Theories of the Atonement Research Paper

Over the years, Christians, theologians, and other scholars have struggled to understand the foundational truth of Christianity and Gods fulfillment of the old covenant sacrificial system through Jesus Christs crucifixion for human race redemption from sins.

This has led to development of numerous theories of atonement which attempt to explain the relationship between the life and death of Jesus and the salvation of humanity. The doctrine of atonement is critical element of Christianity since it was the point of transition from objective to subjective aspects of Christian theology.

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Theories of the Atonement Research Paper
Just from $9/Page
Order Essay

Due to the abundance of Biblical testimony on the facts of atonement, theologians and other scholars have adopted varying explanations of atonement which reflect their views and conceptualization of Jesus life and role he played in salvation of mankind. While over the years, many theories of atonement have been developed, none of the theories have singled out to be the most valid.

With this in mind, we are going to critically analyze some of the theories that have been put forward to explain the doctrine of atonement while considering their strengths and weaknesses in order to appreciate the complexity that underlies the doctrine of atonement.

Theories of atonement
Theories of atonement in their most simplified form are metaphors that seek to enrich and broaden the Christian perspective of Jesus saving works (Marshall 1994, 105). According to (Marshall 1994) these theories are not mutually exclusive; rather, they present an alternative form of imagery which is essential in understanding the proposed impact of Jesus life and death on human redemption and reconciliation with God.

The writer presents the theories of atonement in a schematic form which incorporates the classical view (the ransom theory) which was most popular from the forth through to the eleventh century (Marshall, 105), the orthodox (Satisfaction theory) as well as the moral influence theory which were developed in the eleventh century.

Despite the fact that these theories vary widely in terms of imagery and explanation of the doctrine of atonement, they often converge in certain areas since they all operate in quite prescribed circumstances (Schmiechen 2005, 316).

Classical theory (ransom view)
The classical theory was developed by Irenacus and Gregory of Nyssa and its imagery is based on the ancient and medieval institutions of slavery where people could be saved from servitude upon payment of a particular price (Marshall 1994, 105).

The classical view claimed that humanity had voluntarily given in to the powers of evil incarnate in the devil; consequently, the devil had held in bondage the entire human race which prompted God to provide a ransom which was His son Jesus as the required price to free humanity from the powers of sin (Marshall 1994, 105).

In Mark 10:45, Jesus gives the reason for his presence on earth as To give his life as a ransom so that the human race would be saved. One of the early Christian scholars, Origen, describes the ransom theory of atonement by describing the historical events that led to Jesus crucification (Martin 1993, 253).

According to Origen, the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden led to Gods abandonment of mankind which gave the devil an opportunity to exert his power on the human race. However, due to the forgiving nature of God, He agreed to pay Satan a ransom which would lead to freeing of mankind from the powers of the devil (Martin 1993, 254).

According to Origen, the devil accepts the bargain because he believes that he is going to have Jesus in return (Russell 1987, 193). However, the devil is tricked by God who knows that upon sacrificing his son to free man from his sins, the devil will be unable to keep the prize offered by God. Hence, the son escapes from the powers of Satan and is reconciled with the father after the human race has already been saved.

According to (Martin 1993), the ransom view as presented by Origen provides a crude explanation and attribute to God qualities of a character that is unworthy of a divine being. It goes against Christians view of God as a morally upright supreme being who would not use trickery to manipulate Satan or any other being for that matter (Martin 1993, 254).

Augustine held different views in the theory of ransom and argues that devil got tricked by God not because of Gods deception but due to his pride that led to his own downfall. Augustines perception of God was influenced by the Christian view that God is good and that human beings are a battleground on which both God and the Devil can conquer (Rist 1996, 262).

He argued that everything evil was either caused by a soul other than God and it was only allowed by God on a good course or for reasons of justice. (Rist 1996) criticizes Augustine claiming that he fails to face the questions regarding Gods ability to perform logically and hence sees no difficulty in predicating all the traditional moral virtues such as justice and the Christian moral virtues of mercy of God (Rist 1996, 262).

Proponents of the theory of ransom claimed that the primary aspects of Christs atonement was his ransoming of souls of the souls of human beings from the devil who was controlling them at the time and the principle of the theory was incorporated in some of the early church practices such as baptism and exorcism (Adams 2007, 17).

(The Franklin and Marshall college 1868) observed that these theories, which seemed to satisfy the mind of the church since reformation were being brought under new examination due to the increasing desire to reach a consensus on the theory that best satisfies all the conditions of the doctrine of atonement (Franklin & Marshall College 1868, 397). Hence, there are constant efforts by modern theologians to present the problem in a new and clearer light as evidenced by the recent works of Young and Bushnell

The ransom theory is supported by some passages in the New Testament. Matt. 20:27-28 states that whoever wishes to be the first among you must be your slave just as the son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 emphasizes that Jesus gave his life a ransom for many and this is further confirmed in 1 Tim 2:5-6 which says that Jesus purchased us with his own blood.

The ransom theory further addresses the reality of the power of evil over us (Park 2009, 7). As still is the case, the human race is not free but in the bondage of sin (Cronk 1982, 207). In addition, the theory stresses on the importance of integration of Jesus death and resurrection for his work of salvation since it highlights the decisiveness of the resurrection of Jesus in his redemptive work.

However, the theory has several weaknesses as outlined by (Park 2009): the theologians developed a biblical idea of ransom too literally which made it less practical. This is because the theory paints God as a trickster1 and Satan as an unintelligent being (Park 2009, 7).

In addition, the claim that Satan had held humanity to ransom due to their sinful nature is not necessarily true because human beings committed sins against God and not Satan. Further, if Jesus purchased us back from Satan, all human beings are supposed to be free in daily life which is not the case (Park 2009, 8).

The moral-influence theory
The moral influence theory of atonement was developed by Peter Abelard in the eleventh century (Marshall 1994, 105). According to this theory, one of the greatest human problems is our fear of God and our subsequent inability to respond to grace.

Focusing on Jesus as the supreme manifestation of Gods love, the moral influence view suggests that humanity is drawn to God by that love (Marshall 1994, 105). The theory views the death of Christ as a demonstration of Gods love to us (Hustad and Erickson 2001, 251).

Peter Abelard conceptualizes sin as the contempt of God or the consent of evil and denies the original sin. He further disagreed that Jesus died for the forgiveness of the original mankind sins and asserts that it is cruel and wicked that anyone should demand blood for an innocent person as a price for certain actions and therefore Consequently, God would not have considered the death of His Son as an exchange for achieving reconciliation with the entire human race (Park 2009, 19).

Abelard explains his position on atonement by about the meaning of Jesus death for the human race atonement. He claimed that Jesus did not incarnate to deliver mankind from the bondage of the devil and criticized the traditional doctrine of the devils rights as absurd (Park 2009, 19).

Abelard felt that it was much easier for God to forgive sinners without having to deal with the devil and saw the death of Christ on the cross as the expression of Gods love to humanity that provides teachings by the example of Jesus and concluded that the suffering of Christ was Gods revelation of his love for mankind (Park 2009, 19)

The moral influence theory therefore suggests that Jesus helped humanity to obtain salvation by setting an example and hoped that this would inspire mankind to repent their sins and establish a renewed communion with God (Weaver 1997, 198). Jesus provided numerous teachings in his preaching regarding the way of life and through his own life provided a perfect moral example (Wayment 2009, 154). Consequently, he did not have to die on the cross in order to provide this moral example.

This theory did not receive much attention until it was popularized by Bushnell and Rashdall who proposed that Gods nature is essentially love and minimized the emphasis on justice holiness and righteousness (Hustad and Erickson 2001, 251).

The writers concluded that human beings need not fear God justice and punishment rather they should focus on their attitudes that separate them from God rather than worrying that they have violated Gods law and that God will punish them (Tuomala 1993, 1). If human beings repented and turned to God in trust and faith, God would surely forgive them hence reconciliation.

Clement on the other hand, understood that Jesus power was poured to save mankind from sin through the grace of repentance (Park 2009, 18). The process of redemption is not automatic; rather, the blood of Christ saves us through the indispensable process of repentance.

He further asserts that Jesus endured and suffered on the cross and observes that blood of Christ does not solely save us without our repentance but the blood of God graces us with repentance (Park 2009, 18). Consequently, by emphasizing Jesus for our repentance, he underpins the moral influence theory.

The moral influence theory of atonement proves right in that it emphasizes on the necessity of repentance and true holiness as the condition for mankind to achieve redemption and salvation from God (Purswell and Grudem 1999, 256). Even the modern Christians acknowledge this fact and the Bible scriptures are too straight forward to leave any room for any deviation of opinion (Edwards et al.1861, 287).

The scriptures clearly state that human beings must repent of their sins or they will otherwise perish in everlasting suffering (Miller 2011, 44). Mark 1:15 says that the time has come, the Kingdom of God is near, Repent and believe in the Good News The Gospel of Mark further highlights the work of Jesus disciples stating that they preached that people should repent.

Psalms 34:18 states that the Lord is close to the broken hearted and those who are crushed in spirit while Matthew 9: 13 states that I desire mercy not sacrifice, for I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners.

The moral influence theory further affirms that redemption and internal life are pledged to all those who sincerely repent and turn to God hence walking in the newness of life (Edwards et al. 1861, 287). In addition, its claim that the life and death of Jesus is preeminently the source of moral influences that has resulted in mens need for repentance and attempts to live holy lives.

The fact that Jesus gave himself to mankind so that he may redeem them from all iniquity and demonstrate their love for humanity has highly influenced the way of life of Christians.

The theory fails in that it denies any real and universal necessity for the work of Christ because it implies that if men repented their sins only through the moral influences, then his works were unnecessary in humanity redemption (Edward et al. 1861, 288). The theory also detracts from the real moral power of the atonement by making its designed efficacy and value to consist exclusively in its moral power.

Edwards et al argued that whatever was confessedly done solely to impress mankind became for that very reason comparatively uninfluential (Edwards et al. 1861, 288). Suffering done only to furnish us with a moral example has less ability to inspire us with a spirit of endurance than suffering necessarily involved in securing some end. By solely emphasizing on repentance as the only avenue to salvation, the atoning work of Christ is negated (Giles 1869, 32).

The theory further presents the work of Jesus as having no peculiar efficacy as a means of human salvation (Edwards et al. 1861, 289). They present the work of Christ as influencing men just like every other event in human life would exert good moral influence. Consequently, Christ is portrayed as a savior not the savior2 since his acts of self denial for the sake of others have the same influence as everything else.

This goes against the scriptures which clearly describe Jesus as The savior in Matt1: 21. The theory further fails to satisfy the awakened moral judgment of men.

Inadequate convictions of sins as presented by the theory provides sinners with an opportunity to be contented with real penitence while letting their consciousness be made sensitive. The theory also offers no satisfactory explanation of numerous passages of scripture which connect the salvation of men with the work of Christ.

Orthodox (satisfaction) theory of atonement
This theory was also developed around the eleventh century by Anselm of Canterbury after rejected the Ransom theory claiming that it gave the devil far too much power (Mattison n d, 1). Its imagery was based the institution of feudalism where law and order rested on strict code of honor (Marshall 1994, 105).

The theory asserts that humanity failed to show gratitude to their creator by disregarding Gods commandments and disobeying his rules which led to violation of Gods honor. The extent of human disobedience had become so engraved in society that the humans themselves would not make restitution with the only option being that the humanity would have to make appropriate satisfaction to God (Marshall 1994, 105).

Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment  Help Service Works

1.      Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2.      Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3.      Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4.      Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essaysmile and order essay PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!

order custom essay paper

What Will You Get?

We provide professional writing services to help you score straight A’s by submitting custom written assignments that mirror your guidelines.

Premium Quality

Get result-oriented writing and never worry about grades anymore. We follow the highest quality standards to make sure that you get perfect assignments.

Experienced Writers

Our writers have experience in dealing with papers of every educational level. You can surely rely on the expertise of our qualified professionals.

On-Time Delivery

Your deadline is our threshold for success and we take it very seriously. We make sure you receive your papers before your predefined time.

24/7 Customer Support

Someone from our customer support team is always here to respond to your questions. So, hit us up if you have got any ambiguity or concern.

Complete Confidentiality

Sit back and relax while we help you out with writing your papers. We have an ultimate policy for keeping your personal and order-related details a secret.

Authentic Sources

We assure you that your document will be thoroughly checked for plagiarism and grammatical errors as we use highly authentic and licit sources.

Moneyback Guarantee

Still reluctant about placing an order? Our 100% Moneyback Guarantee backs you up on rare occasions where you aren’t satisfied with the writing.

Order Tracking

You don’t have to wait for an update for hours; you can track the progress of your order any time you want. We share the status after each step.


Areas of Expertise

Although you can leverage our expertise for any writing task, we have a knack for creating flawless papers for the following document types.

Areas of Expertise

Although you can leverage our expertise for any writing task, we have a knack for creating flawless papers for the following document types.


Trusted Partner of 9650+ Students for Writing

From brainstorming your paper's outline to perfecting its grammar, we perform every step carefully to make your paper worthy of A grade.

Preferred Writer

Hire your preferred writer anytime. Simply specify if you want your preferred expert to write your paper and we’ll make that happen.

Grammar Check Report

Get an elaborate and authentic grammar check report with your work to have the grammar goodness sealed in your document.

One Page Summary

You can purchase this feature if you want our writers to sum up your paper in the form of a concise and well-articulated summary.

Plagiarism Report

You don’t have to worry about plagiarism anymore. Get a plagiarism report to certify the uniqueness of your work.

Free Features $66FREE

  • Most Qualified Writer $10FREE
  • Plagiarism Scan Report $10FREE
  • Unlimited Revisions $08FREE
  • Paper Formatting $05FREE
  • Cover Page $05FREE
  • Referencing & Bibliography $10FREE
  • Dedicated User Area $08FREE
  • 24/7 Order Tracking $05FREE
  • Periodic Email Alerts $05FREE

Our Services

Join us for the best experience while seeking writing assistance in your college life. A good grade is all you need to boost up your academic excellence and we are all about it.

  • On-time Delivery
  • 24/7 Order Tracking
  • Access to Authentic Sources
Academic Writing

We create perfect papers according to the guidelines.

Professional Editing

We seamlessly edit out errors from your papers.

Thorough Proofreading

We thoroughly read your final draft to identify errors.


Delegate Your Challenging Writing Tasks to Experienced Professionals

Work with ultimate peace of mind because we ensure that your academic work is our responsibility and your grades are a top concern for us!

Check Out Our Sample Work

Dedication. Quality. Commitment. Punctuality

All samples
Article review
Thesis/Thesis chapter
Research paper
Article review
A Holistic Response to Crime Victimization
View this sample
Thesis/Thesis chapter
Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery
View this sample
Research paper
Final Case Analysis: Organizational Ethical Dilemmas
Undergrad. (yrs 3-4)
Business Studies
View this sample
Research paper
Communicable Disease
View this sample
Research paper
Mental health
View this sample

It May Not Be Much, but It’s Honest Work!

Here is what we have achieved so far. These numbers are evidence that we go the extra mile to make your college journey successful.


Happy Clients


Words Written This Week


Ongoing Orders


Customer Satisfaction Rate

Process as Fine as Brewed Coffee

We have the most intuitive and minimalistic process so that you can easily place an order. Just follow a few steps to unlock success.

See How We Helped 9000+ Students Achieve Success


We Analyze Your Problem and Offer Customized Writing

We understand your guidelines first before delivering any writing service. You can discuss your writing needs and we will have them evaluated by our dedicated team.

  • Clear elicitation of your requirements.
  • Customized writing as per your needs.

We Mirror Your Guidelines to Deliver Quality Services

We write your papers in a standardized way. We complete your work in such a way that it turns out to be a perfect description of your guidelines.

  • Proactive analysis of your writing.
  • Active communication to understand requirements.

We Handle Your Writing Tasks to Ensure Excellent Grades

We promise you excellent grades and academic excellence that you always longed for. Our writers stay in touch with you via email.

  • Thorough research and analysis for every order.
  • Deliverance of reliable writing service to improve your grades.
Place an Order Start Chat Now

error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
Need assignment help? You can contact our live agent via WhatsApp using +1 718 717 2861

Feel free to ask questions, clarifications, or discounts available when placing an order.

Order your essay today and save 20% with the discount code DEADLINE