Strength to Strength welcomed Dean Taylor to discuss the atonement.

When it comes to the doctrine of the Atonement, most theologically minded Anabaptists (including myself) would consider ourselves a “Christus-Victor-guy.” What I mean by this is that we believe that the story of what Jesus accomplished on the cross includes the bigger picture of Christ’s victory over Satan and all of Satan’s kingdom. That’s good. However, what’s not good is that in the process of championing Jesus’ victory over Satan, we have often thrown the sacrifice of Christ under the bus.

As a historical theologian, I feel that many in the neo-Anabaptist world have gone way too far with “Christus Victor” and “Ransom Atonement” theories of the Atonement. I think I understand why we have done this. But we were wrong. For this reason, I wrote a paper (see link below) where I discussed a few possible reasons why this reductionism occurred. I called this problem “Kingdom Reductionism.”

The current rhetoric among neo-Anabaptist (and many in the academic world) is that the sacrifice themes of the Atonement, commonly known as “Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA),” started centuries after the early Church with Anselm in the middle ages. In my paper and in this presentation, I look at several critical early Christian passages related to the Atonement. In doing so, I demonstrate that from a historical perspective, this rhetoric is complete nonsense.

In saying that, please understand that I will not be trying to claim that PSA was the exclusive view of the early Church. All that I am saying is that PSA was very clearly one of the metaphors used by the early Church to describe the miracle of the Atonement. From a historical perspective, this is easily proven.

As a conclusion, I argue that pastorally I believe that the loss of PSA has hurt our churches producing unnecessary division, a loss of holiness, spiritual pride, and anemic worship.

An interactive question-and-answer period follows.

Download: Kingdom Reductionism by Dean Taylor
Dean Taylor pic

Dean Taylor is an author of several books, most notably A Change of Allegiance, which chronicles the journey of him and his wife leaving the U.S. Army to become peacemakers. He is a church historian; his website Radical Reformation attests to his broad knowledge and experience.

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