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Christ and the Atonement

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


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.

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