Princeton Essays, 1:194-211; Philippi, Glaubenslehre, IV, 2:156-180; Fock, Socinianismus. 2. The Bushnellian, or Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement.
This holds, like the Socinian, that there is no principle of the divine nature, which is propitiated by Christ?s death but that this death is a manifestation of the love of God, suffering in and with the sins of his creatures. Christ?s atonement, therefore, is the merely natural consequence of his taking human nature upon him and is a suffering, not of penalty in man?s stead, but of the combined woes and grief which the living of a human life involves. This atonement has effect, not to satisfy divine justice, but so to reveal divine love as to soften human hearts and to lead them to repentance. In other words, Christ?s sufferings were necessary, not in order to remove an obstacle to the pardon of sinners, which exists in the mind of God, but in order to convince sinners that there exists no such obstacle. This theory, for substance, has been advocated by Bushnell, in America, in Great Britain by Robertson, Maurice, Campbell and Young and in Germany by Schleiermacher and Ritschl.
Origen and Abelard are earlier representatives of this view. It may be found stated in Bushnell?s Vicarious Sacrifice. Bushnell?s later work, Forgiveness and Law, contains a modification of his earlier doctrine, to which he was driven by the criticism upon his Vicarious Sacrifice. In the later work, he acknowledges what he had se strenuously denied in the earlier, namely, that Christ?s death has effect upon God u well as upon man, and that God cannot forgive without thus ?making cost to himself.? He makes open confession of the impotence of his former teaching to convert sinners and, as the only efficient homiletic, he recommends the preaching of the very doctrine of propitiatory sacrifice which he had written his book to supersede. Even in Forgiveness and Law, however, there is no recognition of the true principle and ground of the Atonement in God?s punitive holiness. Since the original form of Bushnell?s doctrine is the only one, which has met with wide acceptance, we direct our objections mainly to this.
F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 1:163-178, holds that Christ?s sufferings were the necessary result of the position in which he had placed himself of conflict or collision with the evil that is in the world. He came in contact with the whirling wheel and was crushed by it, he planted his heel upon the cockatrice?s den and was pierced by its fang. Maurice, on Sacrifice, 209, and Theol. Essays, 141, 228, regards Christ?s sufferings as an
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