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fje 25oi)len 3lecture, 1908 


Profettor of Komiletics and Pastoral Care in the Divinity School 
of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia 

" , T.AA^;V 

Non quia reeoneiliavit amavit, sed quia amavit reconciliavit 





*^ i w 





JOHN BOHLEN, who died in this city on the twenty- 
sixth day of April, 1874, bequeathed to trustees 
a fund of one hundred thousand dollars, to be 
distributed to religious and charitable objects in 
accordance with the well-known wishes of the 

By a deed of trust, executed June 2, 1875, the 
trustees under the will of Mr. Bohlen transferred 
and paid over to "The Rector, Church Wardens, 
and Vestrymen of the Church of the Holy Trinity, 
Philadelphia," in trust, a sum of money for certain 
designated purposes, out of which fund the sum of 
ten thousand dollars was set apart for the endow 
following terms and conditions : 

The money shall be invested in good substantial and safe 
securities, and held in trust for a fund to be called The John 
Bohlen Lectureship, and the income shall be applied annually 
to the payment of a qualified person, whether clergyman or 
layman, for the delivery and publication of at least one hun 
dred copies of two or more lecture sermons. These Lectures 
shall be delivered at such time and place, in the city of Phila 
delphia, as the persons nominated to appoint the lecturer shall 
from time to time determine, giving at least six months notice 
to the person appointed to deliver the same, when the same 


may conveniently be done, and in no case selecting the same 
person as lecturer a second time within a period of five years. 
The payment shall be made to said lecturer, after the lectures 
have been printed and received by the trustees, of all the 
income for the year derived from said fund, after defraying 
the expense of printing the lectures and the other incidental 
expenses attending the same. 

The subject of such lectures shall be such as is within the 
terms set forth in the will of the Rev. John Bampton, for the 
delivery of what are known as the " Bampton Lectures," at 
Oxford, or any other subject distinctively connected with or 
relating to the Christian Religion. 

The lecturer shall be appointed annually in the month of 
May, or as soon thereafter as can conveniently be done, by the 
persons who, for the time being, shall hold the offices of Bishop 
of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese in which is 
the Church of the Holy Trinity ; the Rector of said Church ; 
the Professor of Biblical Learning, the Professor of Sys 
tematic Divinity, and the Professor of Ecclesiastical History, 
in the Divinity School of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 

In case either of said offices are vacant the others may nom 
inate the lecturer. 

Under this trust the Reverend GEORGE C. FOLEY, 
D. D., Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Care in 
the Divinity School of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church in Philadelphia, was appointed to deliver the 
lectures for the year 1908. 


FOR a full discussion of the subject under review, 
it was thought best to cast it in the form of a treatise, 
from which selections were made for the lectures 
required by the terms of the Bohlen foundation. 
The work is not a constructive statement of the 
doctrine of the Atonement ; it is a critical and 
historical study of the claim that the Reformation 
dogma is the Catholic doctrine. As this has long 
been regarded as the test of orthodoxy, and has been 
in a multitude of instances a painful obstacle to 
faith, the evidence that it is absent from the ancient 
and patristic teaching is offered as a useful apologetic, 
which may clear the way for a simpler, more rational, 
and more Scriptural expression of the redemptive 
work of Christ. The general facts here presented 
are familiar to the students of the history of dogma 
and to the readers of modern books on the Atone 
ment. But the effort has been made to bring them 
together in the convenient form of an argument more 
complete than any with which the writer is acquainted. 
The average Christian may thereby understand how 
valid are the revulsion from long dominant theories, 


and the attempt in our day to restate the truth of 
Atonement in ethical and spiritual terms. 

The traditional statement of the doctrine has 
undoubtedly developed much devout and consecrated 
life ; but its religious power has not lain in its crude 
form, but in its emotional witness to the fundamental 
reality of Incarnate love and sacrifice. It is demon- 
strably not the faith of the universal Church, or the 
continuous and unvarying formula of Christian 
thinkers. To insist upon it as essential to Christianity 
is to insist upon being " wiser than the universal 
Church of Christ." As Dr. Dale has said: "The 
Fathers attempted to explain why it is that through 
the death of Christ we escape from the penalties of 
sin, and their explanations were rejected by the 
Schoolmen. The Schoolmen attempted to explain it, 
and their explanations were rejected or modified by 
the Reformers. The Reformers attempted to explain 
it, and within a century Grotius and his successors 
were attempting to explain it again." The very 
diversity of the explanations proves that none of 
them is necessary, as Christian life seems to have been 
as well sustained under one as another ; and there is 
quite as much reason and Christian propriety in 
rejecting that which began with the Reformation as 
in disclaiming any which preceded it. Its rejection 
is not to be discredited as the desire for a " new 
theology," since it is due to the recovery of earlier 


and juster views which prevailed in Alexandria and 
Antioch. The upholders of the Latin theology in 
general, and of the Anselmic, Reformation, or Grotian 
theories of Atonement in particular, are the real 

The primary purpose of this study therefore is 
negative, to exhibit the lack of authority for the 
theory framed by the Reformation divines. It will 
be a genuine relief to many troubled minds to be 
made fully aware of this ; they will then be able to 
appreciate the best Greek thought which is so much 
nearer the teaching of St. Paul. The whole effect 
however is intended to be positive and constructive 
by showing the identity of the great Christian fact 
through all the mutually contradictory explanations. 
The divergence of the theories is no indication of the 
" discontinuity of Christian thought " ; for the con 
tinuity of belief in the fact of Chrises redemption is 
more essential than the persistence of any ideas about 
it whatsoever. Moreover, the theories themselves, 
however inadequate and open to criticism, when traced 
from Origen to Moberly, are seen to illustrate what 
Dr. George Harris calls " a progressive moral evolu 
tion."" In a wide circle they have returned very 
nearly to the simplicity and vitality of the Scriptural 

The writer is under great obligations to the Rev. 
Alex. R. DeWitt, LL. M., of Muncy, Pa., for many 


scholarly and fruitful suggestions. Grateful acknowl 
edgment is also made for a number of helpful refer 
ences to authorities furnished by the Rev. Dr. J. 
Cullen Ayer, Jr., and the Rev. Dr. Andrew D. Heffern, 
of the Faculty of the Divinity School. The Rev. 
Edgar Campbell, of Philadelphia, has given valued 
assistance in the reading of the proofs. 


August, 1908. 








a. Justin Martyr 26 

L~b. Irenaeus 29 

c. Clement of Alexandria 37 

d. Origen 39 


a. Eusebius of Caesarea 47 

b. Athanasius 48 

c. Later Greek Fathers 60 

Gregory of Nyssa 60 

Gregory of Nazianzus 63 

Chrysostom 66 

Cyril of Alexandria 68 


a. Tertullian 77 

b. Cyprian 82 

c. Augustin 86 





a. Antecedents affecting the substance of 

the theory 103 

(1) A racial characteristic . . . . 103 

(2) Ecclesiastical ideas and discipline . 105 

(3) German criminal law 109 

(4) Feudalism 113 

b. Antecedents affecting the form of the 

theory 115 

2. "CuR DEUS HOMO?" 120 

a. Preliminary to the argument . . . . 121 

6. The argument 124 

c. Some valuable features of the theory . . 132 

d. Defects of the theory 143 

Three general defects 143 

Criticism in detail 14-7 

(1) The idea of Honour .... 147 

(2) The idea of Satisfaction . . . 154 

(3) The forensic form of the theory l6 7 

(4) The latent Dualism 173 

(5) The Nestorian element ... 179 

(6) Satisfaction considered as Sub 

stitution 181 

(7) .The purpose of the^ Incarnation 187 

(8) The purely objective character of 

the theory 190 

(9) A pernicious effect of the theory 193 




a. His adherents 195 

Hugh of St. Victor 195 

Alexander of Hales 196 

Bonaveiitura 196 

Thomas Aquinas 197 

b. His opponents 201 

Abelard 201 

Bernard 206 

Peter Lombard 207 

Duns Scotus 209 


a. Basis of Protestant Soteriology . . . . 212 

6. Antithesis of Protestant Soteriology . . 216 

(1) Passive satisfaction 216 

(2) Penal satisfaction 219 

(3) Endurance equivalent to eternal 

death 223 

(4) Imputation 226 

c. The modern development and reaction . 231 




INDEX 321 






DAVID FRIEDRICH STRAUSS said : " The true criti 
cism of a dogma is its history." The unlearned are 
apt to think of the dogmatic formulas with which 
they have been acquainted as fixed and immutable ; 
but the history of doctrine shows that they have 
most of them changed their form from age to age, 
and of none is this more true than of the doctrine of 
redemption. The history of change in these intellec 
tual forms is a legitimate and necessary occasion of 
criticism. We can tell the very time when a par 
ticular mode of thought first arose, and we are 
obliged to consider whether it is a normal develop 
ment of the conceptions of the New Testament. We 
can see when the main stream was joined a long way 
from its source by a tributary ; and when we perceive 
the distinctly new colour given to the stream by the 
outpouring into it of the washings of an apparently 
diverse soil, we are able to estimate whether this 



muddy current can fairly be called the same as the 
original pure brook whence it flowed. 

Not all the varying formulations of theology 
can claim to express the essential and ultimate truth, 
and we are forced to separate these historical varia 
tions from the truth itself. In different ages, differ 
ent aspects and understandings of truth come to be 
emphasised and made prominent, owing sometimes 
to their denial and the subsequent controversy, and 
sometimes to the prevalence of ideas which inhere in 
the intellectual conditions of the age. When we 
discern the contemporary causes for a particular state 
ment, we are led to inquire whether it be a natural 
and inevitable inference from truths hitherto awaiting 
coordination ; as, for example, in the Nicene defini 
tions concerning the deity of our Lord. At other 
times, however, we are compelled to discriminate be 
tween the original and permanent essence of a truth 
and the temporary and imperfect interpretation of 
it. The mere systematic statement of a doctrine, 
therefore, is of little value until the formula has been 
subjected to the criticism based upon the history of 
its successive stages. The scholastic spirit is the 
exact opposite of the critical and historical spirit ; 
but the latter is the spirit of our time, and its method 
is our accepted method of arriving at the truth. 

It is generally admitted to-day that a thinker can 
be judged only by means of the ruling ideas of the 


age in which he lived, by the intellectual antecedents 
which insensibly but inevitably have moulded his 
thoughts. Even the Apostles used rabbinic thought- 
forms which were convenient vehicles for the new 
revelation that had come to them, but by no means 
all of which are to be regarded as permanently valid. 
What Sabatier says of all dogma is especially true of 
the doctrine of salvation : " It is ever a product of a 
blending of Christian feeling with conceptions and 
phrases borrowed from the atmosphere of contem 
porary culture." 1 The whole environment has to be 
taken into account as affecting the angle of observa 
tion from which the idea is conceived and the phrase 
ology in which it is presented. The cast of theological 
thought developed in the Western Church has certain 
well-defined characteristics, which strikingly differen 
tiate it from that of the Greek Fathers, notwith 
standing their common possession of fundamental 
Christian truths. It moves to a large extent in a 
different realm of ideas, which are attributable to the 
racial and personal conditions of its authors. Our 
Soteriology has been almost exclusively Latin, and 
has grievously suffered from the defects which mark 
the Latin type of mind, as well as the habit of mind 
belonging to a particular profession. The limitations 
attending this derivation of our thoughts of redemp 
tion are no discredit in themselves ; but they need to 
1 A. Sabatier, The Doctrine of the Atonement, p. 199. 


be remembered and to qualify our estimate of the 
final product of the Latin influence. They must 
themselves be tested before we can determine whether 
the theories of Thomas Aquinas or of the disciples of 
the Reformers are Catholic and Scriptural. When 
we note that, under that influence, the later thought 
got farther and farther away from the figures and 
analogies of Scripture, and became more and more 
juristic and speculative and abstract and transcen 
dental, our suspicions are awakened that the theology 
of Latin Christianity is not to be trusted as having 
developed along lines which make practicable a 
satisfactory explanation of the Atonement. 

The principles applied so well by Canon Mozley to 
the understanding of Old Testament characters must 
be combined with the canon of Dr. Strauss, in order 
to form a true judgment of the Cur Deus Homo and 
its place and value in the development of the doctrine 
concerning the work of Christ. This treatise is 
selected for special study, first, because, having been 
published in 1098, it stands midway in the history of 
thought upon this subject, which began early in the 
third century ; and secondly, because it is central to 
the historical inquiry. It is contrasted with the 
patristic teaching from which it is not derived, and 
with the Reformation theory to which it contributed 
the leading idea. It marks the turning-point at 
which the legal and external and purely logical and 


objective conception of God s relation to us displaced 
the personal and organic and biological, after which 
the theology of the Atonement takes an entirely 
novel direction. While it has had little force or 
acceptance in itself as a consistent theory, it has 
largely moulded Western thought through its most 
significant word. Its influence cannot be underes 
timated even by those who have departed most widely 
from its thought ; while those who still hold to its 
root-idea naturally esteem it of capital import. The 
Catholic Encyclopaedia says : " It may be said, indeed, 
that this book marks an epoch in theological literature 
and doctrinal development."" - 1 And it is thus appre 
ciated by an earnest advocate of the common Protes 
tant position : " The Cur Deus Homo is the truest 
and greatest book on the Atonement that has ever 
been written." 2 

In order to make the ensuing study intelligible, it 
is necessary to indicate in the briefest way the three 
great stages in the movement of speculation. In the 

1 Art. "Atonement," II. 56. 

2 Dr. James Denney, The Atonement and the Modern Mind, 
p. 116. Abbe Riviere gives far more space to Anselm than to 
any other author, thus indicating his sense of the importance of 
the treatise (Le Dogme de la Redemption, pp. 291-324). On the 
other hand, Canon Moberly, while admitting its "importance 
as the first formal attempt to philosophise the whole subject," 
regards it as a conspicuous failure : * nothing could be more 
simply arithmetical, or more essentially unreal " (Atonement and 
Personality, pp. 367, 370, 371). 


patristic period, the death of Christ was conceived 
as a ransom paid to the devil, as with Origen, or as 
a fulfilment of the law of holiness, as with Athanasius, 
with his rich, sympathetic insight into the mysticism 
of St. Paul. With Anselm, it was a satisfaction 
rendered to the honour and the justice of God. With 
the Reformers, it was also a satisfaction, but passive, 
penal, substitutionary, and in this form it has re 
mained the dogma of traditional orthodoxy to the 
present time. It is found in its least objectionable 
expression in the chief Anglican authors, and Bishop 
Pearson may be quoted as an example : " We all had 
sinned, and so offended the justice of God, and by an 
act of that justice the sentence of death passed upon 
us ; it was necessary therefore that Christ our surety 
should die, to satisfy the justice of God, both for that 
iniquity, as the propitiation for our sins, and for that 
penalty, as He which was to bear our griefs. God 
was offended with us, and He must die who was to 
reconcile Him to us." 1 

To those who have never known any other mode 
of describing the work of Christ, it will seem un 
settling and perilous to challenge it. But it may be 
historically demonstrated that it is not Catholic 
doctrine, and that it is only "imagined orthodoxy," 

1 Exposition of the Creed, Art. iv. ; see also Hooker, Laws of 
Ecclesiastical Polity, bk. iv. c. v. ; Butler, Analogy of Religion, 
pt. ii. c. v. 


a mere "provincialism in Christian theology. 1 1 Its 
late rise is felt bv the modern thinker to be proof 
positive that it cannot be inherent in the Christian 
revelation, since it is in the highest degree unlikely 
that the Church should have to wait a full millennium 
before its first utterance. A recent writer says : 
" But when a dogma is presented as a first principle 
of Christianity, and is affirmed to be a plain and 
explicit doctrine of Scripture, if not an absolutely 
self-evident truth, the fact that it was first articulated 
by a Schoolman of the twelfth century is at least 
a presumptive argument against its claims. 1 * 2 Simi 
larly, one of the pioneers in the critical reaction 
against the Reformation theory said in 1860 : " I 
may appeal to this fact of its being modern as an 
argument that, even if true, it cannot be essential; 
and that they to whom it presents insuperable diffi 
culties, they who fail to find it in Scripture, and they 
who feel too uncertain about it to adopt it, are not, 
therefore, to be pronounced heretical, or regarded as 
strangers to that vital and central truth of redemption 
by the blood of Christ which may be dearer to them 
than their lives." 3 

The dogma, which seems so harmless and even 
comforting to those who have not thought about 

1 Dr. George B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation, 
p. 252. 

2 T. Vincent Tymms, The Christian Idea of Atonement, p. 38. 
8 Francis Garden, in Tracts for Priests and People, I. 129 sq. 


what it involves, has been a serious obstacle to the 
faith of many. In its crudest form, as preached by 
the Salvation Army, it revolts the conscience ; the 
highest consciousness of our time finds it morally 
impossible. Yet to most Christians it has been pre 
sented as the very marrow of the Gospel ; and even 
when modified and refined, it has come to seem too 
unreal and paradoxical for acceptance, and many of 
them are forced into an apparent rejection of Divine 
revelation. The harm that has been wrought by the 
hard, remorseless processes of cold and passionless in 
tellect is incalculable. It is believed therefore to be 
a useful apologetic to recover the truth of Atonement 
from conceptions that are misleading and dishonouring 
and inhibitive to faith. It may at least clear the way 
for a simpler and more Scriptural expression of the 
redemptive work of Christ. 

We must discover, then, the connection of Anselnrfs 
theory with the Soteriology of the Fathers, whether 
by affinity or by contrast ; we must seek in the 
patristic ideas for any possible antecedents and anti 
cipations of it. We must trace its genesis from the 
principles and practices of the centuries iipthfljliately 
preceding its composition. We must indiXte its 
effect upon subsequent thought, especially during the 
Reformation, and finally the reaction against it in 
our own day. This reaction will be seen to have 
made its way through painful experiences of dis- 


illusionment to comparative peace, to readiness for a 
new construction of thought by means of the modern 
understanding of ethics and personality ; which will 
probably, after all, be found to be a return to primi 
tive Greek conceptions of Christ as the express 
image of the Father and the mystical Sponsor and 
Representative of men. 





THERE is no necessity for a complete statement 
of the doctrine of the Fathers. It will suffice to point 
out those details in which their point of view is differ 
ent from Anselm s, and those in which they have 
been supposed to anticipate him. Mr. J. J. Lias 
divides the writers in the early Church concerning 
our Lord s redemptive work into two classes: those 
who explained it wrongly, and those who did not 
explain it at all. 1 The first is represented by those 
who interpreted it as a ransom paid to the devil; 
the second by the Apostolic Fathers, and others in 
the patristic period who did not discuss the meaning 
and reason of the death of Christ. 

It is universally confessed that the Fathers gener 
ally were not concerned with what we should now 
call the philosophy of the Atonement. Many of 
them never in any form raised the question, How 
did Christ redeem us ? They accepted the fact, but 
evidently had no clear, coherent theory of the process, 

1 The Atonement, p. 66. 


and no notion that any such theory was in any wise 
necessary. Its absence from the creeds, except in 
the simple expressions, "who for us men and for our 
salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate 
by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made 
man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius 
Pilate; He suffered and was buried, and the third 
day He rose again," proves that they could not have 
regarded any explanation of it as essential to ortho 
doxy, or as the corner-stone of the Christian faith. 
Its omission by the Apologists, and the fact that no 
council formulated any statement of Atonement, also 
indicate that the Church of the first seven centuries 
believed the question of the modus of Redemption 
to be infinitely less vital than it has been regarded by 
the churches of the Reformation. 

The patristic controversies were Christological and 
anthropological; nevertheless, Soteriology occupied 
the minds of the best of the Fathers, so distinctly and 
intelligently, that their common mode of explanation 
must be considered to unite them in a class addi 
tional to those mentioned by Mr. Lias. They ex 
plained the Redemption by the Incarnation, in direct 
antithesis to theologians of more recent times; that 
is, they made the Incarnation primary and the Re 
demption secondary. 1 Their theology dealt with the 

1 Dr. Littledale in The Atonement: A Clerical Symposium, 
pp. 7, 8. 


Nature of God and the Person of Christ. Dr. George 
P. Fisher says that they gave themselves so intently 
to the questions relating to the Divinity of Christ, 
because the significance of His saving work was 
inseparably involved in them. 1 But they did not 
separate the Person from the work, as was afterwards 
done; on the contrary, some of them made the two 
practically identical. "The quite subordinate place 
allotted to the Atonement," which Dr. Fisher re 
marks as such a striking phenomenon, is really due 
to their definite conviction that, in essence, the Incar 
nation was itself the Atonement. 

Some spoke as though the very assumption of 
human nature rescued man from corruption. But, 
as a rule, the death of Christ was included, as bound 
up with the idea and purpose of the Incarnation. 
The death was not expressed as the end for which 
"the Word was made flesh." The Incarnation was 
not reduced to a mere means to that end; for 
it was sometimes intimated that God would have 
become incarnate, even if there had been no sin. 
The death, however, was looked upon as the neces 
sary and effective means of our rescue from the 
bondage of corruption, and the resurrection as the 
condition of our participation in the divine life. 
Sometimes, salvation through the historic Christ 
was made equivalent to a divine revelation, ac- 
1 History of Christian Doctrine, p. 161. 


cessible to all. Again, the Incarnation was treated 
as the predestined mode of perfecting our nature 
and bringing us into full communion with God. 
Further, it was held that Christ renewed us by 
mystical union with Himself, and that the "deifica 
tion" of humanity was consequent upon the Incar 
nation of Deity. 

So that, although the period of the Fathers was 
not an age of dogma upon this particular subject, it 
is manifest that there was an attempt to explain the 
Atonement by the Incarnation. Dr. Shedd laments 
the absence of exact and logical formulation of this 
doctrine by the Fathers: that they present "no 
scientific construction" of it, that they "attempted 
no rationale of the dogma" ; that they made no refer 
ence to "the judicial reasons and grounds of the 
death" of our Lord. 1 This simply means that he 
does not find the scholastic theory in the Fathers 
which is quite true; but it also indicates the happy 
distinction between their theology and that introduced 
by Anselm and continued by the Reformers. We 
shall find in them nothing of satisfaction, active or 
passive, nothing of real appeasement of the Father s 
wrath (except in the Latins), nothing of substitu- 
tionary suffering, nothing of the imputation of our 
sins or of Christ s merits, nothing of justice as the 
characteristic attribute of God s nature, nothing 
1 History of Christian Doctrine, II. 204, 207, 211. 


legal or metaphysical or artificial in the description 
of Christ s work. 1 


The immediate successors of the Apostles confine 
themselves to the language of Scripture, without 
exegesis or theorising. Some apply passages of the 
Old Testament to the death of Christ ; as the scarlet 
thread of Rahab, Psalm xxii., and Isaiah liii. Some 
make large use of sacrificial language, finding in 
Christ the fulfilment of the types in the Jewish ritual. 2 
Others again use analogies of a rhetorical or pictorial 
kind, to describe the effect of the Saviour s work 
upon us. Their frequent references to the cross have 
been interpreted as indicating the ground of our for-^ j 
giveness ; but they seem rather to express the means, y 

The Didache has no mention of a saving work of 
Christ, more than of "the knowledge and faith and 
immortality made known" through Him (10). Her- 
mas alludes to it only in connection with His whole 

1 H. N. Oxenham, The Catholic Doctrine of Atonement, pp. 
128, 129. 

2 It cannot be assumed that these sacrifices connote expia 
tion. Says Dr. A. A. Hodge (Schaff-Herzog, Art. "Atonement") : 
"It is certain that, more or less clearly, they always held the 
doctrine of expiation and satisfaction subsequently held by the 
whole church." His references show merely that they employed 
Scriptural phrases, and nothing can be less certain than Dr. Hodge s 


activity. 1 Clement of Rome says that "the blood of 
Christ . . . having been shed for our salvation, has 
conferred upon the whole world the grace of repent 
ance." 2 He says again: "On account of the love 
He bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord has given His 
blood for us by the will of God ; His flesh for [vtrep] 
our flesh, and His soul for [virep] our souls " (xlix). 
But his main thought is ethical, chapter xvi. being a 
description of Christ as an example of humility, the 
whole of Isaiah liii. and parts of Psalm xxii. being 
quoted in illustration. He has no doctrinal explana 
tion of the death of Christ, referring to it simply as 
"the constraining motive to gratitude, reverence, and 
self-sacrifice." 3 

Barnabas regards the death of Christ as the fulfil 
ment of prophecy: "The prophets prophesied con- 
cerning Him. ... It was necessary that He should 
suffer on the tree " (Ep. v). He also says: "The 
Son of God could not have suffered except for our 
sakes " (vii) ; but he dwells especially on the analogy 
of the Levitical sacrifices, applying the figures of 

1 Pastor, iii. Simil. v. 

2 / ad Cor., vii. Lightfoot reads " vwr/veyKev, offered. " 
The alternative reading, iirjveyicev, has the meaning given in 
the text; although Canon Moberly prefers "won" or "rescued" 
for either reading (Atonement and Personality, p. 326). The 
translation in T. and T. Clark s Ante-Nicene Christian Library 
evidently agrees with Lightfoot, rendering, "has set before 
(I. 12). 

8 J. S. Lidgett, The Spiritual Principle of the Atonement, p. 41. 


the scape-goat and the red heifer as types. There 
is no attempt beyond this to enter into the reasons 
for Christ s sacrifice. 

Ignatius frequently speaks of the sufferings and 
death of Christ "for our sakes," 1 but connects them 
specifically with forgiveness in but one passage in the 
traditional formula: "the flesh of our Saviour Jesus 
Christ, which suffered for our sins." 2 He dwells 
upon the manifestation of love in Christ s Passion, 
which has the life-giving power of making us like 
Him : "be ye renewed ... in love, that is, the blood 
of Jesus Christ." 3 But, above all, he thinks of the 
personality of Christ as the nourishment of the soul : 
"I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the 
bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, . . . 
and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, 
which is incorruptible love and eternal life." 4 The 
symbol and means of this nourishment are the 
Eucharist, which he declares to be "the flesh of our 
Saviour Jesus Christ." 5 

The beautiful Epistle to Diognetus, which Dr. 
Fisher calls "the pearl of the Apologetic literature," 
is much more explicit in its reference to the Atone 
ment than other writings of this period. It contains 

Ad Smyrn., ii ; ad Polyc., iii ; ad Magn., ix ; ad Troll., ii. 
Ad Smyrn., vii. 
Ad Troll., viii. 
Ad Rom., vii. 
Ad Smyrn., vii. 


some striking and unusual expressions, which have 
been interpreted as conveying the later idea of sub 
stitution. The author speaks of "punishment im 
pending," of Christ as a "ransom for us," of His 
taking the burden of our iniquities, of His covering 
our sins by His righteousness; and exclaims: "O 
sweet exchange ! O benefits surpassing all expecta 
tion ! that the wickedness of many should be covered 
by the One righteous, and the righteousness of the 
One should justify many unrighteous!" (ix). Dr. 
Stevens asserts that this means "a transfer of our 
iniquities to Christ and of His righteousness to us." 
If so, it is certainly astonishing that it should have 
found so little response in the subsequent discussion, 
or indeed for many centuries thereafter. But it 
seems extremely unlikely that it means anything of 
the sort, however familiar the language may sound. 
The allusions to "punishment and death" as the 
"reward" of our wickedness, and to the covering of 
our sins, are Scriptural enough ; the latter being the 
Hebraism rendered in our version of the Old Testa 
ment by "make atonement for." The whole con 
nection shows that it is a reminiscence of St. Paul in 
the Epistle to the Romans: "For what else could 
cover (or, make atonement for) our sins but His 
righteousness ? In whom could we wicked and un 
godly men be justified, save in the Son of God alone ?" 
1 Op. cit., p. 137. 


The expressions, \vrpov virep and dvra\\ayri, cannot 
be made to do service for the idea of substitution . The 
Biblical words must stand or fall with their Biblical 
use; VTrep means only "in behalf of," and \vrpov is 
constantly used for "the condition upon which a 
thing is granted." The "exchange," in a Calvinistic 
statement of the Atonement, would have meant an 
exchange of place, a transfer of merit and demerit. 
But here it manifestly means the exchange of right 
eousness for wickedness, of justification for condem 
nation, an exchange of situation in the sinner him 
self brought about by the love of the Father who gave 
His own Son for us and by the righteousness of the 
Son who willingly offered Himself. The entire 
chapter is very eloquent, and is clearly rhetorical and 
devotional rather than dogmatic. 1 

The Epistle bases redemption, not upon God s 
need of reconciliation, but upon His clemency and 
kindness. "As a king sends his son, who is also a 
king, so sent He Him ; as God He sent Him ; as to 
men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him; as 

1 Archdeacon Norris understands the "exchange" to be the 
inspiring fact that God became man in order that we might become 
the children of God (Rudiments of Theology, p. 273). Abbe J. 
Riviere interprets the Epistle as saying that the holiness of Christ 
is the "compensation necessaire et efficace de nos fautes," and 
calls this " le grand pr.ncipe paulinien de la substitution du Christ 
a 1 humanite coupablc" (Le Dogrnc de la Redemption, p. 111). But 
these ideas belong to later ages, and may not be attributed to this 


persuading, not as forcing ; for mere force belongeth 
not to God. He sent Him as calling, not persecuting ; 
as loving us, not as judging us" (vii). The whole 
atmosphere is vitally different from that of the legal 
theory of retributive justice and vicarious satisfaction. 
Dr. Shedd claims, however, that the latter idea 
"is distinctly enunciated by the Apostolic Fathers." 
But again He says: they " merely repeated the Scrip 
ture phraseology which contained the truth, . . . 
but did not enunciate it in the exact and guarded 
statements of a scientific formula." * "Taken as a 
whole, the body of patristic theology exhibits but an 
imperfect theoretic comprehension of the most fun 
damental truth in the Christian system." 2 Now, no 
inference can be built upon the connection of forgive 
ness with Christ s death in the very language of the 
Scriptures; for that simply remands the inquiry to 
what the Scriptures themselves mean, and it is a too 
common tendency to read later theories into the New 
Testament writers. The abundant references to the 
sufferings and death of Christ are quite indeterminate. 
These earliest writers stop with attributing the fa 
miliar valuation to them, but they attempt to give 
no reason for their saving efficacy. The slight similar 
ity of a few expressions to later formulations cannot 
be regarded as in any way characteristic in an age of 

1 Op. tit., II. 265, 211, 264. 
8 Ibid., p. 212. 


"simple affirmations." Neander says of this period : 
"Of a satisfaction paid by the sufferings of Christ to 
the Divine justice not the slightest mention is as yet 
to be found." l A French author quoted by Riviere 
speaks of "the power of platitude or dullness suited 
to the epoch of the Apostolic Fathers." 2 All these 
candid admissions by very conservative writers are a 
sufficient answer to the assertion that any theory of 
satisfaction, Anselmic or Reformation, can be found 
in the Apostolic Fathers. 


The conception of redemption during the second 
and third centuries was partly ethical, as the obedi 
ence of the new law and the entrance by faith into 
eternal life through a true knowledge of God ; it was 
partly idealistic and mystical, as the change wrought 
in human nature by the Incarnation. The Fathers 
of this period made little of the guilt of sin, but much 
of its spiritual effects. The absence from them of 
fear of the Divine displeasure and of the need of its 
placation is remarkable, considering how universal 
these ideas were among the pagans. In direct an 
tithesis to Anselm and the moderns, they do not deal 
with the objective effect of Christ s work upon God. 

1 Church History, II. 385. 
3 Op. tit., p. 105. 


a. Justin Martyr (ob. 164?). 

Dr. Fisher says: "It is the Incarnation rather 
than the Atonement that interests him." This is 
true, but he saw a redeeming and reconciling ef 
ficacy in the Incarnation, in and of itself. E. g. : 
"Corruption then becoming inherent in nature, it was 
necessary that He who wished to save should be one 
who destroyed the efficient cause of corruption. And 
this could not otherwise be done than by the life 
which is according to nature being united to that 
which had received the corruption, and so destroying 
the corruption, while preserving as immortal for the 
future that which had received it. It was therefore 
necessary that the Word should become possessed of 
a body, that He might deliver us from the death of 
natural corruption." 2 He sometimes speaks as 
though we were saved by the teaching of Christ. 
"Becoming man according to His will, He taught us 
these things for the conversion and restoration of 
the human race." 3 In the Dialogue with Trypho, 
he describes his studies in philosophy with the 
Peripatetics, the Stoics, the Pythagoreans, the Pla- 

1 Op. cit., p. 66. 

3 Fragment in Vol. II., Ante-Nicene Library, T. and T. Clark, 
p. 358. 

3 ApoL, I. xxiii. "It is the teaching of Christ which holds the 
central place in Justin s thoughts" (Fisher, op. cit., p. 62). 


tonists, and then narrates his conversion to Christ, 
by means of which he learned things which Plato and 
the others never knew. Hence, Christianity was to 
him the divinely revealed philosophy: "I found 
this philosophy alone to be safe and profitable. Thus, 
and for this reason, I am a philosopher" (viii). 
Redemption, to him, therefore, was the result of 
perfect revelation. Irenseus quotes him as saying 
in his lost work against Marcion: "summing up His 
own handiwork in Himself." 1 This is the recapitu- 
latio, which was so radical in Irenseus s own exposi 
tion of the Atonement, and which represents Justin s 
special emphasis upon the Incarnation. 

Yet he also speaks of "the bloody passion of 
Christ on the cross." 2 He refers many times in the 
Apologies and the Dialogue to the death as the 
necessary preliminary to the resurrection (as in 
Apol. y I. Ixiii) ; but Professor Harnack says that he 
"nowhere gives any indication of seeing in the death - 
of Christ more than the mystery of the Old Testa- 
ment, and the confirmation of its trustworthiness." 
This is evident when any attempt is made to draw 
modern inferences from his language. He says : "The 
Father of all wished His Christ for the whole human 
family to take upon Him the curses of all" (Dial., 

1 Adv. Haer., iv. 6, 2. 

8 Ante-Nicene Library, II. 357. 

3 History of Dogma, I. 220. 


xcv). But he specifically denies that any "curse lies 
on the Christ of God" (xciv); he speaks of "the 
seeming curse" (xc), and, "as if He were accursed" 
(xcv). He even says: "Our suffering and crucified 
Christ was not under the curse of the law" (cxi), and 
holds with Tertullian that the curse was laid on Him 
by men (xcv). The "curses of all" which Christ 
took upon Him, then, must refer to the evils incident 
to man s sinful condition, and means no more than 
the equivalent expression which Justin uses in the 
following sentence: "He suffered these things in 
behalf of the human family." The redemption was 
by means of Christ s identification with the sufferings 
of the race on account of sin. 

Neander says: "In Justin Martyr may be recog 
nised the idea of a satisfaction rendered by Christ 
through suffering at least lying at the bottom, if 
it is not clearly unfolded and held fast in the form of 
conscious thought." 1 This is one of those instances 
of reading into an author ideas which belong to a 
much later age, from the assumption that what is now 
regarded as orthodox must have been held by the 
primitive writers. We look in vain for any trace of 
satisfaction, or even expiation, which must have 

1 Church History, I. 642. Similarly Riviere: "Nous avons 
la deja 1 idee de substitution, qui sera si feconde dans la tradition 
posterieure" (Le Dogme, etc., p. 115). But Riviere admits that we 
are cursed for our sins; Justin regarded the curse on Christ as 
having been laid on Him by men. 


been found in the Dialogue if he had accepted it as 
Christian doctrine. 1 

b. IrencBus (ob. 202). 

Dr. Lindsay says, in his article on Irenseus in the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica: "It is difficult to state 
with any precision what Irenseus holds about the 
nature of the effect of Christ s work of reconciliation 
upon man. He makes great use of metaphor, and 
evidently had not learned to express himself other 
wise. The doctrine is still in its pictorial state in his 
mind. Still, traces appear of that tendency after 
wards common in the Greek Church to make the 
Incarnation rather than the crucifixion and ascension 
of our Lord the most important part of His work, 
and to look upon the effect of that work as a trans 
fusion of the Incarnation through redeemed human 
ity" (XIII. 274). It may be said, however, that 
amid the variety of his figures may be discerned a 
consistent adherence to this root-thought which he 
derived from Justin. 

Occasionally, he seems to fall to a lower level. 
"Propitiating God for men, . . . that exiled man 
might go forth from condemnation." 2 "Propitiating 

1 Riviere admits of Justin, as of his predecessors: "Pour en 
expliquer la vertu, il n y a pas encore de theorie propriement dite" 
(p. 115). 

2 Adv. Haer., iv. 8, 2. 


for us the Father against whom we had sinned, 
and cancelling [consolatus] our disobedience by His 
own obedience; conferring also upon us the gift of 
communion with, and subjection to, our Maker." * 
Yet, as Dr. Fisher admits, this is not dwelt upon or 
definitely worked out (p. 86); and in any case he 
makes the central and reparative element in the 
work of Christ to consist in His obedience, which he 
illustrates by the temptation (v. 21, 2). On the other 
hand, in answer to the question, "Why did the 
Saviour descend into the world ?" he says that it was 
to give the knowledge of the truth; that is, He is 
Redeemer as Teacher, which we have already found 
in Clement and Justin (ii. 14, 7). 

He views the saving work as completed in the 
passion and death. 2 But elsewhere he makes Christ s 
body and blood the means of our redemption, be 
cause they were the means of communion between 
God and man. "If the Lord became incarnate for 
any other order of things, and took flesh of any other 
substance, He has not then summed up human 
nature in His own person, nor in that case can He be 
termed flesh. ... He had Himself, therefore, flesh 
and blood, recapitulating in Himself not a certain 
other, but that original handiwork of the Father, 

1 Adv. Haer. t v. 17, 1. See also iii. 18; xvii. 1. 

2 Ibid., ii. 20, 3; iii. 16, 9: "who did by suffering reconcile us 
to God." 


seeking out that thing which had perished. And for 
this cause the apostle, in the Epistle to the Colossians, 
says, ... Ye have been reconciled in the body of 
His flesh, because the righteous flesh has reconciled 
that flesh which was being kept under bondage in sin, 
and brought it into friendship with God. . . . For 
that thing is reconciled which had formerly been in 
enmity. Now, if the Lord had taken flesh from 
another substance, He would not, by so doing, have 
reconciled that one to God which had been inimical 
through transgression. But now, by means of com 
munion with Himself, the Lord has reconciled man to 
God the Father, in reconciling us to Himself by the 
body of His own flesh, and redeeming us by His own 
blood. . . . And in every epistle the apostle plainly 
testifies, that through the flesh of our Lord, and 
through His blood, we have been saved " (v. 14, 2, 3). 
Thus, he distinctly lays stress upon the Incarnation 
itself as the Atonement, by its manifestation of God 
and man actually at one in Christ, and by its resto 
ration of communion between man and God. In this 
connection, we have the first expression of the idea, 
so often repeated in the Greek Fathers: "Our Lord 
Jesus Christ became what we are, that He might 
bring us to be even what He is Himself." This may 
be regarded as a fundamental Greek thought, more 

1 Adv. Haer., v, preface ; also, iv. 6,2: " He was made that 
which we are, that He might make us completely what He is." 


fully developed than any other; so that to most of 
those Fathers the essence of the Atonement lay in 
the Incarnation itself. With Irenseus, this is not a 
mere inference; it is expressed in so many words: 
"the Lord has restored us into friendship through 
His Incarnation, having become the Mediator be 
tween God and men" (that is, the medium of com 
munication). 1 

It may be said that Irenseus s characteristic word 
is the one he borrowed from Justin, "recapitulatio, 
am/<:e(/)aA,a/ft)cri?," which he also calls "the adoption." 2 
It was to him thoroughly realistic, and seemed to be 
warranted by St. Paul: "that He might sum up in 
one all things in Christ" (Eph. i. 10). Sin was sep 
aration from God (v. 27, 2) ; what was lost in Adam 
was the image and likeness of God (iii. 18, 1) ; so 
that Riviere is right in making the word include 
both "resume" and " restauration " (p. 120). Christ 
saved men by identification with them; "attaching 

1 Adv. Haer., \. 17, 1. See iii. 18, 7: "For it was incumbent 
upon the Mediator between God and men, by His relationship to 
both, to bring both to friendship and concord, and present man 
to God, while He revealed God to man." 

2 Ibid., iii. 16, 3 and 6; 18, 1 and 7; 21, 10; 23, 1 ; iv. 38, 1 ; 
v. 14, 2; 16, 2; 18, 3; 19, 1; 20, 2; 21, 1, 2. See also Hilary 
(De Trin., ii. 24): "He did it that by His incarnation he might 
take to Himself from the Virgin the fleshly nature, and that 
through this commingling there might come into being a hallowed 
Body of all humanity, that so through that Body which He was 
pleased to assume all mankind might be hid in Him, and He in 
return, through His unseen existence, be reproduced in all." 


man to God by His own Incarnation" (ii. 20, 3). 
"By His birth as man" He reunites things unnatu 
rally separated, and "first and alone realises the 
hitherto unaccomplished destination of humanity." 
Dr. Dorner says that "the idea of substitution is com 
mon to all the Fathers," and then quotes Irenseus 
on recapitulation to prove it. 2 But that is the very 
antipodes of substitution, which is equivalent to 
putting Christ in the place of others, whereas Irenseus 
thought of His solidarity with them by His mystical 
reception of them into His Divine Person. 3 

Irenaeus also says that Christ gave Himself as a 
redemptio or ransom : 4 although he never represents 
this as paid to the devil. 5 He says further: "There 
fore by His own blood the Lord redeemed us, giving 
His soul for [vTrep] our souls, and His flesh for [avr i\ 
our flesh" (v. 1, I). 6 It has been frequently asserted 
that, while he may not have explicitly stated that the 
ransom was paid to the devil, "the early hints of this 
theory are to be found in his writings." 7 There can 

1 Harnack, op. cit., II. 238-242. 

2 System of Christian Doctrine, IV. 8 ; italics his. 

3 "Nous sommes solidaires du second Adam comme nous 
1 etions du premier solidaires jusqu a 1 id entite"( Riviere, p. 123). 
"In the second Adam we were reconciled, we being made obedient 
even unto death" (Adv. Haer., v. 16, 3). 

4 Probably \vrpov in the lost original. 

6 Contra Harnack, II. 290. 

AVTI is probably the preposition of price, 

7 A. V. G. Allen, Christian Institutions, p. 358. 



be no doubt that Satan was from this time very con 
spicuous in patristic thought, and that deliverance 
from the fear of him was the practical import of the 
ensuing doctrine. But it was Origen who first for 
mulated this unfortunate theory. 1 Irenseus held that 
men were God s debtors, unjustly kept in captivity 
by Satan, although their having yielded themselves 
to him made it unfair for them to be rescued by the 
mere exercise of Divine power. This is vitally dif 
ferent from Origen s recognition of the devil s right 
ful claim. Moreover, the only two passages referred 
to in proof of the derivation from Irenseus are Adv. 
Hacr., v. 1, 1 and v. 21, 3; and neither of them will 
bear out the contention. 

The crucial passage is the former, especially in 
the sentence: "The Word of God . . . dealt justly 
even with the apostasy itself, redeeming from it His 
own property, not by violent means, . . . but by 
means of persuasion, as became a God persuading 
and not using violence to obtain what lie desires." 2 
The question is, to whom does "persuasion" (sua- 
dela) refer, to the devil or man ? Many apply it to 
the devil, as though God recognised certain rights 

1 Harnack, III. 307; Norris, Rudiments of Theology, p. 279. 

2 "Non cum vi, . . . sed secundum suadelam, quemad- 
modum decebat Deum suadentem, et non vim inferentem, accipere 
quae vellet." Translated : " as became a God of counsel, who does 
not use violent means to obtain" (Ante-Nicene Library, IX. 56); 
and: "as became God, by persuasion rather than by violence 
regaining what He sought" (Norris, op. cit., p. 276). 


of the "apostasy," notwithstanding the fact that it 
had originally gained its mastery over us by violence 
and "tyrannised over us unjustly"; among these 
are Baur and Neander. 1 F. Huidekoper contrasts 
the injustice of the apostate in acquiring his mastery 
over us with the just behaviour of "the Word" even 
to the apostate, in redeeming His own, "not by force, 
but by persuasion and as became a Divine Being, 
persuading him without violence to accept what he 
wished." 2 Mr. Oxenham understands by "persua 
sion," "a method which convinced Satan his rights 
were at an end " ; and translates : "as it became God 
to receive what He willed by persuasion and not by 
force" (p. 132). 3 

The language, however, is susceptible of a different 
rendering. Dr. Shedd gives the substance thus: 
"Mankind did not apostatise through compulsion, 
but by persuasion (suadendo) ; consequently their 
redemption must take the same course." 4 Arch 
deacon Norris also applies it to man, and says its 
meaning is "that Christ obliged the tyrant to surren- 
der his captives not by violence, but by inducing 
those captives to forsake him." 6 Dr. Tymms inter- 

1 F. C. Baur, Die Christliche Lehre von der Versohnung, p. 28; 
A. Neander, History of Christian Dogmas, I. 212. 

3 Christ s Mission to the Underworld, p. 90. 

1 Also, apparently, Simon, The Redemption of Man, p. 11. 

4 Hist. Christ. Doctrine, II. 222. 
8 Op. cit., pp. 274-279. 


prets that Satan had no rights over us, but a forcible 
snatching of man from his grasp would not be a real 
redemption. Our rescue, therefore, is by the per 
suasive power of Christ s death, whereby we are in 
duced to forsake voluntarily the service of the Evil 
One, so reversing the process by which we came into 
bondage. 1 

It has been happily suggested that Irenaeus was 
simply repeating the familiar expression of the Epistle 
to Diognetus : "o>? aw^wv eTrefjnfrev, co? nreiOwv^ ov j3ia- 
foyLteyo?." 2 The twenty-first chapter of this same fifth 
book, "Against Heresies," seems to render the above 
conclusion certain. "The apostate angel of God 
is ... vanquished by the Son of man keeping the com 
mandment of God" (v. 21,3); and Section 2 applies 
this, not to the passion, but to the temptation, wherein 
Satan tried to persuade our Lord as he had previously 
enticed man. Neither in the temptation nor in any 
other relation did Christ try to persuade the devil. 
On the contrary, "the Word bound him securely as 
a runaway slave, and made spoil of his goods. . . . 
And justly is he led captive" (Ibid.). Our Lord s 

1 T. Vincent Tymms, op. cit., p. 24. A similar view is taken 
by Dorner, Gieseler, and Hagenbach (see I. 83) ; Young, The 
Life and Light of Men, p. 438 ; Fisher, Hist. Christ. Doct., p. 17 ; 
Harnack (cf. II. 290 and III. 307) ; Allen (Christ. Instil., p. 357, 
note) ; Lidgett, The Spiritual Principle of the Atonement, p. 431 ; 
Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation, p. 139. 

2 In fact, Dorner uses this very passage to refute Bnur. 


relation to the devil was one of conquest ; the moral 
suasion was addressed to man. The influence of 
His death was on mankind, not on the devil ; so that 
the idea to that extent is one of moral influence. The 
concession of the devil s claim was in reality a Gnostic 
heresy; and Baur applies "suadela" to Satan, be 
cause he supposes that Irenseus had substituted the 
devil for the Demiurge. But few will believe that the 
opponent of the Gnostics should have differed from 
them only nominally on this point. 1 

c. Clement of Alexandria (ob. circa 216) 

This Father alludes to several New Testament 
figures, but lays no emphasis upon them by working 
them out. He also quotes without explanation : "He 
is the propitiation for our sins, as St. John says." 
Some of his expressions suggest the traditional 
language of later times. Thus he makes Jesus say 
to the Christian soul, "I have fully paid for thy death 
which thou didst owe for thy sins" ; and he recounts 

1 The proofs adduced for the hints of Origen s theory in 
Irenseus are wholly inadequate, and are obtained by separating 
the first chapter of the Fifth Book from all the rest of the argument. 
In any case, a method a 1 - "persuasion" is radically different from 
one of literal " ransom," whether actual or deceptive ; the only 
point of contact would be the recognition of Satan s rights over 
man. As the theory had undoubted recognition for over eight 
hund"ed years, it is only a question of criticism whether Ireneeus 
should be freed from any sympathy with it. 

3 Paed., iii. 12. 


the legend of St. John saying to the chief of the 
brigands: "I will render account to Christ for thee; 
if need be, I will voluntarily suffer thy death, as 
Christ suffered death for us; I will give my life in 
exchange for thine." 1 This no doubt speaks of a 
proposed substitutionary endurance of penalty; but 
it refers to following the spirit of Christ, not to a 
precise similarity of the two acts, and is so purely 
incidental that it cannot be quoted as evidence 
of a definite anticipation of the later vicarious 

He devotes the eighth chapter of the First Book of 
The Pedagogue or Instructor to the truth, so often 
forgotten afterward, and particularly by Anselm, that 
justice and love are identical. His essential thought 
was the indwelling God, and the natural alliance of 
humanity with God. Hence, the readjustment, 
made necessary by sin, is brought about by the 
knowledge of the truth concerning God. The whole 
treatise shows that he looked upon forgiveness, not 
as the remission of penalty, but as the cure of igno 
rance which is the cause of sin. 2 The very title ex 
hibits Christ as the incarnation of truth, and Chris 
tianity as the revealed philosophy, following Justin ; 

1 Quis dives salvetur, 23, 49; P. G., IX. col. 628, 649. When 
a translation is inaccessible, references are given to Migne s 

"It is for him a revelation rather than a restoration" (Crutt- 
well, The Literary History of Early Christianity, II. 455). 


and in a fragment on the First Epistle of St. John he 
makes the blood of Christ equivalent to His doctrine. 1 
Christ s death was an example of beneficial martyr 
dom, " in imitation of whom the apostles . . . suf 
fered for the churches which they founded." 2 He 
went a step farther than Irenseus, and said that 
Christ "became man in order that thou mayest learn 
from Man, how man becomes God." 3 His point of 
view is therefore as distant as possible from that of 
the theory of Anselm. 

d. Origen (ob. 253) 

As the first great dogmatist, Origen was naturally 
"the first to attempt a philosophy of the Atonement." 4 
He sympathised with Clement s conception of Christ s 
work as an illumination, and with other phases of 
his thought. 5 He spoke of Christ s suffering on our 
account in this wise : "Who bore our sins and infirm 
ities, because He was able to pay for (or loose, \vaaC) 

1 P. G., IX. col. 735. 
8 Stromateis, iv. cap. ix. 

3 Protrep., i. 8. The idea of the deification of our nature by 
the Incarnation is frequently found in the writers of this period. 
C/. Hippolytus: "ytyovas yap 6efc . . . 8ri efleoTrou^s, ddditaros 
yei>vr)6eis" (Pkilosoph., x. 33, 34; P. G., XVI. col. 34,30-34.54 ter). 

4 C. Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, p. 210. 

8 "If we inquire for the work of Christ, we find the dominant 
thought to be, that Christ was physician, teacher, lawgiver, and 
example" (Reinhold Seeberg, Text-Book of the History of Doctrines, 
I. 153). 


the sin of the whole world received into Himself, and 
to consume and destroy it." 1 Again he says: "It 
is clear that he actually suffered punishment"; but 
this is only to prove that the sufferings were actually 
"painful and distressing." 2 Dr. Harnack says that 
he "propounded views as to the value of salvation 
and as to the significance of Christ s death on the 
cross, with a variety and detail rivalled by no theo 
logian before him." 3 But his real originality lay in 
his combination of propitiation and literal ransom, 
of the expiatory sacrifice with the Marcionite notion 
of a payment to the devil. The introduction of these 
two elements into Christian theology has been rightly 
characterised as "of epoch-making importance." 4 
Not only are they mutually exclusive as parts of a 
theory, but Origen is not consistent in his doctrine 
of sacrifice. A death that is offered to the devil in 
payment of his claim cannot be at the same time an 
offering to God of a piacular sacrifice. Then, Dr. 
Bigg emphasises the fact that Origen "held the sac 
rifice of Christ to have consisted not of His Body but 
of His Soul," 5 and He could not have offered His 
Soul to the devil ; although Origen escapes this dif 
ficulty by making the offer insincere and fraudulent. 

1 In Johann., xxviii. 14; P. G., XIV. col. 720. 

2 Contra Cels., ii. 23. 
8 II. 367, note. 

4 Ibid., III. 308. 

5 Op. cit., p. 222 ; see P. G., XIII. col. 1397 ; Harnack, III. 307. 


Moreover, he taught that the value of the sacrifice 
lay in its purity and voluntariness. And yet, com 
menting upon Rom. iii. 25, he approximates the 
heathen modes of thought so notably absent from 
St. Paul, when he says that the Apostle "adds some 
thing more sublime, and declares that God set Him 
forth a propitiation, by which, indeed, He would 
make God propitious to men by the offering of His 
own Body"; and again: "The true High Priest, 
He hath made God propitious to thee by His Blood." 1 
There can be no doubt that this feature of the Atone 
ment was in his mind with several others, but un 
digested and inharmonious. 

The Christian idea of sacrifice is a transfigura 
tion of the lower idea contained in Judaism ; but the 
pagan connotations were wonderfully absent even 
from the Septuagint translation of the Old Testa 
ment. In Origen, however, we find the pagan thought 
of expiation still surviving, just as we find Gnosti 
cism intruding into his interpretation of ransom. Dr. 
Harnack thinks that he also regarded sacrifice as, in 
the strict sense, vicarious; but the two passages 
which he cites from Contra Celsum can by no means 
be accepted as proof-texts (II. 367). The only sen 
tence that is pertinent in vii. 17 has nothing whatever 

1 In Rom., iii. 8; P. G., XIV. col. 946. Horn, in Lev., ix. 10; 
P. G., XII. col. 523; see also col. 755. See Charles Hodge, Syst. 
Theol, II. 566; Bigg, 211; Hagenbach, I. 186; Riviere, p. 138. 


to do with what we understand by substitution. 
"There is nothing absurd in a man having died, and 
in his death being not only an example of death 
endured for the sake of piety, but also the first blow in 
the conflict which is to overthrow the power of that 
evil spirit the devil." And in i. 31, his saying that 
"this is analogous to the case of those who have died 
for their country in order to remove pestilence, or 
barrenness, or tempests," suggests the modern dis 
tinction between vicarious and substitutionary the 
one describing a fact of common experience, the 
other a figment of theological metaphysics. 1 Too 
much importance may therefore be attached to single 
expressions of this unsystematic author. Riviere says 
of this: "If we demand the final reason of this 
mysterious and indispensable substitution ( ?), Origen 
does not give it to us ; he does not dream of disclos 
ing to us the indefeasible exigencies of the Divine 
justice. We see that the bottom of the mystery is 
not reached, and that Origen, on the whole, perceives 
only the exterior face of it. ... Origen often speaks 
of sacrifice and of victim ; he fails to investigate the 
moral realities which these words conceal " (pp. 138, 
141). Dr. Shedd recognises that his fundamental 
principles are so "incompatible with the doctrine of 

1 See also his explanation of Is. liii. 3 by I Cor. iv 13, making 
our Lord s suffering of the same kind, but of a higher degree 
(Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, I. 185). 


a satisfaction of Divine justice," or "of Christ s 
expiation," "that we are compelled to give these 
passages a modified meaning." l 

His theory of Christ as our Ransom is a misinter 
pretation of a metaphor. It was natural that the 
figure should be liberalised into rigid fact, owing to 
the familiar custom of ransoming captives taken by 
brigands or in war. 2 As soon as the question was 
asked, to whom was the payment made ? the only 
possible answers were Origen s and Anselm s. 3 The 
theory that the ransom was paid to the devil was, of 
course, not invented by him, but borrowed from 
Marcion. He was the first, however, to give status 
and currency to the idea that the devil had a rightful 
claim upon us, which could not justly be overlooked. 
He says : "If therefore we were bought with a price, 
... we were bought doubtless from some one whose 
slaves we were, and who demanded such a price as 
he pleased for the release of those whom he held. It 
was the devil, however, who held us, to whom we 
had been allotted (or into whose power we had been 

1 Op. cit., II. 236 sq. 

* "Here all that is metaphor and illustration in St. Paul seems 
to be regarded as hard scientific statement" (J. H. Wilson, The 
Gospel of the Atonement, p. 67). 

3 It is remarkable that the Biblical conception of a redemption 
by war and victory should have been so completely lost. See 
especially the uses of Xvrpovv in LXX. Here also is the first in 
trusion of the commercial idea, and also of the weakness of a 
Redeemer who was compelled to pay, and could not conquer. 


dragged) by our sins. He therefore demanded as 
our price the blood of Christ." l He also adopted 
from the Basilidians the disgraceful addition of God s 
intentional deception of the devil. Nothing could 
show better than this the low moral ideals of the age 
in which the theory was framed. He says: "To 
whom did [Christ] give His soul as a ransom for 
many ? Not, of course, to God. Was it then to the 
Evil One? [Certainly,] for he held us in his power 
until the soul of Jesus should be given him as our 
ransom, he being deceived by the supposition that he 
could hold it in subjection, and not perceiving that 
it must be retained at the cost of torture which he 
could not endure." 2 It may be noted that avra\- 
\a<y/jLa, has no meaning if the price was not really 
paid ; which makes this ransom very different from 
the substitution taught by the Reformers. 

The Divine bargain and deception are alike 
mythological and dualistic. This thought was not 
made so prominent as afterwards in Gregory of 
Nyssa. But the general theory prevailed, with but 

1 In Rom., lib. ii. 13, opp. 4; quoted in F. Huidekoper, Christ s 
Mission to the Underworld, p. 88. He also quotes the following 
description of the price: "The soul of the Son of man was given as 
our ransom ; but not His spirit, for He had already committed that 
to His Father, saying, Father, into Thy hands I commend my 
spirit ; nor yet His body, for we nowhere find any such thing 
written of Him." Cf. Bigg, op. tit., p. 222 : Oxenham, Cath. Doct. 
of At., pp. 136, 137. 

2 Op. cit., p. 91 ; P. G., XIII. col. 1397. 


few protests, until it was overthrown by Anselm. 1 
The significance of this fact must be remarked, 
because the payment of Satan s claim is wholly in 
consistent with a payment to justice or a satisfaction 
of the demands of God. 

While the period of the Post-Apostolic Fathers 
gave rise to a theory of ransom, which was more or less 
prevalent for a thousand years, it cannot be said to 
have contained any distinct germs of the later dog 
matic teaching. The problem of redemption was 
studied with little attention by the writers preceding 
Athanasius, probably because the questions involved 
had not yet become the subject of controversy. 2 
Their emphasis was upon the Incarnation. 3 "The 
Incarnation itself, the union of the Divine and human 
natures, was the great saving act. Christ redeems 
us by what He is, not by what He does." This, 
which is Dr. Hodge s description of the mystical 
theory of the Middle Ages, is involved in Justin s 

1 See references in Sabatier, The Atonement, pp. 66, 145. 

3 "Le probleme de la Redemption est partiellement louche a 
propos d autres questions; il n est pas encore aborde pour lui- 
meme" (Riviere, p. 142). "En un mot, les historiens les plus 
catholiques n hesitent pas a le reconnaitre, les Peres se sont 
souvent contentes sur la Redemption de vucs fragmentaires et, 
pour tout dire, superficielles : ils n ont jamais fait de cette doctrine 
1 objet special de leurs recherches" (Ibid., p. 101). 

3 " To them it was not the Atonement, but the Incarnation, 
which was the centre of Christian faith as of Christian life" 
(Oxenham, p. 166). 


and Irenseus s idea of Christ s recapitulation of the 
race in Himself, and is more than once asserted in so 
many words by the latter. 1 The point of view is so 
distant from the idea of a satisfaction of justice that 
Dr. Shedd expresses the contrast thus strongly, as 
an adherent of the satisfaction theory : "Only a very 
defective and erroneous conception of this cardinal 
truth of Christianity is to be found in the Alexandrian 
Soteriology." 2 


The Greek Fathers of this period generally con 
ceived of sin as a disease or corruption of human 
nature, which was cured by Christ s incorporation 
of mankind in Himself. This was a continuation of 
the thought of the preceding century. They are 
especially distinguished by their different views of 
the meaning of "ransom." Some laid stress on the 
indemnification of the rights of the devil, while 
Athanasius most nearly approached the Scriptural 
conception of ransom as a condition of our redemp- 
v/ tion, which he considered to be the fulfilment of the 
requirement of the Divine consistency. The ruling 
idea of the Atonement was the restoration of human- 

1 Chas. Hodge, Systematic Theology, II. 585. Among modern 
authors, Archdeacon Wilson frankly accepts this interpretation 
of the Atonement (Gospel of the Atonement, p. 88). 

2 Hist. Doct., n. 237. 


ity to a Divine life. There was an increasing use of 
expressions which have become familiar to us in the 
later theology ; but it will appear that they are usu 
ally charged with a quite different significance. 

a. Eusebius of Ccesarea (ob. 340) 

Some of the phrases of this writer were unusual. 
In the Demonstratio Evangelica (lib. x), he speaks of 
the Lamb of God as punished for us, and as paying 
a penalty; l also, of "attributing to Him the sins of 
us all" ; 2 and he constantly uses such common 
words as avrtyvxpv and avrfavrpov, which are 
interpreted together with the others referred to as 
clearly substitutionary. 3 

All such single words, however, must be condi 
tioned by the author s fuller exposition of his thought. 
Taken by themselves, they might seem to suggest 
penal substitution. But they must be taken in con 
nection with the universal Greek idea of Christ s 
identification with our humanity. Eusebius attrib 
utes the sufferings of Christ, not to the Father, but 

1 KO\CL(rdeis Kal Tipupiav VTTOVXUV; P. G., XXII. col. 724. He 
also says : " /cat /J.OVQS avrbv TCHS irciffLv evfj,evrj u tXewf irapx wv (Ibid., 
col. 280). "Rendering the Father propitious," is an intrusion of 
a heathen notion. 

2 tiriy papas , Ibid., col. 89. 

8 Similar language is quoted by Riviere from Theodore of 
Heraclea (p. 165). It undoubtedly contributed to the support of 
literal substitution, when that thought was finally entertained. 


to "those wicked men and powers of darkness"; 
and he thus expounds Christ s relation to us: "The 
Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world 
hath become a curse for us ; whom, though He knew 
not sin, God made sin on our behalf, giving Him for 
all of us, His life for our life" (avrl^v^ov). Mani 
festly we have here no theory of substitution or impu 
tation, but St. Paul s conception of mystical union ; for 
he goes on to say : " But how does He appropriate our 
sins, and how is He said to bear our iniquities, unless 
it be by virtue of our being called His Body even 
as the Apostle says, Ye are His Body, and members 
in particular ? And, as, when one member suffers, 
all the members suffer with it, so when the many 
members suffer and sin, He, too, Himself suffers, ac 
cording to the relations of sympathy in which He 
stands to us. Since He was pleased, being the Word 
of God, to take the form of a servant, and join Him 
self to us by tabernacling in our common nature, 
He gathers up into Himself the sorrows of the suffer 
ing members, and makes His own our sicknesses, 
and suffers pain and sorrow for us all, according to 
the laws of His lovingkindness to man." 

b. Athanasius (ob. 373) 

The treatise De Incarnatione has been called "the 
first attempt that had been made to present Chris- 
1 P. G., XXII. col. 724. 


tianity under a scientific aspect." 1 This indicates 
its importance in connection with the doctrine of the 
Person of Christ; but, with reference to the Atone 
ment, it is not the first theoretic statement, and it oc 
cupies a far nobler point of view than that of Origen. 
"The relation of the work of Christ to Satan retires 
into the background." 2 The author is definitely en 
gaged with Anselm s inquiry, Why did Christ be 
come man ? but he answers it in a very different way. 
The indwelling Logos is the natural representative 
of humanity, because He reveals a vital kinship or 
relation between God and man. His mere presence 
in a human body was "the essential factor in our 
restoration." The Incarnation itself restored to 
humanity the Divine image. "He, the incorruptible 
Son of God, being conjoined with all by a like nature, 
naturally clothed all with incorruption, by the prom 
ise of the resurrection." 3 "For the coming [pres 
ence] of the Saviour in the flesh has been the ransom 
and salvation of all creation." * "For the union was 
of this kind, that He might unite what is man by 
nature to Him who is in the nature of the Godhead, 
and his salvation and deification might be sure." 5 

Dictionary of Christian Biography, I. 181. 
Fisher, Hist. Christ. Doct., p. 162. 
De Inc., 9. 2, 3. 
Ep. ad Adelph., 6. 

Contra Ar., ii. 70. See Hilary, De Trin., ii. 24. On these say 
ings Riviere remarks from the traditional standpoint : " On n est 



Athanasius seems to make the Incarnation depend 
ent on man s sin: "For the need of man preceded 
His becoming man, apart from which He had not */ 
put on flesh." * He repeats the well-known patristic 
audacity, by which again he makes the Incarnation 
itself the Atonement, and the work of salvation to 
consist in our deification: "He was made man that 
we might be made God." 2 

He presents also the Pauline conception of union 
with the Head, by which a new principle of life is 
imparted, thus making the relationship between 
Redeemer and redeemed vital and organic; which 
is equivalent to the recapitulation of the whole race 
in Himself. 3 The cross was not central with Him, 
except as the means of death, by which Christ entered 

pas eloigne de croire que la condition arrive a se confondre avec 
la cause efficiente" (p. 148). 

1 Contra Ar., ii. 54 ; iii. 34. 

a 6eoTTOL-r]9Q/^ev, De Inc., 54; and many times in the Let 
ters and Discourses against the Arians, especially in this peculiar 
form: "the flesh being no longer earthly, but being henceforth 
made Word, by reason of God s Word who for our sake became 
flesh" (iii. 33). See Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV. p. 
386, note 1. Cf. also Gregory Nazianzen: "until He made me 
God by the power of His Incarnation" (Oral., xxx. 14 ; also, xl. 45 ; 
but see xlii. 17) ; Gregory Nyssen: "He was transfused through 
out our nature, in order that our nature might by this transfusion 
of the Divine become itself divine" (Catech. Magn., xxv) : Basil 
(P. G., XXX. col. 834) ; Chrysostom (Horn, in I Tim. xi) : John 
Damasc. (De Fide Orth., iii. 17) ; Hippolytus (P. G., XVI. ter in 
col. 3450-3454) ; Augustin (De Trin., iv. 1 and 2; Serm., cxix. 5; 
cxxi. 5 ; cxcii. 1 ; cxciv. 3) . 

3 Contra Ar., ii. 21, 69. See also Justin and Irenseus. 


completely into the human condition. God could 
have undone the curse by the word of pardon; "but 
we must consider what was expedient for mankind." * 
That is, the difficulty was not on the side of God, but 
of man ; which is the direct contrary of the principle 
of the penal theory. 

Dr. Harnack intimates that Athanasius, together 
with Origen, "approximates to the idea of a vicari 
ous suffering of punishment" (III. 308). This is 
indeed clear enough, if we keep in mind the difference 
between his idea and the substitutionary penalty 
which is generally understood by those words. He 
says that Christ died avrl Trdvrwv (instead of all, 
or as a price for all; Inc., 8. 4; 9. 1) ; that He 
offered His Body for the life of all, or as a ransom 
for all (avTi fyvxov, 9. 2); that "He put away death 
by the offering of an equivalent" (Trpocrfyopa rov 
Kara\\r }\ov, 9. 1). But the whole argument, 
which will presently be summarised, shows that 
this is intended to express sacramental union, 
not substitution; that is, the precise opposite of 
what a modern writer would mean by those terms. 
Athanasius does not hold that Christ died in our 
place, but that the law of corruption was repealed 
because we all died in Him (Inc., 8). He asserts 
also that Christ died with us, and so rescued us from 

1 Confra Ar., ii. 21, 67, 68; De Inc., 7; see also Gregory 
Nazianzen, Orat., 9; Augustin, De Trin., xiii. 10. 


the continuance of death ; the modern would mean 
that Christ suffered instead of us that we may not 
suffer. Christ s death was not substituted for ours, 
since His redeemed all die, and hence He did not die 
physically and literally in our stead. 1 Nor did He 
suffer any other penalty than other men suffer in 
dying; since the only other penalty referred to by 
Athanasius is the abiding for ever in corruption, and, 
even in our stead, such an experience would have 
been impossible to Him. 

On the other hand, His death was vicarious, in 
our stead, in the sense that, if He had not died, we 
should have been held under the sentence of corrup 
tion. That is, man was sentenced to die, and he 
must and does die, and Christ does not save him 
from that; but He does save him from the continu 
ance of the law of corruption, in life and after death, 
by incorporating humanity with Himself, by our 
participation in His immortality. He illustrates by 
a king dwelling in one of the houses of a large city, 
and thus giving to the whole city high honour, so 
that no enemy may descend upon it and subject it. 

1 Athanasius represents Christ s sufferings as confined to 
temporal death ; the penalty for sin extending far beyond physical 
death is removed by the power of Christ s resurrection. The very 
essence of the later statement is wanting in him; he nowhere 
speaks as though our Lord sustained the Father s wrath or under 
went the worst part of the penalty of sin the perdition of the 
spiritual nature. 


"So has it been with the Monarch of all. For now 
that He has . . . taken up His abode in one body 
among His peers, henceforth the whole conspiracy of 
the enemy against mankind is checked, and the cor 
ruption of death which before was prevailing against 
them is done away. For the race of men had gone to 
ruin, had not the Lord and Saviour of all, the Son of 
God, come among us to put an end to death." 1 

But Dr. Hagenbach says that we find in Atha- 
nasius the premises of the later theory of Anselm 
(I. 348). And Dean Stanley avers that he introduced 
the idea of satisfaction, though incidentally and sub- 
ordinately. 2 Moreover, there are single words and 
expressions which, taken out of their connection, 
would appear to indorse this judgment. He speaks 
of "fulfilling the obligation in His death" (eVX^pou TO 
o$>eC\,ofji(-vov, 9. 2) ; using the Scriptural figure of debt 
in a sense different from that of Anselm. The word 
is frequently repeated : "For there was need of death, 
and death must needs be suffered on behalf of all, 
that the debt owing from all might be paid." 3 He 

1 De Inc., 9. 4. For the justification of the above statements, 
see the ensuing analysis of the argument of Athanasius. See also 
Contra Ar., i. 41, 47-49; ii. 60-70; iv. 6, 7. 

2 Eastern Church, p. 350. 

8 De Inc., 20. 2,. 5. See also Contra Ar., ii. 66: "paying the 
debt in our stead" (av9 i)/j.u>v, which makes us doubt whether 
o.vrL could have had the rigid significance of "instead of"). 
Riviere says: "Ces deux aspects de la question [le desordre meta- 
physique du pch and les consequences pratiques} ne laissent pas 


speaks of God s consistency ; l and Oxenham quotes 
the following from the doubtful treatise, In Passione 
et Cruce Domini: "Seeing the impossibility of our 
paying an equivalent penalty, He took it on Him 
self" (p. 145). 

Let us, however, consider what Athanasius really 
says. This is the substance of his argument in sec 
tions 3-10. The love of God is the source of our 
redemption (3. 1-3). He graciously warned man of 
the result of transgression, and death came as the 
penalty of disobedience (3. 4). "But by dying ye 
shall die/ what else could be meant but not dying 
merely, but also abiding ever in the corruption of 
death" (3. 5). As God created man for incorruption, 
the same Word by whom man was created became 
Incarnate in order to fulfil that purpose, notwith 
standing sin and its penalty (Sections 4 and 5). All 
sinners then are subject to death, according to the 
law. "Death having gained upon men, and corrup 
tion abiding upon them, the race of man was perish 
ing. . . . For death, as I said above, gained from 
that time forth a legal hold upon us, and it was im 
possible to evade the law" (6. 1, 2). Here arises a 

que d introduire quelque flotteraent pour ne pas dire ur 
reelle incoherence dans son systeme" ; and calls his explanations 
"rapides et superficielles " (p. 151). This is an acknowledgment 
that the later ideas are not really found in Athanasius. 

1 TO Trpos rbv debv eti\oyov, 7. 1, 3; translated, "the just claim 
of God" in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV. 


dilemma between God s veracity and His goodness : 
it were monstrous and unseemly that either should 
fail. It would be monstrous for Him to threaten 
and not to punish : that would prove Him false and 
be a relaxation of His law, and His holy law must be 
fulfilled and the penalty paid. But it would be un 
seemly that His children "should go to ruin, and turn 
again toward non-existence by the way of corruption. 
For it were not worthy of God s goodness that the 
things He had made should waste away, because of 
the deceit practised on men by the devil. ... It 
was then out of the question to leave men to the cur 
rent of corruption" (6. 3-10). 

He cannot let things take their course; His love 
demands the rescue of the sinner. But how shall 
that be made compatible with "what is reasonable 
with respect to God" ? * "What possible course was 
God to take?" To demand repentance "fails to 
guard God s consistency," since He would be "none 
the more true, if men did not remain in the grasp of 
death"; and, secondly, it would not rescue them 
from corruption, for "it merely stays them from acts 
of sin" (7. 1-3). Only the Word can recall men to 
the image of God, Who originally created them in 
it. "His it was to bring back the corruptible to in- 
corruption, and to maintain intact the consistency 
of the Father [i. e., with respect to His laws] in behalf 
1 See Dr. Robertson s translation in preceding note. 


of all." He alone was "able to recreate everything, 
and worthy to suffer on behalf of all, and to be the 
ambassador for all with the Father" (7. 4, 5). 

But why should He become Incarnate ? In order 
that, as man, He might undergo man s sentence of 
death, and so fulfil the law and sustain its constancy 
(8). 1 Since "no otherwise could the corruption of 
men be undone save by death as a necessary condi 
tion," the Word "to this end takes to Himself a body 
capable of death, that it, by partaking of the Word 
Who is above all, might be worthy to die in the stead 
of all, and might, because of the Word which was 
come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that 
thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the 
grace of the resurrection. 2 Whence, by offering unto 
death the body He Himself had taken, as an off ei ing 
and sacrifice free from any stain, straightway He put 
away death from all His peers by the offering of an 
equivalent," and "fulfilled the obligation" of the 
law (or, "paid the debt," eVXifcou TO o^aXo^ezvoz;). 
"Conjoined with all by a like nature," He "naturally 
clothed all with incorruption, by the promise of the 
resurrection. For the actual corruption in death has 
no longer holding-ground against men, by reason of 
the Word, which by His one body has come to dwell 

1 See also, 25. 2. 

2 Note that the resurrection is the proof that corruption had 
lost its sway, because His body was incorruptible, and He was one 
with man. 


among them" (see also 10. 5). Then follows the 
illustration of the king (Section 9). 

His conclusion is : Death must still be endured, 
but it has wholly changed its aspect. "Now that the 
common Saviour of all has died on our behalf, we no 
longer die the death as before, agreeably to the warn 
ing of the law; for this condemnation has ceased; 
but, corruption ceasing and being put away by the 
grace of the resurrection, henceforth we are only dis 
solved, agreeably to our bodies mortal nature, at 
the time God has fixed for each, that we may be able 
to gain a better resurrection. For like the seeds 
which are cast into the earth, we do not perish by 
dissolution, but sown in the earth, shall rise again, 
death having been brought to nought by the grace of 
the Saviour" (21. 1, 2). 1 

Now, does this statement contain the premises of 
any theory of satisfaction ? The debt spoken of by 
Athanasius is an obligation resting upon humanity 
as a whole, on account of sin, and hence every man 
must pay it, and Christ pays it with us, in order that 
corruption may not issue in permanent death. 2 
Nothing more than this can be meant by Athanasius 

1 The summary has been made full, because it is such a beauti 
ful and wholesome exposition of this doctrine, as compared with 
many theories of later ages. 

3 Here it must be noted that sin is treated chiefly under the 
category of disease, and not only as debt; the objective was the 
recreation of man by Him who had created him. 


however different it would sound in Luther or 
Calvin in Contra Ar., ii. 66 : <( di>0 i^vv rrjv o^et- 
\r)i, ttTToStSou?." The translator of Athanasius, Dr. 
Robertson, frankly admits that "of the forensic view 
he is indeed almost clear. His reference to the debt 
(/near., 20; Oral., ii. 66) which had to be paid is 
connected not so much with the Anselmic idea of a 
satisfaction due, as with the fact that death was by 
the divine word (Gen. iii) attached to sin as its 
penalty" (Prolegom., p. Ixx). The only satisfaction 
he thought of was a fulfilment of the law of holiness. 
The coincidence with Anselm is verbal, not substan 
tial. With Anselm, the debt was owed to God s 
justice; it was wholly cancelled by the obedience of 
Christ, the equivalence or superabundance of whose 
merit arose from the voluntariness of His death. 
With Athanasius, the debt was the just claim of God s 
law ; it was the necessity of death, but not the neces 
sity of abiding in death for ever ; it was paid so far 
as to sustain God s law, but not so as to relieve man 
of its rigorous exaction just as before Christ s death. 
But His death, completing His eWcrt? with humanity 
enabled Him to triumph over death as a continuing 
power, by permitting men to share His immortality ; 
and His ability to do this arose from His being the 
Incarnate Word of God. 1 

1 See an admirable treatment of the whole subject in Norris, 
Rudiments of Theology, pp. 282-293; and Moberly, Atonement 
and Personality, pp. 349-365. 


Dr. Shedd says of the position of Athanasius: 
"This is the strongest possible statement of the doc 
trine of penal satisfaction"; l but this seems to be a 
complete misunderstanding. The figures, which are 
supposed to contain the premises of the later theory, 
are quite incidental, and are not urged as though the 
death of Christ were an equivalent of value that could 
be separated from humanity and substituted for it. 
The sharing of the penalty of sin with mankind is 
really the opposite of penal substitution; it is the 
Pauline and general patristic truth of God s self- 
identification with mankind, the vital renewal of 
humanity by the presence in it of the God-man and 4- 
His oneness with it. It is not an act of one member 
of the race for the rest, not an act external to human 
ity, tyit the act of One in whom humanity is "sum 
med up"; so that the dying and exaltation of Christ 
were corporate and inclusive, were ideally and po 
tentially ours. Here is the point of this Father s 
emphasis, and not upon the idea of a substituted 
punishment whose infinite value satisfied the Divine 
claims upon us. 2 

1 Op. cit., II. 243. It needs to be said that both Shedd and 
Riviere are much given to inserting misleading words and ideas 
that are foreign to the patristic authors whom they purport to 

3 Riviere makes out as good a case as possible for finding 
traces of the traditional view in Athanasius ; yet fairness compels 
him to say: "Mais quand il s agit d expliquer pourquoi ce decret 
inflexible . . . saint Athanase ne s eleve pas jusqu aux saintes 


c. Later Greek Fathers 

Gregory of Nyssa held the Athanasian theory that 
our human nature is deified by its union with the 
Logos, and this deification is completed in the resur 
rection. 1 He also accepted the theory of Origen, 
which was ignored by Athanasius. He not only states 
it clearly, but gives the explanation which Origen 
omitted, and justifies it. "It was by means of a 
certain amount of deceit," he says, "that God car 
ried out this scheme on our behalf. For that not by 
pure Deity alone, but by Deity veiled in human 
nature, God, without the knowledge of His enemy, 
got within the lines of him who had man in his power, 
is in some manner a fraud and a surprise. . 
Whereas he, the enemy, effected his deception for the 
ruin of our nature, He who is at once the just, and 
good, and wise one, used His device of deception for 

exigences de la justice ( ?), il s arrete au point de vue tout exterieur 
de la veracite divine. . . . Athanase ne se preoccupe pas de 
justifier autrement ce point d honneur obstine: c est dire qu il 
effleure a peine le probleme et qu il n en donne qu une solution 
insuffisante, si seulement on peut dire que e en est une." Of the 
"synthese speculative" of Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa, he 
says: "C est dire que leur synthese etait prematuree et sans doute 
mal construite, puisqu elle n embrasse pas tous les elements 
traditionnels. Mais il faut bien avouer aussi que Fidee de la 
Redemption par la croix ne domine pas plus leur esprit que leur 
systeme et que, s ils ne Font pas ignoree, le principal de leur 
attention etait ailleurs" (pp. 151, 159). 
1 Catech. Magna, xxv, xxxii. 


the salvation of him who had perished, and thus not 
only conferred benefit on the lost one, but on him, 
too, who had wrought our ruin." * This coarse and 
repulsive notion is supposed to have been a misin 
terpretation of I Cor. ii. 8: "which none of the 
princes of this world knew; for had they known it, 
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 
The conception of the righteousness of God must 
have suffered a serious degeneration before such an 
idea as this could have had vogue. The method of 
the deceit was the veiling of the Godhead in humanity 
so that the devil was surprised into exacting a penalty 
from One who had not deserved to incur it. 2 But 
this entirely destroys the reality of the ransom, or 
compensation to the devil. If he was himself de 
frauded at the moment of his "unjust overcharge * 
(Leo, Serm., xxii. 4), the price was not paid. Yet Ori- 
gen s word, avrd\\ay/jLa, was insisted upon as a true 
description of Christ s ransom. There was no sensi 
tiveness to the imputation upon the Divine character 
involved in such a transaction, or to the essential 
dualism involved in the justice of Satan s claim upon 
man. The theory, therefore, is logically incoherent, 
and "beset with difficulties, both intellectual and 
moral, of the gravest kind." 3 It involves something 

1 Catech. Magna, xxvi. 

2 J. J. Lias, The Atonement, p. 47. 
8 Oxenham, p. 154. 


of the idea of an equivalent, but nothing in the way 
of a satisfaction. 

In this form, it lasted until the century after 
Anselm, and was accepted by most of the succeeding 
Latin Fathers. Ambrose referred to the incident as 
a "pious fraud." 1 Leo I. said that the Incarnation 
deceived the devil by hiding the power under the 
veil of weakness. Augustin called the cross a "mouse 
trap," 2 in which he was followed by Peter Lombard. 3 
"Isidore of Seville adopted the image of a bird caught 
in a net." * Rufinus and Gregory the Great spoke of 
Christ s human nature as a "bait," and of the devil 
as captured on the hook of the Incarnation, as grasp 
ing after the bait of the body and transfixed by the 
sharp hook of the Divinity. 5 John of Damascus also 
speaks of Christ s Body as a bait transfixed on the 
hook of Divinity, but with reference to death, not to 
the devil. 8 Even Luther seems to have been fasci 
nated by the homiletical advantages of the idea, as he 

1 Harnack, III. 307; Oxenham, p. 147. Also, "Fefellit ergo 
pro nobis, fefellit ut vinceret"; "Oportuit igitur hanc fraudem 
diabolo fieri" (P. L. XV. col. 1553, 1616). 

3 "Ad pretium nostrum tetendit muscipulam crucem suam"; 
"muscipula diaboli" (P. L., XXXVIII. col. 726, 1210). 

3 "Tetendit ei muscipulam crucem suam; posuit ibi, quasi 
escam, sanguinem suum" (P. L., CXC1I. col. 796). 

4 Simon, Redemption of Man, p. 406. 

8 "In hamo ergo ejus Incarnationis captus est, quia, dum in 
illo appetit escam corporis, transfixus est aculeo divmitatis" 
(P. L., LXXVI. col. 680; Hagenbach, I. 346). 

8 De Fide Orthod., iii. 27. 


quotes this language of Gregory with apparent ap 
proval ; although his use of the figure was probably 
rhetorical, while the patristic use corresponded to a 
real conception, at once immoral and grotesque. 1 

There is one striking difference between Gregory 
Nyssen and Athanasius. The latter figured the pres 
ence of God among men as similar to the residence 
of a king in a city. Gregory made humanity j^vine 
by Christ s intermixture with it, not with a human 
individual, but with human nature (Catech. Magna, 

Gregory of Nazianzus indignantly repudiates the 
theory that the devil had any claim upon us, or that 
the precious Blood was offered to him as a ransom. 2 
Nevertheless, he admits the self-deceit of the Evil 
One, which implies something of the nature of an 
artifice on the part of Christ: "Since the deceiver 
thought that he was unconquerable in his malice, 
after he had cheated us with the hope of becoming 
gods, he was himself cheated by God s assumption 
of our nature; so that in attacking Adam as he 
thought, he should really meet with God" (xxxix. 13). 

He suggests, as an alternative theory, that the 
ransom was paid to God, although he puts it tenta- 

1 D. W. Simon, op. cit., p. 406. 

8 "I ask, to whom was this ransom offered, and for what cause ? 
If to the Evil One, fie upon the shameful thought !" (Oral., xlv. 



lively and without entire conviction, and indicates it 
as fitting rather than necessary. 1 "But if it was paid 
to the Father, I ask first, how? For it was not by 
Him that we were being held captive. And next, on 
what principle did the Blood of His only-begotten 
Son please the Father, who would not receive even 
Isaac, when he was being offered by his father, but 
changed the victim, putting a ram in the place of the 
human sacrifice? Is it not evident that the Father 
accepts it, having neither asked for it nor needed it, 
but on account of the dispensation (or economy of 
salvation), and because it was befitting that humanity 
should be sanctified by the humanity of God (or the 
human element in God), that He might deliver us 
Himself, having overcome the tyrant, and draw us 
to Himself through the mediation of His Son, who 
also arranged this (ot /coi o/^Vai/To?) to the honour of 
the Father, whom it is manifest that He obeys in all 
things ?" 2 Accordingly, he did not regard this mode 

1 This representation, under the terms of sacrifice instead of 
ransom, is familiar in many of the Fathers. 

2 OiKovo/j.ia is variously translated ; as, " 1 economie du salut," 
by Riviere and Sabatier; "the government of the universe," 
by Shedd; "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled," by Harnack; 
"on account of the Incarnation," by the translators of Gregory, in 
the Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. VII. Professor Gwatkin says that 
oiKovo/jLia was distinguished from 6eo\oyia, the doctrine of God 
being divided in two parts God in Himself, and God in relation 
to men (The Knowledge of God, II. 280). On "the humanity of 
God" ("du Sauveur," in Riviere, p. 178): "Have we not here 
the germ of the idea, afterwards known as the Scotist, that the 


of redemption as an absolute necessity: as God 
had made all things by His word, He might have 
saved us by His will. 1 As to the effect of the suffer 
ings of Christ, he says that by them "we were all 
without exception created anew, who partake of 
the same Adam, and were led astray by the serpent 
and slain by sin, and are saved by the heavenly 
Adam and brought back by the tree of shame to 
the tree of life from whence we had fallen" (Oral., 
xxxiii. 9). 

He affords a good illustration of the common mis 
take of attributing substitution to the Greek Fathers. 
He says in the Fourth Theological Oration: "He 
makes my disobedience His own as Head of the whole 
body . . . He was in His own person representing 
us ... That He may be as a leaven to the whole 
lump, and by uniting to Himselj that which was 
condemned may release it from all condemnation. 
. . . Until He make me God by the power of His 
Incarnation" (xxx. 5, 21, 14). Although he shrinks 
from fully interpreting the ransom, because the work 
of Christ is transcendent and ineffable, yet he thinks 
one may make mistakes about it with impunity: 

Incarnation was the purpose of God independently of the Fall, 
for the perfecting of humanity; but that the Passion and death 
of the Incarnate God were the direct result of the sin of man?" 
(Note by the translators, ad loc.) 

1 Oral., ix. This was the unanimous opinion of the Fathers 
of the fourth and fifth centuries (Oxenham, p. 149). 



"Philosophise about the world or worlds, about 
matter or soul, . . . about resurrection, retribution, 
or the sufferings of Christ; for in these subjects to 
hit the mark is not useless, and to miss it is free from 
peril * (Orat., xxvii. 9). He was no doubt referring 
to speculations on these subjects; but, as all the 
theories are matters of speculation, he regards them 
as open to discussion, distinguishing between theory 
and fact. 1 

The other Greek Fathers contain very little that 
is additional to what we have already considered. 
Chrysostom used the expression, "How w r ilt thou be 

1 It has been claimed that John of Damascus accepted the 
theory of Gregory Nyssen, in the words: "Since the enemy snares 
man by the hope of Godhead, he himself is snared in turn by the 
screen of flesh, and so are shown at once the goodness and wisdom, 
the justice and might of God. . . . The tyrant would have had a 
ground of complaint, if, after he had overcome man, God should 
have used force against him" (De Fide Orthod., in. 1, 18). But in 
chapter 27 he says: "He makes Himself an offering to the Father 
for our sakes. For we had sinned against Him, and it was meet 
that He should receive the ransom for us, and that we should thus 
be delivered from the condemnation. God forbid that the blood 
of the Lord should be offered to the tyrant"; which certainly is 
much more like Gregory Nazianzen. He evidently means that 
God did not "rescue man out of the hands of the tyrant" by His 
. omnipotence ; but that " He became man in order that that which 
was overcome might overcome." "He wished to reveal fallen man 
himself as conqueror, and became man to restore like with like." 
Chapter 27 contains his real thought. See Shedd, I. 252 ; Hagen- 
bach, II. 41, 42; Oxenham, p. 144; Dale, The Atonement, p. 274; 
Harnack, III. 308: "John of Damascus felt scruples about 
admitting God and the devil to have been partners in a legal 


able to render God propitious to thee ? " l which 
Hooker takes to mean "the very same with the Latin 
Fathers, when they speak of satisfying God." 2 But 
Chrysostom knew nothing of this Latin use of the 
word, which, with perhaps a single exception, was 
long subsequent to him. 3 Dr. Harnack finds in him 
an obscure trace of substitution (III. 309), and refers 
to Homily x. on Rom. v. 17. In that place, he is 
illustrating what St. Paul calls a "superabundance 
of grace," and he says : "As then if any were to cast 
a person who owed ten mites into prison, and not 
the man himself only, but wife and children and ser 
vants for his sake; and another were to come and 
not to pay down the ten mites only, but to give also 
ten thousand talents of gold, and to lead the prisoner 
into the king s courts, and to the throne of the high 
est power, and were to make him partaker of the 
highest honour and every kind of magnificence, the 
creditor would not be able to remember the ten mites ; 
so hath our case been. For Christ hath paid down 
far more than we owe, yea as much more as the illimit 
able ocean is than a little drop." But Harnack ad 
mits that "the idea is emotional, and not the starting- 
point of a philosophical theory. It is different with 

1 Horn. viii. on I Cor. 

8 EccL PoL, bk. vi. c. v. 

* He uses the unscriptural phrases, Kara\\a.y^ Ae<r7r6Tou, and 
oCros KaraXXirydj 0eoD Trpbs avBp&irovs orodjcraTj (P. G., XLIX. 
col. 407, 408). 


the Westerns." l Apart from being a rhetorical 
analogy of the abundance of grace beyond the evil 
of sin, it is apparently a reference to the Athanasian 
thought of Christ s death as paying the debt due to 
the law, and not part of a defined theory of a literal 
payment of debt. It is similar to the statement in 
Horn. v. on Eph. ii. 16: "Might reconcile them both 
in one body, and that His own, unto God. How is 
this effected ? By Himself, he means, suffering the 
due penalty." He also refers to the curse endured 
by Christ, as the substitution of one kind of curse for 
another. "As then both he who hanged on a tree, 
and he who transgresses the law, are cursed, and as 
it was necessary for him who is about to relieve from 
a curse himself to be free from it, but to receive 
another instead of it, therefore Christ took upon Him 
such another, and therefore relieved us from the 
curse. It was like an innocent man s undertaking 
to die for another sentenced to death, and so rescuing 
him from punishment. For Christ took upon Him 
not the curse of transgression, but the other curse, in 
order to remove that of others." 2 

Cyril of Alexandria made a similar statement, not 
affirming that Christ became a curse, but that He 
endured what one burdened with a curse must suffer. 
Dr. Harnack says that he "shows most clearly the 

1 Loc. cit., note. 

a In Gal. iii. 13. See also Horn. xi. on II Cor. v. 21. 


vicarious idea of the passion and death of the God- 
man in connection with the whole Christological 
conception": "Because all human nature was puri 
fied and transfigured really and physically in Christ, 
He could, regarded as an individual, be conceived as 
substitute or avrikurpov ; see Cyril on John i. 29 and 
Gal. iii. 13 (III. 309, note)." He would probably 
refer also to Cyril s repetition of such a phrase as 
el? vTrep Trdvrwv. There is a great difference between 
the Pauline idea of identity or mystical union and the 
Reformation idea of substitution. The Greeks are 
full of the former idea ; but we see how the necessity 
of exhibiting the deification of Christ s human na 
ture in the Christological controversy led more and 
more to language appropriate to a real substitution 
of one person for others who were separate from Him, 
not in union with Him. Riviere calls attention to this 
expression of penal substitution : "We in the person of 
Christ have fully paid (efCTerifcorcov) the penalties due 
to our sins" (p. 197). It certainly contains the penal 
idea, but the wide interval between the Greek and 
the Reformers is shown by the phrase of mystical 
identification, " we in the person of Christ have 
paid." He constantly uses the adjective avrd%io<$ for 
the equivalence of Christ s offering, but it is with 
reference to the exaltation of His Person, and not 
particularly to a theoretic statement upon the Atone 
ment. "Christ would not have been equivalent 


[as a sacrifice] for the whole creation, nor would 
He have sufficed to redeem the world, nor have laid 
down His life by way of a price for it, and poured 
out for us His precious Blood, if He be not really 
the Son, and God of God, but a creature." J Cyril 
may be regarded as evidencing the deterioration in 
thought and language of the Greek Fathers of the 
fifth century. 

The tendency to modes of statement unfamiliar 
to the Scriptures is observable in the preceding cen 
tury, as we have already seen. Basil speaks of our 
Lord offering to God an expiation (ef faao-^a) for us 
all. 2 Cyril of Jerusalem adds that it was more than 
equivalent: "The transgression of sinners was not 
so great as the righteousness of Him who died for 
them ; the sin which we committed was not so great 
as the righteousness which He wrought who laid 
down His life for us." 3 These ideas of equivalence, 
however, were not the same as those to be found in 
the Latin Fathers, and were not worked up as parts 
of a theory of Atonement as they would have been 
in later times. They rather belong to a Christology, 

1 Quoted in Liddon, The Divinity of our Lord, p. 485. 

3 P. G., XXIX. col. 440. 

3 Catechetical Lectures, xiii. 13. "C est, avec les termes tech 
niques en moins ; la premiere affirmation theologique de 1 infinie 
surabondance des satisfactions de 1 Homme-Dieu" (Riviere, p. 
169). It will be observed that the technical term, satisfaction, is 
absent, and it may not be assumed that Cyril meant what was 
afterwards described by it. 


which was chiefly concerned to exalt the supreme 
worth of the Person of Christ. 1 

The deterioration among the later Greek Fathers 
is manifest. By the fifth century, the figure of a debt 
was becoming literalised, the quantitative measure-* 
ment of guilt was becoming familiar, together with 
the necessity for compensation for man s obligations, 
and the consequent treatment of the sacrifice of Christ 
as equivalent to the debt contracted by man, and as 
the endurance of the very penalty merited by man. 
The phraseology grows more open to objection, 
although it may still be interpreted in partial agree 
ment with the earlier conception of a penalty shared 
with man and not borne in his stead. The lowering 
of the ethical tone in such definitions is very clear, 
when they are compared with the noble thought of 
the restoration and deification of our nature by 
Christ s presence in it. The historians of dogma 
seem to think that they are not so real and precise as 
similar representations among the Latins. It may 
even be that by that time the Latins were beginning 
to have some influence upon the ideas of the Greeks, 
although their forms of thought were strikingly dif 
ferent, and they were far beyond the latter in the 
employment of legal categories. Some of the minor 
elements of Anselm s speculation are seen to have 

1 The Oriental liturgies are devoid of the idea of equivalence 
(Dr. Neale, in Allen, Christ. Inst., p. 10). 


been derived from this debasement of the original 
high thinking upon the work of redemption. Among 
these are the penalty of sin considered as a debt 
which did not have to be paid by the debtor (contrary 
to Athanasius), but from which he could be relieved 
by another s payment ; the requirement of compensa 
tion by the sinner or some one better able to render 
it ; the arithmetical rather than qualitative computa 
tion of both debt and payment, and the transcendent 
value of what Christ offered in lieu of the claim upon 
the sinner. Anselm was not directly influenced by 
these Greek theologians, and he parted from them 
absolutely in his omission of the idea of appeasement,* 
and of any penal character in the satisfaction made 
by our Lord. Yet these conceptions, which were 
well-known to him through the later Latin use of 
them, formed the atmosphere in which grew up his 
unique and original interpretation. 

When we compare the earlier and more significant 
Greek theology, we discover an almost complete 
absence of those forms of thought which are funda 
mental to the satisfaction theory, whether of Anselm 
or the Reformers. It furnishes no elements for the 
construction of that theory, in the way of premises 
or antecedents. The apparent points of contact are 
in no instance essential ; even the notion of equiva 
lence referring rather to the adequacy of Christ to 
His work of redemption than to the mere equation 


of debt and payment. In all vital particulars, the 
point of view is antithetic. A sacrifice is offered to 
God ; but, when these Fathers rigidly apply the other 
Scriptural figure of ransom, they represent it as paid 
to the devil. They recognise death as the punish 
ment of sin, a debt which man owes to the law of 
God ; and they conceive Christ to have voluntarily 
shared that punishment, and to have paid that debt. 
But they agree neither with Anselm who made the 
satisfaction of death a substitute for punishment, 
nor with the Reformers who regarded the sufferings 
and death as a literal penalty visited upon Christ. 
Nor do they imagine Him to have paid the debt in 
our stead; on the contrary, they admit that every 
one of us has to pay it, and He simply shared our 
lot and paid it with us the continuance in death 
not being a necessary part of the obligation. So far 
from considering the Redeemer as One who per 
formed a work as a substitute for ourselves, they 
dwell upon His mystical recapitulation and incor 
poration of all humanity in Himself, so that He was 
not other than man, but all mankind was one with 
Him. We must therefore look elsewhere for the 
origin of the theory propounded in the Cur Deus 

It may be well to supplement these conclusions 
with some admissions by competent critics, as to the 
incidental character of many patristic expressions, and 


their consequent failure to confirm the continuous and 
Catholic authority of the idea of satisfaction. Arch 
bishop Thomson says that "none of these writers 
worked out into a system the doctrine of the substitu- 
tive sacrifice of Christ." 1 On the failure to formu 
late any coherent theory, Professor Harnack says: 
"The inability of theologians to recognise, expose 
and dispute the differences in their divergent con- 
w ceptions is the strongest proof that they were not 
clearly aware of the bearing and weight of their own 
propositions" (III. 310). Riviere says even of the 
eighth century: "In this resume [of John of Da 
mascus] one remarks first and foremost that redemp 
tion does not occupy a distinct place, which proves 
/ that the Greek Church did not discover on this point 
any definite theory, or, in other words, that the the 
ology of the dogma was not yet developed" (p. 206). 
Similarly, Dr. Shedd: "The judicial reasons and 
grounds of this death of the most exalted of persona- 
ages were left to be investigated and exhibited in 
later ages and by other generations of theologians" 
(II. 212). Abbe Riviere is confident that the idea of 
satisfaction is to be found in the patristic writers; 
but he refuses to "torture grammar and good sense 
to ascribe to the Fathers of the Church a word which 
they did not employ, solely to obtain for our dogma 
an illusory identity of formulas" (p. 105). Until 
1 Aids to Faith, p. 346. 


the time of Cyril of Alexandria, the Greek theology 
"groped and fumbled" in dealing with this question 
(p. 201); which, of course, he asserts from the 
point of view of traditional ecclesiastical and Roman 


In coming to the Latin Fathers, we find ourselves 
in an entirely different atmosphere. Many of the 
Greek ideas were of course part of the common stock 
of Eastern and Western Christianity. The West, 
however, never quite appreciated the theological 
spirit of the East. Oriental questions never acquired 
the same interest for the Western mind. To the 
Cappadocians and Alexandrians, the Incarnation 
was a splendid end in itself; to the Latin thinkers, it 
became more and more a means to an end. To the 
Nicene theologian, Christ was supremely significant; 
to the Carthaginians, He was not of cosmic import, 
because man could make satisfaction for his own 
sins, and humanity as a whole was not redeemed. 
The God-man was not a bond uniting God and man, 
manifesting their essential likeness and kinship, but 
a witness of their disunity and a means of creating 
union. "The empire of evil weighed on the spirits 
of those men as a dread reality," 1 so that redemption 
was not the full and inspiring reality that it was to 
1 Lidgett, op. cit., p. 430. 


the Greeks. They laid great stress on the sufferings 
and death of Christ, and were particularly full in 
their comments on Gal. iii. 13. But they treated the 
subject under such limitations, with their ideas of 
personal merit and the efficacy of sacraments, espe 
cially the two earliest of them, that their phraseology 
eventually gave rise to a theory of the Atonement 
which would have been quite congenial to them, but 
which, strangely enough, never entered their minds. 
The Latins, equally with the Greeks, made the 
person and work of Christ central, describing the 
results chiefly in the language of Scripture, but mak 
ing no systematic attempt to define the process. 1 
The contemporary development of the Eucharist 
into an expiatory sacrifice makes the absence of any 
detailed definition of the Atonement all the more 
striking. The three famous Carthaginians did so 
much to give theology a fatal twist, that it is fortunate 
that their attention was not particularly directed to 
this theme; although it must be admitted that Au- 
gustin was far more ethical and evangelical in his 
references than his predecessors. Tertullian and 

1 "En somme, ni les Peres latins ni les Peres grecs n ont traite 
directement le probleme de la Redemption ; ils y ont seulement 
touche en passant, a propos des textes scripturaires ou des verites 
dogmatiques connexes. ... Ils ont beaucoup parle de substitu 
tion ( ?) et de sacrifice, ils en ont affirme le fait ou decrit les effets ; 
ils n en ont pas cherche la nature intime ou la cause derniere. 
Ce progres etait reserve au Moyen Age" (Riviere, pp. 277, 278). 


Cyprian were the contemporaries of Irenseus and 
Origen, although their thought moved generally on 
a very different plane: it would have been most 
unhappy if their logic had been more rigid, and they 
had explicitly applied their penitential theories to the 
sacrifice of Christ. The North African environment 
was so totally different from the Egyptian and East 
ern, that it had the most radical effect upon the Latin 
theology. Yet it is important to realise that its 
Soteriology had no vital relation to Anselm s, which 
was indeed partly derived from their speculations on 
quite another subject, but which was conceived under 
notably different categories. After rehearsing the 
special views of the most prominent Western Fathers 
upon Christ s redeeming work, we shall be still further 
prepared to appreciate the absolute novelty of An 
selm s theory. 

a. Tertullian (ob. c. 220) 

In the treatise Against Marcion, the transcendent 
value of the death of Christ is asserted. "Christ s 
death, wherein lies the whole weight and fruit of the 
Christian name, is denied, although the apostle as 
serts it so strongly as undoubtedly real, making it the 
very foundation of the Gospel, of our salvation, and 
of his own preaching" (iii. 8). The same importance 
is attached to the death in the tract, De Patientia, 3 : 
"For this was the end for which He had come." In 


his Answer to the Jews, he makes much of the Old 
Testament types of the cross, as the means of restor 
ing the lost image of God, particularly all the refer 
ences to "wood" or "the tree." Thus, the bestowal 
of new life is taught from the loss of the axe-head 
while the sons of the prophets were cutting "wood," 
and its recovery through Elisha s casting "wood" 
upon the surface of the water : "What is more mani 
fest than the mystery [sacramento] of this wood . . . 
that what had formerly perished through * the tree 
in Adam should be restored through * the tree in 
Christ? " (xiii). 1 But again, after the unsystematic 
manner of the Fathers, the redemption is virtually 
made the result of Christ s teaching. 2 There is there 
fore nothing upon this subject additional to what 
we have already found in the Greek Fathers of the 
same period of the third century. 

It is, however, the word, "satisfaction," which he 
was the first to employ, that has made him appear to 
anticipate the Cur Deus Homo. 3 The word is purely 
a Latin conception, having no equivalent in Greek; 
and was borrowed from the legal language of Rome. 

1 A similar argument is found in Cur Deus Homo, lib. 1, c. iii., 
sub fine. It may be noted that Tertullian s exposition of Gal. iii. 
13 altogether excludes the idea of Christ s vicarious satisfaction 
(Adv. Praxean, xxix). 

8 Adv. Marc., ii. 27; see Harnack, II. 294. 

8 Dr. Fisher says that he was "the first to make the Latin 
language the vehicle for theology" (op. cii., p. 38). We owe to 
him also Trinitas, Persona, sacramentum, and vitium originis. 


He applies the expression, "satisfacere deo," solely 
to men s repentances, prayers, confessions, and good 
works generally. On which it may be remarked, 
first, that satisfaction by man is the converse of 
Anselm s satisfaction by Christ, and, secondly, that 
it is significant that the idea was first applied to the 
wholly unscriptural and immoral idea of penance. 
He says: "Thus he who, through repentance for 
sins, had begun to make satisfaction to the Lord, 
will, through another repentance of his repentance, 
make satisfaction to the devil." * "At fasts, more 
over, and Stations, no prayer should be made without 
kneeling, and the remaining customary marks of 
humility; for [then] we are not only praying but 
deprecating [wrath], and making satisfaction to God 
our Lord." 2 "Confession is the method of satisfac 
tion"; and: "By confession satisfaction is settled; 
of confession repentance is born ; by repentance God 
is appeased." 3 He believed that good works had a 
legal claim upon God s favour, and "that what a 
man s merits entitled him to from God had a fixed 
and regulated value."* "All this exomologesis 
(utter confession) [does], that it may enhance re- 

1 De poen., 5 ; also, 7, 8, 9, 10. 

8 Deorat., 23; see also de bapt ., 20 ; depudic.,Q. 

De poen., 8, 9. This use of "placare" exhibits the wide 
chasm between the Carthaginian and the best of the Greeks, in 
their understanding of the character of God. 

Harnack, III. 311. 


pentance; may honour God by its fear of the [in 
curred] danger; may, by itself pronouncing against 
the sinner, stand in the stead of God s indignation, 
and by temporal mortification (I will not say frus 
trate, but) discharge eternal punishments." 1 He 
uses the very words, merit and desert, thus determin 
ing an unethical quality in the moral theology of the 
Latin Church, and in the Soteriology which was 
founded upon the idea of satisfaction. "Or how will 
there be many mansions in our Father s house, if 
not to accord with a variety of deserts?" 2 Yet he 
once uses the cautious phrase, "so far as we can 
merit" (De poen., 6). Undoubtedly, these concep 
tions were the first contribution to the idea of a 
"treasury of merit," which was to prove so profit 
able to the Church of the Middle Ages. 

As a lawyer and a Latin, he was led to contem 
plate all moral relations from the legal standpoint, 
and it would have been natural for him to describe 
the relation of Christ to our salvation in juridical 
terms. He introduced the forensic conceptions which 
afterwards governed Western theology, and thus 

1 De poen., 9. 

2 Scorp., 6. See also, "meritum fidei" (De oral., 2); "merita 
cujusque" (Ibid., 4); "merita poenitentiae" (De poen., 2); also, 
the verbs, "merer!" and "promereri deum" ; as, "the catechumen 
covets to merit it," i. e., baptism (De poen., 6), and the expressions, 
"I shall stand with credit," "I shall deserve" (Scarp., 10). For 
other illustrations, see Harnack, III. 294; V. 19, 20. 


prepared the way for the mediaeval theory of Atone 
ment. It is remarkable, however, that he never re 
ferred to the work of Christ as a satisfaction. That 
he did not is the strongest possible witness that he 
did not reflect upon the objective character of the 
redemption, and that any theory of Christ s satis 
faction was unknown to the Church of the third 
century. 1 It is evident indeed that he could not have 
made this application of merits and satisfaction to 
Christ, because he infers from our Lord s parable 
that sin is a debt which must be either paid or re 
mitted and it is remitted. 2 Moreover, he makes 
repentance "the price of pardon," release from 
penalty being the "compensatory exchange of re 
pentance." 3 

Manifestly, his idea of satisfaction is not only 
different from the later theory, but it is incompatible 
with it. 4 Nevertheless, his use of satisfaction is a 
mischievous superstition, which had most disastrous 
results. The unethical and legal categories which he 

1 Riviere says positively: "Tertullien n a pas applique cette 
idee a la mediation de Jesus-Christ" (p. 215). Vide Harnack, V. 
16. The apparent contradiction in the translation of Harnack 
(cf. II. 294, note, and III. 310, where he first seems to deny, and 
then to assert, that Tertullian spoke of Christ as satisfying God) 
is due to a misunderstanding of " der Christ." The sentence on the 
latter page, beginning, "Christ required to be obedient," should 
read: "The Christian," etc. 

2 De orat., 7 ; de pudicit., 2. 
8 De poen., 6. 

4 Hagenbach, I. 180; Lidgett, op. cit., p. 428. 


introduced afterwards dominated Western thought. 
The repellent extreme of their use in the Middle Ages 
and since the Reformation may be traced back to 
the fact that the first great Latin Father was a lawyer. 1 
His influence was directly felt upon Cyprian, who 
always spoke of him as "Master." 

b. Cyprian (ob. 258) 

This student of Tertullian also is said by Dr. 
Norris to have been a lawyer, though he is generally 
referred to as a teacher of rhetoric. 2 At any rate, 
he held the same juristic ideas as his predecessor, 
and developed them much further. The expressions, 
"satisfacere deo," and the still more gross, "placare 
deum," occur very frequently. He speaks of "the 
satisfaction and deprecation of God s anger." 
"The Lord must be appeased by our atonement"; 
"we believe that the merits of martyrs and the works 
of the righteous are of great avail with the Judge." 
"The remedies for propitiating God are given in the 
words of God Himself; the divine instructions have 

1 See Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, Prolegom., 

* Rudiments of Theology, p. 861. Probably there was no 
distinction. See W. E. Ball, St. Paul and the Roman Law, pp. 58, 
71 sq. 

* Ep., xi. 2. 

4 De laps., 17. 


taught what sinners ought to do, that by works of 
righteousness God is satisfied (placari), that with the 
deserts of mercy sins are cleansed." 1 As the effect 
of baptism was retroactive, satisfaction for sins after 
baptism must be made by means of meritorious 
deeds. Martyrdom was an especial means of grace, 
and among good works almsgiving held a chief 
place. 2 " Be earnest in righteous works, whereby sins 
may be purged; frequently apply yourself to alms 
giving, whereby souls are freed from death." 8 "As 
in the laver of saving water the fire of Gehenna is 
extinguished, so by almsgiving and works of right 
eousness the flame of sins is subdued." 4 

There is also a more frequent use of "meritum" 
and "promereri deum." "There is need of righteous 
ness that one may deserve well of God the Judge; 
we must obey His precepts and warnings, that our 
merits may receive their reward." 5 " If he incline the 
Lord to pardon of his sin by righteous and continual 
works, He who expressed His mercy in these words 
may pity such men (Is. xxx. 51) "; "Or if any one 
move Him still more by his own atonement, if he 

1 eleemos.y 5 

a Ep. t li. 22. 

8 De laps., 35. 

* De op. et eleemos., 2; also 1, 5, 6, 9, 18. The satisfactions 
were often church penances. 

6 De unit, eccles., 15. See Harnack, II. 134 for many other 


appease His anger, if he appease the wrath of an 
indignant God by righteous entreaty, He gives arms 
again whereby the vanquished may be armed *; "he 
who has thus made atonement to God, . . . shall 
now deserve of the Lord not only pardon, but a 
crown." 1 The word, "indulgence," also occurs, 
though this may not be in quite the sense of succeed 
ing ages. "Man cannot be greater than God, nor 
can a servant remit or forego by his indulgence what 
has been committed by a greater crime against the 
Lord." 2 It is probable, however, that the term was 
already applied to the ecclesiastical custom, and the 
connection shows that Cyprian was referring to the 
action of the Church. 

Dr. Harnack says that he described Christ s work 
as a satisfaction to God, but I have been unable to 
find any passage in which he did so. 3 It is amazing 
that he did not, as he had all the elements of the 
theory appeasement, ascetic practices, merits and 
their transfer to sinners from saints and martyrs, and 
the church system of penance. 4 But it must be ob- 

1 De laps., 36. 

3 De laps., 17. Similarly, Tertullian in De poen., 7. 

Hist. Dogm., II. 294 note; III. 312. Per contra, Riviere, 
p. 218. Dr. George P. Fisher assures me that Harnack is un 
doubtedly wrong here. 

4 Ambrose does once employ the word "satisfaction" with 
reference to the death of the Saviour: "Suscepit enim et mortem 
ut impleretur sententia, satisfieret judicato : Maledictum carnis 
peccatricis usque ad mortem" (P. L., XIV. col. 618). But Riviere 


served that his mind was occupied with practical 
questions of administration, and apparently not at 
all with the doctrine of Atonement. His references to 
it are quite commonplace, and betray no attempt to 
theorise. In his Testimonies against the Jews, he 
quotes texts to prove "that in the passion and the 
sign of the cross is all virtue and power" (ii. 21). 
And he says that "it behooved Him to suffer, not 
that He might feel death, but that He might conquer 
death." x It is true that he, together with Tertullian, 
provided much of the material for Anselm s specula 
tions, but he failed to make the application to the 
work of Christ, which would have been so obvious 
and inevitable if there had been a trace of the later 
theory in his theology. This significant omission 
exhibits in the most conclusive way the novelty of the 
medioeval dogma and its consequent unimportance 
to Catholic orthodoxy. 2 

admits that he is not dealing here with a satisfaction in the actual 
sense, "mais d une satisfaction donnee a la loi de mort divinement 
portee contre le pecheur. C est une idee voisine du systeme 
d Athanase" (p. 234). 

1 De van. idol., 14. 

8 It is needless to multiply proofs of the prevalence of the ideas 
of appease tnent and satisfaction among the Western Fathers. The 
following quotations may suffice. "For it is possible for him to be 
brought back, and to be set free, if he repents of his actions, and, 
turning to better things, makes satisfaction to God"; and again: 
"Why should we despair that the mercy of God our Father may 
again be appeased by repentance?" (Lactantius, Inst., vi. 24). 
"This suffering . . . was freely undertaken, and was intended to 


c. Augustin (ob. 430) 

The greatest of the Latin Fathers makes less of 
merit and satisfaction than his predecessors; but he 
shows traces of their influence in such statements as 
this from the Enchiridion: "Almsgiving must be 
used to propitiate God for past sins, not to purchase 
impunity for the commission of such sins in the 
future. For He has given no man license to sin, 
although in His mercy He may blot out sins that are 
already committed, if we do not neglect to make 
proper satisfaction" (70). He is very fine on recon 
ciliation, contesting the statements that God is rec 
onciled to us, or that Pie was appeased by Christ s 
death, because that would involve an antagonism 
between the Father and the Son. It could be wished 
that the many who have resorted to Augustin in sup 
port of very different dogmatic and ecclesiastical 
views had learned this truth from him. He says: 
"God did not begin to love us when we were recon 
ciled to Him by the blood of His Son ; but He loved 
us before the creation of the world, that we might 
be His children, together with His only-begotten Son, 

fulfil a penal function without, however, inflicting the pain of 
penalty upon the sufferer" (Hilary, Psalm liii. 12). This sentence 
leads Ritschl to call Hilary the initiator of the Latin theology. 
" Fornication must incur punishment, unless its guilt is purged 
away by a satisfaction" (Sulpitius Severus, Did., ii. 10). 


even before we had any existence. Therefore our 
reconciliation by the death of Christ must not be 
understood as if He reconciled us to God, that God 
might begin to love those whom He had before hated : 
but we are reconciled to Him who already loved us 
and with whom we were at enmity on account of sin." 3 
And again: "What is meant by justified in His 
blood ? . . . What is meant by being reconciled 
by the death of His Son ? Was it indeed so that, 
when God the Father was wroth with us, He saw 
the death of His Son for us, and was appeased 
towards us? Was then His Son already so far ap 
peased towards us, that He even deigned to die for 
us ; while the Father was still so far wroth, that ex 
cept His Son died for us, He would not be appeased ? 
. . . Pray, unless the Father had been already 
appeased, would He have delivered up His own Son, 
not sparing Him for us ? ... Therefore together 
both the Father and the Son, and the Spirit of both, 
work all things equally and harmoniously." 

He also started the inquiry whether the mode of 
reconciliation presented in the Gospel was a neces 
sity, and concluded it was not; because God could 
have saved man in some other way, though none 

1 Quoted in Calvin, Institutes, Book ii, ch. xi. 

3 De Trin., xiii. 11. Still in Psalm xlviii. 9 (P. L., XXXVI. col. 
549) he defines propitiation by "placatio." Also in Enchirid., 33, 
he says of Christ, " qui hanc iram . . . placaret." But he at once 
explains that this wrath is not a feeling, but an attitude toward sin. ir 


was so well adapted to man s needs. 1 This rejects 
the requirement of a sacrifice on account of guilt, 
and of any form of a satisfaction to justice. He gives 
an interesting interpretation of II Cor. v. 20, 21 : "On 
account of the likeness of sinful flesh in which He 
came, He was said to be Himself sin, that He might 
be sacrificed (or meaning that He was to be a sacri 
fice) to wash away sin. For, under the Old Cove 
nant, sacrifices for sins were called sins. 2 . . . He does 
not say, . . . He who knew no sin did sin for us/ 
as if Christ had Himself sinned for our sakes: but 
he says, Him who knew no sin God hath made to 
be sin for us, that is, hath made Him a sacrifice fo 
our sins. ... He being made sin, not His own, but 
ours, not in Himself, but in us, showed, by the like 
ness of sinful flesh in which He was crucified, that 
though sin was not in Him, yet that in a certain 
sense He died to sin, by dying in the flesh which was 
the likeness of sin." 3 This is in the spirit of Atha- 
nasius : Christ bore the curse of our sin by the likeness 
of His nature to ours, and so we become one with 
His righteousness by our union with Him. The 
absence of imputation, in the later sense, will be 
noticed. It was this thought, when applied to the 
Pelagian controversy, that made the Reformers com- 

1 De Trin., xiii. 10, IS. See also De Agone Ch. t 10. 

2 See also De gratia Christi st pecc. wig., ii. 36. 
8 Enchirid., 41. 


plain that he did not distinguish between Justifica 
tion and Sanctification. He did not identify them, 
but regarded them as practically inseparable in 
Christian experience. He made Justification real by 
making it necessarily issue in the process of Sanctifi 
cation ; they confused the relation between them by 
making the former chiefly forensic. 

Like Athanasius, he regarded death as "the pun 
ishment of sin": "He bore for our sakes sin in the 
sense of death as brought on human nature by sin. 
This is what hung on the tree; this is what was 
cursed by Moses." l He also spoke of Christ as 
"cursed, not in His Divine majesty, but in the con 
dition of our punishment in which He hung on the 
tree" (chap. 7); which Harnack regards as more 
real than the Eastern statement of the same idea. 2 
Again, in chapter 4 of the same treatise: "Christ, 
though guiltless, took our punishment, that He might 
cancel our guilt, and do away with our punishment." 

1 Contra Faust. Manich., xiv. 3. 

2 Op. cit., III. 314. The words are: "ex conditione poenae 
nostrae ex qua in ligno suspensus est"; which are rendered: "as 
hanging on the tree as our substitute, bearing our punishment," 
in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, IV. 209. This, however, is 
not translation, but dogmatic interpretation of the kind so common 
in dealing with the Fathers. Augustin explains "cursed" by 
"meaning that He really died" ; and he was simply repeating the 
Athanasian thought of Christ s identification with our human 
condition, to the extent of sharing our death which is to us the 
penalty of sin. The expression, "poenam peccati nostri suscepit," 
became fixed after the time of Augustin. 


On the other hand, in emphasising the voluntary 
submission to death of which Anselm made so much, 
he rejects any literal significance of the penal idea : 
"While our death was the penalty of sin, His death 
was made a sacrifice for sin." "The spirit of the 
Mediator showed how it was through no punishment 
of sin that He came to the death of the flesh, be 
cause He did not leave it against His will, but 
because He willed, when He willed, as He willed. 
. . . Which death, though not due, the Lord there 
fore rendered for us, that the death which was 
due might work us no hurt. " * Still more explicitly : 
"Death is the penalty of sins; in the Lord was the 
gift of pity, not the punishment of sin." 2 Professor 
Harnack says Ambrose treated the relationship of 
the death of Christ to sin as guilt (V. 54), and 
that "whatever occurs in Ambrose is to be found 
also in Augustin " (III. 313). But the latter thought 
of sin more especially as infirmity. 3 

Augustin s language which seems to suggest sub- 

1 De Trin., iv. 12, 13. 

3 De Johann. Evang., c. 1, Tractate iii. 13; P. L., XXXV. col. 

3 In contrast with the above concessions of Augustin, Dr. 
Shedd refers to the definite language of Gregory the Great : " Guilt 
can be extinguished only by a penal offering to justice" (II. 263). 
This is a conspicuous illustration of the way in which the teaching 
of the Fathers has been misrepresented. Gregory s words are: 
"delenda ergo erat talis culpa, sed nisi per sacrificium deleri non 
poterat" (Moral-id, xvii. 46; P. L., LXXVI. col. 32). 


stitution is seen to have a very different meaning 
from the same words in a modern writer. "He made 
our offences His own offences, that He might make 
His own righteousness our righteousness." * Al 
though he uses the legal word, "delictum," and 
phraseology of this sort was less mystical with the 
Latins than with the Greeks, still it cannot be pressed 
in the interest of literal substitution. As the second 
clause cannot be interpreted substitutively, since His 
righteousness becomes ours not by substitution but 
by participation in it and oneness with it, so the first 
clause represents not the vicarious endurance of 
penalty, but the oneness with our sinful condition 
that made Him a participator in the sufferings con 
sequent upon human sin. 

The Greek theory of the payment to the devil 
recurs once more in Augustin (De Trin., xiii. 14). 
He says that God would have been unjust to him if 
an equivalent had not been paid (De lib. arbitrio, iii. 
10). The devil s claim was fully admitted, it was 
grounded jure aequissimo; 2 but he forfeited his 
dominion by inflicting death on One who was sinless. 
"The debt of death" is owed, not to the law of God, 
as in Athanasius, but to the devil " who holds us as 
debtors." The redemption is regarded as a quasi- 

1 Delicta nostra sua delicta, ut justitiam suam nostram 
justitiam faceret (Psal. xxi. 2, Enarr. ii; P. L., XXXVI. col. 172). 
3 Baur, Die Christ. Lehre, p. 68. 


payment, but a real conquest. "He proceeds to His 
passion, that He might pay for us debtors that which 
He Himself did not owe"; "the blood of Christ was 
given, as it were (tanquam), as a price for us, by ac 
cepting which the devil was not enriched, but bound." 
For "the devil is conquered by righteousness, not 
by power"; or rather, "He conquered him first by 
righteousness, and afterwards by power ; namely, by 
righteousness because He had no sin, and was slain 
by him most unjustly ; but by power, because having 
been dead He lived again, never afterwards to die" 
(De Trin., xiii. 13, 14, 15). This is certainly more 
coherent than the previous attempt to combine the 
sacrifice to God with the fraudulent payment to 
Satan; but Augustin undoubtedly retains the relics 
of Origen s theory, which is another evidence, in 
addition to the many in the Anti-Pelagian treatises, 
that he never quite rid himself of the Manichsean 

Theologians have built up the most diverse systems 
upon Augustin s materials. The High Sacramenta- 
rian and the Calvinist alike appeal to him, because 
he combined the characteristics of both of his pred 
ecessors, and the two tendencies were not harmonised. 
Tertullian was dogmatic, Cyprian was ecclesiastical; 
Augustin was both. So the adherents of contra 
dictory theories of the Atonement try to find in his 
contradictory statements the basis for their own con- 


victions; but it cannot be doubted that the nobler 
and profounder part of his thought should be con 
sidered the more characteristic and determinative. 
As an illustration of his ability to conceive of our 
redemption in a manner devoid of the elements most 
open to criticism, the following may be quoted from 
the Enchiridion, 108: "When sin had placed a wide 
gulf between God and the human race, it was ex 
pedient that a Mediator, who alone of the human 
race was born, lived, and died without sin, should 
reconcile us to God, and procure even for our bodies 
a resurrection to eternal life, in order that the pride 
of man might be exposed and cured through the 
humility of God ; that man might be shown how far 
he had departed from God, when God became in 
carnate to bring him back; that an example might 
be set to disobedient man in the life of obedience 
of the God-man; that the fountain of grace might 
be opened by the Only-begotten taking upon Himself 
the form of a servant, a form which had no antecedent 
merit; that an earnest of that resurrection of the 
body which is promised to the redeemed might 
be given in the resurrection of the Redeemer; that 
the devil might be subdued by the same nature 
which it was his boast to have deceived; . . . 
and, in fine, with a view to all the advantages which 
the thoughtful can perceive and describe, or per 
ceive without being able to describe, as flowing 


from the transcendent mystery of the person of the 
Mediator." 1 

The other Latins require only the briefest notice. 
Lactantius chiefly dwelt upon the example and teach 
ing of Christ (Inst. div., iv. 13, 25, 26). Seeberg says 
that, with Gregory the Great, the emphasis was also 
on the example and teaching; 2 but he held the 
deception theory of Origen and Gregory Nyssen in 
its most revolting form. He described the death of 
Christ as an expiatory sacrifice, a true placation, but 
did not think it to be absolutely necessary. It re 
quired to be supplemented by penance, which was 
a factor of equal value in atoning for sin. He seems 
to have been the first to apply the idea of merit to 
the work of Christ ; 3 but the expiation and the merit 
do not belong to the same category. According to 
Harnack, he worked out no "theory of Christ s 
merit after the analogy of the merits which we can 
gain. That was reserved for the Middle Ages : but 
he has examined Christ s work from the point of 
view of masses for the dead and the intercession of 

"In Enchir., 108, Augustin has summed up all he had to say 
on the import of Christ s work ; but it will be found that, although J 
the reconciliatio cum deo only, indeed, as restoration to God 
is not wanting, what is called objective redemption is left pretty 
much in the background" (Harnack, V. 205). 

2 Text-Book Hist. Doct., II. 20. 

* Seeberg, loc. cit. He used such expressions as : " suis men 
tis" (Moral., xxiv. 2, 4 ; 3, 5 ; 17, 30 ; P. L., LXXVI. col. 280) ; "qui 
pro aliis indulgentiam mereretur" (Ibid., col. 


saints " (V. 265 ; III. 312). From Gregory to Anselm 
there was a dearth of original thinking upon the sub 
ject. The only distinguished theologian of the Greek 
Church, John of Damascus, furnished nothing sig 
nificant. Alcuin is said to have simply repeated 
Augustin. Erigena was pantheistic, and left no per 
manent trace upon the history of the doctrine. 

Riviere quotes an obscure author of the eleventh 
century, Radulphus Ardeus, who was apparently 
engaged with the question of Anselm s treatise ; and 
it is just conceivable that the latter genius may have 
obtained from him the hint which fused the elements 
already at hand for the construction of his theory. 
In a homily on I Peter ii, Radulphus asks the ques 
tion : "Who suffered, and for whom, and how much, 
and in what, and in what manner, and with what 
utility?" He also uses the word "satisfaction" of 
Christ s work, though not specifically of His death. 1 
We have thus single instances of this use in Ambrose 
and this author ; but the first to realise its theological 
possibilities was Anselm. 

As has been already pointed out, the intellectual 
atmosphere of the Latins predisposed them to a ter 
minology, which was to become very familiar in later 
times and to be more rigidly and literally interpreted. 
The idea of placation or real appeasement, the adop- 

1 "Ut de praevaricatione satisfieret ... ad satisfactionem 
illius superbiae"; quoted in Riviere, p. 289. 


tion of the pagan conception of sacrifice, the emphasis 
on guilt, the stricter use of the notion of punishment, 
the gradual shading off of the figure of vital union 
into the act of one person in the place of another, 
all these were departures from the higher Greek point 
of view. Allied with the unethical belief that God s 
favour could be won by acts of piety, they furnished 
details for the later theory of satisfaction as wrought 
out by Thomas Aquinas and the Reformers. Never 
theless, they were not the actual sources of Anseim s 
theory or of the Reformers modification of it, and 
cannot be cited as parts of an historical constructive 
development of the doctrine of redemption. This 
development henceforward proceeded on other lines, 
through the effort to explain the causes of the work 
of redemption, and the effects on the law of God and 
his relation to us of the life and sufferings and death 
of Christ. 

The teaching of the Fathers has been presented at 
some length, because it is of the highest importance 
to the understanding of Anseim s treatise, and its 
place in the history of the doctrine of the Atonement. 
Only by means of such a statement may we realise 
whether his theory is a natural corollary of previous 
thought upon the subject, whether it is vitally rooted in 
the faith of the first millennium of Christian history, 
or is an entirely original conception of the mode of 


our redemption. If the latter be true, one may think 
with Ritschl that "the theologians of the Middle Ages 
. . . lifted the problem ... to a higher sphere 
that in which sin is viewed in its legal and moral 
aspects" (p. 5); or its disconnection with the past, 
its absence from the writings of those who laid the 
foundations of essential Christian theology, may be 
looked upon as a fatal flaw in its claim to a high place 
in our regard. In either case, there is one notable 
confession of such disconnection. Albrecht Ritschl, 
in his "Critical History of the Christian Doctrine of 
Justification and Reconciliation," being the transla 
tion of the first volume of the larger work, and com 
prising about 605 pages, devotes about tl^ree, pages 
to the Fathers. All the rest, excepting nineteen pages 
treating of Anselm and Abelard, is given to the 
Reformers and their successors. As the Reformation 
theories were really derived from Anselm, by a dif 
ferent application of his idea of satisfaction, this is 
an admission whose full significance will be appreci 
ated by a comparison of the preceding pages with the 
ensuing discussion. 

In confirmation of what has been said of the 
patristic teaching and its relation to Anselm, the 
following may be quoted from Professor Harnack: 
"Yet neither by Gregory the Great, nor by any 
theologian of the Carlovingian period was this view 
[of satisfaction] applied to the work of Christ. Fre- 


quent reference, it is true, was already made to the 
copiousness of the value of the mystery of the pas 
sion ; . . . but a theory had not been framed, be 
cause there was no reflection at all on the nature, the 
specific worth, and the effect of the redemption con 
tained in the suffering and death of Christ. The 
Fathers, Augustin included, had handed down noth 
ing certain on this. The only view taken by the 
Greeks was that the reign of death was broken by 
the cross and resurrection of Christ, or that man 
kind were thereby bought off, or cunningly wiested, 
from the devil. All that they said of the sacrifce in 
the suffering was quite vague. Only Athcnasius 
spoke with noteworthy clearness of the penal suffer 
ing which Christ took from us and laid upon Himself. 
But, from the days of Paul, all of them testified that 
Christ died for us, and delivered us from the power of 
the devil. That was felt and proclaimed as the great 
act of redemption. Ambrose and Augustin had then 
emphasised the position that Christ is Mediator as 
man, and had given many instructions about partic 
ular points; but the question why that Man, who 
was at the same time God, was obliged to suffer and 
die, was dealt with by pointing to His example, or by 
reciting Biblical texts about ransom, sacrifice, and 
such like, without the necessity of the death here 
coming clearly to view. But Augustin certahly had 
laid the foundation by a new and vigorous apprehen- 


sion of the significance of Christ s work, by emphasis 
ing so strongly the gravity of sin, and by representing 
the relation between God and man under the scheme 
of sin and grace. At this point Anselm came in. The 
importance of his doctrine of satisfaction, as developed 
in Book II. of his Cur Deus Homo, composed as a 
dialogue, lies in this, that he made use of all the factors 
of the Augustinian theology, so far as they came into 
consideration here, but that at the same time he was 
the first of all to frame a theory, both of the necessity 
of the appearing of the God-man, and of the necessity 
of His death" (VI. 55, 56). 





IN the long interval between Gregory the Great 
and Anselin, there were many influences converging 
towards the formation of the latter s special theory. 
He was the inevitable product of his antecedents. 
He was undoubtedly original in the application of 
certain familiar ideas to the work of Christ ; but such 
application was the natural step to be taken in the 
development of theological thought, and he was able 
to discern the opportunity that was sure to be seized. 
His theory "arose from the circumstances of his age 
and expressed its thought," as truly as the ransom 
theory which it displaced. 

a. Antecedents affecting the SUBSTANCE of the 

(1) A Racial Characteristic 

We often hear of the effect of Christianity upon 
the nations converted to its faith; but we do not 
think often enough of the effect on Christianity of 


national characteristics. It is decidedly a different 
thing in important respects, accordingly as it is 
represented by the Greek or Latin Fathers, by a 
mediaeval Italian or a Teutonic Protestant. The 
difference is not merely one of time or stages of prog 
ress, but of racial qualities. The Roman genius for -^ 
law ] and government entailed a legal theology in 
the Latin Churches. It was riot the principles of 
the law, but its spirit, that influenced the Western 
conceptions of truth; so that the common inherited 
trait of the Latin race determined the forensic point 
of view that distinguished the Anselmic theory. 1 

Sir Henry Maine has referred to this characteristic 
of Western Christendom. "Theology became per 
meated with forensic ideas and couched in forensic 
language. . . . The Western Church threw itself into 
a new order of disputes, the same which from those 
days to this have never lost their interest for any 
family of mankind at any time included in the Latin 
communion. The nature of sin and its transmission 
by inheritance the debt owed by man and its vica 
rious satisfaction the necessity and sufficiency of 
the atonement above all, the apparent antagonism 
between Free Will and the Divine Providence, 
these were the points which the West began to debate. 

1 It is difficult to say what additional direct effect may have 
come from the study of the Roman law by the clergy, at this 
period (see Encyc. Brif., XX. 715). 


. . . Almost everybody who has knowledge enough 
of Roman law to appreciate the Roman penal system ; 
the Roman theory of obligations established by con 
tract and debit; the Roman view of debts, and of 
the modes of incurring, extinguishing, and trans 
mitting them ; the Roman notion of the continuance 
of individual existence by universal succession 
may be trusted to say whence arose the frame of 
mind to which the problems of Western theology 
proved so congenial, whence came the phraseology in 
which these problems were stated, and whence the 
description of reasoning employed in their solution." * J 

(2) Ecclesiastical Ideas and Discipline 

I have already said that the Soteriology of the 
North African Fathers had little bearing upon An- 
selm s speculations. But some of their ideas and 
practices constituted the real basis of his thought. 
From the time of Tertullian, the Church had been 
familiar with the conception of Satisfaction; a term 
borrowed by him from the Roman civil law, as also 
the word culpa. 2 This was intimately associated 
with the belief that good works established a merit 
in the sight of God, that they had an objective value 

1 Maine, Ancient Law, p. 356. See also Fairbairn, The Place 
of Christ in Modern Theology, pp. 71-78, 98-100, 123, 480. 
3 Neander, Church History, I. 306, Bohn ed. 


to Him. 1 Gradually, the merit of supererogation was 
ascribed to the works of the saints, so that the re 
dundant piety of the Church furnished a treasury of 
satisfactions, to be drawn upon in behalf of those 
who could not provide sufficiently for themselves. 
Thus, very early a penitential system arose, which 
was "governed throughout by the idea that the mag 
nitude of transgressions and that of the works ren 
dered to God, the penitential offerings, were to have 
a strictly legal relation, and, similarly, that what a 
man s merits entitled him to from God had a fixed 
and regulated value." 2 As satisfactio and placatio 
were closely related, the practical point in the system 
was "that God took strict account of the quantity of 
the atonement, and that, where there was no guilt to 
be blotted out," the means of expiation "were repre 
sented as merits." 3 

The difference between the doctrinal theologian 
and the practical churchman is shown in Cyprian s 
application and development of Tertullian s ideas. 
In Cyprian s hands the thoughts became organised 
customs. As sins after baptism could not be simply 
forgiven, but required satisfactions or acts of peni 
tence, such acts were assigned for performance, and 
there we have the system of penance complete. It 

1 Cyprian, De op. et eleemos., 5, and often. 

2 Haraack, III. 311. 

3 Ibid. 


was strengthened by the belief in purgatory, which, 
after its earliest suggestion by Clement and Origen, 
had been indorsed by Cyprian and Cyril of Jeru 
salem, and carried out to its full statement by Augus- 
tin and Gregory. 1 For more than 600 years prior 
to Anselm, then, the ecclesiastical discipline had,, 
made the idea of satisfaction radical in the relation 
of man to God. In the eleventh century, the belief . 
in satisfaction as a prerequisite to pardon was uni 
versal. Anselm simply applied it to the work of 
Christ, and it is a marvel that it seems never to have 
been done before, except by the obscure and unin- 
fluential author before alluded to. 2 

The theory, however, required a further increment 
before it became the ground-work of Anselm s es 
sential doctrine. The "satisfaction" became an 
"indulgence," when permitted by the lenity of the 
bishop. Augustin (Con. Jul, i. 3), notwithstanding 
his writings against the Manichseans, shows that he 
still retained some Manichsean ideas by adopting 
their view of indulgences. He quotes an earlier ob 
scure author, who says, "Baptism is the principal 
indulgence known to the Church." 3 As sin was con 
ceived of as a debt, and the penance was regarded 

1 Neander, History of Christian Dogmas, I. 253; II. 416. 

3 Dr. Harnack intimates that the penance regulations were 
nowhere so well observed as in the German kingdoms, because so 
well suited to the German spirit (V. 324). 

1 Encyc. Brit., XII. 846. 


as a compensation, the quantitative element made 
"redemptions " or commutations possible. If certain 
acts were the legal equivalents of certain sins, one 
kind of penance could be bartered or substituted for 
another kind. As the equivalence was arbitrary, the 
Church soon came to appropriate grace on easier 
conditions. The next step was the commutation of 
a penitential act by the payment of money; after 
that the descent into the enormities which provoked 
the Reformation was easy and unavoidable. The 
reforming canons of Clovesho (A. D. 747), and other 
synods in the following century, reveal to us how long 
the abuse existed. 1 These low moral views, "which 
one would gladly attribute to barbarous nations, 
had become the property of the Church before the 
incursion of the Germans; and Anselm s principle, 
* Every sin must be followed either by satisfaction ^ 
or punishment, can be already shown in Sulpitius 
Severus." 2 

Anselm, however, first worked the theory out from 
these materials. Sooner or later, some one must have 
applied these details to the work of Christ, because 
the successive links made such a view of redemption 
inevitable, as soon as thought was again directed to 

1 The Council of Clermont, three years before the composition , 
of the Cur Deus Homo, decreed that participation in the crusades 
would be a commutation for all other penances. 

3 Harnack, III. 311. 


questions of Soteriology. 1 But, historically, he was 
the one to "make the principles of the practice of 
penance the fundamental scheme of religion in gen 
eral." 2 To this source may be traced the following 
features of his theory : the conception of sin as debt, 
the alternative of punishment or satisfaction, the 
necessity of satisfaction, specific equivalents, merit 
and the superabundance of merit, commutation 
with its pecuniary analogies, vicarious satisfaction 
and the transference of merit. 

(3) German Criminal Law 

Certain Teutonic customs were similar to the 
ecclesiastical practices just referred to, and dovetailed 
into them, so that both were constituted a part of the 
law. "The question has been debated whether 
Anselm s theory was framed on the conceptions of 
Roman or of German law." 3 But, as Professors 
Fisher and Harnack acknowledge, both contribute 
to the formulation of the principles of the theory. 
Ideas which were "anterior to the influence of 

1 If Cyprian anticipated Anselm, as Dr. Harnack says, it is 
remarkable that no one else appears to have recognised the signi 
ficance of his statement, either among the later Fathers or among 
the modern historians of dogma. 

2 Harnack, VI. 56. 

8 Fisher, p. 221; Cremer, Studien u. Krit., 1880, pp. 1-24; 
Harnack, VI. 55, 57, note; Ritschl, op. cit. p. 32. 


Teutonic codes and customs," cannot be said to have 
arisen in the Romano-German period. 1 At the same 
time, the German criminal code held some of the 
very concepts that characterised the Roman ecclesi- 
astical and civil lav/. The chief of these was the 
Wergeld, or blood money, by which the murderer 
made pecuniary compensation for his crime. The 
custom is found among many primitive peoples, and 
even to-day in undeveloped races. 2 It corresponds 
to the Goel of the Old Testament; who is not the 
"avenger of blood," 3 but the redeemer 9 restorer, 
balancer, of blood. Blood was life. The killing of 
a man meant that the family or tribe was depleted of 
life, whose loss must be made good by an equivalent. 4 
This was generally blood, but sometimes "an agreed 
payment for its value." It was a compensation for 
loss, a matter of equity. The original meaning had 
of course been obscured among the Teutons, but the 
practice continued, and the name was sometimes 
given to fines for lesser offences than manslaughter. 
It had two details in common with the earlier custom, 
the evasion of a criminal sentence by the payment of 

1 Fisher, p. 221; Harnack, III. 311 ; VI. 55. 

2 Vide Trumbull, The Blood Covenant, Index. 

8 As in the A. V., the R. V., and even Gesenius, owing to a 
prepossession that the right was one of inflicting punishment for 
v blood spilt. 

4 It was, therefore, a higher idea than mere retaliation (vs. 
Sabaticr, p. 109). 


money, and the permission to kinsmen to pay the 
debt. 1 The inability to pay the Wergeld sometimes 
reduced a man to slavery, either "surrendering him 
self to the plaintiff, or to some third party who paid 
the sum for him by agreement with the aggrieved v 

party." 2 

This, of course, cannot be accepted as the origin 

of Anselm s theory. 3 The legal composition was 

simply analogous to the penitential system of a 

definite tax or penance for all conceivable sins. It 

gave a new impetus and a more vicious form to the 

previous legal conception of sin and treatment of 

crime, the tabulating of offences and enforcement of 

pecuniary compensation. 4 It allied itself also with 

V them in allowing substitutive satisfactions. The 

simple fact is that the German State granted to the 

Church a participation in the execution of the penal 

law, and the two sets of principles were fused very 

easily because they were so congenial. Dr. Harnack 

illustrates this as follows: "German law held the 

principle: either outlawry or penance. This cor- 

V l The obligation of kindred to take up the enmities and 
friendships of a relative is noticed by Tacitus as peculiar to the 
Germans of his day. 

2 Kemble, The Anglo-Saxons, I. 197. 

8 As in C. J. Wood, Survivals in Christianity, p. 175. 

4 It will thus be seen that the Wergeld and the penitential 
practices (combined with the doctrine of purgatory) furnished two 
strong bases for Indulgences among the Germanic peoples (Kurtz, 
Church History, sect. 106. 2). 


responds to the Church principle: either excom 
munication or the performance of satisfactory acts 
of penance. 1 According to German law, vengeance 
did not require to be executed on the evil-doer him 
self. . . . The Church looked on Christians as form 
ing a clan with the saints in heaven, and the 
performance of penance could to a certain extent, or 
entirely, be passed on to the latter. . . . German law 
held that the payment of the fine could be divided. 
According to the practice of the Church, the saints 
interceded, . . . taking from the sinner a part of the 
penance imposed upon him. Afterwards, the Church 
positively adopted the German institution, and let 
earthly friends, comrades, members of the family, 
and bondmen share in the performance of penance 
in order to lighten the task" (V. 330). 

From this source Anselm may be said to have 
derived his ideas of man s hopeless servitude until 
the intervention of "a third party," the commutation 
for sins as debts, a further inclination to the use of 
pecuniary analogies, and the vicarious payment of a 
kinsman. 2 

1 The alternative of which Anselm makes so much, punish 
ment or satisfaction, was a Germanic legal maxim, and also in 
hered in the penitential system (R. Seeberg, Text-Book of the His 
tory of Doctrines, II. 69). 

2 Although referred to only at the end of the treatise, it is in 
sisted that the Redeemer must be of the same race as man, since 
an angel would not be akin by nature (Cur Deus Homo, ii. 21). 


(4) Feudalism 

The German law also included principles, quite 
f different from the Wergeld, which had their share in 
formulating the premises of Anselm s theory. These 
are derived from feudalism, with its "over-lord" to 
whom service is due, its emphasis upon the privi 
leges and obligations of kinship, and its conception of 
/ "honour," still further "developed by the institution 
of chivalry. The idea of compensation for injured 
honour was feudal, though the mode may have been 
derived from the Wergeld. Canon Kingsley notes 
this fact of pecuniary reparation: "So of personal 
honour. Schilte or insult, for instance to call a man 
arga, i. e., a lazy loon, is a serious offence. If the 
defendant will confess that he said it in a passion, 
and will take oath that he never knew the plaintiff 
to be arga, he must still pay 12 shillings." 1 Com 
pensation for dishonour may also be found in ancient 
Roman law. 2 

The personal circumstances, amid which Anselm 
reflected upon his theory and composed the treatise, 

Also, He makes inheritors of what is due to Him, "parentes suos et 
jratres (St. Matt. xii. 50), quos aspicit tot et tantis debitis obligates" 
(ii. 19, 12). 

1 Roman and Teuton, p. 252. See also Kemble, Anglo-Saxons, 
I. 288. It is worth noting that he is here writing of Lombard 
laws, and Anselm s father was a Lombard. 

2 Mackeldey, Roman Law, sect. 488, 489. 



may have given special point and vividness to his 
conception. 1 Dean Church says that he thought out 
and began to compose the work "in the midst of the 
strife and troubles of his last year in England." 2 
The questions involved in his quarrel with King 
William Rufus were not only ecclesiastical but feudal. 
He refused to receive the pallium from the king s 
hands, and also to pay the accustomed homage to 
the sovereign. The succeeding monarch granted the 
papal investiture, and the Pope permitted the homage 
to the king. As a thorough ultramontane, he was 
keenly alive to the honour of Rome and Canterbury, 
which was simply the ecclesiastical correlative of the 
feudal notion then prevalent. 3 

Some important features of his thought are to be 
ascribed to feudalism; such as his conception of 
God s relation to man, of the loss of God s honour, 
of Christ s obedience as a service (see the illustra 
tion of a day appointed for a service, ii. 16 a, 17), 
of the mutual relations of the subjects of God 

1 The first book was written in 1094, and the second in 1098 
(Ueberweg, History of Philosophy, I. 386). It was finished dur 
ing his temporary exile from England, at Capua (see Praefat. to 
Cur Deus Homo), or at the village of Schiavia (Martin Rule, 
The Life and Times of St. Anselm, II. 290), or at the monastery of 
Telese near Benevento, according to various authorities. 

2 at Anselm, p. 31. 

3 The quarrel referred to resulted in the appeal to Rome, 
which was the beginning of a mischievous and eventually scanda 
lous system. 


the Lord, and of the substitution of Christ s service 
for ours. 1 

b. Antecedents affecting the FORM of the Theory 

These are the influence of Aristotle, and the ration 
alistic method that distinguished Scholasticism. 
Hegel points out that the German world was the 
continuation of the Roman, so that Aristotelianism, 
as preserved in Boetius, " became the fixed basis of 
speculative thought in the West for many centuries." 2 
The Fathers had disparaged Aristotle, particularly 
the Orientals ; s but his logic prescribed the forms 
and laws of men s thinking, after the influence of 
the Greeks had waned. It was his long preeminence 
that in reality created the distinction between the 
Fathers and the Schoolmen or Doctors. Independent, 

1 Dr. Stevens calls Anselm s theory "commercial," "because 
it so constantly uses the terms of quantity, payment, and equiva 
lence." This would justify Canon Moberly s term, " mathemati 
cal" ; but Stevens himself uses a much more apt description than 
either : " It appears to me. however, to be, far more fundamentally, 
a feudal theory an interpretation based on the ideas of mediceval 
chivalry" (op cit., cf. pp. 136, 241). 

3 J. Sibree s translation of Philosophy of History, p. 356. 
Aristotle s works on demonstrative reasoning, the Analytics, the 
Topics and the Sophistical Refutations or Fallacies, were probably 
known to Anselm ; but his general philosophy was not accessible 
until half a century after the time of Abelard. 

1 Dr. Farrar refers to " no less than twenty from Justin to 
Cyril" (History of Interpretation, p. 263). 


fresh thought gave way to deductive proofs of what 
was accepted, to shaping and systematising the ma 
terials already provided, to constructing a philosophy 
of belief. Precision of statement was a necessity 
to the Aristotelian. What had been figurative or 
rhetorical in the Fathers became logical and definite. 
The meaning of the words employed came to be 
wrought out more clearly, so that questions on which 
the Scriptures were silent were elaborately discussed 
and determined. The application of the mere pro 
cesses of logic to Divine truth was, in some respects, 
a great evil. The very scientific precision marred 
the interpretation of Divine realities, which were 
Scripturally expressed in terms that were never in 
tended by the writers to conform to logical modes or 
intellectual formulations, isolated from life. But 
this is just what characterises Anselm s treatment of 
his query; it is formal, exact, reducible to a series 
of syllogisms, and thus in complete contrast to the 
varied, metaphorical, unsystematic method of the 
New Testament. 

Aristotle was the precursor of Scholasticism, by 
making theology a part of philosophy. 1 It has been 
defined as an attempt "so to fuse faith and reason 
as to save the one from being blind, and the other 

1 Farrar, op. cit., p. 466. John of Damascus has been called 
the progenitor of Scholasticism, because he followed Aristotle in 
this, and applied to theology a philosophic method (Ibid.). 


from being autocratic"; l also, "to rationalise 
Christianity (in the technical sense of the term), to 
evince its absolute reasonableness"; 2 again, "to 
reproduce ancient philosophy under the control of 
ecclesiastical doctrine/ With all this desire for 
rationality, in a period of intense intellectual activity, 
there was an immense amount of subtle and often 
absurd speculation. Says Erasmus of its later de 
velopment: "There are innumerable quibblings . .. 
concerning instances and notions, and relations and 
formalitations, and quiddities arid ecceities, which 
no one can follow out with eyes, except a lynx, which 
is said to be able in the thickest darkness to see things 
which exist nowhere." 4 

A multitude of such speculations may be found in 
Anselm; such as, whether God can lie (i. 12); why 
angels could not be redeemed by a God-man (ii. 21) ; 
how Christ was born without original sin (ii. 16); 
how, if the Father became incarnate, there would 
be two grandsons in the Trinity (ii. 9) ; that redemp 
tion was a compensation to supply the deficiency in 
the number of elect angels, occasioned by the fall of 
the devils (i. 16). 5 He has been called, "the Father 

1 F&rrar, op. cit., p. 255. 

3 Shedd, op. cit., I. 75. 

8 Farrar, ubi supra, p. 265. 

4 Hagenbach, Hist. Dod., I. 400. 

* This last is taken from Augustin (De Civ., xxii. 1). Compare 
i. 16 and i. 19: "it is certain"; with i. 18, 11: "Wherefore hu- 


of Scholasticism " ; * but this is interpreted in the 
qualified sense that he gave form to a philosophical 
spirit which had been at work from the time of 
Isidore, and "had almost come to an expression in 
Berengar and Lanfranc; and put it in the way of 
becoming an element of historical progress." The 
scholastic era began in the ninth century, and hence 
its methods were antecedent to Anselm. But he 
began an especially productive period which lasted 
for two centuries, the first of which marked an 
epoch in the history of the doctrine of the Atonement, 
whose discussion was started anew by his notable 

His argument has just those features which we 
should expect from the influences here indicated. 
It is deductive, not inductive which indeed would 
have been impossible in his time. Its premises take 
for granted much that needs consideration, if not 
proof. It assumes Christian dogma, and tries to 
show that it must be true by presenting it in purely 
rational form. 2 It starts with the idea of the reason 
ableness of Christianity, which is to be made clear, 
but faith must precede knowledge. "Rectus or do 
exigit, ut profunda christianae fidei credamus, prius- 

man nature was made for its own account, and not only to restore 
the number of individuals of another nature." 

1 Hasse in Hagenbach, I. 392; Oxenham, p. 180. 

2 Fides quaerens intellectum. 


quam ea praesumamus ratione discutere" (i. 2). 1 
He was a childlike believer, and contended against 
the scepticism engendered by previous modes of 
thought. But his reasoning is strictly a priori, 
"quasi nihil sciatur de Christo" (Praefatio); he 
never proves his positions from the Scriptures, which 
explains his omission of so many elements of the 
doctrine which find place in the New Testament. 
This will be seen to have an impoitant bearing upon 
our acceptance of the details of the theory. It also 
serves to mark his contrast to the Fathers, who were 
Scriptural, even when rationalistic. 2 

Dr. Shedd regards it as an advantage that the 
Christological question from this time turned upon 
theories of the Atonement; and speaks of Anselm s 
view as decidedly in advance of the best Soteriology 
of the patristic age, and agreeing substantially with 
that of the Reformation," just because it is definite 
and metaphysical (II. 274). It is most needful to 
remember that "out of the controversy over these 
theories Protestantism, as a theology, arose, and by 
these theories Protestantism is ever being split into 
sects." 3 The Cur Deus Homo was the prelude to 

* See also Proslog., i: "Neque enim quaero intelligere, ut 
credam; sed credo, ut intelligam. Nam et hoc credo, quia nisi 
credidero, non intelligam." 

3 It is sometimes said that the syllogistic and dialectical 
method began with Tertullian. 

8 The Outlook, Dec. 5, 1896, 


the most important theological discussion since the 
death of Augustin, and we must now proceed to a 
careful statement of the theory and its excellences 
and defects. 

2. "Gun DEUS HoMO?" 1 

Our author is really concerned with the problem, 
how to escape the punishment of sin. He says that 
the men of his time, "non solum literati, sed etiam 
illiterati, " were inquiring whether God could have 
forgiven sin by a simple act of will. The work is an 
answer to this inquiry. It is divided into two books ; 
the first of which replies to objections, and aims to 
prove that man could not have been saved without 
Christ; the second shows that man could have been 
saved only by a God-man, and how this redemption 
was brought about. It is cast in the form of a dia 
logue, which makes it agreeable reading, but exhibits 
the interlocutor, the acquiescent Boso, as too easily 
satisfied with the reasons given by his teacher. 2 

1 The translation used is by Edward S. Prout, published by 
the Religious Tract Society. 

2 Riviere well calls Boso "un interlocuteur de convention," 
"un ami complaisant" (op. tit., p. 292). 

The theory of Anselm is criticised in the Histories of Dogma, 
and in works on the Atonement, of which the following are acces 
sible: R. W. Dale, The Atonement, pp. 279 sq.; John Young, 
The Life and Light of Men, pp. 450 sq. ; J. S. Lidgett, The Spiritual 
Principle of the Atonement, pp. 451 sq.; D. W. Simon, The Re 
demption of Man, pp. 55 sq.; R. C. Moberly, Atonement and 


a. Preliminary to the Argument 

The question which unbelievers "cast in our 
teeth, and many believers ponder in their hearts," 
is, "for what reason or necessity God was made man, 
and by His death, as we believe, restored life to the 
world ?" (i. 1, 3). He first answers objections to the 
Incarnation and sufferings of Christ, by showing the 
fitness of restoring disobedient man by "a man s 
obedience," and of His birth of a woman since "sin 
had its beginning from a woman" (i. 3 and 4). He 
then gives a reason why none other than God could 
have liberated man ; which is not very strong. 1 Boso 
then presents a dilemma (i. 6, 3) : either God is not 
almighty, or else He is unwilling to save us or not 
wise enough. This Anselm answers in a sentence, 
and most evasively and unsatisfactorily: "The will 
of God ought to be a sufficient reason for us when 
He does anything, though we may not see why He 
so wills it, for the will of God is never unreasonable" 
(i. 8). Boso then suggests a difficulty from the current 
theology of the devil s claim upon man, and answers 

Personality, pp. 367 sq.; A. Sabatier, The Doctrine of the Atone- 
ment pp. 68 sq. ; Abbe J. Riviere, Le Dogme de la Redemption, pp. 
291 sq. ; G. B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation, pp. 
136 sq., and Index. . 

1 " Cum ipse, qui non nisi Dei servus et aequalis angelis boms 
per omnia futurus erat, servus esset eius, qui Deus non esset, et 
cuius angeli servi non essent" (i. 5). 


it himself. "But there is the following statement 
also which we are wont to make, that God was 
bound to take action against the devil by a judicial 
process in order to liberate man, before He did so 
by a putting forth of power; . . . otherwise He 
would have done an act of unjust violence to him 
[the devil], since he was justly in possession of man. 
... I do not see the force of this. . . . Since neither 
the devil nor man belongs to any one but God, and 
neither exists apart from the power of God, what 
reason was there for God to deal with His own, con 
cerning His own, in His own, unless to punish His 
own servant who had persuaded his fellow-servant 
to desert their common Lord and secede to him, and 
as a traitor had received a fugitive, a thief had re 
ceived a fellow-thief in possession of the stolen prop 
erty of his Lord?" (i. 7, 1 and 2; also, ii. 19, 18). 

Boso then adduces popular objections (i. 8) ; the 
unfitness that the Most High should stoop to such 
humiliation, that the All-powerful should do any 
thing with so great labour ; and the injustice of allow 
ing an innocent man to suffer as Christ did. Anselm 
replies that there was no humiliation of God in the 
Incarnation, but an exaltation of human nature (i. 8, 
9). 1 Moreover, Christ s suffering was entirely vol 
untary: "God the Father did not treat that Man at 
all in the way you seem to understand, nor did He 
1 But compare Phil. ii. 8. 


deliver to death the innocent for the guilty. For He 
did not compel Him to die or permit Him to be killed 
against His will, but Christ Himself, of His own free 
will, endured death that He might save men" (i. 8, 
14). A distinction must be made between the re 
quirement of obedience and what resulted from His 
obeying (i. 9, 1) : He suffered because He obeyed, 
but He was not commanded to suffer (i. 9, 5). " God 
did not therefore compel Christ, in Whom was no sin, 
to die ; but Christ Himself voluntarily endured death, 
not to show His obedience [per obedientiam] in 
abandoning life, but on account of His obedience in 
holding fast His righteousness, in which He so 
bravely persevered that on that account He incurred 
death" (i. 9, 10). 1 Still Boso is not satisfied, and 
wishes to know why God could not spare the guilty 

1 Here Anselm distinguishes the whole life of obedience as 
issuing in death, from the death itself which, not being com 
manded, was not part of the necessary obedience. The exigencies 
of his theory require him to lay stress on Christ s voluntary en 
durance of what was not demanded of Him as a sinless Man, in 
order to provide the work of supererogation which should repay 
to God the honour of which He had been defrauded. But this 
involves him in a contradiction, for he has already said that life 
was restored by a man s obedience (i. 3) ; and it compels him to 
evade the Scripture passages which assert that Christ was "obe 
dient unto death," and that He did the will and commandment of 
His Father (Phil. ii. 8; Heb. v. 8; Rom. viii. 32; St. Jno. vi. 38; 
xviii. 11; St. Matt. xxvi. 39). These subtle efforts (i. 8 and 9), 
however, are rightly called, by Harnack, "clumsy sophisms." 
Note some strange examples of mediaeval exegesis : on Heb. v. 8 
(i. 9, 12) ; St. Luke ii. 52 (i. 9, 19) ; and St. Matt. xxvi. 42 (i. 9, 24). 


without the death of Christ (i. 10, 23). Anselm then 
comes to the detailed explanation of the work of 
Christ. I shall not follow him in his digressions, or 
from chapter to chapter, but shall present succinctly 
in his own words what constitutes the essence of his 
philosophy of the Atonement. 

b. The Argument 

Logically, his first proposition is that all the actions 
of men are due to the promotion of God s honour , 
and that sin has defrauded God of this honour. "The" 
entire will of a rational creature ought to be subject 
to the will of God. . . . This is the debt which angel 
and man owe to God; no one who pays this, sins, 
and every one who does not pay it does sin. . . . 
This is the sole and entire honour which we owe to 
God, and which God exacts of us. . . . He who does 
not render to God this honour, which is His due, 
takes away from God what is His own, and dishon 
ours God, and this is to sin" (i. 11, 4-6). 

Secondly, sin, which thus deprives God of the 
honour which is His due, is a debt. "Sin therefore 
is nothing else than not rendering to God what is His 
due. . . . This is the debt which angel and man owe 

1 "God is viewed as a distant and mighty suzerain, having an 
absolute claim on the obedience of His subjects, Whose honour 
injured or diminished requires an awful reparation" (Allen, 
Continuity of Christian Thought, p. 202). 


to God. . . . As long as he does not pay what he has 
stolen, he remains in fault" (i. 11, 3-7). As the lost 
honour must be restored, the sinner cannot be simply 
exonerated of his debt by the mercy or mere will of 
God. For such remission is a pretermission of pun 
ishment, which, if satisfaction otherwise be not made, 
is to let sin go without being brought into orderly 
relations with the righteous nature of God (inordina- 
tum dirnittitur ; i. 12, 2). Also, if sin be unpunished, 
there is no objective distinction between the good man 
and the sinner: "God will treat in the same wayj 
him who sins and him who does not; which is aj 
thing not befitting God" (i. 12, 5). 1 

There are only two methods by which God s 
honour may be restored. It cannot be done by our 
returning to obedience, because we owe present and 
future obedience to God in any circumstances, and 
therefore it cannot condone the past. "When you 
render anything, which you owe to God even if you 
have not sinned, you ought not to reckon this as a 
debt which you owe on account of sin. ... In 
obedience, what do you give to God that you do not 
owe Him, to Whose command you owe all that you 
are and have and can become?" (i. 20, 6 and 12).- 
The honour may be vindicated by punishment, which 
exhibits God s supremacy. "God subdues him, 
though unwilling, by tormenting him, and thus shows 
1 Thus punishment is grounded in justice. 


that He is the Lord a truth this same man refuses 
of his own will to confess. And on this point we 
must reflect that as man, by sinning, steals what is 
God s, so God, by punishing, takes away what is 
man s. . . . For although God does not transfer 
what He takes away to the use of His own advantage, 
as a man converts to his own use money he has taken 
from another, yet what He takes away serves the 
purpose of His own honour by the very fact that He 
does take it away. For by doing so he proves that 
the sinner and all that are his are subject to Him 
self" (i. 14. 3-6). 

Or, on the other hand, the honour may be vindi 
cated by making satisfaction, by giving back to God 
more than has been taken away from Him. 1 "It is 
not sufficient only to restore what has been taken 
away, but in return for the injury inflicted he ought 
to restore more than he took away. For just as 
when one injures the health of another, it is not suf 
ficient to restore his health, unless he give some rec 
ompense for the injury inflicted in causing him suffer 
ing; so when one violates the honour of any one, it 
is not sufficient to restore his honour, if he restore not 
something which may be pleasing to him whom he 
has dishonoured, according to the extent of the in 
jury caused by his dishonour. This, too, should be 

1 "Necesse est lit omne peccatum satisfactio aut poena se- 
quatur" (i. 15, 11). 


noticed, that when any one repays what he unjustly 
took away, he ought to give something which could 
not be required of him if he had not stolen the prop 
erty of another. In like manner, every one who sins 
ought to pay back to God the honour he has taken 
away; and this is the satisfaction which every sinner 
ought to make to God" (i. 11, 7-10; also i. 14, 3). 
But God in His lovingkindness does not demand 
punishment, and will therefore accept satisfaction. 1 
He demonstrates the necessity of satisfaction in 
another way, and so leads up to the answer to the 
question on his title-page. The debt of man must 
he. paid: "Nothing is less tolerable in the order of 
things than that the creature should take away from 
the Creator the honour due to Him, and not repay 
what he takes away" (i. 13, 1). "Regard it therefore 
as most certain that without satisfaction, i. e., without 
a willing payment of what is due, God cannot let sin 
pass unpunished; ... for man would not in this 
way be restored to such a position as he had before 
he sinned" (i. 19, 14). But "satisfaction must be 
made according to the measure of sin" (i. 20, 1). Sin 

1 Note the unsatisfactory answer to Boso s difficulty, ^hich is 
acute also in modern times, as to our forgiving another freely, 
while God demands satisfaction (i. 12, 10-12). See also the 
Roman Catholic acceptance of this idea of satisfaction, as ex 
pressed by the Bishop of Amycla: "To make satisfaction to 
another ... is to perform a retributive act more pleasing in tt 
sight of the Person offended than the act to be atoned for was 
displeasing" (The Atonement: A Clerical Symposium, p. 234). 


is such a serious offence that it is impossible for man 
to make compensation for it/ This is illustrated by 
a single look taken in opposition to the will of God, 
which is declared to be so weighty that the whole 
universe should rather perish than that we commit 
such a wrong (i. 21, 3-8). Boso assents to the gravity 
of sin : "I must confess that in order to preserve the 
whole creation, I ought not to do anything against 
the will of God" (i. 21, 9). And Anselm concludes: 
"You do not, therefore, make satisfaction, if you do 
not return something greater than that for the sake 
of which you were under obligation not to commit the 
sin" (i. 21, 14). He enforces this conclusion by re 
turning to the thought of the insult or gross dishonour 
to God through man s voluntary yielding to the devil 
(i. 22). Man "took away from God whatever He 
had purposed to effect out of human nature " (i. 23, 3). 
This he cannot restore : "man, therefore, neither can 
nor ought to receive from God what God purposed to 
give him, if he does not restore to God all that he 
took away, so that as through him God lost, through 
him also God may recover [what He lost]" (i. 23, 6). 1 
"But man, the sinner, can by no means do this, be- 
V cause a sinner cannot justify a sinner" (i. 23, 7). 3 

1 Baur finds here "the nerve of Anselm s doctrine" (Hagen- 
bach, II. 46). 

2 We may remark the attempt to give a rational explanation of 
Augustin s amphiboly, that sin against an infinite God is infinite, 
and deserves infinite punishment. This exaggerated way of 


As the debt must be paid and man cannot pay it, 
the otherwise valid excuse of man s inability will not 
hold, because he has voluntarily incurred this ina 
bility, and so is responsible for it (i. 24). The first 
book then concludes with the assertion that either 
man cannot be saved at all, or he may be saved by 
some other means than that recognised by Christians,^ 
or he must be saved by Christ (i. 25, 5 and 6). Re 
jecting the first two alternatives, he proceeds in the 
second book to show how we are saved by Christ. 1 
The argument is briefly this : man must render satis 
faction, and he cannot do it; but only man ought to, 
and only God can ; hence, God became man in Jesus 
Christ. "This cannot be done except by a complete 
satisfaction for sin, which no sinner can make" (ii. 
4, 3). "There is no one therefore who can make this 
satisfaction except God Himself. . . . But no one 
ought to make it except man ; otherwise man does 
not make satisfaction. ... If, therefore, as is evi 
dent, it is needful that that heavenly state be per 
fected from among men, and this cannot be unless 
the above-mentioned satisfaction be made, which no 
one can make except God, and no one ought to make 
except man ; it is necessary that a God-man make it" 
(ii. 6, 4 and 5). Christ is God-man, not by conversion 

reckoning the heinousness of sin was adopted by Cardinal New 
man (Farrar, Witness of History to Christ, p. 168). 
1 See Boso s summary in ii. 17, 36-40. 


of the Divine nature into the human, nor by the 
blending of the two natures into a tertium quid, but 
by the co-existence of the two natures in one person 
(ii. 7). He must be of the race of Adam, in order to 
make satisfaction for it (ii. 8). Being sinless, He did 
not need to die (ii. 10). "But there is nothing more 
severe and arduous that a man can suffer for the 
honour of God of his own accord, and not as a matter 
of debt, than death. And a man can in no way more 
entirely give himself up to God, than when he delivers 
himself up to death for His honour" (ii. 11, 21). 
Christ s death was therefore voluntary, and herein 
consisted its supreme value : His merits are infinite, / 
hence superabundant and available for man s rescue. 
It is then shown "how His death outweighs the 
number and greatness of all sins" (ii. 14, 1). The 
merit of His death is derived from the uniqueness of 
His personality; "because a sin which is committed 
against His person surpasses beyond comparison all 
those which can be conceived of apart from His per 
son " (ii. 14, 7). "The life of this Man was so exalted 
and so precious, that it may suffice to pay what is due 
for the sins of the whole world, and infinitely more" 
(ii. 17, 40). 1 

1 Infinite merits are substituted for infinite demerit, and so a 
just compensation is made to God s honour. It was the supereroga 
tory character of the obedience that gave it legal value, " its capa 
city to procure forgiveness for the ill-deserving" (Fisher, p. 221). 


"It remains, therefore, now to show how that 
[life] is paid to God for the sins of men" (ii. 17, 40). 
"No man beside Him ever gave to God, by dying, 
what he would not at some time have necessarily 
lost, or paid what he did not owe. But this Man 
freely offered to the Father what it would never have 
been necessary for Him to lose, and paid for sinners 
what He did not owe for Himself" (ii. 18, 5). Thus 
Christ pays the debt, and receiving a forgiveness 
which He did not need, bestows it on man. So great 
a gift must have its reward; but "he who recom 
penses any one, either gives him what he has not, or 
forgives what might be required of him. But before 
the Son did this great work, all things that the Father 
had were His; nor did He ever owe anything that 
could be forgiven Him. ... If so great and well- 
deserved a reward is paid neither to Him nor to 
another, the Son will seem to have accomplished so 
great a work in vain. ... It is needful, therefore, 
that the payment be made to some one else, since it 
cannot be to Him" (ii. 19, 5-8). (in this way, the 
mercy of God is harmonised with His justice. l j The 
mercy seemed to be "clean gone" (per ire), but by 
the contrivance here outlined mankind is redeemed; 
and "what is more just than that He to whom a price 

1 The idea of justice is continually mingled with the argu 
ment concerning God s honour, and, as will be shown, renders it 


is paid more valuable than all the debt, if it is given 
with the proper disposition, should forgive the whole 
debt?" (ii. 20, 3). 1 

c. Some Valuable Features of the Theory 

Its chief merit is that it dealt the death-blow to 
the ancient immoral notion that man was the devil s 
lawful prey, and that the slaveholder s claims must 
be met before the ransom is complete (ii. 19, 18). 2 
This theory of our redemption, which held such long 
sway over the minds of Christian thinkers, is un 
doubtedly rejected as wholly untenable by every 
school of thought in the modern Church. There was 
a certain truth in the idea that we were rescued from 
the power of the devil ; but the patristic statement is 
maimed by the admission that we were purchased 
from him, when as a matter of fact we were redeemed 
by Christ s victory over him^ As the subversion of 
the elder theory is left to Boso, instead of being prom 
inently stated by Anselm, it may be that he did not 
fully realise the important service he was rendering. 
He may not have been sufficiently alive to the con- 

1 I have omitted in this statement of Anselm s argument 
everything but the necessary elements of his theory. 

2 In this respect, Anselm s theory is nobler than that of the 
Fathers. Baur regards this as Anselm s original contribution to 
the development of the doctrine of the Atonement (Die Christ- 
liche Lehre von der Versohnung, p. 187). 


ception of redemption "by a mighty hand and a 
stretched-out arm," like those succeeding him who 
did not follow him in rejecting the ransom paid to 
the devil; and accordingly he made his argument 
against it subordinate and put it into the mouth of 
. Boso. However this may be, he clearly repudiated 
the right of the devil, and declared: "quidquid ab 
illo exigebatur, hoc Deo debebat non diabolo" (ii. 19, 
18). In giving up this mythical transaction with the 
devil, he was combating a long dominant dualism; 
but he unfortunately fell into another "dualism 
within the divine nature itself between justice and 
love," which Professor Allen regards as "a great 
step forward." l So persistent, however, was the 
influence of the patristic conception, that in the next 
century Bernard accused Abelard of heresy for con 
testing it; it is repeated in Peter Lombard and Inno 
cent III., and is found in a sermon by the English 
Bishop Hooper. 

Another practical value of the theory is that, as 
the doctrine of the later Fathers had delivered men 
from the fear of the devil, this "delivered the medi- 
seval world from the unnatural dread of God which 
the Church was engendering." 2 The ecclesiastical 
mediation removed God from any intimate relation 
with mankind ; His paternal love became more and 

Continuity of Christian Thought, p. 202. V 
Allen, Christian Institutions, p. 366. 


more vague and intangible, and men s thoughts of 
Him were paganised into a fear of a distant Ruler 
whose rigorous justice exacted severe punishments * 
This was an unchristian misconception, and in the 
superstitious age in which Anselm wrote, it was 
important that the tendency of his teaching was to 
make the thought of God more alluring. It is true 
that he so presented the complete satisfaction of God s 
claims against us that it might be construed as our 
redemption out of the hands of the Father. But the 
Latin idea of the necessity of appeasing the Divine 
wrath is wholly absent; the demand for satisfaction 
was responded to and fulfilled by God Himself; God 
became man in order that He might be one with man, 
and thus was brought so near that man was freed 
from the dread of Him. 

Again, Anselm has been highly estimated as the 
champion of the objective efficacy of the Atonement. 
The satisfaction which he describes removes an 
obstacle to the work of grace in the forgiveness of 
man, and is exclusively directed towards God. It 
must be admitted that there is to-day a general im 
patience of any explanation of the modus of the 
Atonement/ 1 There are strong objections to most of 
those propounded since his day, and his own has 
such grave defects as to be entirely inadmissible. 
There is particularly a repugnance to any pretended 
acquaintance with things deliberately left undis- 


closed, such as the change wrought by the death of 
Christ in the relation of God towards us. This is 
what is usually meant by "objective"; and, even if 
it were true, it is conspicuously avoided in the New 
Testament, and it is wholly un verifiable. Never 
theless, there is a strong impression, to which the 
purely subjective theories have never done justice, 
that the work of Christ was influential with God as 
well as with men even if it be left wholly unex 
plained; and Anselm must be credited with making 
it permanent from his time, even though we must 
reject every detail of his speculation and must regard 
its exclusively objective character as an essential 

The entire reasoning of St. Paul upon the subject 
of redemption involves the conception of a sacrifice 
unto God, which was too much obscured by the 
patristic coneit} of a payment to the devil. The 
thought is barely suggested and not fully expressed ; 
but it surely gives to the sacrifice a Godward aspect. 
The Apostle certainly thought of Christ as both God , 
and man, and considered that He not only represented 
God to man, but that, as Head of the race, He also 
represented man to God. If he conceived of Christ 
as offering to God the sacrifice of mankind which 
was mystically one with Him, he must have thought 
of the work of Christ as primarily looking towards 
God. It is true that he merely indicates this aspect 


of atonement, while it has been the fashion since 
Anselm to work it out with apparent familiarity 
with all its details. This, however, should not lead 
us to ignore such hints of the objective idea in 
this form as are plainly to be found in the New 

Moreover, the use of such a word as \vrpov or f> 
avr(\vrpov suggests another point of view which 
contains an important truth. The word conveys no 
intimation that the cross was the cause or ground of 
forgiveness; this idea has been the source of the 
hazardous speculation upon what has not been re 
vealed. But it is the simple fact that the cross has 
been the means of the proclamation of forgiveness. 1 
The Scriptural sense of \vrpov is that of a figurative 
description of effect, and not method! our deliver 
ance from sin may be actually traced to the sacrifice 
of Christ, as though a literal ransom had been paid 
by Him; this has been objectively and historically 
the means and cause of our knowledge of the recon 
ciling love of^God. The revelation of that love and 
righteousness was His work, a work which was out 
side of ourselves and independent of us and which 
we could not have performed; it is the historic 
source of our life in Him, and is something more than 
a subjective "moral influence." Hence the Atone 
ment is more than an at-one-ment, at least in the 
1 Cf. W. L. Walker, The Cross and the Kingdom, p. 199. 


sense that an effective work was performed by the 
historic Christ distinct from its consummation in 
our personal reconciliation. We come to be at one 
with God, not merely because we are to-day im 
pressed by the exhibition of God s love in Christ, 
but because what Christ was and did centuries ago 
mediated for us the love and life of God and accom 
plished for us what we could not do for ourselves. 
The term "objective atonement" has traditionally 
meant "an appeasement of which God is the ob 
ject." That description of Christ s work can no 
longer be accepted; all the best modern writers 
vigorously protest against the gross abuse of a 
Christian truth by this pagan survival. (The meaning 
of the adjective has been softened and weakened, 
and so wholly changed, even by the most conserva 
tive theologians, that its use could be discontinued 
with great advantage to clearness of thought. 1 ! But 
the Church cannot afford wholly to lose the idea that 
the life and death of obedience were a sacrifice of 
which God was the object, and that the unique 
service which Christ rendered to mankind was his 
torically and potentially efficient before it was ap 
propriated by any of its beneficiaries. 2 

1 Vide George B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation, 
pp. 425, 432. 

2 Principal Simon stands almost alone in regarding Anselm s 
theory as "exclusively manward-looking." This seems a strange 
misconception; for the dynamic effect of Christ s work is merely 


The moral necessity of this mode of Atonement 
enabled him to express another valuable thought, 
that the Divine will is not absolute. The contrary 
idea had done vast harm to dogma and ecclesiasti- 
cism ever since Augustin had made it fundamental. 
If man could not be restored by a mere fiat, the 
theory of the abstract omnipotence of God disap 
pears. Dr. Allen shows also that he incidentally 
helped to undermine the Papal authority by his 
position that even Almighty God cannot forgive 
sin by His will alone. 1 This opened the way to the 
conception that there are necessities laid upon love 
and righteousness which God cannot evade if He 
will. Athanasius said that God need not redeem 
man, but did so from motives of love. Anselm 
held that God was under necessity, because He 
would have been unjust to Himself if He did not re 
deem (i. cap. 16-18; ii. cap. 4 and 5). But to be 
just to Himself is to be faithful to His own nature of 
Love, and hence there are eternal necessities of 
character which not only limit His power and liberty 

glanced at, and is really inconsistent with his whole point of view. 
Dr. Simon justifies his opinion that Anselm s "conception of the 
influence or action of the work of Christ is not properly objective," 
by laying stress upon Anselm s point that the direct object of 
redemption was to fill the gap made by the fall of the angels, so 
that the theory "really looks towards the cosmos as a whole, with 
special reference, of course, to man and angelic intelligences" 
(D. W. Simon, The Redemption of Man, pp. 54-58). 
1 Christian Institutions, p. 367. 


(i. 12, 14), but which impel Him to those acts which 
constitute His glory and make Him supremely 
worthy of our worship. 1 

Still another valuable element in the theory is 
its emphasis upon Christ s work as being essentially 
obedience. It is true that the efficacious import of 
that work was found in His voluntary submission 
to death, but the stress lies upon His obedience unto 
death. 2 The satisfaction therefore was active, and 
the idea of punishment is entirely absent from the 

1 Dr. Stevens considers that Anselm has not made out the 
absolute necessity of a particular method of redemption, but only 
that it was fit or suitable, required by the Divine feeling of com 
promised dignity or honour (Op. cit., p. 243). But the idea 
of a moral necessity is undoubtedly to be found in the above 

2 I have already indicated that Anselm is contradictory in his 
statements on this point. He makes the satisfaction to consist in 
Christ s gift of His life, which was not a commandment of God 
and therefore not an essential part of His duty. It was additional 
to His required obedience, and that constituted its merit or legal 
value. But he begins by calling Christ s work " a man s obedience" 
(i. 3); he expressly says that the death was "inflicted on Him 
because He persevered in obedience" (i. 9) ; and he admits that 
the cup which could not pass from Him was the death which God 
had willed as the means of saving the world, and God had sent 
Him to perform that will (i. 10). There could have been no 
ethical significance in the death if it had not been obedience. 
There could have been no merit or desert if it was not a moral act. 
In his contrast of necessity and free will, be simply juggles with 
the former word; for no one considers the moral necessity of 
obedience as incompatible with freedom. Hence, Dr. Fisher is 
quite right in describing Anselm s conception of satisfaction: "It 
was an act of obedience, but a supererogatory act of obedience" 
(p. 221). 


scheme, and indeed quite alien to it.)) It is of the 
highest importance to the understanding of the re 
lation of Anselm s theory to the subsequent modifi 
cation of it, that it should he emphasised as far 
removed from the penal satisfaction of later times. 
Instead of being penal, it was explicitly a substitute 
for the penal idea. The distinction, "satisfactio 
aut poena," is vital to the whole argument ; and the 
very title of the book shows that Anselm did not 
wholly separate the death from the previous human 
life, as was the subsequent custom of many Protes 
tant theologians. 2 

The legal and quantitative method of conceiving 
the satisfaction may be passed over as no longer 
concerning modern thought; but it is a profoundly 
ethical advantage to have it asserted that God can 
be satisfied with nothing less than an obedience as 
perfect as His Son s. Anselm was unable to give 
this statement its due moral significance; but, inas 
much as Satisfaction was the characteristic word of 

1 Baur is certainly right upon this point, and Hagenbach as 
certainly wrong (II. 46). 

3 Abbe Riviere, however, insists that the theory is one of 
penal satisfaction, because satisfaction being a painful work 
(une ceuvre penible) is itself a penalty (une peine; op, cit., p. 310). 
But Anselm definitely avoids the idea of punishment, and makes 
the whole virtue of Christ s submission to death to consist in 
voluntary active obedience; and his theory cannot be called 
penal merely because some of its details are derived from the 
ecclesiastical system of penance. 


this period, as Ransom was of the patristic, and 
Substitution of the Reformation, and the word is 
still vital in all discussions upon Soteriology, we may 
apply it in ways impossible to him and more con 
genial to a Scriptural understanding of the doctrine. 
I Even as he put it, the grace of God is solely mani 
fested in the saving work of Christ, and his argument 
leads to the modern thought of Christ Himself as 
our salvation and atonement. Notwithstanding its 
failure as a speculation, it was a real attempt to as 
sociate the Incarnation with the needs of the indi 
vidual : this is the practical meaning of his doctrine, 
and it is still the dynamic element of personal 

It is wonderful that a theory which had for one 
of its chief antecedents the ideas of a penitential 
discipline should have contained a feature which 
led ultimately to the overthrow of that discipline; 
but this may be regarded as its final excellence. It 
is a notable fact that Anselm should have been con 
cerned with the question, Why did God become Man ? 
jThe very limitation of the inquiry turned men s 
i thoughts away from the externalism and superstition 
/ of a mere ecclesiastical system to the significance of 
the person and work of Christ. The discussion has 
not one word to say of personal and legal satisfactions, 
of priestly interpositions, of the Church s control 
of the means of salvation. It fixes attention upon 


the redemptive meaning of the Incarnation, upon the 
perfect offering of an obedient life, upon a death 
whose loving acquiescence and completeness of 
sacrificial surrender absolutely satisfied a Father s 
desire for an ideal Son, and it makes these the all- 
sufficient source and explanation of our reconcilia 
tion with God. 1 That is to say, it acknowledges the 
greatness and sufficiency of Christ s work; forgive 
ness "springs from the Divine initiative, rests on 
Divinely appointed means," is the free gift of Divine 
grace, and is undeserved and wholly dissociated 
from human merit. Doubtless, the usual ecclesias 
tical means of applying the benefits of this work 
to the individual soul are taken for granted. Doubt 
less, Anselm would have been dismayed at any in 
ferences from his theory which would have impaired 
the authority of the Church and disparaged the 
traditional mode of its exercise. Nevertheless, the 
emphasis was removed from the futile efforts of the 
sinner to placate the favour of God by his own merits 
and good works to the obedient death of One whose 
merits were infinite, who had superabundantly ful 
filled the demands of the Divine righteousness, and 
who was willing to share His reward with those 
who followed Him. The precise form of the state 
ment may have been of only temporary value, but it 
exalted the figure and achievement of the Redeemer 
to the supreme place which they occupy in the New 


Testament. The remunerative discipline of the 
Church might continue for centuries longer, might 
even grow more degraded and offensive. But the 
fact of man s forgiveness had been treated quite 
apart from that discipline, and had been adequately 
accounted for in the person and work of Christ 
alone; and thus the way was prepared for the dis 
regard of the pagan system introduced by Tertullian 
and Cyprian, and for a return to the Pauline under 
standing of the plenary efficiency of the Incarnate 
life and death. 1 

d. Defects oj the Theory 

There are three main defects marking the theory 
as a whole, to be noted before proceeding to a criti 
cism in detail. First, it is wholly outside of the teach 
ing of the Scriptures. The total silence of the New 
Testament upon its essential elements furnishes a 
strong presupposition against it. The expressed 
intention of the author to conduct his discussion as 
though nothing had been revealed upon the subject 
might have had great apologetic value if his con 
clusions had coincided with the Apostolic concep 
tions of the work of Christ. But when he is ex- 

1 It is unfortunate that nearly every good feature in this 
treatise should be so connected with objectionable details that it 
must be isolated and reapplied before it is of use to doctrinal or 
practical theology. 


clusively speculative and rationalistic and takes a 
point of view entirely unfamiliar to the inspired 
writers, his very originality is the most suspicious 
feature of his argument. 1 By his consistent disre 
gard of Scripture he fails adequately to include the 
death of Christ with his whole life-work, and con 
siders it as an adscititious merit rather than as the 
consummation of His redeeming effort. 7 "This 
God-man need not have preached and founded a 
kingdom, no disciples need have been gathered : He 
only required to die." 2 Anselm entirely passes over 
the fundamental ideas of St. Paul, who treated of the 
work of Christ under the categories of redemption 
(aTroXvT/Dftxrt?, avri\VTpov, e^ayopd^eiv), of sacri 
fice (6vo-ia\ of propitiation (l\ao-Trjpiov ), of recon 
ciliation (rcaraXXaytf), of mediation (/-ie<7/T?7?), of 
representation (vTrep) and mystical union (ev Xpia-rq), 
/ce(f>a\r) TOV o-a)fj,aros, etc). He brings us into an at 
mosphere quite uncongenial with any of these con 
cepts. He is so purely speculative, so entirely aloof 
from Biblical ideas, that the enormous influence of 
his characteristic word has made nearly all subse 
quent thought on the Atonement extra-Scriptural, 
if not unscriptural. 3 This is so distinct a defect that 

1 Baur calls his theorising "abstract dialectic" (Die Christ 
Lehre, p. 185). Minute definition has been, in Soteriology more 
than in other departments, the scourge of theological thought. 

8 Harnack, op. cit., VI. 76. 

8 "I know of no important treatise on our subject which has so 


Professor Harnack says that it is strange that any 
thing so unworthy of the Apostolic tradition could 
have been produced without being condemned as 
heretical. "No theory so bad had ever before his 
day been given out as ecclesiastical. But perhaps no 
one can frame a better, who isolates the death of 
Christ from His life, and wishes to see in this death 
something else than the consummation of the ser 
vice* which He rendered throughout His life." * 

Secondly, the theory fails even as an abstract and 
rationalistic explanation of the Atonement. It is 
severely logical in method, and marked by a passion 
for metaphysical subtlety. It exhibits the same 
reverence for the intellectual process as such that 
was afterwards displayed by the Calvinist scholas 
tics; it is not concerned with what precious things 
are trampled down in the march of the remorseless 
argument, ^oso cries out at the demonstration that 
forgiveness of the sinner, forasmuch as he had not to 
pay, is contrary to justice ; which permits nothing 
but punishment to be the due of sin. He says: "If 
God follows the method [rationem] of justice, God s 
mercy seems to be at an end." To which Anselm 
frigidly replies: "Rationem postulasti, rationem 
accipe" (i. 24, 20, 21, 23); and poor Boso hastens 

few points of contact with Scripture" (Stevens, Christ. Dod. of 
Salvation, p. 243). 
1 Op. tit., VI. 78. 



to yield : "I, at any rate, do not see that any of your 
arguments can be invalidated." 

Now, there is nothing in Christianity antagonistic 
to logic or philosophy; but if the philosophy be 
false or crude, if the premises of the logical process 
be themselves insecure both of which are true of 
Anselm s argument then the theory lacks scien 
tific validity. Dr. Shedd remarks: "Anselm con 
cedes, by implication, throughout his work, that if it 
cannot be made out that the vicarious satisfaction 
of Divine justice, by the theanthropic sufferings of 
Jesus Christ, is required by a necessary and imma 
nent attribute of the Divine nature, then a scientific 
character cannot be vindicated for the doctrine; for 
nothing that is not metaphysically necessary is 
scientific." * But Anselm explicitly denies any 
metaphysical necessity; the most that he will admit 
is the moral necessity of not leaving the universe 
unordered (inordinatum). Then, he makes Christ s 
work depend on the Divine determination to save 
enough men to take the place of the fallen angels: 
an idea which he derived from Augustin (Enchir., 
62). This trivial notion is so completely without 
verification, his general postulates are so alien to 
Christian ideas of God s nature and relation to us, 
his syllogisms are so fallacious, that the pretentious 
structure is manifestly without foundation. 
1 Hist. Doc*., II. 275. 


The third general defect is that it is external and 
institutional, as will be seen in the ensuing criticism. 1 
It was the weak sense of individuality characteristic 
of the times that gave the penitential system its op 
portunity, and made it, together with the ruling ideas 
of the criminal law and of feudal customs, the natural 
mould of Anselm s thought J He could not have 
escaped his environment, perhaps ; for he lived in a 
preeminently institutional age, was a prince of an 
institutional Church, which offered an institutional 
religion. But Christianity, while it necessarily de 
veloped institutions, is essentially personal ; and the 
most vital element of our religion is ignored by 
Anselm, except in a mere incidental reference of a 
few lines. 2 

(1) The Idea of Honour 

Sin is conceived as a deprivation of the honour 
of God, and hence satisfaction is the vindication of 
His dignity as a sovereign. 3 As sin is "an affront 

1 Mr. Lidgett contrasts the real and spiritual atonement con 
ceived by Athanasius with the "external, mechanical, and almost 
accidental" satisfaction of Anselm s theory, wherein salvation 
becomes "rather a gift of external status than of spiritual con 
dition" (Spir. Princ. of At., p. 455). 

* Latin and early Teutonic Christianity was largely corporate 
rather than personal. The chief personal expression of religion 
among Catholics as distinct from ecclesiastical practices 
was through mysticism, of which Anselm in this treatise betrays 
hardly a trace. 

3 The whole conception of God as an "over-lord" is crudely 


to His infinite majesty," " the Atonement is therefore 
an act of homage to God in which His supremacy 
is recognised." 1 This is derived from the institu 
tion of feudalism. The offence is not the wounding 
of the heart of personal love, but defrauding the 
suzerain of a vassal s service ; and so the reparation 
is not the reconciliation of the rebellious subject to 
his duty, not even the conciliation of the Ruler by a 
Sponsor who ensures the obedience of the serf, but 
the soothing of a feeling of impaired official prestige 
and glory. Dr. Harnack speaks of it as "the mytho 
logical conception of God as a mighty private-man, 
who is incensed at the injury done to His honour, 
and does not forego His wrath until He has received 
an at least adequately great equivalent." 2 

(a) But there is here a logical inconsistency. 
First, as to the premises of satisfaction. By making 
the honour of God fundamental, he has not demon 
strated that legal satisfaction is the only condition 
of forgiveness, as he himself is constrained to admit 
(ii. 17, 31). But then he has practically made it the 
only condition by introducing the claim of justice. 3 

1 Dale, The Atonement, p. 284. 

* Vol. VI. p. 76. Among other incongruities, notice that God 
cannot forgive for the sake of His honour, and then cannot receive 
again "hominem peccati sorde maculatum sine omni lavatione, i. e. 
absque omni satisfaction " (i. 19, 12); in the latter case satis 
faction consists in moral cleansing. 

* It is of the utmost importance to observe that Anselm inserts 
this alien idea, making his argument thenceforth that forgiveness 


Compensation is due to the honour of God, but it is 
required by His justice; the justice is involved in the 
acceptance of Christ s death as a reparation. 1 That 
is, according to Anselm s own premises, it is not 
honour, but justice, which makes satisfaction the 
only proper condition of forgiveness. But the two 
ideas are incompatible ; they denote entirely different 
relations between God and man. "The relation of 
men to God cannot be determined at once by the 
glory of God, in which God is the superior of the 
latter, . . . and, at the same time by the justice of 
God implying a legal coordination between man 
and God." 2 There is a difference between a sov 
ereign whose majesty has been insulted an of 
fence to be atoned for only by punishment, not to 
be wiped out by any commutation and a person 
whose honour has been injured, who claims satis 
faction for the infringement of his rights, and who 
thus occupies before the law a coordinate relation 

without satisfaction is contrary to justice, instead of being de 
manded by God s honour. "Sibi ipsi Deus Justus non erit" 
(i. 13, 7). "Intende in districtam justitiam" (i. 23, 4). "Verum 
hujusmodi misericordia Dei nimis est contraria justitiae illius" 
(i. 24, 16). See also i. 12, title; i. 13, 2; ii. 20, title, and last 

1 " Satisfaction to God is necessary generally, on account 
of His honour: particularly, on account of His justice" (Ritschl, 
p. 27). "But . . . the idea of satisfaction is not regulated directly 
by the honour of God, but by His justice" (Ibid., p. 29). 

2 Ibid., p. 30. Per contra, see Josef Bach, Dogmengeschichte 
des Mittelalters, I. 347, note 99. 


with the offender. "Reparation to the injured 
honour of God" is not to be "compared to a civil 
action for damages." The logical conclusion from 
the premise of honour is that no satisfaction can be 
rendered. Admitting satisfaction on the score of 
justice, another might conceivably render it, but ihen 
honour ceases to be fundamental. Therefore, satis 
faction may be consistent with the justice of God, 
but not with the claim of His honour. 1 

The theory is logically inconsistent, secondly, as 
to what constituted the value of Christ s death as 
satisfaction. The author says that Christ was not 
bound to die as man was, but He did it to make com 
pensation to the honour of God; the whole merit 
of the death lay in its being voluntary and therefore 
surplus. The very gist of the theory is found in this 
point. The entire eighteenth chapter of Book ii is 
devoted to a subtle effort to prove that Jesus "non de- 
buit facere, quia non ex debito." 2 But "the God-man 
is constantly bound, on Anselm s own assumptions, to 
the honour of God." 3 "He was under obligation to 
do what He thought to be better and more pleasing 
to God," is the statement of Boso himself which 
Anselm endorses and then seeks to explain away. 4 

1 Harnack, op. cit., VI. 72, 73. 

2 Observe the special emphasis in section 5 of that chapter, 
quoted above. 

8 Ritschl, op. cit., p. 32. 

* Lib. ii. 18, 8. See also i. 9, 4, 5, 24. 


This is His personal duty as man; for Anselm dis 
tinctly makes the obedience as human as the death. 
But if the death was the requisite satisfaction for the 
injured honour, then, although He was exempt from 
death regarded as the punishment of sin, He must 
die to restore the honour. In which case the death 
was not voluntary, in Anselm s sense of suffering 
what He was under no obligation to undergo. Hence, 
according to the theory, it was not a gift over and 
above what was due, and it was not priceless in 
value; it lacked the quality of either surplus or 
superlative merit which would make it a satisfaction 
that could be carried to the account of sinners. 1 
Being a human death, the dignity of the Divine 
person could not have made it infinite from any 
point of view. 2 On the other hand, if it was volun 
tary and yet not a part of His obligation, the death 
was not a personal obedience, but a mere material 
payment or compensation. Or, in a word, if the 
death of Christ was no part of His duty, it was not 
a personal satisfaction and had only the ethical sig 
nificance of a bank-note ; if it was personal, then He 
owed it to God and could not claim it as a merit or 
y ground of satisfaction. 3 

1 Oxenham, Cath. Doct. of At, pp. 186-188. 

* The distinction between the Divine and human natures as 
subjects betrayed him into other difficulties. See later on Nestorian 

8 Ritschl, ubi supra; Harnack, VI. 72, It does not follow, as 


(b) The theory, however, is destroyed by Anselm 
himself. The loss of God s honour is the basis of 
his whole reasoning; but he admits that God can 
suffer no objective loss of this kind. "It is impossible 
for God to lose His own honour" (i. 14, 2). " Nothing 
can be added to or taken from the honour of God 
absolutely [quantum ad ilium pertinet]. For this 
honour, like Himself, is incorruptible, and in no 
way subject to change" (i. 15, 2). "It is plain, 
therefore, that no one can honour or dishonour God 
as He is in Himself; but any one seems to do it, so 
far as it is in his power, when he submits or with 
holds his will from the will of God" (i. 15, 12). The 
too complaisant Boso may reply: "I do not know 
that I can say anything against this"; but in fact 
the argument, notwithstanding all its acuteness, is 
utterly vitiated by this contradiction. 1 

Dr. Baur gives the most plausible statement of 
Anselm s distinction between the essential honour 
which is immanent and inviolable, and the exterior 
honour which consists in the order of the world and 
which we may either respect or violate. 2 This dis 
tinction undoubtedly is made; but it does not help 
our author s case, as he himself indicates by such 

RitschI asserts, that Anselm was not influenced by the analogy of 
the Wergeld, but only that he failed to apply it consistently. 

1 Hagenbach, Hist. Doct., II. 45; Harnack, Hist. Dogm., 
VI. 72. 

3 Christ. Lehre, pp. 173 sq. 


words as "seems," "as if" (i. 9 and 15). If the 
honour that was lost is the moral order of the uni 
verse, if the outrage upon that honour is our refusal 
of obedience to the moral order, then the necessary 
reparation cannot be an act of satisfaction which 
purports to supply a past deficiency, but a restora 
tion of the order by the sinner s own obedience. 
What God exacts for our refusal to obey His laws 
and recognise His authority is a reversal of our atti 
tude, combined with an inevitable endurance of 
spiritual penalty. But Anselm degrades the demand 
and longing for submission to the moral order into a 
sense of injured dignity, more suited to a petty 
potentate than the Ruler of the universe who is also 
the Father of men. By reducing the honour or 
glory of God from the noble idea that it is synony 
mous with His character to the shallow conception of 
a prestige which must be saved from insult, he ex 
ternalises and conventionalises the Divine relation 
to us, and deprives God s personal claim of all moral 
significance. What he calls God s honour is very 
ill expressed by such a term, and requires no such 
elaborate satisfaction as he outlines ; the injury done 
to it calls for simpler and yet profounder atonement. 
The distinction between intrinsic and external 
honour, then, simply helps to involve the argument 
in utter confusion and contradiction. 1 

1 The judicial fictions of the Germanic law were not moral, 
and have been outgrown in the laws of modern nations. The 


(2) The Idea of Satisfaction 

This refers to the human obligation as the idea 
of honour does to the Divine claim. It may there 
fore be ascribed to the same institutional origin. 
But, considered by itself, as the payment of a debt, 
it allies itself with those other externalising insti 
tutions, the penal requirement of the Wergeld and 
the ecclesiastical practice of commutation. 

(a) The conception of sin as debt. 

The use of this figure was justified both by the 
Scriptures and the Fathers, though probably de 
rived from neither. As Anselm was familiar with 
the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, it is strange 
that he should have so completely missed both its 
surface statement and its deeper meaning. His 
thought of sin as debt necessitates a payment by the 
debtor or his substitute ; the Scriptural idea is as 
sociated not with payment, but with forgiveness 
(St. Matt. vi. 12; xviii. 27; St. Luke vii. 42). The 
patristic treatment of debt is equally far removed 
from Anselm s, especially as it is seen in Athanasius. 
That was not the compensation for a loss, but the 
fulfilment of a law which demanded death as the 
penalty of sin. The analogy was not commercial, 

atmosphere of thought has so changed that these notions can no 
longer live in it. 


but ethical; whereas Anselm made no distinction 
between pecuniary and moral debts. However, the 
one represents a thing demanded and given, the 
other a personal failure whose liability cannot be 
transferred. But the obligation to restore God s * 
honour is entirely impersonal and unmoral, because 
it may be evaded by the debtor and passed over to 
One who is not Himself bound to fulfil it. Moreover, 
sin is to be measured not by its effects upon God, 
but by its motive and intention, and its relation to 
righteousness; there all its ethical quality lies. 
Consequently, it is idle to establish a quantitative 
relation between the sum of human sin and Christ s 
merits, and to make a single sin equivalent to an 
infinite debt. 1 The conception therefore is neither 
Scriptural nor patristic, and is seen to be hopelessly 
unsatisfactory as soon as we consider the payment 
of the debt. 

He has no understanding of a real salvation be 
cause he has no real understanding of sin. It is 
represented as something momentous in its effects 
upon both God and man, but its true ethical char 
acter is never discerned. It is not to him an "offence 
against inherent right and truth," against the reason 
able principles of righteousness or the loving heart of 

1 He strives to make this seem reasonable (i. 21), but 
it is a useless attempt to maintain the validity of Augustin s 


a Father ; it is not disunity of spirit or perversion of 
will or depravation of nature. It is an affront to a 
great dignitary, a laesa majestas, an outward act of 
refusal to pay what is due. As Dr. Stevens says: 

"According to this theory, sin is high treason, not 
moral corruption; it is not a character; it re 
mains outside the human conscience; it is, indeed, 
a great fault, but it is hardly a moral fault; it 
is sternly condemned, but not by holiness in God 
or conscience in man. ... It would be difficult 
to name any prominent treatise on atonement whose 
conception of sin is so essentially unethical and 

As this notion of sin is so unreal and irrelevant to 
man s need of an actual salvation, the analogy of it 
as debt is necessarily misleading. A personal quality 
cannot be treated as similar to a pecuniary or legal 
liability. It cannot be measured, or compared in 
quantity, or offset by an equivalent. It is not an 
obligation that may be shifted to another or assumed 
by him. So far as the past is concerned, it does not 
represent anything that may be paid ; it may be for 
given, it may be altered, but it does not admit of 

* compensation. But Anselm s theory has no reference 
to the personal or the qualitative idea; and such 
language as the following is fundamental: "secun- 
dum mensuram peccati oportet satisfactionem esse" 

Op. cit., p. 242. 


(i. 20, 1); "patet quia secundum quantitatem exigit 
Deus satisfactionem" (i. 21, 13). 1 

(b) Christ s death as a satisfaction. 

Until evidence is forthcoming that Cyprian de 
scribed Christ s work as a satisfaction, we may 
consider that Anselm was the first to use the term 
as part of a theory. The fact that the Church had to 
wait a thousand years for such a philosophy of the 

1 Baur, Christ. Lehre, p. 188. "His question is conceived 
arithmetically, and raised really in terms of arithmetic. What 
wonder if the conclusion reached is also arithmetical? Non est 
aliud peccare quam Deo non reddere debitum. Here is a defini 
tion which though true no doubt as far as it goes is fatal. 
It makes sin in its essence quantitative, and, as quantitative, 
external to the self of the sinner, and measurable, as if it had a self, 
in itself. The problem caused by sin is exhibited as if it were a 
faulty equation, which by fresh balancing of quantities is to be 
equated aright. But, in fact, sin is not in what I do so really as in 
what I am. What I am may be evidenced, nay, may be actualized, 
through what I do. Yet the sin lies not in the deed, as deed ; but in 
the I , as doer of the deed. The I is not distinguishable from 
the sin. The sin is within the I. It is in what I am. It follows 
that it is an impossibility, in any full sense of the words, dimittere 
peccatum, so long as, in real fact, peccatum remains. But if sin 
is within the I, it does remain until the I be changed. It is an 
essential alteration of the very constitution of the I, not a trans 
action or equation external to the I, in which the true forgiveness 
of sins finds its meaning. There could hardly be a better illustra 
tion than the Cur Deus Homo, of the inherent failure of any ex 
position of atonement, which is not, at every turn, in terms of 
personality ; which does not find, in all the terms concerned, in sin, 
in punishment, in penitence, in forgiveness, in atonement, mean 
ings which, if conceived of apart from personality, and not as 
aspects, or states, or possibilities of personality, would rapidly 
become no meanings at all" (Moberly, Atonement and Personality, 
pp. 370 *?.). ^~- 


Atonement suggests the strongest doubt of its truth, 
apart from any question of the interpretation itself. 
But the theory is open to fatal objections, both on 
speculative grounds and on account of its disagree 
ment with the New Testatment. 

The obedience of Christ unto death was not a 
satisfaction of God s demands upon men. Anselm 
proposes only two modes of satisfying God s honour, 
punishment and vicarious payment, but neither of 
them can satisfy God. The honour of God is what 
the Bible calls His glory. But His glory is not an 
external dignity that may be imperilled and out 
raged; it is inseparably associated with His char 
acter. Anselm, of course, specifically distinguishes 
satisfaction from punishment; but he particularly 
admits that God s honour may be vindicated by 
punishment (i. 14, 3-6), and because this would 
"serve the purpose of His honour" it must be 
thought of as a possible (though rejected) satisfac 
tion of His requirements. 

Now, punishment for sin comes inevitably, but its 
visitation is no satisfaction to the Divine righteous 
ness, except as that righteousness is involved in the 
operation of the law of sin and penalty. In interpret 
ing the work of Christ by means of the analogies of 
mediaeval sovereignty, Anselm was misled by the 
defects and temporary value of that system, to which 
indeed he could not be alive. A feudal monarch 


might not be able to rise above a sensitiveness to his 
personal honour, and might be satisfied with in 
different amends for slights upon it. But God is not 
a monarch, much less a mediaeval monarch. He 
cannot be satisfied with the punishment of the sinner 
or any one else. He would not be glorified, that is, 
His honour would not be restored, by the perdition 
of all mankind : a lost soul is not a satisfaction but 
an eternal loss to God. The grandeur of the Biblical 
description of a Father is that it shows that nothing 
can satisfy the righteous love, which is the synonym 
for His character, but the fulfilment of His desire 
for His children s obedience. 1 

This is the strange and radical misunderstanding 
of the theory that something else will satisfy a 
Father than the one thing upon which He has set 
His heart, that punishment is a conceivable alterna 
tive for the restoration of God s honour. He can be 
satisfied only by our redemption, by a filial return 
not a legal payment, by a positive righteousness not 
a passive endurance of penalty, by an actual response 
to His demand of goodness not by a material and 
juristic requital of pain or a formal equation. In the 
modern retention of the word, this is the ethical 

1 Anselm makes God act in His own interests rather than 
ours; an objection raised by Boso, and not answered by Anselm 
(ii. 4, 5). Hence he fails to manifest the Divine love in dwelling 
upon the personal resentment, the enforcement of personal claim, 
and the content with an inadequate satisfaction. 


sense we put upon it : " God is not satisfied except 
by really saving us." 1 "How could the Father be 
satisfied with the death of Christ, unless He saw in 
the sacrifice mirrored His own love ? for God can 
be satisfied only with that which is as perfect as 
Himself. Agony doesn t satisfy God; agony only 
satisfied Moloch. Nothing satisfies God but the 
voluntary sacrifice of love." 2 

But Anselm says that God accepts another satis 
faction in lieu of punishment; and even that cannot 
satisfy Him. The question of another s obedience 
substituted for what He demands of each individual 
may be deferred for the present. Even if it could be 
accepted, it could not satisfy the longings of the 
Divine nature, which underlie any expression of 
His law. The obedience which man failed to render 
is conceived according to the feudal notion of the 
service of a vassal; and Christ s rendering of this 
service is if not a mercantile transaction, as it has 
sometimes been called a thoroughly unspiritual 
and external conception of what would satisfy the 
righteousness of God. If only such a service is re 
quired, it is easy to understand why Anselm did not 
appreciate the ethical difficulties of his system, and 
why the Divine honour was so easily restored. But 
it quite overlooks the inner relation between sin and 

1 Stevens, op. cit., p. 210. 

8 F. W. Robertson, Sermons, second series, p. 301. 


a true satisfaction. Dr. Dale says: "The Atone 
ment is ... an act of homage having such tran 
scendent value that it outweighs the sins of mankind, 
and creates an adequate reason for remitting them" * 
(p. 284). This corresponds to Anselm s view that 
"escape from the punishment of sin is the highest 
deliverance which the redemption in Christ accom 
plished." 1 But it is a very poor rendering of the 
Scriptural thought of freedom from sin and union 
with Christ, to make forgiveness mean only acquittal 
or the suspension of penalty. Anselm s conception 
of sin, however, had been too much externalised by 
the system of penances for him to have a true under 
standing of the punishment of sin. The outward 
act only could be estimated for the purposes of dis 
cipline, and naturally the adventitious penalty was 
thought of rather than the essential. It is a very 
light valuation of the consequence of sin which 
makes it to consist in physical death; but that 
seems to be Anselm s idea of its severest result. 
From this point of view it is merely judicial, dis 
connected, arbitrary, not natural and organic. The 
modern analogies are biological rather than legal, 
and the penalties of sin are perceived to be not ex 
trinsic, but inherent and inevitable. The sinful act 
punishes itself with the capacity and likelihood of 
further sinning, and it continues so to do as long as 

1 Allen, Christian Institutions, p. 366. 


its source remains in the soul. The sinful state is 
itself the dreadful penalty, and that is entirely ig 
nored : no external satisfaction can affect this. "The 
damage suffered is internal to the man," and hence 
the relief needed is a new internal right relation with 
God. The sinful will is the cause, and the sinful 
habit or character is the effect; and the thing re 
quired to obviate this penal effect is something to 
operate upon its cause. No amends, even by the 
Son of God Himself, can of itself remove the punish 
ment of the state of sin, the deterioration of the 
spiritual life. Even if we could admit that Christ s 
work were best regarded as a shield from the law s 
justice, "a cut-off of the natural consequences of 
wrongdoing," it would still not be a satisfaction in 
the sense of Anselm ; because it would not touch the 
most serious and awful of those consequences. They 
can be done away only by a literal reparation, not 
by an indemnification. If satisfaction is in lieu 
of punishment, and is accepted as the equivalent of 
punishment, which thenceforth may not be visited 
upon the man for whom Christ died, then Christ s 
payment of the debt is not a satisfaction because 
the worst part of the punishment is not provided 
for. 1 

Besides, the satisfaction which is said to have 

l See, for full discussion, J. M. Whiton, Divine Satisfaction, 
and John Young, Life and Light of Men. 


averted the punishment was an opus supereroga- 
tionis, which is the fatal flaw in the notion of Indul 
gences and the treasury of merit. The idea that a 
man could do all that was required of him, and more, 
reveals a crude apprehension of what will satisfy 
the heart of the Father of men. This theory of satis 
faction corresponds to nothing whatever in our ex 
perience or in our conscience. Instead of contenting 
conscience, it excites its scruples and critical judg 
ment. Instead of being confirmed .by experience, we 
do as a matter of fact endure many penalties of sin 
for which full satisfaction is said to have been made. 
But Anselm teaches satisfaction instead of punish 
ment, and hence penalties can no longer be justly 
visited upon us; nevertheless, they are visited, and 
therefore there has been no such satisfaction. 

Again, if the death of Christ were accepted as a 
genuine satisfaction, it would nullify the Divine for 
giveness. Anselm foresaw this serious difficulty, 
which is suggested by Boso and is not answered, and 
remains unanswered to this day in connection with 
any form of the theory. "But how is it that we say 
to God, Forgive us our debts, and every nation 
prays to the God in Whom it believes, that He would 
forgive their sins ? For if we pay what we owe, why 
do we pray Him to forgive? For is God unjust, to 
demand again what has been paid? But if we do not 
pay, why do we pray in vain that Pie would do what 


He cannot because it is unseemly?" (i. 19, 15 and 16). 
Anselm evades the point: "It is not needful now to 
answer as to this. For when you learn why Christ 
died, perhaps you will see for yourself what you are 
asking." All that he offers is the following: "He 
who does not pay says in vain, * Forgive, but he who 
pays asks for pardon ; for the very fact that he asks 
is part of the payment. 1 For God owes no man any 
thing, but every creature is in debt to Him ; and so 
it is not proper for a man to deal with God as an 
equal with an equal." 2 To this Boso as usual re 
plies, "Sufficit nunc mihi " ; but the explanation does 
not suffice. 

The satisfaction of Christ was the discharge of 
man s debt; consequent upon that payment there 
can be no forgiveness, for there is nothing to forgive. 
When every debt incurred in the past or possible in 
the future has been abundantly paid many times 
over, it is unjust to consider man a debtor ; the more 
than sufficient satisfaction makes it an act of justice 
to declare man free of debt. But precisely because 
it is thus an act of justice, it is not then an act of 
mercy. There can be no compassion or generosity 

1 He is talking of our prayers, though he may identify Christ 
who pays with us who pray. In any case, our supplication is made 
part of the payment, and so Christ has not completely satisfied for 

J The justice of forgiving a paid debt is further asserted in 
ii. 20. 


in foregoing a claim which has been paid to the utter 
most farthing. Either the debt has been fully paid, 
and there can be no forgiveness; or enough debt 
remains to be forgiven, and then there has been no 
satisfaction: the two thoughts are wholly incom 
patible. The force of this contention is admitted 
by many advocates of passive satisfaction, 1 and is 
boldly asserted by Dr. Charles Hodge: "It is a 
simple matter of commutative justice, a quid pro quo, 
so much for so much. There can be no condescen 
sion, mercy or grace on the part of a creditor re 
ceiving the payment of a debt." 2 Archbishop 
Thomson in Aids to Faith reminds objectors that 
they have simply revived an idea of Socinus. But 
Llewelyn Davies wisely answered: "Such a taunt 
is adequately met by the manly reply of Gro- 
tius: Neque me pudeat consentire Socino, si 
quando is in veram veteremque sententiam 
incidit. " 3 

Dr. Harnack well calls it a "terrible idea" that 
it is impossible for God freely to remit our debts to 
Him. Anselm is opposed to the entire previous 

1 E. g., C. Jerram, A Treatise an the Doctrine of Atonement, 
p. 43; Paton J. Gloag in The Atonement: A Clerical Symposium, 
p. 257. 

2 Syst. Theol., II. 470. Dr. Briggs says: "Forgiveness of Sin 
and Pardon of Sin are not found in the indexes of the doctrinal 
systems of Dr. Shedd, Dr. Charles Hodge, and Dr. A. A. Hodge " 
(How Shall We Revise? p. 13). 

8 Tracts for Priests and People, xiii. 35. 


history of the doctrine in holding to it. The Scrip 
tural teaching and the creedal confession of the 
" forgiveness of sins" are lost in a philosophy which 
is not even consistent with itself. It makes impossi 
ble the imitation of God, whose precepts enjoin for 
giveness, but whose justice exacts satisfaction. It 
not only deprives the manifestation of God s love of 
its grace, but it leaves no room for the motive of 
love in our redemption. It represents Him as in 
exorable, not as merciful. If His honour requires 
indemnification, He sent His Son into the world for 
His own sake, not for ours (see ii. 5) ; it was an in 
herent obligation of His own nature to itself. 1 And 
this obligation was not to His nature of love, but to 
His attribute of justice. If infinite justice demands 
its due, what sphere of activity has infinite love ? 
There must be a necessity for our redemption in the 
eternal nature of His love ; to centre theology in His 
justice is paganism, not Christianity. And yet a dis 
tinguished theologian says: "Justice is the most 
central attribute of the Divine nature. God is in no 
sense bound to show mercy, but He is inevitably 
bound to punish sin." But if there be any meaning 
in His name of Father, He is at least as much bound 
to be pitiful as to be just. So that this theory of 
satisfaction annuls the most essential truth of the 
Gospel. "It paints God as acting altogether unlike 
1 Oxenham, pp. 187 sq. 


God, in order that He might be enabled to act like 
God." 1 

(3) The Forensic Form of the Theory 

"The Latin divine succeeded to the Roman ad 
vocate," and naturally theology was expressed in 
the familiar terms of Roman jurisprudence. 2 The 
juristic conception of satisfaction belonged also to a 
time when a child s relation to his father was severely 
legal, and was made more natural to Anselm by the 
fact that the Norman was "a born lawyer." 3 Thus 
his doctrine, as all succeeding forms of it, was "shot 
through with colours drawn from the corruption of 
Roman society, from the Roman sense of authority 
and the Roman forms of justice." 4 "The law be 
came an abstraction to be set beside the throne of 
God Himself, and to which His other attributes 
must conform." 5 In this respect also the theory is 

God is not thought of as a Father, but as a Judge 

1 John Hyde, Trad. The parables of our Lord picture a free 
forgiveness the two Debtors, the Prodigal, the Unmerciful 

2 Stanley, Eastern Church, pp. Ill, 112 : "The subtleties of the 
Roman law as applied to the relations of God and mnn . . . are 
almost unknown in the East." See also J . B. Heard, Old and New 
Theology, cap. ix. 

8 Encyc. Brit., XVH. 548. 

4 T. T. Munger, The Freedom of Faith, p. 21. 

8 J. B. Heard, Alexandrian and Carthaginian Theology, p. 54. 


or a Teutonic Over-lord. 1 The government of this 
sovereign was "not one of redeeming love, but of 
imperial, inexorable justice." 2 "The absoluteness 
of sovereign love was too much conceived of as the 
love of an absolute sovereignty." 3 This was not the 
Scriptural idea of a God near to us and dwelling 
within us, but the deistic idea of One remote and 
transcendent. We are introduced into the atmos 
phere of a court-room, and our redemption is a 
purely forensic transaction or device. There is no 
apprehension of St. Paul s strong conception of a 
righteousness that must righten, that is not in con 
flict with love, but its effective and redemptive agent. 
The ruling influence is retributive justice* But is 
the "retributive the sole element" in God s relation 
to the sinner, as Dr. Shedd affirms ? 5 He says again : 
"All true scientific development of the doctrine of 
the Atonement, it is very evident, must take its de 
parture from the idea of Divine justice." 6 He shows 
what this means: "There is no attribute more just 
and necessary than that punitive righteousness in 
nate to Deity which maintains the honour of God." 7 

The two notions blend in the mind of Anselm. 
Lyman Abbott, Evolution of Christianity, p. 86. 
Progressive Orthodoxy, p. 159. 

On the distinction between righteousness and justice, see 
Bushnell, Vicarious Sacrifice, I. 247 sq., 382 sq. 
Introd. to Aids to Reflection, p. 52. 
Hist. Doct., II. 216. 
7 Ibid., II. 278. 


This is truly Anselmic: "Verum hujusmodi miseri- 
cordia Dei nimis est contraria justitiae illius, quae 
non nisi poenam permittit reddi propter peccatum" (i. 
24, 16). It may be that justitia demands only punish 
ment; but that is a poor equivalent of SiKaioavvr}. 
which in the nature of things brings punishment, 
but demands, not that distinctively, but its own 
likeness. This hard mechanical legality is com 
pletely unethical and un spiritual, because morally 
impersonal. It contains no revelation of the heart 
of God, and has no relation to the personal life of 
conscience and obedience : it is technical and subtle 
like a lawyer s brief, external to the needs and moral 
activities of the human soul. 1 

It is unfortunate, but quite true, as Archdeacon 
Wilson says, that the less spiritual the forensic 
statement is, the stronger hold it takes on the popu 
lar imagination, and that it lends itself " most easily 
to preaching, by degrading a spiritual mystery to the 
level of the understanding." 2 However logical and 
convincing it may sound, it is contrary to the inmost 
spirit of Christianity. The idea of merit belongs to 

1 " Das Verhaltnis Gottes zur Menschheit ist lediglich jurlstisch 
gedacht. Nicht um ein Verhaltnis, wie es zwischen Vater und 
Kind besteht, handelt es sich. Daher ist weder das Wesen der 
Siinde noch der neuen Lebens in der Vergebung der Siinden voll 
verstanden worden " (Thomasius, Dogmengeschichte des Mittel- 
alters, bearbeitet von R. Seeberg, 1889, p. 123). 

2 The Gospel of the Atonement, p. 80. 


every theory of satisfaction ; but it is unevangelical 
and legal, and characteristic of the very form of 
thought against which St. Paul waged such unceasing 
warfare. 1 The Atonement is "not a problem in 
forensic technicalities, but in spiritual dynamics." 2 
The end proposed is not that of saving men from 
justice or from penalty, but from sin; and this 
ethical end cannot be accomplished by legal processes. 
To be sure, the legal may be regarded as a low stage 
of the ethical; but when this great reality is ex 
pressed in terms of a legal transaction, it invariably 
lacks intimate moral contact, and loses the appeal of 
great motives. Instead of being the inevitable out 
come of the nature of God Himself, the work of 
Christ becomes a mere device or expedient. There 
is no necessary relation of the Son of God to man, as 
Athanasius taught, no solidarity between Him 
and mankind; He is a mere incidental auxiliary, 
literally a deus ex machina; and the reward which 
He assigns to sinners is something exterior to Him 
self, and not therefore as in the Scriptures something 
of His very life and self. 3 All that such a transaction 
can do is to establish for us a legal status with God ; 
it can never initiate a moral salvation, for it is al 
most destitute of moral implications. But the rcla- 

1 Luthardt, History of Christian Ethics, p. 811. 
1 Borden P. Bowne, The Atonement, p. 117. 
Lidgett, op. tit., p. 137. 


tionship between man and God is exclusively moral, 
and to make it purely legal is to miss the essential 
point in the need for a work of redemption. 1 

With characteristic inconsistency, however, after 
carefully building up his forensic theory, Anselm 
forsakes the legal for the ethical. He says: "To 
whom could He assign the fruit and recompense of 
His death more suitably than to those ... to whom 
by His death He gave an example of dying on behalf 
of justice? Since they will be imitators of Him in 
vain, if they are not sharers of His merit" (ii. 19, 11. 
See also ii. 11, 26; ii. 18, 3-6). He had omitted to 
say how man was to receive the benefits of Christ s 
satisfaction, because he took it for granted that it was 
through the Church. This had taken the place of 
the individual conscience, and he was governed by 
the institutional idea, and had no logical room for 
faith and personal relations. But in making the imi 
tation the means of participation in the merit of 
Christ, he has unconsciously gone back to those 
ethical ideas which are so foreign to his theory. For 
satisfaction may be valid without our being aware 
that Christ made it; but he realized that moral 
personality requires moral renewal. 2 But then, if 
satisfaction has been all-sufficient, how will men 
make use of the example of Christ? Will it arouse 

1 See Thomasius, op. cit., p. 124. 

a Cf. his illustration of the pearl, i. 19, 8-12. 


them to zeal ? Will it not rather make sin easier to 
the conscience, because "Jesus paid it all, all the 
debt we owe" ? * Satisfaction has reference to God, 
and following Christ s example belongs to men; 
which involves a further defect. We must then con 
sider this as an admission by Anselm that his theory 
is incomplete, and that a full satisfaction has not been 
made. The fact is, the theory " does not guarantee 
to the individual that he really becomes saved; it 
aims rather at only showing for all the possibility of 
their being saved." 2 He refers to those who "believe 
in Him" (i. 20, 16). He says: "In what way we are 
to gain access to a share in so great a favour, and 
how we are to live in it, Holy Scripture everywhere 
teaches us" (ii. 19, 14). He acknowledges that 
"God the Father says to the sinner condemned to 
eternal torments, and having no power to redeem 
himself from them, Accept My only-begotten Son, 
and give Him for thyself, " and "the Son Himself 
says, Take Me and redeem thyself "(ii. 20). But a 
full satisfaction puts the sinner where he was before 
he committed sin, and accomplishes more than a 
possibility of salvation ; it is complete exoneration 
from penalty, which is what Anselm understands by 
salvation. To demand conditions of access to the 

1 Church history proves that Antinomianism is a natural 
sequence of the theory of satisfaction; but the believer in it is 
happily often illogical. 

3 Hafnack, VI. 68. 


privilege won by Christ is to admit that the satis 
faction is inadequate. 

(4) The Latent Dualism in the Theory 

Anselm had rejected the dualism of the patristic 
interpretation of ransom, but his own theory is 
dualistic in two ways. The first is the result of his 
misconception of God s relation to us as Love and 
Righteousness as something legal. / He created a 
disunity in the Divine nature by picturing a conflict 
of Divine attributes. He made such a complete dis 
tinction between justice and mercy as to render an 
tagonism possible, and then arrayed the one against 
the other by portraying the one as demanding what 
the other does not. This is a practical revival of the 
Gnosticism of Marcion. 1 (Mercy was represented as 
helpless until justice was satisfied ; their reconcilia 
tion was the proof of their previous opposition 
(ii. 20). 2 "^These qualities were treated "as independ- 

1 Allen Continuity of Christian Thought, p. 56 ; Bigg, Chris 
tian Platonists of Alexandria, p. 290. Marcion regarded justice as 
so antithetic to love and mercy that he deemed the being who for 
gives and saves as not the same as Him who punishes. Anselm, 
and all who follow him in this antithesis, fall into a similar per 
sonal dualism. 

a Neander incorrectly says that Pope Innocent III. was the 
first to refer to such a reconciliation of the attributes (Hist. Christ. 
Dogmas, II. 583) . " Anselm was the first to formulate the doctrine 
that the forgiveness of unpunished sin would be incompatible with 
the Divine justice" (Tymms, The Christian Idea of Atonement, p. 
34). " Anselm was the first to oppose, within the Godhead, the at- 


ent entities, each having a fixed and definite existence 
and meaning of its own ; and as, when taken thus 
abstractly, they seem to involve conflicting results 
Righteousness being a principle which demands the 
infliction of deserved penalties, Mercy a principle 
which seeks their remission a crude attempt is 
made to solve the contradiction by hypostat^sing 
both attributes, and inducing the one personified 
quality to accept fictitious concessions or compensa 
tions in order that the other may have its way. Ob 
viously, however, here as elsewhere, the unity which 
is attained is got not by any real conciliation of differ 
ences, but by explaining away one side or aspect of 
a complex truth, in order to hold by another with 
which it seems to come into collision." 1 

tributes of justice and mercy. . . . The gravest consequence of the 
old judicial and legal point of view was that it introduced an 
irreducible dualism into the Christian conception of God. ... In 
fact, men have imagined an internal conflict between His justice 
and His mercy, so that He was not able to exercise the one without 
offending the other. Christ, instead of being the Saviour of men, 
became an intra-divine mediator whose essential ofBce it was to 
reconcile the hostile attributes within the Godhead, and to ensure 
peace and unity within God Himself. This was termed high 
metaphysics; it was pure mythology" (A. Sabatier, The Atone 
ment, pp. 69, 118 sq.). Riviere quotes Gilbert Foliot, Bishop of 
London (o&. 1134), as an exponent of the Anselmic doctrine: 
" Misericordia et justitia sibi contra venire coeperunt. ... Ad 
poenas hominem veritas exigebat. de cujus reparatione miseri- 
cordia melius aliquid disponebat" (Op. cit., p. 354). He calls 
this "un conflit nai vement imagine." 

1 John Caird, Philosophy of Religion, p. 213. Strauss quite 
properly likens this theorem to that of the parallelogram of forces 


But such a division of the Divine personality into 
fatherly and rectoral attributes, the one requiring that 
the sinner amend his ways and the other that he 
render satisfaction for his disobedience, really de 
stroys the very idea of personality, since it makes 
the Divine Being "nothing more than the sum of 
these various attributes." In speaking of the justice 
and mercy of God, however, we merely connote a 
person of such dispositions; and we are driven to 
absurdity by thinking of the attributes themselves 
as personal, as if they were ^anything but different 
phases of the one character. \The attributes of God 
are equal, because they are infinite) If they could 
be conceived as conflicting justice seeking punish 
ment, and love planning rescue) they would simply 
neutralise each other, and the sinner could neither 
be saved nor destroyed./ In order to disturb the 
equilibrium and make either effective against the 
other, another attribute must be imagined which, by 
the very terms of the theory, is neither just nor 
loving. What is this but to break the unity of the 
Divine Being into a series of independent forces? 
If this be rejected as preposterous, the Person by 
all His attributes must be regarded as demanding 
the same thing, and there can be no collision or need 

in mechanics: "divine mercy inclining towards forgiveness and 
justice calling for inexorable punishment are two equal forces, 
and the resulting force lies in the diagonal of vicarious satisfaction" 
(Sabatier, op. cit., p. 70). 


of reconciliation among them. We must insist on 
the absolute and unalterable unity of God, which 
will not admit of such oppositions within itself. <^The 
work of Christ was not the at-one-ment of mercy 
and justice, but the at-one-ment of God and manS 
Such separation of attributes is mere rhetoric, and, 
if converted into fact, is essentially pagan and 
mythological. 1 

The second dualistic feature of the theory is the 
schism in the Godhead involved in the divergence of 
the Persons. The conception of a transaction be 
tween justice and mercy leads to that of a transac 
tion between the Father and the Son. This is the 
feudal idea of the intervention of a "third party * 
between God and man. The two Divine Persons 
come to represent different attributes, and so ex 
hibit different characteristics. 2 Anselm followed 
the Platonists in his argument for the existence of 
God, and they personified the attributes. 3 He made 
the Son correspond to the intelligence of God, and 

1 "The mediaeval thought of God was profoundly dualistic, 
save as it gained a seeming unity by an exaltation of an unethical 
omnipotence" (Progressive Orthodoxy, p. 159). The same may 
be said of the whole Latin theology, which, as Sir Henry Maine 
said, is "saturated with Roman Law." 

3 "Wessel" who was one of the "Reformers before the 
Reformation" "declares that Christ is not only the Mediator 
between God and man, but is rather a Mediator for man between 
the God of justice and the God of mercy " (Stevens, op. cit., 
p. 152). See also Dale, p. 288; Ritschl, p. 113. 

3 Encyc. Brit., XXI. 422. 


the Spirit with the love of God. 1 Most of the scholas 
tics agreed that "the attributes were not really or 
objectively in God, but merely human representa 
tions reflected, as it were, on the idea of God. * And 
yet they represented, together with Anselm, "the 
Persons of the Trinity as corresponding to distinc 
tions among the very attributes which they in another 
reference denied to be distinct." Inevitably, in the 
scheme of satisfaction, the Father would be held to 
be the rigorous creditor and the Son the generous 
benefactor. There would be no escape from "the 
suspicion of moral opposition between Him who 
exacts and Him who pays the debt." 3 The Son sat 
isfies the justice of the Father, but nothing is in 
timated as to His own sense of justice which had an 
equal claim. If He satisfied Himself as well as the 
Father, then we have the unreal conception of God 
bargaining with Himself. Moreover, how could He 
satisfy for His own loss of honour by His own obe 
dience, when it was man who caused the loss ? But 
it is the Father s right to satisfaction that is dwelt 
upon, and if God must be reconciled to man, then 
our Lord becomes almost a substitute for God, in 
stead of His Word and express Image. In that case 

1 Hagenbach, I. 460. 

2 Encyc. Brit., XXIII. 241. 

3 Bigg, op. cit., p. 290. "Has God the Father a different 
i mind from God the Son ? Is the one hard justice, the other loving 

mercy ? " (Wilson, The Gospel of the Atonement, p. 82). 


we are rescued from the Father, which is a far more 
mischievous thought than our rescue from the devil 
by a ransom. 1 The Persons are so separated that we 
are drawn to the love of Christ, but not to the love 
of God. Christ s mercy and pity are beyond ques 
tion; but God s character seems severe, relentless, 
and inspires awe, dread, and even aversion. 2 But 
all this is subversive of the Divine Unity, and there 
can be no divergence, compromise, afterthought or 
contrivance within that unity. "I and the Father 
are one," said Christ; and every representation that 
imperils or overshadows this fact must be false. The 
theory well deserves the sarcasm of Harnack, who 
includes among its worst features "the quite Gnos 
tic antagonism between justice and goodness, the 
Father being the just One, and the Son the good ; the 
frightful idea (as compared with which the views of 
the Fathers and the Gnostics are far to be preferred) 
that mankind are delivered from the wrathful God; 
the illusory performance [Schattenspiel] between 
Father and Son, while the Son is one with the 
Father; the illusory performance of the Son with 
Himself, for according to Anselm the Son offers Him 
self to Himself" (ii. 18). 3 

1 "Better to Satan, however, than to the Father the most 
horrible doctrine of all" (Wilson, Gospel of At,, p. 70). 

2 Many have confessed this, who have known only the satis 
faction theory. 

3 Hist. Doqma, VI. 76, 77. Vide Aug., De Trin., xm. 11. 
The mythological character of the transaction is evident. God 


(5) The Nestorian Element in the Theory 

"From the time of Athanasius, and even earlier, 
the doctrine of the Two Natures was so understood 
as to imply that the God-Logos is the Subject, and 
He takes the human nature into the unity of His 
Divine Being." l This led to such expressions as 
eoTo/eo?, "the Word of God died," etc. But in 
Anselm the Divine and human are separated, so 
that it was the Man Jesus who died and became our 
Mediator, and the Godhead is referred to only as 
determining the worth of the human Person in His 
actions. The Man obeyed, and the God claimed 
the merit. He says indeed that the Logos and the 
Man are one Person: "Was it not equally clear, 
from what was said, that the Son of God and the 
Man taken by Him [notice, "hominem"] are one 
person, so that the same being may be both God and 
man?" (ii. 16 b, 16) "Whence it was necessary 
that God should take man into the unity of His 
person, so that he who in his own nature ought to 
pay and could not, might be in a Person who could" 

satisfying Himself, or one Person offering a gift to Another and 
receiving in return a reward to be passed on to sinners this is 
not only an account of experiences within the Divine Being of 
which we are told nothing and of which we can know nothing, but 
it is the baldest and crudest Tritheism, or Ditheism, as Arch 
deacon Wilson calls it with reference to the two Persons. 
1 Harwick, VI. 73. 


(ii. 17, 38). The following also has an orthodox 
sound: "For this object the diversity of natures 
and unity of person in Christ were of value; that 
whatever needed to be done for the restoration of 
men, if the human nature could not do it, the Divine 
nature might, and if there were anything incongru 
ous to the Divine nature, the human nature might 
manifest it. And yet it would not be sometimes one 
person and sometimes another, but the very same 
person, who existing perfectly in both natures, 
through the human might pay what it owed, and 
through the Divine [might pay] what was expedient" 
(ii. 17, 18). 

But this is not the Athanasian teaching of the 
Divine as the Subject of all the theanthropic actions. 
The emphasis here is upon the natures, in such a 
manner as to leave the impression, "this He did as 
God, that He did as Man." He appears to juggle 
with the word "nature," as in i. 9, 4: "That man, 
therefore, owed this obedience to God the Father, 
and the human nature to the Divine [humanitas 
divinitati] " ; and in ii. 17, 88, quoted above, where 
he seems to approach the Greek thought of man s 
incorporation with Christ: "So that he who in his 
own nature ought to pay and could not, might be in 
a Person who could." But he who ought to pay was 
man, not a man s human nature; and the human 
nature of Christ does not satisfy, but the Person of 


Christ by means of that nature which could die. 
Where the Greeks laid stress on the God-Logos as 
"the Subject of the redeeming personality," Anselm 
really makes Christ as Man the subject. 1 He ad 
mits the Godhead, but does not make it more than 
the means of giving value to the acts of the Manhood : 
it is not the Subject, the Person who achieves sal 
vation through Incarnation, obedience and death. 
This is a "quite Nestorian diremption of the Per 
son," "such as had regularly occurred in the West 
from the time of Augustin." In order to preserve 
the theanthropic unity, not only the Godhead of 
Christ must be asserted, but His "God-manhood" 
must be established. 

(6) Satisfaction considered as Substitution 

Christ is represented as paying the debt for us, 
because we were unable to pay it: that is substitu 
tion. 3 Vicarious suffering was recognised in the 
Ante-Nicene church, but Anselm substitutes the in 
finite merits of Christ for the infinite demerits of 
mankind, by means of the price He paid to justice. 
This is a novelty in Christian theology.* 

* Harnack, VI. 74. 

2 Ibid. 

3 The Latin idea of substitution was always more real than the 
Greek (Harnack, III. 314). 

4 Neander says that we do not find the satisfactio vicaria in 
Anselm, but in Peter Lombard (Ch. History, IV. 505). It is true 


The objections to a literal substitution are many 
and obvious. First, it is an impersonal, institutional 
idea, derived equally from the Church discipline, the 
Wergeld, and feudalism. The privileges of kinship 
are referred to by Anselm (ii. 19, 12). If the law be 
regarded as impersonal, and the debt of man as 
well, then any one may render satisfaction. But 
justice, or rather righteousness, is God s nature, and 
law is the expression of His character, of Himself. 
He demands man s obedience, and that is what man 
owes. Christ s obedience cannot be accepted in 
place of ours, because it is ours which is wanted. 
The obedience which we failed to render cannot be 
offered by any one else, so as to make up the defi 
ciency; because obedience is personal, and nothing 
can be done with the deficiency but to pardon it or 
else let it work its due punishment. One who is 
mystically united with us, as our Head, our Sponsor, 
our Representative, may offer His perfect obedience 
as the pledge of our own, as the response of human 
ity to the requirements of God. But God can be 
satisfied with nothing less than righteousness, and 
not even with that from any other than the one who 

that he does not teach the satisfadio passiva, but adiva, which, 
however, was certainly in our stead. Neander admits this very 
distinction (Hist. Dogmas, II. 517). The word "vicaria" is by 
many referred entirely to the passive satisfaction. Thomasius says 
of the death: "as a gift to the honour of God, it is not strictly 
vicarious, but rather supplementary" (Hagenbach, II. 46). 


lacks it and of whom He asks it. He may forgive 
our failures, but not even His Son can satisfy His 
desire that we should obey Him. 

Again, the idea of substitution fails to distinguish 
between a material and a moral debt. The difference 
between a pecuniary and an ethical obligation is 
now generally rccogniLed, because the Anselmic 
theory of a judicial process that would nowadays be 
called civil has given way to the analogy of ciiminal 
proceedings. But the fundamental point remains 
untouched, and the following admissions, chiefly 
by believers in satisfaction, may be applied to 
Anselm s satisfaction by substitution. Archbishop 
Magee says: "Neither guilt nor punishment can be 
conceived, but with reference to consciousness which 
cannot be transferred." l Anselrn does not teach that 
Christ bore our punishment, though he uses the 
, idea of guilt as indicating our exposure to penalty ; 
it is in this connection that we may claim Magee s 
support. Turretin says: "In a pecuniary debt the 
payment of the thing owed ipso facto liberates the 
debtor from all obligations whatsoever, because he/e 
the point is not who pays, but what is paid . . . The 
case is different with respect to a penal debt, because 
in this case the obligation respects the person as well 
as the thing; the demand is upon the person ivho 
pays as well as the thing paid . . . Hence, pecuniary 
1 Atonement and Sacrifice, I. 268. 


satisfaction differs from penal thus: In debt, the 
demand terminates upon the thing due. In crime, 
the legal demand for punishment is upon the person 
of the criminal." 1 

Albert Barnes also rejects the conception of a 
literal debt and payment, because our burden is 
"guilt, not a failure in a pecuniary obligation." 2 
Dr. Charles Hodge asks: "If among men the bank 
rupt can become solvent by a rich man s assuming 
his responsibilities, why in the court of God may 
not the guilty become righteous by the Son of God s 
assuming their responsibilities?" 3 He has given 
the answer himself: because we cannot argue from 
pecuniary debts to moral obligations. He says : 
"In the case of crimes the matter is different. The 
demand is then upon the offender. He Himself is 
amenable to justice. Substitution in human courts 
is out of the question. The essential point in matters 
of crime is, not the nature of the penalty, but who 
shall suffer" (II. 470). And again : demerit "is in 
separable from sin. It can belong to no one who is 

1 In J. M. Armour, Atonement and Law, pp. 130, 131. Armour 
struggles to evade this concession, by insisting that money does not 
pay debts, but money from the debtor, or the substitute who is 
treated as the debtor. But he wholly fails to overthrow the objec 
tion that moral obligation is so absolutely upon the person that 
another cannot undertake it. 

2 The Atonement, p. 230. He also admits the previous pointy 
that, if there was satisfaction, there could be no mercy. 

3 Syst. Diuin., III. 175. 


not personally a sinner. ... It cannot be trans 
ferred from one person to another" (11.476). It is 
manifest that this is equally true of merit. And 
again: "As -a matter of mere law, no satisfac 
tion can find acceptance other than the literal 
suffering of the penalty by the criminal in per 
son." 1 The principle is the same if the satisfaction 
is obedience. 

Coleridge makes the same point, as an objection 
to substitution: "Morality commences with, and 
begins in, the sacred distinction between thing and 
person. On this distinction all law, human and 
divine, is grounded ; consequently the law of justice. 
If you attach any meaning to the term justice, as ap 
plied to God, it must be the same to which you refer 
when you affirm or deny it of any other personal 
agent save only that, in its attribution to God, 
you speak of it as unmixed and perfect. . . . Should 
it be found irreconcilable with the justice which the 
light of reason, made law in the conscience, dictates 
to man, how much more must it be incongruous with 
the all-perfect justice of God." 2 As a sample of 
many similar statements in recent books, the follow 
ing may be quoted from Archbishop W. C. Magee 
of York : " Persons are not things ; personal feelings, 
states, conditions, cannot be made to change places 

In Armour, ubi supra, p. 153. 
Aids to Reflection, pp. 313, 314. 


as if they were mere material substances." Many 
of the objections to Substitution do not apply to the 
Anselmic statement; but the general thought of 
the foregoing quotations does apply, that Anselm 
has ignored the significance of a moral debt and 
treated it as simply material, as so external to the 
person as to permit of a transfer of the duty of 

The idea of literal substitution is really a survival 
of folk-faith, where continually we see "the dis 
position of men to shift upon another the results of 
their sin." 2 But it cannot for a moment be con 
sidered as literal, because it is an utterly fictitious 
proceeding, and confusing to the moral sense. 3 It 
makes God violate the very justice which is said to 
demand satisfaction, because it makes Him satisfied 
with an obedience as ours which is not ours. This 
is a double offence against justice : it foregoes the 
claim of obedience upon the one who owes it, and it 
accepts a substitute from one who does not owe it. 4 
Finally, it logically leads to Antinomianism, as was 
said above, by its being a substitute for our obedience 

1 The Atonement, p. 103. See also Moberly, op. cit., p. 

8 C. J. Wood, Survivals in Christianity, p. 146. 

8 "It is suicidal in theology to refuse the appeal to a moral 
criterion" (Jowett, in London Library, p. 493). 

4 This objection is greatly strengthened when directed against 
the Reformation theory of substitutionary punishment, which is 
not found in Anselm. 


in the future as well as in the past, since the satis 
faction must cover all possible needs. 1 

(7) The Purpose of the Incarnation 

The work is a defective statement of the meaning 
and object of the Incarnation, especially as con 
trasted with the rich conceptions of Athanasius and 
the Greeks. It led the way to the extreme and one 
sided presentation of Christianity as merely a scheme 
of salvation, so that "the religion of the Incarnation 
was narrowed into the religion of the Atonement." 
The answer to the question in its title, "Cur Deus 
Homo ?" represents the wide interval between An- 
selm and the Fathers. They taught that God be 
came man to unite us to Himself; he held that it 
was to make satisfaction to His own outraged dig 
nity. They rejoiced in the Incarnate Word as the 
assurance of the removal of sin and the restoration 
of man Christ became human that man might be 
come divine ; he dwelt upon the Incarnation of the 
Word simply as the means of His offering to God the 
gift of His death, by which the debt of mankind 
might be fully paid and the race exonerated^Aom 

1 If Christ is conceived as one with us, as by the Greek Fathers, 
this would not apply; but then, that is not substitution but 

mystical identity. 

2 Lux Mundi, p. 183. 


the claims of justice. 1 They make the Incarnation 
the keynote of the Gospel system; he is followed 
by the Reformers in making central the death of 
Christ. That is, unlike the Fathers, he explains the 
Incarnation by the atoning death; thus finding the 
significance of the Person in His work, not seeing 
the work grow out of the essential characteristics of 
the Person. 2 Where they start with the idea of God, 
he begins with the idea of sin: he builds his theory 
of the necessity of satisfaction upon the condition 
of servitude and alienation into which the race had 
fallen, instead of "the pure and free consciousness 
of Him who is the type of the normal man, who 
abode in undisturbed communion with the Father, 
and aims through the power of His living presence 
to bring all men into the same relation." 3 The 
appearance of Christ on earth became dependent 
on the existence of sin (i. 16-18), instead of the nat 
ural revealing of the universal mediation of the 
Logos, irrespective of human sin. 4 

1 He makes the death of Christ the only possible means of 
man s rescue. His admission that another method was conceivable 
for Omnipotence is one of reverence; his whole argument really 
posits the other idea. 

3 Heard, Alex, and Carthag. Theology, p. 235 ; Thomasius, 
op. cit., p. 124. 

3 Allen, Continuity of Christian Thought, p. 203. 

4 Harnack says that no Greek theologian bluntly asserted that 
Christ would have become incarnate if there had been no sin 
(III. 303) ; but it is frequently implied. 


But this reduces the Incarnation to a mere means 
or condition of making the death possible, and 
giving it value. It makes redemption the end, to 
which the Incarnation was subordinate; when the 
Word s becoming flesh was the natural climax of 
the history of creation, and redemption itself was 
but a means to "the reconsecration of the universe 
to God." But the Scriptural emphasis upon Christ s 
death has reference to a fact, that it was actually and 
historically the source of our cleansing; it does not 
require the treatment of the Incarnation as an after 
thought of God resulting from the threatened per 
dition of humanity. That was not occasioned, it was 
only modified, by the necessities of our sinful and 
lost state. The mediation of Christ was not con 
fined to the Cross ; it had been manifested in crea 
tion, in providence, in the theophanies, in the giving 
of the law. 1 It was extended to His coming into the 
world, not as "a pitiful expedient devised to remedy 
an unexpected disaster in the plan of salvation," 
but, as St. Paul put it, as part of the eternal purpose 
of God and destiny of man. 2 Anselm makes it ex 
ceptional, incidental, having another and more im 
portant object than itself, instead of the normal, 
essential, inevitable outgoing of the nature of God, 
the revelation of His character and eternal humanity. 

1 P. G. Medd, The One Mediator, passim. 
3 Vide W. Kirkus, ubi supra. 


It was an institutional device, and hence could not 
occupy the prominent place assigned to it through 
out the patristic period. But the Fathers were un 
doubtedly Scriptural in regarding the Incarnation 
as the larger and more significant term, inclusive of 
the Atonement, primarily and intrinsically impor 
tant, the characteristic mystery and disclosure of the 
"good news" of God. 1 

(8) The purely Objective Character of the Theory 

It has already been noted, as one of the valuable 
features of Anselm s work, that he reminded us of 
the objective implications of the sacrifice of Christ. 
But it must be considered as a defect, that he repre 
sents it as exclusively objective and retrospective, 
a mere "transaction external to the selves to be 
atoned for." 2 The Fathers, like the Scriptures, 
were chiefly occupied with the effect of Christ s re 
demption upon us; our author is engaged solely 
with its effect upon God. This has already been re 
ferred to under preceding sections, but it is worthy 
of separate mention. It was the natural result of the 

1 The contingency of the Incarnation upon sin is more often 
inferential with the Latin Fathers than with the Greeks. The 
latter, beginning with Clement, but excepting Athanasius, suggest 
what was plainly stated by John Scotus Erigena and Duns Scotus, 
that God would have become man if there had been no Fall. 
Vide Medd, ubi supra, pp. 106-108, 500. 

2 Moberly, op. cit., p. 319. 


externalised conception of religion, with which the 
mediaeval Churchman was acquainted. 

It is recognised that Anselm s purpose was to give 
a rational explanation of the Atonement; but it is 
wholly novel and unscriptural to confine the Atone 
ment to the relations between God and Christ, and 
to ignore the reconciliation between God and man 
without which the Atonement is incomplete. The 
subjective element is barely hinted at, in such pas 
sages as i. 20, 16 ("credunt"), ii. 16 a, 19; ii. 19, 11 
("exemplum," "imita tores"). It is so much in the 
background that he may be said to disregard it al 
together in his theory. He would have felt the less 
need to dwell upon it because the Church had all the 
requisite machinery to apply the rewards of Christ s 
satisfaction. But he had indeed no room for faith 
as the condition of receiving these benefits, or for 
the realization of personal relations, connoted by 
such a word as /cara\\ayij. Our debt was only an 
insult to God s majesty, which might be atoned for 
officially; if it had been appreciated as a personal 
deficiency as well, the theory must have provided 
specifically for its removal. This indifference to the 
subjective side of the work of Christ certainly makes 
the presentation imperfect. It is so characterised 
by Ueberweg, who speaks of "the transcendence of 
the act of Atonement, in his view of it, in that, 
although accomplished through the humanity of 


Jesus, it is represented as exterior to the conscious 
ness and intention of the men to be redeemed, so 
that stress is laid rather on the judicial requirement 
that guilt should be removed, than on the ethical 
requirement of a purified will." * 

But this introduces us to the real difficulty of an 
exclusively objective theory. The conflict between 
God s love for us and His regard for His own honour, 
the resolution of forces by means of the obedience 
of a Divine Person, all this is transcendent and 
unknowable. To philosophise about it is to talk 
most of what we can know least. It is entirely 
independent of revelation, and is mere matter of 
speculation. It is being wise above what is written 
to pretend to familiarity with the intimate relations 
within the Deity, with the precise obstacles in the 
Divine mind to the fulfilment of His purpose, with 
the exact facts regarding the "councils of the Trin 
ity," and all those well-known accompaniments of 
the exclusive objectivity of redemption. It is not 
only impertinent, but futile; for it is utterly imagi 
nary and baseless from the Biblical point of view, and 
it is fatally clear-cut and defined in treating of the 
mystery of personality, human and divine. It is 
not only the neologian, but the truly reverent thinker 
of to-day, who coincides with Dr. Hunger in desiring 
the statement of "an atonement that saves men by 

1 History of Philosophy, I. 386. 


a traceable process, and not one that is contrived to 
explain problems that may safely be left with God." 1 
Any attempt to go beyond this plunges us into the 
perplexities several times enumerated, the risks of 
Antinomianism, and the dreadful misconception 
that the Son delivered us out of the hands of the 

(9) A Pernicious Effect of the Theory 

It has been shown that the penitential system was 
an antecedent of Anselm s thought. His applica 
tion to the work of Christ of the principles underlying 
the practice of discipline deepened their significance 
for the men of his time. The notion of supereroga 
tory and transferable merit and the custom of in 
dulgences received a strong enforcement from the 
idea that these things were exemplified in the Divine 
accomplishment of our salvation. Although the 
theory logically seems to lead to Universalism (see 
Boso in ii. 19), yet Anselm appears arbitrarily to 
confine the benefits of satisfaction to those who imi 
tate Christ. 2 Being arbitrary, the grace of pardon 
might be easily appropriated by the Church on 
easier conditions, and this \vas universally custom 
ary. The very principle of commutation becoming 

1 The Freedom of Faith, p. 33. 

2 Ueberweg, op. cit., I. 386. 



the interpreting element of the Cross itself, there was 
nothing needed to give dogmatic vindication to the 
vicious system of indulgences. The Schoolmen first 
reduced the praxis to a theory; 1 but the growing 
content with the thought of the work of Christ as 
precisely analogous to an ecclesiastical satisfaction 
made the statement of the theory extremely simple 
and easy. The "pretended sacrament" was con 
verted into a "revenue" by the Pope, 2 and became 
such a crying abomination as to give effective im 
pulse to the reforming effort of Martin Luther. 


Anselm did not succeed in convincing the School 
men of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 3 They 
betray his influence by bringing into the foreground 
more prominently than had been the custom the 
effect upon God of the work of redemption, and the 
meritorious quality of that work. They are usually 
very general and indefinite as to the way in which 
Christ enables us to escape the penalties of sin ; the 
best of them teaching, with Augustin, that God 
chose the method most likely to elicit His children s 

1 Kurtz, Church History, Sect. 107; Encyc. Brit., XII. 847. 

a Hooker, Eccles. Polity, vi. cap. vi. 

8 Hagenbach, II. 46, 47; Harnack, VI. 78; Thomasius, pp. 
125-144 ; Joseph Schwane, Dogmengeschichte der mittleren Zeit, 
pp. 304-327. 


love. But they give no support to his positive theory 
for nearly two hundred years; and his idea of the 
necessity on God s part of the death of Christ is 
repudiated even by those who are claimed as his 
disciples, by Hugh of St. Victor, by Bonaventura, 
and by Aquinas. 1 However, his influence was felt 
by those who did not accept his system, and survived 
even the rejection of everything but its one feature 
of Satisfaction at the Reformation. 2 

a. His Adherents 

Several may, on the whole, be classed as his ad 
herents who agree with his positions only at single 
points, with important reservations and distinct 
lines of cleavage. Hugh of St. Victor employs the 
significant word "satisfaction." He admits that God 
requires to be propitiated, and that Christ paid 
man s debt and expiated his sin by His death and 
perfect obedience; but he parts with Anselm in the 
recognition of Satan s claim, in the denial of the 
necessity of the Incarnation, and in the expres 
sion of a quasi-penal element in Christ s sufferings. 3 

1 Oxenham, pp. 197, 202, 205. 

2 Seeberg denies that Anselm s fundamental ideas were gener 
ally accepted. On the contrary, he finds Abelard s much more 
general in the later Middle Age (Op. cit., II. 200). 

3 P. L., CLXXVI. col. 307-312; Fisher, op. cit., p. 226; 
Oxenham, op. cit., p. 194 ; Riviere, op. cit., pp. 339-342. Richard 
of St. Victor accepted the necessity of the death of Christ for a 


He is best remembered by the oft-quoted saying: 
"Non quia reconciliavit amavit, sed quia amavit 

Alexander of Hales also adopts the word "satis 
faction"; but he uses none of Anselm s analogies 
of the right of the suzerain and the loss of his honour. 
He does not explain precisely what he means by the 
word, except by insisting that, unless satisfaction is 
made, there is disorder in the universe. His state 
ment of the necessity of the Incarnation is truly 
Anselmic a necessity not inevitable, but immu 
table. "Homo enim non poterat reddere, sed debe- 
bat; Deus poterat, sed non debebat: oportuit ergo 
quod solveret homo-Deus, homo qui debebat, Deus 
qui posset." l He is said to have introduced the idea 
of equivalence; but although he made much use of 
the idea, it was already familiar. 2 He also devel 
oped the theory of a "treasury of merit," and helped 
to furnish the doctrinal basis for Indulgences. 3 

Bonaventura regarded satisfaction as the most 
fitting mode of restoring human nature, being most 
consistent with the Divine justice and mercy. But 
he firmly believed (firmitur credo) that the race could 
have been delivered by other methods, while neither 

full satisfaction, "but this does not exclude other methods of 
satisfaction, or free forgiveness" (Oxenham, p. 195). 

1 Riviere, p. 359. 

2 C/. Lias, The Atonement, p. 50. 

3 Fisher, Hist. Christ. Doct., p. 250; Riviere, pp. 357-360. 


affirming nor denying that it could have been other 
wise redeemed. A mere creature could not make 
satisfaction for the race, either for the injury done to 
God or for the loss sustained by Him. He admits 
that man may make semi-satisfactions (semi-plenam) 
for himself, but Christ s work is necessary to com 
plete these by His merits. A mere man could not 
make plenary satisfaction for himself, because 
original sin "involves depravation not only of will * 
but of nature." Christ alone could atone for that, 
and His Passion acts most fully in the sacrament of 
baptism. The method of satisfaction is the noblest 
that can be conceived; and yet God might have 
saved us "by way of mercy and not of justice, and 
still nothing would have been left disordered" (An- 
selm s own word, "inordinatum") here deserting 
Anselm at the most essential point. 1 

The system of Thomas Aquinas is practically the 
completed Catholic theology of the Middle Ages, 
especially after its endorsement in most particulars 
by the Council of Trent. The official recognition of 
Pope Leo XIII. (1879) may be said to have consti 
tuted it the authoritative theology of the modern 
Roman Church. It contains the nearest approach 
to an acceptance of the Anselmic theory by any of the 
Scholastics, and may be said to have fixed the satis 
faction theory in theological thought. It will be 
1 Oxenham, pp. 198-203 ; Riviere, pp. 360-364. 


seen, however, to diverge from Anselm in important 
respects under the influence of the great Pope at the 
beginning of the thirteenth century. It began with 
nearly the same premises, but Aquinas has to admit 
that "the acts of the creature as such cannot be in 
finite," even when considered as offences against 
God. Yet there is a "sort of infinitude" because 
they are committed against Him, and so their de 
merit may be regarded as infinite. 1 He also makes 
the death an act of obedience, the highest act of 
homage that could have been paid to God ; but he 
does not confine the obedience to the death, extend 
ing it to embrace the whole life of service and suffer 
ing. It was thus an objective satisfaction, because 
its essential element was that it offered Him "what 
He loved more than He hated the offence." 2 It was 
not only a sufficient, but a superabundant satisfaction, 
on account of the dignity of the life laid down and 
the greatness of the love displayed. 3 

Yet God could have pardoned sin without any 
satisfaction. 4 There was no necessity beyond His 
own self-determination ; but it was the most suitable 

1 "Quamdam infinitatem habet": Summa TheoL, pars iii, 
quaest. i. art. 2. This is of course denied by Duns Scotus (Ritschl, 
Grit. Hist, of At., p. 60). 

3 Ibid., quaest. xlviii. art. 2. 

3 Ibid. 

4 This is so remote from Anselm that it is evident that those 
who are called his adherents are conveniently so styled; only 
because they differed less wholly from him than his opponents. 


mode (sicut equus necessarius est ad iter), because it 
best revealed His love, it afforded an example of obe 
dience, and it was calculated to awaken reciprocal 
affection in us. 1 He denies that any change was 
wrought in the disposition of God, and he insists that 
we have to supplement the satisfaction of Christ for 
sins after baptism. He did not, therefore, teach a 
complete objective satisfaction. 2 

But Aquinas went beyond Anselm in his emphasis 
upon the Passion. Sabatier says that the satisfaction 
is founded by him, not as with Anselm on Germanic 
law (compensation for an offence by an offering 
equivalent to the wrong committed), but on Roman 
law (satisfaction by the legal penalty merited and 
duly borne). 3 Christ endured every kind of suffering 
common to man, the greatest ever borne by man, in 

1 Summa TheoL, pars iii. quaest. xlviii. art. 2. The necessity 
was, therefore, only relative; the sacrifice of Christ was not a 
conditio sine qua nan upon which God could bestow forgiveness, 
but only an expedient or modus per quod melius et convenientius 
pervenitur ad fidcm (Ritschl, ubi supra, p. 48). 

2 Ibid., quaest. xlix. art. 1-6. The want of harmony in his 
several points of view is thus referred to by Harnack: "When we 
review the exposition given by Thomas, we cannot escape the 
impression created by confusion (multa, non multum). The 
wavering between the hypothetical and the necessary modes of 
view, between objective and subjective redemption, further 
between a satisfactio superabundant and the assertion that for the 
sins after baptism we have to supplement the work of Christ, 
prevents any distinct impression arising. It was only a natural 
course of development when Duns Scotus went on to reduce 
everything entirely to the relative" (VI. p. 196). 

3 A. Sabatier, op. cit., pp. 75 sq. 


a spirit of obedience to God. 1 Here we see the influ 
ence of Pope Innocent s distinction between active 
and passive satisfaction ; 2 but we are still a long 
way from the Reformation theory. The merit of the 
atoning work was transferred, not by imputation, 
but by mystical union with the Redeemer. It has 
been said that his idea of substitution is clearly set 
forth in the following language: "The head and the 
member are, as it were, one mystical person, and 
therefore the satisfaction of Christ pertains to all the 
faithful, as to His own members. For in so far as 
two men through love become one being, the one can 
offer satisfaction for the other." 3 This is either a 
contradiction, since Christ s substitution for us and 
identification with us are opposites; or more prob 
ably, it is a clumsy attempt to harmonise the great 
patristic thought with a current mode of speech 
(unus pro alio). In either case the penal side of his 
theory is very different from that which came later, 
when the sufferings of Christ were regarded as liter 
ally substituted for our just dues. 4 

1 Summa, pars iii. quaest. xlvi. art. 1-3, 5-8. 
8 Neander, Hist. Christ. Dogm., II. 583. 

3 Summa, quaest. xlviii. art. 2. 

4 Fisher, Hist. Christ. Doct., pp. 245 sq. ; Hagenbach, II. 50 ; 
Harnack, 190-196; Oxenham, pp. 204-207; Lias, pp. 131 sq.; 
Riviere, pp. 364-368 ; Lidgett, Spir. Princ. of At., pp. 455-458. 


b. His Opponents 

Among these must be numbered such great names 
as Abelard, Bernard, Peter Lombard, and Duns 
Scotus; of whom the first three may be almost said 
to have ignored Anselm. Abelard indeed rejected 
the ransom from the devil, but he also rejected the 
doctrine of satisfaction. He does not touch upon the 
juridical view, or ask how God s honour and justice 
may be satisfied. He is the antithesis of Anselm, 
being ethical where the latter is legal, and Scriptural 
where the other is speculative. Thus he supplies 
some elements of truth totally lacking in Anselm, 
and needful to our understanding of Atonement. 
He begins with the love and the righteousness of 
God, and inquires only how Christ accomplished 
our reconciliation through the manifestation of that 
love and righteousness. The ground of the recon 
ciliation is not justice, but love ; this is an enormous 
advance upon Anselm, whose scheme necessarily 
left out the love of God as the fundamental and inter 
pretative element in atonement. The necessity for 
it exists, not for the sake of God s honour, but of 
man s knowledge of God s love. There was no ob 
stacle to the forgiveness of sin, but the self-will and 
alienation of the sinner himself. The merit of Christ 
was not a sum of definite actions, but His indwelling 


fulness of love towards God; and this merit was 
accredited to man, not as the performance of an 
external work, but as the incitement of an inward 
disposition. 1 God could have forgiven us by His 
will alone, but He could best manifest His love in the 
Passion. 2 We are justified by the blood of Christ, 
because the Cross is the best persuasive to renewed 
obedience. 3 The free grace of God, by kindling 
affection in man, blots out his guilt and sin. "Our 
redemption consists in that love which is awakened 
in us by the sufferings of Christ, and which sets us 
free from the slavery of sin and acquires for us the 
true liberty of the sons of God, by means of which 
we fulfil His commandments no longer with fear but 
with love." 4 

Abelard distinguishes between forgiveness and 
justification, both having their basis in the work of 
Christ, but the one objective in the sense of not re- 

1 S. M. Deutseh, Peter Abalard, p. 378: "Christus durch 
alles, was er gethan und gelitten, sich kein hoheres Verdienst 
erworben babe, als er es schon durch die Liebe, die in ihm war, 
besessen habe. (Note. Sic quoque de Christo sane asserimus, 
quod, quando ad passionem duct us est et in ligno affi.xus est, non 
plus meruit quam ab ipsa conceptione. Neque enim tune melior 
effectus quam ab ipsa pueritia exstitisset, cum ex tune Deum ex 
toto corde diligeret. Sententt., cap. 34, p. 107)." See also 
Harnack, VI. 79. 

2 Neander, Ch. Hist., IV. 501. 

3 Oxenham, p. 190. 

4 Deutsch, op. cit., p. 370. See also J. Bach, op. cit., II. 


quiring man s cooperation, the other demanding co 
operation in the individual. 1 The distinctive point 
is that the Atonement depends on personal partici 
pation with Christ, and the theory has therefore 
been called subjective. It has, however, the ad 
vantage that it deals exclusively with the knowable ; 
although it is inadequate in laying so little stress 
upon the work of Christ as a sacrifice unto God, and, 
as Bernard effectively shows, in practically elimi 
nating infants from the benefits of that work, since 
they are incapable of the love inspired by it. Never 
theless, it recovers for us that aspect of reconciliation, 
as complete only when accomplished within our 
selves, which is overlooked by Anselrn because he 
is occupied exclusively with the other and objective 
side. It is sometimes called "the moral view," and 
was generally accepted by the fourteenth century 
Mystics, and has been popular with many in our 
own time. Ritschl says that "in the Middle Ages 
themselves, through the influence of Peter the Lom 
bard, the preference is given to Abelard over An- 

1 "Die Vergebung der Siinde ist die Aufhebung des gottlichen 
Strafurteiles, welches dem Menschen das Himmelreich verschliesst, 
die Rechtfertigung dagegen ist das wirkliche Gerechtwerden 
des Menschen, das den Glauben zur Voraussetzung hat, und 
durch die Liebe sich vollzieht, sie ist ein in dem Menschen erfol- 
gender Vorgang, wobei die Frage, wie sich die Gnade Gottes 
und das eigne Wirken des Menschen dabei verhalt, zunachst 
noch ausser Betracht bleibt" (Deutsch, p. 373; see also pp. 374, 


selm." Even if he be one-sided and deficient, his 
ethical insight is a valuable reaction from the purely 
transactional view. It is wonderful that so thorough 
a rationalist should have elevated the problem to 
such a high plane, and should have presented so 
many practical and fruitful points of view unattained 
by his elder contemporary. 

Abelard uses many of the traditional expressions. 
For example, he says: "peccatum commissimus, 
cujus ille poenam sustinuit." 2 In the Epitome (cap. 
xxiii) he says: "this He does by offering the man 
whom He has taken to Himself to the Father ; that 
is, by giving the man as a price for man." 3 "And 
yet," says Canon Moberly, "it may be doubted 
whether they really quite cohere with his proper 
thought. He seems in them to be doing a somewhat 
conventional (and indeed in some cases even undue) 
homage to conventional modes of expression. Plainly 
his real heart is rather in such statements as that 
our real justification is the Divine Love within us. 
. . . The emphasis of his thought is not really so 
much upon Calvary as a picture exhibited before 
our eyes, as it is upon Calvary as a constraining and 
* transforming influence upon our characters. It is 

1 Crit. Hist., p. 24. Riviere doubts if this is true after the 
end of the twelfth century (p. 357). 

3 In Rom., II. c. iv; P. L., CLXXVIII. col. 859. 

8 It should be remembered that the Epitome of Abelard s lost 
work on theology was drawn up by one of his disciples. See 
P. L., CLXXVIII. col. 1695 sq. 


not so much really upon the love of God manifested 
to us, as upon the love of God generated within us. 
The difference is important. And, so far, he is 
wholly in the right direction. But if the question be 
pressed, how is it generated? Abelard s exposition 
seems to have no deeper answer to give than that 
the exhibition of the Cross constrains it. He dwells 
on the Cross very finely, as an incentive to love ; but 
hardly conceives of it more profoundly than as an 
incentive. He has lost the emphasis upon the thought 
of humanity as a corporate unity, summed up and 
represented in Christ, so that what Christ did and 
suffered, Christians themselves also suffered and 
di A d in Christ, which was so strong and clear in 
the earliest Christian theologians ; and, on the other 
hand, he has totally failed to interpret the produc 
tion of Divine love within us, not as a mere emotion 
of ours, elicited in us as our response to an external 
incentive, but as being the doctrine of the Holy 
Ghost ; that presence of Christ as constitutive 
Spirit within, which is the extension of the Incarna 
tion and Atonement, the very essential of the true 
Church of Christ, the real secret of the personal 
being of Christians, and therefore the characteristic 
doctrine of the Christian faith, as it is the character 
istic experience of the Christian life." * 

1 Atonement and Personality, pp. 381 sq. Robert Pulleyn is 
reckoned among the followers of Abelard. He denied the necessity 


Although Bernard was Abelard s constant an 
tagonist, he agrees with him in rejecting Anselm s 
positive theory of satisfaction. He retains the 
patristic idea of ransom, fully admitting the right 
of Satan over mankind. By regarding our bondage 
as the proper retribution of sin, Satan becomes "the 
executioner of the Divine justice." Satisfaction, 
therefore, is made to him, not to God as with An- 
selm; and in making it Christ is the Head of the 
body, representing its members. 1 The death was 
voluntary, but not penal: "it was not the death in 
itself, but the will of Him who died of His own ac- v 
cord, that was acceptable to God." The occasion 
for the death was "non justitia, sed misericordia " ; 
which is another vital difference from Anselm. 3 
The reason for the method of redemption is referred 

of an objective satisfaction, because we might have been redeemed * 
in some other way ; and he held the sufferings of Christ to be ex- * 
emplary, and only so requisite to redemption. "Ut quantitate 
pretii quantitatem nobis sui innotesceret amoris et nostri peccati" ; 
this method was chosen in order to make us sensible of the great 
ness of His love and of our sin (P. L., CLXXXVI. col. 82 ; Neander, 
Hist. Dogm., II. 521). 

1 "Satisfecit ergo caput pro membris, Christus pro visceribus 
suis" (De Error. Abael., 6. 15; P. L., CLXXXII. col. 1065). 
Again, it is to be noted that this patristic idea of solidarity is not 
only an advance on Anselm s juridical view, but is antithetic to 
it, since the latter made Christ s work the intervention of a "third 
party" between God and man. 

2 "Non mors, sed voluntas placuit sponte morientis" (De Err. 
Ab., 8. 

3 P. L., CLXXXH. col. 934. 


to the "inscrutable council of God," 1 but it is not 
absolutely imperative, however suitable, since other 
means of deliverance were possible. 2 

Peter Lombard exhibits in his Four Books of 
Sentences the strong influence of his teacher Abelard. 
He does not follow him in rejecting the devil s claims 
upon us ; but he places the need of reconciliation on 
the side of man, not of God, and the mode of Atone 
ment is subjective: "the death of Christ justifies us 
by exciting His love in our hearts." 3 Neander says 
that he teaches vicarious satisfaction, which "we do 
not find in Anselm." 4 But we do find the satis- 
factio activa vicaria in Anselm ; and Ritschl says that 
the Lombard "exhibits the death of Christ under 
all possible categories, except that of a satisfaction to 
God." 5 He employed the idea of merit, which be- 

1 "Mihi scire licet quod ita; cur ita, non licet" (P. L., 
CLXXXIL col. 1069). 

2 Neander, Hist. Dogm., II. 520; Oxenham, p. 193; Riviere, 
pp. 333-339; J. Bach, op. cit., II. 108-111. 

8 P. L., CXCII. col. 795. On the other hand, Abbe Riviere 
says: "Pierre Lombard fonde le merit du Christ sur line significa 
tion objective et metaphysique de sa mort, et pour 1 expliquer, il 
introduit la vieille idee de sacrifice" (p. 348). He bases this solely 
on the use of the word "meruit" ; and, while this may be an in 
consistency, he is compelled to admit that, in showing how we are 
delivered from sin, the Lombard employs the ideas of Abelard. 
Riviere goes on to call the figure of sacrifice "impropre et vieillie": 
most characteristic for the legalist and ecclesiastic to call the 
Scriptural term improper and obsolete ! 

* Ch. Hist., IV. 505. 

6 P. 41. "The Anselmic theory is not mentioned at all" 
(Harnack, VI. 81). 


came predominant after Anselm s use of it, even 
with those who did not apply it to a satisfaction. He 
also speaks of Christ as bearing the punishment of 
our sins: "per ipsius poenam, quam in cruce tulit"; 
"poena Christi, qui pro nobis solvit." l But this is 
not worked out, and probably means no more than, 
as with Athanasius, that He died and so shared our 
penalty, and, as with Gregory Nyssen, that He 
thereby won for us release from the power of Satan. 2 
He rejects with Augustin the necessity of Christ s 
death, which is viewed "as a proof of love, which 
awakens counter-love." He is careful to repeat 
the now familiar thought, that God might have 
found other ways to save us, and that no change 
was effected in the mind of God by the work of 
Christ. "We were reconciled to God, when He al 
ready loved us. For He did not begin to love us 
from the time we were reconciled to Him by His Son s 
blood, but before the world and before we existed." 4 
As his theory did not admit the objective efficacy of 
the Atonement, it cannot justly be regarded as "a 
distinct step in advance of Anselm" in the direction 
of the Reformation dogmas, unless his use of 
" poena " involves much more than as stated above. 5 

1 P. L., CXCII. col. 797. 

3 Harnack, VI. 81. 

8 P. L., CXCII. col. 798 sq. 

4 Oxenham, p. 197. 

8 Fisher, p. 227; Hagenbach, II. 49; J. Bach, II. 213-215. 


Duns Scotus cannot be said to have ignored the 
Anselmic theory, but he contradicts it in every essen 
tial point except in the single fact that he uses the 
word, satisfaction ; which is not actual and adequate 
as with Anselm, but merely accepted as such by 
God s absolute will. 1 His philosophy was radically 
different from that of Anselm and Aquinas, and the 
antagonism between the Dominicans and the Fran-, 
ciscans may have determined his views upon Soteri- 
ology as well as upon Realism. He disputes the 
assertion that redemption is the motive of the In 
carnation, and says that Christ would have come if 
man had not sinned, in order to be the Second Adam 
and Head of the mystical Body, and that He would 
have offered the perfect sacrifice of His life. 2 He 
held that Christ suffered only in His human nature, 
and hence His merit was finite. "The worth of any 
merit depends upon the value at which it is set by 
the acceptance of God. It has merit because it is 
accepted, and just that amount of merit which God 
is pleased to attach to it. And thus, while intrinsi 
cally the merit of Christ cannot be other than finite, 
it may receive a kind of infinity, because God s ac- 

1 His use of the idea shows the influence of Anselm, but the 
Scotist view of Atonement is contrasted with the Anselmic as 
representing henceforth the two general opposing theories (Fisher, 
pp. 47 sq.; Riviere, pp. 368-372; Neander, Hist. Dogm., 
II. 521. 

2 This idea is suggested in Hilary, but Scotus was probably the 
first to make the formal statement. 



ceptation of it takes it for an infinite value." * Hav 
ing no inherent claim to be accepted by God, it is 
however accepted as a sovereign act of grace, the 
obedience of Christ being arbitrarily regarded as a 
sufficient compensation for evil. But this destroys 
the principal argument of Anselm s treatise, the 
satisfaction being nominal, not real. 2 He calls this 
process "acceptilatio," adopting a familiar term of 
the civil law, meaning the acceptance of something 
merely imaginary in satisfaction of a verbal contract. 3 
This compensation, however, was not necessary ex 
cept "as consequent on the Divine predestination." 
As there was no infinite debt and no infinite merit, 
there was no infinite satisfaction, and no need of any. 4 
He makes the moral law itself the expression of 
God s arbitrary will ; 8 which of course is open to 

1 Summary in Lidgett, Spir. Princ. of At., p. 458. "All satis 
faction and all merit obtain their worth from the arbitrary estima 
tion of the receiver. Hence, the value of Christ s death was as 
high as God chose to rate it" (Harnack, VI. 196). "The value 
of meritorious acts is measured by God s acceptance, not His ac 
ceptance by their value" (Oxenham, p. 207). See Sabatier, op. 
tit., p. 150. 

3 Hagenbach, II. 51. 

3 The same word is used to-day in Scottish legal practice. 
The acceptilation theory has been accepted practically by Grotius, 
and explicitly by Professor Crawford, Dr. Charles Hodge, and 
Dr. A. A. Hodge; see D. W. Simon, The Redemption of Man, 
pp. 20-23, 413-415. 

4 Fisher, p. 247; Neander, Hist. Dogm., II. 584; Harnack, 
VI. 196-198. 

6 Dale, Atonement, p. 286. 


the objection that in that case all existing moral 
distinctions are purely contingent. But it enables 
him to deny the necessity of any particular mode of 
satisfaction, because any mode whatever might have 
been arbitrarily demanded. 1 Dr. Dale thinks this 
degrades the scholastic theory, and we should cor 
dially agree with him; but it makes evident how 
completely Scotus denies the fundamental principles 
of Anselm. 2 On the other hand, Ritschl regards his 
doctrine as a truer expression of the Catholic attitude 
in the Middle Ages than that of Aquinas (p. 60). And 
Oxenham says that the Scotist theory was the pre 
vailing one in the Roman church in 1881 (p. 213), 
and commends it because it saved the Church from 
the Lutheran and Calvinistic extensions of the 
Anselmic satisfaction. 

This brief survey will suffice to show how slight 
was the influence of Anselm s specific theory upon 
his contemporaries and successors. It has never 
indeed obtained any general recognition. Neverthe 
less, its vital thought was reapplied by many of the 
Scholastics, it was fully accepted by the Reformers, 

_ l Scotus says that a good angel or a man begotten without sin 
might have served to redeem humanity, if God had been pleased 
to adopt that method. See Sabatier, p. 151. 

2 Like Anselm, he regards the work of Christ as procuring 
only the possibility of redemption, the reality of which is to be 
attained by the man himself through the customary ecclesiastical 


and has ruled the theology of the Atonement to our 
own day. The Roman position during the sixteenth 
century is fairly represented by Lainez, the General 
of the Jesuits. At the Council of Trent, in arguing 
for the sacrifice of Christ in the Last Supper instead 
of on the cross, he contended that our salvation is 
not to be ascribed solely to the death of Christ, 
though that was the final and crowning act, but to 
the life and death of Christ as a whole, and as em 
bracing no one salutary and satisfactory act, but 
countless acts of obedience to the will of the Father. 
However, the Council finally declared that "Christ 
on account of the great love wherewith He loved 
us, merited justification for us by His most holy 
Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satis 
faction for us to God the Father." 

a. Basis of Protestant Soteriology 

Although the theory secured so little adherence, 
yet, when modified in certain significant details, it 
became substantially the basis of Protestant Soteri 
ology. Certain Anselmic ideas became imbedded in 
all the thinking about the Atonement of merit, 
of the provision for escape from the judicial conse 
quences of sin, of a legal transaction between the 
attributes or the Persons of the Trinity, of the 


payment of a debt or the rescue from a criminal sen 
tence by a Substitute, of a legal Atonement strongly 
distinguished from an accompanying subjective re 
conciliation. These ideas were naturally inherited by 
the Reformers, and have governed the figures and 
conceptions of theologians since Luther and Calvin. 
Especially did the thought of Satisfaction become 
dominant, either as sufficient or superabundant, as 
accepted by mercy or possessing inherent claims to 
acceptance; the former through the influence of 
Scotus, and the latter through that of Aquinas. 
Indeed, the word practically banished the Scriptural 
and patristic figure of sacrifice ; l although for 
ethical purposes Luther deprived its use of any 
validity. He said: "Therefore let this word, satis 
faction, henceforth be nothing and dead in our 
churches and our theology, be committed to the 
judges and to the schools of the jurists, where it be 
longs and whence the papists derived it." 2 Not 
withstanding his distaste for the word, the power of 
tradition is shown by his retention of it in speaking 
of the work of Christ, and by his elaboration of its 
characteristic idea of substitution. 

The Reformers adopted Anselm s radical principle 
that the forgiveness of unpunished sin would be un- 

1 Archbishop Thomson says with approval: "It has gone far 
to replace the word sacrifice" (Aids to Faith, p. 350). 

2 Quoted in Seeberg, op. cit., II. p. 268, from Kirchenpostille, 
I. 621. See the original in Sabatier, p. 152. 


just, and that contrivance must be resorted to in order 
to enable God to be both just and forgiving. But 
they departed from his essentially non-moral theory 
by grounding the work of Christ "in the ethical 
nature of God." "They picture the atonement, not 
as a reparation for a private wrong, but as a satis 
faction to inviolable holiness and a protection to the 
universal interests of the moral order. The whole 
subject was brought into the field of ethics." 1 They 
improved upon Anselm by illogically insisting on 
the subjective condition of faith. It was an im 
provement because no external work of atonement 
can be efficient if severed from the spiritual experi 
ence of the redeemed ; and it was illogical because, 
if faith is required as a condition of receiving the 
benefits of Christ s work, the satisfaction has not 
been sufficient and complete. By this happy incon 
sistency they did much to restore the ethical aspects 
of religion and theology; and it is all the more re 
markable that they should have held so rigorously 
to the ideas of law in defining the Atonement. They 
rejected the Latin conception of merit as applied 
to man, but retained it with reference to the satis 
faction of Christ, and treated it as legally and ex 
ternally as Gregory or Anselm or Aquinas. 2 They 

1 Stevens, Christ. Doct. of At., p. 244; "it does not follow that 
the ethics which was applied to it was sound and tenable." 

2 Seeberg, Text-Book Hist, of Doct., II. 20, note. The confu 
sion of Calvin on this point and his final adoption of free and 


used the Scholastic logic and the language of Scho 
lastic theology, because these had been current for 
centuries ; but they developed a theory of their own 
which is quite as foreign to Anselm as to the Fathers 
of the Church. Its novelty and variance from earlier 
thought are indicated by Dr. Shedd, when he says 
that "it was reserved to the Protestant Church 
... to bring the doctrines of Soteriology to a cor 
respondent degree of expansion " with Theology and 
Anthropology. 1 

The connecting link by which Anselm led to the 
Reformation doctrine, was the teaching of Pope 
Innocent III (circa 1200 A. D.). He is said by Nean- 
der to have been "the first who represented the satis 
faction of Christ as a reconciliation between the 
divine attributes of mercy and justice." 2 But we 
have already found such a reconciliation in Anselm 
(ii. 20). What was original with Innocent was the 
description of Christ s satisfaction as punishment : 
"Modum invenit, per quern utrique satisfaceret tam 
misericordiae quam justitiae ; judicavit igitur, ut 
assumeret in se poenam pro omnibus et donaret per 
se gloriam universis." His argument is: "God s 
justice required an adequate punishment for all; 
His mercy could not permit this ; hence the adjust- 

sovereign grace may be found in his Institutes, II. c. 17. See also 
Sabatier, p. 81. 

1 Syst. TheoL, II. 204. 

3 Hist. Dogmas, II. 583 ; Ch. Hist., IV. 506. 


ment that God took upon Himself the punishment 
for all, and bestowed the gift of salvation upon all 
through Himself." Neander is right in saying that 
"this was the first assertion of the satis factio vicaria 
passiva among the Schoolmen." 

b. Antithesis of Protestant Soteriology 

The Reformers greatly developed the passive 
satisfaction of Innocent by adding speculative de 
tails, such as literal appeasement of wrath, the 
equivalent or identical endurance of our penalty ; so 
that their agreement with Anselm is verbal, not real. 
As Dr. Dale remarks, the Reformation idea of the 
Atonement is "the precise antithesis of the concep 
tion in the Cur Deus Homo. . . . The theological 
distance between the theories cannot be measured." 1 
The contrast is marked in four particulars. 

(1) First, the Anselmic satisfaction was active, 
and the Reformation doctrine was chiefly, and 
tended to be exclusively, passive. Jonathan Ed 
wards the younger, who carried it to an extreme, 
said: "I venture to say further that, not only did 
not the Atonement of Christ consist essentially in 
His active obedience, but that His active obedience 
was no part of His Atonement, properly so called, 
nor essential to it." 2 Anselm made much of the 

1 The Atonement, p. 290. 

2 Works, II. 41. 


fact of Christ s death; but he treated it, not as a 
passive endurance, but as a moral act additional to 
the obedience of the whole life. He did not, indeed, 
attribute any redemptive power to the life of the 
Lord, whose obedience was owed to God, and was 
of merely "private significance." It was the su 
pererogatory obedience to the will of God for our 
salvation which availed, the obedience which re 
sulted in death, but which was not commanded and 
which consequently He did not owe, and which could 
therefore restore the lost honour of God. He re 
ferred to the suffering, but it was particularly the 
suffering of death, and that considered as the effect 
of obedience rather than as suffering in itself. The 
Reformers, however, emphasised the literal sense of 
the word Passion, and enlarged upon the details of 
the sufferings which the Redeemer underwent on 
our behalf; and it was in these that they found the 
efficacy of His satisfaction. This constitutes a fun 
damental difference between the two theories, and 
creates a striking contrast between what Hagenbach 
not too strongly calls "the chaste and noble, tragical 
style, too, in which the subject is discussed" by 
Anselm, and "the weak and whining, even sensuous, 
* theology of blood* of later ages." 1 

The separation of the life from the death of 
Christ, the distinction between the significance and 
1 Hist. Dod. t II. 46. 


effects of the active and passive obedience, is not 
tenable. It is evident that St. Paul had in mind no 
such artificial discrimination, when he said that 
" through the obedience of the one shall the many 
be made righteous" (Rom. v. 19). The spirit of the 
death was the consummation of the spirit of the life, 
and it is psychologically impossible to set off one 
moment of its manifestation from all that preceded 
and prepared for it, and assign to it alone a redemp 
tive value. Moreover, as a historic fact, the active 
and passive elements entered into our Lord s entire 
obedience. From the circumcision to the cross, 
there was suffering involved in His participation in 
our humanity. In His active fulfilment of His 
Father s will and in His ministry of teaching and 
service, He suffered from His sensitiveness to men s 
physical ills and mental dulness and spiritual 
hostility and degradation. On the other hand, there 
was an active spirit of self-surrender throughout the 
endurance, and, above all, in the supreme moments 
of it. "Indeed," says Mr. Lidgett, "so entirely pre 
dominant is this activity, that the words passive en 
durance seem wholly out of place. Of His life our 
Lord said, No one taketh it from Me, but I lay it 
down of Myself. From the moment when He set 
His face to go up to Jerusalem to the moment when 
He cried, It is finished, our Lord s attitude was 
that of one who was consummating a great act of 


self-oblation." If attention is led away from the 
spirit of Him in whom the Father was well pleased 
to the mere physical and mental sufferings, the ex 
aggerated importance attached to the latter deprives 
them of all ethical significance ; for suffering, as such, 
has no moral value. It leads also, by the withdrawal 
of the ethical or active element, to the penal aspect 
of the Atonement, by which "the measure of the 
sufficiency of the satisfaction was the intensity of the 
suffering." 2 

(2) Secondly, the Reformers taught that our 
Lord s sufferings were penal, and Anselm expressly 
distinguishes between punishment and satisfaction: 
"necesse est, ut omne peccatum satisfactio aut 
poena sequatur" (i. 15, 11; also, i. 13, 7). As a 
commutation, satisfaction was instead of punish 
ment; but they transformed it into satisfaction by 
punishment. He has been criticised as unethical 
in several of his positions; but, as between the 
passive satisfaction of punishment and the active 
satisfaction of obedience, there can be no question 
as to which was more ethical. He says nothing of 
the endurance of the Divine curse, or the burden of 
the wrath of God ; on the contrary, penal satisfac 
tion is the rejected alternative, he denies that Christ 

1 The Spiritual Principle of the Atonement, p. 146. See pp. 
141-151, which have suggested part of the above criticism. 
3 Ibid., p. 150. 


could have been miserable (i. 11-14; ii. 12). But 
they followed Innocent in making the sufferings 
penal, and enlarging upon them with rhetorical 
detail, making them superlative in accordance with 
the deserts of sin. Their descriptions of His pre 
eminent anguish read strangely enough by the side 
of the reverent reticence of the Evangelists. 

The language of Luther is very extreme, although 
it is rhetorical and inconsistent, and probably was 
not intended to be interpreted with the scientific 
accuracy of definite dogma. Mr. Lidgett says of it : 
"When he speaks of the Atonement the same char 
acteristics are present which are so marked elsewhere : 
namely, a perfervid intensity, sometimes breaking 
through the restraints of both reverence and pru 
dence ; a curious mixture of extreme literalism with 
profound mysticism; and, above all, the over 
mastering sense of perfect deliverance, in Christ, 
from the condemnation of sin." 1 Still, his accept 
ance of the penal character of the satisfaction is 
unmistakable. He said: "It was the anger of God 
itself that Christ bore the eternal anger which 
our sins had deserved. . . . The inner sufferings of 
Jesus, His anguish an anguish in comparison with 
which all human anguish and fear are but a slight 
matter was the feeling of the Divine anger." 2 

1 Op. cit., p. 463. 

3 Quoted in Simon, Redemption of Man, p. 31. 


He thus described Christ s substitutive endurance 
of the curse of God: "Our most merciful Father, 
seeing us to be oppressed and overwhelmed by the 
curse of the law, . . . laid upon Him the sins of all 
men, saying, Be Thou Peter, that denier; Paul, 
that persecutor, blasphemer, and cruel oppressor; 
David, that adulterer ; that sinner which did eat the 
apple in Paradise ; that thief which hanged upon the 
cross ; and, briefly, be Thou the person which hath 
committed the sins of all men. See therefore that 
Thou pay and satisfy for them. Here now cometh 
the law and saith, I find Him a sinner, and that such 
a one as hath taken upon Him the sins of all men, and 
I see no sins else but in Him, therefore let Him die 
upon the cross; and so he setteth upon Him, and 
killeth Him." l And again : " If thou wilt deny Him 
to be a sinner and accursed, deny also that He was 
crucified and was dead. ... It is not absurd to say 
that He was accursed, and of all sinners the greatest" 

Melanchthon and the Reformed divines departed 
from the Catholic statements of all the preceding 
history of this doctrine. The Saxon Confession says : 
Such is the severity of His justice, that there can 
be no reconciliation unless the penalty is paid. Such 
is the greatness of the anger of God, that the eternal 
Father cannot be placated, save by the beseeching 

1 Gdatians. p. 205 folio edition of 1760. 
a Ibid , p. 203. 


and death of His Son." I The Wurtemberg Con 
fession says: "The Son of God alone is the placator 
of the anger of God." The Heidelberg Catechism 
(Quaest. 37) declares that Christ "bore in body and 
soul the anger of God against the sins of the whole 
race." The Belgic Confession (Art. XXI.) also 
speaks of Him "in body as in soul, feeling the 
terrible punishment which our sins had merited." 3 
Calvin is supposed by some to have been more 
cautious in his language; and he evidently tries to 
keep in harmony two entirely contradictory ideas. 
He makes the love of God to precede the reconcilia 
tion, the cause and not the consequence of placation ; 
which, of course, makes placation utterly meaningless. 
He says: "We do riot admit that God was ever 
hostile to Him, or angry with Him. For how could 
He be angry with His Beloved Son, in whom His 
soul delighted ? ... But we affirm that He sus 
tained the weight of the Divine severity, since, being 
smitten and afflicted by the hand of God, He ex 
perienced from God all the tokens of wrath and 
vengeance." Also, compare the following: "It was 
requisite that He should feel the severity of Divine 
vengeance [ultionis], in order to appease the wrath 
of God, and satisfy His justice." "Christ took upon 

1 Lias, p. 133; Simon, p. 32. 

a Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, III. 319. 

3 Ibid., p. 40. 


Himself and suffered the punishment which by the 
righteous judgment of God impended over all sinners, 
and by this expiation the Father has been satisfied 
and His wrath appeased." "The cross was accursed, 
not only in the opinion of men, but by the decree of 
the Divine law. Therefore, when Christ was lifted 
up upon it, He renders Himself obnoxious to the 
curse. . . . From the visible symbol of the curse, 
we more clearly apprehend that the burden, with 
which we were oppressed, was imposed upon Him." 
And what that burden was is thus defined: "For 
sinners, till they be delivered from guilt, are always 
subject to the wrath and malediction of God. . . . 
We are obnoxious to the wrath and vengeance of 
God, and to eternal death. . . . We all, therefore, 
have in us that which deserves God s hatred." 
Such sentences and expressions are constantly to be 
found in him, and it is needless to show how foreign 
they all are to the theory of Anselm. 

(3) Another contrast between the Reformers and 
Anselm logically follows from that just mentioned. 
From Christ s endurance of punishment ensued His 
endurance of the self-same punishment as was due 
to mankind: this was especially the contribution of 
Calvin. "He was made a substitute and surety for 
transgressors, and even treated as a criminal Him 
self, to sustain all the punishment which would have 
1 Institutes, lib. ii. cap. xvi. sect. 1-4, 6, 10, 11. 


been inflicted on them." The idea of equivalence 
was carried so far as to represent Him as suffer 
ing the mors aeterna, the actual torments of hell. 
"Hence it was necessary for Him to contend with the 
powers of hell, and the horrors of eternal death. . . . 
Therefore it is no wonder, if He be said to have de 
scended into hell ( !), since He suffered that death 
which the wrath of God inflicts on transgressors. . . . 
He suffered in His soul the dreadful torments of a 
soul condemned and irretrievably lost." l This w r as 
inconsistent with the conception that He suffered 
only in His human nature, and was properly called 
by Bellarmine "a new and unheard-of heresy." 2 
It is manifestly unscriptural and even pagan. 

Calvin indeed combined the active and passive 
satisfactions. "Now, in answer to the inquiry, how 
Christ, by the abolition of our sins, has destroyed the 
enmity between God and us, and procured a right 
eousness to render Him favourable and propitious 
to us, it may be replied in general, that He accom 
plished it for us by the whole course of His obedience. 
. . . There is no exclusion of the rest of His obedience 
which He performed in His life. . . . His voluntary 
submission is the principal circumstance even in His 
death." 3 The difficulty of harmonising this position 

1 Ubi supra, sect. 10. 

2 Baur, Christ. Lehre van der Versohnung, p. 348. 
8 Ubi supra, sect. 5. 


with passive penal satisfaction has been already al 
luded to; and it can hardly be denied that, in sys- 
tematising the Reformation doctrine, he added some 
abhorrent features, which however were implicit in 
the teaching of Luther. They only serve to show how 
unwise it is to theorise about the infinite ; for either 
Christ could suffer only one eternal death and so 
could pay the debt of only one sinner, or else that 
eternal death is equal to all eternals, in which case 
the perdition of all mankind is exactly equal to the 
perdition of one. Such quantitative comparisons 
between guilt and satisfaction are called by Harnack 
"frivolous arithmetical sums." 1 

The idea of the literal punishment of the Son of 
God is to-day unthinkable. It is inconceivable that 
the Father s wrath could be visited upon the blame 
less and holy One. It is utterly confusing to the moral 
sense to imagine that the justice of God makes no 
distinction between the innocent and the guilty, and 
that the sufferings of Christ can in any proper sense 
be called penal. The necessity for a penal satisfac 
tion is derived from the supposed conflict of the 
Divine attributes ; but, as is always the case with this 
dualistic conception, the governing attribute is justice 
not the love which is the fundamental description 
of God s character, and punitive justice at that - 
not the righteousness which is both loving and holy. 
1 Op. cit., III. 306. 


Thus Dr. Shedd makes justice "the unconditional 
necessity to punish." Accordingly, justice is im 
perative, while mercy is optional ; or, as Dr. Strong 
puts it: "God may be merciful, but must be holy." 
But the objection to making punitive justice the 
ruling principle of the Divine administration is 
radical. As Dr. Stevens remarks : If it "lies deeper 
than love in God, and is independent of it, and has 
its infinite energy of wrath excited against sin, how 
is it logically conceivable that an inferior, optional, 
and (in its relation to holiness ) dependent and 
non-determining attribute (love) should succeed in 
checking this punitive energy ? The theory lays no 
logical basis in the nature of God for a work of salva 
tion. It sacrifices the very motive to salvation in its 
effort to show how God surmounted the difficulty of 
making it possible." 2 

(4) A further inference from the passive and 
penal details is the idea of imputation. Anselm 
knows no more than the Scriptures of the imputation 
of our sins to Christ, or of His righteousness to us. 3 

1 Stevens, op. cit., p. 248. It is not difficult to understand why 
the Calvinists of our day desired revision of the Westminster 
standards, in order to introduce ideas essential to the Gospel. 

3 Ubi supra, p. 243. 

8 The New Testament speaks only of the imputing of our 
sins to us under the law, the non-imputing of our sins to us through 
forgiveness, and the imputation by grace of "the righteousness of 
the faith" which we have in Christ (Rom. v. 13, 20; iv. 8; 
Cor. v. 19; Rom. iv. 9-11). 


He conceives of Christ as rewarded for His unique 
righteousness; the Reformers conceive of Him as 
enduring the penalties which we deserve, but which 
are transferred to Him by imputation. 

Luther thus literally interprets Gal. iii. 13: "All 
the prophets saw this in the Spirit, that Christ would 
be of all men the greatest robber, murderer, adulterer, 
thief, sacrilegious person, blasphemer, etc., than 
whom none greater ever was in the world, because 
He who is a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world 
now is not an innocent person, and without sin, is 
not the Son of God born of the Virgin, but a sinner 
who has and bears the sin of Paul who was a blas 
phemer, a persecutor and violent, of Peter who 
denied Christ, of David who was an adulterer, a 
murderer, and made the Gentiles blaspheme the 
name of the Lord; to sum up, who has and bears 
all the sins of all men in His own body, not because 
He committed them, but because He took them, 
committed by us, upon His own body to make 
satisfaction for them with His own blood." 1 He 
further says: "If the sins of the whole world are on 
that one man Jesus Christ, then they are not on the 
world ; but if they are not on Him, they are still on 
the world. So if Christ Himself was made guilty of 
all the sins which we all have committed, then we 
are absolved from all sins, yet not through ourselves, 
1 Op. cit. t p. 203. 


our own works or merits, but through Him." The 
peril of this kind of statement is that it leaves no 
room for justifying faith, although justification by 
faith was to him articulus stantis aut cadentis eccle- 
siae. If all our sins are absolutely taken from us and 
their full punishment endured and complete satis 
faction made, there is no need for further conditions, 
since we stand before God as though we had not 
sinned. The logical implication, also, is that, as 
Christ has taken upon Him all the sins of the future 
as well as of our past, we need no more concern our 
selves about the former than the latter; and that is 
the practical Antinomianism which has been so often 
charged against Luther s doctrine, which has been 
not seldom exhibited by some who adopted it, but 
which, it must be confessed, has been usually avoided 
by the inconsistent influence of a devoted faith and 
love. Language as incautious as the following is 
certainly very dangerous : " Ab hoc non avellet nos 
peccatum, etiamsi millies millies uno die fornicemur 
aut occidamus." 1 

Calvin seems in one passage to deny external 
imputation. "We do not contemplate Him at a dis 
tance out of ourselves, that His righteousness may 
be imputed to us ; but because we have put Him on, 
and are ingrafted into His body, and because He 
has deigned to unite us to Himself, therefore we 
1 Hallam, Literature of Europe, I. 299. 


glory in a participation of His righteousness." * 
But this is with reference to justification by faith; 
when he speaks of the Atonement, he uses such ex 
pressions as these: "Thus we shall behold Christ 
sustaining the character of a sinner and malefactor, 
while from the lustre of His innocence it will at the 
same time evidently appear, that He was loaded with 
the guilt of others, but had none of His own. . . . 
This is our absolution, that the guilt, which made 
us obnoxious to punishment, is transferred to the 
person of the Son of God. . . . Our guilt and pun 
ishment being as it were transferred to Him, they 
must cease to be imputed to us. . . . When He was 
about to expiate our sins, they were transferred to 
Him by imputation." 2 

It is evident that this element is necessary to com 
plete the theory, for the passive satisfaction could not 
have been penal and equivalent if the sins of man 
kind were not imputed to the sinless One. It was, 
however, often revolting even to men who embraced 
the chief Reformation doctrines ; for Osiander calls 
it "forensic and sophistical, contrary to Scripture, 
and verging on blasphemy." 3 Its defect is that it 
involves crude and literal substitution, which cannot 
be made rational or moral. Suffering by the inno- 

Inst., III. xi. 10. 
Ibid., xvi. 5, 6, 

Oxeuham, p. 242 


cent for the guilty is a common fact of experience, 
and is one of the redemptive forces of human life; 
but it is never in their stead, in the sense that the 
due of one is borne by the other, or the same conse 
quences, or an equivalent amount, or a similar 
quality, and it has nothing of the character of pun 
ishment. 1 "Vicarious punishment is pure injustice, 
and vicarious guilt pure nonsense." 2 Whatever our 
Lord endured, it was in no respect penal ; moral re 
sponsibility cannot be transferred, and the infliction 
of so much suffering for so much sin by means of a 
mechanical substitution is irrational and inequitable. 
The Christian concept of God will not permit us to 
represent Him as "so just that He cannot forgive 
the guilty, but so unjust that He can punish the 
innocent." 3 

These four additions to the Anselmic idea of satis 
faction were undoubtedly associated with a spiritual 
conception of the personal relation of Christ to the 
human soul, which greatly obviated their dogmatic 
defects. Nevertheless, they ushered in that era of 
Protestant scholasticism which developed so many 
statements of doctrine which have now become un 
palatable and are rapidly passing into oblivion. The 
theologians of the two following centuries worked 

1 The modern distinction between substitutionary punishment 
and vicarious suffering is convenient, though somewhat inaccurate. 
* H. M. Gwatkin, The Knowledge of God, I. 217. 
3 Stevens, p. 250. 


out the consequences of the Reformers teaching on 
the Atonement to their pitiless logical issue; the 
orthodoxy of Protestantism was fixed in its final 
form by Francis Turretin, towards the close of the 
seventeenth century. The exaggerations of these 
speculations on the method of the Atonement, their 
disregard of Scriptural and primitive forms of thought, 
their dogmatic tyranny, contributed to the inevitable 
reaction which is reaching its full proportions in our 
own day. 

c. The Modern Development and Reaction 

In tracing the history of this doctrine from the 
eailiest Fathers down to the Reformation statement, 
it has become evident that the stream of thought has 
not grown more pure as it flowed through the cen 
turies. From time to time we have observed ideas 
emerging and colouring the original Scriptural con 
ceptions, which were alien, inharmonious, obscuring 
the crystal simplicity of Apostolic teaching. The 
notion of a fraudulent ransom was succeeded by an 
external, forensic, transcendental scheme of satis 
faction; so that the categories under which men de 
scribed the work of Christ became radically changed, 
and the whole current of thought shifted in direction. 
\Ve have here almost reached the point of widest 
divergence from the Scriptures and the best patristic 


insight; and we have now to notice the gradual 
precipitation of those elements which have given a 
strange hue to the views of the work of redemp 
tion. The remaining history of thought upon this 
subject, for the most part, is a record of succes 
sive changes of statement, brought about by acute 
criticism, the relinquishrnent of one and another 
detail fundamental to the Reformation dogma, the 
attempted readjustment of the theory by the reten 
tion of the familiar terminology and the alteration 
of its significance, until we find in the most recent 
books, even on the conservative side, an almost 
total departure from the Lutheran and Calvinistic 

The theory of Anselm was so much modified by 
the unauthorised speculations of the Reformers that 
it may seem to have entirely disappeared. But its 
essential principle of satisfaction remained and 
dominated thought, and has been the basis ever since 
of what has been called Evangelical Theology. It 
may be noted that before the Reformation very 
different explanations of the Atonement were allowed 
to pass current, and that thereafter this one doctrine 
assumed peculiar importance, whose several hy 
potheses claimed the sole right to the title of ortho 
doxy, and permitted no opposition or even variation. 
It is indeed wonderful that this iron-bound dogma 
tism should have held sway for so many centuries, 


despite the continuous evidences of reaction against 
its objectionable features. 

The first great protest came from a confessedly 
unorthodox source. Lselius and Faustus Socinus 
were undoubtedly much handicapped by their heresy 
concerning the person of Christ. For a long time 
it seemed enough to answer an objection to the 
theory of satisfaction to call it Socinian ; as though 
doubt of the full statement of forensic and penal 
substitution were heretical, because its most vigorous 
critics happened to be also unbelievers in the deity * 
of our Lord. But even that fact does not destroy the 
validity of a protest against a form of doctrine which 
shocked the moral consciousness and outraged the 
reason. The imperfection of the Socinian view of 
Christ naturally made their constructive theory a 
failure. The death of Christ was to them merely 
an example similar to martyrdom, an assurance of 
the Divine forgiveness, and a preparation for the y 
resurrection which was the real power in the redemp 
tion from sin. As a positive statement, this must 
be regarded as deficient, because it ignores what 
St. Paul and the Greek Fathers made so prominent, 
the relation between Christ and the whole of human- ^ 
ity, and the solidarity of humanity itself by which 
alone His sufferings in our behalf become intelligible. 
The final formulation of the truth regarding Christ s 
work will contain all the Scriptural elements, though 


it may be questioned whether the time for that has 
even yet come; certainly it had not come at the 
period of the Sozzini, especially with the embarrass 
ment of their faulty theology. 

Their significance lay in their powerful negative 
criticism, in the substitution of plain sense for juristic 
fictions. The general point of view has been already 
indicated, because it has been largely absorbed in the 
modern attitude toward the idea of satisfaction. 
First of all, satisfaction, of which the New Testa 
ment says nothing, and the remission of sins, of 
which it is full, are mutually exclusive. If satisfac 
tion has been made, there is no logical room for for 
giveness, the release is a matter of strict justice; if 
remission is a gift of grace, there has been no satis 
faction. Moral obligations may not even figura 
tively be compared to debts or sums of money ; the 
difference between personal delinquencies and pe 
cuniary debts is ethically as wide as possible. Nor 
may the punishment of sin be treated under the 
analogy of criminal proceedings; for the punish 
ment of the innocent is unrighteous, and the suffer 
ing of others through being involved in the sin of the 
guilty is not penal suffering. If sin be a violation of 
private right, as Anselm asserts, then satisfaction 
is unnecessary, because the affront could be par 
doned by the magnanimity of the One offended. If 
it be a violation of public law, and the essential note 


of justice be the necessity to punish sin, as the Re 
formers and their successors asserted against Anselm, 
then satisfaction becomes impossible. Justice re 
quires that the sinner should suffer the penalty of 
eternal death. The inner and spiritual punishment 
of sin cannot be transferred ; merit and demerit are 
inseparable from the subject himself. 

There was and could be no equivalence between 
Christ s sufferings and our deserts. For He suffered 
as man, and this suffering was consequently finite, 
and not equal to the penalty deserved by the whole 
race. If the value of the suffering is sought to be 
enhanced by the fact that He was God, so that what 
was lacking in the quantity is made up by the quality, 
still there was no actual equivalence. An individual 
endurance of penalty, even if regarded as construc 
tively infinite, would be equal to only one eternal 
death, and therefore could compensate for only one 
sinner. Moreover, if any endurance becomes equiva 
lent to infinity, merely because the sufferer was Divine, 
then the smallest amount of suffering would have 
been adequate, for it would have for the same reason 
an infinite worth to God. The only real equivalence 
for even one sin would be that Christ should have 
died the eternal death; but on the contrary He was 
raised and ascended into glory. Still further, if His 
Divine nature is supposed to invest His passion with 
its true value, then the satisfaction is artificial and 


unreal, because that makes God compensate Him- 
^elf, and this is contrary to the orthodox view that 
God is impassible. Finally, the idea of imputation 
is incompatible with that of satisfaction ; for, if the 
latter is complete, it excludes anything further, and 
if it be imputed on the ground of faith, it is condi 
tional not perfect. 1 

These objections must be considered as on the 
whole unanswerable, because they have distinctly 
modified the whole subsequent discussion, except in 
the scholastic development of the seventeenth cen 
tury. They made the analogy of criminal procedure 
indefensible, because that demands the punishment 
of the offender, and the satisfaction theory requires a 
substitute. Hence the theorists were driven back 
to the figure of a civil debt, which permits of substi 
tution, but destroys the conception of sin and of 
distributive justice. Those who have tried to make 
satisfaction seem rational and just have ever since 
been involved in hopeless vacillation and incon 
sistency, in the attempt to evade the crushing force 
of the Socinian criticism. It has so affected the think 
ing of the Christian world that nothing is more re 
markable in modern theology than the open or tacit 
omission of all those conceptions against which it 

1 Ritschl, op. tit., pp. 298-309; Baur, op. cit., pp. 374-414; 
Harnack, VII. 156-159; Hagenbach, II. 355-360; Neander, 
Hist. Christ. Dogrn., II. 260; Stevens, op. tit., pp. 157-161; 
Sabatier, pp. 83-88; Lidgett, pp. 474-476. 


was directed. It has compelled "Christian thought 
to abandon once and for all the regions of mythology 
and of penal law, and to take its stand at last on the 
firm ground of moral realities." 1 

The Defence of the Catholic Faith concerning the 
Satisfaction of Christ by Hugo Grotius was intended 
to be an answer to Faustus Socinus ; but it has to be 
acknowledged that it betrays the powerful influence 
of his destructive criticism. It must therefore be 
considered as the beginning of the revolt within the 
ranks of the orthodox against the Calvinistic doc 
trine. Grotius substituted the relation of a ruler 
(rector) to his subject for that of debtor and creditor, 
and for that of judge and criminal. He perceived 
the inadequacy of the metaphor of debt and payment, 
and also the impropriety of an injured person acting 
as judge in his own cause or demanding punishment 
when he has a right only to compensation. The 
method of salvation was not by a fulfilment of the 
law, but by its relaxation. As Ruler or Governor, 
God might have forgiven sin as a matter of preroga 
tive, but He must consider the effect upon the moral 
universe. "He most wisely chose that way by which 
He might at the same time manifest the greater 
number of His attributes, both clemency and severity, 
a hatred of sin, and care for preserving the law." 
The end of His government is the preservation of 
1 Sabatier, p. 84. 


order and the prevention of transgression. That end 
was secured by the death of Christ as a penal ex 
ample, "placing in clear light the character of God, 
the heinousness of sin, and the authority of the law. * 
It was not a payment of a debt (solutio), but a satis 
faction ; for payment excludes remission, the display 
of rectoral justice (justitia rectoris) fulfilled the ends 
of government, and room was left for the exaction of 
faith and repentance as the conditions of pardon. 

Such, in brief, is what is known as the govern 
mental theory of the Atonement. Its author used 
much of the current terminology of the Reformation 
theory, such as "paying our debt," "receiving our 
punishment," "suffering the penalty of our sins"; 
but, in fact, he destroyed the real ground of that 
theory by depriving it of its characteristic features. 
He rejected the idea of equivalence, and he did not 
maintain a strict satisfaction, but a Divine acquittal. 
As Ritschl has said, he made Christ s death, not a 
^"satisfaction for past sins," but a "penal example 
for the prevention of future sins." God accepts this 
substitution of Christ s affliction in lieu of real pun 
ishment, because it is needed to vindicate His recti 
tude and the dignity of His government, and not 
because it is a necessity of His punitive justice. But 
such acceptance is practically the same thing as the 
Scotist idea of " acceptation"; and Dr. Baur says: 
"There is no theory to which the idea of acceptilation 


could be applied with greater propriety than to that 
of Grotius." On every essential point, then, he de 
viates from the Reformers ; in the technical sense of 
those words, he knows nothing of punishment, of 
substitution, or of satisfaction, and for his justi 
fication of the execution of one as an example for 
the rest his only appeal is to heathen ethics and 

The theory is unsatisfactory, because it makes 
God s sovereignty fundamental; whereas back of 
His will is the character of love and righteousness 
which conditions it, and it cannot depend upon His 
arbitrary will whether He punishes or forgives. It 
is not juristic indeed, but it is political, and a reflex 
of the politics of the time; it makes God s relation 
to us official instead of personal, despotic instead of 
paternal. It was developed under conceptions of 
law, different from those of Anselm or the Reformers, 
which we have outgrown as barbarous and immoral. 
His whole notion of the dignity of law is an abstrac 
tion, and the means by which God upholds His moral 
government are well described as "the primitive 
and impei feet expedients resorted to by human 
legislators in the rudest times." The theory is an 
attempt to provide a via media, but like most at 
tempts at compromise it is unsuccessful. It is a 
distinct movement away from the Reformation type 
of thought ; but, as Dr. Stevens says, it has the ad- 


vantage of being "capable of adjustment, by modi 
fication, to the requirements of modern thought and 
of harmonisation with the Christian ideas of God 
and of His relations to the world." 1 

Notwithstanding the suspicion of heresy attaching 
to it, the governmental theory has had great weight 
down to our own day, although it has suffered con 
siderable modifications in form, in the endeavour 
to "ethicise the conception of satisfaction." Natur 
ally, the Arminians followed Grotius, and the preva 
lence of their theology commended the theory to 
many English Churchmen like Archbishop Tillotson 
and Bishop Patrick, and gave it a far-reaching in 
fluence on English Nonconformity. It was accepted 
by Jonathan Edwards, Sr., and the New England 
divines generally, and survives in some of the most 
notable works published in recent years. Its vogue 
is one evidence of the extent of the revulsion from 
any mode of stating the idea of penal satisfaction. 2 

1 Dale, The Atonement, pp. 295-297; Baur, pp. 414-435; 
Fisher, p. 341; Hagenbach, II. 355, 361; Lidgett, pp. 111-114, 
480; Stevens, pp. 161-171, 252-254, 417; Ritschl, pp. 309-319. 

a Dr. Simon considers it one of the so-called "moral" views 
of the Atonement, which is a sufficient illustration of its distance 
from the Reformation dogma. He mentions Albert Barnes and 
Professor Wace among its modern advocates. Dr. Stevens devotes 
a chapter (pp. 198-220) to "Modern Ethical Satisfaction Theo 
ries," as exhibiting the perpetuity of some of the conceptions and 
principles of Grotius. He names Professor Edwards A. Park, 
Dr. J. McLeod Campbell, Dr. R. W. Dale. Dr. S. Harris, Dr. 
Lewis F. Stearns, Professor George Harris (Essay in Progressive 


The Protestant scholastics of the seventeenth 
century, Gerhard, Mastricht, Quenstedt, and Turre- 
tin, carried the Calvinistic doctrine to its farthest 
extreme. They were stalwart in pushing the logical 
process to its utmost conclusions, shrinking from no 
statement, however startling, that seemed to be justi 
fied by their unfortunate premises. 1 They were 
unable, however, to curb the tendency to depart 
from the Reformation orthodoxy, and this diver 
gence has continued until it has grown to the pro 
portions of a revolution in our own age. 

Orthodoxy), Rev. A. Lyttelton (Essay in Lux Mundi), Rev. J. S. 
Lidgett, Canon Moberly, Rev. W. L. Walker, Dr. J. T. Hutcheson, 
Principal Fairbairn, and Dr. Henry C. Sheldon. 

1 The Westminster Confession of Faith, by comparison, is 
very tame, although loyal to the general position of the Reformers. 
"The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Him 
self, . . . hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father" (ch. viii. 
sect. v.). We may also note the admirable reticence of the Angli 
can standards of a century earlier; except that Article II. contains 
a wholly unscriptural expression : " Who truly suffered, was cru 
cified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be 
a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of 
men." Article XXXI. has language similar to that of the Eucha- 
ristic Office, which says: "Who made there (by His one oblation of 
Himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, obla 
tion, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world." The 
phraseology is a natural reflex of the theology of the time, but it 
does not commit us to a particular theory. While we might to-day 
employ a different word, and are entirely at liberty to think of the 
Father s satisfaction in an obedient Son, we are to look for the 
Church s authoritative formulas in the language of the Catechism: 
"who redeemed me and ail mankind," and in the sober statement 
of fact in the Nicene Creed. 



The New England theologians, from their sym 
pathy with the Grotian theory, denied that Christ 
suffered the penalty of our sins. Dr. Dwight said: 
"Nor will it be believed that any created nature 
could in that short space of time suffer what would 
be equivalent to even a slight distress extended 
through eternity . . . When, therefore, we are told 
that it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him, it was not as 
a punishment." Dr. Edwards the younger said: 
"It is not true that Christ endured an equal quantity 
of misery to that which would have been endured 
by all His people, had they suffered the curse of the 
law ... As the Eternal Logos was capable of 
neither enduring misery nor losing happiness, all the 
happiness lost by the substitution of Christ was 
barely that of the man Christ Jesus, during only 
thirty-three years; or rather, during the last three 
years of His life." And Dr. Emmons said: "His 
sufferings were no punishment, much less our pun 
ishment. His sufferings were by no means equal in 
degree or duration to the eternal sufferings we de 
serve, and which God has threatened to inflict 
upon us. So that He did in no sense bear the 
penalty of the law which we have broken, and justly 
deserve." 1 

These concessions must not be estimated as a 

1 Introduction to Theological Essays, edited by Geo. R. Noyes, 
D.D., pp. xxiv, xxv. 


complete departure from the Calvinistic view of the 
Atonement; but they clearly indicate the beginning 
of the return to simpler and wiser theorising on the 
unrevealed. It is unmistakable that, during the 
whole of the century just past, many familiar con 
ceptions were becoming quite impossible of belief. 
Dr. McLeod Campbell has illustrated this from 
modern English Calvinism. Thus, Dr. Payne re 
jected the imputation taught by Owen and Edwards : 
" Guilt and merit not being transferable but only 
their consequences." Dr. Jenkyn admitted that 
"Christ s sufferings were not a punishment." Dr. 
Stroud approvingly quoted President Edwards, to 
the effect that to represent Christ as "suffering a 
positive infliction of Divine wrath" is chargeable 
with error, "not to say absurdity." 1 Among English 
Churchmen the same disregard of the old tenets is 
shown in the work which was so long regarded as 
the classic upon the subject, Magee s Atonement and 
Sacrifice. He said: "I have used the expression, 
vicarious import, rather than vicarious, to avoid 
furnishing any colour to the idle charge, made 
against the doctrine of atonement, of supposing a 
real substitution in the room of the offender, and a 
literal translation of his guilt and punishment to the 
immolated victim ; a thing utterly incomprehensible, 
as neither guilt nor punishment can be conceived, 
1 McLeod Campbell, The Atonement, pp. 66, 70, 72. 


but with reference to consciousness, which cannot be 

However, the Reformation dogma, in its main 
features but with constantly diminishing emphasis, 
was frequently repeated in the first half of the last 
century, and has not been entirely dislodged in our 
own day, but is manifestly obsolescent. Hugh 
Martin, Charles Jerram, and J. M. Armour pre 
sented variant forms of the traditional view, although 
some important reservations are made. Edwards 
A. Park and Albert Barnes gave good representations 
of the modified Grotian doctrine. The controversial 
treatises of Drs. Smeaton, Crawford, and Cari- 
dlish ; the Bampton Lectures of Archbishop Thom 
son, and his essay in Aids to Faith; the essays in 
The Atonement: A Clerical Symposium by Mr. Mac- 
kennal, Dr. Olver, Dr. Rainy, Dr. Cave, Dr. 
Morris, and Dr. Gloag ; the work of Dr. Dale ; The 
Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice and Atonement by 
Dr. Cave ; The Humiliation of Christ by Dr. Bruce 
(which adheres to the penal element in the sufferings 
of Christ and the objective imputation of our sins to 
Him); the Kerr Lectures of Dr. D. W. Forrest; 
The Christian View of God and the World (Lecture 
viii) by Dr. Orr ; the Studies in Theology and The 

1 I. 268, edition of 1822. Dr. Simon includes the view of 
Archbishop Magee among the theories that are "exclusively 
manward-looking" (The Redemption of Man, p. 58). 


Death of Christ by Dr. James M. Denney; The 
Christian Salvation by Dr. J. S. Candlish; and 
Bishop Moule s Outlines of Christian Doctrine are 
some more recent illustrations of the partial survival 
of the older conceptions. 1 

One characteristic of the modern statement is the 
attempt to "put a piece of new cloth into an old 
garment " that is already much patched and ready 

1 The thoughtful work of Dr. R. W. Dale (The Atonement) has 
been so deservedly admired for its candour and scholarship, and 
has had so much wider reception than any of the others, that it 
may be considered a typical instance of the effects of the modern 
influence. He says in his Preface: "The premature attempt to 
construct a Theory of the Atonement on the basis of those de 
scriptions of the Death of Christ which represent it as a Ransom 
for us, or as a Propitiation for the sins of the world, or on phrases 
in which Christ is described as dying for us, or dying for our sins, 
has been the mischievous cause of most of the erroneous Theories 
by which the glory of the FACT has been obscured." On which 
Professor Adeney remarks: "That great theologian was not con 
tent to rest in any half-way house himself, and proceeded to work 
out a most elaborate argument in the region of hypothesis" (A 
Theological Symposium, p. 143). He seems genuinely Grotian 
when he says : "It belonged to Him to assert, by His own act, that 
suffering is the just result of sin. He asserts it, not by inflicting 
suffering on the sinner, but by enduring suffering itself" (p. 392). 
Dr. Stevens thinks he only approximates the penal theory, al 
though he employs the usual terms. He calls imputation "a legal 
fiction," and he labours to show that Christ s suffering was a sub 
stitute for punishment (pp. 391-394). Yet this whole passage is 
vitiated by a real recognition of the penal idea (see also p. 222), 
and he admits the validity of literal substitution, expiation, and 
propitiation (pp. 475 sq., 103, 237, 242). See, for effective criti 
cisms, Lidgett, The Spiritual Principle of the Atonement, pp. 155- 
170 ; Moberly, Atonement and Personality, pp. 393-396 ; Stevens, 
op. cit., pp. 190, 198. 


to fall to pieces. The language of the historic theories 
is retained, but it is evacuated of its original meaning. 
Dr. George B. Stevens says: "Almost all modern 
evangelical writers, whatever their particular shade 
of opinion, are disposed to qualify and tone down 
the definitions and formulas of the old theology, 
even where they employ some of its terms; they 
seldom glory in the claim, as earlier writers did, that 
theirs is the legal and forensic interpretation of 
the work of Christ, or assert that the determination 
to punish is the primary element in the Christian 
concept of God, which He must gratify in the suffer 
ings of Christ before he can forgive." * Most of the 
authors referred to above recognise that the theory 
needs restatement in view of modern objections, and 
oftentimes closely approach the standpoint of its 
critics. This is especially seen in their reluctance to 
formulate a complete philosophy of the Atonement, 
their endeavour to revitalise the old words by a spirit 
ual rather than a legal interpretation, and their re 
jection of those details which have made the accepted 
doctrine abhorrent. 2 But it must be remarked that 
these qualifications, which have almost totally al 
tered the old form of penal substitution and attenu- 

1 Op. tit, pp. 198, 199. 

3 A comparison of the Clerical Symposium (1883) with the 
Theological Symposium (1902) upon the same subject, will furnish 
a suggestive indication of the progress of twenty years. 


ated it so that it is barely recognisable, have shorn 
it of its consistency and logical ioice. It is not too 
much to say, therefore, that, as an explanation of 
the method of our redemption, it is disappearing 
as antiquated and outworn. To quote again from 
Dr. Stevens s profoundly able discussion of the Chris 
tian doctrine of salvation: "In but very few books 
on the Atonement which are fairly recent has the 
old Protestant traditional theory been preserved 
without important qualifications. In Germany I 
do not know of a single prominent living theolo 
gian who has championed it in any well-known 
treatise. 1 ... At any rate, for better or for worse, 
the theory is moribund. . . . No British theolo 
gian, so far as I know, has, within recent years, 
consistently elaborated or defended the theory of 
vicarious punishment." 2 

Many of the modern writers make no effort to 
harmonise the Reformation terminology with the 
changed conception of the work of Christ. They 
frankly acknowledge that the attempt is not only 

1 The Germans and French Protestants universally regard 
the death of Christ as "the historical means of a subjective 

3 Pp. 186, 187, 190. Even Dr. Denney repudiates such words 
as "legal," "judicial," "forensic" (The Atonement and the Modern 
Mind, p. 69), and avoids the use of the word "penal," although, 
both in this and his former treatise, The Death of Christ, he holds 
to the word "substitution," which he admits "lends itself very 
easily to misconstruction" (ubi supra, p.. 130). 


vain but unnecessary, because that mode of speech 
is radically at variance with the truth. The fear of 
heterodoxy withheld many thinkers from taking 
such a decided position, until their courage was re 
inforced by the stimulating reflections of Coleridge. 1 
Since 1860 the movement in favour of a new con 
struction of thought upon redemption has become 
very pronounced. The significant fact about it is 
that it has been largely characterised by an endeav 
our to bring out the essential truths which had been 
too long minimised or ignored. The new historic 
sense of the period necessitated the study of doctrine 
in its historical development; with the result that 
the original authority of many customary state 
ments was challenged, there was more and more 
evident a refusal to philosophise about what in its 
nature is unrevealable or what at least has not been 
clearly disclosed to us, and there was a disposition 
to be silent about those elements of any theory which 
cannot be found in the Scriptures and the writings 
of the Greek Fathers. The extreme recoil from 
any form or modification of the Anselmic theory is 
witnessed by a host of writers, far too many to name, 
whose works are remarkable frequently for their 
rejection of all its details, but more often for what 
they do not say, and what they must have said if the 

1 The term "orthodoxy" should be confined to the few things 
pronounced upon by the Church universal. 


omitted features were important. There is great 

difference among them as to what constitutes atone 
ment, and even whether it be in some sense both 
objective and subjective or only the latter; but they 
practically agree in disavowing those statements 
which were until recently regarded as the essence of 

The tendency seems to be, on the whole, to lay 
stress on the fact that w r e are reconciled to God 
through the sacrifice of Christ, with no attempt to 
define precisely its method or to dogmatise about it 
or even to insist that any understanding of it is need 
ful. The love of God is made primary and funda 
mental, inclusive of His righteousness, and a far more 
splendid and rectifying attribute than what has been 
called "a desire to be willing to forgive." i The 
judicial is completely superseded by the ethical, and 
the Incarnation resumes its ancient power of inter 
preting the work of Christ. Instead of employing 
the words suggestive of some particular method of 
atonement, we are reverting to Sacrifice, Redemption, 
and Reconciliation as being Scriptural and so best 
descriptive of the fact. 2 

1 Jas. Morison, Exposition of Romans Third, p. 305. 

2 See Appendix for illustrations. 





THE Cur Deus Homo has an importance for the 
history of doctrine which it does not possess as a 
positive theory. Per se it has little permanent worth. 
Ritschl thinks it has been much overestimated, and 
that its appreciation is "conventional and unhis- 
torical" (p. 23). It has been shown how meagre 
were its results upon scholastic thought, and at the 
same time how vital has been its hold upon the 
theology of the past three centuries. Dean Church 
speaks of it as "the famous dialogue, in which, seek 
ing the rational ground of the Incarnation, he lays 
down a profound and original theory of the Atone 
ment, which, whether accepted or impugned, has 
moulded the character of all Christian doctrine 
about it since." 1 This indicates at once its histori 
cal import and its prime defect. 

It is certainly remarkable, that a theory which so 
entirely lacked the power to commend itself to gen- 

1 St. Anselm, p. 232. Thomasius calls Anselm " the theo 
logical founder of the dogma of the Atonement" (op. dt., 
p. 123). 


eral acceptance should have contained so many 
ideas whose influence has persisted for eight cen 
turies. Perhaps no other theological statement has 
been so universally rejected as a whole, but whose 
essential characteristics have so completely coloured 
subsequent thinking. To Anselm is due the displace 
ment of the simple doctrine and fact that Christ 
"died for our sins" by a philosophy of the Atone 
ment. Though the form of the theory has been 
strikingly changed, he has given popularity and 
continuance to an almost exclusively objective 
treatment of the Atonement, to the subordination 
of the Incarnation to a mere incidental means, to 
the thought of God as Sovereign rather than as 
Father, to the conception of the governmental 
administration of Divine law instead of the paternal, 
to the fiction that righteousness is more peremptory 
in its demands than love, to the preference of tfcfe 
legal word "justice" to "righteousness" as the 
nobler equivalent of the Scriptural term Si/caioo-vvrj. 
He has introduced the idea of satisfaction as the 
chief demand of the nature of God, of punishment 
as a possible alternative of satisfaction and equally 
fulfilling the requirements of justice thus open 
ing the way to the assertion of punishment as the 
true satisfaction of the claims of the law. He has 
authenticated the notion of a "battle of the at 
tributes"; he has substituted a legal and commercial 


use of the figure of debt for the Scriptural use of 
the same figure and for other figures more frequently 
employed in the New Testament; and he has pro 
moted the ambiguous description of the in-finite 
guilt of sin and of the merely forensic value of the 
infinite merits of Christ. 

The student of popular theology will recognise 
all of these elements as occupying greater or less 
prominence in the familiar statement of the doctrine 
of Atonement; and their permanence is a strong 
testimony to the extent of Anselm s influence. But, 
as Dean Church said, the theory is "original"* with 
him, and, in their application to the mode of* our 
redemption, the details above noted are equally 
novel. It is suspicious and ill-omened that they had 
no expression for a thousand years. Their local 
antecedents, their exclusive development in the West, 
their determination of thought to such different 
categories from those assumed by the Fathers, render 
them interesting as a phase of historical theology, 
but quite without authority in the investigation of 
fundamental Christian truth. It cannot be denied 
that they have wrought grievous harm, as will have 
appeared in the preceding discussion. Surely it was 
not a false instinct that led the Fathers to think more 
of the indwelling of God in humanity than of the 
sufferings and death that resulted from the "human 
life of God." It was a simpler and truer conception 


of the meaning of the Incarnation that made the 
presence of God in the form of man the natural and 
presumptive corollary of the creation of man in the 
image of God, instead of making it the adventitious 
sequel of human sin. 

It was a distinct loss when the Atonement was 
made so central that theories of its modus were no 
longer tolerated, if certain speculative elements were 
absent. The "ransom" theory was not imposed 
upon the faith of the church, and its exponents were 
considered no more orthodox than its opponents. 
The satisfaction theory of Anselm was accepted in 
part by a very few, but its rejection did not affect the 
standing of a thinker as a defender of Catholic truth. 
The satisfaction theory of the Reformation, however, 
which owed its existence to Anselm, was made the 
test of orthodoxy, and continued to be so urged 
until a few years ago. Yet the mischief of requiring 
subscription to a rationalistic and metaphysical 
formula, in the place of the Scriptural doctrine from 
which it was heroically asserted to be a derivation, 
should have been manifest from the deliberate 
avoidance in the Scriptures of any explanation of 
the process of redemption. Anselm s adoption of a 
purely objective interpretation of Christ s work, his 
assumption of an ability to penetrate into the eso 
teric relations of the Trinity, made him primarily 
responsible for the intrusive prying into Divine mys- 


teries, and for the confident familiarity with the un- 
revealed portions of truth that issued in the dog 
matic tyranny so conspicuous in the Protestant 
churches. When we compare the compact and, in 
many respects, consistent theory of Anselm with the 
unsystematised and multiform and independent 
utterances of the Evangelists and Apostles, we 
wonder why the very coherence and symmetry of his \r 
logic were not regarded as a dubious excellence. The 
features in which the elder divines most delighted 
are precisely those which fail to commend them 
selves to modern thought. What Professor Fisher 
says of Scholastic Theology in general may be applied 
to the Anselmic and ensuing theories: "It is the 
great drawback to the value of these wonderful feats 
of intellectual acumen that it is abstractions and 
logical relations that are dealt with, so that Chris 
tianity appears to lose, so to speak, its flesh and 
blood, and to be resolved into a lifeless structure of 
metaphysics" (p. 215). 

But it must be .fairly acknowledged that we are 
indebted to Anselm for two great services in con 
nection with this doctrine. The first has already 
been sufficiently treated ; by overthrowing the theory 
of Origen, he brought our thought back to God 
from the devil, whose power and rights had been 
unduly exalted. The second is his indirect and 

entirely unintentional contribution to the modern 



reality of personal religion. His theory is justly 
criticised as a speculation; but, in tracing the 
sources of certain spiritual impulses in and after the 
Reformation, we find them latent in him. Pro 
fessor Nash, in his Genesis of the Social Conscience, 
has shown how monasticism enhanced the value of 
the common man. "The declaration that the world 
was worthless and so must be abandoned was the 
negative side of the conviction that the essential 
man in every man was infinitely worthy. . . . The 
monastery was the pledge of the independence of 
the spiritual view of things and of its ultimate master 
fulness. Confronting the castle, it bespoke the reality 
of a world where the low-born stands level to the 
noble." " The monastery was the home and fortress 
of the conscience" (pp. 161, 162, 178). Professor 
Allen, in Christian Institutions, has contrasted mo 
nasticism with the Episcopate, to bring out the indi 
vidualism of the one in opposition to the solidarity 
of the other. "The Catholic Church had aimed to 
solidify the Church and the world in unity, and it 
had begun to appear as if its purpose were already 
achieved, when the monks arose to dispute its ideal, 
to assert the importance of the individual man as 
greater than the institution, as greater than any 
temple that man could build, or wherein he might 
worship" (p. 156). This interpretation of the inner 
meaning of the monastic life, as an emphasis upon 


the worth of the individual experience, validates his 
inference respecting the good work begun so uncon 
sciously by Anselm. 

The Cur Deus Homo was the work of a monk, 
who had been prior and abbot of Bee. He was 
thoroughly imbued with the monastic traditions, and 
his theory was such as could hardly have been de 
vised by a representative of the secularised church. 
It implied the Church as an organisation, and no 
doubt intended to leave to the Church the control 
of the treasury of mercy. But it makes no reference 
to sacrament or penance or priesthood. These 
were not the means proposed for deliverance from 
the fear of a just God, but a satisfaction of divine 
justice so abundant that it promised peace to the 
souls tortured with the dread of the consequences of 
sin. It was a crude statement of the good-news of 
forgiveness, but it opened the way to a better under 
standing when better ideas of God should prevail. 
It contained also a fresh and powerful statement of 
the Incarnation of Christ, one with man and one with 
God, which assured mankind that the Divine atti 
tude towards each one of the redeemed was goodness, 
not severity. Through these ideas and the accom 
panying elevation of the Atonement as the doctrine 
of prime significance, Anselm was the spiritual 
forerunner of Luther. 1 It was a strange irony of 
1 Allen, Christ. Institutions, p. 366. 


fate that a theory whose antecedents lay partly in 
ecclesiastical practices which made the Church a 
necessary mediator between God and man should 
have by discernible stages issued in such a con 
ception of the Christian life as gave immediate access 
to God in Christ. 

Yet such was the actual result. When recon- 
ceived by the Reformers, the idea of satisfaction be 
came a new proclamation of the Gospel of hope to 
every man. As they made it apprehensible only by 
personal faith, they were the logical successors of the 
monk who after all stood for the individual as con 
trasted with the hierarchy. Anselm was himself an 
Archbishop and a genuine ultramontane, and did 
not in the least suspect that he was aiding to change 
the very idea of the Church to which he was de 
voted. But after the superstitions were rejected, 
which did not offend his conscience and some of 
which had contributed to the framing of his thought, 
the fact of reconciliation became the dynamic ele 
ment in the revived power of the personal religious 
life. Below all the objectionable theorisings there 
was felt the consciousness of the individual relation 
to God, and of peace with God through Jesus Christ 
and not through the mediation of a priesthood. The 
sense of personal pardon, the privilege of immediate 
access to God, the spiritual instead of the institu 
tional idea, the hope of justification by faith apart 


from the deeds of the law, these made the Atone 
ment vital in the creation of a new and free person 
ality, from which ensued the religious and social 
benefits of the Reformation. It was the meaning of 
the fact of reconciliation to the world at large, the 
translation of the strange dogma which preserved 
the fact into personal experience and only what 
was true in it could be so transferred that enabled 
such an inspiring apprehension of the love of Christ 
and such a renewing appropriation of the cleansing 
blood. But this takes us back of the ecclesiastical 
development to the New Testament, where the 
teaching was, not of the method, but simply and 
preeminently and continually of the fact whose ac 
ceptance transformed Jew and Gentile into new 
creatures in Christ Jesus. 

It has been said that the Fathers laid stress upon 
the Incarnation and the Reformers upon the Atone 
ment ; but the two things need not remain in opposi 
tion. By the better understanding of the Atonement, 
as just described with reference to the service ren 
dered by Anselm, we may go back to the teaching 
of the best of the Fathers, and greatly enrich their 
thought of the Incarnation, in its application to the 
needs of sinful man as the means of our at-one-ment. 
This does not mean that we are to be as exclusive in 
our references to the life of God in human flesh as 
the Reformers were to the death for human sin. 


But we may return to the patristic thought of the 
primary importance of the Incarnation, as including 
the sacrificial death as a "dispensation" growing 
out of the necessities of man s redemption. This 
seems to be the trend of the more recent Soteriology ; 
and it reveals the movement, referred to by Aubrey 
Moore in another connection, when he says: "Our 
modes of thought are becoming increasingly Greek" 
(Lux Mundi, p. 100). 1 

1 It is sometimes asserted that we need to modify the Greek 
theology by the ideas developed in the Latin theology, especially 
with reference to the conception of sin. It is admitted that the 
Latins contributed much that was valuable to Christian thought ; 
but they added very little in the department of Soteriology, and 
whatever was original with them was generally mischievous. 
Their theological concepts were too commonly cast in legal 
phraseology, in which they seem to have entirely misunderstood 
the difference between the vopos of St. Paul s Epistles and the 
lex of Roman jurisprudence. The paternal idea of the relation 
between God and man was displaced by the juridical. The 
"divine kinsmanship" between Creator and creature was rejected 
in favour of a profound unlikeness and disjunction between them, 
that could be remedied only by a series of forensic transactions. 
Sin was not essentially spiritual, the substitution of self-will for 
the will of God, a missing of the end for which man was made; 
it was a "crimen," a "delictum interdictum." Penalty was no 
longer the natural and inevitable consequence of sin, the separa 
tion of the life from God, the deterioration of the spiritual nature ; 
it was a judicial imposition from without, extrinsic and contingent. 
Forgiveness was not so much the remission of sins as a legal 
quittance from penalty; redemption was transformed from the 
deliverance of man at the cost of a loving sacrifice, by figures that 
reduced it to the payment of costs imposed by the judgment of a 
court ; the ruling motive in the work of Christ was not so much a 
divine and righteous love as divine punitive justice. The legal 
morality of merit and good works, which St. Paul so vehemently 


opposed, was the appropriate correlative of this forensic theology. 
(In many respects, Augustin was a noble exception to this repre 
sentation ; but I speak of the theology that was generally wrought 
out in the Western Church.) 

It is true that no Greek ever uttered such intense and passion 
ate confessions of sin as did some of the Latins, in which they went 
far beyond St. Paul in Romans vii. But that was because sin 
could not bulk so large to the consciousness of men who dwelt 
upon the Incarnation as the evidence of an affinity between divine 
and human nature, as it did to that of men who denied or at least 
underestimated this affinity. The Greeks were not insensitive to 
the "exceeding sinfulness of sin"; but they were splendidly alive 
to the truth that, "where sin abounded, grace did much more 
abound." It is mainly a matter of emphasis. The Greeks placed 
it upon God in Christ and Christ in man ; the Latins placed it 
upon human sin. There can be very little doubt as to which of 
these thoughts is the more spiritually fruitful. 



THOSE who are not familiar with the literature of 
this subject can have but little idea of the extent of 
the reaction from the Reformation dogma, referred 
to in the foregoing pages. It is exhibited not only 
by writers who wholly repudiate the details of that 
theory, but also by those who strive to retain its 
phraseology while giving up the features essential to 
its consistency. Some illustrations are accordingly 
submitted for those who may desire materials for 
further study. Many of the quotations and refer 
ences are for the sole purpose of showing the reluc 
tance of even the most conservative of modern 
thinkers to explain the precise method of the 

WILLIAM LAW (1728). "The innocent Christ did not 
suffer to quiet an angry Deity, but as cooperating, assist 
ing, and uniting with that love of God which desired 
our salvation. He did not suffer in our place or stead 
but only on our account, which is a quite different 

"Our guilt is transferred upon Him in no other sense 
than as He took upon Him the state and condition of our 
fallen nature ... to heal, remove, and overcome all the 
evils which were brought upon us by the Fall." 


"His merit or righteousness is imputed or derived into 
us in no other sense than as we receive from Him a birth, a 
nature, a power, to become the sons of God" (Quoted in 
English Church in the Eighteenth Century, p. 583). 

BISHOP JOSEPH BUTLER (1736). "How and in what 
particular way, it had this efficacy, there are not wanting 
persons who have endeavoured to explain; but I cannot 
find that the Scripture has explained it. . . . And if the 
Scripture has, as it surely has, left this matter of the sat 
isfaction of Christ mysterious, left somewhat in it unre- 
vealed, all conjectures about it must be, if not evidently 
absurd, yet at least uncertain" (Analogy oj Religion, 
Pt. ii. cap. v.). 

JOHN WESLEY (1775). "This grave danger was no 
ticed by John Wesley, since he promised never again to use 
intentionally the term imputed righteousness, when once 
he found the immense hurt which the frequent use of this 
unnecessary phrase had done " (Melville Scott, Crux 
Crucis, p. 94). 

ARCHBISHOP WILLIAM MAGEE (1809). "I know not, 
nor does it concern me to know, in what manner the sacri 
fice of Christ is connected with the forgiveness of sins: 
it is enough, that this is declared by God to be the medium, 
through which my salvation is effected. I pretend not to 
dive into the councils of the Almighty" (The Scriptural 
Doctrines of Atonement and Sacrifice, Discourse I. p. 20). 

S. T. COLERIDGE (1825). "Forgiveness of sin, the 
abolition of guilt, through the redemptive power of Christ s 
love, and of His perfect obedience during His voluntary 
assumption of humanity, is expressed, on account of the 


resemblance of the consequences in both cases, by the pay 
ment of a debt for another, which debt the payer had not 
himself incurred. Now the impropriation of this metaphor 
(that is, the taking it literally) by transferring the same 
ness from the consequents to the antecedents, or inferring 
the identity of the causes from a resemblance in the effects 
this is the point on which I am at issue : and the view 
or scheme of Redemption grounded on this confusion I 
believe to be altogether unscriptural. . . . 

"The purpose of a metaphor is to illustrate a some 
thing less known by a partial identification of it with some 
other thing better understood, or at least more familiar. 
Now the article of Redemption may be considered in a 
two-fold relation in relation to the antecedent, that is, 
the Redeemer s act, as the efficient cause and condition 
of redemption ; and in relation to the consequent, that is, 
the effects in and for the redeemed. Now it is the latter 
relation, in which the subject is treated of, set forth, ex 
panded, and enforced by St. Paul. The mysterious act, 
the operative cause, is transcendent. Factum est: and 
bevond the information contained in the enunciation of the 
fact, it can be characterised only by the consequences" 
(Aids to Reflection, pp. 30 sq. See also p. 235). 

view of the Atonement, which is generally known by the 
name of the doctrine of Christ s substitution, has, I know, 
been held by many living members of His body and yet 
I believe that, with some truth in it, it contains much dan 
gerous error. In the first place, I may observe, that it 
would not be considered justice in an earthly judge, were 


he to accept the offered sufferings of an innocent person as 
a satisfaction for the lawful punishment of a guilty person. 
And as the work of Christ was wrought to declare and 
make manifest the righteousness of God, not only to 
powers and principalities in heavenly places, but to men, 
to the minds and consciences of men it is not credible 
that that work should contain a manifestation really op 
posed to their minds and consciences. . . . Christ died 
for every man, as the head of every man not by any 
fiction of law, not in a conventional way, but in reality as 
the head of the whole mass of the human nature, which, 
although composed of many members, is one thing, 
one body, in every part of which the head is truly pres 
ent. . . . The substance of all these passages proves that 
the substitution of Christ did not consist in this, that He 
did or suffered something instead of men, so as to save 
them from doing or suffering it for themselves. . . . What 
Christ did for us, was done for us in a sense and with a 
view very different from that of saving us from doing it 
ourselves. He fulfilled the law, for instance, certainly not 
with a view of saving us from fulfilling it, but, on the con 
trary, with the very view of enabling us to fulfil it. ... He 
made Himself a sin-offering, that the righteousness of the 
law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh 
but after the Spirit " (From The Brazen Serpent in Letters 
pp. 548-550. See also Letters, pp. 26, 215, 411). 

ALEXANDRE R. VINET (1844). "The transfer of guilt 
upon the innocent is absolutely contradicted by our ideas 
of morality. ... It is not only by the sufferings of His 
life, but bv His life as a whole. . . . The death of the 


cross was not a punishment endured as such; it was a 
self-sacrifice" (A. Sabatier, The Doctrine of the Atonement, 
p. 101). 

NEWMAN HALL (1856). "It does not represent Christ 
as having been punished. ... It does not represent 
Christ as appeasing the wrath of God. . . . Most em 
phatically we renew our denunciation of so monstrous a 
notion as that the wrath of the Father is appeased by the 
death of the Son. This is heathenism in its most terrible 
form" (Tracts for Priests and People, Second Series, 
No. XIII. p. 5). 

FRANCIS GARDEN (1862). "But many such men 
may fail of reconciling themselves to the theory of vicarious 
punishment, may find that to them it in no way manifests 
the righteousness of God, may be unable to see anything 
in Scripture which warrants the theory. . . . And even 
so I may venture to say that the most resolute decliner of 
such theories in regard to the work of Christ for our re 
demption, may use the language of Isaiah liii., and all that 
other language of Scripture which so corresponds with it, 
in sincerity, as expressing what all inadequately he feels 
and sees when he tries to contemplate the agony of the 
garden and the darkness of Calvary. He can see and ac 
cept the fact, while he declines all theory respecting it" 
(Tracts for Priests and People, Vol. I. p. 144). 

WILLIAM KIRKUS (1865). "With the exception of 
that statement of it which we find in the Articles of Religion 
and the Homilies, the Anglican doctrine of the Atonement 
belongs to a period of Church history when the fact of 
redemption was deemed far more important than any 


theoretical explanation of it; and when the wisdom of 
words had not made the cross of Christ of none effect.* 
The Liturgy belongs, for the most part, to that period of 
sacred reticence, when men were afraid to attribute to the 
Divine Being those mental conflicts and spiritual con 
tradictions which constitute the misery and weakness of 
their own lives. They made no attempt to reconcile the 
justice and mercy of God, for it had never occurred to 
them that these divine attributes could possibly be at war. 
The prayers and praises of the early church ask for, and 
gratefully acknowledge, a stupendous blessing; which 
only can, and really does, find an adequate explanation 
in the inexhaustible resources of the love of God. But 
they never attempt to limit that love, or to determine the 
modes of its operation" (Orthodoxy, Scripture and Reason, 
p. 137. See also pp. 133-230). 

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN (1865). "Why Christ s death 
was requisite for our salvation, and how it has obtained it, 
will ever be a mystery in this life." 

J. BALDWIN BROWN (1869). "From one point of 
view, this tendency may be regarded as a reaction, and a 
reaction in a healthy direction, though extreme, against the 
mercenary and mechanical views of the Atonement which 
have obscured this great portion of the whole counsel of 
God. ... So many finite deaths due as the penalty of 
human transgression, one infinite death sums them all, 
and quits the debt is the exposition which we have 
often heard of the mystery of the Atonement. That sum 
in arithmetic bad in arithmetic as in theology will 
never bring us near to the heart of the work of the Lord 


Jesus. . . . The more we can enlarge the word substitute, 
until it becomes equivalent to representative, the nearer 
we can keep to the relation of the head of the body and the 
members, and their essential sympathy and cooperation, 
in our conception of what the Lord has done and suffered 
for mankind, the nearer shall we be to the truth of the 
matter. . . . The Lord has not redeemed us from 
suffering, nor from the death which He died. He is re 
deeming us by suffering and through death. What He has 
redeemed us from is the hopeless suffering of the sinner, 
and the death of the soul that never dies" (The Divine 
Mysteries, pp. 328-330. See also Misread Passages of 
Scripture, Second Series, pp. 91-107). 

BISHOP ALEXANDER EWING (1871). "The Scriptural 
and unscriptural views may be briefly characterized thus. 
The first view is, that the incarnation and death of Christ 
are outgoings of the eternal nature of God acting according 
to its normal laws, and manifested for others in time as 
there was need ; the second, that it was an exceptional and 
arbitrary act, on the ground of which God may dispense 
Himself from the ordinary operation of His laws, and 
which has its end in itself or towards Him. The first con 
ception has for its foundation that the * nature of God is 
the ground of our hope, of which the incarnation and 
death of Christ are the revelation and proof; the second, 
that the proofs themselves are the ground. In the first case 
the incarnation and death of Christ are conceived of as 
incidental to the object in view ; in the second they are the 
object itself. This last conception makes the incarnation 
to have a retrospective or backward aspect towards God; 



and the other, a forward or prospective aspect towards 
man. The first contemplates the reconciliation of man, the 
second the reconciliation of God. . . . The Reformers 
themselves were chiefly to blame for the conversion of the 
summary of results into technical terms for operative 
causes" (Present Day Papers, Third Series, "Reconcilia 
tion," pp. 9, 22. See also First Series, "The Atonement"). 

R. W. DALE (1875). "But these representations of 
the death of Christ as a Ransom, as a Vicarious Death, as 
a Propitiation, though they illustrate the cause of His 
sufferings and their effect, and contain all that is necessary 
for faith, do not constitute a theory. As they stand, they 
are not consistent with each other. . . . These illustra 
tions of the nature and effect of the death of Christ are 
illustrations, and nothing more. They are analogous to 
the transcendent fact only at single points. The fact is 
absolutely unique" (The Atonement, pp. 355-358). 

"The general movement of European thought of which 
I have spoken is rendering it impossible to retain theo 
logical theories which were constructed in the sixteenth 
century. Men whose whole life is rooted in Christ, . . . 
are conscious that the rivets which fastened their doctrinal 
definitions are loosening they hardly know how or why ; 
that their theological theories, as distinct from their reli 
gious faith, are dissolving and melting away. . . . They 
have not lost sight of sun and stars ; they will tell you that 
with their increasing years the glory of the sun is brighter 
to them than ever, and that the stars are more mysterious 
and divine; but they want a new astronomical theory. 
The sun and stars are God s handiwork; astronomical 


theories are the provisional human explanations of Divine 
wonders" (The Evangelical Revival and Other Sermons, 

P- 21). 

DEAN R. W. CHURCH (1875).- "I see the suffering; 
I am told, on His authority, what it means and involves. 
I can, if I like, and as has often been done, go on and make 
a theory how He bore our sins, and how He gained their 
forgiveness, and how He took away the sins of the world. 
But I own that the longer I live the more my mind recoils 
from such efforts. It seems to me so idle, so, in the very 
nature of our condition, hopeless, just in proportion as one 
seems to grasp more really the true nature of all that went 
on beyond the visible sight of the cross, all that was in 
Him who was God and man, whose capacities and inner 
life human experience cannot reach or reflect" (Life and 
Letters, p. 274). 

JOHN PILKINGTON NORRIS (1875). "The deep com 
fort of the doctrine who can tell ? But it is not the comfort 
of sin being made less penal, it is not the comfort of being ac 
counted righteous when we are unrighteous, it is not the 
comfort of being told that Another has borne for us the 
punishment that we deserved" (Rudiments of Theology, 
p. 69. See also pp. 266-268, 273, 311). 

NORMAN MACLEOD (1875). "He certainly never 
recurred to the conception of the sufferings of our Lord 
as penal, or to those notions of the nature of salvation 
which it involves. . . . Would to God we could lose 
our Calvinism, and put all the teaching of Christ and 
His Apostles in a form according to fact and not theory" 
(Life, pp. 281, 425). 


J. B. MOZLEY (1875). "But viewed as acting on this 
mediatorial principle, the doctrine of the Atonement rises 
altogether to another level; it parts company with the 
gross and irrational conception of mere naked material 
substitution of one person for another in punishment, and 
it takes its stand upon the power of love, and points to the 
actual effect of suffering love in nature, and to a parallel 
case of mediation as a pardoning power in nature. . . . 
That doctrine was, in fact, as much a reform upon the 
pagan doctrine of substitution, as the Gospel was upon 
paganism in religious truth in general. The doctrine of 
Scripture, so far from being the doctrine of mere substitu 
tion, is a protest against that doctrine ; it makes accurate 
provision for moral claims; it enforces conditions on the 
subject of the sacrifice ; it attributes a reasonable and ra 
tional ground of influence and mode of operation to the 
sacrifice. . . . And so also there is a kind of substitution 
involved in the Scripture doctrine of the Atonement, and 
a true kind ; but it is not a literal but a moral kind of sub 
stitution. It is one person suffering in behalf of another, 
for the sake of another ; in that sense he takes the place 
and acts in the stead of another, he suffers that another 
may escape suffering, he condemns himself to a burden 
that another may be relieved. But this is the moral sub 
stitution which is inherent in acts of love and labour for 
others ; it is a totally different thing from the literal sub 
stitution of one person for another in punishment" (Uni 
versity Sermons, pp. 173-175. See also The Augustinian 
Doctrine of Predestination, pp. 369-372, for an admission 
that the theory of satisfaction cannot be held as a truth 


of reason or made intelligible to the reason or sense of 

FREDERIC MYERS (1879). "This Atonement of 
Christ ... is to be received by faith rather than by the 
understanding; it cannot be fully explained, either in its 
causes or its consequences. And it is most important thus 
to think of it: for much of the theology which has been 
hitherto most commonly connected with it, has been not 
unreasonably a stumbling-block and a rock of offense 
equally to the self-sufficjent and to the humble" (Catholic 
Thoughts on the feffiteand Theology, p. 247), 

NEWMAN SMYTH (1879). "Now human love has in 
it three essential elements ; there are three primary colours 
in love s perfect light; and these three are, the giving of 
self, or benevolence; the putting self in another s place, 
sympathy, or the vicariousness of love; and the assertion 
of the worth of the gift of the self which is given 
self-respect, or the righteousness of love. Under the con 
ceptions of vicariousness and the assertion of its own 
worth involved in perfect love, the Christian doctrines of 
atonement and redemption need to be regarded; and 
when considered from any lower point of view, as that of 
law or government, the sacrificial work of Christ is hardly 
lifted out of difficulties and shadows into a pure moral 
light" (Old Faiths in New Light, p. 278). 

DANIEL R. GOODWIN (1880). "But in relation to the 
Divine attributes, precisely how it is objectively effectual, 
why it is necessary, the process of the propitiation, in short, 
the modus operandi in or upon the Divine mind, we may 
not presume to scan or set forth. As usual in such cases, 


men have proposed many theories, as : The ransom theory, 
the satisfaction theory, the substitution theory, the moral 
exhibition theory, the governmental theory, etc. While 
all these theories have a portion of the truth, they may all 
be pushed too far and too exclusively. . . . But we may 
not represent it as a mere ransom from the devil, from 
hell, or from sin, or from justice ; as a bargain a quid 
pro quo; or as a quenching of the flames of the Father s 
wrath in the blood of the Son ; or as a wresting of the 
sword of Divine vengeance from the Father s hand ; or 
as a suffering of the very pains of the damned, or of pre 
cisely the kind and degree of punishment due to the sinner ; 
or as a mere scenic exhibition of any of the Divine attri 
butes, or of any amount of human suffering, for moral 
effect or governmental purposes; nor may we say, with 
Luther, that Christ was the greatest sinner in the uni 
verse because upon Him were laid the sins of the whole 
world" (Some Thoughts on the Atonement, p. 59). 

DEAN STANLEY (1881). "What is Redemption? It 
is, in one word, deliverance. . . . Deliverance how, 
or by what means ? By one part of Christ s appearance ? 
by one part of Christianity? by a single doctrine or a 
single fact ? By all by the whole. Not by His sufferings 
only not by His death only not by His teaching only ; 
but by the mystery of His holy incarnation by His 
baptism by His fasting by His temptation by 
His agony and bloody sweat by His precious death 
and burial by His glorious resurrection and ascension, 
and by the coming of the Holy Ghost. This wide mean 
ing of the mode of Redemption was a truth sufficiently 


appreciated in the early ages of the Church; and then it 
was piece by piece divided and subdivided, till the whole 
effect was altered and spoiled. Let us go back once 
more in the Litany to the complex yet simple whole. 
Let us believe more nearly as we pray. The particular 
forms used may be open to objection. We might wish 
that some features had been omitted, or that other feat 
ures had been added. But there remains the general truth 
that it is by the whole life and appearance of Christ 
we hope to be delivered" (Christian Institutions, p. 270). 
RICHARD F. LITTLEDALE (1883). " According to this 
view, then, it is the Life of Christ which has wrought out 
Atonement in the highest sense, while the Death of Christ, 
albeit essential as the seal and crown of the self-dedication 
of that life, and as completing its sacrificial character, has 
to do mainly with the secondary and lesser sense of Atone 
ment. . . . Christ s death, in ancient Christian theology, 
did not pervade by any means as much space as it has done 
for several centuries past, but it was regarded as a single 
incident, of transcendent importance and value indeed, but 
still only a single incident in the great chain of events from 
the Incarnation to the Ascension. . . . 

"It remains a mystery, and although thousands of 
Imines have pondered and written upon it, no explanation 
^et offered has proved satisfactory to the Christian under 
standing, and least of all that which views it as a vicarious 
punishment, inflicted upon Christ in the stead of sinners " 
(The Atonement: A Clerical Symposium, pp. 8, 16). 

J. J. LIAS (1884). "A certain theory of Atonement, 
which, though by no means excluded by the language of 


Scripture, is not laid down in Scripture itself, has been 
insisted upon as the very keystone of the Christian faith. 
The rejection of this theory has frequently been regarded 
both by supporters and opponents of Christianity as the 
rejection of revealed religion. The object of these lectures 
is to show that there is no ground whatever for such a sup 
position ; that the theory in question was not propounded 
by the first preachers of the Gospel, nor by their successors 
for the next fifteen hundred years, and that it is not ac 
cepted by the vast majority of Christians of our own time. 
Consequently a man may be a very good Christian without 
believing it, and a very serious hindrance in the way of 
belief is thus removed. . . . 

"No (Ecumenical Council was ever assembled to de 
cide on the way in which Christ s offering of Himself 
availed to put away our sins. No early Father attempted 
to dogmatise on the subject. It was reserved for Protest 
ant theology to make the Death of Christ rather than His 
Incarnation the keystone of the Gospel system, and to 
make the acceptance of a particular theory respecting that 
Death, not only the articulus stantis aut cadentis ecclesiae, 
but the indispensable requisite for the salvation of the in 
dividual soul. . . . 

"Thus, then, we find the popular theory that Christ 
made atonement for our sins by bearing the Father s 
wrath against sin in our stead, to be not only without the 
slightest support from the Church before the Reformation, 
but we find it rejected by some theologians of the greatest 
note after that period. It forms no part of the theological 
standards of our own or of the Lutheran Churches. It is 


repudiated by Calvin ( ?) ; it is expressly rejected by Jona 
than Edwards" (The Atonement Viewed in the Light of 
Certain Modern Difficulties, pp. vi, 44, 62). 

DEAN FARRAR (1885). "I say at once, and without 
fear of contradiction, that no theory of the Atonement ever 
formulated, no scholastic explanation of the Atonement 
ever devised, has been accepted by the Universal Church, 
or can put forth the slightest claim to catholicity. . . . 
And the cause of all these errors, and of the human theories 
from which they spring, is obvious. They spring from 
ignoring the fact that it has not pleased God to give us the 
plan of salvation in dialectics; from the bad tendency to 
torture isolated expressions into the ever-widening spiral 
ergo of unlimited consequences; from tessellating varied 
metaphors into formal systems; from trying to construct 
the whole, when God has given us knowledge only of a 
part; from the bad rule of ecclesiastical opinionativeness 
and tyranny, consequentiae equipollent revelatis. ... Of 
the blessed effects of the Atonement in relation to man 
we know or may know all ; of the mysterious acts, of the 
operative cause, we know and can know nothing" (Report 
of Tenth Church Congress of the P. E. Church, pp. 41-43. 
See also A Clerical Symposium, pp. 64-88). 

RANDOLPH H. McKiM (1885). "We who stand for 
the objective view owe a debt of gratitude to you who have 
maintained the opposite view. You have sifted out a 
great deal of chaff from our conceptions on this subject. 
You have cleansed our temple for us. With your whip of 
small cords you have driven out those materialistic and 
commercial ideas which had intruded themselves into the 


sacred precincts of this doctrine. Who is not thankful to 
see the scales and balances, and the arithmetical tables, 
and the ledgers with debit and credit accounts, disappear 
from the sanctuary of the doctrine of the Atonement ? They 
have disappeared" (Tenth Church Congress, p. 47). 

WILLIAM R. HUNTINGTON (1885). "How shall any 
man of his own motion, and out of his own head, venture 
to do what Holy Church throughout all the world has 
never done namely, to set forth, in precise theological 
terms, the Christian doctrine of the Atonement? Minute 
definitions of the dogma there have been without number, 
some of them backed by more, some by less, of recognised 
authority, but nowhere, save in the few broken words, 
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from 
heaven, was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, 
suffered, was buried nowhere save here can the 
voice of the Church Universal be justly said to have set 
forth any credenda of Atonement. . . . With respect both 
to the process and to the act we are, and, under the limi 
tations of this life present, must always be, to a great ex 
tent agnostic. . . . There they crucified Him that we 
can understand. It is an event in time. But of the mys 
terious title, Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, 
who shall say what that means ? It carries us out into the 
unvisited region of eternity. . . . The penalty He did not 
bear, the burden He did" (Tenth Church Congress, pp. 33, 
37. Reprinted in Theology s Eminent Domain, pp. 63 sq.}. 

BISHOP ARTHUR C. A. HALL (1885). "We hear ob 
jections to a theory of vicarious Atonement in which a man 
innocent and faultless bears the penalty of others sins, 


which are laid to his account, and then, by an equally 
fictitious imputation, his merits are put to the account of 
men still guilty. That is not the Catholic doctrine of the 
Atonement, but springs from an un-Catholic doctrine of 
the Incarnation. . . . The sacrifice which He offers is 
representative, and not vicarious. His merits are imparted 
and communicated rather than imputed. He is our Leader 
and our Head rather than our Substitute" (Tenth Church 
Congress, pp. 45, 46. See also The Forgiveness of Sins, 
pp. 12, 43, 44, 92-96). 

WILLIAM MILLIGAN (1885). "On the one hand, 
there is the merely legal or juridical view of that work, 
which has a paralysing effect upon the life of the Church. 
Taken by itself, it leaves the impression upon the mind of 
something outward and unreal. The truly awakened con 
science cannot be satisfied with a mere verdict of acquittal 
at the bar of Divine justice. What it needs, and can never 
be at peace without having, is deliverance from sin itself, 
is a moral and spiritual change, through which there shall 
be produced a walk with God instead of a walk in sin. And 
this change must be involved in the very process of redemp 
tion. . . . Thus we ought to find ourselves drawn to a 
theology, less one-sided and more pervaded by Catholic 
elements than that of the Reformation, because dealing 
more with life than with death" (The Resurrection of our 
Lord, pp. 288 sq.). 

"The Church has had bitter enough experience of the 
evil effects of that system of legal theology which has so 
long held possession of the field. She has seen a wide gulf 
opened between a supposed salvation in Christ and life in 


Him. She has seen a so-called orthodoxy, cold and hard, 
reigning in her pulpits and her pews, until at last many of 
the occupants of both, unable to endure their dissatisfaction 
longer, and having no better substitute, have been con 
strained to abandon theology, if not also Christianity, alto- 
gether. She has seen words expressive of the most solemn 
realities of the eternal world played with as if they were a 
set of counters without meaning. She has seen a preaching, 
boasting itself to be that of the only gospel, so separated 
from sweetness of moral tone and beauty of moral conduct 
that the faith of weak Christians has trembled in the bal 
ance, while a merely outward formalism has passed gaily 
.through the Church and the world, smiling at its own ac 
complishments. All this the Church has seen, until it may 
be doubted whether her life, looked at on a large scale, has 
not become an obstacle to the progress of Christianity, 
instead of being, as it ought to be, the most powerful ar 
gument in its favour" (The Ascension of our Lord, pp. 
365 sq. See the whole of Note B). 

BISHOP B. F. WESTCOTT (1886). "The Incarnation 
is commonly made to depend upon the Fall. And the 
whole tenour of revelation, as I conceive, leads us to regard 
the Incarnation as inherently involved in the Creation. . . . 
We are coming to understand, in a word, what is the true 
meaning of that phrase vicarious suffering which has 
brought at other times sad perplexity to anxious minds; 
how it excludes everything that is arbitrary, fictitious, un 
natural, external in human relationships ; how it expresses 
the highest energy of love which takes a friend s sorrows 
into the loving heart and taking them by God s grace 


transfigures them, satisfying every claim of righteousness, 
justifying every instinct of hope, quickening the spirit of 
self-surrender, offering within the sphere of common life a 
faint image of forgiveness, of redemption, of reconcilia 
tion" (Christus Consummator, pp. 104, 123). 

ARCHBISHOP W. C. MAGEE (1887). "But it is one 
thing to say that the sacrifice of Christ s death has had a 
reconciling or an atoning efficacy, and quite another thing 
to say that this atoning efficacy consists in this or in that 
fact or circumstance. It is one thing to say that propitia 
tion means the removal of an obstacle to forgiveness, and 
quite another thing to say what that obstacle was, and how 
it has been removed. On this latter point it is most in 
structive to observe the guarded silence of Scripture. Texts 
there are in abundance setting forth the idea that in some 
way Christ s death has removed an obstacle to our forgive 
ness an obstacle existing not on the human but on the 
Divine side an objective, not a subjective, hindrance 
to our forgiveness; but where are the texts which profess 
to explain, still less to formulate scientifically, the nature 
of this obstacle and the precise manner of its removal 
to tell us, that is to say, wherein consists the atoning efficacy 
of the death of Christ ? The truth is, that this whole notion 
of Atonement by satisfaction of justice is not the revealed 
doctrine of the Atonement; it is a theory about the doctrine 
of Atonement. It is an attempt one of many attempts 
and a comparatively modern one too to do just that 
which Scripture has refrained from doing namely, to 
explain the Atonement, to make the deep mystery of it no 
mystery, to reduce it to a form in which we may be able, 


as it is said, to grasp it, to receive and understand what 
is called the Gospel plan of salvation. I confess to a 
rooted distrust of all such attempts. . . . 

"The truth is, that all these theories, and their name is 
Legion, are only so many attempts to make that clear 
which God has not made clear, by fastening on some one 
of the many and purposely varied expressions in which He 
has shadowed forth for us the great mystery of the Atone 
ment by means of partial analogies in human nature and 
human life, as if that one were the only true aspect of it, 
and then, by expanding this analogy imperfect and par 
tial as it must necessarily be into some elaborate theory 
or system which rests on it like a pyramid upon its apex, 
sure to topple over under the blast of the first searching and 
honest criticism that is directed against it" (The Atone 
ment, in "Helps to Belief" Series, pp. 107-110). 

GEORGE MACDONALD (1889). "If I explain the 
atonement otherwise than they explain it, they assert that 
I deny the atonement; nor count it of any consequence 
that I say that I believe in the atoner with my whole heart, 
and soul, and strength, and mind. . . . Because I refuse 
an explanation which is not in the New Testament, though 
they believe it is, because they can think of no other, one 
which seems to me as false in logic as detestable in morals, 
not to say that there is no spirituality in it whatever, there 
fore I am not a Christian ! What wonder men such as I 
have quoted refuse the Christianity they suppose such 
believers to represent ! . . . To do what He wishes is to 
put forth faith in Him. For this the teaching of men has 
substituted this or that belief about Him, faith in this or 


that supposed design of His manifestation in the flesh. It 
was Himself, and God in Him that He manifested; but 
faith in Him and His Father thus manifested, they made 
altogether secondary to acceptance of the paltry contrivance 
of a juggling morality, which they attribute to God and 
His Christ, imagining it the atonement and the plan of 
salvation " (Unspoken Sermons, Second Series, pp. 241, 

ARTHUR JAMES MASON (1889). "No one can rest 
with confidence upon what is, on the face of it, an artifice, 
a scheme. What are called forensic doctrines have seemed 
to satisfy many hearts, but only so far as they were right 
metaphors, parables hinting at a fuller truth which was 
consciously or unconsciously felt to lie behind them. If 
our Lord s work be regarded as a cleverly devised legal 
contrivance, it repels instead of attracting ; or if it does not 
actually repel, it invites criticism and admiration rather 
than worship and devotion. It is only when we strongly 
apprehend the naturalness of it all that we are able to 
embrace it with a hearty faith. Our Lord s redeeming 
work may be infinitely complicated. It may have many 
more aspects and a greater number of effects than we 
can imagine. It would not be natural were it other 
wise; for all that is natural is complex. But its compli 
cations must be those which belong to life, capable of be 
ing resolved into a simple and majestic unity, and not the 
complications of a studied mechanism. . . . 

"It will be seen that, on this view of the Atonement, 
there is no need to resort to the language of substitution, 
which has so often alienated thoughtful minds. That 


language is neither scriptural nor ancient, and therefore 
has no special claim upon the adhesion of the Christian 
conscience. Indeed, it seems to be studiedly excluded 
from the New Testament. ... So far therefore as the 
language of the New Testament goes, there is no reason 
for supposing our Lord to have been substituted for us in 
His Passion. But the objection to a theory of atonement 
by substitution lies deeper than the meaning of a preposi 
tion. If the one object of the Divine justice had been to 
inflict a condign punishment, perhaps the theory might 
have been more tolerable. But we have seen that such was 
not the case, and that an equivalent penalty could not 
satisfy God, instead of the removal of the sin. . . . 

"And yet, however we may labour to set forth in human 
words the nature and character of the Atonement, it is 
certain that no complete account of it can be given. It is 
too far-reaching for our understanding. We are, no doubt, 
intended to inquire about it, to dispel false notions about it, 
to bring together facts which throw light upon it. But 
there is a danger in doing so, lest men should rest in a 
theory of redemption rather than on the fact itself. We 
are not saved by what we think about the Cross of Christ, 
but by the Cross itself" (The Faith of the Gospel] pp. 172, 
205-207, 209). 

ARTHUR LYTTELTON (1889). "The fault of many of 
the theories of the Atonement has been that, though none of 
them failed to be partially true, they were limited to one 
or other of the various aspects which that mysterious fact 
presents. It is certain, again, that of this complex fact no 
adequate explanation can be given. . . . The truth of the 


vicarious sacrifice has been isolated till it has almost be 
come untrue, and, mysterious as it undoubtedly is, it has 
been so stated as to be not only mysterious, but contrary 
to reason and even to conscience. . . . The truth of the 
wrath of God against sin and of the love of Christ by which 
that wrath was removed, has been perverted into a belief 
in a divergence of will between God the Father and God 
the Son, as if it was the Father s will that sinners should 
^perish, the Son s will that they should be saved ; as if the 
Atonement consisted in the propitiation of the wrathful 
God by the substituted punishment of the innocent for the 
guilty. . . . Nothing is more common than to hear the 
doctrine of the Atonement stated as if the work of Christ 
consisted in His endurance of our punishment in order that 
we might not endure it. ... Attempts have been made to 
establish a quantitative relation between our Lord s suffer 
ings and the punishment which is thereby remitted to us, 
to prove that the eternal nature of the Sufferer made His 
death equivalent to eternal punishment. But even if such 
attempts, in so mysterious a region, could succeed, it would 
be vain to establish a quantitative equivalence where there 
is no quantitative relation. Eternal punishment is eternal 
sin and as such could never be endured by the sinless 
Son of God" (Lux Hundi, pp. 285, 307, 309). 

AUBREY MOORE (1889). Forensic fictions of sub 
stitution, immoral theories of the Atonement, the rending 
asunder of the Trinity, and the opposing of the Divine 
Persons, like parties in a lawsuit, were the natural corol 
laries of a theory which taught that God was above morality 
and man beneath it" (Lux Mundi, p. 80). 



R. C. MOBERLY (1889). "When in fact we enter upon 
the domain of explicative theories, we have not only left the 
sure ground of the Creeds, and embarked upon views which 
may or may not be correct, but we find, as a fact, that the 
modes of thought which seemed adequately to explain the 
doctrine to the conscience of some ages, have not only 
failed to satisfy, but have actually shocked and offended 
others. The teaching that God was angry, but that Jesus, 
as a result of gentler mercy, and through His innocent 
blood, appeased, by satisfying, the wrath of the Father, and 
so reconciled God to us ; . . . the teaching that a debt was 
due from humanity to God, and that Jesus, clothed as 
man, alone could deliver man by discharging God s debt: 
these be they popular blunderings, or genuine efforts of 
theology may, in their times, have both helped and 
wounded consciences; but whether they be to us as helps 
or hindrances, it is of the utmost importance that we should 
discriminate them, and others which may have succeeded 
to them as theories explanatory of the Atonement, from 
our cardinal belief in the Atonement itself" (Lux Mundi, 
p. 251). 

"The difficulties which are generally felt about Christian 
atonement arise neither from the Evangelical history of the 
Cross itself, nor even from anything in the original apos 
tolic proclamation of the fact, or of the doctrine of the 
Cross; but rather from the inadequacy of certain more 
or less current explanations, logical and inferential, of the 
original apostolic doctrine. Such inferential structures 
(the most untrue of which has considerable relation to 
truth) are precisely the things which ought to be closely 


re-examined and reconstructed. They are no part of the 
original tradition. They are practically almost unknown 
in the earliest ages of Christianity. They are the work of 
human intellect, honest, instructive, and visibly inade 
quate. They are stages in the human assimilation of a 
truth more fundamental and inclusive than the assimilating 
power of human intellect. It does not take any exceptional 
knowledge of the history of the doctrine, especially in the 
earliest Christian centuries, to detach them from the doc 
trine itself, and, if not fully to correct them, at least to see 
the elements in them which are most obviously open to 
question and correction. . . . 

"The untenable elements of thought which were often 
introduced into the theological explanation of the Atone 
ment (itself substantially always held in truth) from Origen 
to Anselm, and from Anselm to Luther, may be broadly 
said to have arisen out of exaggerated or disproportioned 
use of such metaphorical phrases as Redemption, Ransom, 
and Deliverance out of the dominion of Satan. The un 
tenable elements of thought which have been too often 
characteristic of the atoning theories of popular Protestant 
ism, may be said to have arisen out of a still more mischiev 
ous misuse of such phrases as those which constituted 
our second group, Propitiation, Reconciliation, and Justi 
fication. Out of these words have been drawn per 
versely enough the conceptions of an enraged Father, 
a victimised Son, the unrighteous punishment of the inno- 
f cent, the unrighteous reward of the guilty, the transfer of 
innocence and guilt by fictitious imputation, the adroit 
settlement of an artificial difficulty by an artificial, and 


strictly irrelevant, transaction" (Atonement and Personality, 
pp. xi, 342). 

Louis DURAND (1890). Incompatible avec la no 
tion de justice, la substitution, en tant qu on 1 envisage 
comme donnant pleine satisfaction a 1 offense, n est pas 
moins incompatible avec la notion de 1 amour. Satisfaction 
re^-ue et pardon genereux sont choses qui s excluent 1 une 
1 autre. . . . De la la necessite de 1 oeuvre du Redemp- 
teur, non pas pour payer a notre place, lui juste, la peine 
que nous avions meritee, mais pour nous inspirer la vraie 
repentance, nous faire mourir au peche et nous reconcilier 
avec Dieu. C est ce que Jesus- Christ a fait, ou c est ce que 
Dieu a fait par lui, specialement par sa croix. La croix de 
Jesus-Christ est le jugement de ce monde. Jesus a subi la 
mort dans la gloire de son innocence, afin de juger et de 
punir le peche dans nos consciences, en meme temps qu il 
nous donnait le temoignage supreme de son amour" (From 
Eleven Theses presented to the Vaudois Society of Theol 
ogy, quoted in E. Petavel-Olliff, Le Probleme de Vlmmor- 
talite, I. 408 sq.). 

JOHN FULTON (1892). "When we consider the end 
less controversies of mediaeval and modern theologians 
concerning the Divine means and method of human salva 
tion, it is truly humbling and most instructive to turn to the 
sublime simplicity of the Nicene Creed. In popular theol 
ogy one often finds something like a controversy between 
the persons of the Godhead, the Father standing as an 
impersonation of inexorable vengeance, and the Son as an 
impersonation of infinite goodness and Divine compassion. 
. . . The truth is that popular theology contains in it a 


large amount of unconscious Manicheism, and offers to 
popular faith one God to be dreaded and another God to 
be loved. Naturally that theology takes little note of the 
great Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. . . . The 
Nicene Creed states the whole truth, and states it without 
one syllable of interpretation which our Lord and His 
Apostles withheld. It exalts nothing beyond measure, and 
depresses nothing from its due importance. . . . 

"What an amazing contrast have we here to the endless 
intellectual muddle, the pretentious jargon and the arro 
gant absurdities of individual doctors, sects and churches 
that have undertaken to be wiser than the universal Church 
of Christ ! Theories of the plan of salvation have cleared 
away no difficulties ; they have made many. Some of the 
most effective and profane assaults that have ever been 
made upon Christianity have been grounded upon one or 
other of those theories; so that one might well hesitate 
before concluding whether those assaults, or the unau 
thorised theories which made them possible, are the more 
profane. I think it, therefore, necessary to insist that 
any theory whatever, and whether it be true or false, 
which pretends to pass one line beyond the limits of the 
reverent reserve of the Nicene Creed, is no part of Chris 
tianity, and is only too likely to be both untrue and pre 
sumptuously profane" (The Chalcedonian Decree, pp. 

"No doctrine of Christian faith has suffered more from 
attempted definitions than the Sacrificial Atonement of 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, of which the Church 
is now making its special annual commemoration. In the 


truest sense the Atonement was a Mystery, having its out 
ward and visible manifestation in His Agony and Bloody 
Sweat, His Cross and Passion, His Precious Death and 
Burial, and in the effect of these exhibited in His glorious 
Resurrection and Ascension. But behind these awful and 
tremendous facts, transacted in the sphere of time and 
space, was a Divine fact of Reconciliation and Redemption, 
the mode, method, and character of which are hid among 
the unsearchable things of God. Within the past genera 
tion there has been a just and reverent recoil from the 
former vain attempts to tear aside the veil w r hich hides that 
part of the Great Transaction; but there should be no 
feeble or halting proclamation of the fact itself as it is as 
serted in the Catholic Symbol of the Christian Faith. There 
is no need to resort to Augustinian theories, or mediaeval 
definitions, to Calvinistic scholasticism or Puritan theology, 
all of which, and all alike, are purely speculative and es 
sentially rationalistic. The true doctrine of the Atonement 
by which our Blessed Lord made a full, perfect and 
sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for all the sins 
of the whole world is best expressed in the language of the 
Nicene Creed : For us men and for our salvation He came 
down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost 
and the Virgin Mary, and was made man ; and was cruci 
fied also for our sakes under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, 
and was buried ; and rose again on the third day, accord 
ing to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sit- 
teth on the right hand of the Father : all this was for us 
men and for our salvation ; each and every part of it 
for our sakes. That, and that only, is the true and 


Catholic doctrine of the Atonement" (The Church Stand 
ard, April 2, 1904). 

GEORGE B. STEVENS (1892). "The conclusion is 
inevitable that these expressions must not be treated like 
scientifically precise formulae, but like human forms of 
thought the most useful forms of thought which were 
available, for the illustration and enforcement of truths and 
relations which are beyond the full reach of definition by 
any human analogies. Few, if any, of those systems of 
thought which, like those of Anselm or Grotius, have been 
formed by a strict carrying out of some one particular 
analogy, or thought-form, have proved satisfactory to 
Christian thinkers generally, as is shown by their constant 
effort to penetrate beneath the figures of ransom and fo 
rensic imputation to the moral and spiritual realities which 
underlie them. . . . What are the limits of their legitimate 
use in theology? is another question. That there are 
limits, most Christian thinkers will agree, as is shown by 
the general disfavour into which the theories of equiva 
lence and purchase have fallen. . . . 

"The idea that SiKaioa-vvr) here means the necessity of 
punishing sin leads to the view that God punished Christ 
with the full penalty of the world s sin, a view which 
annuls the very idea of punishment, since punishment for 
sin can be inflicted only upon those who commit it, and the 
notion of punishing an innocent person is the essence of 
injustice and a contradiction in terms. . . . Two prob 
lems, then, press for solution : (a) In what sense is Christ s 
death for us, and His sufferings instead of our punishment ? 
and (b) How does His vicarious work meet the demands 


of the law, and satisfy the ethical requirements of God s 
holy nature in respect to sin ? Neither of these inquiries is 
explicitly answered by any statement contained in Paul s 
letters" (The Pauline Theology, pp. 253, 254, 101, 243. 
See also pp. 244, 245). 

"The essence of Paul s thought does not lie in such 
notions as those of a deified law, quantitative equivalents, 
and literal substitutions and transfers, but of the concep 
tion of a fuller realisation in Christ of God s perfections in 
His treatment of mankind than was otherwise possible" 
(Theology of the New Testament, p. 412). 

A. M. FAIRBAIRN (1893). "The [Anselmic] theory 
was throughout a piece of forensic speculation; it was the 
relations of God and man interpreted in the terms of Roman 
law, though as modified by Teutonic, and as applied in 
the penitential discipline of the Church. As such it was 
fatal to the kingdom of God as a reign of grace. The satis 
faction which compensated the offended secured the legal 
quittance of the offender; the debt paid could not be a 
debt forgiven ; to deny salvation or reward to any man so 
redeemed was to deny him his most manifest rights. If 
grace was saved by God being made to provide the person 
who satisfied, then the whole became a preconcerted trans 
action, a sort of commercial drama, a legal fiction sanc 
tioned by the offended for the good of the offender. Or if 
the notion of forgiveness was retained by the act being 
transferred from the satisfied Father to the satisfying Son, 
then the ethical union of the Godhead was endangered 
and the most serious of all heresies endorsed" (The Place 
of Christ in Modern Theology, pp. 123 sq. See also pp. 100, 
174 sq., 310-320, 479-487). 


WILLIAM N. CLARK (1894). The work of Christ is 
to be interpreted in the light of His Person. This we may 
hold for certain, that whatever was done in this great 
Divine work was done straightforwardly. The Person who 
was active did what as a person it was normal and natural 
for Him to do, and the work was a true expression of Him. 
In that person, Jesus, we recognise both the divine and the 
human, and discern God in humanity. We are sure, there 
fore, that the simplicity and sincerity of God will be mani 
fest in His work, when we rightly understand it. All was 
genuine. There can have been no fictions or unrealities in 
it, and no transactions that were not expressive of eternal 
verity. Christ was not regarded by God as anything that 
He was not, nor are men, in their relation to Christ, viewed 
as anything but what they are. There is no unreal chang 
ing of places, or imputation to any one of character that 
does not belong to him. Christ, working straightforwardly 
from His own person, acts according to truth. Nor would 
it appear that such a work was done in pursuance of some 
special plan or device, an invention of the Divine mind or 
an expedient of the Divine administration to serve some 
special purpose. When God has come into humanity for 
the broad purpose of rendering effective His saving grace, 
we may be sure that He will simply act out His eternal 
nature, in ways that are normal to Him. God s work is 
not the fruit of special device or planning, but proceeds 
from the inner necessity of His character. Christ acted 
out His real self, never doing anything that did not corre 
spond to the real state of His mind and affections, and al 
ways simply following the motive with which He began. . . . 


"If grace comes simple and whole-hearted into the 
world, it does not come to satisfy legal claims or win law- 
righteousness. Neither with God who gives it nor with 
man who receives it, nor yet with Christ through whom it 
comes, is the Christian salvation a salvation by satisfaction 
of law. It is not procured, imparted, or received on the 
terms of law ; that is to say, it is not procured by works or 
earned by merit, whether of men or of Christ. Men are 
not saved by the payment of debt, or by legal satisfaction, 
or by transfer of merit from Christ to them. God does not 
deal with men through Christ in the character of lawgiver, 
or judge, or in any special character, but in His real char 
acter as God. His own very self, in personal relations with 
His creatures as their very selves ; and the method of His 
saving word is that of grace, which does not wait for any 
one s merit or earning, but freely gives. . . . 

"What view of the work of Christ is to be presented 
here? Not exactly any one of the great historic theories. 
Not, of course, the ancient theory that Christ offered a 
ransom to Satan; not that Christ paid to God a satisfac 
tion equivalent to the sins that God was to forgive; not 
that Christ was punished for the sins that God was to for 
give; not that Christ dealt with God as moral governor, 
and set right the governmental relations of men; and not 
that His work was intended exclusively to bring men to 
repentance. It is out of the two convictions above re 
corded [that the work is to be interpreted in the light of 
the Person, and as the work of a single motive in God, 
namely, the motive of free grace] that the present ap 
proach to the subject is made. The work of Christ has 


been described by various adjectives. It has been called 
forensic, commercial, vicarious, substitutionary, penal, 
vice-penal, governmental, ethical, moral. But the adjec 
tives that lead most helpfully into the subject are direct 
and vital. 

"When it is said that the work of Christ is direct, it is 
meant that the end in view was sought not indirectly, but 
directly, by a work of the same kind with the result that 
was to be accomplished by it. The end in view was the 
great reconciliation, or the establishment of moral and 
spiritual fellowship between God and man; and toward 
that end Christ wrought directly. His work was not a 
transactional ground for the desired fellowship, but the 
direct and reasonable way into the fellowship itself. And 
when it is said that the work of Christ is vital, it is meant 
that by His vital unity with God and men He was the 
means of effecting true union of men w r ith God. His 
personality is the meeting-point for the great reconciliation. 
"The adjectives that were lately cited have been ap 
plied to the work of Christ mainly to express in some form 
the transactional idea. That work has been regarded as a 
transaction to which God and men might afterward refer 
as the basis of their reconciliation, and has been called 
substitutionary, penal, and the like. According to this 
idea Christ justified God in saving men; according to the 
idea that is here presented, Christ is God s direct means of 
saving men. One view makes Christ the ground of recon 
ciliation; the other makes Him the way of God to men 
and of men to God, the meeting-point of God and men, and 
the starting-point of the saved humanity. In the latter 


view, reconciliation is not regarded as an agreement or a 
settlement of differences, but as a spiritual union of persons, 
a meeting of God and men in genuine spiritual fellowship. 
That the Christian reconciliation is thus personal and 
spiritual when it becomes a matter of experience, all 
Christians know. What is now asserted is that the work of 
Christ as Mediator and Redeemer was of the same order 
with the result that it brought about, not something 
different from it on which it might be based, but something 
like it in which the result itself might be realised; and 
further, that this work proceeded from the Divine-human 
constitution of Christ Himself, to the Divine-human ex 
perience of spiritual reconciliation and fellowship" (An 
Outline of Christian Theology, pp. 332, 336-339. See 
generally pp. 246-259, 316-362). 

GEORGE HARRIS (1896). "Until recently the usual 
representations of atonement were justly open to the 
charge of immorality. . . . The imputation of our sins 
to Christ has been so stated that it seemed as if all regard 
for righteousness had been overlooked. The penal suffer 
ing of Christ was regarded as the philosophy of atonement. 
It was believed that God laid on Christ the penalty of our 
sins, or a sufficient equivalent to that penalty. The atone 
ment was represented as an arrangement satisfactory to 
God, but incomprehensible to us. The fact that character 
and its consequences cannot be transferred from one per 
son to another was contradicted by the theory that Christ 
suffered what we otherwise should have suffered. It is 
not an exaggeration to say that atonement was represented 
as a device by which God escapes from apparently in- 


superable difficulties to the forgiveness of sinners, as if it 
would be impossible for God to forgive outright, even on 
genuine repentance, but becomes possible by reason of the 
sufferings and death of Christ. The love of Christ making 
its great way to men at the cost of suffering is the motive ./ 
which leads men to repentance, but has been represented 
as the motive which induces God to forgive. This dis 
appearing theory fails to satisfy because it is immoral, be 
cause it places salvation somewhere else than in character, 
because it converts the sympathy and love of Christ into 
legal fictions, because it places the ethical demands of 
justice above the ethical necessities of love. . . . When the 
doctrine of atonement is traced through its successive 
phases, as a ransom paid to the devil, as the satisfaction of 
justice, as the vindication of Divine government, and finally 
as the great motive power which transforms character, it is 
seen that there has been a progressive moral evolution. 
The doctrine of redemption through sacrifice remains, but 
is no longer made to rest on an unethical philosophy" 
(Moral Evolution, pp. 407 .?</.). 

JOHN WATSON [Ian Maclaren] (1896). "One joy 
fully anticipates the place this final idea of God will have 
in the new theology. . . . No doctrine of the former 
theology will be lost; all will be recarved and refaced to 
suit the new architecture. Sovereignty will remain, not 
that of a despot, but of a father ; the Incarnation will not 
be an expedient, but a consummation ; the Sacrifice will 
not be a satisfaction, but a reconciliation ; the end of Grace 
will not be standing, but character ; the object of punish 
ment will not be retribution, but regeneration. Mercy and 


justice will no longer be antinomies; they will be aspects 
of Love, and the principle of human probation will be 
exchanged for the principle of human education" (The 
Mind of the Master, p. 269). 

CHARLES CUTHBERT HALL (1896). " The soul 
hungers to find that starting-point. It cannot take Jesus 
Christ and Him crucified as an incident, an after- thought, 
an heroic rescue devised in an emergency. It feels in 
stinctively that the Cross must be the result of some deeper 
cause. It demands to be led to that deeper cause, that it 
may make it the starting-point of thought. Such a starting- 
point is provided in the formula: The Atonement not the 
cause of God s Love, but Love the cause of the Atonement. 
. . . The effect of this view [that the Atonement is the 
cause of Love] seems to be the introduction of discord into 
the Holy Trinity, setting the Father against the Son, and 
the Son against the Father in their respective attitudes 
towards man. The Father is stern and wrathful ; the Son 
is tender and pitiful; the Father has lifted His hand to 
strike and destroy; the Son, moved by a holy passion to 
save, has flung Himself into the very path of descending 
judgment, to receive its shock upon His own Person. Can 
this be our deepest and best thought of God ? . . . One 
result is a form of clinging to Christ which practically 
separates Him from God. . . . The other result is sub 
stantially the rejection of the Atonement as something un 
worthy of God; the setting aside of Jesus as Mediator, 
from the feeling that God is too great, too noble, too good 
to demand the blood of an innocent victim such as Christ 
was, before He will be induced to love man. There are 


those who deny the Atonement out of respect for God. . . . 
What, then, is the Atonement to God ? Ask that question 
in the light of these preceding thoughts, what man is to 
God, and what sin is to God. Man is the dear object of 
God s love; sin is the intolerable outrage against God s 
nature, filling God s universe with lawlessness and misery. 
Atonement is the supreme effort of God s love, by His own 
suffering, to save man from that sin which makes Him an 
object of God s wrath. . . . There is no longer any occa 
sion to call in question the morality of God in exacting 
suffering from an innocent Being to satisfy anger stirred 
by the sins of the guilty. Such a conception of God van 
ishes like a grim nocturnal shadow before the dawn" 
(The Gospel of the Divine Sacrifice, pp. 7, 12, 13, 75). 

GEORGE PARK FISHER (1896). "On the subject of 
the Atonement, theology seeks for a point of view where 
all appearance of arbitrariness in the doctrinal explana 
tions of the New Testament as to the purport and effect 
of the sufferings and death of Christ, shall disappear 
where the historic facts shall interpret themselves in ac 
cordance with these explanations. ... It is plain to keen 
observers that, in the later days, both within and without 
what may be called the pale of Calvinism, there is a certain 
relaxing of confidence in the previously accepted solutions 
of some of the gravest theological problems. This appears 
among many whose attachment to the core of the essential 
truths formulated in the past does not wane, whose sub 
stantial orthodoxy, as well as piety, is not often, if it be at 
all, questioned, and who have no sympathy with agnosti 
cism, in the technical sense of the word. . . . Even by 


them the formulas respecting . . . the mode in which the 
Saviour s death affects the mind of God and lays a basis 
for the proclamation of forgiveness, . . . the formulas on 
these themes are looked upon with at least a modicum of 
distrust. A larger space is remanded to the region of 
mystery. There is a tendency to enlarge the domain of the 
unrevealed" (History of Christian Doctrine, pp. 547, 551). 

ALEXANDER V. G. ALLEN (1897). "As one contem 
plates the many and conflicting theories of the atonement, 
or the vast amount of profound and subtle thought ex 
pended in efforts at its elucidation since the time of Anselm, 
the vitality of opinions which seem to have been refuted, 
the apparent impossibility that common agreement should 
be reached, in view of this one is tempted to look with 
more complacency upon the liturgies of the ancient 
Church, the work of the bishops in their capacity 
of pastors dealing directly with the people and not domi 
nated by monastic aspiration. In the ritual of the altar, 
no effort is made to explain the great transaction on Cal 
vary, but it is held up before the people as if it needed or 
could have no explanation, or as though the simple event 
in itself spoke with direct plainness and power to the Chris 
tian heart. The late Dr. Bushnell experienced this passing 
mood, w r hich has, however, a representative significance, 
when at the close of his book on the Vicarious Sacrifice he 
urged the retention of the altar language, notwithstanding 
that it had been so long and dreadfully misapplied by the 
dogmatic schemes of expiation and judicial satisfaction " 
(Christian Institutions, p. 373. See pp. 352-374). 

HENRY WACE (1898). "It has been a danger in the- 


ological thought on this subject, from even the earliest 
times, to lay such stress on some of the images, by which 
that Atonement is illustrated in the Scriptures, as to 
present it in the light of a kind of formal and material 
transaction; as though it consisted, for example, in the 
payment of a ransom or the discharge of a debt . . . 
and the nobler appreciation of the mystery which is due to 
St. Anselm, the great Archbishop of Canterbury, has been 
observed to be too much pervaded by feudal conceptions 
of the satisfaction by which offenses against superiors, or 
against an external law, could be expiated. . . . But just 
as the Mosaic Law itself, with its Divinely ordered regu 
lations, fell away at once before the revelation of the eternal 
laws of religion and morality in Christ, so must any arti 
ficial rule of action, any law due to special forms of human 
society and experience, be put aside, when considering 
the deepest and most essential elements of God s relation 
to us" (The Sacrifice of Christ, pp. 36-38). 

MARVIN R. VINCENT (1899). "In this matter we 
must allow words to tell their own story. We must not 
begin with theories and then fit the words to the theories. 
The words were selected to embody facts, and our concep 
tion of Justification and Atonement must be based upon 
the usage of the words, and the relation of that usage to the 
representations of Scripture generally. Our first question 
is therefore : Do the terms of the Old and New Testaments 
exhibit the ideas of judicial procedure and satisfaction 
to Divine justice as the fundamental ideas of Justifi 
cation and Atonement? I believe that they do not; but 
that they set forth other and quite different ideas. . . . 


The New Testament terms concur with those of the Old 
Testament to the effect that if we desire to find in the 
Scriptures the idea of a satisfaction to Divine justice, we 
must seek for it outside the terms used to describe atone 
ment for sin. The idea is not in them. I do not know any 
term or any passage in the New Testament which declares 
that Christ was a satisfaction to Divine justice, a pro 
pitiation of the wrath of God, a compensation to offended 
majesty. . . . 

"The New Testament habitually represents the atone 
ment of Christ as bearing upon man and his sin rather than 
upon God; as finding its great result in personal character; 
as averting God s wrath, not by the payment of a penalty or 
consideration, but by getting out of the way the sin which 
stands in the way of reconciliation between God and man. 
It is not God s offended dignity which is thrown into the 
foreground, but man s lost and wretched condition on ac 
count of sin, and God s yearning and effort to save him 
from his sin, and to restore his manhood to its original 
divine ideal. The atonement is put, in the New Testa 
ment, as the consummate expression of God s great love 
for mankind; as the outgoing of God s love and power in 
order to save it by reconciling it to Himself" (Unpublished 
Seminary lecture, from which Dr. Vincent kindly permits 
quotation) . 

ment is a doctrine concerning a fact. "The fact is the death 
upon the cross, the revealed doctrine explaining the fact 
is that Christ died for our sins, that we have redemption 
through His blood. How His death redeems us by securing 


the forgiveness of our sins, that is, the method and philoso 
phy of the Atonement, is not a part of the doctrine neces 
sary to faith. It is a subject for thought and speculation," 
under conditions arid limitations. "But a doctrine, in 
volving a theory of the Atonement and explaining its 
philosophy, is not a necessary element of saving faith. 
We may adopt a theory which seems to us reasonable, or 
we may reject all theories of the mode in which the Atone 
ment is accomplished, but if we reject the fact that Christ 
died, and the doctrine revealed in connection with the fact 
that He died for our sins, then we have rejected the 
Christian faith" (Article in The Protestant Episcopal 
Review, Jan., 1899, p. 189). 

RICHARD W. Micou (1899). " Not the doctrine of the 
At-one-ment, in any form, but the death of Christ itself in 
its spiritual power is the objective ground of the forgive 
ness of sins, and no doctrine can adequately state such a 
transcendent fact. . . . Recent theology has returned to 
the Pauline and Greek conception of Christ s unity with 
men which made His perfect obedience and sacrifice of 
will the act of the race, to be accepted by each in faith. . . . 
God is the Father, and all His dealings with us must be in 
terpreted ethically, in terms of righteous human fatherhood 
and love, not of sovereignty and impersonal Law" (Out 
line Notes of Lectures in Systematic Divinity, pp. 52, 57). 

SAMUEL D. MCONNELL (1901). "It may be ages yet 
before we recover from the misfortune of having had the 
truth of Christ interpreted and fixed by jurists and logi 
cians instead of by naturalists and men of science" (Evo 
lution of Immortality, p. 134). 


P. J. FORSYTH (1901). "The Anselmic theory of 
satisfaction is now out of date, and has little more than a 
historic value. With it and its habit of mind have gone 
also the various substitutionary schemes and commercial 
transactions into which it has been degraded. They are 
all more juridical than moral. They fail to satisfy the 
modern conscience; they fall coldly on our more sympa 
thetic religious intelligence" (Religion and Recent Art, 
p. 259). 

E. GRIFFITH- JONES (1901). "There are not wanting 
serious signs that the old juridical language fails to appeal 
as it once did to the spiritual consciousness of a large sec 
tion of Christian believers. It sounds artificial ; it stands 
aloof from the dominant ideas of the time ; there is not a 
little in it which shocks the moral sense of many devout 
minds that are earnestly desirous of arriving at something 
like a consistent theory of the Atonement" (The Ascent 
through Christ, p. 289). 

P. T. FORSYTH (1902). "There is a deepening evo 
lution of human thought in this regard. The efforts to 
pluck the heart from its mystery are not a series of assaults 
renewed with blind and dogged courage on an impregnable 
hold. They form the stages of a long spiritual movement 
of slow battle, of arduous illumination and severe con 
quest. . . . And the progress is no less sure because it 
is neither continuous nor direct. We have much to drop 
on the route as a condition of getting home. We have to 
save truth by losing it, though it seem part of our soul. 
We shed the husk to grow the tree. And in this matter 
of Atonement some things are clearly learnt to be wrong, 


some are as clearly found to be true as we move from 
faith to faith. We have outgrown the idea that God has 
to be reconciled, . . . that Redemption cost the Father 
nothing, . . . that Christ took our punishment in the 
quantitative sense of the word, . . . that forgiveness cost 
so much that it was impossible to God till justice was 
appeased and mercy set free by the blood of Christ, 
. . . that the satisfaction of Christ was made either to 
God s wounded honour or to His punitive justice" (The 
Atonement in Modern Religious Thought: A Theological 
Symposium, pp. 62, 64-67). 

WALTER F. ADKNEY (1902). "Each conception of 
the Atonement that has held possession of the mind of the 
Church at successive epochs has interpreted itself in har 
mony with the ruling ideas of the age. . . . But with the 
abandonment of the old demonology, the decay of feudal 
ism, the reluctance to admit the abstract claims of law as 
such, the feeling that religion must be regarded spiritually 
and not as a business affair, every one of these theories is 
swept away and cast into the limbo of dead beliefs. Or, 
if here and there a champion is found for one or other of 
them, we feel that his argument is purely academic" (Ibid., 
pp. 151 sq. See also Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, art. 
"Mediator," III. 321 ; The Theology of the New Testa 
ment, pp. 123, 160, 166, 190, 192, 244-247). 

JOHN HUNTER (1902). "The moral order requires 
no special and external vindication of its majesty. God 
does not need to be appeased, for His laws never fail to 
punish sin in their own good time and way. But compen 
sation He does not exact or need. It is not the suffering of 


the sinner, but his restoration to goodness and a life of 
conscious harmony with the Divine will that satisfies the 
holy and righteous God. Propitiation, expiation, and 
substitution, in their current interpretations and forms, are 
as little in accord with what we see to be the order of things 
in the universe as they are with the tone and tendency 
of the teaching of Jesus and the real and profound needs 
of the enlightened soul. ... It is not by imputing, but 
imparting righteousness ; not by substituting His obedience 
for ours, but by inspiring us to obey; not by displacing, 
but reinforcing our personal will and activity, Jesus Christ 
is the power of God and the wisdom of God" (Ibid., pp. 
316, 326). 

THEODORE T. HUNGER (1902). "If an intelligent 
man, having laid aside all preconceptions of the Atonement, 
were to begin the study of it afresh, the first thing he would 
notice is that it has not only passed through many phases, 
but that mutually excluding theories of it have been held, 
and that these theories bear each the impress of its age and 
often of its region, and reflect the environing social institu 
tions. ... As he continues his study he finds that each 
theory is subdivided by minor and qualifying theories, 
and that these often bear the impress of some individual 
mind or some school of philosophy. . . . More and more 
does our seeker become convinced that the theories simply 
neutralize one another, and that, so far as throwing any 
light upon the truth itself is concerned, they may be left by 
the wayside as milestones to mark their distance from the 
generic fact out of which they sprang. For that he begins 
to search, and he finds it, of course, in Christ Himself. One 


thing he has gained, and an immense gain it is, he has got 
rid of theory and dogma, and come into the essence of a 
Life. ... No mysterious necessity, no governmental exi 
gency, no expiation of guilt or propitiation of wrath or 
satisfaction of justice, can be found in it, unless found in 
the heart of fatherhood and in the relation of father and 
son" (Ibid., pp. 355, 357, 363). 

It would have a moral God, a Divine government 
truly moral, a moral atonement, and not one involving es 
sential injustice, nor clouded with mysteries that put it 
outside of human use; an atonement resting on God s 
heart, and calling into play the known laws and sentiments 
of human nature, and not one constructed out of a mechani 
cal legality; an atonement that saves men by a traceable 
process, and not one that is contrived to explain problems 
that may safely be left to God ; an atonement that secures 
oneness with the Christ, and not one framed to buttress 
some scheme of Divine government constructed out of 
human elements" (The Freedom of Faith, p. 33). 

H. L. WILD (1902). "The mistake of subsequent 
writers has lain in placing the emphasis too exclusively 
upon the death of Jesus as the means of redemption. The 
faith that brings forgiveness, as St. John s Gospel makes 
quite clear, is faith in a living Person and in His life of 
willing sacrifice seen as a proof of love to God and men. 
The true life lies in the assimilation of the human life to 
the life of God. The true life therefore is one sacrifice to 
love, of which death is the consummation and final proof. 
It was perhaps natural that later writers should take the 
death as the symbol of the whole : the loss thereby involved 


has none the less been serious, seeing that it is this that has 
all too often obscured the full glory and brightness of 
Jesus doctrine of God. We cannot be too often reminded 
that the central idea of Jesus teaching is that of God as a 
loving Father, and that it is this that forms the sole basis of 
the hope of forgiveness, as it is the spring of all true conduct 
whether in Jesus or in His followers. ... It is the perfect 
love of God that demands a return of perfect love mani 
fested in obedience to His will in sacrifice for men. This 
Jesus gave, winning others thereby, and entered into His 
glory; this others are to seek to give in Him" (Contentio 
Veritatis, pp. 161 sq.). 

BISHOP PHILLIPS BROOKS (1904). "Now what rela 
tion this death of Jesus may have borne to the nature and 
plans of God, I hold it the most futile and irreverent of 
all investigations to inquire. I do not know, and I do not 
believe that any theology is so much wiser than my igno 
rance as to know, the sacred mysteries that passed in the 
courts of the Divine Existence when the miracle of Calvary 
was perfect. . . . You say that it appeased His wrath. I 
am not sure there may not be some meaning of those words 
which does include the truth they try to express; but in 
the natural sense which men gather from them out of their 
ordinary human uses, I do not believe that they are true. 
Nay, I believe that they are dreadfully untrue. I think 
that all such words try to tell what no man knows. If this 
be so, then it seems clear that all we have to do with in the 
death of Jesus is its aspect toward, its influence upon 
humanity. We are concerned with that which Jesus 
spoke of, its powerful effect to work upon the lives 


of men" (Sermons for the Church Year, Seventh Series, 
pp. 257^.). 

J. R. ILLINGWORTH (1904). "Yet it does not explain 
wherein that rescue from sin consists the intimate, es 
sential nature of the Atonement. And it may well be that, 
under the present limitations of our knowledge, no such 
explanation could be made. But it is round this point that 
controversy has so often raged, and counsel has been so 
often darkened. Men have translated the doctrine of the 
Atonement into the favourite categories of their age, pass 
ing modes of thought which were valid for their own gener 
ation, but inadequate for another. And so the doctrine 
has come down to us encumbered and obscured by the 
obsolete methods of its by-gone presentation methods 
that in their day successfully emphasised its reality, but 
which, when retained after they have gone out of date, 
only make it seem to be unreal. We must remember, 
therefore, that belief in the fact of the Atonement has per 
sisted without change, behind all variations of its intellect 
ual expression, inspiring alike the sanctity of Anselm and 
the penitence of Abelard, for all their divergence of view, 
and proving its reality, like other forces, by its manifest 
power in the world. ... It is in harmony, therefore, with 
all human analogy, that an absolutely unique person should 
perform an absolutely unique service to mankind; vicari 
ously, not in the sense of instead of them, but in the sense 
of for their sake, while they in turn are enabled by His 
Spirit to appropriate His work, till, from being a thing 
outside them, it becomes their very own, and, in Pauline 
language, Christ is formed in them. The first step in this 


process is man s justification, the work which he could 
not do, the step which he could not take for himself ; while 
its second stage is his sanctification, which involves the 
appropriation of the work done for him, by the active co 
operation of his own free- will" (Christian Character ; 
pp. 19-21). 

E. H. ARCHER-SHEPHERD (1906). "The cause why 
the New Testament doctrine of the Atonement is so much 
disliked, is in large measure to be found in the immoral 
ideas which have been read into it ideas which are 
worthy of the heathen who smeared their idols with 
human blood. The New Testament writers throw little 
light on the nature of the Atonement. They state the 
fact unequivocally; and with that they are content" 
(Burning Questions in the Light of To-day, p. 42. See pp. 

doctrine has been faintly set forth in figures taken from 
man s laws and customs. It is represented as the payment 
of a price, or as a ransom, or as the offering of satisfaction 
for a debt. But we can never rest in these material figures 
as though they were literal and adequate. As both Abelard 
and Bernard remind us, the Atonement is the work of 
love. It is essentially a sacrifice, the one supreme sacrifice 
of which the rest were but types and figures. And, as St. 
Augustin teaches us, the outward rite of sacrifice is the 
sacrament, or sacred sign, of the invisible sacrament of the 
heart. It was by this inward sacrifice of obedience unto 
death, by this perfect love with which He laid down His 
life for His friends, that Christ paid the debt to justice, and 


taught us by His example, and drew all things to Himself" 
(II. 58). 

BISHOP CHARLES GORE (1907). "It will appear 
plainly that it was a true instinct which caused the Catholic 
Church to define its faith in terms of the doctrine of God 
and the person of Christ, and to leave the belief in Christ s 
atonement and the inspiration of Scripture undefined. . . . 
There have been different theories as Origen s and 
Anselm s, and Abelard s and Calvin s which we have 
all come to recognise as in various ways inadequate. And 
the Church has never corporately faced the question raised, 
or embodied its faith in any formula, while all the time the 
doctrine is liable very easily to be so isolated, and distorted 
in popular belief, as to become a dangerous and misleading 
error. . . . And the idea of vicarious punishment Christ 
punished that we might be let off has, more than 
anything else, tended to alienate the best moral conscience 
of mankind from Christian teaching. . . . There is no 
shadow of a doctrine of imputed righteousness in the New 
Testament, such as will suffer us to imagine that there can 
be any final reconciliation of an individual man with God, 
on any other basis than likeness of character" (The New 
Theology and the Old Religion, pp. 1.31, 134, 136, 142). 

"The idea of injustice has been introduced into the 
transaction of the Atonement, and has been the most 
fruitful source of difficulty; but quite unnecessarily. 
There is a story that when Edward VI. was a child, and 
deserved punishment, another boy was taken and whipped 
in his place. This monstrously unjust transaction has 
been taken by Christian teachers as an illustration of the 


Atonement ; and it is truly an illustration of the Atonement 
as they misconceived it. But the misconception is gratui 
tous; there is no real resemblance in the two cases. For 
first, what is represented to us in the New Testament is 
not that Jesus Christ, an innocent person, was punished, 
without reference to His own will, by a God who thus 
showed himself indifferent as to whom He punished so 
long as some one suffered. . . . Secondly, God is not 
represented as imposing any specially devised punishment 
on His only Son in our nature. . . . What is ascribed to the 
Father is that He spared not His only Son by miraculously 
exempting Him from the consequences of His mission ; . . 
Thirdly and lastly, the Christ (as represented in the New 
Testament) did not suffer in order that we might be let off 
the punishment for our own sins, but in order to bring us 
to God " (St. Paul s Epistle to the Romans, Vol. II, Note D). 

See also Archbishop Thomson, The Atoning Work of 
Christ, pp. 178-181; F. W. Robertson, Sermons on 
"Caiaphas s View of Vicarious Sacrifice," "The Sacrifice 
of Christ," and "Reconciliation by Christ"; Benjamin 
Jowett, St. Paul s Epistles, vol. II., Essay on "The Doc 
trine of the Atonement"; Tracts for Priests and People, 
Nos. iii. and xiii. ; The Atonement: A Clerical Symposium, 
about one half of the Essays; E. Mulford, The Republic of 
God, cap. ix.; W. Beyschlag, New Testament Theology, 
II. 137, 141-154; D. Somerville, St. Paul s Conception of 
Christ, pp. 81, 89, 91, 283; Progressive Orthodoxy, cap. iii; 
A. M. Fairbaira, The Philosophy of the Christian Religion, 
pp. 403-411, 418-433, 492-507; H. C. Trumbull, The 


Blood Covenant, pp. 209-293; Hastings Rashdall, Doc 
trine and Development, pp. 136 sq. ; M. R. Vincent, Word 
Studies in the New Testament, on all the pertinent texts; 
C. J. Wood, Survivals in Christianity, pp. 137-191 ; Ly- 
inan Abbott, The Evolution of Christianity, pp. 121-135, 
and The Theology of an Evolutionist, pp. 80-128; E. P. 
Gould, Biblical Theology of the New Testament, pp. 70, 
74-79, 122, 130, 171, 190; A. B. Bruce, The Humiliation 
of Christ, pp. 317-400, and St. Paul s Conception of Chris 
tianity, cap. ix. ; James Orr, The Progress of Dogma, cap. 
vii., and The Christian Idea of God and the World, pp. 
295-318, 341; A. W. Eaton, The Heart of the Creeds, 
cap. iii. ; Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, 
Arts. "Atonement," "Mediator," "Merit," "Redemp 
tion" (pp. 482-484), "Vicarious Sacrifice"; O. S. Bunt 
ing, Art. in The Protestant Episcopal Review, Dec., 1899 ; 
Laurence H. Schwab, The Kingdom of God, cap. ii.; 
Borden P. Bowne, The Atonement, pp. 26-29, 31-33, 
104-107, 115, 150; Wm. Sanday, The Life of Christ in 
Recent Research, pp. 229-312; Leighton Pullan, The 
Atonement, pp. 94, 104, 198, 202, 205, 231 ; G. Ferries, 
Tlie Growth of Christian Faith, pp. 176-291, 301-332; 
R. R. Rogers, New Theology Problems, cap. iv.; Cam 
bridge Theological Essays, Essay v. ; R. Seeberg, The Fun 
damental Truths of the Christian Religion, Lecture xiii.; 
C. M. Mead, Irenic Theologij, cap. ix., x. ; Wm. Adams 
Brown, Christian Theology in Outline, pp. 359-369. 

See also H. Bushnell, The Vicarious Sacrifice; F. D. 
Maurice, The Sacrifice of Christ, and Theological Essays; 


J. LI. Da vies, The Work of Christ; J. McLeod Campbell, 
The Nature of the Atonement; John Young, The Life and 
Light of Men; F. M. lams, Reconciliation; A Reasonable 
Faith, by Three "Friends"; J. B. Heard, Old and New 
Theology; D. N. Beach, Plain Words on our Lord s 
Work; J. M. Whiton, The Divine Satisfaction; C. Giles, 
The Incarnation and Atonement; H. N. Oxenham, The 
Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement; A. V. G. Allen, The 
Continuity of Christian Thought; P. Waldenstrom, The 
Reconciliation; P. G. Medd, The One Mediator; J. Stein- 
fort Kedney, Christian Doctrine Harmonized; C. C. 
Everett, The Gospel of Paul; Samuel Harris, God the 
Creator and Lord of All; John Caird, The Fundamental 
Ideas of Christianity; J. T. Hutcheson, A View of the 
Atonement; D. W. Simon, The Redemption of Man, and 
Reconciliation by Incarnation; A. Sabatier, St. Paul, and 
The Doctrine of the Atonement; John Gamier, Sin and 
Redemption; B. F. Westcott, The Victory of the Cross; 
J. Scott Lidgett, The Spiritual Principle of the Atonement; 
James M. Wilson, The Gospel of the Atonement; W. P. 
DuBose, The Soteriology of the New Testament, The Gospel 
according to St. Paul, The Gospel in the Gospels, and 
Priesthood and Sacrifice; The Atonement in Modern 
Religious Thought; A Theological Symposium; H. C. 
Sheldon, System of Christian Doctrine; T. Vincent 
Tymms, The Christian Idea of Atonement; W. L. Walker, 
The Cross and the Kingdomfyfa. B. Stevens, The Chris 
tian Doctrine of Salvation; L. F. Stearns, Present Day 
Theology; H. C. Beeching and Alex. Nairne, The Bible 
Doctrine of Atonement; Lonsdale Ragg, Aspects of the 


Atonement; Melville Scott, Crux Crucis: The Problem of 
the Atonement; J. H. Beibitz, Gloria Crucis; Henry S. 
Nash, The Atoning Life; W. F. Lofthouse, Ethics and 
Atonement; W. B. Frankland, Some Estimates of the 



ABELARD, 133, 201-205 

Acceptilatio, 210, 238 

Admissions by conservatives, 18, 
24, 25, 29, 42, 43, 45, 46, 54, 
58, 60, 74, 76, 81, 85, 183-186, 
215, 242, 243, Appendix. 

Alexander of Hales, 196 

Allen, A. V. G., 33, 124, 133, 
138, 258, 259, 304 

Ambrose, 62, 84, 90, 95, 98 

Arajce^aAafoxus: see Recapitu- 

Anglican statements, 8, 240, 241, 
243, 246, 248 

Anselm, 6, 8, 10, 72, 99, 103, 
108, 114, 117, 118, 258-260; 
influence of, 7, 141, 144, 194, 
195, 198, 201, 206, 207, 209, 
211-216, 232, 253-256 

Anselm s theory, 6, 7, 120-194, 
217, 219; antecedents of, 72, 
73, 78, 95-99, 103-119; value 
of, 132-143, 253-263 ; defects 
of: see Defects 

AvrdXXayri, 23 

AvTd\\ay/j.a, 44, 61 

Airdtos, 69 

Avrl, 33, 51, 53, 58 

AvriXirrpov, 47, 69, 136 

Antinomianism, 172, 186, 228 

Airtyvxoj>, 47, 48, 51 

Apostolic Fathers, 19-25 

Aristotelianism, 115-119 

Article XXXI., 241 

Athanasius, 48-59, 63, 88, 89, 
98, 138, 147, 154, 170, 180, 

Augustin, 50, 62, 86-93, 98, 107, 
117, 138, 146, 155, 194, 208 


Barnes, Albert, 184, 244 

Basil, 50, 70 

"Battle of attributes," 173-176, 

192, 212, 215, 254 
Baur, F. C., 35, 37, 128, 132, 

140, 144, 152, 224, 238 
Belgic Confession, 222 
Bernard of Clairvaux, 133, 203, 


Bigg, Charles, 39, 40 
Bonaventura, 196 
Boso, 120-122, 127, 132, 133, 

145, 152, 159, 163, 164 

CAIRD, John, 174 

Calvin, 214, 222-225, 228, 229 

Chrysostom, 66-68J 

Church, Dean, 144, 253, 275 

Clement of Alexandria, 37-39, 


Clement of Rome, 20 
Coleridge, S. T., 185, 248, 268 
Commercial analogies, 111, 112, 

115, 154, 183-186, 234, 254 
Commutation, 108, 109, 111, 

112, 154, 193, 219 
Council of Trent, 212 
Cur Deus Homo, 7, 99, 103, 

119, 120, 253 
Curse of the law, 28, 48, 68, 89, 

223, 227 
Cyprian, 77, 82-85, 92, 106, 107, 

109, 143, 157 



Cyril of Alexandria, 68-70 
Cyril of Jerusalem, 70, 107 

DALE, R. W., 120, 148, 161, 211, 

216, 240, 245, 274 
Davies, LI., 165 
Death of Christ, 17, 20, 21, 27, 

28, 38, 40, 42, 50-52, 56-59, 

65, 70, 73, 77, 78, 90, 98, 123, 

Debt, sin considered as, 53, 56, 

58, 71-73, 91, 109, 124, 127- 

131, 154-156, 162, 164, 183, 

191, 236, 255 
Deceit of devil, 44, 60-63, 91, 

92, 94, 132 
Defects of Anselm s theory, 143- 

194, 254-256 
Deification of humanity, 18, 31, 

39, 50, 60, 71 
De Incarnatione, summary of, 


Denney, James, 7, 247 
Desert, 80, 83 
Deterioration of later Fathers, 

70-72, 95 

Deutsch, S. M., 202, 203 
Didache, 19 
AiKaiofffy-ri, 169, 254 
Diognetus, Epistle to, 21-24, 36 
Dogma, antecedents of, 5; 

judged by history, 3, 4, 10 
Dorner, Dr., 33 
Dualism, 173-181 
Duns Scotus, 190, 198, 209-211, 

Dwight, Dr., 242 

EDWARDS, Jonathan, Jr., 216, 


Edwards, Jonathan, Sr., 243 
Emmons, Nathaniel, 242 
Equivalence, 51, 59, 62, 69-71, 

108, 109, 127, 140, 156, 196, 

223-225, 235, 238 

Erasmus, 117 
Erigena, 95, 190 
Eucharistic office, 241 
Eusebius, 47, 48 

FARRAR, Dean, 115-117, 129, 

Feudalism, 113, 114, 147, 148, 

Fisher, G. P., 17, 21, 26, 78, 109, 

130, 139, 257, 303 
Foliot, Gilbert, 174 
Forensic form of theory, 167-172 
Forgiveness, 154, 161, 163-166, 

173, 234, 262 

GARDEN, F., 9, 271 
German law, 109-112, 153, 199 
Gnostic defect, 173, 178 
Governmental theory, 237-240 
Greek Fathers, later, 60-75 
Greek theology, 71-73, 262, 263: 

see Post-Apostolic, Nicene 

and Post-Nicene Fathers 
Gregory Nazianzen, 50, 63-66 
Gregory Nyssen, 44, 50, 60-63, 

Gregory the Great, 6, 90, 94, 

97, 107 

Grotius, 165, 210, 237-240 
Gwatkin, H. M., 64, 230 

HAGENBACH, K. R., 53, 117, 
118, 128, 140 

Hallam, Henry, 228 

Harnack, A., 27, 33, 40, 51, 64, 
66-68, 74, 79, 90, 94, 97-99, 
107-109, 111, 123, 144, 145, 
148, 165, 172, 178, 179, 181, 
199, 207, 225; error of, 81, 
84, 109 

Heard, J. B., 167 

Hegel, 115 

Heidelberg Catechism, 222 

Hennas, 19 



Hilary, 32, 50, 86, 209 
Hippolytus, 39, 50 
Hodge, A. A., 19, 165, 210 
Hodge, Charles, 165, 184, 185, 

Honour of God, 124-130, 147- 

153, 158, 159 
Hugh of St. Victor, 195 
Huidekoper, F., 35, 44 
Humanity, deification of: see 



Imputation, 48, 88, 200, 226- 

230, 236 
Incarnation, contingency of, 17, 

50, 65, 75, 187-190, 209; 

primary, 16-18, 25, 26, 29-32, 

45, 49, 65, 75, 187-190, 256, 


Indulgence, 84, 94, 107, 194, 196 
Infinite guilt, 155, 198, 210, 255 
Innocent III., 133, 173, 198, 200, 

215, 220 
Institutional features of theory, 

109, 112, 114, 147, 148, 154, 

167, 182, 190 
Irenaeus, 29-37 
Isidore, 62 

JOHN of Damascus, 50, 62, 66, 

74, 95, 116 

Juridical theory, 6, 167-172, 201 
Justice of God, 125, 131, 148- 

150, 166, 173-176, 186, 206; 

retributive, 168, 225, 226 
Justin Martyr, 26-28 

KEMBLE, J. M., 113 
Kingsley, Charles, 113 

Latin Fathers, the, 75-99 
Latin theology, 5, 262, 263 
Legalism, 78, 80, 82, 91, 103- 

105, 140, 167-172, 174, 213, 
214, 239, 247, 254, 262 

Leo the Great, 62 

Lias, J. J., 15, 279 

Lidgett, J. S., 20, 120, 147, 210, 

218, 220, 245 
Lindsay, T. M., 29 
Liturgies, 71, 241 
Luther, 62, 213, 220, 221, 227, 

Atrpov, 23, 33, 136 

MAGEE, Archbishop, 183, 243, 


Magee, W. C., 185, 285 
Maine, Sir Henry, 104 
Mediator, 32, 93, 98, 176 
Melanchthon, 221 
Merit, 79, 80, 83, 86, 94, 105, 

106, 109, 169, 193, 214; of 
Christ, 130, 131, 139, 144,181, 
197, 201, 207, 209, 214; trans 
fer of, 109, 131, 185, 196, 

Mistranslations of Fathers, 23, 

28, 33, 59, 70, 89, 90 
Moberly, R. C., 7, 20, 58, 115, 

120, 157, 186, 190, 204, 245, 

Modus of redemption, 16, 66, 

134, 232, 249, 256, 261 
Moral theories, 136, 201-205, 


Mors edema, 224 
Munger, T. T., 167, 193, 310 
Mystical identity, 18, 32, 33, 47, 

48, 50, 51, 63, 65, 69, 73, 88, 

182, 187, 200, 205, 206 
Mythology, 174, 176, 178, 237 

NASH, H. S., 258 

Neander, A., 25, 28, 173, 181, 

215, 216 
Necessity of Christ s death, 27, 

51, 65, 87, 94, 138, 139, 146, 



188, 194, 195-199, 202, 206- 

208, 211 

Nestorian defect, 179-181 
Nicene Fathers, 46-60 
Norris, J. P., 23, 34, 58, 275 

OBEDIENCE of Christ, 30, 123, 

139, 217, 218, 224 
Objective atonement, 25, 134- 

137, 190-193, 198, 199, 208 
Olxovo/jiia, 64 
Origen, 34, 39-45, 107 
Orthodoxy, 232, 248, 256 
Osiander, 229 
Oxenham, H. N., 19, 35, 45, 

196, 211 

PASSIVE satisfaction, 200, 216- 

219, 229 
Patristic teaching, the, 15-99; 

characteristics of, 15-19, 24, 

25, 45, 46, 71-77, 96-99 
Penal suffering, 22, 28, 40, 47, 

52, 54, 58, 69, 72, 73, 89, 90, 

96, 125, 139, 195, 199, 200, 

206, 208, 215, 219-226, 242 
Penalty of sin, 160-162, 262 
Penance, 79, 94, 106, 112 
Penitential discipline, 79-84, 

105-109, 112, 141, 142, 193 
Personality, defective sense of, 

157, 175 

Peter Lombard, 62, 133, 203, 207 
Post-Apostolic Fathers, 25-46 
Post-Nicene Fathers, 60-75 
Propitiation, 25, 29, 37, 40, 41, 

47, 67, 79, 82, 83, 85-87, 94, 

95, 106, 137, 222, 223 
Purgatory, 107 

RACIAL antecedents, 103-105 
Radulphus Ardeus, 95 
Ransom to devil, 33-37, 43-46, 

63, 91, 122, 195, 201, 206, 207, 


Reaction, the modern, 231-249 
Recapitidatio, 27, 30, 32, 50, 73 
Redemption by Christ s teach 
ing, 17, 26, 30, 38, 39, 94 
Reformation doctrine, modern, 
9; obstacle to faith, 10; ob 
solescent, 244, 246-249 
Reformers, the, 212-231 
Richard of St. Victor, 195 
Ritschl, A., 86, 97, 149, 152, 

203, 207, 211 

Riviere, Abbe J., 25, 28, 32, 33, 
42, 45, 49, 53, 59, 64, 69, 70, 
74, 76, 81, 84, 120, 121, 140, 
174, 204, 207 
Robert Pulleyn, 205 
Robertson, F. W., 160 
Roman law, 105, 109, 113, 167, 

Rufinus, 62 

SABATIER, A., 5, 121, 174, 175, 

Sacrifice, 19, 20, 40-42, 88, 90, 
96, 98, 135, 207 

Satisfaction, 78, 105, 109, 126, 
154; in the Fathers, 18, 24, 
25, 28, 39, 42, 45, 53, 57-59, 
72-74, 88, 97, 98; by Christ, 
79, 81, 84, 97, 126-131, 139, 
140, 154-166, 181-186; by 
man, 79, 82, 86; by obedi 
ence, 139-141, 150, 151, 158- 
162, 182, 198, 217, 218, 224; 
by punishment, 25, 112, 125, 
139, 140, 158, 219-226 

Saxon Confession, 221 

Scholasticism, 115-117 

Scholastics, the, 194-212 

Seeberg, R., 39, 94, 112 

Shedd, W. G. T., 18, 24, 35, 42, 
46, 59, 64, 74, 90, 146, 165, 
168, 215, 226 

Simon, D. W., 120, 137, 138, 
240, 244 



Sin, nature of, 155-157, 234, 

262: see Debt ; penalty of, 

160-162, 262 
Socinus, 165, 233-237 
Sovereignty, divine, 138, 168, 


Stanley, Dean, 53, 167, 278 
Stevens, G. B., 9, 115, 121, 139, 

145, 156, 160, 176, 214, 226, 

240, 245, 246, 295 
Strauss, D. F., 3, 174 
Subjective atonement, 136, 191, 

Substitution, 22, 28, 33, 38, 41, 

42, 47, 51-53, 65, 67-69, 73, 

74, 78, 91, 96, 109, 111, 112, 

115, 160, 181-186, 200, 221, 

223, 229, 230, 243 
Sulpitius Seyerus, 86 
Supererogation, 106, 123, 130, 

139, 150, 151, 163, 217 

TEBTULLIAN, 28, 76, 77-82, 92, 
105, 119, 143 

Thomasius, Gottfried, 169, 182 
Thomas Aquinas, 197-200, 213 
Thomson, Archbishop, 74, 165, 


Turretin, F., 183, 231, 241 
Tymms, T. V., 9, 36, 173 

UEBERWEG, F., 191 

VICARIOUS, 42, 52, 69, 181, 182, 
207, 243 

WERGELD, 110, 111, 113, 154 

Wessel, 176 

Westminster Confession, 226, 


Whiton, J. M., 162 
Wilson, J. H., 43, 46, 169, 177, 


Wood, C. J., Ill, 186 
Wiirtemberg Confession, 222 

YOUNG, John, 120, 162 

.-V r