Martin Luther - Lesson 9

Christ and the Atonement

Luther's view of the atonement differs from classical views taught during his time and view held by the scholastic tradition.

Gordon Isaac
Martin Luther
Lesson 9
Watching Now
Christ and the Atonement

Christ and the Atonement

Luther, the Pastor: Romans 3:20

I. Luther fights against certain fixed positions in the Scholastic tradition

A. fides charitate formata, faith formed by love. LW 26:88;90;268;279

1. Excerpt from Commentary on the Galatians, LW 26:88

Luther - Faith has Christ as its object vs. scholastic view that has the Law as its object. The scholastic view leads to an uncertainty of our salvation. If one is saved on the basis of what is going on in your heart right now, it is not complete. The question becomes what do I have to add to it. Righteousness comes from outside of us.

B. The tendency to defend Christ from the curse LW 26:276ff

Luther- Galatians, Christ was accursed on a tree. Rather important note that by denying this we forget that his work was for us.


II. Three Classical Views of the Atonement

A. Latin Anselm 11 Century - Sin honor of God violated. In order to repair then satisfaction had to be made. Either condemn the world or find a worthy sacrifice.

B. Patristic Fathers - Action of God in Christ through which all the forces of evil are overwhelmed by Christ's triumph.

C. Abelard, Peter - Christ is an example. He is in perfect harmony with God the Father. Not so much that God is mad at us but that we need to be reconciled to God in friendship.


III. To what view of the Atonement does Luther hold?

A. The source of the controversy

B. Some say vicarious satisfaction theory

C. Gustav Aulen asserts the Christus Victor motif


IV. Luther's view of the atonement is conditioned by his theology of the cross.

A. Luther rejects the idea that God is one who can be bargained with in the commercial fashion or satisfied with a mere payment.

B. Luther's criticism of Anselm's Theory

C. In the theology of the cross it is only the resurrection that gives his death significance.

All Lessons
  • Introduction to the life and theology of Martin Luther.

  • Luther expressed his views in a way that was shaped by his theology and the culture.

  • Martin Luther was born in Germany in the late 15th century, just after Guttenberg developed his printing press.

  • When Martin Luther posted the 95 theses, his intention was to discuss and debate the misuse of indulgences, but it was interpreted by the church heirarchy as an attack on the power of the papacy.

  • Luther's writings demonstrate his ability to understand and articulate issues that are at the core of the nature of God and man. His theology is distinct from philosophy and consists of many comments on passages in Psalms and Romans.

  • Faith alone justifies. By faith the Christian is made to love God, therefore a person does good works because they cannot remain idle.

  • The work of Christ when he allowed himself to be crucified on the cross, teaches us about God's nature, our nature and our relationship to God.

  • Luther's fourfold sense of scripture focused on historical (literal), allegorical (figurative), tropological (moral), and anagogic (future).

  • Luther's view of the atonement differs from classical views taught during his time and view held by the scholastic tradition.

  • Luther's teaching on justification by faith is central to his theology.

  • Theology of the cross assumes bondage and moves to freedom.

  • Four positions on predestination include the Calvinist, neo-Protestant, intuitu fidei, and Gnesio-Lutherans.

  • Luther's commentary on Galatians is an attempt to set "Law" in its proper setting.

  • The sacraments are an external expression of an internal reality.

  • Luther's teachings on the importance of baptism and arguments for infant baptism.

  • Luther's view of the theological and personal significance of the Lord's Supper.

  • The kingdom of God and secular government have areas of unity and areas of differences.

  • Luther gives a definition of the church and describes characteristics of the church.

  • Luther developed a catechism to help people focus on the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith.

  • Martin Luther's writings can encourage people to pursue their relationship with God on a deeper level.

This course is an introduction to the life and writings of the great German reformer, Martin Luther. There are 20 lectures totaling approximately 18 hours. These lectures were given at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.