them a pattern to follow but does not actually pay any price ontheir behalf 2.
God’s justice demands no actual payment for sin3.
God’s justice is subjugated to His loveiii.
What’s wrong with this view?1.
Bernard of Clairvaux, a contemporary of Abelard, noted that if Christ’s death was merely an example, then the actual work of salvation is still the sinner’s task to perform2.
The Council of Sens in 1141 declared Abelard a hereticiv.
This view resurfaced during the Reformation in the teaching of theSocinians1.
They insisted that God’s predominate attribute is His love, whichvirtually cancels out His wrath2.
Therefore God is inclined to pardon sinners without demandingany payment3.
They taught that Christ’s death served as an example of obedience and love to believers, pointing the way to lifev.
There has been a revival of this view in modern times amongevangelicals who adhere to Open Theism—see John Sanders’ book
TheGod Who Risks
Major Problem with this view?1.
This view makes the atonement nothing more than an exampleand as a result there is no real propitiatory aspect to Christ’sdeath2.
If sinners are “redeemed” by following an example of Christ,then “salvation” is reduced to moral reform motivated by love— and salvation is by works3.
Abelard’s argument for this view is that divine forgiveness is solavish that it renders a payment for sin unnecessary4.
But Scripture says that “without shedding of blood there is noforgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22); divine forgiveness is rooted andgrounded in a blood atonementc.
The Governmental Theoryi.
This view was devised by Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) during theArminian controversy in Hollandii.
It stated that God Himself requires no payment for sin, but that public justice did require some token or display of how muchGod despises sin.2.
Christ was sacrificed to display to the world what God’s wrathagainst sin looks like.3.
The atonement accomplished nothing objective on the sinner’s behalf. Redemption therefore is primarily a subjective issuehinging completely on the sinner’s response.iii.
Modern revival of this view1.
Embraced by several New England theologians in the 17
centuries, including Charles Finney and Albert Barnes2.
Promoted through groups like Youth With A Mission (YWAM)and popular Christian authors and speakers, such as Jed Smock (“Brother Jed”), a well-known campus evangelist, and George