schleiermacher, the word “experience” here is not a “feeling” but a reasoned method of realistic phenomenology for theology. This method displayed the Christian unity of vision in judgment, through the extent of the atonement and the depictions of Christ as the High Priest and as the sacrificial lamb.
TAXONOMY OF THE IDEAS FOR THEOLOGY
One may distribute the theological material for both of these constellation of verses into relevant theological loci. The category for the Calvinist group of verses, or SEA 1 group, was that of the topic of ecclesiology. The love of God given for his Church is shown by the priestly action of his Son on the cross for the elect alone. The most natural locus for the Arminian array of scriptures was that of the topic of missiology; it is the “good news” that Christ died for humanity as the meek lamb. This dichotomy is not a matter of double talk or an attempt to say two distinctly different things at once; I am not trying to pull the phenomenological wool over your eyes. Rather, the efforts engaged the reader in a search into Scripture itself and not the circumlocution of a controversy by ignoring that it existed. This is one reason why the distinctions of the SEA 0, SEA 1, and SEA 2 confessions have been sustained throughout.
The Calvinist theologian, within his splendid SEA 1 critical system of Christian thought, may still recognize that there is the missiological sense that he has in proclaiming the gospel to all peoples due, precisely, to the atonement of Christ. He may wish to stand on the foundation of the Synod of Dordt in order to do so, but just as importantly his Arminian counterpart may be able to see the Christian terms of the Calvinist more clearly through the historical-phenomenological perspective. Likewise the Arminian theologian who, because of his priority of evangelization in his thinking (in accordance with his SEA 2 stance), knows that God has shown his love to his Church most conclusively by the sacrifice of his Son. The Arminian may still profess that the gospel proclamation is the primary function of the minister in order that he may prompt people to “choose life” in Christ. But though the Calvinist may disagree with the doctrine of “prevenient grace,” he may see a true Christian expression offered by his Arminian opposite.
In trying to discern the polar opposites of theological speculation pertaining to the extent of the atonement, so wonderfully manifested by the Calvinist-Arminian argumentation, I did not need to disparage either system of theology. It was unnecessary to give way to prejudicial impulses of my background and to proclaim that both systems are simply “in error.” Or to stress the Lutheran belief that the Calvinist denies “universal grace” or that the Arminian denies “grace alone.” It is true that my own personal, confessional stance certainly is oriented to them this way, and that for me the confessional truth of Christianity must reside as it is deposited in the Book of Concord.
And yet, no other vision may be as comprehensive of the extent of the atonement other than the perspective that Christ died for the elect in a particular sense and for the world in a universal one. The essential communal (ecclesiological) and personal (missiological) properties of the extent of the atonement have been illustrated through the phenomenological survey of Calvinist and Arminian perspectives. It is also a glance back to the crucifixion as well as forward to the judgment. It is not especially important whether one wishes to see this from a particular confessional angle, but here the gaze has been directed by the phenomena known through an understanding of the Scripture. Even a non-Christian or an atheist could have seen as much, though still have rejected its basis in fact.
1. This article is based on the author’s paper presentation, “The Extent of the Atonement and Judgment,” at the annual conference of the Evangelical Theological Society, November 17, 1999. I would like to thank Professor John Warwick Montgomery for his help in revision of this paper for publication.
2. Gerhard O. Forde’s conclusion on the issue is that it is simply not taught in the New Testament. See his “Atonement as Actual Event” in Christian Dogmatics, Vol. 2, eds. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jensen (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 79-99.
3. For views on the “reduction vision” see Mariasusai Dhavamony, “II. Phenomenology of Religion,” in the Dictionary of Fundamental Theology, eds. Rene Latourelle and Rino Fisichella (New York: Crossroad, 1994) or Maurice Natanson, Edmund Husserl: Philosopher of Infinite Tasks (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1973), 65-66.
4. This follows a modification of a scheme presented in thorough detail by Thomas W. Ryba in his The Essence of Phenomenology and Its Meaning for the Scientific Study of Religion (New York: Peter Lang Press, 1991), 223-230. C. J. Bleeker, The Sacred Bridge: Researches into the Nature and Structure of Religion (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1963), cited the need for a method in phenomenology of religion which, at the same time, steers clear of philosophical phenomenology, 7.
5. Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, trans. Theodore Engelder et al, 4 vols. (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1951) wrote “Again, when the Reformed deny the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper, they are repudiating the Word of God because of rationalistic considerations. They admit, directly and indirectly, that the Scriptural statements on the Lord’s Supper indicate prima facie not the absence, but the presence of the body and blood of Christ,” 1:27.
6. The Lutheran position spoken of here is that of the speculative theologian, as illustrated by the attitude of SEA 0. I am only insisting that the theology of revelation is another perspective from which to “see” the problem and a possible solution; it is a different viewpoint altogether, as is that of the biblical theologian from that of the systematic theologian. Bohlmann’s remark in “Confessional Biblical Interpretations: Some Basic Principles” in Studies in Lutheran Hermeneutics, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), was that the approach determines the result of an interpretation; the issue at hand was whether or not the theologian took the Scripture words as the Word of God, 192. Hence, a theology of revelation may do so, and may stay well within bounds of the evangelical thinker.
7. Helmut Thielicke, The Evangelical Faith, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1977), noted that the two metaphors of the atonement are those of precisely the ones that are found to be essentials: that of the priest and the lamb, 2:392-397. While it may be a salutary look at the atonement in conjunction with the Passover ritual, and Thielicke did point out the difference between the divine offering of the Son in contrast with Anselm’s atonement theory, it was found that the status of Christ as the paschal lamb and as the priest were not metaphors but essences of the atonement. They are not leitmotifs used to tell a story in the vein of literary critique but solid footings that establish a foundation for understanding the Christian atonement.
8. Paul Tillich noted this in his Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (London: Nisbet & Company Ltd., 1951), 64. There is a possibility, of course, that the phenomenological method of subjective rationalism may lead the researcher to the mysticism of suprarationalism. It cannot be emphasized enough that the method here is a realistic phenomenology, however, based as it is on the notion that an object outside the self constituted the experience.
9. Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, believed that the sacerdotal office of Christ was directed towards the elect, though he did not intertwine it with the doctrine of the extent of the atonement, 2:383-384.
10. Robert Sokolowski, Eucharistic Presence: A Study in the Theology of Disclosure (Washington, D. C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1993), remarked that “An action is a performance that establishes or changes a relationship. . . . The relationship in each case is instituted by the public action, which involves a material dimension. . . . An action is performed in the web of human relationships, toward and before others, and it modifies or confirms that web,” 56-57.
11. David Chytraeus, a seventeenth-century Lutheran dogmatician, noted that Christ as the High Priest applied his sacrifice only to Christians, although he may intercede for humanity. See Chytraeus on Sacrifice: A Reformation Treatise in Biblical Theology, trans. John Warwick Montgomery (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1962), 76-77.
12. Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (1965; repr., Rev. and Exp., Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1998), wrote that “It is only because the Church’s leitourgia is always cosmic, i. e., assumes into Christ all creation, and is always historical, i. e. assumes into Christ all time, that it can therefore also be eschatological, i. e., makes us true participants of the Kingdom to come,” 123. Moses was a forerunner of this “new priesthood” in which each can speak to God “face to face” in Christ; see Exodus 19:5-6, 33:11. In this sense, John Macquarrie, Principles of Christian Theology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1966), is right when he claimed that the atonement is extended through the Christian community, 290-292.
13. The self-effacing combat of Achilles in the Illiad against all odds after the death of his friend, Patroclus, may be heroic in proportion but it may also be criticized, negatively, as the performance of a large ego. The Bhagavad-Gita, 5.10, declares that when a person offers his actions to the divinity he must detach the result from the act. It is in this way that he may transcend morality, which is quite the opposite of the teaching of Scripture which intertwines subjective acts with the lives of others and with a personal God.
14. Schmemann, For the Life of the World, pointed out that the crucifixion cannot be reversed, 23. It is only when Christianity forgets the crucifixion that the Church believes that it can right things as they are and make the world a paradise.
15. Though much sentiment may stand against the notion of Christianity as a “religion,” it should be said that the Latin religio denotes a “binding.” This bondage of the community in Christ is the binding together in love (John 15:1-17).
16. It may be true that the paradox of the cross may also prompt the non-Christian to attempt to grasp the meaning of the atonement as well. See Faith Founded on Fact: Essays in Evidential Apologetics (Newburgh, IN: Trinity Press, 1978), 98, where John Warwick Montgomery maintained that the revelation of Christ in Scripture is perceived by the non-Christian as either true or false, unlike the historical-critical theologian who looks askance on such a response.
17. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (London: James Nisbet & Company Ltd., 1957), maintained that this dichotomy of promise and judgment was the source of all other paradoxes in the New Testament concerning Christ, 106-107.
18. This is not intended to disparage any theologian who engages in speculative and reflective thought at all. There has been certainly no attempt to belittle any theologian in the paper and, in fact, the different solutions to the extent of the atonement, from either the dichotomy of Dordt or that of Strong, are respected as good, Christian solutions with their own peculiar strengths and weaknesses.
19. The schwarmer, or “enthusiast,” ruffled Luther’s theological conscience, as it were. This was a person who used his own ideas or experience as the determining guide of Scripture, rather than the other way around. See Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, trans. Robert C. Schultz (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), 41. The Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof, though not using this term, described the 19th-century theologians Schleiermacher and Ritschl in the same way as “subjectivists”; see Berkhof, Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1932), 19, 28, 53-55. Berkhof also believed that theologies based on the christological method may show that Christ is the center but not that Christ is the starting point, Ibid., 74.
20. Louis Berkhof, Introductory Volume, wrote that there had been theologians who attempted to distribute contents of theology into an order based on Christ. He commented that this project is doomed to failure since it cannot but handle subjects such as God, Anthropology, or Hamartiology as prolegomena, 73. Here the attempt at distribution is made christologically, not christocentrically.
21. Vern Poythress wrote about the use of “multiple views” or “models” for various ways of comprehending the Scripture, in Science and Hermeneutics: Implications of Scientific Methods for Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1988),135-137. For example, John Warwick Montgomery in Chytraeus recognized the need for these “multiple views” for a study of the atonement in a critique of Gustaf Aulen’s Christus Victor, 139-146. Especially pertinent was his comment that “. . . each of the atonement theories as presented by Aulen has definite values not possessed by the others,” 141. He continued this criticism of Aulen by highlighting those characteristics of the three atonement theories–classic, Latin, and subjective–by displaying their strengths and weaknesses according to Scripture. Montgomery’s assessment exhibited how Aulen built his historical reconstruction on the single leg of sola gratia, a one-legged stool that required the other two-thirds of the theological triad of sola fide and sola Scriptura; see Chytraeus, 144-145. Aulen may have been highly enthusiastic about the “classic” theory of atonement; note his statement that the Christian may “. . . go to meet evil with a battle-song of triumph” in Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement, trans. A. G. Hebert (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1961), 159. But by concentrating on the classic theory as theological panacea he submitted to the temptation, perhaps, of finding a “key” to understanding the atonement.
22. The realistic phenomenology, or theology of revelation, has relied on the object–i.e., Scripture–as the ground of the “experience.” It may be subjective, but it is a subjective rationalism dependent on the consciousness of objects, nonetheless. Erazim V. Kohak, Idea and Experience: Edmund Husserl’s Project of Phenomenology in Ideas I (The University of Chicago Press, 1978), asserted that the consciousness of perception is the perception not of imagination but of the senses, 161-165.
23. The reader should know that the phenomenological result may not be one that is agreeable, especially if the researcher seems to be either double-minded (James 1:8) or “hedging his bets.” It is the constant “reflectiveness” that may be an irritant to the reader, but it is this that helps make phenomenology a “universal knowledge,” see Husserl, Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, trans. Quentin Lauer (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965), 181.
24. Today many theologians regard this kind of statement as most distasteful. An example of an earlier dogmatics which peremptorily stated which theological positions were “in error” is John Theodore Mueller’s Christian Dogmatics (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934), There is always the problem of “blending in” with others (heterodoxy) at the expense of losing the dogmatic understanding of Scripture. An anonymous gentleman sadly pointed this out to Norman Geisler concerning his own denomination. See Geisler, “Beware of Philosophy: A Warning to Biblical Scholars,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 42:1 (March 1999):3-19, especially 16.
25. Charles C. Ryrie in Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1986, 1999), believed that an acceptance of both groups of scriptural verses that attest to “particular” and “universal” atonements merely means that the atonement may be “broadened.” “Are there Scriptures that broaden the extent of the Atonement beyond the elect? Limited advocates say no and attempt to explain those passages that seem to broaden the Atonement in ways that do not broaden it. In other words, unlimited advocates acknowledge that the Atonement is both limited and unlimited; limited advocates insist that it is strictly limited and do not recognize any unlimited passages as teaching unlimited atonement,” 368-369. He never explained what is meant by an acknowledgment that the atonement is both particular and universal, however. His example of a tuition fund for students does not enlighten the reader since a) the lesson is more one of free will responsibility than it is that of the extent of the atonement, and b) it is clear that the money is for students and not for non-students. In this latter sense it is a doctrine of particular atonement that is expounded! This critique may be thought “fussy,” but if one uses a story for explication then one should be aware of all the possibilities involved due to phenomenological perspectival variation.