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Atonement in Christianity
In western Christian theology, describes how human beings can be reconciled to God through Christ's sacrificial death. Atonement refers to the forgiving or pardoning of sin in general and original sin in particular through the death and resurrection of Jesus, enabling the reconciliation between God and his creation. Within Christianity there are, historically, three or four main theories for how such atonement might work:
- Ransom theory/Christus Victor (which are different, but generally considered together as Patristic or "classical", to use Gustaf Aulen's nomenclature, theories, it being argued that these were the traditional understandings of the early Church Fathers);
- Moral influence theory, which Aulen considered to be developed by Peter Abelard (called by him the "idealistic" view);
- Satisfaction theory developed by Anselm of Canterbury (called by Aulen the "scholastic" view);
- The penal substitution theory (which is a refinement of the Anselmian satisfaction theory developed by the Protestant Reformers, especially John Calvin, and is often treated together with the satisfaction view, giving rise to the "three main types" of atonement theories - classical or patristic, scholastic, and idealistic - spoken of by Aulen).
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Vicarious Atonement In Christian theology, the idea that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as a substitution for the guilt incurred by man at the Fall, and that mankind will consequently escape punishment, provided that they accept by faith Jesus Christ's sacrifice. The idea that by an atoning for evil done or sin committed, one undoes the past -- broadened by Christian theology to include the doctrine of the vicarious atonement by some great spiritual being for the sins of others -- is a theory rejected by the theosophic philosophy. To those who believe the Christian doctrine that every person was born into this world burdened with inevitable doom through Adam's sin, such a compensatory doctrine seems to be necessary; but it discourages people's faith in their own innate divinity and in their power thereby to effect their own spiritual and moral salvation, and violates our sense of justice by offering a way of avoiding the consequences of our own bad actions -- which avoidance of sin already incurred is distinctly denied in several places in the New Testament where the ancient theosophical doctrine of karma is taught that as a man sows, that (and not something else) must he invariably reap. Vicarious atonement may be a distorted doctrine of reconciliation, in Christian notion reconciliation between God and man; also of the idea that the spiritual monad in man takes on itself the consequences for actions or "sins" committed by the less evolved human monad. Every human being is raised by the sacrifice made by the Christos within himself, so that whoever believes in and conforms his acts to his own spiritual nature, is "saved." See also At-One-Ment
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