of government; if the atonement satisfies government, it must be by satisfying that justice of God of which government is an expression.
No deeply convicted sinner feels that his controversy is with government. Undone and polluted, he feels himself in antagonism to the purity of a personal God. Government is not greater than God, but less. What satisfies God must satisfy government. Hence the sinner prays: ?Against thee, thee only, have I sinned? ( <195104>Psalm 51:4); ?God be propitiated toward me the sinner? (literal translation of <421813>Luke 18:13), propitiated through God?s own appointed sacrifice whose smoke is ascending in his behalf even while he prays.
In the divine government this theory recognizes no constitution but only legislative enactment; even this legislative enactment is grounded in no necessity of God?s nature. Only in expediency or in God?s arbitrary will, law may be abrogated for merely economic reasons if any incidental good may be gained thereby. J. M. Campbell, Atonement, 81, 144 ? ?No awakened sinner, into whose spirit the terrors of the law have entered, ever thinks of rectoral justice, but of absolute justice, and of absolute justice only. Rectoral justice so presupposes absolute justice and so throws the mind back on that absolute justice that the idea of an atonement that will satisfy the one, though it might not the other, is a delusion.?
N. W. Taylor?s Theology was entitled: ?Moral Government,? and C. G. Finney?s Systematic Theology was a treatise on Moral Government, although it called itself by another name. Because New England ideas of government were not sufficiently grounded in God?s holiness but were rather based upon utility, expediency or happiness, the very idea of government has dropped out of the New School theology. Its advocates with well-nigh one accord have gone over to the Moral Influence theory of the atonement, which is only a modified Socinianism. Both the Andover atonement and that of Oberlin have become purely subjective. For this reason the Grotian or Governmental theory has lost its hold upon the theological world and needs to have no large amount of space devoted to it.
(d) It makes that to be an exhibition of justice which is not an exercise of justice; the atonement being, according to this theory, not an execution of law, but an exhibition of regard for law, which will make it safe to pardon the violators of law. Such a merely scenic representation can inspire respect for law, only so long as the essential unreality of it is unsuspected.
<- Previous Table of Contents Next ->
Was this article helpful?