at*one*ment: Governmental Theory

We have been slowly working through various atonement theories this Lenten Season, and today, we will be looking at the Governmental Atonement Theory.

What is it?

The Government Theory is based off of the works of Hugo Grotius.  Grotius had been taught and trained in law and he took what he had learned there, and applied it to atonement, by identifying God as the Governor of all.  Government Theory is closely related to other theories, however, it is not the same thing.  Penal Substitution and Satisfaction Theories are similar to the Government Theory in the idea that God cannot forgive without a punishment for sins or a sacrifice of God’s Son.  The difference is that Government Theory doesn’t necessarily make an exact payment like in Penal Substitution or Satisfaction Theories, but rather, Jesus’ death was an example of how much God despises sin.  As a result there is no individual payment, rather, the church is paid for corporately.  In other words, instead of saying, “Jesus took my place on the cross”, we might say, “Jesus destroyed the hold of sin for anyone who believes and puts their trust in Him.”

Scripture Support

Romans 3:24-26  “They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.”

I Corinthians 15:28 “And when everything is subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all.”

Galatians 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Cursed is everything who is hung on a tree.”

I Timothy 2:5-6  “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself–a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time.”

Hebrews 9:15  “Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

Potential Problems

There is no direct payment for individuals, but rather, people are saved as a whole.

It’s not made 100% clear what the specific purpose of Jesus had to dying on the cross.  What did the cross exactly accomplish for mankind?

A sacrifice nor death was needed for forgiveness.  We see in the New Testament, Jesus forgave sins often without having to make a sacrifice.  We also see a few examples in the OT where forgiveness was granted without a sacrifice.

For Further Study you can look Here



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