many ?X rays,? beyond the visible spectrum but able to impress the image of Christ upon patriarchs or heathen. This light has been shining through all the ages, but ?the darkness apprehended it not? ( <430105>John 1:5). Its rays register themselves only where there is a sensitive heart to receive them. Let them shine through a man, and how much unknown sin, and unknown possibilities of good, they reveal! The Moral Influence theory does not take account of the pre-existent Christ and of his atoning work before his manifestation in the flesh. It therefore leads logically to belief in a second probation for the many imbeciles, outcasts and heathen who in this world do not hear of Christ?s atonement. The doctrine of Bushnell in this way undermines the doctrine of future retribution.
To Lyman Abbott, the atonement is the self-propitiation of God?s love and its influence is exerted through education. In his Theology of an Evolutionist, 118, 190, he maintains that the atonement is ?a true reconciliation between God and man. Reconciliation makes them at one through the incarnation and passion of Jesus Christ, who lived and suffered, not to redeem men from future torment but to purify and perfect them in God?s likeness by uniting them to God. Sacrifice is not a penalty borne by an innocent sufferer for guilty men, a doctrine for which there is no authority either in Scripture or in life ( <600318>1 Peter 3:18?) ? but a laying down of one?s life in love, that another may receive life. Redemption is not restoration to a lost state of innocence, impossible to be restored, but a culmination of the long process when man shall be presented before his Father ?not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing? ( <490527>Ephesians 5:27). We believe not in the propitiation of an angry God by another suffering to appease the Father?s wrath, but in the perpetual self-propitiation of the Father, whose mercy, going forth to redeem from sin, satisfies as nothing else could the divine indignation against sin, by abolishing it. Mercy is hate pitying; it is the pity of wrath. The pity conquers the hate only by lifting the sinner up from his degradation and restoring him to purity.? And yet in all this there is no mention of the divine righteousness as the source of the indignation and the object of the propitiation!
It is interesting to note that some of the greatest advocates of the Moral Influence theory have reverted to the older faith when they came to die. In his dying moments, as L. W. Munhall tells us, Horace Bushnell said: ?I fear what I have written and said upon the moral idea of the atonement is misleading and it will do great harm.? As he thought of it further, he cried, ?Oh Lord Jesus, I trust for mercy only in the shed blood that thou didst offer on Calvary!? Schleiermacher, on his deathbed, assembled his family and a few friends and himself administered the Lord?s Supper.
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